Jake

Idle Thumbs 177: The Good Ones

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Puzzle Bots aside

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Puzzle Bots was actually created by Erin Robinson of Lively Ivy, for whom Wadjet Eye was the publisher. (Erin did however contribute art to Blackwell Unbound.)

 

Gravity Ghost excitement!

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New computer game from the studio that brought you Puzzle Bots! January 25th! "The little indie Mario Galaxy that could!" says August 2013 friend of the podcast Kirk Hamilton! More on Gravity Ghost at GravityGhost.com!

 

True, but if you look into it, Dave and Janet from Wadjet did a lot on Puzzle Bots too. So there's that.

 

And then there's this Puzzle Bots concept art

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Danielle: did I just hear you doing the first four notes of the George Michael's Careless Whisper sax riff? y/n, thx

Or was it Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country?!?! sax_investigation.mp3

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My point is that it still doesn't. It only makes sense because you understand its specific meaning, just like any other genre description. But in the English language generally, we also often say actors "play a role," and they are not defining a character the way one does in a pen and paper RPG, they are giving voice to a specific character whose personality and actions have been explicitly prescribed in advance.

It's different from formal play, excluding improv, but it's pretty similar to informal play like playing house or playing cops and robbers.

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1.16: How could the DeLorean travel through time when it gets struck by lightning if it isn't going 88 miles per hour?

A: The sudden rotation of the DeLorean from the lightning hit accelerates it to 88 miles per hour when it spins.

 

Highly dubious!

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I'd always assumed that was what was supposed to be happening with that spiral trail - the flux capacitor got jerked around. That scene is the best part of BTTF 2 so I think we have to let it by.

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I'd probably say the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance sequence is my favourite bit of 2 - excellent how they use climaxes from the first film to provide new climaxes for the second. It's a storytelling device that only a time-travel sequel could do; I think Star Trek is the only other franchise to do it, with their anniversary Trials And Tribble-ations episode.

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I'm with Jake.  The end of 2 is one of my favorite scenes ever.  Its an obvious setup for the third movie but that scene where Marty says "There's only one man who can help me" then instant cut to Doc at the courthouse.  It destroys me every time.

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I'm with Jake.  The end of 2 is one of my favorite scenes ever.  Its an obvious setup for the third movie but that scene where Marty says "There's only one man who can help me" then instant cut to Doc at the courthouse.  It destroys me every time.

The music sells it. So good.

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It doesn't change the weirdness of English, but I have taken to mean in a (traditional, at least) RPG, you are creating a character and a role rather than just assuming one. Fallout 3 is an RPG because you're a nameless, faceless wanderer that grows and changes that the world has to bounce back against and Rage isn't because you're a nameless, faceless wanderer that either does everything in order or the game doesn't happen.

 

I guess RCG just doesn't have the same ring to it? At some point you do Game Playing.

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Welcome to the forums!

 

Please bear in mind that when we discuss Steam Curation, we are not discussing Steam Curation as it is now, but Steam Curation as it factors into the Big Dog Future under the (o course, correct) assumption that Boston Dynamics will establish a method for co-opting Valv3's algorithms and user data, hand in hand, as a crucial step on the way to establishing our inevitable flesh-slave existence in its terrifying new world order.

 

Again, welcome.

 

Thank you! And ha, yeah, I didn't realize the eventual robotic doomsday implications of Steam Curation. Also, even though I've only been regularly listening to the podcast for a year, I'm already well aware of the recurring robot news in-joking about the cyber apocalypse. Does anyone know when this started on the podcast? I'd love to hear the first instance of it. Perhaps when the charming cyberpunk cyborg Steve Gaynor first appeared on the podcast? (Seriously, have you folks ever administered the Voight-kampff test on Steve? I believe he recently declared via the "Gone Home" Twitter account that "This means war," ostensibly referring to a friendly competition between game dev friends. But how do we know he wasn't in fact referring to... the cybernetic revolt doomsday event. Food for thought.)

 

I generally give time travel a pass because it's so messy and not really the interesting part of these kinds of stories (I hear Primer is the only movie to do time travel well, but I haven't seen it yet because I'm garbage). What always bothered me more about BttF 1, even as a young kid, is that Biff tries to rape Marty's mom as a teenager and then years later he's employed as their oafish repairman AND NO ONE IS BOTHERED BY THIS. Seems kind of weird of you, beloved 1980s children's movie!

 

I haven't seen "Back to the Future" since I was fourteen and thought that "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Rear Window" represented the apotheosis of film as an entire medium. (No, I wasn't a haughty precocious prick; my mom, like most moms over the age of forty at the time, simply loved all movies with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, and made me and my sister watch them all. Which I guess was actually beneficial in an edifying film history way, but she also made us watch the god awful Disney Channel live-action movies "Mr. Boogedy" and "Hocus Pocus" every Halloween, so any potential precociousness was summarily cancelled out.) But I do vaguely recall the scene you're referring to, and (even though I clearly wouldn't have been able to articulate it this way at the time) I remember thinking that it didn't fit tonally with the rest of the movie. It's always a bummer when you revisit something you have vaguely fond memories of from childhood as an adult and notice the overt problematic elements with it. I would still say Chris should watch it, though, because the movie is mostly goofy and endearing, and Michael J. Fox is a charming cutie in it. If I ever revisit it, it'll be out of deference to him, since he seems like such an eminently nice, humble person.

 

I enjoyed "Primer" and Carruth's latest "Upstream Color," but wouldn't claim in a million years to have known whether or not the engineering technobabble frequently used in the former had any basis in engineering fact/reality. I much preferred "Another Earth," which felt like it could have been an artsy double-bill with "Primer" in an alternate universe. 

 

Also, I wanted to say one last thing about Steam Curation, and then I'll stop blathering about it. I was thinking about it in relation to Steam's other crowdsourced system, Greenlight, and realized that Greenlight was probably discussed on the podcast in the past. And of course, yes it was--so I went and listened to "Idle Thumbs 74: That Meat Boy Sat Me Down" (which is still a great title, obviously). I fully agree with how everyone on the cast felt about Greenlight at that point in time, and even though clearly the Curation system won't impede any developers having their games approved for the service or anything egregious like that (and in fact could do nothing but potentially help a game's sales), I still think Chris's point that Valve could do a better job handling this stuff in-house rather than via their crowdsourcing efforts is also true of Steam Curation. Because the majority of people who follow a Steam Curator are going to do so because they're already predisposed to liking that person's taste in games, and are most likely already aware that the curators they followed like and recommend the games that they included in their Steam Curation list. Whereas if Valve simply did a better job employing people with a good, wide variety of taste in games that highlighted those games on the front page of Steam, a small amount of users might actually click on and discover something they never would have otherwise.

 

Gabe's framing of Valve's desire to crowdsource both curation and the game approval process as a way to not have an "editorial perspective" on games seems particularly odd to me. I can understand how Valve circa 2004-2007 might have felt weird about making judgements on what games should be allowed to be sold on their service and which ones they should promote via ads on their front page, but at this point I no longer primarily think of Valve as a game developer. I think of them as a company that sells digital goods and every once-in-a-great-while releases a (usually) great game. I imagine most other people's perspective towards them has shifted this way as well. I mean, hell, there's probably people who aren't even aware that Valve makes games (quelle horreur!), and only think of them in relation to Steam as a store. All companies that sell consumer goods for a specific medium make editorial judgement on what they should select to sell. In fact, it is precisely the editorial judgement of companies like Criterion, Fantagraphics, Penguin Classics, Yazoo Records, and so on that gives them a dedicated fanbase. I don't think Valve should be quite as selective in terms of games they sell and promote as those companies, but they should let go of this notion that they can't make editorial decisions since they also happen to be game developers.

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It's fairly functional for Early Access but I totally understand you wanting to hold off just because of the risks. I don't think Failbetter are really searching hard for the fun at this point or planning any more substantial systems (other than a combat revamp everyone said they needed to do); at the same time, that does mean that it'll be out in a few months anyway so you're not missing out.

 

 

In Fallen London, their first game, your gender options are 'male', 'female', and 'my dear sir, there are individuals roaming the streets of Fallen London at this very moment with the faces of squid! Squid! Do you ask them their gender? And yet you waste our time asking me trifling and impertinent questions about mine? It is my own business, sir, and I bid you good day'. The last one takes up about half the page.

 

It's an opportunity for a great joke. It also inspired the Rubbery Men as a player race, which also allowed them to reflect Victorian racism without throwing any actual humans under the bus. Fallen London does support non-binary gender, somewhat clumsily - where gentlemen and ladies are referred to as 'sir' and 'madam', those of mysterious and indistinct gender inspire NPCs to stumble around for an appropriate honorific. The response they got to even that small bone encouraged them to support non-binary gender more completely in future projects. Sunless Sea asks you how you wish to be addressed, including non-gender specific options such as 'Captain' because of course you want to provide that option.

 

I decided to buy it anyway, and it seems like it could be really awesome, but it's missing a lot of the niceties that really make it playable for a first time player. For instance, I was given a starting quest in London to go meet with a contact in Mt. Palmerston "somewhere near the home seas." I explored what I thought was the entire available map, because if I ventured any further from the main coast I got nice little pop-ups that this area of the game wasn't finished yet. It turns out the place I needed to go was way past the area that's not completed, out in the middle of the sea where no starting player really would have a hope of getting to, let alone having enough fuel to get back. Even with directions from the forum where to find it, i still never ran into it.

 

So yeah, great mechanics, but a ton of balancing needed before I'd call it fun.

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I'm with Jake.  The end of 2 is one of my favorite scenes ever.  Its an obvious setup for the third movie but that scene where Marty says "There's only one man who can help me" then instant cut to Doc at the courthouse.  It destroys me every time.

 

I hadn't considered that Jake might be including that as part of the scene. I love the bit where they match the last shot of 50s Doc from the first film, so you're used to the cut to the 80s courthouse but then it extends and Marty runs in. Brilliant!

 

I'm glad that Jake is lending Chris the blu-rays, that's a good incentive for him to watch them.

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Saturday stream of Chris watching Back-to-back Back To The Futures in a room of friends who cannot prevent themselves from guffawing famous lines as or just before they occur in film, please.

 

For a charitable cause?

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I would not donate to someone's first viewing of BTTF getting ruined!

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I decided to buy it anyway, and it seems like it could be really awesome, but it's missing a lot of the niceties that really make it playable for a first time player. For instance, I was given a starting quest in London to go meet with a contact in Mt. Palmerston "somewhere near the home seas." I explored what I thought was the entire available map, because if I ventured any further from the main coast I got nice little pop-ups that this area of the game wasn't finished yet. It turns out the place I needed to go was way past the area that's not completed, out in the middle of the sea where no starting player really would have a hope of getting to, let alone having enough fuel to get back. Even with directions from the forum where to find it, i still never ran into it.

 

So yeah, great mechanics, but a ton of balancing needed before I'd call it fun.

The Sunless Sea Map is procedurally generated and will change with each game. My Mt. Palmerston ended up being in the north of the mid-map areas. If (who am I kidding, *when*) you die you are given the option of giving your heir your map which keeps everything where it was.

 

I was a backer of the Sunless Sea Kickstarter (anyone want a Parabolan Kitten in Fallen London, just ask) and am pleased with the way it's been coming along. It is still unfinished in places. I've pretty much decided to wait until the game is finished before playing, but there's plenty of content out there now.

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One more thing: To get updated content in Sunless Sea, Failbetter Games has you create an account with them. They put some content in Fallen London that gives you "meta-qualities" in Sunless Sea. For example, playing with the Parabolan Kitten (anyone want one? I have a box full) rarely gives you the ability to access it in Sunless Sea (likely as a mascot). There are a couple other events like this, and it generates options and/or extra story notes in the game.

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It seems like Early Access was removed from the Steam storefront with the new update (made optional I guess, but it's not on the front page by default). I wonder how people feel about that. It wasn't really servicing my needs so I'm fine with it, in general. A few too many games kinda fizzled out in an unsatisfying way.

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However now I see that there is a pure new game search at the bottom of the page, so I'm glad that's still there at least. In general I hate the layout of the new store page, I feel like I have to scroll down pretty far to find what I'm actually interested in.

 

I thought it was pretty funny / ironic how the Thumbs were shaking their heads at the idea that Valve has apparently decided no one ever looks for games beyond the front page, and then a few minutes later lamenting the "loss" of the unfiltered list of new games when it is literally one click away from the front page.

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I think hearing Danielle say "shitty Kongs" in her RI accent might be the best thing I've ever heard on a podcast.

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