Electron Dance
30Nov/1612

Discussion: The Water Downstream

witness-visual-illusion

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the November edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

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  1. twitch is such a toxic fucking shithole. reality tv meets 4chan. i guess a lot of devs are grateful for it, but i’d burn the fucker to the ground. kill jester.

    on a happier note – rayman oranges! bloody hell, that soundtrack. should’ve won an oscar or sumthin. such a happy, happy game.

  2. What did you think of Tengami? I have an opinion. The opinion is that it was total fluff, which makes the slow pace a problem.

    (That’s, like, three straight on-topic comments. Be warned.)

  3. Sorry to hear that your latest video hasn’t done as well. Can’t speak for others but I skipped over it because I don’t really care for Dark Souls. Admittedly not liking a game doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t like or appreciate other content about that game, but I think the only videos I’ve ever really enjoyed of that series in particular were Monster Factory episodes.

    As for the Twitch stuff, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a stream like the one you described with the “negative feedback loop”, but then again I don’t watch streams very often (the last one I watched was bits of the Desert Bus for Hope marathon). This pretty much goes for most places online though: I hear people complain about Twitter harassment, toxicity on Reddit, YouTube comments, Twitch chat, etc, but I rarely see that stuff myself. Probably I’m just more closely drawn to the smaller or more positive/well-behaved online communities.

    Glad to see Rayman Origins on your “recent playlist.” What a fantastic game! I just replayed it to 100% completion a couple months ago, and it astounds me how good every part of that game and its sequel Legends are. The movement, the level design, the art style, the music, all of it is so good. I’ve got to say, control scheme makes a big difference, the first time I played the game was on the Wii, with a sideways Wiimote, and let me tell you, using the B button on the back of the controller to run didn’t take long to become physically painful. My most recent playthrough on PC with an Xbox controller was so much smoother, the game was honestly a cakewalk, even including the treasure chest levels and Land of the Livid Dead.

  4. Speaking with you recently about various meta-experiences in the games, I thought, why we can’t use Twitch for such philosophical sessions? Perhaps there are plenty of them already, but what about a real time break-out from the programmed environment like in “TrackMania² Valley”. You just drive ahead and ahead towards horizon, speaking about life and things with your visitors in chatroom, and it takes time, perhaps 30 minutes or more of just contemplation of roadless drive (perhaps visually more boring than “Desert bus” experience), of successive decay of reality (where first sky sphere, then cloud sprites etc. disappear).

    Not a gameplay, rather meditation. And honest chat with friends. Have I missed such twitch channels perhaps?

    Or one can start a game with cheat mode “ghost” and fly through walls and over the illuminated city, in places, which aren’t properly programmed by game authors, who suppose, nobody will ever get there. A ghost session. Sure, this is not for everybody, there won’t be much action or shootings or car chases. Arthouse feeling.

  5. P.S. Please don’t get me wrong, “Desert bus” is not boring for me :-)

  6. Wait, what’s this “streaming” thingy? Whatever happened to Let’s Plays? :P I am so behind.

    Joel, I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling anxious and stressed about the book. FWIW I have no idea if/when the indiepocalypse is going to happen – at this point I’m vague on what it actually is, except “pretty bad for indies”. So I would really appreciate your thoughts on the topic. Personally I have no problem with a smattering of anecdotal evidence: statistics and harder evidence are preferable but not always available, and at some point it’s necessary for speculation to fill in some of the gaps. I for one will read your first chapters (and probably the rest of the book too) – I value in-depth analysis and I think you’re in a good position to constructively add to the debate. As you said, the goal is not so much to write the perfect book (it isn’t Kapital) but to move the conversation forward.

    I also didn’t watch your video, sorry! 1) I don’t often have time to watch videos 2) For videogames I tend to prefer written pieces 3) I’ve never played Dark Souls *ducks for cover*

  7. Right, so, I don’t watch streams usually for the same reason I don’t sit and watch Let’s Play videos. I don’t find them entertaining and for me they are an unaffordable waste of time. So my exposure to streams is extremely limited and I think the only one I watched for real was one on The Witness with William Chyr & friends when I was doing research for The Unbearable Now. I remember enjoying its cosy camaraderie and there were never too many people in the comments – but always enough to spawn a conversation. It was always surprising to have the hosts pick up on something you had entered into the chat.

    This is to say my previous experience was actually quite warm. And now I remember this I feel like it would’ve been a better counterpoint to mention in the newsletter :)

    And there is much love here for Rayman Origins! I picked it up a while ago but… as a Uplay key. Naturally I put it off until I gritted my teeth and installed Uplay (fortunately going to wipe the OS soon, because my Windows is blue screening a lot – how much I swore when making The Drake Incident). I’m playing it with my daughter who is surprisingly adept at platforming now, a nice surprise, although she still gets killed very easily. What’s great is that I can *save* her and there’s such forward momentum as co-op.

    But is it just me but I find so called mainstream games like this extremely *busy*. At the end of each level there’s the grand electoon count and a giant big medallion and well I had no idea what was going on for ages. I also found the silhouette section where you slip between levels quite mystifying, like which way am I supposed to go, why is this bit even here?

    All settled down now but man I could spend a whole post describing how unwelcoming and noisy it felt. I assumed it was almost an entry point for “non gamers” but I came away thinking it was better for platformer veterans.

    It’s also nice to see everoyne picking stuff out of the recent playlist. I always thought it might start conversations, which allows me to chat about those I feel like I cannot write anything substantial about.

    Ketchua

    So yes I think just like YT, once a certain critical mass is achieved I think the comments can go rotten. I’d never really experienced that before but the whole live feedback issue was an eye opener for me. “Kill jester” – brilliant, I watched that again last night when I was supposed to be doing the newsletter.

    Matt

    Shocking, eh? On topic again. Tengami. Well, we’ve not finished it yet. I only picked it up because it was really cheap and I’m performing it in front of the children for “games night” at the moment. But I concur: lovely art but it feels slight. That pace is way too slow and unfortunately makes you suspect it is for padding as opposed to mood setting. Some of the paper play is clever but there’s not enough of it.

    Luke

    Not to worry, I’m not expecting everyone to watch the film! It was just this way of pointing out that I made the wrong choice in putting the book to one side for it. Then again, as made clear, part of me is definitely trying to postpone the book…

    I hope the start of this comment made clear I’m not necessarily calling out “streams are bad, yo”. I think you’re right that we are probably attracted to more pleasant streaming haunts and I turned up at the wrong door.

    Yes, we’re doing Origins on the PC and the controls aren’t too bad. I was actually on the keyboard while my daughter was on the controller. We made pretty good progress in our first session. I do, sometimes, have to tell her wait wait wait WAIIIIIT

    James

    As I said to Luke above, I wasn’t trying to shame anyone into watching it! I have over 1300 YouTube subscribers and I assumed I’d see a lot more natural sharing without having to, well, you know, beg on Twitter. In fact, more people have watched The Unbearable Now in the last week than The Drake Incident!

    I’m not trying to convert anyone to Dark Souls! But Eric has been bugging me for years to play it, putting it up there with Cart Life. The Drake Incident is a story about being completely unaware about my own Damascene conversion to Souls, until the Incident brings it sharply into focus. (erm as much as it is about reenacting boss fights with my son, and my daughter playing a dragon who is not a dragon)

    On the book: I just wanted to come clean that there was certainly some inertia here to getting the book chapters out, that while it remains under lock and key on my hard drive, no one is going to question it. But, as I decided to promote the original concept from blog to book, I knew I had to do a better job than merely anecdotes. Too much of indiepocalypse chatter and beyond is just anecdotes and feelings; I wanted to do better than that. I would absolutely love to work on this full time but, as it is, a few hours a week is all it gets. Despite this, I get **really** excited when I work on the book and I’m channelling as much energy into it as I can, hence the relative lack of posts in recent months.

    Merzmensch

    There probably *are* streams dedicated to this but as I don’t go watching streams I would never find them! Surely there must be!

    Oh, and I’m sure Desert Bus would not be boring for you!

    And, maybe just for you, I should’ve added this to the newsletter: here’s a YT that was forwarded to me about the boundaries of games. I don’t wholly agree with this, but I’m happy to discuss why further on in the comments.

  8. It warms my heart to see two out of the three comments here praise Rayman Origins, the very last item on the newsletter! ;-)

    Though Legends is a more generous game and the art is even better, I think Origins is structurally superior with regards to how you repeat levels and naturally come to master them. It’s very satisfying and organic. (I also prefer the level hub.) And yeah, the soundtracks are just superb. Christophe Heral and Billy Martin did an amazing job and you can hear how much fun they had producing them. It’s infectious and as joyous as Katamari Damacy and its OST. Hope you’re enjoying it though Joel! You playing it with your family? We found the co-op works really well and is very forgiving to newer players.

    On Andrea’s list: Hai and I finished Fran Bow a few months ago and it’s a wonderful experience. Interestingly I bought The Cat Lady as well but we’ve not played that yet. Rusty Lake Hotel is either on Hai’s wishlist or she’s got it already and possibly played it, I don’t know– she has mentioned it though! Not too familiar with the other games in Andrea’s list. Oooh, Year Walk is on Wii U! That site looks really interesting, thanks for the link.

    How you getting on with Snakebird by the way? :P

    I still need to watch your Dark Souls video and I’ve got the latest two parts of Dobralov’s Rimworld diaries over on Tap to catch up on.

    And finally, does ‘walking simulator’ come with the inverted commas? :-) I swear I’ll never use that phrase without them…

  9. Typing in between work and hitting Submit before refreshing the page isn’t a good idea!

    The silhouette bits are to mask the loading times! We used to spend those moments (and they were just moments on an SSD) enjoying the movement or slapping each other.

    If you find Origins noisy, whoa boy, Legends is something else. It’s full of junk like scratch cards (great on the Wii U with the touchscreen controller, I suppose), skin and level unlocks tied to a persistent lum counter, these weird creatures you can collect and slap for more lums… It was just too much for me. The core game is as solid as ever but, bleurgh, they coated it thick in Ubi crap.

    On streaming and Let’s Plays, yeah, I just don’t have the time or inclination to watch someone else playing a videogame when I could be doing that myself. That said, I’d still like to put some time aside, one day, for a few of the Let’s Plays that Amanda wrote about, uh… wow, three years ago: http://tap-repeatedly.com/2013/05/lets-watch-lets-plays/ The Trespasser one in particular interests me.

    Oh, I remember Hai showing me Tengami, but my gut reaction was ‘That looks similar to Monument Valley’. I didn’t care for Monument Valley.

  10. Gregg

    I must admit I’m not really getting that much out of the Rayman Origins music. Perhaps we’re just too focused on the task at hand throughout! It’s getting increasingly tricky now and I find I’m having to do a lot more work for my daughter while she waits at the sidelines having died many, many times at jumping challenges. Oh God, they just introduced gliding and it seems one button press too far for her… but OMFG I was playing the tall blue guy and that bit with the mosquitos was hilarious because I was too heavy to ride the mosquito – so it rode me!

    I’ve pretty much decided to quite Snakebird. There is no point playing something where you’re not getting better. More to follow on this. Next year.

    I haven’t started the Rimworld diaries yet, but they are still on radar. And I think you’ll enjoy the Dark Souls video especially as you have met its cast.

    Thank you for explaining the silhouette stuff, I was completely in the dark. Uh, that wasn’t meant to be a joke.

    I do get something out of the odd LP or stream but I rarely watch them start-to-finish. Like many of the commenters here, I just don’t feel value in most of them.

    I liked Monument Valley! But I would find it difficult to put up my hand and say GOTY material. It did seem the reception was a little too bubbly and over-the-top.

  11. My son is playing a ton of Bastion on “No Sweat” mode and said it was like one of his Lego games (e.g. Star Wars, Marvel Heroes, Lego Movie game) which seemed insightful to me. And I thought that in both of them, as well as in Tengami, a lot of the appeal is in the visual way of how the world is put together, literally in these cases; you see the world assembled as you go. Which is not a bad central appeal for a game–but the difference between Bastion/Lego and Tengami is that in those games you’re always doing things, walking around and fighting even if the fighting is low-stakes, and in Tengami you’re walking the PC walk around instead. Well, and also that my son enjoys the fighting.

    (Another thing is that the final puzzles in Tengami seem like ones where you figure out the basic system and then you go look up the solution online because working out the details isn’t worth it.)

  12. With Tengami I’m actually doing all the playing so it can be dead boring for my son. It’s just too slow. Even as an adult, the slow pace just doesn’t feel meaningful, it doesn’t add that much. I thought I’d like to explore the scenary a bit more but I can’t be bothered, it’s just too painful. My daughter seems to like it but, as you said, I think it’s the pop-up nature that does it. Thus far, it still doesn’t seem like it uses the pop-up theme to great puzzle effect. Half the time it’s exploring to find things, finding sequences… standard puzzle filler.

    My son misses watching Dark Souls. My daughter doesn’t want to watch Dark Souls unless I’ve been in an area before. She doesn’t like me being surprised or killed. Having said that, my son hates repetition. I used to get royally pissed off whenever he said, “Why did you do that Daddy?” when I get killed and have to do a thing again. GAHHHHH. PLEASE DON’T SAY THAT.

    In other news my son has fallen in love with Broforce. He has no idea who all the characters are, of course. I expected Broforce to be a very fluid game, but it isn’t, it’s extremely stop-start.

    Looking forward to the release of LEGO City Undercover in a few months’ time on PC…


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