Electron Dance
14Jun/13Off

Open Mike #4

antennae

Considering my "I'm in Japan" post was hijacked for a bundle fatigue rant I'm not sure you all need another comment thread so soon. Time to prove me wrong?

The floor is open. Wondering whether I should auto-delete comments that contain the term "E3".

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  1. Well it’s technically not open if you’re pondering censorship. You handsome tyrant, you.

  2. I am adopting the corporate definition of “open” which basically means brick walls, steel gates. Men with guns.

  3. Have you read Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s comic We3, HM?

  4. Things I am pissed about: Indie Fund is giving grants to Double Fine. I’ve talked about my troubles with the perception of Double Fine as “indie”, but more importantly, I find it in extremely poor taste. Double Fine is exploiting their fans through Kickstarter; I find even applying for help from Indie Fund to be disgusting. That money–which Double Fine has proven they can get through other means–could be used to help some actual developers. Hands up any of us who know, personally, a developer who could make more use of any money than Double Fine could? Consider that Double Fine will be using the money to pay rent on their offices, while an actual indie developer might be using that money to pay for rent on her apartment. Again, I’m making no comments on the quality of their games, or of the company as People, but let’s put it this way: They’re not going to angst about whether any of their games will get Greenlit and what that means.

    I also find that every bundle has either ended or is Arcen’s Greatest Hits and now that we’ve had the epic Bundle Fatigue rant, I kind of wish there were another bundle I’d be interested in.

    But in the meantime I’ve finally caved and picked up Lands of Lore 1 +2 from Good Old Games. I played the first in middle school, and even though I normally find first-person mazey dungeon crawlers to be kind of daunting and alienating, I loved the story. That this was around the time I was watching occasional episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and that Patrick Stewart plays King Richard in the game only sweetened the pot.

    (I will probably be “blogging” about it. I may take a Personal Tone, so I would urge you to ignore any blog posts I make on that because fuck’s sake.)

    Riot Fox demos, they tell me, are about a week from release. We’ve finally agreed on a title (read: everyone finally agreed to use the title I came up with) and we have a draft of art! Holy shit!

  5. @ShaunCG: No?

    @Richard: I dunno. I mean, it’s not Double Fine’s job nor Indie Fund’s to be altruistic. I know what the Indie Fund says on the tin but they’re both a bidness. The only group that could be responsible for seeding offbeat ideas would be state (through arts grants, or university-funded work) and I can see the state saying “you’ve got money, let me give this to someone who needs it”. Despite the best of initial intentions, I cannot ever see a scenario in which Indie Fund would turn down a developer for this reason. (plus it’s an investment not a grant just to be precise)

    I will say I find my eyebrows raising at the sheer number of cash lines Double Fine have available. Some would say this is good, because Double Fine is the kind of company you want to keep around. Others would say this is typical of the videogame funding problem: money goes to money.

    Good luck on the demo!

  6. Yo, I typed up a comment to reply to that and it was the most boring comment ever because this is like the most boring controversy for me to care about. Look, it was just quiet in here and my life is kind of lame at the moment so I was momentarily fired up about that. I am sorry.

    I have heard of We3!

  7. It hath taken me two days to figure out that Shaun was baiting my E3 auto-delete suggestion. For that I should banish him to HELL.

    @Richard: The comment you replaced the boring comment with was… even more boring maybe. Yikes.

    Games dabbled with over the last few days: Paranautical Activity, Occult Chronicles and Cognition Ep 1 (I saw, like the very first screen and that’s it).

    I hung out with Joe Martin (Unlimited Hyperbole), Alan Williamson (Five out of Ten and Split Screen) & friends on Tuesday evening. This was why this week’s post didn’t go up on Tuesday. It was nice chatting to other writer types in London for a change – I’m usually chasing after developers from autographs and special favours. Joe Martin looks like he’s about 14 in real life. I found this offensive as I am 40 in real life. When I talked to Joe about the difficulty of keeping up the schedule/juggling larger projects he wondered why I didn’t just post a little more irregularly if I needed the time. Why every Tuesday? Of course I have this thing about I MUST POST TUESDAY because it’s about discipline and the site might just fall apart without that – witness many other great blogs collapse because “I let it slip for a few weeks because my dog was busy” – but, if the result was ASTOUNDING SERIES OF VIDEOGAME KRAZY who would complain? My busy dog who doesn’t exist?

  8. Well, nutshell–a lot of it is semantics. We’re dealing with two very different concepts–“independent” vs “indie”–which, yes, have the same root, but talk about very different things. Double Fine is undoubtedly independent–while it’s been published by Sega and EA and a lot of huge corporations, its corporate structure has it being an entity to itself. I’d assume that its publishing contracts are done on an ad-hoc basis rather than being owned outright (EA publishing Brutal Legend is a different beast than it publishing Mass Effect 3, you understand.) “Independent” is more of a qualifier, and if Indie Fund is solely dealing with developers who meet these certain qualifications, then yeah, Double Fine is totally fine.

    But “indie”–now that’s a horse of a different color. “Independent” is 30-person offices, it’s obnoxious art students slitting their wrists in code for attention, it’s teams making educational sex games, it’s people making old-school throwbacks, it’s full 3d shooters–“independent” can be anything, but “indie” has some connotations to it that Double Fine just doesn’t have.

    I guess to me, “indie” is like “punk”.

    Everyone makes a huge deal when a band like Radiohead sells an album online and does well, or when Louis CK sells a special through his own site–but to take the lesson “anyone can do it” is completely idiotic–all you can take from this is that a certain act’s following is willing to follow them to a non-traditional medium. When Radiohead released In Rainbows and music critics were ejaculating all over themselves with the new concept that a band can sell music online for its own price–that was a massive, massive slap in the face to all of the bands I knew at the time who’d had their music online for years and weren’t making a cent. Radiohead was on fucking MTV, on a major label; its success is due to major label backing. To say “anyone can do it” is to put blame on people who don’t have access to marketers.

    Anyway, the argument was along those lines, but it is as you said–it’s neither Double Fine’s nor Indie Fund’s problem. I just think it’s time for me to retire “indie” from my vocabulary because I’m beginning to genuinely feel that it’s beginning to be coopted by the suits.

  9. @HM: Heh heh heh.

    @Richard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IunY0WZdD1c&t=25m0s (specifically 26:10)

    But I do agree.

  10. @Richard: Yes I’ve definitely been having my own crisis with the term “indie”. I’ve been using it again more recently, but out of laziness, really. I still feel uncomfortable when I used the term because of the romantic portrait of garage band developers it infers.

    It reminds me that the word “indie” is this weird hybrid of free artistic expression and Randian capitalism. We love this idea of street developers getting their raw, off-kilter wares out for people to play, but lament how most of them don’t get enough to eat – yet going indie means no one owes you anything. We search for an almost socialist support network in a space that was forged so that you could take all the profits home. It’s no wonder we have problems with what indie means. (I’m not arguing the rights and wrongs of each position here – regular readers would guess I lean towards support structures.)

  11. This is part of why I find the “punk rock” comparison we see time and time again in indie gaming so irritating (I can’t remember exactly what I said during Cat’s Away). It’s a comparison typically undermined by a lack of understanding of the relative circumstances of the two subjects.

  12. Shaun – your bit about punk is in the “Seven People, One Podcast” podcast made up of the bits edited out of the Cat’s Away videos. It kicks off around 6:50.

  13. Thanks, HM – I’ve just re-listened to that and it’s as inarticulate as I remember, but I think I conveyed the point I wanted to!

    I was quite nervous throughout that entire interview.

  14. Hi everyone! I was on vacation last week! I saw Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone and went to a rodeo!

    My thoughts on Indie Fund: it’s kind of silly but you’re supposed to repay the grant, it’s not a gift, it’s a no-interest loan, so whatever, guys.

    I have a ton of games to play right now and I don’t know where to start. However, I think I will start by playing the game “sorting through vacation pictures.”

  15. It’s good to have you back, Eric. Indie Fund is a bit more than a no-interest loan according to the Indie Fund site: “Once the game is released, you first pay back the investment and then share 25%of the revenue, until we double the initial investment, or until 2 years after the initial launch date, whichever comes first.” It’s a proper investment vehicle.

    Enjoy the new game.

  16. Amanda Lange has professed her undying love for Deadly Premonition over on Tap this week. Now that’s a game I want on PC, like Dark Souls. Which probably means if it did get released on PC I wouldn’t play it.

  17. I think I am going to try and encourage C to join me in the Deadly Premonition experience. We can do it alongside watching Twin Peaks!

    Dylan showed me Dark Souls t’other day. Apparently I am pretty good at parrying.

  18. Migosh! The new Riot Fox single is out. You can listen at http://riotfox.bandcamp.com/ !

    I loved that Deadly Premonition piece. I played the game on “medium” or “hard” difficulty and the enemies were sponges. I got past the point of fun into tedium. I need to give it another go at some point.

    I continue to be all about first-person dungeon crawlers. I’ve been loving Stonekeep right now. It’s a fairly remarkable game–it’s a bog standard maze game, but it’s done so well and has such a weird style to it that I’m loving it. I highly recommend it.

    I have so far spent a billion dollars on GoG’s sales.

  19. Sounding good! I dig the chorus hooks and dual vocals especially. Also liking the bridge/middle eight/different sounding verse (I am well good at music, me).

    Since we are sharing bands, here are a couple of songs from our last recording session:
    https://soundcloud.com/wtpf

    Vampire is nice and Hole is nasty. We are useless and poor and will probably never actually release these. At some point we’ll probably find a decent photograph and put them up on Bandcamp for free!

  20. @HM Really! I did not know this. I have even less of a problem with it in that case, and in fact, seems to be the sort of thing many of us have been clamoring for.

  21. @HM:
    Deadly Premonition was the only serious obstacle to me deciding between the PS3 and 360 until they announced the Director’s Cut release. Then it was Earth Defense Force, but that’s going to be alleviated too. So it’s down to, what, Crackdown? No tears shed. Senko no Ronde looked nice, but I’m terrible at processing bullet hell visually, so that probably wouldn’t have worked out.

    @Richard:
    Good stuff, sir. I have a friend that plays hard rock, which I’m also not into, but in both cases I appreciate the musicianship/production.

    I almost had a first-person dungeon crawler phase, but I had a computer crash soon after the downloading binge. I lost the urge by the time my computer was up and running again. The latter Might & Magics did sound fun enough to warrant me getting them on GOG. I also grabbed System Shock 2 finally, though I promised myself I’d give Deus Ex: Invisible War a spin as my next major PC endeavor. Once I get through Lone Survivor. I just got the ability to make coffee! It’s like my life right now!

    @Shaun:
    It made me think “a more sane Gallows” even though it’s not quite like that. Also good. You’re not letting that sweet band name go to waste.

    I’m okay at parrying in Dark Souls, which is NOT GOOD ENOUGH since counterattacks are my favorite thing to do. I blame the awesome issen attacks in Onimusha.

    Here’s my hat in the music share ring. Hope you like music with zero physically-played instruments: http://networks.bandcamp.com/track/held

  22. I don’t think I’m going to watch any videos of Deadly Premonition. I did see a little bit of it some time ago, but I hope I would get the chance to play it for real one day. I think the feeling of discovery/interactivity add something to games – even if you’re sitting there while someone else plays it becomes a joint experience – and I only watch videos if I really have no intention of playing the game one day.

    I don’t how these comments turned into an indie music PR column, but hey, I guess it’s all good if I charge you $10 a piece. Better pay today before this early bird rate runs out and doubles tomorrow! I’m afraid I’m not a great lover of punk music, so all I can say is they sound good to my ears. Very polished. Or should that be very raw? I’m just putting my foot in it now. Of course, Sid’s has already been featured in two Electron Dance videos. He still owes me lots of money for the great PR work I did for him. He never paid, so I pre-emptively killed him in Neptune’s Pride expecting this situation to happen.

    I’m fascinated that you’re spending so much time on GoG, Richard. I wish I could spend a bit more time on forgotten titles. Some of those titles are still engaging, well, if you have the time to figure them out (X-Com I could see the attraction but my first experience took a long time to play out). I wrote about the amazing Sanitarium a few years back.

    Eric, I think the Indie Fund requiring profits is precisely why they choose projects with a good chance of success. Of course, being associated with the Indie Fund is marketing in itself. Wheels within wheels…

    Beam, I don’t think I ever figured out how to make coffee in Lone Survivor. I had all the ingredients but couldn’t make it to stage 2, actual coffee.

    Lastly, I’m mulling over a month-long Electron Dance holiday in August, to step back and regroup. It was great to have a week not worrying about the site while I was in Japan but the trip merely made the Electron Dance schedule more crazy for when I returned. For months I have been unable to devote myself to more substantial projects – for example, an e-book and the next long series which is just one endless rant – and I think I need to give myself some breathing space. Running around each week, sweating over each Tuesday deadline, unable to build up a reserve of several articles because I’m always in manic panic mode… it is gradually wearing me down and I’ve been finding it difficult to contribute to the comments through both fatigue and funk. Marginalia and Counterweight would still happen but no writings. I guess I’m skirting around the real issue that unless I do something then I’m heading towards not wanting to maintain the site any more (although if I could do it full-time, OMG, I’d be so happy). Any thoughts?

    Now, after that bout of seriousity, does anybody have a recommendation for a good quality DVD ripper? I’ve been having a look at some trial versions and I’m not excited about any of them.

  23. @Beam: I always dug your music on the now-sadly-retired ED videos. I like the tunes on your bandcamp page, too, but like HM with his kind words about punk rock I lack the vocab to say much more than that.

    I am normally rubbish at parrying and stuff but normally when I’m playing a game which is high-falutin’ enough to involve parrying, I’m playing it in front of someone and I feel compelled to up my game. On my own I’d probably just spam light attacks and roll around a lot, like I do in a real fight.

    @HM: $10?! Man, that’s more than we’ve earned so far this year.

    A holiday from the site sounds like a good plan. I like to take a sabbatical from writing every so often and always find it refreshing and innervating.

    @Richard: you made me look on GOG again. And it turns out that Chaos Overlords, an obscure gem I wrote about on ED a few years back, has been added! Not on sale, sadly, but it’s now wishlisted. I did buy Syndicate Wars and Miasmata though.

  24. Oh yeah, and last time I ripped a DVD I used the classic DVD Shrink and DVD Decryptor pairing. You, er, may only need one half of that setup.

  25. Shaun, I like to do a video for each series so, if I manage to get the rant off the ground then it will have a video. (And a mini-ARG.) I just haven’t had the time so far, hence the desire to take a month off. If this works well I might think about formalizing two months off each year from 2014… we’ll see.

    DVD Shrink just copies a DVD, though, right? I’m looking for something to pull the video into an AVI or MP4 or something.

  26. Excellent!

    Apols for misunderstanding. Afraid I can’t help there – that’s something I’ve never done.

  27. Oh. God. GoG is blowing up and I’ve bought a million things.

    I was actually a PC gamer in middle school. High school, I stuck my head into music for most of it and while I still played games, I wasn’t a Gamer–gaming was more Nintendo 64 stuff with friends and, towards the end, emulation of SNES games. The family computer simply wasn’t good enough to play games that came out later–when the Baldurs Gates and the System Shocks and the Thieves and all of them were coming out–and so my head was out of the scene. In college, consoles were where it’s at–I still maintain that the PS2 is my favorite system and I still go back to it faithfully–and so going back at GOG is as much rediscovery as it is playing stuff I should have gotten to. Lands of Lore and all of the old adventure games, after all, were part of my life back then.

    But seriously fucking everything is on sale right now. I don’t even know what I’ve bought. Driftmoon was gifted to me by a friend, Stonekeep is sprawling and very long and I’m enjoying every minute of it, and I find myself thinking: Should I play an Ultima game? I never really have–4, which I own for free, is proving to be a very bad place to start, but I’m looking at VII and I’ve heard some Good Things about it. And it’s 2.99. I mean, what’s the problem with just picking it up anyway? Hm. I have Miasmata and it looks goddamn awesome, but something which is not goddamn awesome is my computer, which does not run it. If I ever get a job I’m going to build a real gaming rig.

    I’m happy to see that we have so much musical talent around here. Why, we could put on a show and pay off the bank and save Joel’s barn ourselves! Seriously if you ever want to do an Electron Dance comp, Riot Fox will be happy to be on it.

    (And any developers who are interested in an ending theme, we will custom-write lyrics for you!)

    The problem with the Giant Bomb Deadly Premonition videos is that the fun gameplay footage was ruined by the Giant Bomb guys trying, and failing as always, to be funny. I’ve never really enjoyed their stuff–it seemed very “nerds trying way too hard to make jokes”, which is one of the main reasons I don’t watch many videos/listen to many podcasts. Although to be fair, the last time I saw anything Giant Bomb was before The Besties existed, and perhaps in light of that GB comes off much better.

    As for your hiatus, well, I said this a bit on Twitter, but I’ve just deactivated SQ hosting (there was some sort of problem with the site, and I figured fuck it and took it as a sign), and it’s the biggest weight off my life. This is the only gaming community I really participate in, and I’ll miss it if it’s gone, but I will never argue against burning everything down and salting the earth.

  28. @Richard: I *really* like the Tentacle’s box art…

    If you want, (this was supposed to be the finishing comment to that earlier “indie” discussion we had) we can start using “prog” instead of “indie”. Essentially, if we create a new word, then we can impose a strict definition upon it, taking it back from the suits essentially. Essentially.

    But, no, I’m just kidding. I like Keep it to Yourself plenty, and am currently listening to your EP for the third time. I really do like that box art though.

  29. I’m very close to beating Nano Breaker on the PS2, but I spent an hour and a half before beating the final showdown with the rival character. Koji Igarashi must accept fifty lashes for okaying a boss whose most powerful attack is almost instant-death, can track you more effectively than anything else in the game, and can only be interrupted by a specific attack over time that makes him block everything else you do. Also, the camera can’t keep up with him. I beat him by exploiting a hitch in his AI that makes him try to block a slow, unblockable attack.

    FUN.

    @HM:
    Handbrake (handbrake.fr) is a pretty popular choice. It’s free, too.

    @Richard:
    I keep trying to not spend money, and then I do. Thankfully, a good chunk of the items on my wishlist aren’t in the five dollar range, because that price point is full of mystic and evil wallet-draining energy.

    @mwm:
    Some games give that impression, but I think indie is spread across so many different styles and intentions that any other label would give the wrong impression. Indie is something of a blanket in music too, so it’s not that far off. Some indies are more punk, some are proggy, etc.

    Is there a dance-punk indie game?

  30. @Beam: Shield the Beat? I think that has some dance tracks on it, and it’s a rhythm-based game. It’s on XBLIG, not sure where else.

  31. @Shaun:
    Looks like XBLIG’s the only place. Ah well.

  32. @BMO: Now, I just gotta plain disagree with you there. Prog, in my mind at least, is a way of making music; not a genre. A way of making music that puts the music before anything, money least of all; that allows for esoteric and interesting works outside the norm; that sticks to mainstream tendencies where they work, subvert them where they’re funny, and go around them when they fail; that is willing to cover Tuesday’s Gone because, you know what? Fuck you. You say we’re caving into the industry? No, dipshit, this means we’re not caving into the industry and it means we’re not caving into *you*. Grow a pair then give us some real complaints.

    What was I talking about? Oh, yeah… Uh, “prog” is a rough equivalent to the definition of “indie” that I gave the other day: “The guy who’s planning the game knows the guys that are making the game, and none of them have to worry so much about the bottom line, or pleasing the boss, or office politics, that they compromise the original vision.”

    And, even at that, it doesn’t matter what word we used. We could make one right up, right here, and attach our meaning to it. It’d be too much to assume that it’d catch on and the rest of the internet would use it, but that’s irrelevant. If we can make the conversation we’ve got that much easier, that much more accurate, then why shouldn’t we?

  33. @mwm:
    True, I just associate prog with a degree of skill/finesse that isn’t necessarily part of an indie game’s design. Punk doesn’t fit for me because it’s an equal and opposite reaction to prog, which contradicts any slick indie production. And both of those labels aren’t generally pop-oriented, which contradicts the huge indie scene that seeks to recreate past successes or compete with current ones.

    All that considered, I simply don’t mind the term “indie” in the first place. If labels like “house” and “world” can stick for music, I don’t see the issue with indie. Big publisher releases aren’t always “AAA”. I’d say something like Sega’s Yakuza series might fit the AA bill, while Wasteland 2 would be single A. Indies, of course, would be YAAAY, YAAY, or YAY!

  34. I hope all of you are happy to see your comments and avatars running down the Electron Dance sidebar now. I took out the “Projects” section as the “Electron Dance Highlights” are doing so well and made the “Commentary” section more prominent and detailed.

    @BeamSplashX: I will try Handbrake again. I had problems getting it to work last time I tried it.

    @Richard: We all agree around here that sales are the succubus of internet capitalism. Anyway, maybe I will get a PS2 one of these days and write up a special PLAYSTATION ONLY MONTH. Ico. Colossus. Deadly Premonition. Anything else?

    The sabbatical has multiple purposes: a life reset to get out of the constant cycle of working late on ED-related stuff and to get some space to move forward on bigger projects. I don’t want to throw in the towel as it’s the only creative thing I’ve really managed to build into something substantial, but the pressure has been consistently on for months whereas it used to ebb and flow.

    By the way, I don’t think in a million years would have anticipated that the site comments could yield a discussion on indie as prog =)

    After completing the Shooting Gallery I’ve got a taste for Everyday Shooter again. So now it’s Paranautical Activity and Everyday Shooter. I’ve put Occult Chronicles on hold while I read the manual. (Vic Davis makes games where you have to read the unreadable manual.)

  35. “I only watch videos if I really have no intention of playing the game one day”

    You and I both. It pretty much puts most trailers, Let’s Plays and video reviews off limits. What’s worse is having the intention of playing lots of games but knowing that you have no idea when you’re going to play them, if ever, so you’re in a constant state of ‘Nope! Can’t watch that!’

    Don’t know whether you spotted my comment on Tap HM, but I’m willing to lend you my PS3 seeing as it doesn’t get much use these days. I intend on picking up Deadly Premonition at some point as it sounds too interesting to pass up.

    Also: Yes, for god’s sake, take a break. If there’s anyone who deserves one it’s you, and you often sound exhausted! As I’ve said before, there’s a reason why there’s a little factory icon next to your name on my mobile phone: you’re so industrious. Besides, all you’d need to do is put up an Open Mike while you take some time off and Richard could hold the fort ;-)

  36. And yes, I noticed the snazzy new comments sidebar – very nice!

  37. I’m not super into the term “prog” as a replacement, much as I have a theory that we’re flipping back to a 70s-influenced culture. (I’m not sure if that’s an across-the-board thing or just the way my lifestyle is shaping up.) It’s mostly because I tend to think of prog rock as needing a lot more *talent* than many indie games have. There’s a sense of epicness, of fusion with other genres, of sheer musical skill, that’s simply not in, say, a Twine game, or Passage, or any of the five-minute “art games” which, something like Mainichi (not to beat a dead horse) might be crude patronizing bullshit but it’s certainly “indie”, even if it’s not “prog’.

    Oh god we’re becoming formalists.

    If we are looking for examples of “Gaming as prog rock”, though, I’d say A Valley Without Wind and Frog Fractions fit that genre perfectly.

    @beamo I think I like “YAY” games. Let’s use that from now on.

    @mwm I’m glad you like the art–my guitarist slapped that together and it looks ridiculously good. Naming it “Tentacles” was an uphill battle for me–the name comes from a lyric in one of the other songs, and I dunno, I just wanted to call an album that. The full release is, I think coming next week. I’m flattered as hell you’re listening to the other EP! I haven’t dared to do so in months :)

    A billion dollars later, my desktop is crowded with little round GOG icons.

    @HM There are a MILLION awesome PS2/PSX games that you should look into. It’s going to be very interesting to see your takes on some of them. In many ways, you and I have opposite histories with games, since I’ve always been more console- and Japanese-focused when you tend to write about western PC games, so I would be curious about your take on them.

    @Gregg I am down to hold the fort but I need your help as one of the other long-winded guys around here!

    Snazzy ass-sidebar!

    The most exciting project I’ve worked on this week, shockingly enough, is a series of Twine games. The experience developing them is so ridiculously easy, so I’m glad that I was able to put “game designer” on my resume with a modicum of effort. I’m working on the third volume of a tetralogy of games about my Personal Story. Is Twine still relevant? Who knows.

  38. Frog Fractions is a lot closer to Butthole Surfers than to Yes. The question is, are the Butthole Surfers prog?

  39. Depends–are we talking Psychic, Powerless, Another Man’s Sack, Independent Worm Saloon, or their contribution to the Step Into Liquid soundtrack?

    Because the answer is no!

    (Secret dream: Covering Who Was In My Room Last Night. I can get the guitarist at least to agree!)

  40. Y’all getting stuck on music metaphors. Videogames, for all our beautiful tools, are still mired in the bog of software development. There’s the term “MicroISV” (micro independent software vendor) which means a vendor with less than ten employees. Maybe we need a similar rigourous definition. A “MicroVGD” for video game development, something like a shop that has less than 10 employees and takes less than $500K in annual revenue. Come on, let’s do this. Let’s get technical and formal. Are you a μVGD? It’s a YES or a NO. Answer the question.

    For the sabbatical, I am thinking of putting up a question thread each week – something less incendiary than “what do you think about gender politics in videogames, why so serious?” – in addition to the Open Mike.

    I put more emphasis on the comments in the sidebar because a lot of action was happening down here but maybe no-one was checking them out. (Also, you might have noticed, the “Highlights” section has been moved up the page, now separating the comments from the article.)

    Gregg – merely LEND me the PS3? Where’s the love? Don’t you remember I came to your house and entertained you like a boss and made you famous on YouTube? Twice? Let’s not forget our Portal 2 love.

  41. I’ll even throw in the little plastic clip-on triggers that make the shoulder buttons more comfortable to use.

    “entertained you like a boss”

    People will get jealous HM.

  42. @HM – that’s a fair cop! I would probably back you on such a semantic play. Obvious observation is obvious, though: terms like MicroISV are going to be coined & propagated by people in the software devt biz. Videogames being an entertainment medium, the vast majority of people talking about them are players/consumers/not in the biz (delete as preferred) and are going to be appropriating language familiar to them from elsewhere. Hence, indie devs, the broken punk metaphor, the Citizen Kane of videogames, etc.

    That said “core gamers” get overly excited by bump-mapped hyper-tessellation in an nth-dimensional diffuse-glow fractal microcosm engine so maybe the industry nomenclature just needs sexing up a bit, or to sound like technobabble from Star Trek. I DON’T KNOW WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME

    P.S. Dylan is also trying to get a free PS3; the cheeky sod obviously doesn’t realise they come free with your second job.

  43. I finally beat Nano Breaker today. The endgame is infuriating nonsense that made me hate myself, and for that, I’d say skip it. It was pretty fun for most of it and bears several marks of being a predecessor to one Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. The options that make the blood come out in all the colors of the rainbow is probably the best thing it has over other games.

    @Richard:
    Send me a PS3. I don’t care if you have one to give, I’m not waiting on shipping from the UK, and it wouldn’t be free if I bought it. I promise I’ll send you your own free PS3 in return, some day. Electron Dance will be known as the Land of Given PS3s.

    @HM:
    Handbrake can be a bit of an ass at times. I could recommend PS2 games, but then I’ll really never have anything to potentially write about maybe. Outside of Open Mikes, I mean.

    Also, that IS a nice sidebar.

  44. Routine! Working on the latest post, so not going to contribute much to the thread right now. But I have to drop the Routine alpha trailer in here, if you hadn’t seen it yet. It might be a shit game when it finally comes out – my trailer cynicism knows no bounds – but the trailer is enjoyable:

  45. Oh my god Routine looks goddamn amazing. I’m wary of Space because Dead Space 2 was such a betrayal, but…man. That looks SUPER good.

    The Richard Goodness Tetralogy is back to a Trilogy; it is finished and I will be releasing the Extended Edition later this week! Twine is fun as shit!

    @beamo One point last year, my weird hairy drunken Irish roommate stumbles into my room, wearing nothing but underwear and holding a PS3. “Ah found this on the currrrrrrrrrb, lad!” he slurred, liltingy. “It may nae werk, bu’ it’s yers if you want!” And he flung the PS3 into my bed, narrowly missing my head, and collapsed on the floor of his room.

    This PS3 did not come with a power cord or anything like that, so I’m genuinely not sure if it works and I’ve always been too lazy to figure it out. But I’m willing to send it to you if you want!

  46. @Richard:
    I’d need to know where it should be sent in the first place (it could be North Carolina or Illinois within these next weeks), and if I could get someone with cables already to test it out. And I don’t want to lug around a monstrous original model, or worry about a potentially closer-to-death slim model if I can avoid it. I can hardly afford the games now, anyways.

    The above is known as a gift horse dental exam.

  47. @HM:
    More than the sidebar, I like that you’ve randomized the featured articles that pop up. The pictures were, I’ve no doubt, tediously labored upon when made, and have always made a distinct graphical impact when cycled. That this happens each time you hit F7, in addition to revealing the vast archive of before-time articles, is wonderful.

    @Prog:
    Yeah, all I’ve been suggesting is the hijacking of “prog” for my own purposes. I’d certainly like to have the right to use the word in essays, but, hey, if it means I can be the haughty prick who has to explain the word in casual conversation, then that’s good enough for me.

    @HM:
    Go a step further and cheaper. Emulate the PS1. Wait, I’ve already…Hrmm.

    @Richard:
    Tentacles is hardly an original name to be slapped on an album, but it certainly works. If it’s got a strong thematic root, then that’s as good as they get.

    Tell me when you start selling T-shirts. I’ll demand that you get me one for half-price, stow it away in the closet, then brag to everyone I know that I knew you “way back when, man!” if you ever get big.

  48. @mwm

    On the highlight links, thanks. It was easy to implement but, for some reason, I was opposed to the idea for the longest time. Probably a hangover from my “I’m not a self-publicising asshole” days. I am better at being a self-publicising asshole now.

    It’s a pain trying to figure out the right custom-made image for a post, but it’s worth it. Whenever there’s a new flurry of visitors from Rock Paper Shotgun or Twitter, I can see a splurge of exploration through the featured articles.

    @Richard

    I’m not sure what to make of that “confession” Twine you wrote, it was pitched a little far into disturbing territory. Then again, maybe that is the point if the first Twine was anything to go by.

    Last word on indie/punk.

    Anyway, it’s obvious indie games aren’t prog or punk: it’s clearly, uh, Táncház. There are no comebacks here. Maybe I should lock the thread.

  49. @HM

    I don’t wanna take over with an Explanation of my Stuff, because there’s nothing more obnoxious than someone explaining his own writing, but that’s pretty much it. The trilogy is intended to be an ugly mirror of every confessional, autobiographical, self-absorbed Thing that I’ve ever read in this scene. The martyrdom inherent in every “bad things happened to me and I’m a Victim” gets turned into a literal martyrdom–frankly the original draft of it featured an even more graphic crucifixion. The protagonist’s ambivalence towards his mother’s rape is a cross between his self-absorption and the Mommy Issues that everyone seems to fucking have.

    I guess at the end of the day I wanted to follow every single tenet of the Zinesters and make it into the ugly, chaotic, horrifying mess that I find every Zinester work to be. In other words, The Passion of Richard Goodness is, quite literally, what “Gaming Made Me: Fallout 2” looks like when I see it. I have repeatedly said that the Zinester ideology–fuck, I can’t get away from it, it’s that fucking insidiously destructive–is one which purports to be about self-expression but is really about orthodoxy. I think you’ll find that the Richard Goodness Trilogy–and, in fact, most of my work–fits their tenets to the letter and yet is such a twisted, ugly form of it because any ideology and any group is often by nature twisted and ugly. I am using the rules of the Cool Kids’ Club to show that the Cool Kids’ Club is based on some really horrifying ideas which, in my mind, put women and “queers”–I hate that fucking word–in an awful, awful light. Consider it the Twine equivalent of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. You’re telling me that all subjects are open–why not this one? You’re telling me that all voices should be heard–why not mine? You’re telling me that all perspectives are valid–why not this? I’m doing that sort of thing, basically.

    And frankly, being of the “wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have me as a member” mindset, I did want to write something that offended the shit out of everyone who read it, no matter who they are or how they feel about my work in general. Perhaps the next time John Sharp idly wonders who the GG Allin of the indie scene is, he should check that no one is gonna take him up on that offer.

    That said, “I don’t want to tell you how to read it; I want people to bring their own interpretations and experiences to my work, and so my interpretation is no more valid than yours.” Standard “seriously, talking about my own work is uncomfortable as shit and I hate when people analyze their own stuff like that because it’s almost always condescending” boilerplate, really.

    @mwm We actually do have t-shirts already! If you come to a show you can buy one for $10! Seriously thanks. I really hope the damn thing releases soon. We had a kickass show on Friday, and rumor has it we will be playing Boston at some point soon.

    Ugh, fucking Boston.

    @beamo Sorry, dude, it’s an original PS3. It’s the curb, not a store!

    (Note to English readers: A “curb” is kind of like a “kerb” but its spelling makes more sense.)

    (I looked up Tanchaz and actually one COULD make arguments to that effect…if one were an asshole. Please don’t lock the thread.)

  50. Beat Dear Esther! Um, which thread was I talking about Dear Esther on again? Anyway, either the chapter system works bizarrely or I just couldn’t figure it out, as the chapter breaks were exactly where I thought they were but for some reason when I restarted the game I couldn’t play from the chapter I’d reached. Or I didn’t think I could. Never underestimate my ability to misunderstand the UI.

    Anyway, I approve of Dear Esther, and I have now finished three games from Humble Bundle 8 which is a record. Depending on how you count. Bundle 7 is starting to look like a dead loss though.

  51. @Richard “I don’t wanna take over with an Explanation of my Stuff–” BOOM! PARAGRAPHS!

    I kind of inferred that it was a reaction against personal games. It is an ugly game, you succeeded =) The further into the game I went, the harder I found it to go on. Did I really want to read the most disturbing shit you can come up with? Every click made it worse. And I thought there might be a “win” condition and started backtracking. After a while, my usual Twine intolerance kicked in, especially I couldn’t really stomach much more.

    The problem, of course, is The Author As Content. It’s a Richard Goodness piece. It’s not anonymous; we can see the authorial intention before we even open it and that skews the impression somewhat. Is it possible to present a meaningful parody when, really, we already understand the author’s message before we click through the first page? It’s a howl from the bowel rather than the voice in the discussion.

    (I’ve never liked the word queer myself but it is news to realise I am not alone on that.)

    So here’s the thing. I thought you were rebooting Team Goodness and stepping away from this sort of videogame fightin’ talk?

    @Matt: Having a look at the bundles, Matt. I think out of HIB 7, Legend of Grimrock is the only one I really want to play. HIB 8 is more tricky as I have two of the games already! I feel like “Thomas Was Alone” is one of those games I should play but I’m just scared I’m going to bounce off it’s cute exterior. (Pippin Barr couldn’t get into it and, while I’m pretty sure we have divergent videogame interests, it gave me pause.) I do want to give Hotline Miami a go, despite Eurogamer’s strange excursion into “Hotline Miami is BDSM oh, and, actually all games are forever”.

    I’m still hooked on Paranautical Activity particularly as the latest patch has made the game easier for me.

    What did you like about Dear Esther?

  52. I KNOW I AM LONG WINDED I CANNOT HELP IT (all of your comments are very astute and will be taken into consideration; not wanting to take up any more of everyone’s time, I will say that my ADD has gone into effect and I’ve Moved On. Team Goodness is not interested in being any particular thing, although it will always be crazy.)

    Grimrock is goddamned awesome, but for some reason, I’ve been absolutely fucking absorbed in Wizardry 6. I have been drawing goddamn MAPS to get through it. See my blog for more details in about, oh, an hour. I have the same reticence towards Thomas Was Alone–I think I mentioned I looked at its twee whimsicality a bit askance. Everyone says Hotline Miami is brilliant, but I don’t like violent videogames, and I like violent videogames that are commentaries on violent videogames even less so. I am tired of videogames hating what they are, and I hate that condescending “You’re a piece of shit for forking over your hard-earned money to shoot people in the head, you piece of shit” Spec Ops commentary.

    Really, all I wanna do is spend time in some dank dungeons bopping kobolds over the head with a vorpal sword.

    That Eurogamer article sounds awful.

  53. @HM: Oh ho you think you can get me to answer that question but I’m here to talk about SpaceChem. Later

    So, SpaceChem: One of the first things that struck me about it is that it has the biggest case of gameplay and story segregation EVER. There are these little storybits about SpaceChem every few levels and then you have to do something, and does the stuff you’re doing have anything to do with the storybits? Not that I can tell. And there are these characters in the storybits, one of which is you, and not only does their interaction not even seem to play into the storybits but they don’t even have avatars in the gameplay levels. It’s like, except for the defense level at the end of a world, the storybits could be anything. Then you go on to try to make another compound.

    And my thought was: What if that’s the point? I fire up a level, I look at the compounds I have to make, maybe I mouse over the storage tanks and read a bit of the impossibly dry flavor text about what molecules I have to make, but I’m just viewing it as a problem to be solved. And what if that’s the approach the PC is taking? Synthesize the chemicals, no matter what they are or what they’re being used for. Start with fertilizer and wind up with nerve gas, maybe, or beyond. Will you even notice? Is that what’s eating at your co-workers? Passive collaboration with evil because you’re just doing your job is a story we’re all familiar with.

    And maybe that is the story. To find out I’d have to pay more attention to that flavor text, and I’d also have to finish the game which is not that likely because damn it looks like there’s a lot of levels.

  54. OK, so Bundle 8 questions. I guess you didn’t actually ask a question about “Thomas Was Alone” but my guess is that you would not like it. You’ve complained about casual platformers with a bit of a gimmick that mostly serve to tell a story and Thomas Was Alone is something like the apotheosis of those. Both in that it’s very well done — the story is involving, the voice acting is professional and distinctive and doesn’t make you want to stick a pencil in your ear except on levels that take a lot of tries which means a lot of times listening to the same voice spiel — and also that it’s something of the most of what it is. Big for a mostly vanilla linear platformer (shouldn’t take anyone who can beat You Have to Burn the Rope more than three hours I guess, but that’s more than most of the flash games we’re talking about), no real mechanical innovation, level design doesn’t make you go ahhh, not and of course the graphics are as blocky as they come.

    Thing is I like these games. Pippin called the platforming “insanely boring” which is true to some extent, though there were times I liked assembling the capacities of the different characters into a solution. And the more challenging twitchy bits tended to drive me crazy — there are some advancing wall of doom bits that needed to die, especially because occasionally the game decided that there were Real Physics happening which tended to mean that for a few moments you couldn’t move or jump with no real rhyme or reason and not as much feedback as there should have been. Another thought I had is that games like this, and this is perhaps an impossible request, need to be giving really good feedback about whether jumps are unmakeable or routine or makeable only with precision. Preferably if precision isn’t a big deal, any jump you fail you’ll fail big. There was one level I looked at a walkthrough for because I kept missing an unmakeable jump when a slightly different jump was not too hard at all; but the edge detection was really not crisp enough that I felt sure of what my capabilities were supposed to be.

    But anyway! That’s the negative stuff! The positive stuff is that, well, I like platforming if I get some reward for it, especially if the game isn’t trying to show how much it hates me which this one mostly wasn’t. (And sometimes if it is. Don’t Look Back was fantastic.) And the story is a reward. And this achieves the real synthesis of story and mechanic that Braid only pushes through by fiat — except for that one level the time reversal in Braid is experienced more as about fiddly manipulation to solve puzzles than whatever point about time and regret Blow may have been trying to make, but in Thomas Was Alone when different characters are cooperating or something what you’re doing in the game is really making them cooperate, and their different characters emerge from and determine the mechanics. Now this was accomplished partly by making the story one about blocks moving around in a platformer and the sort of problem they’d deal with; still it was well done. But if you don’t want a run-of-the-mill platformer whose appeal is in the story, don’t play this.

    Anyway, this is kind of moot as Bundle 8 is over, isn’t it?

    Rambling! Dear Esther in another post.

  55. OK, Dear Esther. No deep reasons for liking it I guess. I liked the island. I liked the sound design and the waves and the music. I liked the decent writing which is surprisingly hard to come by. I liked that one transition that made me go “Whoa!” and a couple of things I saw out of the corner of my eye that made me go “Brrr!” I liked that the pace was leisurely enough to encourage exploration but not of a sort to get me stuck. I liked that the game gave me a bit of an explanation for a lot of the things scrawled on the walls instead of making jazz hands and saying “IT’S A MYSTERY” and yet that it didn’t say “See! Here’s the explanation for those symbols! Use this handy key to decipher it!” because maybe that wasn’t the most important thing about it. I guess I liked that I was just spoiled enough to not have to bang my head against the wall figuring what he was talking about, although I think it’d have come across. I liked that it didn’t expect me to be able to jump over any gaps when I couldn’t see my feet. Which may be that I liked not only that it wasn’t trying to make me beat it, but that it didn’t throw up any obstacles just because I haven’t swum in the gaming vocabulary it swum in (though I bet my non-gameplaying friends would not be able to finish it). I liked that it wasn’t too long, although the end was also a bit surprised because I’d got so thoroughly confused by the chapter system that I thought the game might be four times as long as it was. I also liked that the voice logs were randomized a bit, since I had to play the beginning over a couple of times. I think the parts I didn’t like tended to be bugs or things where I just didn’t really understand what it expected of me (I mean, in terms of being able to save my game), though seriously, what was up with that chapter system? Did I just blank out on the fact that the chapter icons weren’t grayed out once I’d got there?

    And on a vaguely related note, is anyone going to give me any hints about Thirty Flights of Loving?

  56. I feel sad closing this thread as I didn’t get a chance to respond to Matt’s lengthy replies but thems the breaks. It’s time for the young thread to replace the old. This is progress. This is evolution.


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