Yes it’s that time once again – open comment time. I know Matt W is itching to talk about “bundle fatigue” but other than that, it’s all up for grabs.

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86 thoughts on “Open Mike #3

  1. I moved in with my girlfriend six weeks ago and my approach to gaming has changed. The big best-part-of-a-day sessions I loved so much (and which were pretty much essential to my finishing anything ever) are few and far between, and everything else is very spotty. But at the same time my mobile gaming has increased, my focus on the indie space has increased, and I’m playing more couch co-op and game genres I don’t dabble in (my gf and I completed Castle Crashers last night – never thought I would finish that – and I’m also slowly learning more about fighting games).

    My reading of all this is that it’s completely normal that hobbies which tend to be solo pursuits will get broken up from larger chunks of time when you co-habitate with a partner, and that my enthusiasm for gaming is slipping into other outlets that both fit this change in lifestyle and the smaller chunks of time available to me. But does anyone else have any thoughts or experiences to share and contrast?

    God knows how I’ll ever finish or write about 15+ hour games again though. My backlog is just going to continue to grow, I expect.

    I am also keen to hear Matt’s thoughts about bundle fatigue. I recently bought a few bundles fully expecting that I might never install or play more than 10% of the games I just bought, despite wanting to.

  2. @ShaunCG It’s only been six weeks, give it some time to shake out. You will probably find that what your cohabiting life looks like now is not what it looks like in a year. When we were first dating, my boyfriend and I would lie in my bed while he watched me play super long single-player RPGs like Fallout: New Vegas and now we generally play games separately.

  3. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for other games like FTL or Star Command? I’m really enjoying both of them. Been thinking about giving some of the classic Star Trek PC games a go (since I never played them). Any other suggestions?

    I want to feel like a starship captain.

  4. @Eric: fair call man. I’ve never lived with a partner before though I’ve lived in shared houses all my adult life, so it’s new but kinda familiar.

    I’ve not played it myself but I gather that the old Starflight games involved a bit more starship-captaining (of the form I think you’re looking for) than Star Control 2 did. And Tom Chick recently wrote about an iOS title called Shifts, though he wasn’t positive about it.

  5. Shaun mentioning Star Control 2? Well, oddly, he took the words out of my mouth, on account of him getting me into it. Haven’t been able to get very far; it seems to work best with long sessions: long periods of loneliness and solemn music interspersed by ridiculous conversations. It takes long, secludes sessions that I don’t have.

    Probably the single best way to be a starship captain is by means of Artemis. Grab the demo and invite a buddy to go rampaging through the stars.

  6. I second or third or fifth or whatever wanting to hear about bundle fatigue because I think it’s a thing a LOT of us are experiencing–but I haven’t seen anything on the subject beyond some tweets here and there–it would be great to read some more about that.

    @Brasure Have you heard of a game called Mass Effect? It’s really cool. You get to be a starship captain and you’ve got this crew and it’s really cool. I think you’d like it.

    I beat Bit Trip Runner and have written about it on my NEW WEBSITE. Hooray!

    I will pick up FTL when it comes on a super steamo sale but I get the sense I wouldn’t do well with it.

  7. BTW, I’m quiet because (a) omfg I am so sick this week and (b) been working on stuff like tomorrow’s new irregular feature. I don’t know if any of the regular comment attendees would be really into it, so don’t get too hyped.

    I picked up a link to this hilarious Dark Souls video via Twitter today and it is awesome.

  8. I’ve been struck lately by just how dark gaming is at the moment. Botanicula is one of the last games I can remember that made me smile more than just a slight smirk.

    Why can’t we have more genuinely pleasant worlds in our games? I’m sure it’s partly due to the pervasiveness of violence, but even in that space, I do wish there were more worlds I felt like saving.

  9. Finally beat Crimson Sea 2, the process of which was broken up a quick move into a friend’s place. I’d say that it’s not a difficult game to beat (though it’s still harder per-moment than any Dynasty Warriors game), but getting good at it is a nicely involved process. Having played games where you can ignore a lot of your options and still win, and one game where every option you had available was not enough (RYGAAAAAAAR!), having something give you a use for almost all of your abilities all of the time was refreshing. Some of the ways they tried to add variety were just frustrating though, with gimmick enemies not really built around the game’s strengths.

    Now I’m replaying Resident Evil 4, and I remember less of it than I’d expected. And I feel like I’m either playing worse or most of my memories are from new game plus, because I’m dying a lot. Then again, I’m purposely going for weapons that aren’t statistically the best, since I did when I played it last and it undercut most feelings of discovery.

    It holds up okay after all this time, but RE5 really nailed the fluidity of the controls (even without moving while shooting). Too bad RE5 is less interesting overall.

    My girlfriend and I only occasionally play stuff co-op, though most of my library was bought when I wasn’t expecting to become anybody’s close friend (boo hoo Past Sid etc. etc.) so it’s hard to say. We also both have games to play while the other is using the console. Seeing as I completed Tales of the Abyss in 96 hours during the third year of living with my girlfriend, I’d say time will change things. Hopefully the game you end up spending lots of time on is more worthy of it than Tales of the Abyss, though.

    Then again, we beat Shadow of the Colossus 6-8 times, twice on Hard (which I wouldn’t even regularly do) by feeding off each other’s enthusiasm and switching up who fought what per playthrough. But that was an anamoly.

    What if we told you Mass Effect was just jam-packed with sex? Literally wall-to-wall. Cover-based dating for adults.

    Also, you get to enter every gunfight personally like a real fake starship captain.

    The bit about breaking the masquerade was great. Get well soon! Or immediately!

  10. @Aaron It sounds like you need the Blue Sky In Games Campaign:

    I have not done well with Botanicula. It is ADORABLE but I find I can’t figure out what’s happening at all. I’m just clicking random stuff. Does it eventually have logic or is it just endearing surrealism? I find myself wishing it were even less of a game and just a little adorable world full of supercute bug friends.

  11. I’m on a family vacation so you will have to wait a while to hear about Bundle Fatigue. Be coming back to this thread in a week or so. (Not that I can’t comment at all, but I probably won’t have a chance to write any epic rants, and this needs to be an epic rant.)

  12. @mwm: eheheh. Sorry about that! Hope you find the time to enjoy it through to its conclusion. I played through it when I was 16 and had oodles of time on my hands.

    @Sid: I’ve been replaying Resi4 as well! Or at least I was, before I moved. It’s still a rather lovely game. I didn’t play Resi5 as I disliked the forced co-op and though the demo was a weak rip of the ganados house siege, but smoother controls sound like a godsend.

    As for the co-habitation… admittedly I did spend one deeply hungover Sunday playing Supreme Commander for about nine hours straight. I was very broken that day. Still, it bodes well for occasionally getting some serious gaming sessions in.

    (I feel like a bit of a knob talking about this on HM’s blog as I know his gaming time is pretty sparse! Sorry HM.)

  13. @BeamSplashX: Is the sex in Mass Effect jam-packed like the new Star Trek movie? Because okay I’m totally in guys.

    @AaronJean: What do you mean by dark? Like, tonally? (Look it’s early.) Yeah I think there are definitely a lack of games that make you just feel happy and good. Everything is so grim and depressing. Times we live in?

  14. @matt w But I thought family vacations were THE time to write epic rants. I have found my journals from that time and all I can say is it’s never pretty πŸ™‚

    @Shaun I loved 5, but it was a very specific combination of circumstances: I didn’t have an xbox, and they were releasing the limited edition with the red console–red is my favorite color, I liked horror, and a buddy of mine in Cali wanted to play the game as well. I’d never really done online multiplayer before (and I hate deathmatching and stuff, so I never really exlpored that much), and had a lot of fun with it. I tried to pick it up recently and hated it. Another friend and I have been idly talking about doing it with 6, and I saw it was on sale the other day for $10, but I didn’t have the heart.

    Your heterosexuality is oppressing me.

    I’m playing Treasure Adventure Game which I had not played, and it’s cheery as shit. You might enjoy that. I am planning on Blogging about it!

  15. Rich – were you considering Resident Evil 6 on X360? I’ve got a copy and been desperately trying to get someone to Co-Op it with me.

  16. @Richard: er not sure if serious?

    @BC: Oh my. If you two play co-op Resi 6 please record your narration. That shit would be hilarious. And fascinating and incisive, no doubt. But almost certainly hilarious. πŸ™‚

  17. @Shaun Yeah, man, I can’t help it, 5 was pretty decent πŸ™‚

    (I really hope you didn’t think I was serious–if you did then I’ve messed up somewhere along the line. Best is to assume everything I say is kidding. Also congrats.)

    @BC & Shaun I have genuinely no idea how to record that stuff but if you can teach me I’m down πŸ™‚

  18. @Richard: I figured it wasn’t that serious but wasn’t sure if it was a sly jab at something or other I’d expressed poorly. I’ve managed to unintentionally upset a few people this week, which upsets me in turn, and I’m pretty down today thanks to work being a shit, so I’m being overly paranoid.

    No idea how to record Xbox Live conversations either to be honest… possibly doable with BC’s hodgepodge but I think that is broken anyway.

  19. “Your heterosexuality is oppressing me.”

    This is a great and wonderful quote.

    Hmm. Anyone doing/heard of Neptune’s Pride 2? It’s a lot smoother and more attractive than it was before, and, more importantly, it’s made progress removing the life-killing awfulness. There’s no speed research, and the game updates once every hour (mitigating the every-five-second-refresh problem). Better still, you can directly copy-paste from the game. In short, it’s wonderful.

    Incidentally, I tried to setup a game of NP2 (it fell through for a lack of players). I’d make a new game if people are interested though.

    @Shaun: Eh, don’t be too guilty/proud. It was mostly because of a guy who used the name ‘Fwiffo’. If you can’t get the co-op conversation captured, you could just commentate afterwards, using real computers. Men’s machines, if you will.

    But, really though, Artemis.

  20. Oh, but hey, has everyone here heard about Chloe Sagal? I’m starting to think this is an elephant we’re ignoring.

  21. Yep. That’s a great elephant to keep ignoring. Oh my God I feel sick. I shouldn’t send so many tweets out in one go. I’m too old for this.


    Q. What time is it when an elephant sits on the fence?
    A. Time to get a new fence!

    Q. How do you stop an elephant from charging?
    A. Take away its credit card!

    Q. How many elephants fit in an Oldsmobile?
    A. Four, two in the front and two in the back.

    Q. What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants?
    A. “Look, a herd of elephants!”

    Q. How do you get an elephant in the fridge?
    A. Open the Oldsmobile, take an elephant out, open the fridge door, put the elephant in, close the fridge door.

    Q. What time is it when an elephant sits in a chair?
    A. Time to get a new chair.

    Q. How can you tell if there’s two elephants in your fridge?
    A. The door won’t close.

    Q. What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants wearing sunglasses?
    A. Nothing, he doesn’t recognize them.

    Q. How can you tell if there’s four elephants in your fridge?
    A. There’s an empty Oldsmobile parked outside.

    BONUS: My second favorite joke of all time:

    So there’s two elephants in a bathtub, and one of them turns to the other and says, “Please pass the soap.”
    And the other says, “No soap, radio!”

    I hope you enjoyed these elephant jokes.

  23. Oh! You’re right! What a wonderfully distracting beam of light!

    Eh, whatever.

  24. @Shaun:
    Your “all is well” is oppressing me!

    NP2 is less life-destroying? That’s nice. But in some ways it’s like the new Hydroxycut that no longer causes liver failure- it’s still that thing that once caused liver failure.

    So there’s this elephant, right? And he’s out in the wild, right?

    Hilarious! Fuckin’ elephants, man. Hilarious.

  25. @Beamo No, no, you’re doing it all wrong. It’s not that “all is well” is oppressing you, it’s that it’s an expression of Privilege. Have you learned nothing!

    @JoKyr You do realize that not only did saying that cause guaranteed sales from nearly everyone in this room, you’re also opening yourself to a bunch of assholes giving you their personal Star Trek fanfictions in the guise of “helpful ideas”. Seriously do a rush job on Ithaka just so you can get to the Star Trek game. Actually who cares that it got funded, that means nothing these days, make your Star Trek game πŸ™‚

    Speaking of starship games that got funded but the funding means nothing, anyone have any thoughts on Star Command? It looked snazzy but I’ve seen a lot of flack over it not delivering some promised features, so I’d be curious if anyone’s played it. Hey, $2.99 is a lot of money when you’re a cheapass like me!

  26. @Richard: Family vacations stop being the time to write epic rants once you’ve got kids. They stop being the time to do anything epic except change epic diapers. How’s that for oppressing you with my heterosexuality?

    This also may be relevant to the “cohabitation cuts down your gaming time” discussion.

  27. @Jonas:
    You should make a Directed by Jonathan Frakes mode that has Riker steal everyone’s thunder. Insurrection was not enough, you see.

    Your lessons are also oppressing me! Obama can’t tell my kids they need to learn how to read!

    Sorry, what were we talking about?

    Sid’s use of Open Mike, everybody.

  28. What blasphemy is this!? Star Trek? Bah! Jonas is remaking CoD into a marxist text adventure.

    @BMO: Yeah, it’s like comparing Drano to bleach. Don’t drink them, and you can go on with your life. Still, it’s nice to keep them close; under-the-sink close. Mainly though, NP2 actually -kind of- fulfills the promise of a ‘check in twice a day’ game.

  29. Shaun, I was lucky. I had a girlfriend who liked playing Thief until 5am AND didn’t live with me. We dabbled in a bit of HL 1-on-1 deathmatch and even *gasp* ricochet. Those were cherished times. We eventually moved in together and got two computers in a head-to-head arrangement. She played GTA: San Andreas and I did Planescape: Torment. What happened to this girlfriend? Well, dear reader, I married her. Things are… a *little* different now we have children. Uh, quite a bit different actually.

    It depends on the people, the shape of their lives. You will probably still have those long sessions. Just be careful not to destroy too many romantic weekends with all-day EDF sessions.



    okay I’m better now but you guys have got to warn me about these things.

  31. @HM:
    Oh neat, I saw some other stuff on that show following a link from Errant Signal’s YouTube feed. Their Critical Close-Ups series is pretty solid, though he continues the trend of no one being able to ignore their bias for a certain style of Zelda when discussing it critically. At least he admits it.

    I thought it was circle circle strafe strafe.

    I just looked up “circle circle strafe strafe” and found a single page of tips for Halo by some IT guy from India. Please, someone use it better.

  32. Good morning!

    @Shaun I saw a gentleman wearing this shirt and I thought of you!

    @JoKyr Like I said, people want you to make this Star Trek game. Seriously though we should all write this. I think we could have Fun.

    @Beamo When you say “it”, do you mean cootie shots or India or the tip sheet? I’m not familiar with circle strafe. I find that a very astute point: I have a very difficult time liking Zelda games that aren’t Link’s Awakening.

    @HM That was a beautiful story with a happy twist at the end!

    Don’t know if you kids have heard of Arena.xlsm, but it can be found here: It’s an RPG that was made in Excel. As you might imagine, it’s one of those games that’s more interesting from a “how’d he do that” kind of perspective–I can barely do a pivot table–and less as a game, but it’s pretty fun for something to do at work.

    Treasure Adventure game continues to delight.

    I’ve bought but not played Unmechanical from Indie Game Stand today.

    Picked up 1000 Watts on Steam. Cute little puzzly game, you’re Reactivating The Complex, and each room you have to do platformy challenges to turn on the lights. It’s far from perfect–there’s literally no graphical variance from room to room and it’s a very monochrome and samey adventure, one of those times where minimalism makes the game feel empty rather than iconic. The map isn’t great either. One of those where I don’t regret my purchase and I’ll hack away through to the end, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

    Got to the final level of Bit Trip Void and I just can’t be bothered to care. I don’t even really feel like writing about it. But I’m still working on getting perfects on all the stages of Bit Trip Runner. Go figure!

    Primordium is still wonderful. I’m sipping that one extremely slowly–playing a half hour here and there–it’s the kind of game where I get stuck but going back to it the next day usually clarifies the puzzle solutions. I feel like I’m approaching the endgame.

    Riot Fox demos are immanent!

  33. @Shaun: I remember when HM visited me and we had a discussion about having children and I was all like ‘I have no time for children!’ and he was all like ‘When we had our first I was all like ‘I used to have so much time!’, then we had our second and I was all like ‘Oh god, I really used to have so much time!” and I was all like ‘Yeah I can I see how that would happen. You make me feel like such a lazy bastard.’ Between HM and my girlfriend’s brother, Luke, who has three children, I’m amazed at how much they accomplish. My problem is if I spend time doing X, I’m not doing Y, and what about Z? PARALYSIS. Or what about starting Waking Mars on my Nexus 7, slowly coming to resent the touch controls, ditching it, then later realising it’s a million times smoother and better on PC with a pad? Start again Gregg! Time wasted Gregg!

    I’ve had a good run of games recently, been watching plenty of films and catching up with Dexter but with games it’s kind of horrible feeling distracted from everything I start. Sometimes I’ll admit that I don’t feel any desire to continue with something, c’est la vie. But sometimes it’s just the raw excitement of starting something else new and entirely different versus the… familiarity of playing the same game some more. Being stuck in a 30, 60, 120 hour experience is hard work these days too! Dishonored did a grand old job of keeping this bumble bee with ADHD in one place for 56 hours for a first playthrough and given that I rarely return to the same flower, I’m looking forward to playing it again. But when? And what about Z?

    I’ve been playing a lot of the new XCOM recently and a bit of Torchlight 2 co-op and… well, I’m hoping to write something about them soon. XCOM I’m both loving and hating for various blindingly obvious reasons that don’t seem to have been picked up by most folks as I’m aware, and Torchlight 2 is further crystalising various thoughts I had about the loot ’em up aspect of Dungeon Defenders and Borderlands. At first I loved the mountains of loot in DD but eventually it lost all its meaning and distracted from the solid core of the game. Torchlight 2 also has perhaps the worst controls I’ve witnessed in a long time. So messy and unnecessary.

    Also: Monaco is ace! Pure bedlam 4 player local co-op but slow and methodical going solo. Player counts in between those scale accordingly.

    Also also: Teleglitch can fuck off. One can only die horribly and unceremoniously a few times. My last death? Throwing an explosive at zombies chasing me and the explosive bouncing off said zombies back at me. I was looking good up until that point, as usual. It’s easy to die strong in Teleglitch.

    That should do for now.

  34. I’ve got no children, and one thing that my gf and I both agree on is that we don’t want them. This means that I must fulfil the traditional familial role of children by PLAYING VIDEOGAMES FOREVERRRR

    I should note that C has had more than a few instances of playing Civ 5 through the entire night and probably spends as much time in a week playing Triple Town as I do… everything else? Also we both tried to tell each other about Rebuild before realising we were talking about the same game. <3

    Today I played a level of Plants vs Zombies over lunch and watched another few video tutorials in my Python course. Any of you cats know Python? I made a number-guessing game in it once. That's about the extent of my abilities.

  35. I suppose this as good a place as any to share the fact that I spent about 12 hours Saturday and Sunday, including a marathon seven-hour session, in front of Mass Effect. It’s very weird to replay this game after the sequels.

  36. I must admit, it’s rare for games to pull me deep into the early hours of the next day!

    Triple Town is perhaps my favourite game on my Nexus 7 besides Dungeon Raid and Rebuild. Does she play TT on a tablet/smartphone or PC Shaun? I have a friend who’s other half plays nothing but TT but she plays on PC so I can’t see how my scores stack up!

    I got Civ5 with Bioshock Infinite, not sure how long it’ll take before I pluck up the courage to try it out though.

  37. I couldn’t quite get into Triple Town, but I’ve been shamefully firehosing Puzzlecraft instead of reading literature while I commute. The games are distant cousins to each other, I’d say, but it’s more matching and upgrades than placement-based. That said, the amount of love everyone else seems to have for Triple Town means I’d like to give it a try at some point. I’m curious about their other games, and Road Not Taken looks REALLY good.

    I liked Monaco, but I have had a hard time finding people on the 360 to play with–I’ve done some in-person co-op, but my one friend I hang out with regularly sucks at videogames and it’s only fun to play when we have someone because otherwise he keeps dying and I keep reviving him and that’s the whole game.

    @Brasure I am so ridiculously happy to hear this as you know!

    @Greggg Oh goddammit I totally forgot about Waking Mars. Another to add to the pile. ADHD gamer solidarity, man.

  38. Aaaaand I’m just about up to the last chapter of Resident Evil 4. I’ve found myself dying at a lot of places I don’t remember being that tough, but once again, I was using a mostly optimal setup before. The Mine Thrower was a lot of fun to use in lieu of the sniper rifles, but you can’t use the x-ray scope with it to kill Regenerators, forcing me to get rid of it soon after maxing out its upgrades. It was really useful in a bunch of places since the fights weren’t designed around you being able to aim explosions that well, so selling it was a huge bummer. The Punisher handgun’s piercing ability is also rarely useful. I really felt like I could prove the powergamers wrong, but that’s apparently a fool’s game when they’ve run all the numbers.

    At least I’m also constantly low on ammo in general, so it suddenly feels kinda like older Resident Evil again. The constant suplexing of enemies, not so much. In the meantime, helping my girlfriend get the best equipment in Kingdom Hearts has introduced her to the limbo of rare item drops. And this marks our first playthrough where the game’s age is suddenly painfully apparent, which has been surprisingly less of an issue in RE4 for me. Next up is Armored Core 3, which will be half-replay and half-fresh, since I started but didn’t finish the Silent Line expansion (expandalone?). So, I’ll be making new machines in 3 to then transfer on to Silent Line. Exciting!

    “It” referred to the cootie shot. After typing that, I checked Google to see if I was being lovely and original and of fucking course not. I enjoyed Link’s Awakening a lot, and Oracle of Ages was pretty good, though realizing that it was the puzzle-focused one and Oracle of Seasons was the more action-leaning one made me resent Ages a bit (I wasn’t buying my own games at that point). I’d probably like Seasons the best even though I’m the most nostalgic for Awakening.

    It would be, huh? It has problems, but I like the cut of its jib better.

    I never want kids, but I’m apparently the only one in either my family or close friends that feels that way. My best friend doesn’t want to have a kid herself, but maybe adopt, but that’s about it. On the most basic level, I know that approaching a diaper at all with make me want to vomit endlessly, as my reaction to shit is wired to the part of your brain that’s supposed to react to real dead bodies. Shit is actually the only term for it that doesn’t bother me because it’s more of a swear word to me.

    My inability to handle it actually makes me question whether or not I could make it in comedy, even though most people feel some amounts of discomfort around my period jokes. It’s just that blood is way more metal.

  39. @BMO: So, you never played Seasons? You should definitely emulate that shit bra’. The puzzle vs. action distinction is pretty silly, to be honest; I played through both games without ever being aware that that was how they were designed.

    Ages is my favorite, or, it would be, if not for those wonderful bugs in Lynx Awakening. Destroy your copy of the game, or find the god-sword? The walls hide many secrets!

    I’m playing Dragon Warrior Monsters for the first time in about five years. The grind sucks, but it’s such a deliberate, thoughtful grind, that makes way for a rest-of-the-game that’s wonderful.

  40. The thing with Triple Town is that it’s got that turn-based match 3 quality like Dungeon Raid so there’s none of that Tidalis or Candy Crush or Bejeweled et al. bullshit where it becomes more a question of dumb luck and twitch skill but it also has a space management meta game. Yes, it’s easy to match three tufts of grass to make a bush but it’s hard to match three bushes up to make a tree that’s also lined up with two other trees to make a house. The deeper you get into the matching the harder it becomes to manage your space and get those crucial structures lined up. You’ve got to think moves ahead and on top of this you’ve got the bears which are all cute and lovely with these innocents frowns when you’re about to place them but then the moment you do their expressions changes and they become a pure manifestation of evil. It’s a beautiful design but man, it’s so fucking hard later on. I’m yet to match three castles. I’ve made one or two but never the third and never in the right place either. I kind of wish there was more to match on the tablet/smartphone version but I’ve heard the PC features a lot more. Either way, definitely give it a go. My highest score (on Android) is around 250,000 which, according to Dan C, is an intermediate player score. Top scorers (ie. no-lifers — I jest!) rack up millions.

    @Beam: I remember having a lot of fun with the mine thrower. I don’t think I ever sold it though. Resi 4 is one of those games, like DX:HR, where I finished with a metric ton of weaponry and ammo ready for that ‘killer’ boss or encounter where I’d empty everything. It never happened, sob.

  41. @mwm:
    I think the distinction was just whether or not the dungeon tools you got had more offensive uses or not. Maybe.

    I used up almost all my stuff during the fight with the two Gigantes since I didn’t want to use the lava trap.

  42. Folks, they’ve just announced that the new Microsoft Console will be called the XBox One and it will look like a DVR from 2007.

    I would like to press X to be baptized into being a PC gamer, please.

  43. I’ve decided that while I’ll play catchup and eventually get a Wii and PS3, there’s a really good chance I’ll stop there. I grew up with a good balance of console and PC games, so it’s sad to see this downturn. Hopefully someone new steps up to the plate.

    The Wii U and Vita look like they’ll have nice libraries, at least.

  44. Oh man, I am still on the road but let me tell you I am really hoping to warm up to my Bundle Fatigue Rant. I thought it was going to end with me saying “Fine, fine, dammit” and paying a buck for Costume Quest and Stacking but now the Humble Bundle people are trying to sell me Alan Wake. Alan fucking Wake! I bet they think I’m someone who knows what kind of graphics card is in his computer or something like that.

    Well, they aren’t really trying to sell me Alan Wake, since there doesn’t seem to be a Mac port, but that’ll get into stuff that goes into the rant.

    And oh yes: There Will Be Footnotes.

  45. I got that Alan Wake thing. It’s great on the 360 πŸ™‚

    Seriously I am just about sick of people trying to pretend that Psychonauts is an indie title. It’s an okay game–the people who call it SUCH A FINE AND WONDERFUL GAME appear to be unaware that it is no longer 2005 and that the game, although still extremely charming, has begun to date kind of poorly–but it’s not indie. Neither is Brutal Legend. I’m really curious where this whole conception of Double Fine as kind of “Our Guys” comes from. I got way too confused during the demo of Stacking, see.

    I love footnotes.

  46. I completely failed to realize that “Fine, fine, dammit” could be a pun on Double Fine. Ah well.

    Part of my rant may include something about being stalled out at the beginning of the second non-overworld level of Psychonauts and could I please have one that’s just about the exploration and conversation and lets me skip the shooting? The platforming in the first level was actually kind of not bad but I’m just afraid that this new shooting stuff is not going to agree with me at all. Anyway, I’m sure that as far as I’m concerned it’s 2005.

  47. Resident Evil 4 is bagged and tagged. Playing suboptimally on purpose while remembering most of the game’s tricks ended up giving me a respectable challenge. I think it’s easy to forget that RE4 could get pretty demanding at times, which I liked a great deal. The fact that some weapons are just outright better than others is a real issue, but I rather like the treasure hunting it takes to earn and upgrade the best ones. I don’t know how anyone could skip treasure and get very far at all. I wonder what kinds of choices I’d make had I not been spoiled a bit ahead of time.

    Speaking of weapons, the original Kingdom Hearts distributes new ones extremely poorly. You have to clear a few worlds before you get one that’s any good, and then the endgame throws a bunch at you. Seeing as you can only use one at a time and physical damage is paramount, a lot of rather decent (and cool-looking) weapons never get a chance to shine. One of those weird design quirks about it I never noticed ’til this playthrough.

  48. @Richard: There are two answers to that Double Fine-as-indie conception. The ‘agree with you’ answer which says: “they’re a company with a personality/face, which is equated to indieness.” I guess this means I can propose that the primary difference between “developers” and “indie developers” is a face; rather like how corporations destroy people’s individuality (and worth) in an attempt to make the corporations more gregarious. Double Fine is indie as long as Tim Schafer runs the joint, I guess.

    The other answer is: “The word ‘indie’ is vague and everyone uses it differently. You may as well respond to someone saying ‘that bird is blue’ with ‘no, that bird’s not yellow!’.” (punctuation got weird there, dinnut?) The definition I use for the indie is: ‘any development process that allows for a direct connection between the process of designing, and the process of making, without undue pressures that would negate that connection.’ Or, in non-gobbledygook: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 have to compromise the original vision. Under this (these) definition, Psychonauts would totally be indie.

    It’s silly to say that the innate difference between indie and non-indie is size. Is a two-man team indie? Well, obviously! Is a 5 man team? Well, yeah. A ten man team? 20? 50? 300? It’s just a matter of opinion to decide where the line in the sand is, and it’s not very useful either. If EA bought 2D boy’s souls, and forced them to make endless World of Goo clones, would we call that indie? Or, what of, say, Kane and Lynch 2? The game is made with endless examples of a cohesive design, and all the mechanics lead to similar thematic and tonal ends. This implies that everything was made with a single unified image, and the programmers went and made a work of art, stockholders be damned. Kane and Lynch 2, is, in short, a first-person-shooter equivalent of Cart Life, except that it was made by a large team with significant funds and resources. *I* would call that indie.

    So, why is Double Fine indie? Depends on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.

  49. @mwm: The thing I’ve always loved about Double Fine, regardless of whether or not their games have quite hit the mark, is that they’re unique and unafraid of trying new things. If it wasn’t for that first amnesia fortnight they might not be here today, at least not in the same guise. They kickstarted Kickstarter, they made Psychonauts (and seriously, fuck those last couple of levels), Stacking, Brutal freakin’ Legend (which I loved), Costume Quest which seemed pretty cute but meh from the demo I played, all those odd prototypes from the last amnesia fortnight. I agree with you mwm in that indie isn’t necessarily the outfit or the output (in isolation), it’s the process and vision — unfettered by compromise born from external, and, I suppose unsolicited, parties — that creates them. Independent, as it were. I think that’s the ‘hardest’ definition I’m most comfortable with, I’ll say that. But overall the term’s squishy enough that I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

    @matt w: The shooting will be the least of your problems! Psychonauts was largely excellent but it is responsible for possibly, probably, my greatest bout of gamer rage ever. Remember that I didn’t have too much trouble with And Yet It Moves, at least not in the main levels, those ‘bonus’ levels were really quite something though. I had a few fits during those!

    @Jonas: sorry! πŸ™‚

  50. I appreciate these discussions on Double Fine, and in fact they seem to tie into some stuff I’ve been thinking–like, “indie” is obviously used in music to refer to the same vague qualities, just as the 90s had “alternative”, the 80s “college”, and the 70s “album-oriented”. There’s a very real degree where “indie” means less “independent” than it is an aesthetic judgement–my band books our own shows, screens our own shirts, and are wholly outside the control of anyone, but we are not “indie rock”. I genuinely think that the only reason we use “indie” to describe the current gaming scene is because it came of age in the late 00s–we’d be talking about Alternative Games Culture or College Games Culture if it had come earlier, methinks.

    Anyway, I guess in that sense–unique vision, focus on art over sales, spirit of experimentation, etc–Double Fine definitely makes Indie Games, or Alternative Games, or College Games, or Album-Oriented Games. Maybe the major takeaway from this is that our terminology is starting to become outdated or meaningless.

    @mwm This is a thing that might help you with your Bundle Rant.

    @Gregggggg I feel like I read someone mentioning that he was the only person in the world who seems to have liked AYIM. Was that you, or do I need to introduce you to your new best friend?

  51. @Richard O Goodness: Haha, I really enjoyed AYIM and will never forget matt w (the jerk) and Amanda’s party pooping comments after my review. To this day, whenever I read them I load the game up and play it some more with their issues in mind expecting to recoil in horror, quit the game, then write a revisited piece starting with ‘matt w and Amanda: you were right’. I’ve just played the game some more now (after reading those comments again) and I still can’t shake my original feelings about the game. I think, like AYIM’s visuals, it’s a bit rough around the edges and yes, frustrating at times, but those tricky sections never felt unfair or so difficult to stop me playing or tarnish my view of the overall experience. In fact, I’d probably argue that the loose rugged qualities of AYIM make a nice change to the tight vacuum sealed platforming of something like VVVVVV or Rayman Origins. Eversion was another diamond in the rough. Either way, I’m glad they both chimed in as it prompted me to take a step back and rethink my (possibly blinkered) view on the game.

  52. I’m glad I didn’t poop your party permanently! My comments on AYIM came from the middle of Platform Rage, in which I tend to express myself more forcefully than I probably should if I’m going to play games at all. There was one ill-placed checkpoint that particularly got me (you do a tricky bit and it’s just off the screen when you land, but the game is disorienting enough by its nature that I didn’t know which way to go to hit the checkpoint). I think that’s the exact same level I complained about at the end of my comments back on Tap-Repeatedly with the offscreen hazards — IIRC I would wipe out on the swing, respawn at the checkpoint, and the gravity-switch that went along with the respawn would sometimes bring the swing right back down on my head while I was still standing on the checkpoint.

    Anyway I think it’s a great insight that the gameplay is rough-hewn rather than precise, and that’s part of its charm. It gives opportunities for a kind of emergent gameplay at a micro-level rather than a macro-level; there’s only one path through the level (probably) but you have more freedom in exactly how you follow that path, which surfaces you bounce off and how you make problems for yourself in your navigation. If you overlay two different playthroughs of AYIM they’ll look fairly different but if you do so with VVVVVV there will probably be a lot of stretches that are more or less identical. The problem I often had was that this very thing could mean there wasn’t enough feedback; as I said at T-R it was hard to tell whether you had just barely failed or failed spectacularly, which makes it hard to retry.

    Also the game was a bonus that got added after I bought a bundle, and at least three of the other games in the bundle were awesome, so I was playing with house money.

    I’m a little concerned that I’ve been overhyping my bundle fatigue rant, but anyway I’m home so it may be happening tonight.

  53. Ahem, Amanda really said the thing about feedback at T-R, I just dittoed it.

  54. Yeah I think you just nailed it there with your paragraph on the gameplay being rough-hewn. It certainly is; the same trick or manoeuvre doesn’t always work out exactly the same. I remember playing Rayman Origins and the tricky treasure levels where you chase a chest through all manner of deadly hazards. Those levels required a certain degree of trial and error to work out the beats, but once you got them sussed out it was just a matter of pulling it all off. It was more of a rhythm game by that point — everyone’s playthrough would look almost identical — but nevertheless oh so joyous. The music really made it for me though:

    I think I played that level today with the swing right next to the respawn point! I’ve got to say, I love those swings, they’re a bit temperamental and lethal.

  55. Instead of writing the Bundle Fatigue Rant tonight I decided to try Celestial Mechanica. I just don’t care about my customers, that’s what it is. (Great look, great music, I think it’s partly my computer now but this is a game which relies entirely on double jumps and has unresponsive controls. I wouldn’t mind watching a video of a playthrough.)


    (plus Proteus sounds cool)

  57. Oh goddammit. I have Proteus, but I still haven’t played Hotline Miami or Dear Esther or Thomas Was Alone, and I don’t really want to on any of those but I feel like I *should* so. Hotline Miami seems like one of those annoying games which is basically “Boy! It’s really fucked up that you’re playing this fucked-up game that I made! Isn’t that fucked up!”; Dear Esther gives me the impression that it’ll be trudging through a land while someone narrates a ghost story at you; and Thomas Was Alone seems like it’s going to be full of British Whimsy, and I’m really sorry, but I hate British Whimsy.

    Actually on the other hand I might pass on this bundle completely.

    Do yourself a favor and check out Little Inferno. I played it on the iPhone the other day (and blogged about it!); I thought it was absolutely marvelous. See it through to the end!

  58. Proteus is just lovely. Hotline Miami is a great game and is well worth your time. It has its fair share of flaws (unsatisfying story, a few frustrating levels) but these are more than made up for by the incredibly fucking slick soundtrack and the gratifying ultra violence set against a seductive point scoring/grading system. Dear Esther is well… uh, yeah. I didn’t get on with it. Beautiful to look at and listen to (Jessica Curry’s music is haunting and gorgeous) but the narrative was too fragmented for me to piece together satisfactorily. I haven’t played Thomas Was Alone but wouldn’t mind checking it out. As a Brit, I ought to know what British Whimsy is but perhaps I can’t see the forest for the trees. Do explain!

    I own Little Inferno and have heard nothing but great things about it. Thanks for another recommend Richard! I’m currently playing Sine Mora, a very tough and dark story-based horizontal shooter. Impressed so far but I think Jamestown is the better game when it comes to ‘softer ball’ shooters. Hit detection is a bit loose, it’s hard to tell what can and can’t hurt you at times and some bullets are really hard to see. Jamestown doesn’t suffer from any of these issues and has a much more satisfying combo system at its core. It also has local co-op which is heaps of fun if you find the right person to play with.

  59. I’ve been trying for the past 15 minutes to talk about Proteus, but that game and Bioshock Infinite (and a couple others) are so intimately intertwined with my feelings of disgust for The Scene that I don’t think I can really properly talk about either. I think “I didn’t get on with it” is a great way to sum it up though so I’m gonna steal.

    I guess British Whimsey–watching the trailer the narration seems to sound a bit like someone reading a storybook–it’s cadenced in a way which remind me of a filmed version of a fairy tale. It probably is completely due to me being a filthy American, yes–it sounds like the kind of thing which might come off as welcoming and nostalgic for you but is kind of overly precious and patronizing to me–it’s not speaking to *my* inner child, and so it just comes off as childish. I’m gonna get lynched, but I felt the same way about Stephen Fry’s Little Big Planet narration.

    I’m so, so sorry. I’m incredibly racist against the English.

    I played Sine Mora–I always pay attention to what Suda51 is doing even when it sucks, which it usually does. I talked a little about this in the shooter thread–I’m not at all a shooter fan, but I loved Sine Mora–couldn’t tell you a thing about the story but it was beautiful to look at. Where it alienated me is that playing for points is extremely foreign to me (there goes that racism again). And so it was an extremely short game–I get through a level, I don’t ever feel inspired to play it again and so I blazed through. Again, that’s a fault in me. I am a very flawed person. I have Jamestown somewhere–didn’t do well with it, but again, bad at shooters.

    I have realized, while bumming around Greenlight, that if you put the phrase “tower defense” anywhere in your gameplay description, I’m gonna click no before I even begin to watch your video. At the same time, if it says “horror” or “rpg”, I’ll probably vote immediately.

    Oh by the way, anyone play Among the Sleep’s demo? Holy crap, and I’m the most cynical dude saying this.

  60. “I don’t really want to on any of those but I feel like I *should* so.”

    You know what you have, Richard? You have Bundle Fatigue.

  61. It’s in the Pause thread! I don’t have a cure, though, since I first complained of Bundle Fatigue I bought two more bundles.

  62. I will jump in quickly to say I’m not a great fan of “children’s storytelling” narration in film or games. But Richard – which trailer were you talking about? Does Proteus have a trailer like that?

  63. It was the general trailer which comes up when you get it on Steam, but the narration is clips from the in-game narration so I’d assume it would be from any gameplay clip.

  64. I’m not sure I find it welcoming or nostalgic but I’ve no real issue with it. It can perhaps be a little twee at times but it has its place I suppose. I actually liked Fry’s voiceover in LittleBigPlanet for the few hours I played it before slamming my pad into the wall in frustration over the god-awful platforming physics. I liked Patrick Stewart’s in Ted, and I loved the narrator’s voice/dialogue in Dungeon Keeper. Are they all types of British Whimsy? Stephen Merchant in Portal 2?

    I could Google ‘cooties’ but I’ll just ask here: what the hell are they? Am I in a cosmic blind spot here?

    I can’t say I really play for points in Sine Mora, and I certainly didn’t in Jamestown, but I do like to know how those systems work and whether they can enhance or detract from the experience. The vaunt system in Jamestown is wonderful and a real joy to use but Sine Mora’s don’t-use-the-time-slowing-mechanic-or-your-special-abilities-or-you’ll-lose-your-score-multipliers system doesn’t sound a lot of fun. It’s a scoring system which says ‘fun will cost you points’. I’ve been playing it on challenging though and blimey, it’s tough in places. Breezing through certainly hasn’t been an option for me!

  65. “Cooties” is a disease boys get from being around girls on the playground, and perhaps that girls get from being around boys on the playground (I just consulted the resident ex-girl and she said no girls in her circle used it unironically). Symptoms include being icky. Circle circle dot dot is a known vaccine.

  66. “Cooties” is a catch-all term for std’s, but with a preference towards those virulent little bugs that are transmitted easily, through physical contact and such. It doubles as a euphemism too; Cootie sounds gross, but, somewhat innocuous. Compare that to “std” which sounds industrial, clinical, factual, dangerous. Saying “cootie,” it’s kind of like subtly wishing that there isn’t a flesh-eating disease in your nether regions.

    …It’s a bit troubling that grade schoolers know the word, isn’t it?

    Loving the Stanley Parable. *I*, at least, *love* this British whimsy.

  67. @Gregg: she started out playing TT on her smartphone, but switched to my tablet when her phone was off being “repaired” (read: replaced). I’m not sure of her highest score but I’ve seen her regularly busting 300K. I think she’s only made a couple of sky castles in regular games, though.

    I just got done playing a small map / marathon game of Civ 5. Christ, it took a long time to squeeze in 15 hours of Civ. A drop in the water of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent over the years. G&K does seem to have improved the AI, though.

    And now, shopping! So I got that Bundle, primarily for Little Inferno, and I just bought Reus, and downloaded a shitload of freebies such as Antifascista, The Unseen, Curse of the Aztecs etc. TOO MUCH GAMES.

  68. Okay so when I was little, my mom used “cooties” to mean general dirtiness–but an anthropomorphized dirtiness. It was a condition, pretty much like possession or mutation, I think, which could be alleviated by things such as bathing and washing one’s hair.

    When I was about four years old, I was playing in my friend’s backyard; we’d found a bush or perhaps a small willow tree whose branches extended far, far out, leaving a kind of canopy inside, and he and I hid inside there. When I went back home, my mother examined my hair, reached in, pinched out something green and tiny. It was a scrap of leaf which had gotten enmeshed while I was leaving the hiding spot, curled around itself into a tube, it looked almost like a worm. “See?” she said, examining it and noting my growing look of distress. “That’s a cootie. You need to take a bath or else they’re going to set in!”

    It wasn’t until I was much, much older, about seven, that “cootie” began being used to refer to what you would get if you hung out with girls too much. I find the STD theory to be unsustainable–you can get STDs from both men and women, but cooties are specific to heterosocial contact. Also, cooties are not necessarily spread through sexual contact–fortunately, considering the young ages of those cooties are most likely to affect–but can also be spread by holding hands, accepting a ride home from her mom, or simply being suspected of *like*-liking someone. There are three types of cootie shot and one must be vigilant in one’s choice of cootie doctor.


    is both an effective immunizer and anticootie medication, and if you can find a friend to do it for you you’ll be okay. If, unfortunately, you ask Chris Vreeland, the little bastard is going to hit you with


    or, worse, the dreaded


    Anyway, I’ve gone 30 years without getting the cooties so it is possible. I’ve been self-inoculating since I got into middle school and I’ve been fine, so you too can be like me.

    I want to play Reus.

    I beat my first game of Skyward Collapse. Treasure Adventure Game continues to delight, Cognition Episode 3 is goddamn WONDERFUL, and The Yawhg came out today, so I’m going to get to a writeup of that possibly later!

    How’s everyone liking Little Inferno?

  69. Telltale games Humble Weekly sale! I was going to be all “Aaargh why are you making me buy this” again, but then I saw that Walking Dead is Steam-only and it’s “select games for Mac” for the rest and I’m outie. But I’m kind of disappointed, because I really would be interested in checking out Walking Dead at bundle prices.

  70. Okay, so Little Inferno: I am really liking it, which seems a bit weird considering it is solely about setting fire to different items and puzzling out simple combos. I think the charming animation, music and visual design, plus the drip-feed of narrative world building, are enough. But I’ve only played 90 minutes. It’s certainly not as taxing as World of Goo could be.

    I’ve played about the same of Reus and that… well, I think it’s pretty excellent so far. I can tell that I have barely scratched the surface. I really dig that each game is limited to about 30 minutes (so far as I can see) and progress is tied to developing villages and resources in different directions within these limits.

    As for the Yahwg… damn it, Richard, why do you keep pursuing the same games as me? You’re a faster writer than I am and I’ll have nothing to say anything about at this rate. πŸ˜‰

  71. I finally got around to playing Armored Core 3 again as build-up to finally finishing the Silent Line expansion. I’m not sure what’s happened in the intervening years since I last played, but AC3 was really fucking hard for some reason. I think I broke probability by missing out on most missions that unlock the shinier weapons and parts. I also tried to do more fights in the game fairly instead boost circle-strafing with a machine gun, which the AI generally can’t counter, but that also ended up being too tough.

    Kind of a shame that I felt like I either won cheaply or lost horribly with no in-between. That said, most games I’ve played recently haven’t driven me to accidentally stay up until 5am by accident, and I’m excited to nab the stuff I missed in 3 before moving on, so I’m still having fun. I just can’t shake the feeling that something’s really off from when I played last time. Probably just denying that it’s age.

    Outside of that, I’ve actually beaten Zaga-33 a few more times. It really is a great little game. I also beat Home once, and the ending I got seemed to contradict the clues and conclusions my character reached. I know there are different outcomes and events, but it’s too slow-going to replay immediately. I’ll get to Lone Survivor next.

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