Knock yerselfs out. I wonder if anyone lurks on these threads, rather than just those who comment.

My August sabbatical starts in two three weeks. There will be posts every week of a sort. You’ll see.

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57 thoughts on “Open Mike 5

  1. Wizardry 6!

    Spiderweb Software bundle!

    Might and Magic 3!

    Some shit I bought on indiegamestand that I haven’t had the ambition to play because it’s Phoenix adventure games and while I love them I’m not in an adventure game mood!

    The release of Tentacles by Riot Fox, available at or on iTunes or Spotify or Amazon MP3!

    Okay bye!

  2. The Steam Summer Sale is beginning and I’m suddenly reticent to buy anything on Steam that I can get elsewhere, like GOG. My wi-fi’s habit of inexplicably disappearing is less common, but Steam’s offline mode didn’t work the one time my lack of wi-fi and my desire to play games lined up. Wasn’t too keen on that, but I already have ton of games bought on there.

    I’ll probably get something during the sale anyways. I finally bought the Half-Life 2 episodes, so I can experience the entire breadth of excitement and disappointed waiting. Hooray!

  3. @BeamSplashX The Steam Summer Sale may finally, finally be the opportunity for me to purchase and play Bioshock: Infinite. If you never hear from me again, it killed me.

  4. @Eric:
    Either Richard, Amanda or I could be the new American on Counterweight. As for Dialogue TreFSHHHHHHHHHH sorry i blacked out what happened

    Good luck!

  5. I can’t help but notice that as soon as I asked you for a hint for Thirty Flights of Loving, you closed the other thread.

  6. @Beams – misread that as “my wife keeps disappearing”.

    Call of Juarez destructocast was pretty exhausting. Playing games like young men again, worrr.

  7. Pretty slow down here.

    So! Anyone playing the new Jason Rohrer game, “Try Not To Get Shot By The Paranoid Vigilante”?

  8. Since the site got blocked at work I find it hard to get the time to comment! Will try harder…

  9. No mwm. The firewall finally recognised Electron Dance as a gaming site. RPS is also banned here (I announced on Twitter that I’d “made it”). So I can either painfully type comments into a smartphone or wait until i get home. However I am trying to get this week’s article done which is not easy in this crazy heat. Probably won’t seriously comment until the end of the week.

  10. I went to see Pacific Rim last night and it was fucking awesome (like, awesome awesome, not hotdog awesome) for all the reasons I expected it to be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was big and stupid and predictable (so leave your brain at the door) but seeing a giant brobot (yes, I’m calling them brobots) beating the crap out of a giant monster with a freakin’ ocean tanker and some shipping containers is something to behold on the big screen. It made Godzilla and Transformers look like VR Troopers. Several times during the film I just wanted to stand up, arms stretched out wide and scream ‘THIS IS FUCKING MASSIVE!!!’. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had at the pictures since Avengers Assemble and The Cabin in the Woods.

  11. @Gregg I also saw it last night and agree. It was a lot of fun. Unexpectedly, I saw it in 3D… and it really worked.

  12. Finishing up Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and it is now in the running for game of the year. I am not even joking.

    Looking forward to playing Dynasty Warriors 8 with my house mate and finally digging in to Tomb Raider and deciding if I really hate it or only sort of dislike it.

    I have also completed the main storyline/objective of 47 games this year. I am an unstoppable force; or I am going to stop when I hit 50 and refuse to write about video games for the rest of the year.

  13. I have no desire to see Pacific Rim. I’m not a fan of Guillermo del Toro and the idea of seeing a movie which is just two hours plus of giant robots fighting godzillas makes me nervous.

    Actually, why can’t anyone make a blockbuster movie that’s under two hours anymore? I don’t have time to see all these movies! Well, the blockbuster seems to be dying anyway, so maybe it won’t be an issue in 10 years.

  14. It is more like 15 minutes of robots punching godzillas and then an hour of things and stuff and then 45 minutes of robots punching godzillas. I’d say this has more of a human heart than most of the blockbusters I’ve seen in recent years. Plus, Stringy Bell! But enjoyment is fairly reliant on liking the idea of giant robots punching godzillas which, fortunately, I do.

    Random positive observation about Pacific Rim: there is a scene in it that is clearly a wholesale lifting of / generous hat-tip to the Starcraft 2 ‘armour up’ intro sequence.

    Random negative observation about Pacific Rim: only contains one female character (plus one female tertiary character who has about four lines).

  15. @HM: Joel, I am disappoint. You could’ve responded way funnier than that.

    The last movie I saw the The Lone Ranger. I really, really, enjoyed it, though the critics despised it. It’s funny, it’s actiony, and it’s gotta back-load brimming with thematic goodness.

  16. I saw Before Midnight! It was good tho’ the ending felt a bit rushed. The part with the apple hit home (though in my household the expectations are clear: half-eaten apples will be consumed down to the seeds by me).

  17. @ShaunCG Yeah that’s really it, I don’t really enjoy the idea of giant robots punching godzillas. Didn’t look like anyone else did either if the box office is any indication. But I’m glad it was a satisfactory robots punching godzillas movie!

    The next movie I’ll probably see is Elysium.

  18. I watched Holy Motors and Berberian Sound Studio recently and while the latter derailed itself partway through, the former was just a mess from start to finish. I really couldn’t stand either film. Until I watched Holy Motors, Eraserhead was perhaps the oddest films I’d ever seen but at least I enjoyed that. Then again, I haven’t seen Eraserhead in years and don’t remember an awful lot about it. I also watched The Loved Ones, a really kooky and nasty Australian pitch-black comedy horror that was fantastic and very unpredictable. Well worth a look even if you haven’t got the stomach for it (like me). I tend to steer clear of icky horror films but when you ignore synopses to enjoy the surprise of not knowing what type of film a film is going to be, it’s a double edged sword. Will this be an action film? A biopic? A thriller? Comedy? Horror? A documentary? I find that element really exciting.

  19. My girlfriend and I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop recently. It’s funny that it mostly produced a lot of hype for Banksy, despite the film demonstrating the absurdity of hype and celebrity culture in art. At least knowing it still exists in modern art takes the sting away from its analogues in Kickstarter. No one’s solved that problem yet!

    We also saw Pacific Rim more recently and enjoyed it, though I have to say it’s been a while since a movie was exactly as good as I had hoped. The Avengers and Iron Man 3 were both so much better than I had expected that I wonder if they haven’t skewed my appreciation. Pacific Rim definitely deserves a sequel, and I think being able to go all-in without explaining as much would benefit it greatly. I really wish the people that invoked comparisons to Michael Bay’s trilogy of malformed awful garbage had held their judgment ’til the movie was actually released.

    Elysium looks good, and I want to see The Wolverine because I curiously can’t preconceive anything about it. Hmm.

    I’ve heard good things about Holy Motors, but I was a film studies major and hear these things secondhand from film people that love filmy films. I hated Blue Velvet, which has made me wary of David Lynch’s other work, so maybe I’ll hold off on that, too.

  20. Right that’s the post done, phew it is bloody hot here. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do some commenting tomorrow. But I have a Marginalia to sort out as well… hmmm…

  21. I generally don’t subscribe to the blockbuster mantra of making sequels BIGGER and CRAZIER than ever before (I don’t generally subscribe to making sequels full stop) but when applied to Pacific Rim the results could be… well, ridiculous. That’s why I’d really want to see a sequel; it’s the perfect big-screen hole to throw a budget into provided it doesn’t go the way of Transformers and provided it does well enough to warrant it. And you know, I really appreciated the film being fresh and earnestly silly in an age where there seems to be an awful lot of reboots, and po-faced ones at that. Not seen Iron Man 3 yet!

    After watching Holy Motors I read numerous glowing reviews of it, but aside from one terrific piece which tried to explain why it was so interesting (that’s probably the best thing I could say about the film), most critics just seemed to praise it without saying why, which is a bit of a cop-out if you ask me, especially when it’s being celebrated so highly and widely. I mean, sure, it was fascinating at first but by the end I just wondered what the point of it all was, hence my continued reading after watching it.

    Watched Searching for Sugar Man last night. Wow, what an incredible story.

  22. There’s not going to be a Pacific Rim sequel. It’s a huge flop. I’d be surprised if anyone gives Guillermo del Toro more than $30 million to make a movie ever again.

  23. I will never see Pacific Rim because it involves 1) paying a lot of money to 2) sit in a dark room with 3) loud noises and 4) strangers. That said I find that everyone’s either extraordinarily hostile to it or is all IT’S THE BEST THING EVER. Movies are weird.

    My goal for this morning is to sit my ass down and finally finish Wizardry 6. I’m in the final major dungeon and it doesn’t look that long, it’s just fairly brutal as one would expect it to be. When you next hear from me, I’ll either be dead or have accomplished something major!

  24. Has it released in the east yet? I got the impression that that was where the money was going to be. Either way, I’m surprised Grown Ups 2 has done so well. No wait. No I’m not.

  25. For two hours of mediocre entertainment and you haven’t even gotten popcorn yet? Hell yeah it is!

    Wizardry 6 update: I just beat Xorphitus the evil wizard, and now I’m off to the final area! Boss was shockingly easy.

  26. @Gregg an unrelated google informed me PR was a big hit in the Philippines. No idea about elsewhere. Not done well in the UK yet though. The theatre I was in was not even half full. But damn, is it sunny at the moment.

    I also chanced across a Forbes article criticising pre-release cries of “it’s a flop!” based on box office predictions of $30m. I don’t know jack about the film industry but it makes sense to me on a gut level.

  27. And…that’s Wizardry 6 done! I defeated Dracula, grasped the Cosmic forge, and then a mysterious figure grabbed it before I could do anything. To be continued Fall 1991!

    Or, you know, when I can get up the courage to click “Wizardry 7” on my desktop.

  28. I haven’t paid for cinema tickets in yeeeeears so my opinions on films haven’t been tainted by overheads. Thank you girlfriend who worked at Cineworld! She works elsewhere now but she has links that still get us through the doors for free. Whee! We even used to get discounts on concessions.

  29. @Gregg:
    I agree completely that all sequels don’t need to go bigger. I suppose Iron Man 3 is bigger than 2, but 3 is more of a sequel to The Avengers and did very well in going smaller. Transformers couldn’t have done that because the first movie went so big with such little reasoning- and then the sequels went bigger anyway.

    Maybe we can hope for DVD/Blu-ray sales to make up the difference. Maybe the next one can be animated or something. It’d be a shame to see it disappear entirely; I certainly liked it more than Man of Steel.

  30. Okay I’ve run out of time to comment here this evening. Just got time for a drive-by shooting: DEADLY PREMONITION PC.

  31. đŸ˜€
    I don’t know how effective, or important, Greenlight is to this process, but I am encouraging everyone to go and vote yes so people without consoles can play it.

  32. So how do computer animation studios usually do human figures when they aren’t striving for realism? The gestures in Fireman Sam can be quite expressive but it seems like it’d be kind of odd for Xing Xing to do motion capture for it, unless they have people in China acting out the scripts. Is that usual? Or is it just something that computer artists can do without working from a live model?

    I saw someone complaining about how Fireman Sam had gone from stop-motion to CGI and though I’m all right with the CGI (having not seen much of the original) I do feel that way about Thomas and Friends. One insight I had about the old-school Thomas with Ringo Starr narrating everything and the absolutely rigid animation is that I think part of its appeal is that it’s like toys coming to life. If you had different voices for the different characters and more fluid motions and the like then it would be less like the apotheosis of playing with your own trains.

    I’ve given Richard cooties again, haven’t I?

  33. @mattw I’m planning out my next three tattoos–I want, going down my right leg, the phrase “life, London, this moment in June” from mrs dalloway; encircling my left wrist, “all in all is all we all are” from All Apologies by Nirvana; on the inside of my right wrist, a red coffee mug to both symbolize my aching love of coffee and the Camus quote, “Should I kill myself or make a cup of coffee?”

    In your honor, the fourth next tattoo I get will be two circles and two dots so I have a permanent cootie shot.

    I should finish the piercings I want on my right ear too.

  34. Well, looks like I’ll never be a mainstream gamer. The Rolling Stones provide the soundtrack.

    I guess it’s pretty clear that when that guy says “Soon all games will be on the cloud by “games” he means “mainstream games” of some sort, and no I don’t really know what I mean by that. Because can your three geeks working out of someone’s basement company really start off aiming to put things on the cloud? I don’t now anything about the business end of things, but it seems like just selling the software would be simpler and have less startup costs.

    And another reason by “games” he means “mainstream games” is that when everything is on the cloud nothing that isn’t a big hit right now exists. I don’t know anything about games but this is freaking obvious. If the company that made the game decides it’s not profitable to support it anymore, or goes out of business, congratulations: Your copy of the game is now fucking useless. And God forbid you want to play an old classic; there won’t be any old classics anymore.

    I have a suspicion that the article could better have been titled “How mainstream gaming will destroy itself.”

  35. @Matt W:

    Well, I skimmed over the article you linked (it looked tedious to read), but I’ll just assume that, aside from some flaws or overlooked areas, he lays out a compelling argument…zhe, zhe, zhe. It’s a hard habit to form, it seems.

    Assuming a decentralized model for cloud gaming (and that publishers are stupid enough to release cloud-based exclusives), your points are perfectly valid. Assuming a centralized model for cloud gaming (where Microsoft, seeing an incredible opportunity, launches a line of $100 computers built solely around cloud gaming *and* hardware-intensive programs of all kind [i.e. CAD]. They setup hundreds of servers around the world to properly accommodate clients, and start an Apple-Store-like service to acquire the programs they distribute. The end times begin.), which also happens to be more likely in the case that cloud gaming becomes an industry-maker, your points fall away, more or less.

    That said, I think cloud gaming is silly, and will dutifully avoid it; it’s simply a way to replace up-front costs with recurring ones (but with the added benefit of single-player ping), and I would miss my tinker sessions.

    Maybe the question of cloud gaming is as simple as this: which resource do we have in abundance? Internet access, or hardware? And, I would think, the answer is the latter, especially for those who play modern AAA games on PC.

  36. Whoops, I continued to forgot to post the soundtrack.

    OK, I’m not sure I agree with you about hardware vs. internet access — it seems to me that I read a lot of “so I rebuilt my tower and slotted in a new graphics card and la la la” which is a level of hardware that is scarcer than internet access, just by virtue of the fact that more people have internet access than are willing to spend that amount of time and mental energy messing with the insides of their computers. (No, I don’t have any statistics for that but isn’t it obviously true?) The problem, or one problem, with internet access is that it’s not as reliable. But anyway.

    Are you sure that if everything moves onto Microsoft’s centralized cloudy servers that that invalidates my points? I guess that your three geeks won’t have too much trouble renting some server space (too much more trouble than they do starting up now), but how are old cult classics going to keep their space on the server? At some point isn’t whatever money they make going to exceed the cost of the server space they take up, and at that point don’t they go bye-bye?

  37. Well, no, you’re right, though for a different reason. Cloud gaming, I have no doubt, takes custom programming which is plainly to the benefit of AAA. And since Linux is beloved for its server…ness, they may be forced to port their game (though I’m iffy on that area; could be that Linux servers run Windows games as-is), to get it on the cloud at all.

    I suppose some pioneering chap would be able to find an efficient way to store and quickly swap out a very, very, large retinue of games, thus allowing a bit more permanence (i.e. while some old classics might not be profitable enough to take up shelf space, they still keep it in the back), you’re right about that. Cloud gaming is the epitome of transience, etc.

    Anyhow, I’d say I used the wrong language with “devalidate your points”, since that implies that I want cloud gaming to happen or something. Don’t you know that people spend half as much effort on a comment as on a real article? At any rate, I rescind my assholishness!

    The point I made about internet access vs. hardware was more of an aside that I felt compelled to share than anything; scarcely the center of any argument. But, we’re not comparing hobbyists and their ultra-tier twin-CPU, water-cooled, Titan-powered monsters to people who have any internet at all. We’re comparing people who have mid-high end computers from the last 3-4 years against people who have a strong, reliable, internet connection. I doubt many people who can run the game at all (even minimum settings) are willing to pay a premium (they’re charged twice no less; once to play the game, and once by their internet provider) to play a prettier, laggier, buggier, unreliabler, version of that same game. Excuse the non-sequitor.

    Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft released those 100$ computers. Hella opportunity there.

    I just clicked that link of your’s Matt. I laughed pretty hard.

  38. I find it so hard to find time to do proper commenting since access was blocked at work. Lengthy replies are hard to do on a smartphone. God damn. I will return to these comments, sooner or later.

  39. Matt,

    Going back to your notes on Open Mike 4.

    Let me say on Thirty Flights of Loving I didn’t get the story at all until I started reading other people’s comments on the game. There’s a shit-ton of tiny details in there that I missed. I’ll admit I did not dig Thirty Flights as much as I dug Gravity Bone. The former is more of a showcase of living cutscenes, setpieces and in-game storytelling, the Dear Esther approach; whereas the latter riffs off game tropes and felt more satisfying.


    I never understood the end of the game on the Bernoulli Principle until I saw Drew Davidson do his Well-Played session on it. The game says for the principle to work, all three components have to work together (wing shape, pressure, angle) – analogy for the team. So all it takes is one of them to screw up and the effect falls apart. And the protagonist screwed things up, likely by sleeping with another lady (the anatagonist of Gravity Bone).


    Dear Esther is a funny one of course. I was never quite satisfied by it, but hugely glad it existed. I do like the narration although sometimes it comes across a little overwrought. It is an absolutely beautiful game, Robert Briscoe should be proud. There are some weird things in the commerical version as well, not just the ghosts, but odd sounds in odd places. There’s a lot in it, an extremely crafted place.

    I don’t know what happened to your chapters because every time I’ve just played the game straight through. As you’ve probably not played it, the map is quite different in the original free version which also features a silhouetted figure in the distance that continues to pop up – compelling you forward.

    On your comments about separation of story/game, yeah, if the story and game are not meshed together that well, then I wonder if I need the story at all. I think back to “Cell: Emergence” and there’s some motivation there, but it’s slight. I haven’t played SpaceChem yet but I can imagine how strongly they seem separated there. Puzzles tend to be pretty hard to tie into plot as they’re often so abstract; sometimes it feels like why can’t you admit it is just a puzzle game? Platformers can suffer from this problem too, which is why I usually raise shields whenever I see a platformer with a story. It doesn’t have to be this way, but, well, it’s often bolted on as opposed to being directly involved. I also agree that Braid seems more segregational in story/game than you might think. But that last level, man, that was genius.

  40. Man I am still not sure that flight works that way at all but I will let it go.

    For me a lot of the time that bit of story keeps me engaged. As I think I said I like platformers with stories. (My problem with One and One wasn’t that it was a PwS, it was that the story seemed to have been written by Tim from Braid himself.) In general even if it’s the most egregious Kosterian narrative-as-feedback situation — you did something! Have another bit of plot as a reward pellet! — well, it gives me something to read. I have trouble even going to the bathroom without something to read, you know? So if I look at the games that I gave up on after three levels or halfway through, they’re often storyless — Splice (really, I was like “Why am I doing this?”), Spirits, Cogs, Edge.

    Not that I’m saying Cogs or fucking Edge should have a story. That would be awful! It’s not like I’m even unsatisfied with Cogs’ lack of development, it had the tragic flaw that it was a bunch of slider puzzles and I stopped when all the levels that were open to me were annoying in one way or another but them’s the breaks. And of course I still haven’t finished Sword & Sworcery and stalled out early on Bastion and a couple levels in on Psychonauts while racing through NightSky and as much of Osmos as I could race through, so story isn’t everything, though then again it was gameplay that blocked me in all of these. But story does at least give you a sense of building to a thing, even if that sense can be highly artificial. And it can help supplement it when that sense isn’t artificial — you do get more complicated things to do as the story progress in Thomas Was Alone, whatever I may have said about Braid that level ties things together in its gameplay as well as story (something similar could be said about VVVVVV maybe), and NightSky really does have a narrative if not a plot — it’s not about building difficulty (in the game as within levels the curve is more a set of rolling hills) but about the progression of the backgrounds from evening to morning.

    SpaceChem is a bit of a special case in this way because the storybits are so nugatory and so few and far between that they basically might not be there. When I say the bit of story keeps me engaged the story has to be at least mildly engaging. When the story I made up for the game is probably better than the one that’s really in it, I don’t have much incentive to complete the game. (And judging by these stats I’m not the only one to feel that way; one of the commenters describes the curve as “impressively flat” but when the percentage of players finishing individual levels doesn’t rise toward the end that seems to me a game that isn’t hooking people to make the last push to finish.)

  41. Hello Matt.

    I could get into a full-blown discussion of 30 Flights – I tend to believe the Drew Davidson’s deconstruction of it but, as I said, I’m not the game’s biggest fan. Richard Goodness also saw the same presentation and I don’t think he was impressed.

    Reading your comment, I can’t help be drawn to the same question which seems to flash up again and again these days. I can’t work out why we actually play games sometimes. Most game stories are pretty basic. Yet we can’t play without them? So what’s that about? It really seems “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Why aren’t the puzzles enough? If the puzzles are not enough – how come a story that only obliquely touches the game world is enough to make it compelling? It’s almost like we’re racing towards the question “what makes a game” as opposed to the bloody trainwreck of “what is a game”.

    I don’t know if I’m helping the discussion =)

  42. Going back to this thread makes me remember that I had something to say, but it’ll have to wait.

    Remember how I had that idea for a nonviolent paparazzi FPS in which you’re “shooting” celebrities with your camera? And how Hofmeier thought of it first? Well I have something he doesn’t have: Boom, headshot.


    As usual, the paparazzo story makes more sense of some videogame mechanics than the actual videogames do, specifically a mechanic where you get money for shooting targets and can spend it on upgrades (telephoto lens, rapid exposure, maybe a nightvision camera and autofocus). I was going to say that this will never take off because it can’t have multiplayer but why not? Sure you wouldn’t be trying to shoot the other guy but the paparazzi could have a good time trying to mess up each other’s shots. Smoke bombs might be involved, and of course the old “set the flash off in the other guy’s face to blind him” trick which I can’t believe I only just thought of.

    Anyway, thing I had to say: What does it matter to a game if we play it all? Sometimes it clearly does (Braid, and I would say NightSky even though it’s basically plotless) but why not just treat a game as a collection of challenges that you may not finish all of, like a book of crossword puzzles you don’t finish? That’s definitely how I feel about Cogs. Even in the realm of plotted noninteractive entertainment, Source Code would not be happy if you left in the middle but Eastenders* cares not a whit if you don’t watch the whole run.

    *My only exposure to Eastenders comes from Barry’s role in Extras.

  44. You know another videogame mechanic that makes more sense in my paparazzi game than in the videogames it actually appears in? Hot women in outfits that could only happen with ridiculous amounts of underwire and/or boob tape.

    (HM desperately hammers the “close comments” button)

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