What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Kim Swift

Kim Swift, game designer

One of the lead designers behind Portal describes life after crunch time.

By Gus Mastrapa • June 8, 2012

In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

Kim Swift is a game designer who was recruited by Valve right out of college to transform her college project Narbacular Drop into the critically acclaimed puzzle game Portal. Swift just finished her next game, another non-violent, brain-burner called Quantum Conundrum. She spoke with The Gameological Society on the floor at E3 2012.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Kim Swift: Probably Diablo III.

Gameological: Is that wise when you’re finishing up Quantum Conundrum?

Swift: We’re actually all wrapped up and done. So we just announced our ship date for Steam, which is going to be June 21st. We’re doing pre-orders right now. We’re just waiting to hear back from Sony and Microsoft to get a firm, solid, “Yes. These are our ship dates for consoles.” But those should be announced really soon.

Gameological: When did you finish the game?

Swift: I’d say about a month ago.

Gameological: Have you been playing Diablo steadily since then?

Swift: No. I’m actually working on the next thing that we can’t talk about yet. I think I’ve had only one Diablo III session. I’m very proud of myself. I have a bunch of stuff that I’m doing outside of work that is taking up my game-playing hours.

Gameological: What was your takeaway from your first sit-down with the game?

Reich: It was good fun. I played with my friend Garrett. We had a little LAN party in my living room with pizza and beer. It was a nice, relaxing game. We also played—this was last weekend, actually—Tomb Raider: Guardian Of Light. That was fun. We played that co-op and then we played Diablo.

Gameological: During the course of making Quantum Conundrum, did you only have time to play your own game?

Swift: Pretty much. Crunch time doesn’t leave a whole lot of game-playing time. Though a bunch of us on the team actually play games at lunch. A lot of people play TF2 [Team Fortress 2]. Sometimes we play Left 4 Dead. Sometimes people will play Diablo III at lunch. Actually, a bunch of us on the team are super excited about Borderlands 2 coming out. Because we loved Borderlands when it came out.

Gameological: What’s your methodology for playing your own game? How do you look at it after spending so much time with it?

Swift: At the very tail end of the game process, we playtest our own game a lot. So we end up playing our own game over and over and over again, for a month straight, just to make sure there wasn’t anything major that we missed as far as bugs. It sounds bad, but I like to detox from it—at least for a couple of months—before I’ll sit down and play it from start to finish. I guess for me, I really like experiencing the game through other people more than I like experiencing it myself. So I really love watching people play our game, because you learn so much about human behavior, and what worked and what didn’t, just by watching people.

Gameological: Did you carry over a lot of lessons from Portal and Valve’s proclivity toward iteration?

Reich: Oh yeah. For sure. They were amazing lessons. I don’t know why I wouldn’t do that. We are a very test-driven, iterative team. Every week, we have someone sit down, play our game, and we’ll watch them play to establish what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. The only way to keep us honest, really, is to watch people play.

Gameological: After approaching your own game with that mindset, is it difficult to play somebody else’s game and just have fun with it?

Swift: No, I don’t think so. I definitely look at it as a designer. I do try to break stuff. But I was doing that before I became an industry designer. I think that’s just me as a personality type. But I have fun with games. I really love games. That’s why I want to make them. So I have fun regardless of whether or not I’m dissecting what’s going on.

Gameological: What was the first non-gaming thing you felt the need to do after wrapping up Quantum Conundrum?

Swift: I went on vacation to Bali. And that was awesome. I hung out with monkeys. There were a lot of monkeys there. And I went whitewater rafting, ate a lot of food—they have really, really good suckling pig there. It was delicious.

Gameological: And now it’s on to the next game.

Swift: Which is good. It means we can pay our mortgages. Feed our children. All that good stuff.

And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.

Photograph of Kim Swift by Brian Taylor.

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  • TomElman

    diablo 3 still, and amnesia. i’m also thinking about diving into deus ex hr again.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Played my wife’s copy of Diablo 3 a few times earlier this week, and broke down and bought my own (digital) copy.  It’s pretty much mindless fun once in a while when I need a break from Minecraft.

    • CivilizationHasFailed

      Yeah I’m on Diablo III, just beat the game but going again on Nightmare difficulty. I also have to wrap Max Payne 3 (which I enjoy less and less each time I boot up the system).
      I got the Humble Bundle…. and then they added 3 more games! 
      I realized that From Dust is on Google Chrome and I just happen to have $10 in my Google Wallet………
      AND I moved in with a new roommate with a shitload of PS3 RPGs……

      I’M DROWNING IN GAMES

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        I love the feeling of drowning in games. When I have so many options, I feel like an entertainment god.

    • Basement Boy

      I’d waded a ways into Diablo III (liking it quite alot!) but then found out that The Wrath of the Lamb upgrade to The Binding Of Isaac had released, so I’ve been sucked back into its *now-more-bizarre-than-ever!* world, and loving it. 

  • Maudib

    Getting back into Dungeons of Dredmor since they came out with the expansion pack and the easy mod downloading.  So many skill trees, so much junk to learn how useless it is, and so many skills I have no idea how to use.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    I’m already in love with Quantum Conundrum and I haven’t even played it yet. I’m probably going to be up all night on June 21st.

    As for what I’m playing this weekend, I’ll be playing little bits of lots of games. I’ll probably do a couple of campaign missions for Worms Reloaded, but there’s not much else to do in the game. It’s seriously lacking in customization options; even Worms 2 had weapons customization, but this game doesn’t. If I get bored of Reloaded, I can always get started on Worms Ultimate Mayhem.

    In the realm of non-turn-based-artillery games, I’ll be playing some Costume Quest, because it’s super-cute, as well as some Fallout: New Vegas. I want to progress further in the latter’s storyline, but I keep getting sidetracked by side quests. I need more discipline.

    I might also play some BioShock, but I have mixed feelings about it so far. I’m a couple of hours in, and it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. It feels almost like an underwater exploration game with a first-person shooter clumsily grafted on top. I love the feeling of walking around Rapture, but every time an enemy shows up, I’m like, “Oh crap. Now I have to shoot things.” Don’t get me wrong – I usually enjoy shooting things. But it’s no fun to run around frantically emptying entire clips into bullet sponges.

    And when I get tired of all that and decide to indulge my desire to blow shit up, I’ll dive in to some Saints Row 2.

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I felt kinda the same way about BioShock. I really like the setting, the aesthetic, and the quality of sound and graphics, but only tolerated the gameplay itself and never really was impressed by the plot, whose details always seemed murky in a bad way.

      What’s Costume Quest like? I like Tim Schafer, but what I’ve seen of Costume Quest didn’t do a great job of explaining what it’s all about.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        I’m less than an hour into Costume Quest, so it’s hard for me to judge at this point. The style and humour are utterly charming; I don’t know if you’ve played Stacking, but it’s a good reference point for those aspects of the game. It’s great fun to walk around the neighbourhood, going from house to house and trick-or-treating. On the other hand, I have mixed feelings about the combat. It looks really cool, but it’s basically a bunch of glorified quick-time events.

        • dreadguacamole

            The combat does wear a bit thin after a while, but the game’s just so damn charming it doesn’t really become a huge problem – and the fact that there are no random encounters, and that you can avoid a lot of the monsters helps mitigate.
           I’d love for it to get a full blown sequel, to be honest.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       That was pretty much my reaction to Bioshock. “This world is kind of interesting, but this gameplay is pretty much the least interesting way to explore it.” I quit out of boredom once I realized I was only two levels in, was already sick of it, and a quick glance at a walkthrough told me I still had hours and hours of this crap to go.

      • ToddG

        I generally agree, though I found the setting, plot, style, and sensibilities to make up for the shortcomings of the gameplay.  Since it was boring-bad and not frustrating-bad, I powered through, and honestly I’m glad I did.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          After knocking the difficulty down from Medium to Easy (yeah, I know, I’m a wuss), the game became a lot more fun. Gunfights end a lot faster and don’t feel like such a grind. The problem is that now it’s really easy to be a resource hog.

      • xolotl

        Huh – I suppose this must have been what happened to me as well.  Once every year or so I make another attempt at trying to finish Bioshock, but I’ve never actaully managed to get more than maybe a quarter way through before losing interest, despite being quite fond of the game atmosphere.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          If the game had been released 10 years earlier, it could have been a kind of imaginative Myst clone. Unfortunately it decided to be a kind of crappy Doom clone, instead.

    • Mike Mariano

      Merve, you and the other commentors share my feelings about Bioshock gameplay.

      It was a bummer for me to see that it continues in Bioshock Infinite.  The trailer shows you shotgunning (zombified?) citizens who run straight into your bullets.  That isn’t fun combat.

    • HobbesMkii

       BioShock 2 has a great deal more fun combat, I think. The traps make it.

  • blue vodka lemonade

    I thought it was Narbacular, not Narbtacular?
    This weekend it’s gonna be Super Mario Brothers (I got a 3DS for my birthday barely 24 hours ago,) Bastion, and Amnesia. Just bought the current Humble Indie Bundle and am planning on enjoying the hell out of it.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Oh fun! I’m really wanting a 3DS but I’m trying to hold off until some future date. They look like a lot of fun, and there’s already quite I few games I want to get into.

    • caspiancomic

       Happy birthday my beveragey acquaintance! I too am waist deep in the Humble Bundle and have basically been having paroxysms of pure joy since they all finished downloading. Between gaming hours I’ve been listening to the truly rockin’ soundtracks as well. Bastion and S:S&S in particular are killer.

      • Enkidum

        Bastion’s one of the first games I played with an genuine song in it, with verses and everything, that I thought was pretty decent. The gameplay’s pretty fun too. Strikes a cool balance between really unforgiving challenges that aren’t strictly necessary to complete the main story, and the main story’s combat that’s easier, but still hard enough to satisfy. Or that’s what I thought anyways. Love the visuals, too.

        And happy bday BVL.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         @Enkidum:disqus And for my birthday (obviously it was for my birthday) the Humble Bundle just about doubled in size. I don’t think they want me leaving my house. Right now it’s of to see Prometheus…

        …with my mother and grandmother. I’m a cool kid!

  • KidvanDanzig

    Since getting my gaming rig back up and running, I bought a cheap mini-HDMI cable and have hooked it up to the apartment’s 50-inch TV. I’ve taken the opportunity to tear through the first two Bioshock games. Bioshock 1 is still as great as ever, at least when you’ve got some distance from it, but the same-y enemies get old fast. Bioshock 2 is much, much, much more fun to play, but a poorer game in almost every respect beyond gunplay. That it holds up so well is, I think, evidence of how negligible plot and narrative are to the core experience of games. Strong gameplay will stand free without strong plot, but not vice versa.

    After that, I obsessively devoured every Bioshock: Infinite video I could find on Youtube (feeling pretty crushed that it got delayed) and am currently running through a modded game of Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. I consider it a better written game than Bioshock in its actual script (so much of it is a pleasure to read / hear) but the beauty of Bioshock was its holistic approach to theme.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I really wanted to LOVE Bioshock when I played it, but I only liked it. Everything was great except the gameplay which was pretty boring honestly. Nearly everything else was right up my alley though which is kind of a shame.

      • caspiancomic

        It’s interesting to see a kind of delayed Bioshock backlash here on the site, possibly encouraged by Ellie’s disdain for it last week or so.

        (Not to attempt to minimize anyone’s opinion by categorizing it as “backlash”, but in these comments alone this is the third instance of Bioshock being mentioned in less than the usual glowing terms)

        I always found the gunfights, while probably the least interesting element of the game, to still be deeply satisfying. Whenever I play a game, I usually attempt to go for a kind of “pure” run whenever possible. That is, taking as little damage as possible, dispatching enemies quickly and efficiently, solving puzzles in as few moves as possible, etc. Bioshock was a real shock *koff* to my system because it threw that usual caution and cleanliness right back in my face. Combat was fast, dirty, scary, noisy, and messy. You had to use basically every tool in your arsenal to survive and even then you were usually only barely scraping along by the skin of your nose. I couldn’t do my usual “horde restorative items and end up sitting on a mountain of them by game’s end”, because every enemy encounter whittled your health down to nothing several times over. Nor could I be frugal with my special abilities (plasmids, special ammo types, whatever) because if you don’t use them, you’re basically dead. Since this was such a reversal of my usual playstyle I found the entire experience really exciting.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           From that description, it sounds like you might enjoy this batshit insane Russian game, “Pathologic,” I learned about yesterday:

          http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/04/10/butchering-pathologic-part-1-the-body/

          I might try and hunt down a copy and play a bit this weekend, if I’m feeling masochistic.

        • ToddG

          Except that the abundance of vita-chambers completely undermines all of that.  You can continually run out, hit one enemy once with the wrench and then “die”, and you’ll eventually get through.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          I actually didn’t remember that Ellie wrote and/or spoke about BioShock in less-than-favourable terms. In fact, I was quite surprised to see people agreeing with my take on the game.

          I think the frantic nature of the gunplay subconsciously reminds me of online multiplayer deathmatches, with all the running and jumping and exploding. It’s an odd fit for a game that often thrives on quiet intensity. The structure of the game seems to be inspired by the rise-and-fall dynamic of horror films, and I’ve never really gotten into that genre. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t exactly work for me.

          It’s a shame, because I really love exploring Rapture, even if the game can be a bit on-the-nose in its critique of unfettered capitalism (or more specifically, Randian objectivism). The art direction and the atmosphere are superb. I just wish that there were some other way of exploring this art-deco-meets-steampunk world.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ
        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           @GhaleonQ:disqus : I actually played The Void a few years back after being intrigued by it from afar. It was interesting, though I never completed it.

          I got several hours into it before discovering that some naive choices made very early in the game (with no indication of the consequences) had left me in an unwinnable state that would require restarting from the very beginning.

          As you can probably estimate from my prejudices and experiences with Sierra adventures in other comment threads, this was about the point at which I overturned the tea table and stormed out of the room.

          So reading that Pathologic was by the same folks heightened both my interest and my trepidation. I’ll still probably give it a shot, though it may be something I have to come back to when I have more time (or more patience…).

          I do suspect I’ll find the macabre (Svankmajer-y?) physical meat-horror of Pathologic, and its Majora-style town of busy characters living (and losing) their lives a little more compelling than the floaty, metaphysical, inscrutable mumbo-jumbo world I found in The Void (an opinion that could also change with a revisit – perhaps equipped with more free time and an FAQ…).

        • caspiancomic

           @bakana42:disqus @GhaleonQ:disqus “Don’t fear death, there is no death in the voiiiiiiiiiiid”

          I’m familiar with The Void and Pathologic, and you’re right, I would love an opportunity to play either of them. I’ve read the Rock Paper Shotgun article before and it sounds like exactly my sort of game in many ways. I get the feeling though, that I’d be crap at it: it seems very demanding. Not only mechanically (as in, the game is difficult), but… I don’t know, metaphysically? (The game depresses and exhausts its player) That a game could have as strong an effect on its player as it had on the RPS article’s author is a testament, I think, to its strength. Looks hella spooky as well.

          And The Void seems like a total headfuck. I’m not sure if I mean in a good way, but it definitely looks interesting. Here’s a game doing the whole “multiple endings” thing way right: there are like 12 or so endings, possibly more, none of them categorized on a spectrum from “good” to “bad”, every ending you could possibly choose is totally legitimate, and the only determining factor in which ending you get is which ending you choose to pursue. Not just character-driven narrative, but actual player-driven narrative. I haven’t played it yet, but an agreeable chap called CannibalK9 has an excellent and comprehensive (if a little gradually paced) Let’s Play of it over at the Let’s Play Archive.

        • Vervack

           @bakana42:disqus and everyone else: if any of you are curious about Pathologic but don’t want to have to struggle with the game itself (and I don’t blame you for feeling trepedation. The survival mechanics are unforgiving, the combat is flail-and-pray, and the dialogue is a terrible English translation of pretty elliptical Russian), I have two things you might like. The first is a series of blogged impressions from one guy’s playthrough of the Bachelor’s story, one of the three stories of the game.

          http://thefripandthedead.com/?tag=russia&paged=13

          The second is a Let’s Play of the Devotress’ story from SomethingAwful’s LP archive. If you ever want to play this game seriously for yourself, I’d recommend not reading this one, as it recontextualizes everything else that happens in the game. (Heck, you can’t even play her story unless you complete the Bachelor or the Haruspex’s story first.)

          http://lparchive.org/Pathologic/

    • AngryRaisins

      It’s a shame about Bioshock 2 – improves the gameplay in many ways but is superfluous at best storywise (and sometimes feels like it’s undermining the original).  Agree that Bioshock’s gameplay was a bit weak in several places, but I did like how its locations felt like actual locations (businesses etc.) with their own purpose, rather than areas designed for shooting in.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

    Look, I’m not aiming for Keyboard Geniuses here.  Just play Virtua Fighter 5.  It’s a thing of beauty.  It’s 1 of the only franchises Sega didn’t ruin or kill.  A barebones version is 15 dollars.  Come on.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I would probably be up for this if I didn’t completely blow at fighters. I can’t even imagine myself ever being somewhat competent with them, much less try to go online to play people. …unless you just want me to play singleplayer.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Please don’t.  I love fighting game single-players, and the original 5 had 1 of the best ever, but I wouldn’t wish it upon normal people.

        If you DO pick 1 fighting game to gain satisfaction from, it has to be Virtua Fighter.  It got me back into fighting games, despite its hardcore reputation, and getting good is 1 of my favorite gaming experiences.  You can SEE exactly when you’re improving or faltering.

    • Enkidum

      If one signs up for PSN+ and gets it, and the other 11 games, do you only have access to them while you’re still a member?

      Because that would be a seriously crazy-ass deal. So I’m guessing not. Why can’t I ever have anything nice?

      • Raging Bear

        Access only lasts as long as your membership, unfortunately. I know this from a promotional free month I got. Still, I would almost be tempted to buy a full year, if I had anything like the bandwidth or HD space to constantly download multi-GB games.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Hey, if you want consumer friendliness, you picked the wrong art form.

        • Enkidum

          Eh, in this case it would be stupid to expect them to give me like $200 worth of games for a $18 3-month membership. Still 15 bucks for VF5 is a pretty good deal, and I loved 2-4. Never very good at them, but damn they were good games.

    • ToddG

      It really is fantastic.  Definitely my favorite fighting game ever.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        I’M WEARING ANGEL WINGS.

    • Shain Eighmey

      I need to check that out!

  • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

    Due to the PS+ onslaught of free games this week I’ll be playing Space Marine and Infamous 2 most likely.

    • Enkidum

      Infamous 2 is a lot of fun, you kind of have to ignore the dumbest parts of the dialogue, but hopping around the city zapping shit kind of rocks. 

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        InFamous 1 was so tedious I couldn’t bear the thought of going through all that again in 2.

        Also, my inner electrical engineering nerd was enraged by how the electrical distribution system was depicted in the game – you don’t construct a substation in a water filled sewer with inadequate access to perform maintenance on the transformers, and don’t get me started on the lack of earthing. Or, now that I think about it, oil containment measures.

        • Enkidum

          Hmmm… y’know, there may be certain other infrastructure choices in video games that are not entirely realistic. Teti! Here’s an article idea for you: buildings/infrastructure in video games that make no sense in the real world.

          I didn’t play Infamous I but I suspect if you didn’t like it II would suck. You have more powers and the city’s a lot bigger, I believe, but the combat was very same-y after a short while, and the story is dumber than a bag of rocks.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          I was for some reason compelled to go through some of the Uncharted 3 review comments just now. Nice username.

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          @Enkidum:disqus : Good article idea. InFamous bothered me because this infrastructure was an important part of several missions and the game world itself, and clearly they were lazy and didn’t do their research.

          I also like how my ridiculous comment got 5 likes. It’s as if there have been a bunch of electrical engineers reading these comments, seeing mine and going ‘YEAH!’

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Speaking of nonsensical infrastructure, I was just playing some Costume Quest, and the neigbourhood map is totally bonkers. Above ground, the neighbourhood spans several screens from left to right. At the far right of the map, there’s a place where you can enter the aqueducts at the same elevation as street level. This takes you to an aqueduct map that covers slightly less than a screen. If you go all the way to the top of the screen, you reach a ladder. If you climb that ladder, you end up all the way on the far left side of the neighbourhood map.

          This makes no sense because:
          A) The aqueduct is on the same elevation as street level, so how could you climb up a ladder and still be at street level?

          B) Travelling up shouldn’t take you to the left.

          C) Travelling about a screen’s worth of distance upward shouldn’t be equivalent to travelling several screens’ worth of distance leftward, especially since computer screens are longer than they are wide.

          I have no idea why this bugged me that much.

        • Vervack

           @Enkidum:disqus: Number one on that list would be, of course, Black Mesa, which I think only got through its OSHA inspections by having one of the Barneys throw the inspectors down one of facility’s bottomless shafts and/or rivers of toxic runoff.

  • Cloks

    Diablo III got chronically boring for me after I realized that all the grinding was kind of pointless in a game that I opted to play. The next logical move was for me to start playing Disgaea. I did finish Bully on the PS2, hoping that Red Dead Revolver is as much fun as that was.

    • eggbuerto

       I also just finished Bully on PS2. Easily my favorite Rockstar game now.

      • Cloks

         @eggbuerto:disqus I don’t know what it is, but shoving people into lockers is much more satisfying than shooting them in GTA. The only bad part about the game is that either it’s impossible to skateboard up the dual sets of stairs in front of Bullsworth or I suck at virtual skateboarding.

  • caspiancomic

    Okay, here we go!

    LIMBO: Finished!
    Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP: Nine days or so until the Dark Moon. On hold until then.
    Amnesia: The Dark Descent: I am pathetically early into the game and having a lot of trouble with it. To its credit, though: I’m having such a hard time with it because it’s basically scaring the piss out of me. My every session so far has been after midnight with the lights off and headphones on, and I think if I’m ever going to beat this game I’m going to have to start playing it at high noon with a group of friends.
    Bastion: BASICALLY I AM LEARNING THAT THIS GAME IS AMAZING. Sorry to be so late to the party on this one, but good god damn, this game hits so many of my favourite notes I don’t know how I went this long without it. I’m not finished yet, so no spoilers please! I’m basically loving the hell out of this game.
    Psychonauts: This game is crashing on startup for me! I AM HEARTBROKEN. I’m going to try and use the Steam codes to download the latest version, or like a patch, or something, but I’ll be pretty bummed if I don’t get to play it. Anyone read anything out there about Psychonauts crashing on startup for Mac version 10.6.7? I’ll scour the internet again after I’m done with Bastion. Even if I can’t get it to work, the combined force of the other four games with soothe the burn somewhat.

    • Aaron Riccio

      Only five games? You know that they added Super Meat Boy, Lone Survivor, and Braid, right? Or did you already beat those?

      I’m with you on Amnesia, though. A game finally came along that could really scare the shit out me, mainly because you can’t really fight back. 

      And you’ve reminded me to go back and play Bastion again; I only ever got one of the endings.

      By the way, what’s the deal with this moon phase thing in S:S&S? I’ve only done the first session; should I try and do more until reaching a point where the game won’t let me continue? 

      • Raging Bear

        Isn’t it amazing how Lone Survivor is ten times more like Silent Hill than any of the last three or four Silent Hill games?

      • caspiancomic

         Oh Jesus are you serious!? More games!? *checks Humble Bundle site* and I don’t even have to pay more for them!? I can just walk right in and download them!?

        I THINK I AM GOING TO FAINT.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       You can beat Sword & Sworcery without having to wait days and days (and without cheating and changing your system clock). There’s a room you can discover (which I later learned was optional, and kind of a secret) that lets you change the moon phases.

      Considering how terrifying Lone Survivor already is for me, I don’t think I’ll have the cojones to play Amnesia. I also wasn’t thrilled with the gameplay in Penumbra way back when I got it in the very first bundle, but it’s possible Amnesia controls better.

      I REALLY hope you get Psychonauts working!!! It is a gem of a game.

      • CivilizationHasFailed

        What system are you running Psychonauts on? I saw that Humble Bundle updated the file for Psychonauts, so maybe re-download it? It might be a patched exe

        • caspiancomic

           Oooh, I’ll give that a whirl, thanks.

      • caspiancomic

         Oooh, I’ll have to have a look around for that then. I’d like to get Sword & Sworcery under my belt before I finish my next title.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I had trouble with Psychonauts when I bought it through steam a year or more ago. Playing on a laptop running Windows 7 I got a bunch of weird bugs and pretty poor performance, even though I’m fairly certain I should have been able to run it just fine. Despite the technical issues I managed to press through and enjoyed it immensely. 

      Not sure about the mac version but it wouldn’t really surprise me if it was a poor port, which is a huge shame. This game deserves a lot better.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        With some older games, it helps to run them in Vista mode. (Right-click the .exe file, click on properties, and select Vista (SP2) under the compatibility tab.) That’s what I had to do to get BioShock working consistently on my computer.

    • doyourealize

      Don’t feel pathetic. I have the same reaction to Amnesia. Love the game, but I get nervous whenever I even think about turning it on.

    • caspiancomic

       So I beat Bastion last night, and holy god damn, what an amazing experience. This game rocketed into my top 5 games of all time on the strength of a single play. I’m going to dive right back in and do some New Game Plussing this week. Don’t you love it when you find a game, or book, or movie, or song, and it conforms to your personal contours so perfectly that it feels like its always been a part of your life?

      • WL14

         Well said. Bastion is going on my list after this. My weekend so far consists of dwarf fortress and the civ4 mod star trek. My level of obsession cautions me against suggesting other people try these.

  • eggbuerto

    I’m going to try and finish Metroid Prime 3 this weekend. I bought the Metroid Prime Trilogy collection about a year ago and have been steadily going through all three games. 3 seems like the worst so far, mostly due to 1) the talking cast of Samus’ new super-friends and 2) the segmented level progression that seems to diminish the importance of discovering new areas. That said, I’m still enjoying it a lot, but I don’t think it compares well to 1 and 2.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Metroid Prime is a stone cold classic. MP2 is pretty good, but not great. Haven’t played MP3, but it’s a shame they made it less about exploration, considering that is what the series is all about (well, and the atmosphere).

      Sort of totally unrelated, Metroid: Other M Looks like one of the most insultingly sexist games ever. Apparently they retroactively ruin everything that made Samus a cool character. Which is a huge shame because the Metroid games always seemed sort of progressive (on videogame terms at least).

      • eggbuerto

        Ugh, that game. I don’t really have any idea what it plays like but I’m sure I’ll never find out. Insulting is really the right word.

        • DonBoy2

          I was prepared to hate it for the sexism, but ended up hating it for the gameplay.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    Mass Effect 3 has another one of those challenge weekends on so will probably be playing that at some point (maybe can win another shotgun that I will never use!). Also playing through Red Dead Redemption again.

    Though after reading those two good/bad director’s cut articles this week on the AV Club, I am vaguely inspired to watch a bunch of films mentioned in those articles that I haven’t seen in ages, rather than fire up the PS3. So have dug out my copies of The Abyss, Brazil, Aliens, Blade Runner and Redux to watch.

  • Enkidum

    Started playing RDR Undead Nightmare a little tonight, but I doubt I’m going to get into it hardcore. I need some less story-driven gaming for a while, I think. Maybe I’ll get my ass kicked at Starcraft II a few times and leave it at that. Or maybe I’ll do something ridiculous like work.

  • dreadguacamole

    Dragon’s Dogma, yet again. I’m deep into the post-game, trying to get some of the more high-end equipment before I go and actually finish the game.
     After that, I don’t know – probably Dungeons of Dredmore and Binding of Isaac, now that they’ve been expanded.

    • Xtracurlyfries

      I’m playing Dragon’s Dogma too now! Had a great session last night in which I got lost in the woods and night and convinced myself that I’d never make it out alive past the lizard men and wolves, but managed to anyway. I’m really liking it so far.

      • dreadguacamole

         Ha! glad to hear that. If the ending isn’t earth-shatteringly bad, it might end up being my favorite RPG this year.

        • eggbuerto

           I hear the ending is earth-shatteringly bonkers, but I’m not sure about bad or good.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

    Dragon Quest VIII. It’s so elegant.

  • Shain Eighmey

    I’m going to play some of the Humble Indy Bundle. Not really sure which one I’m going to play the most yet, or how much given that this weekend is the first nice weekend expected in a while. Of course, one can never be sure how much one of these titles will grab me. 

    Also, this was a really interesting interview! I’m happy to hear that Kim Swift can still be a gamer and a game designer. I think I may need to buy Quantum Conundrum while I’m at it…

  • JudgeReinhold

    Crusader Kings II for me, in the rare moments where I get a chance to play. I’ve had it for about a week now and I’ve played maybe an hour at this point. I like it, but it’s incredibly complex. 

    • HobbesMkii

       Yeah, I’m platooning between that and Call of Duty: MW3. Whenever my brain gets tired, I turn off the PC and switch on the XBox.

      • JudgeReinhold

        Any tips on early-game strategy? I went with a single-county king in northern Spain, figuring that a smaller territory to rule over would be less complicated.

        • HobbesMkii

           Spain can actually be kind of tricky, because you can be bum-rushed by the Muslims in the south or one of the Jimenez brothers, who usually have a claim to your kingdom. Give it a shot though, it’ll be a good learning experience. I usually recommend France or England (after the conquest) to start learning on, because those countries will be primarily about dealing with yourself and one or two neighbors, plus you should be powerful enough as the King to wipe out uppity vassals who start wars with you.

          Territory expansion is key. You need to max out your demense holdings, so that you can always be individually more powerful than any given duke. So, fabricating claims or marrying people with claims is important. In someways, starting near Muslims can be good for that, because you’ve always got Causus Belli to attack them and take their land–it just cuts both ways, is all. When you get enough money, develop your castle. Walls give you an income boost, as do castle villages. Another trick I learned recently is, when you have too many titles, to assign your extra county and duchy titles to a Mayor. Mayors always pay more than Feudal vassals (though they raise fewer troops). Early game can be the roughest, because you’ll be militarily and economically at your weakest point. It can also be the least interesting, because you’re often forced to take no action. You’ve just got to tough it out for a little bit.

          I recommend coming up with a goal, whether it’s “become Duke of Toulouse” or “conquer Ireland” or whatever, and figuring out what it will take to get there.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Wise, wise decision.  I find reading tips or instructions is more helpful than trying to pick it up while playing.

  • ToddG

    I am going to hopefully finish Uncharted 1 on Crushing, then maybe finally start Uncharted 3.  Though I hear it didn’t get good reviews…

    • CivilizationHasFailed

      Uncharted 2 was one of my favourite single player action games ever. Uncharted 3… well, you don’t want to know what I thought of Uncharted 3….. 

      … enjoy it!

      • ToddG

        Yeah, I didn’t really plan on purchasing it, but then my four year old PS3 bricked and I had to replace it, and the only sensible option was the Uncharted 3 bundle.

    • Staggering Stew Bum

      Uncharted 1 on Crushing had some of the most frustrating sections I’ve ever played in a game. The flooded room was supposed to be the toughest but got through it okay. Outside the church near the end, and the first sections on the boat in the last chapter were brutal, your cover disintegrates so quickly. And the best bit? My trophy didn’t pop when I beat it. Both my save and game data were corrupted apparently. So had to reinstall game data, beat Hard again to unlock Crushing, and then beat Crushing again.

      Uncharted 3 crushing is a walk in the park compared to 1 and 2 (2……the final boss, when he starts flinging grenades, that sucked). Uncharted 3 is ok, don’t worry about the reviews. The multiplayer is bad, but the single player is enjoyable and has some great sections (although Drake still  hasn’t learnt how to crouch). If you liked 1 & 2 you’ll like 3.

      • ToddG

        Yeah, the flooded room was fine.  But now I’m stuck at the monastery, where there’s two guys with lasers on balconies, and you get a sniper rifle, but then guys swarm in from every direction.  And then even if you kill the first wave, a bunch of grenade launcher guys show up from multiple directions.  Not sure if that’s the part you’re talking about or not, but I am not sure I’m going to have the patience to get through it.

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          Well if I can get through that game anyone can so keep plugging away. Most of those open areas where they swarm on you I got past after a lot of attempts and with a lot of luck (and a lot of good old fashioned yelling at the TV).

        • ToddG

          @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus   Thanks for the encouragement!  I actually made a lot of progress last night.  It turns out if you run to the next area between waves, a cinematic triggers and you don’t have to fight the grenade launcher guys in the area I was talking about.  Anyway, I got all the way to the “outside the church” section you mentioned, finally beat it, and then quit.  So now I am inside the church.  Home stretch!

  • JudgeReinhold

    I congratulate and thank the interviewee for being involved in the truly entertaining and outside-the-norm Portal, but WHAT IS SHE LOOKING AT?! 

    I’m now going to spend my entire weekend (or the next four seconds, whichever comes first) wondering what’s to her right and slightly elevated. 

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      :Mitch Hedburg bit about that family portrait:

  • UnassumingLocalGuy

    Between working all this weekend, I will be playing Max Payne 3 on PC. So far the version has been excellent, with the graphics and gameplay totally blowing me away. While some people would disagree, I find the writing perfect for the type of game this is and it really takes me back to when I played the first two games for the first time.

    Haven’t tried the multiplayer yet, though I hear it’s fun.

    I might try to sneak a few Mass Effect 3 matches in for the special weekend, though my single player play through has taken to the back burner because of Diablo III and Max Payne 3. (Nostalgia over all, I suppose).

  • ferrarimanf355

    I’m probably going to burn through Forza 4 this weekend with a little Virtua Dighter 5 Final Showdown on the side.

  • JReich

    Still Max Payne-ing it. I’m almost finished with the single player campaign but the multiplayer has its hooks in me deep. Really enjoying the Payne Killer mode — playing as Max and mowing down online enemies with your heavy firepower is a huge rush. Still hoping more Gameological types will hop on the GLOG crew and start some shit with other players. And I usually hate online multiplayer. Don’t know what it is about this game that made me turn the corner but I’m seriously digging it.

    COME ON CREW UP SUCKAS LET’S GO

  • jarviscockblocker

    “I’m actually working on the next thing that we can’t talk about yet.” Seriously? Nobody’s going to mention this? Shouldn’t we be speculating about this like mad?

    btw: N+, Red Dead Redemption and Catherine. And yeah, I can’t hardly wait for Borderlands 2! We’re at the second playthrough with my girlfriend in split-screen, it’s still heaps of fun.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I’d speculate, but we don’t have much to go on. It could very well be another messed-up physics puzzler. As far as I’m concerned, Kim Swift can go on making messed-up physics puzzlers forever.

    • Xtracurlyfries

      Having played through the demo of Quantum Conundrum at PAX East, I have to disagree. I love Portal, and was excited to play a game that’s like Portal. Unfortunately the game IS Portal. I found little new or interesting about it, but YMMV.

  • Colonel Mustard

    I’m replaying my way through Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood just for kicks, but it’s gotten me wondering about Revelations.  Word of mouth wasn’t great for it, and I figured I’d just wait for the next “real” installment of the series.  I’d be curious to know if anyone here played AC: Revelations, though, and if so, what they thought of it.

    • ToddG

      I really enjoyed it.  There’s much less of a leap in gameplay innovation as compared to the jump from AC2 to AC:B, but if you enjoyed Brotherhood enough to replay it, you probably will enjoy AC:R as well.

  • A_N_K

    After finishing Mass Effect 3 last weekend, I popped in Arkham City to get the last few Riddler trophies and somehow I ended up deleting my saved game, so I started from the beginning. It’s been long enough since I’ve played that game seems fresh, so I might try a second playthrough.  I played some of the Riddler combat challenges to tighten up my melee skills and dropping down on a large group of thugs and proceeding to beat the everloving shit out of them is pretty satisfying.

    Oh, and I’ve still got to finish Bastion.  Probably, definitely will do that if I get some time.

    • Xtracurlyfries

      That’s funny, after finishing Mass Effect 3 I had no interest in playing any kind of video games for quite some time.

      • A_N_K

        Ha!

        Initially, I thought I would go back and play differently to see how it would affect the ending but it’s clear that all your choices throughout the three games don’t have an impact on the endgame. Don’t get me wrong, it was great when I was convincing the Krogan to join the cause and I was interacting with Wrex instead of some generic Krogan since I saved him in the first game…but that only had an effect on military readiness.  The ending seems to just depend on whether you pick coke, pepsi, or mr. pibb at the end. And those endings were so abrupt and unsatisfying. The Mass Effect series is epic and I thought the finale to the trilogy would be suitably grandiose and a massive spectacle.  Instead, it was much inferior to the endings of the previous two games. Disappointing.

        This was one case where I reluctantly agree with video game fan community.

        • mss2

          I’m probably about 3/4 of the way through my second playthrough, and I’m liking it a lot. Events are differing quite a bit in places, based in part on things I did differently in ME2, and of course Vanguard plays completely differently from Adept.

          The last ten minutes is what it is.  (I basically agree 95% with the guy who does the Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage videos) and I expect that when I get to that point I’ll do what I did last time and make up my own ending.  (The last one had krogan on dinosaurs!)  But even knowing that’ll be necessary, I find the journey (and the possible variations) compelling, and I really like the details and cross-connections they built into their universe.

          I wish they’d stuck the landing, and there are criticisms I could make throughout, but I still think it’s a great game.

  • Citric

    I should do what I was going to do last weekend: Mass Effect and Humble Bundle games. I also started with Shadows of the Damned, which is interesting and odd, but I’m not completely sold on it yet. Yesterday I was going to play a fairly obscure SNES RPG called Glory of Heracles III, but at the first inn there was a bug that trapped me in bed so screw it. Dunno if that was the fan translation’s sloppy coding or the original developers, but it’s not worth it.

    • Staggering Stew Bum

      Shadows of the Damned is great, stick with it. It was developed by the guy behind RE4 I think.

      A mexican demon hunter travels to hell with his talking gun, and there are lots of dick jokes. What’s not to like?

      • Citric

        You’re right, once you get out of Act 2-1 it does click and get a lot more entertaining. Nifty hybrid of puzzles and shooting stuff.

  • Cornell_University

    bought a Dreamcast a few weeks ago.  a library of games slowly trickling in via amazon marketplace.  so Soul Calibur and Blue Stinger probably.  I might grind some more on my replay of Final Fantasy 8, I honestly would rather do that than continue the goddamn story.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Certain Dreamcasts will just play burned games without any kind of modding, though you probably already knew this. It’s great if there’s a particularly hard to find game or one that’s more expensive than it should be. 

      • Cornell_University

        I spent the better part of yesterday at work googling the burned games thing and the import game boot disc thing.  which made me very happy, as I don’t much feel like paying $40 for a scratched disc of  Skies of Arcada.  overall I’m very excited for luxurious strolls through obsolescence.

        it helps when your boss and all your coworkers go to E3 and leave you behind.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      There’s a treasure trove, especially of arcade-friendly titles, but may I suggest Lovedelic’s-worst-but-still-phenomenal game L.O.L.: Lack Of Love?  It’s what Spore was trying to be, but smarter.

      • Cornell_University

        I’m a little curious as to a percentage of NTSC-J games that I have the potential of enjoying having lost my never more than cursory knowledge of Japanese I had back in college.  obviously arcade stuff won’t make much of a difference, but Shenmue II?  or do a lot of import ISO’s contain translations?

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

          Check Hardcore Gaming 101, but no.  That said, the NAOMI refuge has so many brilliant, language-minimal titles (including L.O.L.).    http://www.racketboy.com/guides/dreamcast.htm  Basically, anything S.N.K. or Treasure made (Cool Cool series included) is perfect.  And, for a lot of these, there are translations that you can look up anyway.  The Last Blade 2/Bakumatsu Romance: Long Subtitle is 1 of my favorite games ever, and has that situation.

    • goawayinternet

      You must get Powerstone at once.

  • gaugebozo

    So maybe this has been discussed somewhere else, but something like 10 people have ever left Valve. It’s supposedly an amazing company to work for. Does anyone know why she left?

    • Shain Eighmey

      By all accounts I’ve read, it was on good terms. I think she just wanted to do her own thing, and her ideas were getting crowded out somewhat. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I don’t think she has ever spoken publicly about why she left, but she doesn’t seem to harbour any resentment for Valve, so I’m guessing that Airtight offered her a sweet pay and benefits package.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      That’s a good question. Was she employed by valve, or did they just have her for Portal or something? I’d be so fucking happy if I somehow landed a job at Valve (I won’t ever), Everything I’ve seen about it suggests it’s the coolest place ever. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-05-16-valve-does-have-managers-insists-ex-portal-lead

      @google-75b01ca07f65fad60c1abd1c21d655b2:disqus @Merve2:disqus @Douchetoevsky:disqus  The usual.

      • Shain Eighmey

        Yeah, I think I had read that before. 
        “I think working at Airtight is actually a little more relaxed. I definitely feel at home here. One of the reasons I left Valve was that I wanted to see what else was out there and see if there might be a better fit for me personality-wise and I’ve really found it here.” 
        Seems to sum up the situation pretty well. 

  • doyourealize

    No video games this weekend since I’ll be up at my friend’s place in New Hampshire, unless maybe there’s some heated bouts of Soul Calibur 4 or not so heated bouts of SSFIV:AE (I’m the only one who can really play well).

    We will, however, be enjoying many rounds of Catan: Seafarers, Dominion, and Caracassonne, among others. A much needed respite after a long week of doing nothing but grading high school English essays (anyone miss me?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ramon-Mujica/650405180 Ramon Mujica

    The skin of her face reminds me of the skin of a 5 month-old baby’s butt.

  • urthstripe

    Dead Space 2: I’m Chapter 7, somewhere? I just made it past the nursery. I hate babies.

    Diablo III: click click loot

    Amnesia: Which I can only play about 10 minutes at a time of. I think I’m finally halfway through. Monsters are scary when all you have is a stupid lamp.

  • unknowncast

    Who else here gets irrational when it comes to Kim Swift?