What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Elizabeth Morris

Elizabeth Morris, lead singer of Allo Darlin’

Playing frisbee in New Jersey can be surprisingly transgressive.

By Anthony John Agnello • July 27, 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.

Elizabeth Morris is the lead singer, songwriter, and ukulele player in the band Allo Darlin’. Their sophomore album, Europe, was released in April. The band has just finished up tours across both North America and Europe. Morris told The Gameological Society all about the best games to play in the pub and on the road.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Elizabeth Morris: I’m going to—not necessarily playing—see Paul Simon play Graceland at Hyde Park. So I’m playing at possibly drinking beer in the field. [Laughs.] I’m also probably going to be playing some games in the pub with my sister, who’s leaving London after 10 years. But I’m not quite sure what board games we’ll be playing in the pub yet.

Gameological: What is the preferred pub game for you and your sister?

Morris: My sister is less keen on games than I am, but over here in London it’s very popular for people to play darts. Do you have darts in America?

Gameological: Oh, absolutely.

Morris: It seems completely ridiculous that you would get a room full of people drinking beer and then give them sharp, pointy things to throw around the room. [Laughs.] Last time I was with friends and playing darts, one of my friends did manage to throw a dart into someone else’s arm. It’s kind of surprising that doesn’t happen more often. [Laughs.] So it’s slightly terrifying.

We also play cards. I like to play gin rummy, or those really basic card games that all have different names depending on what your family calls them, but they all end up being the same. There’s one called Shithead, but I’ve heard it called Asshole. I quite like that.

The most frustrating ones are games like Monopoly. It’s such a depressing game. [Laughs.] It goes on and on, forever. I was so bad at Monopoly as a kid that my cousin—who was really good at Monopoly and ended up being really rich and successful as an adult—we ran out of enough notes given how far in debt I was to him, that we had to build our own notes.

Gameological: And you managed to stay friends despite this?

Morris: Well, we’re family. It was at like $50,000, and it was just horrible, and generally, that would end with a massive temper tantrum from me, and storming off saying, “I’ll never play again.” Trivial Pursuit can often be like, too.

Gameological: When you’re on the road with Allo Darlin’, what games do you and the band play to entertain yourselves?

Morris: We played quite a few when we were touring America. A really lovely lady in Atlanta gave us a big bag of snack food—she said they were healthy snacks, but they were like caramel almonds—but she also gave us a bunch of mix CDs. One game we played was a roundtable of putting on one of Betsy’s mix CDs, and marking each song out of 10, and getting to the end.

There’s a really stupid game called Horse, which is where you’re driving in the van, you just say “horse” if you see a horse. [Laughs.] Over the course of the tour, people make up their own rules, like if you see a white-faced horse that’s more points. If you mistake a mule or a donkey for a horse, then you lose, say, 10 points.

We also play a lot of frisbee. We played frisbee in a park in New Jersey, and a policeman pulled up and told us to stop playing because apparently the park was closing at 9, but there were no fences or anything around the park. Basically he just wanted to stop us playing. Frisbee is pretty inoffensive, right? [Laughs.] It amused us to no end that that’s what the fuzz caught us for, playing frisbee.

Gameological: He was probably having a very, very bad day. “I don’t want them having a good time!”

Morris: This was Stanhope, New Jersey. Funnily enough, when we played that night, the Wave Pictures—who we were on tour with—have a song about a friend who becomes a policeman and becomes a real jerk when he puts on his uniform. So, [Wave Pictures singer] David [Tattersall] retold the hilarious frisbee story just before they launched into this song. We were told afterwards that the bar we were playing in was a cop bar. [Laughs.] So in all likelihood, the policeman who pulled us over was in that bar, which is kind of embarrassing. But he was a jerk. Who tells someone off for playing Frisbee?

Gameological: What’s your victory story? What was the absolute worst thing in the world when it was happening, but now it’s your favorite story?

Morris: The last day. After five weeks of every day not knowing how we were going to make the show, a nine-hour drive each day to get to the venue, having a van that doesn’t start in the morning, and no proper insurance so every time you need to get the van fixed, it just costs you more money. So the very last day we’re driving through the Black Forest in Germany on our way back to Belgium, and the van just started smoking. And I don’t mean cigarettes. Never a good sign. Eventually we had to take it to a garage in France, and the nice men [listening to] our very bad French could tell us that the van was stuffed and needed a part, but because it was a British van, the part had to come from Britain, and it could take up to eight days to arrive.

So while this was happening we were thinking we were never going to make the show—we had a five-hour drive, and three hours to get there. We hadn’t pulled any of the shows so far, but just this very last one so we were really, really down about it. Anyway, the rest of my bandmates were amazing, and ended up hiring a car, which obviously couldn’t fit all of our equipment in to it, so we took the barest [amount] that we could get away with playing. Mike [Collins], our drummer, took charge of the wheel. From France to Belgium, he’s never driven that fast in his life. His knuckles were white, and the sweat and the stress was unbelievable. But we made it, and we played the show, and I don’t think anyone in the audience could have really appreciated it, even though we told the story, just the fact that we made the show. That’s probably the one that collectively is the worst and best day of all of our lives.

Gameological: That’s an astounding victory.

Morris: The thing is we were so shattered that we couldn’t even do a victory dance or anything. There’s a really funny picture that was taken on the ferry home. The look on our faces is amazing. When I write my complete history of how to be in an indie-pop band, I’ll include that picture. [Laughs.] “This could happen to you.”

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.

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

319 Responses to “Elizabeth Morris, lead singer of Allo Darlin’”

  1. Cheese says:

    Wrapping up Persona 3 Portable on my newish Vita, and maybe Gravity Rush and Legend of Heroes as well; I’m fairly close to the end on both.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Since you’re the only other person in five-internet-mile radius with a Vita, I’m going to glom onto you like the only other non-white guy at a Ween concert.
         How is Gravity Rush wrapping up for you?  I just opened up the second area and remain besmirched by the art direction for the game.  It’s just so lovely.  I can understand the criticism about combat being wonky and am curious what attack power ups you’ve chosen to possibly alleviate that. 

      • Cheese says:

        Just seeing this now; I haven’t finished it yet, I picked up Valkyria Chronicles II instead, because I loved the first one so much.

        Combat remains a little simplistic, the flying kick is far and away the most useful attack. I haven’t really been paying much attention to the super moves you unlock, except to try them during boss fights. But the art and traveling are so much fun I don’t mind a little one button combat.

  2. EmperorNortonI says:

    Were I to be in country and at home, I’d probably be playing a lot of FarCry2.  I got it on the Steam sale, and have been loving it.  I didn’t play the original, and I have to admit, I haven’t played a single-player FPS since Half Life 2.  I’m both pleased and surprised by the small bits of realism it managed to wedge into the genre, and even find some of my hard-won skills from Red Orchestra being useful – always a good sign.

    But I’m not going to be at home, I’m going to be on a tour of China.  As such, I was thinking of what, if any, game I should get for my iPad.  I played The Wasted Land last month, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This helped break my self-imposed embargo on using the iPad as a gaming platform.  So, I started looking around for another RPG to play on it, something long and tactical and worth playing.  Lo and behold, I found Chrono Trigger!  I’d been vaguely aware of the original, but I never had an SNES and my friends in those days were all fellow PC gamers, so it was only a vague awareness.  However, that vague awareness had piqued my curiosity, so I was pleased to finally have a chance to play it.  But it was not to be.  It’s only available from the US iTunes store, not the Japan iTunes store, and I have not valid residence in the US, so I can’t create a US account.  ARGH! 

    I hate, hate, HATE region-locking bullshit problems like this.  Why must they refuse to take my money?  Why must things be made harder than they need be?  ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

    • Girard says:

       I’ve never used any iThing, but is there any way to get an emulator up and running on one?

      • doyourealize says:

        Not being too familiar with iThings, either (I’ve used them, but never owned), I think the process to emulation is difficult and technologically roundabout. Androids just require a download, but Apple won’t allow it for whatever Apple’s reasons are. Anyone can feel free to correct this, though.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          Running emulators n things requires you to jailbreak the device. I haven’t done this ever, ’cause i don’t own any iThings, but I’d imagine it shouldn’t be too difficult. They probably have workarounds so that you can upgrade you firmware and stuff, but I honestly have no clue so don’t listen to me. Even still I can’t imagine an emulator on an iphone/pad would be terribly worth it. Virtual buttons are just the worst, if you ask me. I’d suggest downloading an SNES emulator and whatever rom for your computer. But that negates the whole portability thing.

          In conclusion; Blah.

        • doyourealize says:

          I agree about the touch controls thing, but the Snes9X EX emulator for Android works really well. For FFIII, controls are obviously not as important since precision isn’t necessary, but I can even play LttP with hardly any problems. Every once in a while, I’ll miss a button or something, but it hasn’t resulted in any deaths yet, and I’m at the third tower in the Dark World.

    • dreadguacamole says:

        I hear you. There’s a valid US address generator here:
       (I use it a lot for tabletop RPGs, of all things!)
       Hope it helps; I’ve bought stuff in the past from Amazon using my UK address as the billing address, but changing the country state; Don’t ask me on the legality of it, though.

      • Cornell_University says:

        it’s pretty old hat to just trawl real estate listings too for mailing addresses.  not that I have ever done or would condone such actions.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Or met at a house for sale at night, took the sign away and used it as an address to meet a shifty dealer who wanted to know where my friend lived, then replaced the sign.
          It would be unthinkable.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          I think PSN just asks for a zip code when you create a US account. Someone at Sony has got to be wondering why so many of their customers live in Beverly Hills, 90210.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        iTunes seems to want a valid payment source located in the country for which you are creating an account, which makes me think that the billing address must be in the appropriate country. I may try to fool it via PayPal, but even my PayPal account is registered in Japan. Blarg.

    • Raging Bear says:

      If you happen to have a DS, the Japanese DS release of Chrono Trigger has the complete English version.

    • Enkidum says:

      Where you going in China? If you can, I’d recommend Xingdao (Tsingtao, where the beer comes from). Less oppressively hot than a lot of the country and all German architecture, which is weird and beautiful.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        Hangzhou, Suzhou, Zhangjiajie, and Chengdu. Already planned tour, so no detour to the north.

  3. Mooy says:

    I will be playing everyone’s favorite simulator: Moving Sim 2012. It has all the features of 2011’s iteration, but they upped the graphics marginally and added new features, including “Lack the foresight to make sure your leases overlap,” resulting in double the moving fun! Rated E for everyone.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I pay friends in six packs of beers to help me move. Alcohol is a social lubricant.

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      I’ll be playing the expansion pack to that one, Home Ownership. I’m really excited for the next mission, which will involve tearing out carpet and baseboard, laying new wood floors, then painting the room and installing nicer mouldings. 

      That, of course, is the exciting follow-up to the mission I played a few weeks ago, “Replacement of Old Toilet”. 

      • Army_Of_Fun says:

        I suggest you paint the room and then put in the floors. There’s an achievement for that.

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          That actually is what I do, because it’s much easier to not give a shit if you drip paint on the floor. I’ve earned this badge before. 

          But while doing the Install Bathroom Fan And Vent To Soffit mission, I earned the 5X Profanity Combo badge. One of my finest hours.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I just finished “Sink Quest 2 : The Search for the Missing Flange” and will soon be embarking on “Rise of the Fan : When they almost give you all the screws you need”.
        Next month I will be playing “You don’t know Waterheater or how it’s supposed to fit through the hatch into your crawl space”.
        All fun games. Expensive subscription tho.

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          Oh! I played Rise of the Fan two weeks ago. I had it on easy mode, though; all screws were included. 

          When I played Rise of the Fan about a year ago on a different console, it was still buggy; the red and black wires in the junction box were inexplicably reversed. I earned the Profanity Combo badge on that one, too. 

        • Enkidum says:

          Heh – I misplayed the first level of “Tiling Your Kitchen Floor”, and had to go back and redo certain sections in order to get a 100% achievement. 

          For a good year now, I’ve been leaving off completing the “Finish the Stupid #@@#%ing Baseboards” achievement. This pleases my wife to no end.

        • George_Liquor says:

           Sounds like a fun weekend. Me? I’ll be playing Carpet Quest: The Search For Berber and maybe if there’s time I’ll be sweeping for land mines in Lawn of Doody XXXVII. Sure, the series has gotten a little repetitive, but the developer just keeps cranking them out.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Does that mean you won’t be working on Jui En?
      -shakes head-
      I had hoped for a better judgement when it comes to priorities from you, young man.

      • Mooy says:

        Don’t worry I’ll still be working on that, it just means I will be working on the floor sans furniture.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          That’s fine. All needless distractions anyways. Focus is the word, focus!
          Nah, good luck with the move. Try not to break anything or have someone break it for you.

    •  I played that one earlier this year.  It was hell to get through, but the ending I got, with the non-sketchy neighborhood in the background, the Future Life With Future Wife achievement, and the Room For King-Sized Bed unlocked in my inventory for the next play-through, was totally worth it.  Like, should be in this site’s To The End feature.

      I’m tooling around in the environment post-ending, but after finding stuff like a non-working oven and no handles on the kitchen cabinets, I’m waiting for a patch to be released before I keep playing.

  4. caspiancomic says:

    Let’s have a stripped down version this week, I’m starting to think I ought to be less leisurely about my gaming, particularly if I’m going to live to see the end of this gimmick.

    LIMBO, Braid, S:S&S EP, Bastion: Finished!
    Amnesia, Lone Survivor, Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac: Ongoing.
    Psychonauts: Patch is like over a month late!

    More noteworthy though is that I finally started Team Fortress 2 and have been tinkering around with different classes to see who I like best. So far my favourite is the Pyro, although I’ve had some fun with the Heavy as well.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Shame the patch hasn’t come through yet. As for TF2, I can hardly stand playing it, but since I’m a badge-whore and a terrible filmmaker, I’ll probably play as a Medic for a while longer, just so that I can capture some footage and “post” it to Steam. 

      • Girard says:

         A kind of obnoxious and nerdy (I probably find him ‘obnoxious’ because his nerdy social-tone-deafness hits a little too close to home for me…) fifth-grader I know was recently extolling me to start playing TF2.

        Which was weird, because he was offering me advice about playing a game that was released when he was in kindergarten. Also: the prospect that obnoxious 5th-grade boys are out there playing TF2 makes the prospect of picking it up even less attractive. (I know, I know, there’s plenty of erudite, affirming PVP action to be found in the Gameological Steam group – my real issue is that I can’t stand FPSes.)

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          No child is more impossible to stand than the one that reminds you of yourself at that age.  I still cringe at some of my remembered behavior from over a decade ago.  I not infrequently wonder how I got through adolescence with as few beatings as I did.

        • George_Liquor says:

           “…over a decade ago.”

          fuck, I’m old.

        • Merve says:

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus: If my twentysomething self were to meet my tween self, the former would punch the latter in the face.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @Merve2:disqus   Truth.  Though, my thirty-something self would probably give my twenty-something else at least the stink eye.  My twenty-something self would be right to tell the both of us to do some damn sit ups, though. 

    • I’ve been playing Bit.Trip Runner, Cave Story+, Plants vs Zombies, the Spacechem demo, VVVVVV (I’m stuck on Veni Vidi Vici) and World of Goo. I’ll probably get in a bit of each this weekend.

  5. Merve says:

    This weekend, I’ll be playing Re-run Code That Takes Eight Hours To Run Because The Unix Server Crashed Half An Hour From The End Of Execution. After the initial input, there’s not much gameplay. It’s possible to find an error in one’s code, but once you’ve got the code right, the game essentially becomes an eight-hour cutscene, and not an interesting one at that. I give it a 2/10.

    Once I’ve moved past the frustrations of that game, I might dive into some Spec Ops: The Line or Alpha Protocol. I recently purchased Jade Empire, but I think I’m going to hold off on that one until I’ve completed some of the other games I’ve got on the go.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Re-Run Code sounds better than Parse Error That The Debugger Can’t Find in 10,000 Line Program. I guess that’s why I gave up on computer programming. Spec Ops: The Line is on order through GameFly, and what can I say, I rather enjoyed Alpha Protocol for what it was.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      That sounds like “preparing everything for a kickass lasagna to find out you don’t have enough pasta-slabs and the shops are closed”.
      Also little fun.

    • Fluka says:

      Oo, I’ve played that first game.  In my case, I got the Bad Ending, because it turns out I’d made an incorrect decision when I started the game.  So I had to replay from the start to get the Not-Bad Ending (there is no good ending).

      • Enkidum says:

        Well, sometimes the pain subsides for a few hours. That’s “good”, right?

      • Merve says:

        I actually got the bad ending last week, but I wasn’t aware it was the bad ending. Re-Run Code is one of those old-school games where you can get really close to the end, but if you forgot to do something crucial near the beginning, there’s no way to go back and fix it without restarting the game.

        • Fluka says:

          In light of that, my childhood love of King’s Quest seems all the more darkly prophetic.

    • Girard says:

      Everyone in this thread might enjoy this story if you haven’t read it before:


      …especially when you realize that the achievement system isn’t a joke and is a real thing.

  6. Aaron Riccio says:

    Been catching up on a lot of games I hadn’t played: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet for one, and I just beat Driver: San Francisco. I think I’ll be playing some Earth DLC Multiplayer in Mass Effect 3, and who knows, I might beat the single-player game, too, while I’m at it. I should also wrap up Max Payne 3, which I got distracted from after reaching Chapter XIV. And as always, there’s Dota 2, which has a big update coming that I’m so looking forward to. Oh, and the Quantum Conundrum DLC. Why not?

    After that? Probably Stacking, Dear Esther, American Nightmare, Alice: Madness Returns, and then Vessel, Warp, and Ys: Origin, probably in that order, although if anybody wants to recommend that I prioritize one of the other, let me know.

    • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman says:

       Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is an excellent game, although it could’ve been a bit longer and a little to linear for a metroidvania type game.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        Yeah, that’s the consensus I’ve reached on ITSP so far, too. I like that when you scan, the map remembers what tool it is that you need in the location, but there isn’t that much backtracking to do, even in search of hidden items. 

        That said, the game has random slowdown and I’m not a fan of that. It gets very disorienting. 

      • Enkidum says:

        The final area (where the damn light keeps going out) drove me insane, because it’s possible to make it impossible to go any further without respawning and it’s too dark to tell what the hell is going on, but other than that it’s excellent, especially for the price. Really fantastic aesthetics.

    • doyourealize says:

      I started Stacking the other day, and while I’m only on the 2nd level, it’s enjoyable so far, although the story sequences are really a chore to read all the way through. And Dear Esther, though critically-acclaimed, didn’t live up to expectations for me. It’s got a great atmosphere, but that only goes so far. A screen shot from it is my background, though, so there’s that. And my finger’s been on the “buy” button for Vessel for quite a while now.

    • caspiancomic says:

      Oh man, I totally forgot about Dear Esther! I was going to play it last weekend and didn’t end up having time. Maybe I’ll try and squeeze it in this weekend, I’ve heard nothing but good things.

      EDIT: Except from doyourealize, hahaha

      • Effigy_Power says:

        -hands @caspiancomic:disqus a tissue, just in case-
        You’ll need it. Unless of course you are an emotionless husk. Which would be embarrassing.

      • doyourealize says:

        I know I’m in the minority. I will say it’s definitely engrossing, but I just left with a feeling of, “That’s it?”

        • Effigy_Power says:


        • Vervack says:

           You’re not alone. I didn’t hate Dear Esther, but I am finding that the more I reflect on it, the more I find I would have preferred it if it was a book rather than a game. I sort of see what it was trying to do, and I happily admit I like it when games use their environment as a storytelling medium, but after a while I felt like I was just sitting there while being drip-fed information.

          I also took a shot at Korsakovia, the second project by Dan Pinchbeck/the chinese room after Dear Esther. It’s built more like a traditional game, but it’s one of those games that’s really more interesting as a repository of ideas for other people to use than in and of itself. The narrative structure (the game is a visual representation of the inner world of a dying insane man, with narration coming from either the outside world or as a self-generated delusion) is very impressive, but it’s primarily a first-person jumping puzzle in the Source engine. The only things you fight are smoke monsters that scream static at you, which is terrifying for the first half hour, but eventually becomes really annoying. It also doesn’t help that the game is prone to repeated crashes and inexplicable failures, so much so that I think the only way to easily run through it is to just load the levels in Garry’s Mod.

          • doyourealize says:

            Agreed. The game falls into the category of a great idea that stumbles a bit in execution. By no means a bad game, but disappointing. In that way, it actually reminds me of the Sawbuck Game Take Care of the Trees. The idea was all there was to the game.

            Also, you’ve interested me in Korsakovia, even though your review wasn’t so flattering. Might have to give that a try.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      How long is your weekend? Do you live in a spaceship going near lightspeed? CAN I COME?

  7. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    “There’s a really stupid game called Horse…”

    That is so rock’n’roll. But be careful with the horse game Elizabeth, for every Scott Weiland there is a Layne Staley.

    “If you mistake a mule or a donkey for a horse, then you lose, say, 10 points.”

    Code for ‘keep a shot of adrenaline and a magic marker handy on the tourbus’.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      And lots of iced vodka.
      I played “Koala Bear” once on a trip through the Great Plains in an old banger. For every 15 minutes we didn’t see a Koala Bear we had to drink a shot.
      I think I woke up in Portland without my pants.

  8. OhLaika says:

    Finally playing through as much of Pokémon Black as I can before the 7th of October, and trying to get through Sword & Sworcery and a lot of other games that I impulse bought on Steam.

  9. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    So this weekend will be another Mass Effect 3 community goal thingy but will probably just solo the squad goal to get it over and done with and move on to something else. Have been playing ME3 sp with the ME2 disaster save I mentioned a few weeks back. So far Shepard doesn’t seem too bothered by how she incompetently killed 9 of her squadmates 6 months previously, though it’s still early days. May continue with that.

    Also, i got a cheap copy of Yakuza 3 ages ago. Finally started it but it looks incredibly crap, and also looks like it has a save system rivalling Dead Rising 2 in shittiness. If anyone has any good arguments that this thing is worth persevering with, please comment.

    Finally, since I now have 13 new games from the steam sale, it’s probably time to give each of them 5 minutes and then never look at them again. But I also got Civilization Civilisation V out of purely nostalgic reasons. I’m thinking that it might get a whole ten minutes.

  10. Girard says:

    I got a few things in the Steam sale, that I’ll probably spend a little time with. I started LA Noire earlier this week, but on Wednesday got slammed with an awful summer cold (working with kids, who are filthy germ-encrusted disease factories) which diminished my mental acuity to the point that I was really crappy at detective work. So my meta-game will be consuming enough bedrest and orange juice to return to a level of health and clear-headedness where I can play that game again.

    I’m also anxious to try out “The Dream Machine,” a point-and-click adventure kind of done in the style of Eastern European puppet animation, which I’ve been interested in for a while and just picked up during the sale, too.

    • Girard says:

       Also, Ms. Morris’s expression in that photo is kind of terrifying. I feel like she is twisting a knife in my abdomen, maintaining eye contact all the while.

    • dreadguacamole says:

       The Dream Machine is lovely! I need to go back and get the episodes I’m still missing…

      • doyourealize says:

        So I was intrigued by the mention of this game, so I looked it up on Steam, and the trailer music is eerily reminiscent of the original Diablo‘s Tristram theme. Coincidence or is that on purpose?

        It does seem to be quite a nice game, and I need a new point-and-click. This may be next to add to my backlog of 20,178 unplayed Steam games.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           The game really couldn’t be further from Diablo, in ambiance or any other way. Lovely characters, good writing, great use of mundane situations, and a fair amount of psychological depth are not things I’d ascribe to anything Blizzard’s ever made.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I hear nothing but good things about The Dream Machine. But if we’re talking about adventure games, I still have to finish the Whispered World and check out their new game, Eye of Something or Other. And then there’s that new one by the people who did Gemini Rue, I think. So many good things!

    • Effigy_Power says:

      You can blame that cold on L.A. Noire. Hobbes lost the use of his duodenum and his gall-bladder just from opening the case.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I would recommend waiting until all of the episodes are out.  They are fully contained stories in 1 overarching 1 and I enjoyed them, but I am completely unsatisfied with where I was forced to stop.  (I usually don’t play episodic games until they’re complete, but you may note that this combines 4 or 5 of my favorite things.)

      That goes especially because they were on track to have 4 out now and 5 by the year’s end.  Instead, they’ve done a lot of updates to 3 and brought it to Steam.  We may be talking end of 2013, beginning of 2014 for a game as short as Machinarium.

    • Merve says:

      You don’t need to worry about being in good health to tackle L.A. Noire, since there’s almost no consequence for failure. In fact, half the fun is bumbling through the cases as an incompetent, semi-psychotic Cole Phelps who leaves his partner behind at crime scenes and yells at the family members of murder victims.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         Don’t you dare forget the random and unprovoked violence!
        -raises fist-

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        I logged out so I could ‘like’ this comment twice. My favourite thing to do was get in the car and drive off every time Rusty was about to get in, repeating it over and over again every 10 metres up the road. This used to shit my wife no end when she watched. But then I got sick of driving after homicide desk and fast travelled everywhere.

  11. dreadguacamole says:

     I’m finally winding down from the Secret World after seeing most of the content. It’s been pretty much all I’ve played for the last month or so; I’ve still got the dungeons to do, so I’ve joined a guild to see if I can get some good non-rush-though, non-elitist groups going.

     After that… who knows? I got Sim City 4 on the Steam Sale and the Geneforge series from the latest Indie Royale bundle, so I’ll probably be replaying them.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I’m not on often enough to help you there, but it was a lot of fun.  It sounds like it won’t be more than a yearly reunion for me, given the development pace.  Do you generally quit online games forever, jump in randomly, or revisit on a schedule?

      • dreadguacamole says:

         I’ll be popping in regularly for the foreseeable future, since I’m also playing it with my wife, and she only logs in twice a week or so.
         Dammit, We should have formed a gameological guild before the game’s release. Maybe for Guild Wars 2? We can form a guild of solo-er misanthropes, studiously ignoring each other until we need help with a group quest…
         I love it to pieces, though developers need to realize that some hardcore game mechanics don’t work very well on engines that are not set up for it. Everyone groans when a stealth mission pops up on a shooter, right? All is forgiven, though, now I’ve done stealth missions on an MMORPG.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       I’ve kept away from TSW for the last week or so, though not for any real reason. Part of it is my pile of shiny new Steam sale games, part of it is that my guildmates tend not to be online when I’m awake, part of it is… something.

      Oh, wait. That something are a couple of nigh-impossible stealth missions with arcane rules which I keep repeating over and over and over.

      I’m not yet in Egypt, though I probably could plow through the rest of the Kingsmouth story mission and get there without too much trouble. I really dislike leaving things unfinished, though, so I have some annoying quests to get through. And I never did finish a Polaris run, which for some reason bothers me greatly.

  12. Enkidum says:

    After a several hour session with my neighbour just now (holy shit it’s later than I planned), looks like I’ll be playing some Bioshock, ’cause it’s a lot of fun. Probably also some more CK II – I started playing as some random guy in Eastern Europe and it’s a very different game than my first run throughs as Harald Yngling.

    My neighbour doesn’t play games, and hasn’t for decades, but I set Bioshock on easy and occasionally mentioned stuff to him (generally “it’s a good idea to keep the camera aimed roughly parallel to the ground most of the time” and “don’t stand there while people hit you with metal objects”). He actually got through more than an hour of it, without dying once. It really has an astoundingly well-done atmosphere, which I think is what kept him going. And the writing is almost note perfect. Whoever was responsible for writing the slogans and the audio diaries clearly knows their Rand, Nietzsche, and so forth.

    But of course you all already know that. I like playing really good games years late – generally a lot cheaper and I run very little risk of playing a dud.

    • Girard says:

       I’m generally the same way – also, it’s cheaper not to have to have bleeding-edge hardware.

      That said, when I finally got around to Bioshock several years after the fact, I was pretty nonplussed by it. But, as I mentioned in the TF2 thread above, “being an FPS” is a HUGE tic in the “con” column of my enjoyment of a game, and a game would have to be pretty amazing in every other respect for me to enjoy it in spite of its FPS mechanics (The Portal games, for instance, pass muster. Bioshock…did not. For me, at least.).

      • Enkidum says:

        Huh, is it just the FPS control scheme that bothers you? My neighbour just sort of wallows around like a drunken ox, which does make it kind of entertaining to watch him, but it must be frustrating to play for any length of time.

        Anyways, I think the game is lovely from a purely aesthetic point of view, and really put a huge amount of effort into creating a world with a coherent atmosphere, and forcing you down the tunnel of story. And that story is, as I said, extremely well-written for a game. But there’s nothing really innovative about the gameplay, and the story, while a lot of fun in a B-movie kind of way, isn’t deep or anything.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I’m not trying to be a vocabulary fascist (cousin to the Grammar Nazi, made out a few times with the Syntax Imperialist), I’m honestly curious about your reaction.  Do you mean nonplussed in that Bioshock left you confused and bewildered, or you just didn’t like it that much?  I’m fairly anti-FPS, but I played that game to the end, mostly entirely by strength of the atmosphere.

        • Girard says:

           I was ‘nonplussed’ in that my reaction wasn’t violently negative, but I didn’t really enjoy the experience at all, and didn’t find it impressive, which was notable because it was such a Big Event Game with Depth and Themes and so on.

          I felt that the world was kind of interesting, but that I was exploring it in the most inappropriate way possible – as a floating gun – which was kind of super-boring. After about two levels (and 2-4 hours, I forget exactly how much time), I was already sick of it, and checked a walkthrough to see if I was far enough into the game to power through for the sake of the narrative. I saw I had, like, 15 stages (and probably at least 20 hours) ahead of me, and promptly decided “Fuck this noise.”

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I do love Bioshock.  It is, in retrospect, an imperfect game, but I have a very lifelong affection for it.  I was playing it while also reading Michael Chabon’s “Yiddish Policeman’s Union”, and the combination of the book with the game’s Art Deco aesthetic and Great American Songbook quality of the soundtrack put me in a strange Hebrew-sci-fi headspace.  No small feat for an Austro-Hungarian Midwesterner of Roman Catholic stock.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         I am deeply hoping that “Austro-Hungarian Midwesterner of Roman Catholic stock” is your tag-line on E-harmony.

      • caspiancomic says:

         The more I think about it the more I think all our problems would go away if there was more Hebrew-sci-fi.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         Welcome to Hebrew Sci-Fi Headspace. I’ve lived here for about nine years, give or take, though I do enjoy vacations to the Sea of Catholic Aestheticism.

  13. I’ve finally gotten around to playing Earthbound on SNES. It’s a solid JRPG, but its charms have been slightly overstated. 

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      A long time coming, but then again, they always say that you love your Mother.

    • Raging Bear says:

      You’re dead to me, Dalrymple. DEAD!!
      Seriously though, how far are you? If you don’t like the humor so far, that probably won’t change, but there are a lot of late sequences that are quite powerful. The last boss fight in particular is my actual favorite in history.

      • I have been enjoying the game. I just drank the coffee at the Mr. Saturn village, and that’s officially elevated it to AWESOME!

        • Raging Bear says:

          I thought Mr. Saturn might well be the tipping point. You are no longer dead to me; merely flesh-wounded to me.

    • Girard says:

       I can definitely see Earthbound as a game that could be ruined due to high expectations caused by a zealous and hyperbolic fanbase. I think it’s important not to approach as this uniformly groundbreaking masterpiece, but to remain aware of and open to those moments when those charms coalesce into something singular and special that justifies all the JRPG grinding, etc. @Raging_Bear:disqus  is right that the final battle is pretty amazing, but there are other sweet, funny, and inventive moments, too. Especially when you look at the game in the context of mid-90s JRPGS.

      • I was a huge JRPG fan in the mid-90s. I skipped Earthbound at the time because it had the look of a “My First RPG”. That was a mistake. It’s got its hooks in me now.

        The combat resembles an 8-bit RPG moreso than a 16-bit RPG. It isn’t as grind-y as a Dragon Quest game, but it has that sense of constantly being on the edge of dying. 

        • Girard says:

          I was a subscriber to Nintendo Pravda in the mid-90s, so I was subjected to the enormous advertising and editorial push for Earthbound (including lots of weird scratch and sniff cards) that made it sound like the greatest thing ever. I rented it, got really far into it, and really enjoyed the cartoony art and humor style (surprisingly I wasn’t disappointed after all the hype). But then returned the cartridge and realized how miniscule my chances of re-renting the cartridge with my save game on it were, so I kind of abandoned it, and didn’t feel like getting my own copy and starting from scratch. I only finally played it through sometime around 2005 (along with the original NES game), and surprisingly found I still enjoyed the Peanuts-y art style and tonally strange humor.

  14. doyourealize says:

    We were caught by the fuzz once playing Bocce on the beach at 3 in the morning. Although when that guy found out we were actually playing Bocce, he let us continue.

    I’m going to continue through NG+ in Dark Souls, trying for platinum. I also just started playing Morrowind again, so that might take up some of my time, as well as some other Steam Sale games.

    I bought Universe Sandbox, and it’s frustrating to no end. There’s so much to like about it but it just ends up slowing down, flashing white, and crashing. Hopefully I can get it working someday.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Man, if the actual universe were ever crashing like that, I think I’d be more than a little freaked out. It’s for that reason that I stay away from god-games and mods. All that power cannot lead to anything good.

      • doyourealize says:

        I usually stay away, too, but it was a buck or something, and I’ve been into all things “universe” lately.

        • Girard says:

           You should try my new game “All Things Universe.” It’s kind of a Pokemon clone, but instead of collecting a few hundred monsters, you collect things. ALL things. ALL things in the universe.

          It has zero replay value, but you’ll never notice.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Sooo… you are making Katamari?

        • doyourealize says:

          @bakana42:disqus Between this game and Stew Bum’s comic, I’ve got a long list of imaginary things I need to get to stat.

        • doyourealize says:

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Well, we need stars, don’t we?

    • Cornell_University says:

      I was once accused by a cop of being drunk AND high when I got pulled over with my friend.  We were moving a truckload of furniture from his old apartment to new, it was like 7:30 in the evening and I was at most going 5 over the limit.  We later deduced that I had made eye contact with the officer in a pizza place parking lot and he took exception.  I grew up in a VERY small town with a VERY alpha dog police force.

      though I was also detained at the Canadian border for quoting the Big Lebowski to the border patrol.  So I’m kind of an asshole anyway.

      • doyourealize says:

        “This aggression will not stand, man”? If you’re going to be detained, that’s one of the better reasons…at least for a story later on.

        • Cornell_University says:

          it was a riff on the “business papers/I’m unemployed” scene if I remember correctly.  my friend was trying very very hard to not laugh and was not at all successful. the border patrol then told me to stop being “sarcastic” to which I replied that they were not at all using that word properly and probably didn’t know what it meant.  SURPRISINGLY, things went downhill from there.

        • Cornell_University says:

          I should probably point out that we had already been told to go to secondary clearance, and were obviously going to have our car searched no matter what.  and they were being really rude to us already, why not have a little fun?  this also predated 9/11.  now we would probably both be waterboarded.

        • Cornell_University says:

          and just in case anyone thinks I’m trying to portray myself as some sort of badass:  we were coming back from a Rush convention.  I wish I was kidding.

          • doyourealize says:

            Too late. We all are already under the impression that you are a badass, and will be sorely disappointed when we meet you in real life.

        • Girard says:

          …so, you’re saying you’re some kind of ULTRA bad-ass?

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       Probably unnecessary question of the day:

      I like to play games on Easy by default, Normal if I’m feeling frisky, or Hard if it’s a game I’ve played ~20x and know by heart. Is it worth it to take a swing at Dark Souls?

      • How far back do you go? In my day, it was pointless to play a game on “Easy”, because the game would either be incomplete (“Double Dragon 2” or “Twisted Metal 2”) or else you’d get a lame ending. 

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           I haven’t played that many older games (with the exception of graphic adventures) because the first console we had that I was allowed to touch was a PS2.

          Since in most games the difficulty modes are a fancy way of giving monsters more HP, playing on Hard or Nightmare or whatever ends up feeling really repetitive and slow. I’ve heard good things about the depth of combat in Dark Souls, which makes me think that I might like it. Or that it will finally drive me off the edge and into insanity.

      • doyourealize says:

        Easy by default, huh? You may have read this in reviews, but calling Dark Souls “hard” is kind of misleading. Punishing is or unforgiving is more like it (frustrating, too).

        My love for the game came because Demon’s Souls came out just when I wanted that type of game. Something you had to really sink your time into and understand if you wanted to get anywhere in (I was unemployed at the time). If you’ve got the time and the patience, it’s rewarding in a way similar to no other game I’ve played. You almost have to unlearn some video game staples – I mean, the shoulder buttons attack!

        It’s coming out for PC in August, too, depending on what you play on. And if you play on PS3 (and probably PC, too), you’ve always got a friend who’s willing to co-op if you want! Although the online matching can be difficult to learn and maneuver at times.

        I guess my answer is that it’s always worth it to take a swing at Dark Souls. Just be prepared to die a lot and realize those deaths are just the game’s way of teaching you.

  15. JohnnyLongtorso says:

    Dark Souls. I hate the Duke’s Archives so much. I’m hoping to beat Seath this weekend so I don’t ever have to come back there.

    • doyourealize says:

      Ah, someone (besides me, of course) finally mentions Dark Souls. Seath was definitely a bitch my first time through. Depending on your level, I may be able to help you out if you want it. PSN: doyourealize

      • JohnnyLongtorso says:

        I only try to summon players if I’m really desperate (Ornstein and Smough, I’m looking at you), because literally every time I turn human now, I get invaded and killed within, like, a minute or two. I fucking hate PvP, so it’s really obnoxious being forced into it.

        • doyourealize says:

          Well, it hasn’t been by me. I decided to try my hand at invading this week and was dealt a pretty long list of embarrassing defeats. I think the only time I “won” was when the host got killed before I even found him/her.

          Not sure how long it’s been since you played as human, but I know early in the game, people would invade at level 20 with +5 lighting great axes just to fuck with anyone dumb enough to be human. Hopefully by the Archive’s this has chilled out a bit, since weapons will be a little more evenly matched later in the game.

        • JohnnyLongtorso says:

          Just yesterday, I turned human to kindle the bonfire on the balcony in the Archives, and two minutes later I get invaded and killed.

          But on the upside, two attempts later and Seath is dead. Now on to… somewhere else.

    • rvb1023 says:

       That whole area (Crystal Cave included) is visually interesting, but by god did it get dull.  Fortunately Seath is a pretty easy boss.

  16. Cornell_University says:

    I’ll be Dreamcasting (SORCERY!) NBA SHOWTIME, which is basically a next gen of NBA Jam.  The avatars are sorta weird, like if you put in the Donkey Kong code on Golden Eye, but other than that the game looks really nice for the age.  my tag team of a trick dunking horse man and Reggie Miller bombing 3s is pretty unstoppable.  I will prove this to anyone with a 56k connection and a server they aren’t using for anything important.  I am hoping this, NBA2K and Olympic Basketball help tide me over for the summer (PAUL PIERCE STOP GOING TO RED LOBSTER SO MUCH OR AT LEAST STOP TELLING ME ABOUT IT ON TWITTER.  HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM LAST SEASON???)

    oof.  sorry.  I also will be killing braincells with Tony Hawk 2 for Dreamcast (which I totally forgot was so addictive.  I wasted at least half a semester of college on it way back when.  good thing it was a State school!), as well as tempting suicide with my ongoing Trail of Tears that is my FF8 replay.


  17. Shain Eighmey says:

    Civilization V! I’ve been playing Ghandi and I’m very close to achieving military domination of the world. Yes, it’s horrible I know.  

    • dreadguacamole says:

        Heh. I’ve got a history of being threatened with nukes by Ghandi since… civ 2? 3?
       It never fails to make me laugh. Mutual destruction usually follows because, come on.

      • Shain Eighmey says:

        It’s true, who can turn down the opportunity to engage in a nuclear war with Gandhi? Not I!

  18. indy2003 says:

    Wrapped up Metroid Prime earlier in the week and have moved on to something I’d been saving for myself until I plowed through most of my “unplayed games” pile: Mass Effect 3. I realize that pretty much everyone else has already gotten to this one at this point, but it’s so good to be back in this world. Spending time with my imported FemShep and co. feels like reuniting with old friends. Just 8 hours in at this point, so I’m quite certain I won’t be getting to anything else this weekend (particularly considering that I’m definitely the sort of player who tackles every side mission, reads codex entries and takes time to savor as much dialogue as possible). Whenever I do finish it, I’m thinking of checking out Dyad.

    • Alkaron says:

      What did you think of Metroid Prime? That’s one of my favorite series, but I always like hearing why people liked it (or didn’t like it, a much rarer occurrence). Any plans to play the other games in the trilogy?

      • indy2003 says:

        Really loved it in the end, though it took me a while to reach that point. I found the first couple of hours a little dull and wondered what all of the hype was about, but as I got deeper into the game I began to appreciate the beauty, depth and intelligence of its structure. It’s a lovely piece of clockwork which is both larger and smaller than it initially seems. Very much a game which challenges some basic assumptions about how video games should be played and requires you to play it on its own terms (a bit like Demon’s Souls in that regard, as both games require a good deal of patience and attention to detail).

        It did take me a little while to get through, as the moments in which I would die and lose 30-40 minutes of progress (which happened several times) were deflating enough to make me need to simply set it aside for the day. An extra save room or two in each area would have been appreciated. Still, in the end it was immensely rewarding. Really dug the feeling of isolation the game creates; I’ve never played anything else which felt quite like that. Also, while the combat was less of a factor than I expected (it’s really more of a puzzle/adventure game than a FPS), the boss fights were generally pretty creative and exciting (except the dude made of rocks and the machine which throws bugs at you – didn’t really care for either of them). I definitely plan to play the other two games, though I’ve heard numerous folks say that nothing matches the first one. Would you agree with that assessment? And is The Dark World in Metroid Prime 2 as much of a pain as people claim it is?

        • Alkaron says:

          Glad you liked it! Personally, I think the scan visor is the best thing that ever happened to Metroid, and it was a cool axis of gameplay that’s unique to the series. Plus, the art direction and level design is fantastic.

          To answer your questions—I think Prime 3: Corruption is on a level with Prime 1, for sure. It might even be my favorite of the series.

          Prime 2 is a tough one. On one hand, the environment design is as beautiful as ever, and it has some of the most memorable moments of the series. On the other hand, the dark/light world transfers do get annoying after a while, and the decision to institute an ammo system with some of the beam weapons is a huge misstep, making the gameplay feel even more like micromanagement. And if you care about such things (as I do), the story is really dull. In the other two games, I was excited to scan every little thing because I’d get cool little story tidbits. In Prime 2, the main conflict was totally generic, and some of the series fixtures (Space Pirates and Metroids) just felt shoehorned in. I still scanned everything because that’s the way I roll, but it wasn’t as rewarding.

          It’s still a fine game, and I’ll replay it every now and then. I definitely recommend that you play it—those memorable moments I mentioned above are totally worth whatever minor annoyances you have with the gameplay. It simply has some flaws, whereas the other two Primes are practically perfect in every way.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      To double down on @Alkaron:disqus ‘s enthusiasm for any mention of Metroid Prime; are you playing the Wii trilogy, or on the game cube?  While there’s a lot to be said for playing it on the original format, the Wii trilogy has possibly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio of any game ever, ever.  

      • indy2003 says:

        Wii Trilogy. Picked it up for $60 at Gamestop, which is about 1/3rd of what it’s going for on Amazon/Ebay these days. Still pricey, but I figured it was worth it for three full games.

  19. stakkalee says:

    More New Vegas for me, plus a LAN game of Civ4.  I’ll also probably spend some time on Arkham City challenges – going for the 3 question marks in the combat challenges.

    As my New Vegas playthrough winds down I’m starting to plan on what I play next.  I enjoy sandbox games, and RPGs, and some strategy sims.  I was thinking of either moving on to Red Dead Redemption or Saints Row The Third, but I’ve heard some people on GS raving about Crusader Kings 2 and that seems right up my alley, though I think I don’t quite have the specs to play that.  So, any recommendations?  If you had to choose between RDR and SR3, which one would you go with?  Or is there another option of which I’m unaware?

    And I’m so jealous that Ms. Morris is going to get to see Paul Simon doing Graceland live – that might just be one of my top 10 favorite albums, although the competition is fierce.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Saints Row The Third is a bit… well… it doesn’t seem to give you anything new to do in comparison to the second game. The city looks better, but in general it’s not much of an improvement.
      Red Dead Redemption on the other hand is pretty much the only game in its class (not counting Gun, which was too buggy to be suitable for human consumption) and definitely worth a good look.
      Plus the map is sooooo big. And you can hunt.

      • dreadguacamole says:

          I seem to be in the minority thinking that Saint’s Row 2 wasn’t even remotely as good as 3.
         My reasoning is that the second just wasn’t over the top enough, whereas the third just bludgeoned your face silly with its idiocy right from the start, and just got increasingly ludicrous from there.

         2 made using septic tanks to paint people and property with raw sewage boring. I keep meaning to give it another chance, but every time I remember that particular feat, I give up on the idea.
         Great concepts, terrible execution.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I can’t honestly defend either game all that much, but I thought that in the line of games, Third just felt like more of the same.
          I played through it once and probably will never again, but I did the same with 2, so…
          It’s not so much an endorsement for Saints Row 2 as a hearty “meh” for both.

        • Merve says:

          Did you play them both on PC? The Saints Row 2 port was buggy and poorly-made.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I never played Saints Row two and have only just started three, but as the game allowed me to create a red-skinned devil woman with an 80’s Wall Street haircut, pencil-thin mustache and Romanian accent, I’m pretty pleased.  Now all I need to do is find the store that sells “Annie Lennox from the Sweet Dreams Video” suit and I’m golden.

    • Enkidum says:

      I’m with @Effigy_Power:disqus here. RDR is probably the best thing Rockstar’s ever done (?), and definitely one of the best story delivery vehicles I’ve ever played. Saint’s Row I haven’t done more than watch a few demos and trailers, but it looks very derivative (not that that’s a bad thing if it’s done well). That said, CK II is also really good and is a huge time sink, so if you’re going that route, get it before it goes off sale (check it out on Amazon or Steam if you haven’t already) and forget about playing anything else for a few days…

      • caspiancomic says:

         You know what game I like a lot more that Red Dead Redemption? Red Dead Revolver. I hear a lot of praise for Redemption, but some combination of nostalgia, a preference for a focused and driven gameplay experience, and a general distaste for sandboxes leaves me feeling a little unsatisfied with it. I think I feel the same way about sandboxes as @bakana42:disqus does about FPSes: I recognize them as a totally legitimate genre and know that other people love them very dearly, but they just sort of bore me. The GTAs of the world just don’t have enough structure for my tastes. It’s a shame, I’d like to enjoy that game, but Red Dead Revolver will always hold a very special place in my heart.

    • indy2003 says:

      Have to agree that RDR is Rockstar’s crowning achievement. There’s nothing else quite like it out there, and it’s the only western game I’ve played which doesn’t feel like a standard shooter with cowboy hats. A great sense of place, compelling story, strong main character and one hell of an ending – getting through the main story alone should take a good 20-30 hours, but it’s very easy to double or triple that length if you really take time to explore what the world has to offer.

    • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

      I’ve also descended back into the depths of my Fallout addiction.. 15 hours added to my now 30-hour playthrough in New Vegas in just a few days.  

      I’m still playing on 360 (I bought a copy on black Friday not long after it came out), but once I finish this play through I’m going to do a new run on PC now that I bought the ultimate edition on sale.  

      Trying to decide on how I’m going to play my PC character.  My first run characters on most RPGs are ruthless killers with a soft spot for people in need, so I generally end up being a morally good person no matter what.  

      I’m also going to have to go back and finish RDR – I quit not long after I got into Mexico (15 hours or so in?), but I’ve been meaning to finish it for a while now.  

  20. SamPlays says:

    I may find time to play Crysis 2 in between playing lawn mower, visiting sister, grocery shopping and raw food “cooking”. I’ll let you know how it goes:)

    • Girard says:

       Are you a raw food person yourself, is this something new you’re trying, or are you doing it for someone else’s benefit who’s a “raw” person? I’m curious how it turns out, and what you make. I have a vague curiosity about the whole “raw” thing…as a vegan I know how frustrating ignorant “What can you guys even eat?” questions can be to answer. But I’m kind of curious what a serious “raw” dish (and not just a salad or whatever) consists of.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         I did raw food for my entire junior year of high school. I didn’t manage 100%–it was probably more like 80%, because I went to a boarding prep school and didn’t have the time/resources to go all-out–but the experience overall was very positive.

        Some standout foods were frozen-mashed-avocado “ice cream” with some agave nectar and walnuts; “sushi” made with nori, sprouts, tempeh, and whatever vegetables I had on hand; bruschetta on everything; green smoothies; everything kale; and various cold veggie soups. I ate piles of spinach, sprouted jars of mung beans, experimented with ways to make yogurt palatable, and lost about 20 lbs in a month (I’m fat, what can I say) with just a little daily exercise.

        There are many fancier foods involving expensive blenders and dehydrators and juicers, but even with pretty limited resources there’s a lot of variety to be had.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          Kale is so goddamn tasty. I love that stuff.

        • Girard says:

           If I had a diet and a budget that included  mashed-avocado “ice cream” with agave nectar and walnuts, I think I’d actually end up gaining 20 pounds…

        • Effigy_Power says:

           @Douchetoevsky:disqus: I read that as ‘Kate’ and instantly thought you’re being a pig.
          I apologize.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           @bakana42:disqus One of the things about eating raw/vegan is that you have to pay attention to getting enough fat and carbs rather than trying to limit them, so it was an easy way to get enough fat. At first I “did it wrong” and most of my cals came from protein. I smelled like ammonia for days. It was terrible.

        • Girard says:

           @green_gin_rickey:disqus : I may be vegan, but I come from hale and hearty Czech potato-and-dumpling folk and still probably eat more than my fair share of carbs. (Though obviously eating raw would make it waaaaaaay harder.)

      • SamPlays says:

        My wife and I are both relatively new to raw food – my sister has recently converted us. Honestly, it’s completely delicious and totally healthy. OUtside of some fairly simple staples (i.e., fruit/vegetables, dried or otherwise), a “serious” dish for us has included things like pizza (gluten-free tortilla, mustard green pesto, marinated wild mushrooms, goat cheese, vidalia onion) and lasagne (zucchini sliced lengthways for “noodles” and various layers of nut-cheese, pesto, and spinach). I can honestly say that I haven’t had any meals nearly as tasty in a long time. Plus, I’ve lost about 10lbs. I should note that we’re not 100% raw, which is crazy to me. We still eat chicken breast every so often and some things might require a small amount of cooking for an item or two (like shrimp for our raw pad thai, which was excellent!). There’s tons of great recipe sites online. We’ve invested in a Magic Bullet for blending, which is great because you can pick it up and shake it for drier blends (like nut cheese). We’re considering a dehydrator but it hasn’t been essential yet.

        • Girard says:

           That all sounds delicious. It seems like typically in my experience diets that superficially seem like they would be “limiting” actually tend to result in more tasty and interesting dishes because you actually have to think carefully about what you’re putting into what you’re making, rather than just making some default thing.

          It’s interesting to hear about a raw diet that includes meat (even if some of your meat dishes are where you fudge the “raw” thing). I’ve only known one or two raw people, and they were raw vegans, but (checks Wikipedia) apparently there are raw animal food diets that don’t lead to horrible gastrointestinal distress. I’ve learned something!

        • SamPlays says:

          The biggest benefit of eating raw food is that I’ve been able to reacquaint myself with the glory of medjool dates. I always avoided them before because of “calories” and “high sugar content” but what I’ve learned is that your body is far better at processing and using fruit calories than those from wheat-based or refined-sugar carbs (which end up being stored as fat, as well as lead to swollen skin tissues and water retention). Recent news on CBC (yes, I’m from Canada, deal with it) profiled the chemical impact of wheat, particularly the kind produced by today’s agribusiness manufacturers (you know, the GMO stuff that you really can’t avoid if you’re eating wheat-based anything). What surprised me was that two slices of bread has far more negative impact on your glycemic index than six teaspoons of white sugar. And that a wheat protein (a “glider” protein?) is essentially an opiate. It won’t get you high or relieve pain, but it makes you addicted to wheat-based foods and it stimulates your appetite, which can contribute to overeating. I thought this was fascinating. As for eating raw food, I’ve never been the type to abide by arbitrary diet guidelines. In many cases, you need to work with what’s available in your area, plus a hardcore vegan raw diet is not completely healthy given that you need to supplement your B12 levels, which get cut when you don’t eat certain animal products (meats, seafood, dairy products). 

  21. Alkaron says:

    I’m going to be playing my first game of War of the Ring on Saturday. I’ve heard great things, though that rulebook is pretty daunting….

    • Effigy_Power says:

      It’s a lovely game and about as much fun you can have with a board this big without going to straight tabletop miniature games. The rulebook is fairly well sorted now, the previous edition was a bit of a chaos, since they did the WoD thing and mixed rules into lore and stories, which makes for good reading, but shitty for finding out if Beorg hit that Goblin Chief or not.

  22. Effigy_Power says:

    I don’t think anybody in Stanhope, New Jersey is happy. I got stopped in Denville, West Orange and Roxbury, all along the same road, just for my Yankees license plate I was sporting back then. I am sure of it.
    Having to look at NYC without living there is bound to make people testy.

    I won’t be playing this weekend as much as making content for the ArmA 2 mod I am working on with Mooy and Subversive. Got lots of gooey Cyborgs to draw and dogs with electronic stuff and whatnot. And since Mooy thinks it’s more important to move than to scribble robots in Photoshops, I’ll have to pick up the slack, thank you. -huff’n’puff-
    I might throw in some Sim City 4, it’s been a while since I built an industrial dystopia and the single green parks in the middle of all that pollution just looks ridiculous. How do people keep their lawn green?

  23. Fluka says:

    Making powerpoint presentations and crap before getting on a plane and travelling to a work meeting next week (sigh), so not much.  Finally got burned out on playing Civ IV, so will probably spend remaining time finishing Breaking Bad Season 2 instead.  I was going to joke that it would make a great RPG, but then I remembered that College Humor had already gotten there before me.  Instead I’ll go back to my non-joking insistence that the China Mieville Bas-Lag universe would make a fantastic modern RPG.

    When I return, Deus Ex: HR!

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I’d agree with you if I wasn’t so incredibly tired of Steampunk.
      It’s not that it’s inherently bad, it’s just that I am sick of cosplaying nerds with goggles and top-hats. And everything has gauges on it.

      I do however think that Wizards of the Coast made a setting for the novels in a Dragon Magazine a few years back.

      • Fluka says:

        Mm, good point.  I’ve never really viewed the novels as steampunk so much as Jules Verne by way of German Silent Film.  But a game version would invariably go full-on steampunk.  Damn you, internet nerds!  Everything you touch turns to crap!  I still like a little bit of neo-Victoriana, though.  Maybe Dishonored will tide me over, if it’s any good.

      • dreadguacamole says:

          They did! In Dragon 352, if anyone is interested. Thanks so much for this, I had no idea it existed…

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Well, I know my stuff, even if it doesn’t provide any reasonably useful skills.

        I should temper what I said. I don’t actually hate steampunk as such. The idea of the fusion of renaissance and industrialism has a lot of allure and seeing magic and technology bump heads is certainly fun. The problem for me is the over-stylization. Every steampunk-chick wears the same Victorian outfit that you’d otherwise only see on Emily Howard walking down the pier, plus top-hat and goggles. Every guy looks like Johnny Depp in “From Hell”, just with added top-hat and goggles. Everything is copper and bronze.
        And the kicker is that every device, no matter how mundane, is turned into some sort of Frankensteinian machine.
        Steam-chariots? Fine. Steam-toothbrush? Maybe not. Steam-underpants? Not for everyday wearing.
        The setting suffers from the same standards the Vampire-setting used to suffer from, with every player bitten turning into something ruffled out of an Ann Rice novel. I went to Vampire:Masquerade LARPs twice and was sick to death of it right after. Apparently vampiric blood also makes you into a fashion goth. And everyone’s name is Dark Obsidian Night Wraith and loves Poe… and I really hate Poe.

        So it’s less the setting itself for me, which I am sure can be done right. I remember the anime “Steam Boy” to be fairly nice and I have seen great works of art.
        It’s the… let’s call them the deviantArt crowd… who are wrecking this thing.

        • Enkidum says:

          This is enough to get you killed in some quarters (even quartered in some quarters), but I’ve never gotten the adoration for Poe. I mean, he writes perfectly competent scary stories, and has a pretty good way with a sentence every now and then. But he’s treated as something on par with Shakespeare or Jane Austen or Henry James or something, and I just don’t see it. To keep it gaming-related (and reiterating stuff I said above), Poe’s critical fans strike me as very similar to the people who insist that Bioshock is a really profound exploration of the depths to which the human soul can sink.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I like that thought, @Enkidum:disqus.
          I’d say Poe is scary to people who’ve never seen Jaws in the same way Bioshock is a profound exploration of the depths to which the human soul can sink to people who don’t know anything about the Spanish Inquisition.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           That’s pretty much the same problem I have with steampunk as a genre; the only place I’ve seen it treated with any depth is in a GURPS supplement. Other than that, it’s all surfaces; vacuous cool.
           I don’t consider the Bas-Lag books to be steampunk at all, though, so maybe my problem is that I view steampunk as more of an aesthetic than a genre. At least according to Wikipedia Tim Powers, one of my favorite authors, is considered to have written one of the first steampunk books (The Anubis Gates) – I may have to rethink my stance.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I think that’s another excellent point, @dreadguacamole:disqus. Differentiating between steampunk as either genre or aesthetic can cut a lot of the clutter away.

        • Girard says:

           I think Poe was super-important in the development of genre fiction, and shaped or created many of its forms (e.g. the detective novel, the science fiction story). Consequently, we have him to thank, in part at least, for the work lauded genre authors like Doyle, Burroughs, and Lovecraft, to whom he was an antecedent (and to whom he can be favorably compared, I think).

          Now, does this mean he can hold a candle to the titans of literary fiction, like those @Enkidum:disqus  listed? Not really. But neither can Doyle, Burroughs, or Lovecraft (or Tim Schaefer, or David Cage, etc. etc.). That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth our time, though.

          Things get muddled in our contemporary post-Warhol (post-Everything) world, where the lines between high and low culture are (rightly, I might add) blurred. We have science fiction authors writing literary fiction and literary fiction authors writing science fiction (or other genre fiction), and this miscegentation means they all have some of Poe’s DNA running in their veins. This, coupled with a critical atmosphere that (again, mostly rightly) likes to salvage “low” art by celebrating its “high” artistry (how many essays have been written using medium-sized-words to extol the aesthetic virtues of Kirby Krackle?). It feels weird to admit that while Poe was a seminal and perhaps great genre fiction guy, that doesn’t necessarily put him in the “big leagues” of literature.

        • Vervack says:

           Oh, I’ve been there for so long, @Effigy_Power:disqus. I’m in a similar place to you; I like industrialized fantasy settings, but I’m not entirely sure what I want out of them. A lot of the mainstream stuff does seem to draw on a rather depressingly small reference pool. (We barely leave the Anglosphere most of the time, and we don’t even go that far in that.) I’ve looked at some other areas of the “movement”/”culture”, but after a while I started finding the DIY side and people who were really into social justice who liked to use the label as part of a general plan to advocate for sustainable civilization or I don’t know what. The whole thing made no damn sense to me, and in any case it wasn’t what I was looking for anyway.

          Right now, I don’t even like to use the word “steampunk” anymore. If I have to give it a name, I go with “industrialized fantasies”, which has no baggage and is a handy catch-all term for a lazy heurist like me. I’ve even found a handful of decent books (which I can list if you want) that tell the sorts of stories I’ve been looking for by thumbing through the biblographies and keeping an eye out at the used bookstores.

          Wait a second…oh dear God I just realized I’m a steampunk hipster. Well there goes my weekend.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           @Enkidum:disqus I like a few stories of Poe’s: the ones I can think of at the moment are Ligeia and Berenice. Both are about pretty women, obsessive men, and pretty women becoming dead pretty women, but they are also interesting in content (for being aesthetically lovely and yet gruesome) and in meta-content (for reflecting the psyche of a fairly disturbed man living in a time that paid weird attention to dead pretty ladies.)

          Whenever someone names him as one of their favorite authors, though, it sets off a small choir of alarms for me. It’s hard to make out, but I think they’re repeating “former mall goth” over and over. And over again.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          @bakana42:disqus @Enkidum:disqus And while I’m at it, I’ll just state for the record that I am diametrically opposed to the idea that there exists some pantheon of Great Writers. In literature as in love, etc, etc.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           @Vervack:disqus That list would be appreciated.

          @green_gin_rickey:disqus The issue is also that most self-proclaimed goths and Steampunk fans can quote 3 lines from “The Raven” and consider themselves specialists. Which is especially damning as that piece isn’t just long-chewed up as Halloween fodder, but also not at all good.

        • Vervack says:

           Sorry about the delay, @Effigy_Power:disqus. Most of the stuff in my collection is perhaps not the most diverse, but it does touch upon things like the relationship of humans to technology, how people react to change, that sort of thing.

          For something “light” (by my standards, anyway), there’s Michael Swanwick’s Jack Faust, which is essentially a materialistic retelling of the Faust legend, with Mephistopheles being an extradimensional being who gives Faust access to humanity’s complete body of scientific and technical knowledge. The end result is an industrial revolution in Renaissance Europe, with all the mayhem that entails. It’s really a fable on the bad ways we put our gifts to work, but it’s a lot of fun, and Mephisto is delightfully savage.

          If you’re in the mood for something a little more traditional, there’s Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships, which is set up as a sequel to The Time Machine that chronicles the Time Traveller’s return journey to the future and between different timelines. It blends in more contemporary hard SF, but it keeps that long-range evolutionary perspective Wells could do so well. The book really is a love letter to Wells, and it’s full of references and riffs off of his other works. There’s even an extended sequence in the middle based off of one of the few cool parts of The Shape of Things to Come. Baxter also wrote Anti-Ice, which is about Britain getting an exotic form of antimatter that it uses like nuclear power in the 19th century. It’s more modest in ambition, but if you like nuts-and-bolts SF there’s an enjoyable extended discussion of how to get an spaceship working with period technology.

          My absolute favorites-of-all-time are Ian R. MacLeod’s The Light Ages and its distant sequel House of Storms. They’re set in a Britain that discovered a form of material magic around the middle of the 17th century, but the books themselves are set so long after the discovery that the country is nearly unrecognizable. In some ways, the novels feel more like fantasies than alternate histories, with England locked in permanent glittering ages of industry that never seem to end. Naturally the books are about revolution, but they do tend to be more ambivalent about the possibilities of success.

          I’d also recommend Dexter Palmer’s The Dream of Perpetual Motion, which is a mixture of The Tempest, the myth of Thomas Edison, and the history of modernism; it also manages to depict a world filled with steampunk gadgetry that still has the same type of nonsense our world is filled with. Fitzpatrick’s War, by Theodore Judson, is a tricky one to recommend: it’s set in a future where most of the English-speaking world was replaced by a society of militarist agrarians, and it chronicles the attempt of one of their number to follow the career of Alexander the Great. It’s not a masterpiece, but Judson does a surprisingly good job of making his imaginary society loathsome yet sympathetic. There’s also William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s classic The Difference Engine, which is still worth reading even if you’re like me and still don’t entirely understand what the authors were trying to do. I’d also toss on Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, which is a fantasy Western that I did not get all the way through, but it had giant train gods colonizing the frontier, which was pretty cool.

          Finally, as a comic recommendation, I’d suggest looking for Les Cités Obscures, or Cities of the Fantastic by Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters. They’re these beautiful things filled with modern architecture, surrealist imagery, and weirdly anachronistic technology, and they’re as European as all hell. It’s incredibly hard to find translations in English, but they are well worth it.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         I’m tired of steampunk in the Real World, but have yet to see it really implemented in games. It’s weird to me that it seems pretty perfectly suited for flavoring a video game world–zeppelins! top hats! rayguns! gears on fucking everything!–and yet I can think of maybe 2 games with a steampunk setting, and one of those I designed myself, in Gamemaker, and it’s really just a gussied-up Pac-Man.

        Are there a bunch of gaslight games out there that I’m missing?

        • Effigy_Power says:

          You know, it’s funny to hear you say that, because now that I think about it…
          I remember a handful of HoG-games, which are obsessed with Victorian style anyways (I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to find hand-fans and cameo-brooches), but as a full on style in a big game…
          I actually find that surprising.

    • Vervack says:

       Actually, that idea of yours is actually pretty close to the mark. China Miéville used to be a big D&D fan back in the day, and he’s made no secret of the fact that it’s wormed its way into his novels.

      For myself, though, I’m not much of a Miéville fan. The only book of his I ever read was Iron Council, and I was way more interested in the titular council (which was sort of like the Transcontinental Railroad meets the Long March through a Ralph Steadman drawing), than I ever was in New Crubuzon. Not really much of a fan of immersive fantasy city settings, to be honest. I actually live in a city, and it’s not been much fun for me, and it really hasn’t given me much of a desire to explore them more in fiction.

  24. The_Forgotten_Quill says:

    I would be playing realMyst, but apparently “unofficially supported by Windows 7” translates into “definitely not supported” in my case. I picked up the whole Cyan package during the Steam sale and it looks like I wasted my money. I know there are a dozen things I could download and install and boot into to get the thing to work, but is it too much to expect it to run without re-configuring my entire system. It’s a shame to lose access to great games because, ironically enough, my system is too advanced.

    And I hear Windows 8 will be even worse.

    Anyway, so what I will be playing instead: Resonance of Fate (Xbox) and Drawn: the Painted Tower (PC – Big Fish Games). 

    I’m about halfway through RoF (a Tri-Ace game which isn’t nearly as brutal as some of their other titles), and I’m finding it a fairly good game now that I’ve mastered the battle system. The story could use some work, but the characters are fun and the amount of humor was a pleasant surprise. 

    Drawn is the first in a series of “hidden object/inventory” games, which I also have a soft spot for, especially ones with such excellent stories. I remember playing some of the first HO games when they were just starting, and they’ve definitely grown in depth. 

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Well, enjoy End Of Eternity/Resonance Of Fate, because there’s a serious chance that Tri-Ace won’t make it out of this generation (at least in its current incarnation).  I think it, Frontier Gate, and ESPECIALLY Beyond The Labyrinth are great for people complaining about cookie-cutter role-playing games, but that’s hurt their bottom line.

      I think Drawn is the best hidden object series ever (although I’ve only played a few).  I would recommend them even to regular graphic adventure fans.  I don’t need to sell you on them, so I’ll just say they deliver.  I hope Big Fish continues in that direction.

      • The_Forgotten_Quill says:

        Darn! You had me really excited at the mention of some new RPG titles I hadn’t previously heard of and then quickly discovered why: no PSP or 3DS. 

        I’m actually coming into Xbox late in the game (within the last two years), so I’ve been working through a lot of old inventory that’s probably long been forgotten. I was a Nintendo girl until Bioshock and Mass Effect convinced me to branch out.

        It might be time for a 3DS.

        A quick personal note on Tri-Ace…they’re notorious for making games I will take time to play through and never want to play again, like Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope. I still don’t know how I got through it without rage quitting. RoF is much more manageable.

        Also, another HO game you should pick up from Big Fish: The Ravenhearst Series. Absolutely excellent.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          Oof, you’re missing out on the bulk of them, then!  As someone who didn’t own other companies’ consoles (although I’ve gone back since) until the Playstation 1 and *points to username* Lunar (A REMAKE OF WHICH IS ON THE PSP), I can sympathize.  If importing/modification isn’t an option, I can only really recommend Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax (an inferior version of the PSP Hero 30, which also has a PSP sequel), a great parody game with top-notch aesthetics, Phantasy Star Universe, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 1, and Nier Gestalt.

          That comment actually applie to Tri-Crescendo for me.  Star Ocean 4 is their unquestionable nadir (why is someone’s username here not Edge Maverick?), but any Valkyrie Profile game, Beyond The Labyrinth, and Radiata Stories does it for me.

          Those 2 series are very strong, but they just don’t do it for me.  I’m a Sierra superfan, so I think I need a whimsical setting to get over simpler gameplay.  The same goes for Japanese-style graphic adventures, for the most part.

          http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/nanatsukaze/nanatsukaze.htm http://www.nicovideo.jp/mylist/7485346 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=044YnEk-97A The Tale Of The Island’s 7 Winds could be Heavy Rain button-mashing and I’d still have bought that The Neverending Story-looking thing.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I find Awakening the better series by a small margin, mostly because it goes a little easier on the hidden object searches and involves a lot of puzzles of all sorts of genres, while featuring a really charming story.
        Especially Awakening 3: The Goblin Kingdom is pure joy to play.

        • The_Forgotten_Quill says:

          Ditto to Awakening (The art was also gorgeous). I also enjoy a variation of puzzles. The exclusively HO games get so dry.

          For example, I just finished Dark Strokes: Sins of the Father. Excellent game, but HEAVY on the HO. If they’d included half the HO scenes and a few more puzzles, it would have been exceptional.

    • Merve says:

      realMyst isn’t super-old, so you might be able to run it in compatibility mode without downloading any third-party utilities.

      • The_Forgotten_Quill says:

        That is an excellent suggestion, and so obvious I’m feeling a little silly. The Steam forums suggested changing the settings in the setup program and downloading older versions of Quicktime, but compatibility mode wasn’t discussed. If it works, I owe you a Steam game. 


        • Merve says:

          No problem. Compatibility mode is what I had to use to get BioShock working properly on my rig, and that game is only five years old. I don’t know how well it works in general, but it’s worth a try.

    • Girard says:

       Ugggh. I bought realMyst ages ago on GOG, but haven’t yet played it. It kind of sucks to know I won’t be able to play it on my current system (especially since I opted for it over Myst Masterpiece Edition, which was also available, and similarly priced there).

  25. duwease says:

    Finally gave up on Dark Souls, pretty early in (The Moonlight Butterfly).  It seemed like a game I would have loved, but I just can’t.  The process of s-l-o-w-l-y working your way from the save point to the boss, methodically dispatching the lesser enemies, only to get one-shot-killed in 15 seconds, then doing the same process over and over and over just wore me down.  The combat between save point and boss is just too dangerous to be mindless, but too slow and methodical to be engaging when done repeatedly.  And it’s the same trek, over and over and over.  A pre-boss save when bosses can easily one-hit you a couple dozen times before you get the hang of it would have gone a long way.

    Instead, I’ll work on finishing up the Binding of Isaac DLC, and of course playing Duels of the Planeswalkers.  Just got Spelunky too, and haven’t gotten far but I’m enjoying it.  It’s tough as hell, but the random factor keeps it engaging.

    • doyourealize says:

      * Slightly edited from original post.

      Finally gave up on Binding of Isaac, pretty early in (Lust).  It seemed like a game I would have loved, but I just can’t.  The process of s-l-o-w-l-y working your way from the save point to the boss, methodically dispatching the lesser enemies, only to get one-shot-killed in 15 seconds, then doing the same process over and over and over just wore me down.  The combat between save point and boss is just too dangerous to be mindless, but too slow and methodical to be engaging when done repeatedly.  And it’s the same trek, over and over and over.  A pre-boss save when bosses can easily one-hit you a couple dozen times before you get the hang of it would have gone a long way.

      Instead, I’ll work on finishing up Dark Souls, and of course playing Duels of the Planeswalkers.  Just got Spelunky too, and haven’t gotten far but I’m enjoying it.  It’s tough as hell, but the random factor keeps it engaging.

      Note: I enjoy both games even though I can’t manage to beat BoI even once, but Dark Souls plenty of times.

      Other note: I know there’s a randomness factor in BoI that isn’t in Dark Souls, but the similarities were just too much for me to ignore.

      • John Teti says:

        Save point? The same trek, over and over? Are you sure you downloaded the right game?

        I’m kidding, but consider giving The Binding Of Isaac another chance when your frustration level dies down. Maybe you just won’t like it, which is cool, of course. It’s just that the way you describe it sounds off to me, and it makes me wonder if it didn’t get a chance to demonstrate the charms of its ever-changing nature. (For instance, Lust is a mini-boss who can appear randomly at any stage in the game, so it’s odd to hear that described as “pretty early in” — you’re more likely than not to avoid him entirely in your next playthrough. Oh, and if he does show up, keep running away and firing tears at him. He’s probably the most straightforward “deadly sins” mini-boss. He just wants to give you a hug, so all he does is run toward you. A steady volley of tears will keep him at a distance.)

        Hits from a boss, especially in the early going, don’t generally do more damage than hits from normal enemies (some attacks can take one heart rather than a half-heart, but that’s it), so the “one-hit” thing also sounds weird to me. Maybe you were just on your last legs when you encountered a boss, which is entirely possible in your first couple tries. But soon enough, you may find that the early bosses are actually even easier than some of the “regular” monster rooms.

        Again, I’m not saying you have to love the game, or that you have poor taste if you hate it. I have, however, found it to be extremely rewarding if you allow it to unfold with repeated attempts.

        • doyourealize says:

          Haha, I knew some slight criticism of BoI would draw in someone from this site…didn’t know it’d be you, though. In any case, I considered changing “save point” to “dungeon entrance” or something, and I know the bosses are random. It was meant more as a criticism of @duwease:disqus ‘s criticism of Dark Souls, and I just think the two games have a lot in common even if they’re not the same, not mention Spelunky fits the basic model, too, with BoI‘s randomness.

          The Gameological community is obviously pro-Binding of Isaac, and I certainly like the game enough. I guess it just makes me feel stupid since I’ve played a good amount (for some reason, you can’t access Steam from in-game, meaning I can’t find out exactly how much I’ve played) and have yet to beat even the fourth boss.

          Okay, I’m gonna go play BoI.

        • John Teti says:

          @doyourealize:disqus Your comment made me laugh when I saw the one above. I’m sorry for being so obtuse.

          I think if you go into your Steam profile, it will tell you how many hours you’ve played, but I play on PC rather than Mac (because the keyboard-to-gamepad mapping software is better on PC). I know there’s some Steam weirdness on Mac.

        • doyourealize says:

          Alright, Teti. Your comment made me remember that I once tried to map my keyboard to my joypad, but couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. I just tried it again, and figured it out, but it’s acting a little weird. I tried JoytoKey, but maybe I’ll move to ControlMK and see if that works better (I play on PC, too).

          I’ve played the game for a couple hours this afternoon, and then spent another 2 on all the technical stuff.


          Edit: And that’s pretty funny you missed the original post.

        • John Teti says:

          @doyourealize:disqus Here’s a link to my JoyToKey configuration file for a wired Xbox 360 controller. Time-tested.


        • doyourealize says:

          Thanks. I’m gonna give it a try.

          I found out how check my stats. 4.8 hours total, 2.8 of those coming today, so I guess I didn’t play as much as I thought.

        • duwease says:

          Clever little monkey :)  The similarities are actually what made me want to try Dark Souls, and why I was surprised that it didn’t work for me.  I think the random factor goes a long way in BoI/Spelunky.. especially BoI, where each run unlocks more items and enemies, so you’re always running through with a different set of items, being forced to make different decisions.  Plus you generally have some leeway to make some mistakes — it’s less walking into a room and dying immediately to a new enemy with a new attack as it is being slowly worn down by a succession of painfully difficult rooms.

        • doyourealize says:

          Tried out the J2K config, and it’s quite a difference, much more intuitive (for me, at least). Logged another couple hours last night…still haven’t beat it, though. Now I just have to figure out how to get it to log my achievements.

          Thanks again!

        • doyourealize says:

          Okay, sorry to keep replying to this (this will be the last), but I finally beat it! Thanks in no small part to your controls, and got my achievements tracking. Now I have a new addiction thank you very much (my wife thanks you, too).

          Gonna need to get that DLC soon.

    • indy2003 says:

      I feel your pain. I had to drop Dark Souls after 30 hours because I simply couldn’t get through Anor Londo. The Moonlight Butterfly was weirdly simple for me, though: I ran in, shot it with arrows and it never fired back. I felt like I had somehow cheated without trying to cheat. I loved Demon’s Souls, which was tough but fair. However, there are moments in Dark Souls where it feels as if the deck is just stacked against you to an absurd degree. After two dozen or so failed attempts to take down Smough and Ornstein, I just wasn’t having fun anymore (I even summoned help on several occasions, and in every instance my companions were crushed long before the battle was over).

  26. dreadguacamole says:

     I forgot about this on a previous post, but for anyone who has even a passing interest in interactive fiction – Adam Cadre’s just put out a new game, Endless, Nameless. I played a little bit last night, and it looks fantastic – I’ll be finishing that this weekend, unless it’s harder or longer than I think it is.
     You can find the game here: http://adamcadre.ac/if.html

    • The_Forgotten_Quill says:

      You’ve just made my gaming weekend!

      One of my first gaming experiences as a child was an old Apple 2GS game (the name of which has always escaped me) that was basically this. It was a “novelized” game in which you read a description of your surroundings and then typed any action you could think of: “look in the hole”, “pick up the rock”, “talk to the troll”, etc.

      Now that I think about it, it was kind of like King’s Quest without the graphics, but it was amazing and I’ve always missed it. 

      Thank you so much!

      • doyourealize says:

        As @dreadguacamole:disqus  says, the genre’s called Interactive Fiction. Every year there’s a competition and many entries which get placed into different categories. The entries are usually pretty short, but that just means you can play more games. And there really is some great stuff in there.


        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           A few years ago the winners (or nominees? or something?) were called “Violet” and “Everybody Dies.” I remember this mostly because I saw an article titled “Violet and Everybody Dies” and was terribly intrigued by that, and then terribly disappointed to learn that those were two separate titles.

          Are there any all-time-great IF games to try? I’ve never been able to get into them, and don’t know if it’s a bad-genre-for-me or if I just haven’t tried the right games.

          • doyourealize says:

            I remember that article. Pretty sure it was AV Club. I remember Violet was really good, and there was another that year (3rd place, I think), that takes place in a town with the lights off that I really enjoyed. I wish I could remember the titles, but if you can’t get into these, it may just not be for you. All the entries have to be “beatable” in under 2 hours, and Violet I think was really short. The “all-time-great” IF games would be games like Zork, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I always liked Wishbringer, but these are all longer games and probably not very easy to get your hands on anyway. I’m sure others here could direct to other titles, though.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          I think Violet was the one with the wombat mp3 player and the snowglobe? Maybe?

          Hitchhiker is available as a flash game on the BBC site somewhere, they published it for some anniversary. It was too difficult for my brain–I’m not great at keeping track of layouts described to me but not visible.

        • Girard says:

          @doyourealize:disqus : The Zork text adventures were all released as free downloads from the Activision website as a promotion for Grand Inquisitor. I don’t know if they were officially declared freeware, but at the very least it might make them easier to hunt down, or alleviate your guilt if the only way you can find them is illicit. The (fantastic, if somewhat unforgiving) Hitchhiker’s game was free on the BBC site for a while.

          Honestly, the only legit collections of the Infocom games are available at such inflated prices from sellers that wouldn’t even benefit the creators or IP holders (and the greats of other companies like Legend seem to be utterly nonexistent), I wouldn’t blame you for hunting them down through other channels. They are so fantastic, and really deserve to be played.

          Some obscure(-ish) favorites include Bureaucracy, which is a (punishing but hilarious) satire written by Douglas Adams and Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Heads or Tails of It, which is a text game primarily about puns and wordplay, which does things with the IF form and language that could only be done in a text game. From Legend Entertainment, I remember the Gateway series and Timequest were pretty complex and awesome. They also did a series called Spellcasting 101, which is pretty sophomoric – essentially Porky’s meets Harry Potter – but I consequently quite enjoyed it as a middle school boy, and it does have some solid puzzles.

        • Girard says:

          @green_gin_rickey:disqus :
          If the larger text games are too spatially abstract for you, you might
          fare better with the (also classic, also lauded, and founded by some of
          the Infocom guys) Legend text adventures. They have some graphic
          components (a small image of each scene, a compass rose showing the
          directions you can go, your inventory) that might help you navigate and
          place yourself better in the space. Their best games are probably
          TimeQuest and the Frederick Pohl’s Gateway games (both sci-fi). They also made some humor games that were pretty good, but also kind of adolescent-boy-ish. They’re a little more obscure than Infocom, and their games are hard to find legitimately, but they’re on pretty much every “abandonware” site out there.

          Almost all of the Infocom ones are “all-time greats.” It might behoove you to pick one that’s in a genre you enjoy, and that might engage you enough to put up with the idiosyncratic puzzles and weird (to you) navigation. For instance, I worked my way through Bureaucracy, despite it being punishingly hard and obtuse, because I loved loved loved Douglas Adam’s satirical writing and wanted to badly to “see” everything the game had to offer (i.e. read Adams’s hilarious descriptions of everything the game had to offer).

          In terms of one that is objectively easier, thinking back, I think Planetfall had a relatively small environment and do-able puzzles, while still being a bona fide classic (and having one of the most memorable NPCs in all of gamedom).

      • doyourealize says:

        Sorry to post again, but it takes a little digging to get to the games, and you need to download one of two programs to play them. Here’s the game list:


    • Girard says:

       I’ve had that open in a tab for, like, weeks. I should actually knuckle down and play that shit, it’s probably amazing. To think I spent last week revelling in great Steam “deals” (which were, don’t get me wrong, great), while ignoring a possibly more lengthy, in-depth, rewarding experience that was sitting in my browser TOTALLY FREEEEEE….

    • duwease says:

      Thanks for this!  I haven’t played IF for years, but used to love it.  Played all the Infocom games back in the day, and all of the IF competition winners in the early 2000’s.  Good to see Adam Cadre’s still making games.. I’ll have to go get my nostalgic fun on.

  27. urthstripe says:

    I’ve done no gaming this past week except for quick sessions of The Binding of Isaac here and there. I’m sorry everyone. I’m sorry.

    Oh wait! I also got the PS3 version of You Don’t Know Jack and it is awesome.

    • doyourealize says:

      I don’t think you have anything to be sorry about. According to Steam numbers, members of the Gameological Society have spent more time playing Binding of Isaac (334.6 hours) than any other game. TF2 comes in at a distant second with 219.7 hours.

  28. Vervack says:

    Hey there, guys; long time no post.

    In my gaming world, I’ve just got through an intensive span of playing Star Trek Online for 2-3 weeks. STO is my MMO drug of choice, and it’s one I’ve spent more time and money on than a reasonable person probably should. The game got quite a critical drubbing back when it was released, but in the two years it’s been running it has broadened its content considerably. It’s a theme park MMO, but it’s a well-done one, and there’s now plenty of breadth of activities to while your life away with. Part of the reason I got back into it was the Season 6 update went live a few weeks ago, and it’s turned the fleet (i.e. guild) system into something with game mechanics, and I wanted to try that out. To cut a long story short, I ended up with a souped-up version of my favorite ship (the Deep Space Science Vessel, not a tactical powerhouse but a pretty funky looking ship, and I shot a ridiculous amount of Tholians, so I’m probably going to take a break until the next featured series of PvE missions is rolled out. I’ll always come back, of course; after all, what other game can let you be a purple lizard woman scientist who flies around in an Excelsior with Tron lights?

    As for games, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve essentially built up enough of a collection that I don’t really need to buy anything new. (Hell, the only upcoming title I want is Dishonored in October.) I’ve been thinking of going back into Oblivion and playing as an assassin character, but I don’t really know what sort of build I should make (and if anyone has suggestions, feel free to share them). I also want to get back into one of my old Command & Conquer games; they were one of the joys of my early gaming days, and it’s been a long time since I’ve played any of them. I think I could probably run Generals and Zero Hour on my Windows 7 computer again without having to hunt the Internet for patches or make an offering to Thoth or something, which I may have to do if I want to get Red Alert 2 working again. (There was no Red Alert 3. If you think so, you are wrong.)

    Also, I’ve noticed a few people here mentioning Spec Ops: The Line in their lists of upcoming titles. If I may toot my own horn a little here, I write for an old-school ezine as an on-again off-again hobby (which is so much better than writing a blog, especially if you don’t like talking about yourself that much), and back in June I managed to put together my thoughts on the game into a mildly coherent article/review/ramble. It’s not groundbreaking criticism, but I do try to figure out why the game’s approach towards player complicity doesn’t seem as irritating as the attempts made by other games (long story short, it’s because the player and the player character are not conflated), and I make a hamfisted attempt to claim a particular piece of collectible intel was inspired by Kasimir Malevich.


    (Oh, and that is totally not my real name. Just look at that last name! I wasn’t even trying there!)

  29. Was anyone else aware that Steve Jackson Games has a card game based on “Axe Cop”? 

  30. On PS3 Modern Warfare 3, on PC Crusader Kings II. Yeah… not very similar games. XD