What Are You Playing This Weekend?

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Rob Crow, indie rocker

The multi-talented musician talks about the bittersweet feeling of playing a game based on his own music.

By Anthony John Agnello • August 3, 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.

Rob Crow’s discography reads like a genre dictionary. From the funny introspective rock of his solo work, to the slick, weirdly rhythmic melancholy of Pinback, and on to the metal posturing of Goblincock, Crow’s done it all. He took some time to talk with The Gameological Society after putting some final touches on Pinback’s upcoming LP.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Rob Crow: Last weekend I was at Comic-Con, so I didn’t have time to play anything. Plus, I had three deadlines that I barely made for different things. So I didn’t have time to do anything, other than dumb stuff on my phone while waiting for stuff. [Laughs.]

Gameological: Now that you’re freed up, what are you going to play next weekend?

Crow: My plan was to get to level 30 on Star Wars: The Old Republic and start Diablo III. It seems like I’ll have some time. My Xbox just went down. I was on the last level of Max Payne 3 that I’d really like to finish. I want to do the DLC for Skyrim—I did the main thing, but I want to get whatever the DLC is. I want to play a bunch of Lego Batman 2 with the kids. They’re very enthusiastic about that.

Gameological: What was the first video game you ever played?

Crow: Pong, in all honestly. And then the original Magnavox Odyssey for the television, where you had to throw a mat on the screen and follow the ball around like it was a haunted house. I had Odyssey II when that came out. I had a bunch of weird handhelds—it was like a big stick. I forget what that was called. The first computer I had was the Timex Sinclair 1000. I had the 16K RAM extension. It was one of the things where you could buy books or get magazines, and type in all the games, and that’s how you made them. You could play them that way and then save them on cassette tapes.

Gameological: What are you working on that’s kept you so crushingly busy?

Crow: A Pinback record, but I’m not allowed to talk about how close it is to being done. Keep in mind that I just said I could relax. Maybe that’ll throw you something. I just had a bunch of shows in different bands. I just had an Optiganally Yours band where we had to train new dancers and show them the blocking, and a Pinback show, and a Devits show which is my Evil Misfits audio-visual band.

Gameological: What was the deal with November Fireflight, the flash game on Pinback’s website when Autumn Of The Seraphs came out?

Crow: I didn’t know too much about it, except like, “Oh hey, this guy wants to make a game,” and, “Oh great, I’ve always wanted to have a video game of something I did!” And then you get to level two, and it stinks! It doesn’t work, and you can’t finish it, and I get so bummed, and no one ever fixed it. You play for two levels, and then you can’t do anything. It drives me nuts. It figures, I finally get a video game, and I can’t play it! Without saying too much, the last two Pinback limited edition 7-inches have something video game-centric about them, but that’s all I can say. People need to find out the secrets for themselves.

Gameological: Will these secrets be revealed upon the release of the next album?

Crow: People have figured out how to make them work so far. One guy made a short video of what it was, and how to do it. He even fixed it up a little more. But that was only for the first seven-inch. The second seven-inch, I think only one guy has figured it out?

Gameological: How has having children affected the way you write music?

Crow: Obviously, there’s not as much time to seriously work and concentrate on things. But it’s fine. I made a few records, almost the whole entire time I was recording them, there was a baby with me or a kid on my knee. It’s exciting in a way, hanging and playing the instruments with a kid just sitting on my lap. They like it, and I like it. I think it’s a cool family experience, if you could pull it off and concentrate that hard.

Gameological: As your kids start to grow up, do you find them being drawn how to learn music? Do they want to follow Dad?

Crow: Kind of. I don’t want to push them into things they don’t want to do. They seem to like everything I do at this point, but I don’t really know. They have to hear it all the time. They have music that they make too, that I help them with. They like to play all the instruments in the house. They really, really like it when I walk in, and one of them will just be bashing away on something. It’s like, “Yahhh!!”

Gameological: How has having kids changed the way you play video games?

Crow: They always want to play video games, and even if they don’t want to, they want to watch me play video games. And when I don’t have time to do that: “Daddy, can I watch you play World Of Warcraft? Daddy, can I watch you play Old Republic?” And I’m like, “Okay. I guess so. It’s an excuse to hang out together, okay. I’ll play some video games with you.”

Gameological: That’s amazing to me. Has playing games with your kids become like reading to them? Is it like “Dad, tell me a story?”

Crow: Not at all, because we do that more than we play video games. I read to them every night, at least once a day. My six-year-old has turned into a vigilant reader, so that’s one of the things where, “Someday when you’re older you can play Warcraft, but you really need to know how to read first.” [Laughs.]

Gameological: So games are ultimately an educational lure?

Crow: Like a carrot on a stick.

Gameological: So last time around when you had a Pinback video game, it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to, since you couldn’t play past the second level. So what’s your fantasy version of a Pinback video game?

Crow: Probably just a pinball table.

Gameological: What would be the graphic on a Pinback pinball table?

Crow: I don’t know if it’s possible, but a style in which you can rotate the graphics at some point. Or things change. If you’ve got a good pinball game, you can play it until the end of time. There’s a physical element with an occasional bleeps and blurbs, and a cool thing that makes you laugh, which is kind of like how the band can be. If we’re doing good. A good pinball machine, you’re going to play it more because there’s no beginning or end to it.

Gameological: What’s the best alcoholic beverage and video game combination?

Crow: Gee whiz, I don’t know. I don’t usually like to drink at home. [Laughs.] And if I’m playing video games, I’m at home. I might have a couple of Newcastles or something. But it’s really fun to drink at a bar and play video games. I guess it would have to be a beer, because it’s so portable. You can put it down, pick it back up at any point. It’s more of a tool. [Laughs.] It’s like a hammer of alcohol. You can pick it up, swing it at something, use it, put it back, whereas if you’re having a cocktail, you don’t really have time to play foosball.

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.

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  • Mike Mariano

    Hmmm, I’m a non-drinker.  Are there any gaming experiences I’m missing out on because of that?

    I did read the chapter in Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives that boils down to “I played GTA and did a lot of coke!” but I didn’t get the sense that the combination was anything desirable.

    • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

       The only possible drinking and gaming experience you could be missing out on is drunk multiplayer with friends. That can be a lot of laughs but I would say that’s it.

      • alguien_comenta

        Drunk Smash Brothers is always awesome

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

          Being a teetotaler myself, the only way I could ever beat some of my friends at Smash Bros. is when they got drunk. Same goes for Mario Kart.

        • Alkaron

          My buddy and I enjoyed getting drunk, setting items on “Very High,” and turning off all items except explosives and poison mushrooms. Nothing is funnier when you’re tipsy than hurling a Bob-omb into the face of a poison-mushroomed Jigglypuff at 90%.

        • alguien_comenta

          @Alkaron:disqus Ah yes, items at high is a must while drunk, getting drunk and doing the “competitive Smash” is no fun

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

           @Merve2:disqus : This is weird. I don’t drink either (no judgment or anything, I’m just kind of a control freak and the idea of being drunk consequently freaks me out). I almost never encounter people who don’t. I wonder if this site has a higher incidence of that in its readership, or if this interview just made it a salient point of conversation and pulled the teetotalers out of the woodwork.

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

          @bakana42:disqus: I’m pretty open about being a non-drinker, being religious, etc. I don’t know if those types of life choices are more popular amongst gamers or this site’s readership in particular. But what I do know is this: less money spent on beer = more money spent on video games.

        • Asinus

          I just sort of stopped drinking a couple years ago when I realized that I don’t like how it feels, how it ruins the next day, and really don’t like the taste of most alcohol. It’s not a code I live by or anything and will occasionally have wine or a beer (but maybe twice this year). THe other night I do go out and have some horrendously strong drinks, but cut myself off before anything much happened (it makes my pulse race for some reason, and I don’t like that unless I’m specifically looking for something “speedy”). It was mostly a reminder about why I don’t drink. 

          And, again, it’s not because of anything other than that I don’t like it. I don’t eat okra, either. 

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        My friends did Mortal Kombat shots recentlyish, but i wasn’t present so I can’t tell you the rules. I also don’t like MK, so i’m hoping whatever rules they have can transfer to other fighters. I’m partial to Mario Kart Drunk Driving (MK:DD, like double dash, get it??). It’s pretty simple; you must finish your drink before the end of the race, and you must set your controller down while you drink.

      • Effigy_Power

        Back in college we used to smoke weed and play Wipeout, which was ridiculous, since the weed really slowed you down and the game demanded lightning fast action. Didn’t lay down any record times, I tell you.
        Drinking and gaming don’t work too well for me, I just sort of stop caring about what’s happening.

        PS: I do not recommend Wipeout and ‘shrooms. It’s… stressful.

        • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

           Wipeout and shrooms sounds kinda amazing to me actually… or audiosurf, that would be an experience to say the least.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Wipeout on ‘shrooms?  That gives me anxiety just thinking about it.  I was never able to play games on hallucinogenics, but if I were, it would have to be Wet/Dry World or Jolly Roger Bay from Mario 64.  Maybe not Jolly Roger Bay, that giant eel creeps me out sober.

          Edit: Oooh, or Skullmonkeys. The most awesome game to be made by an awful person.

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

           @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus : I remember being intrigued by that game, but never played it. Is it really better than the other platformers by that same awful person?

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @bakana42:disqus 
             In all honesty, probably not.  The art style and music remain impeccable.  The game from beginning to end is a triumph of visual and audio design.  Especially the fully animated cutscenes that really took advantage of that emergent disc format.  
             But I’m willing to bet that the game play is completely bog standard platformer.  A little difficult and rote as these things were.
             And of course, playing it now would be retroactively tainted by TenNapel’s lousy worldview.
             I know it ruined Gear for me. 

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

           @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus  : Sorry, I don’t get notified of comments that “at” me anymore, only comments that reply (I don’t know why), so I didn’t see that message until I happened upon it now. Thanks for the extra info on Skullmonkeys!

          Tennapel not only has a lousy worldview, he’s also kind of a jerk as a person. He briefly joined an art/illustration board I was a member of back in the 00s, and was very arrogant and kind of mean.

          He posted a crudely drawn, poorly argued anti-abortion cartoon and when people criticized it from an aesthetic, logical, and (for people who strongly disagreed with the sentiment) political perspective, his responses were mostly thin-skinned namecalling, ultimately devolving into him basically bragging/asserting that he was a big, fancy celebrity, and didn’t have to listen to the critiques of lame amateurs on the forum (never mind that this was a forum that was well known for its rigorous critiques, and which was populated by a number of professional artists including “celeb” folks like Bryan Lee O’Malley and Adi Granov whose stars were rising at the time and whose notoriety probably handily eclipses Tennapel’s now).

          I honestly can’t enjoy any of that guy’s work because of what a dick he is (it doesn’t help that some of his stuff, like Creature Tech, is just abominably awful, in any case…).

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        One weekend my brother once made pot muffins without telling me. I woke up, popped one in my craw and turned on Fallout 3. I kept getting my ass killed over and over and I wondered if I’d changed the difficulty settings. Then I realized, “Wait a minute, I’m high!”

        • caspiancomic

           This reminds me of my only experience with drugs. I accidentally ate one of my housemate’s weed brownies and sat down to watch TV with my pals. Superman 2 was on, and I cackled like a maniac through the whole thing. When I woke up the next morning, I had eaten all my granola bars. I was actually pretty annoyed.

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

           @caspiancomic:disqus : They should do after-school specials with stories like that. Not hyperbolic tales of people jumping out of windows on shrooms, thinking they can fly, but mundane stories that are just like “Man, I did pot, and then I ate all of my fucking granola bars! How irritating!” “Kids: Don’t do drugs. It’s annoying as hell!”

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/7434UGH3EEMU2AUKTGMU3NLDZA JoshJ

         I can game high (in fact, I kinda have to… a bit too type A to play videogames sober) but not drunk. AT ALL.

        • http://profiles.google.com/regicidered scott mortenson

          I’m terrible at games when drunk, my hand eye coordination is shot to hell and I get angry every time I die. However, I sometimes play better when I’m high, because I get so into the game.

    • Captain Internet

      Getting drunk and turning up to Mario Party is a lot like getting drunk and turning up to a real party- the music is dreadful, the women are all taken, no one has anything interesting to say, people throw bananas at you, etc etc

      • Cornell_University

        story of my life, man.

        /turns down stereo
        /gets hit with barrel

      • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

        Ha, this comment made me sorry we’ve already put together this week’s Comment Cat.

        • Captain Internet

          Comment cat keeps some odd hours. I’ll do my best to over-extend an analogy next week .

    • Mike Ferraro

      There’s virtual drunk driving.  Get drunk, hit the arcade, play driving games, discover you shouldn’t pilot a motor vehicle in that state.

      Or like me, you play Silent Scope and run the whole game on one credit and then expect the FBI to arrive like the Rylans in Last Starfighter.

    • Cornell_University

      I’ve made the mistake of being drunk and playing Soul Caliber… SPOILER ALERT it involves a lot of swearing and staring at the controller, assured it is the one that has betrayed you.

      I used to do coke in my early twenties (just say no kids!) and I seem to remember my then-girlfriend and I being obsessed with Tetris while we were on it, which is probably the most exciting thing that happened to either of us the entire time.  we sure as hell weren’t going to try to attempt to have sex with each other, that’s for damn sure.

      • Effigy_Power

        People who have never done drugs seem to have a completely wrong idea what it is like to have sex while affected by them. Even without the fears of boner-killing drug-side-effects, anything remotely as complex and laborious as sex is a bust when high, in my book anyways.

        • Cornell_University

          I can’t speak for stuff like ecstacy, which has a reputation as a boning drug, as I stayed away from it and am now str8 Roger Murtaugh but I doubt it’s all people say it’s cracked up to be.  Cocaine will give a man instant noodle-dick, even if the spirit is willing, and it probably won’t be on account of the need to discuss the production on Black Sabbath Vol. 4 loudly and erratically for 30 minutes or something.  and I can speak from experience, LADIES.

        • Effigy_Power

          I’ve never graduated beyond Peyote, she said, as if that was anything to be proud of.
          I can tell you that having sex on Peyote is a bit like getting a rectal exam on a tilter-whirl. Everything spins, everything wobbles and contracts and expands and of course everything has traces, so instead of looking into the lust-filled face of the person you love (or just plow with abandon), you get this vision of 300 faces as if you’re fucking a flip book.
          Peyote also induced me with quite some vertigo for a good 8 hours and the accompanying nausea is nothing great during coitus. I think the gracious ending was one of us faking a very amateurish orgasm and then sitting back down in the sand and looking at our hands and eyelashes for half a day.
          It’s an insane drug and if the native Americans would have coated the Thanksgiving Feast with it, those Puritans would have turned into hippies at a moment’s notice.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/7434UGH3EEMU2AUKTGMU3NLDZA JoshJ

           Sex on drugs is overrated. Whoever told you they had awesome sex on X is a dirty, dirty, liar, and probably a woman.

      • jessec829

        I must admit I’ve never been as good at Tetris as when I got high on a regular occasion. I also once watched a roommate play Occarina of Time while tripping, and I still can’t decide if the wild things I saw were real (I hadn’t watched him play since before Link grew up). Did grown-up Link have the ability to bounce around on invisible platforms that lit up like Q-Bert?

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       GTA (or any sandbox game for that matter) + weed = driving around the city for like two hours.

      • Effigy_Power

        At 12 mph.

  • Maudib

    Hopefully I will be playing Planescape: Torment.  After three clean installs and mucking around with the resolution, I think I have it at a size where I can actually see what’s in my inventory AND read the text without screen glitching. makes me wish I played this when I still had a Windows XP computer.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      There’s a high resolution mod out there for it and the Baldur’s Gate games, they look a lot nicer on modern screens.

      http://www.gibberlings3.net/widescreen/ 

      • Maudib

         That’s the mod I had to muck with.  I learned about the widescreen mod for Baldur’s Gate series, and made sure I went to this page (http://thunderpeel2001.blogspot.com/2009/01/planescape-torment-fully-modded.html) when installing to get what I needed installed from the very beginning.

        My widescreen monitor does not like blowing up the smaller widescreen resolutions, it just makes everything smaller with black bars around all four sides, and at 1920×1080 everything is really fucking tiny.  Hard to read the text even at 120% blown up resolution.  I couldn’t change the resolution by running the mod setup with the other mods installed, so it was easier to just reinstall from scratch.  I found out keeping it at the square resolution would get the game to blow up, so I will be playing at 1024×768.  I got black bars on the side, but I will happily accept that minor flaw.

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

    Ah, Pinback. I’ve been meaning to get into these guys. I’ve heard good things about them.

    This weekend, I’m looking to finish up Spec Ops: The Line. After that, I leave it up to you, dear fellow Gameological readers. Should I:
    a) continue Alpha Protocol?
    b) start Jade Empire?
    c) continue Saints Row: The Third?
    d) play some Mass Effect 3 multiplayer?
    e) check out Spec Ops: The Line’s multiplayer?
    f) read a book?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Start Jade Empire and tell me how it is.  I had it for the original dude-brick Xbox back when, but just grabbed it this week on Steam sale.  I recall it was beautiful and moody, but not much about the actual game play.
         Also, read a book and tell me how that is.  I hear it’s an established medium with a rich history and an unparalleled capacity to distill the entire gamut of the human experience into an affecting narrative, but I’ll be fucked if I can be bothered.

      • Fluka

        I vote Jade Empire too, also because I want to know if it’s worth getting at some point in the Indefinite Future.

        Books are super-neat and stuff!  

        • SisterMaryFrancis

          Play/buy/rent Jade Empire. I might be in the minority (I’m honestly not sure) but I think Jade Empire was the best RPG brought out by Bioware. The flow of the combat is excellent and easy to get into (important for a kung-fu game), the environments and mythology are great, the story is very well done, the majority of the characters are well developed, and it doesn’t get sluggish or boring.

          So I vote for the book.

        • George_Liquor

          You should play Jade Empire. You should play it if you like things that are very, very good. The combat’s admittedly a little simplistic… a sort of martial arts rock-paper-scissors. But damn, it’s a great ride!

        • dreadguacamole

            Oh, what the hell, I’ll throw in with the Jade Empire crowd. I didn’t love it, but it’s pretty good fun. The dodgy characters and stiff, bioware-y storytelling are probably the biggest things against it.

           I loved Alpha Protocol, but I fully admit to being an apologist to it rather than a defender (yes, it looks terrible, yes, a lot of its writing is terrible, yes, a lot of the gameplay design is terrible… and yet…)
           I’d still recommend sticking to it, especially if you’re not very far in. When you realize just how reactive the game is to your actions, it’s kind of breathtaking; one of the very few times I’ve seen quantity win out over quality on a game’s writing. Also, when its humor works, it works extremely well.

        • Effigy_Power

          I am just going to attach myself to the crowd of well-wishers and say that Jade Empire is lumpin’ amazing. The world feels novel and unusual and the plot is something bordering on brilliant.

        • doyourealize

          Wish I had something different to tell you @Merve2:disqus ,But Jade Empire gets my vote. And also read a book. I’d recommend something if I had any idea what you’re into.

        • duwease

          Putting Jade Empire on my list.. the recommendations in this forum have been pretty solid so far.

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

          @doyourealize:disqus: I’m reading Tracie McMillan’s The American Way of Eating right now. It’s a pretty eye-opening look at how food is produced, distributed, and sold in the States.

    • Colonel

      I tried Mass Effect 3′s MP on my free month of Xbox Live Gold (fuckin’ Micro$oft) and I was crazy addicted to it…for about two days.  Then I realized no matter how much  I loved being a Salarian engineer, quietly topping the scoreboard on Geth missions, this wasn’t really going to change any time soon.  It just doesn’t have the lasting power that other multiplayer games, like TF2, have.

      This has been my incredibly late opinion.

      • alguien_comenta

        I enjoy ME’s multiplayer but the folks there are just so quiet, it’s disturbing.

        • Effigy_Power

          That must be the first time I’ve heard anyone say that people in multiplayer games are too silent, lol.
          XBL-abuse has turned us into scorn-junkies.

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

          I’ve sunk 5 or 6 hours into it. The only words I have ever heard come out of another player’s mic are “thank you” or “thanks, man.” Then again, PC gaming doesn’t have the same reputation for mindless hatred as XBox Live.

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          I guess in co-op people don’t find it as satisfying to call the enemy NPCs ‘bitches’ after ’pwning’ them, so they just leave their mics off. Enjoy the quiet @alguien_comenta:disqus , ME3 MP has no mute function (at least on PS3). When I’m stuck in a game with kids squealing through a voice changer in spanish, disturbing quiet is what I find when I go to my happy place.

        • alguien_comenta

          @Merve2:disqus That has also been my experience on XBL, just some thanks while reviving. I’ve noticed that most are either uted or they are in “party” mode with their friends, so you can’t hear what they say. I used to get groups that talked at the beginning, not really talking strategy though, more about ME’s lore, which was ok. Last time I got a talkative group they were drunk, but given that I was drunk as well (was returning from a brewery) I didn’t mind, in fact I got one of my highest scores that night: about 80k with a Salarian Engineer on Silver. I don’t have the equipment nor the abilities for gold.
          In fact ME’s multiplayer is my first experience on shooter multiplayer. I usually just played FIFA or SF and in those I just muted (if I inadvertently said something in Spanish the rest of the match/round was just a flurry of slurs, specially if I was winning)

    • lokimotive

      I’d be curious to know your thoughts on Spec Ops: The Line, especially after finishing it. Honestly it’s probably the first cover based shooter I’ve really tried and I found the gameplay to be alternately frustrating and satisfying. The much balehooed story was genuinely okay. To me, the really interesting thing is the tone of the game which has such a fantastical otherworldly horror feel to it. Unfortunately all of its strengths are somewhat inconsistent.

      A little detail that I really enjoy is how desperate your shouts to your teammate/s becomes as the game goes on. You start out with the very professional “reloading!” but end with this great “FUCK!”

      • Effigy_Power

        We talked about the game in the Steam chatroom last night, Merve and I, I believe, and I think for myself I came to the conclusion that the game decidedly played like yet another CoD clone and that the horror and violence was so far in left field that it became utterly unrelatable to me.
        I found the message of the game torpedoed by the game itself, but I guess in some way that was the point.
        Merve however seemed to enjoy it with a feeling of “I shouldn’t enjoy this”, which is probably the intended emotion, so don’t take my word on it.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

       I’ll be playing Legend of Grimrock, which is to say I’m going to spend valuable work time tomorrow drawing my characters to upload into the game.
       Due to my own compunction to conform to the spirit of the game world I’m playing, I’ll be making characters fairly in line with the established roles, i.e. human fighter, insectoid mage, etc. but I just love the utter freedom allowed by the simple ability to upload your own avatar.  It’s really the small things that can make pc gaming a pleasure.
       Baldur’s Gate was my first experience with a game that allowed player-made avatars, but at the time I had absolutely zero experience with digital illustration or web standards.  I scanned in a sketch I had done of my ranger, uncropped -likely 300 dpi- and I simply couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t load and auto-format in the game.
       As for the game itself, I’ve played very little, but am surprised how strongly it reignited the dry tinder of my memories for the SNES ‘Eye of the Beholder’, ‘Lands of Lore’ and all those other classic fantasy dungeon crawls.  The kind of game where you disproportionately lose your shit in excitement over finding a dagger, because it’s an actual weapon and your fighter has been fending off goblins with a petrified Owlbear phallus for the last two dungeon levels.

    • doyourealize

      This is a game I’ve had my mouse cursor over the “Buy” button quite a few times, especially during the Steam sale for $5.99. If it was $4.99, I probably would have bought it. Not that six bucks is too much money or anything, but under five must be my magic number.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        I’m very familiar with that imaginary and completely arbitrary pricing system. When grocery shopping, I’m loathe to spend more than $4 dollars on a single item.     But it is so random.  There were a few really good games on Steam that I passed on during the sale due to being the ridiculous price of $10 to $12 dollars.  Y’know, an involved and lovingly assembled 10-40 hour experience going for the price of a bottle of wine my wife and I would drink in a night.

  • Fluka

    Stuck at a neverending work meeting far from home, so besides messing around with the challenge games on the copy of Portal installed on this laptop, nooothiiiing.  Actually, I was thrilled to see the Sawbuck Gamer article yesterday (“Aw yiss, free games to play in my hotel room!”), but then I discovered that the internet connection was too poor to run any of them.  I *could* play something during the conference talks themselves using the university’s internet, but then all the senior people would see that I’m not working/listening.  (Note: this did not stop me back when I was a grad student.)  

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

      It’s times like those when you need Chip’s Challenge most of all.  Microsoft would include a touch version with Windows 8 if they cared about their customers.

      • Damn_Skippy

        Holy crap, I haven’t thought about Chip’s Challenge in 15 years. I remember it from my family’s first Windows PC, good old Win 3.1 and DOS 6. I’m gonna have to track that down.

      • Fluka

        Wow, I was thinking I’d never heard of Chip’s Challenge, but then I googled it and saw an image and I got this massive memory shockwave.  Now excuse me while I go looking on the internet for a browser version of Conway’s Game of Life too…

        • Fluka

          *Googles Conway’s Game of Life*

          GOOGLE. YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARDS YOU.

        • Aaron Riccio

          No idea what this game is, but it made me think of that Chip n’ Dale NES game where picked up acorns and threw them at things. Ah, memories.

        • SamPlays

          Same here. Wow, that was a completely forgotten memory but I remember playing this back when home computers were still relatively new to the mass market. Thanks for this!:) I’m now having flashbacks to Jezzball, Teipei, Rattler Race and Ski Free. Good ol’ Windows Entertainment Pack on the good ol’ x86 processor (thanks Wikipedia!). Back in ’96-’97, playing these games and watching a tiny thumbnail video was considered state of the art. 

          I bought Uncharted 3 yesterday for $20 at Costco. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about it but I feel compelled to play it because I enjoyed the first two games a lot. I also played a demo for Killzone 3 and it reminded me how intense the shooting can get in that series – the sound of the guns reminds me of Michael Mann’s movies.

        • SamPlays

          @google-19efbd0104cbaffa5782aef5b7104019:disqus Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers was an awesome game for the NES. Probably one of the better, more challenging Disney titles at that time. I’m remembering other Disney titles that were awesome on Genesis, like Aladdin, Mickey Mania and The Lion King. I seem to remember The Jungle Book being a good game but I’m not 100% on that memory. I do recall that Tale Spin was terrible, even though I played it many times over. The animation in those titles was top-notch. Speaking of animation, I’d love to see a PSN release of Flashback. I’ve noticed that Out of This World has gotten some recent attention but I always preferred Flashback for whatever reason. Probably because I sucked at Out of This World. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          @SamPlays:disqus I played damn near every Disney Afternoon game up until the SNES/Genesis era.

          DuckTales (NES) is the supreme best. There’s apparently a DuckTales 2.

          Darkwing Duck (NES) is a MegaMan clone, but it’s still a damn fine platformer. A bit hard, it takes a few playthroughs.

          Chip N’ Dale (NES) is fun and great, but simplistic. But the level design is really cool.

          TaleSpin (NES) is a on-rails flight shooter. Fuck that game, it’s hard and stupid. Beat it once, though.

          TaleSpin (Sega) is even worse. Broken, silly, non-nonsensical. Water from a fountain kills you. Avoid at all costs.

          Both Aladdins (Sega/SNES) are fucking great. I want to do the Sega one again; I beat the SNES one too many times to count.

          Lion King (SNES/Sega) gets a lot of shit for being too hard; I don’t remember it being that hard, but that was a long time ago. Beat it many times.

          Mickey games vary. Mickey Mania was hard, but the Mickey games where you can change outfits is easy. The illusion games are a mixed bag.

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

          @SamPlays:disqus  Capcom’s Disney games for the NES were all pretty fantastic (even as a boy who would have been embarassed to be caught doing so, I rented The Little Mermaid game multiple times).

          Chip & Dale was great, and will always be memorable for me as it’s the first video game I ever beat. And that was the moment I realized beating a game was truly possible, and I underwent a sort of paradigm shift where I didn’t just play games to kill time, but to have a complete beginning-middle-end experience.

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

    Anyone who identifies with a pinball table is fine by me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKSfHbs6SB8

    If you liked Chunsoft’s Extreme Escape series (999, 0 Escape), think of how it would look if Grasshopper, Atlus, or, yes, Spike did it.  That’s Danganronpa/Bullet Disputation.  2: Farewell, Despair Academy is just a fun as the last, with an Paranoia Agent-like bear that aims to be iconic.  The series’ soundtracks http://vgmdb.net/album/34314 are by the composer of Grasshopper, too.

    Since I’m on that graphic adventure kick, here’s the most fascinating thing I read this week on games: http://emshort.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/varytale-analytics  Everything is neat there: metrics on video games, casual audiences, an interactive fiction great doing something accessible, and, frankly, the idea of a spelling bee interactive fiction game.  That’s a great pull for an interview or a Sawbuck Gamer.

    • Aaron Riccio

      I’ll post this here, because it’s you, but this weekend I’ll be playing Growlanser Generations IV or whatever the most recent US import to PSP is being called. 

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

        Aw, nice.  I’m glad you’re rewarding their effort.  That’s actually one series I’m hazy on, but I imagined it as Suikoden-as-tactical-role-playing-game (er, like Rhapsodia).  Is that about right?

        • Aaron Riccio

          Closer to Arc the Lad than Suikoden, in my opinion.

  • Sandwichands

    Just installed Final Fantasy 7, done all the graphics modding (but I retained the original blocky characters because I want the true nostalgic feel). Tell you what I wont be doing this time around – building expectations or caring for a certain player THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

    • SisterMaryFrancis

      I too was tricked by Cait Sith.

      • Sandwichands

        Cant trust these hussies you meet running game at a casino, can you?

    • doyourealize

      Before it was released, I saw a trailer at a movie theater for FF7. It spoiled that moment, and I wasn’t too happy about it. I made sure to get extra attached to her.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        A movie played a trailer for FF7?  And they showed that part?

        • doyourealize

          Spoilers here, but you’re probably not reading if you haven’t played FF7.

          Yeah, they showed Cloud dropping her into the water while the words, “Friendships lost” (or something like that) floated on the screen. I’m still bitter about it.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @doyourealize:disqus 
             Of course, to be fair, even when sploilers Aeris did die, I didn’t realize the significance.  Video games to that point had not prepared me for the idea of death being final, so I just figured she’d be back at some point in the game.  By the time I realized she wasn’t returning, the window for emotional impact had kinda’ closed.

        • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

          I had the exact same experience, Spacemonkey. I just figured she was going to come back any time now, or that I had done something wrong (a la Shadow in FF6). I don’t know that I would have been too broken up over it in any case, though. While I have always loved Final Fantasy, it’s not because of the characterization. I don’t know that I ever got too attached to anyone.

        • Effigy_Power

          Wakka. But that’s probably only due to John DiMaggio’s voice-over… I can not not get attached to characters he voices.

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

          @JohnTeti:disqus : I had the same reaction to Aeris’ death. Years of X-men comics had left me cynical. 
          I think the only Final Fantasy character that I ever felt attached to was Kain from FF4. His awkward, brooding nature really struck a chord with me.

          I loved FF6, but all the characters are kept at arm’s length. They keep their thoughts and their pasts a secret from the player. 

  • SisterMaryFrancis

    Besides yelling and screaming at FIFA, that demo for the new Transformers game is pretty addictive. Probably some of that with Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer mixed in. Maybe some Gears as well.

  • http://twitter.com/sarCCastro SarChris Castro

    I’ll be playing that All-Pro Football 2K8 with that NFL 2K13 roster file. It’s not quite ESPN NFL 2K13 but it’s probably as close as we’re ever gonna get.

    • boardgameguy

      My buddy and I played through 2014 on Franchise Mode in  ESPN 2K8 before the file corrupted.  I still have a copy of the game even though I no longer have a PS2

  • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

    The only games that I can with some level of certainty this weekend are Rocksmith, Borderlands and Burrito Bison Revenge.

    I can’t believe how much I love the Burrito Bison series. I can’t get enough of it.

    • http://catflesh.tumblr.com/ Matt Kodner

      those damn burrito bison games have eaten so much of my time

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I just started Borderlands and can’t decide yet if I like it. Right now the RPG/FPS blend is not being kind, and I’m at a point where I have to do a lot of grunt work before I can finish off a boss. It’s not the funnest time, though I really like the aesthetic and can at least mildly enjoy the writing.

      • dreadguacamole

         It’s a terrible game, IMO, but it becomes pretty ok if you can play it with friends.
         (see also: Dead Island)

        • blue vodka lemonade

           This is where things take a turn for the tragic.

        • dreadguacamole

           @green_gin_rickey:disqus D’oh!

        • Raging Bear

          Is Dead Island ok with friends? That was my rental last weekend. It seemed like a game I would love intensely if only every single mechanic wasn’t appallingly badly implemented.

        • dreadguacamole

          @Raging_Bear:disqus It’s ok with friends, mostly because you can make fun of it while playing it. We tried to re-enact the “don’t stop me now” scene from Shaun of the dead with lone zombies, but they kept dying too easily. Wimpy Zombies.

      • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

         I love it myself, I played the hell out of it on my xbox, and then last week when they had it for free on steam I downloaded it just to see the difference on PC and wound up buying it thanks to it’s being cheap.

         Which character did you pick to play as?

        • blue vodka lemonade

           I picked the Siren, because I like playing female and I like played psychic. I keep forgetting to use my powers, and when I do I tend to forget how to use them entirely. And I’m stuck on Nine-Toes right at the beginning, though I can’t tell whether it’s a matter of needing better gear or needing to be better at FPS games in general.

        • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

           @green_gin_rickey:disqus Nine-Toes can be a bit of a pain in the ass. I would recommend a strategy of quickly putting as many bullets into his head as possible and then picking off his skags one at a time. If you’ve got a sniper rifle you can get some pretty big damage on him before the skags come out if you’re quick enough to get a few headshots on him.

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          @green_gin_rickey:disqus This is a pretty cheap tactic but you could do what I did. Early on in the game after a couple of missions I took my character online and dropped into other people’s games, preferably games being hosted by high levels farming Crimson Fastness or Crimson Enclave. Your character is awarded all the XP they earn and you level up very quickly and can get access to some decent weapons (I imagine leeching like this is likely frowned upon, but whatever). Doing that makes the first half of the game a lot more bearable. 

  • Colonel

    Last weekend I finally started to get into Fallout New Vegas and, holy shit, why did I sit on this game for so long?  This is kind of everything I wished Skyrim was (although I was spoiled by that game’s huge world).  I even built up a character arc: 

    I’m a nerdy, explosive-happy woman who spent her formative years around her dad’s repair shop that had to learn to survive in the harsh desert with her trusty robot pal.

    I have the Ultimate Edition so I’ve been doing the DLC every now and then and they’ve been kind of a mixed bag so far.  I liked Dead Money’s story and characters but being stripped of everything and fighting in that shitty villa made me put down the game for a day or two.  Honest Hearts had a beautiful setting but the plot just ended with a shrug.  I just started Old World Blues and I’m thinking this might be my favorite so far.  I mean, it has Dr. Venture!  Rusty!  Science!

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I’m playing through New Vegas again and it is just so good. My guy is basically Gordon Freeman 2.0, though I did cheat by giving him some points into speech. other than that I’m all about science and melee. My next character is going to be Walter White, I decided just now.

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        If I eventually start a new game of NV it’ll be playing as Skyler White who will try and nag enemies to death. Black widow perk will be a must.

        Either that or Walter Jnr, who will be a normal male character but won’t bother using doctors bags after walking over land mines, will put zero points in Speech, and make sure to have a full breakfast every morning.

    • Effigy_Power

       I also found Old World Blues and Lonesome Road much better than the other two…
      And Honest Hearts? F**k you, Giant Cazadores!

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        Wait, there are Giant Cazadores? I couldn’t even take down the regular ones!

        • Effigy_Power

          Giant… fucking… Cazadores.

          http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Cazador (May contain spoilers)

          Just as fast as the small ones and just terrible… When I encountered the first one, I thought my game had bugged out or something.
          A good two or three shots from the Gauss Rifle or sustained fire from something like a Minigun can take them out, but if they get too close, get ready for that acid sound.

        • ShrikeTheAvatar

          Cazadores are a breeze if you just run behind Boone and let him feel a bit woozy for you.

      • The_Misanthrope

         I didn’t do Honest Hearts until really late in the game so it was super-easy (though tangling with Ghost of She did throw me for a loop).

        Lonesome Road isn’t too bad, but Ulysses…could…stand…to…talk…faster.

        • Effigy_Power

          Granted. The Shatner school of drama is…



          …over rated.

    • stakkalee

      I’m almost done with Dead Money; hopefully I’ll finish it this weekend if I get some time (rassa-frassin’ DB upgrades…)  I walked into that bunker fully kitted out, food, ammo, a nice selection of weapons, than bam!, I’m gassed, and I wake up in some ugly jumpsuit with a crappy rifle and barely any ammo.  I was so glad I made it to the police station and was able to equip an actual pistol.  And those fucking Ghost People!  At least I have a system now – once I get them on the ground I crouch down by their head and wait.  As soon as I see their body jerk I target their head and sneak-attack-critical them into goo.

      Are you guys playing Hardcore mode?

    • ShrikeTheAvatar

      I just started a second playthrough on PC.  

      After playing a Guns/Energy Weapons/Speech character on my 360 playthrough who was a beacon of light, the first thing I did was help the Power Gangers take over Goodsprings by murdering everyone with my new new Melee Lady.

      She’s going to be a sociopath who does everything based on what she gets out of it.

  • FearNWhisky

    I spent over $400 on the Steam sale and now I have no idea what to play. I was making my way through The Witcher but quickly grew tired as the gameplay was boiling down to basically a “walking back and forth” simulator.  Now I’m playing through the Assassin’s Creed series. Slogged through the first one a few days ago, and now I’m about 10 hours into part 2.

    But yeah, I now have enough games to make it through several lifetimes. Sigh.

    • Sandwichands

      Too many games bro! You will always be thinking “Why dont I try one of the others it will surely be better”. Then, like Narcissus, you will be stuck deep at the gaze of your steam game list unable to move, paralysed by indecision.

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

        Oh man, I know the feeling of staring at my Steam library and thinking, ‘Shit, there are a lot of games that I could be playing.’

        • doyourealize

          I do this. I stare at my pile of games, wonder which one I should finally start, and then decide to go see what’s happening on Gameological.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I take it this was your first steam sale? That’s pretty rough. I managed to only spend $10. Though I’ve been through several now. 

      • blue vodka lemonade

         I was inoculated during the Halloween sale last year, so I made it through with about $40 in damages. Even at that level I feel kind of overwhelmed by the number of new games in my library. I can’t imagine having ten times that many more.

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

        You’re a far stronger person than most of us.

      • Aaron Riccio

        Yes, I spent a lot during this Steam sale. However, it’s only because I knew there’d be a sale, so this represents the absolute deal-making skills for getting all the games I *haven’t* bought since Christmas (and/or Indie Bundles). 

    • Effigy_Power

      Phew, I thought my $120 was excessive. Well, you should have a nice big catalog now, though I always found that makes figuring out what to play next that much harder.
      I recommend: AC2, Hitman: Bloodmoney, Deus Ex:HR for the action pack and Fallout:NV, Skyrim, Jade Empire for the adventure pack.
      At $400, I assume you have all of those. ^_^

  • Enkidum

    Frisbee. Maybe some chess. Other small board/card games. Camping for almost two weeks with the family. I’ll come back exhausted and tired of children, but it’ll be worth it.

    • doyourealize

      A board game called Eminent Domain was mentioned in a Eurogamer article I read recently. Apparently, it’s some kind of sensation, but I’d never heard of it before. I’m definitely intrigued, but if you, or anyone here, has played it and has more information, it’d be greatly appreciated.

      • Alkaron

        I’ve played it, and I really like it! It’s kind of a hybrid of Dominion, Puerto Rico, and Race for the Galaxy: the deckbuilding mechanics of Dominion, the space theme from RFTG, and the “choose a role” mechanic from Puerto Rico and RFTG . In fact, I think it does the “choose a role” gameplay better than the latter two games, simply because you still get to draw a card if you don’t have the ability to take part in whatever role another player chooses.

        • boardgameguy

          I like Eminent Domain, especially since the Technologies give you ways to specialize.  I’m horrible at it, however, because I’m so poor at culling my deck.

        • TreeRol

          That sounds amazing. I haven’t been able to get into RFTG, but I’ve played it only 3 times on non-consecutive occasions so I haven’t gotten the hang of the rules. But I know it comes highly recommended, and of course Dominion and Puerto Rico are excellent.

  • alguien_comenta

    Well I’m way back on my AC, so I need to finish Brotherhood, then Revelations. 3 looks so good, but given my pace I don’t think I’ll buy it when it comes out.
    Maybe some ME multiplayer and I was also thinking of buying Ravenmark for my iPad, is it really good? I’m a fan of the AW and FE series, so I wanted something similar

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    I’m assuming they named their band Pinback after the character in Dark Star. I would have named my Dark Star themed band “Cartesian Doubt“.

    This weekend I’ll be continuing with my Civilisation V game started last week, which has made me face a dark and disturbing part of my psyche. I intended for my nation to be an advanced culture, developing high technology and therefore being peaceful by nature. However my neighbour Alexander started giving me shit for no reason which pissed me right off and before I knew it I had conquered the entire continent. My people went from being well fed and happy to starving and miserable. I am somehow the DPRK and my god is it satisfying. Next I intend to betray my new allies France and wipe them off the face of the randomly generated Earth.

    Also this weekend I intend to set up the controller I bought to play Binding of Isaac on my computer, as advised by @Girard:disqus . The controller cost 10 times more than the game did and I anticipate hours of frustration to make the thing work.

    What else. Oh yeah, NOT Yakuza 3. I gave it another chance against my better judgement. This game makes you ask deep questions about your life. For example, it made me take a good hard look at myself and wonder why I am wasting my precious time with a game (that’s supposed to be about the god damn japanese mafia mind you) that is making me run around town looking for dog food to help one of the orphans in my care bond with a stray dog. Seriously, what the fuck IS this shit?

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

       Even if BoI still isn’t your cup of tea, think of all the ‘bonus content’ you’ve just unlocked in Super Meat Boy, in the form of levels you now can actually play/beat now that you’re not shackled to awful keyboard controls!

      • Aaron Riccio

        Ding ding ding ding ding! Yeah, I was so happy once I finally broke down and used a controller. Worlds of difference made.

    • Effigy_Power

      Nice catch on that “Dark Star” reference, if that’s what it is. I knew it sounded familiar. For some reason I was thinking “Silent Running”… Got me SF mixed up, yarrr.

      Also, your Earf sounds like a place that isn’t welcoming.

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        I went through a John Carpenter phase back in the late 90s and watched a worn out VHS copy of Dark Star way too many times.

        • Effigy_Power

          Anyone who can turn an inflatable beach ball into a believable monster deserves some watching. I am myself partial to that trilogy… In the Mouth of Madness is the best anyone’s gotten to Lovecraftian insanity so far.

        • dreadguacamole

          @Effigy_Power:disqus I love Mouth of Madness. If they stuck to Lovecraft and didn’t show the monsters, it’d be an all-time-great.

    • http://twitter.com/daleof Dale O’Flaherty

      Yeah, I’ll probably be playing Binding of Isaac as well. I’m super awful at it. I really enjoy the concept of it though so I’ll keep plugging away at it. And until I can get a wired 360 controller I’m using the keyboard.

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

    I’ve recently rediscovered the joys of emulation. I just beat Earthbound, and I’ll be starting on Seiken Densetsu 3.

    • http://twitter.com/tomjonjon Tom (Crass Version)

      What did you think of Earthbound? Its one of my favorites and I just started a new game last weekend. The ending is very touching.

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

        It made me h…a…p…p…y…

  • blue vodka lemonade

    I’m in the middle of Dragon Age: Origins, muddling about the first day of Pathologic, unintentionally avoiding playing The Secret World (honest, cabalmates, I’m not dead and I haven’t quit,) stuck on the first boss in Borderlands, and angry at Fallout 3 for crashing right as I left the damned vault for the first damned time, before I’d thought to save even once.

    Pathologic is such a weird, messy, brown game that I have a hard time forming coherent opinions on it. I feel like with a capable translation, the ability to run, and widescreen capability, it would be improved by a factor of ten. It is certainly not like anything else I’ve played, and I’ve sampled a pretty broad swath of games.

    • http://twitter.com/MasterPrudent Glen H

      You might have seen this already but if you’re playing Fallout 3 on a computer with a multi-core CPU this will make it a lot less frustrating: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1328904

      (Also you probably have an autosave that’s a fair way in – post character creation anyhow.)

      • blue vodka lemonade

         Thanks for the tip there.

        I do have an autosave, but knowing that the next time I start up the game I have to play through ~1 hour of “old’ content just makes me that much less likely to jump back in soon. I’d been all psyched up to play, and then…

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          Losing hours of progress due to crashing is all part of the Bethesda experience. Their games do this to all players early on to teach you The Fundamental Bethesda Lesson: save often.

          You’re lucky you only lost an hour…I read some real horror stories when New Vegas launched. But it’s all worth it when you see awesome shit like this:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToKIkw3LIoQ

        • SamPlays

          @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus That YouTube clip is nothing short of awesome. At first I wasn’t sure of it was a glitch or a very trippy perspective, as if your character was drugged. It would certainly make for a strange experience if you played while intoxicated. I never had too much trouble with Fallout 3 crashing but it did happen several times (one of those times was devastating and I learned my lesson after that).

    • doyourealize

      Did you buy Pathologic based on one of these commenters recommendations from the other day? I looked it up, too, but haven’t bought it…yet.

      • blue vodka lemonade

        I’d had it sitting in my Amazon cart for a while, and then yesterday I managed to happen across mentions of it in three different places. I took that as a mission from God and bought the damn thing.

        It’s certainly a weird enough game. The translation quality vacillates between “comprehensible” to “abysmal,” and all points in-between. I’m not bothered by the graphics quality (though it gives me flashbacks to Realms of the Haunting) (I’m not even old enough to have those flashbacks) but not being able to have those graphics fill the screen is pretty irritating.

        I spent $10 on it, and I think any more would be too much. If you can find it for a little less, I’d say go right for it, or if $10 is the standard then think about just how much slowwwww walking, bizarre dialogue, and brown-ness you can tolerate in a game.

    • Alkaron

      Way to go on giving Pathologic a shot. Part of the point of playing it is letting its difficulty and oddness shape you, so I won’t offer any specific pointers. By way of encouragement, though, I’ll say this: Don’t worry if you have a lot of trouble understanding the game in the early going. Just keep plugging away at your various tasks, and in time you will find your way. Which character did you choose, Bachelor or Haruspex?

      • blue vodka lemonade

        Bachelor. The Haruspex creeped me out a little much, and I figure IRL I’m more inclined towards science than shamanism.

        I like the setting and how the setting is a big part of what’s going on so far, if that makes sense. Just sort of (spoiler?) coming across a woman being burned alive, then talking to the people present, is certainly one way to learn about a place.

        I’m only at around noon on the first day, so I’ve seen very little, and mostly so far I’ve been trudging back-and-forth between houses talking to people. My main wishes (besides the ability to run) are for the map to be a little more detailed and the inventory a little easier to parse. Some of the item icons don’t make sense (I forget what it is, but one item shows up as a bottle and I don’t think it’s supposed to) and the shop/barter interface is a little obtuse.

        The general vibe is good (bad) so I’m probably going to stick with it, though most likely I won’t be engaging in any caffeine-fueled eight-hour binges like I’ve been doing with more “fun” recent acquisitions. Someone somewhere compared it to Deadly Premonition, which is a thing I enjoyed ( and haven’t actually finished yet) but of which I could never take more than a couple hours at once.

        • Alkaron

          Yeah, my biggest problem when first starting out was figuring out the trade interface. There’s literally nothing in the instruction manual or in-game that clues you in as to how it works. At least you have the advantage of starting out as the Bachelor—I played the Haruspex, which meant on the first day I had practically no money and the shopkeepers hated me too much to sell me any food.

          And yeah, the game doesn’t really invite binge-playing. Being a masochist, I would always play one game-day at a time, regardless of how long that day took me, and it was pretty rough. Spending six hours at a time in that little town really does something to your head. I was literally having stress dreams about the game after some of my longer sessions.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         Also ugh, I just lost about an hour of playtime because I didn’t notice that one of my meters was running low. Cue inexplicable scene of Executor berating me in Russian (or whatever he is doing, in Russian) in the theater.

        Time to amble back across the entire town to talk to what’s-her-face again!

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

      Ooh! You’ve taken the plunge. I’m honestly scared to try Pathologic, but extremely intrigued by it. Someone a while ago posted a Let’s Play video of it in these comments sections, which I guess I could do if I’m feeling lame. I didn’t enjoy The Void much at all, but Pathologic looks a little more interesting to me.

      • blue vodka lemonade

        I tried The Void very briefly and found it much less accessible than Pathologic, if only for the much-stranger mechanics.

        It’s kind of exhausting, not daunting so much as very, very deliberate. In a kind-of realistic way, going from one end of town to the other takes a bit of time, and not every waste-bin in town has something to scavenge, and sometimes you don’t notice how hungry or sick or tired you are until it’s nearly too late. Everything seems not-designed, like maybe if you just avoided talking to anyone there wouldn’t be a game at all. It’s a little weird to transition to after playing, say, DAO, which constantly reminds you that hey, you’re on a quest, better get on that and save the world or whatever.

        I finished Amnesia: TDD not so long ago, and since both could broadly be classified as first-person/adventure/horror I feel compelled to compare the two, at least a little. Amnesia felt almost like a social event, where it was fun to play with others watching or to watch others play. Pathologic, on the other hand, makes me uncomfortable and anxious when other people are in the room. Fun(?)!

  • dreadguacamole

     Hey, Pinback! Syracuse is pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when I think about 2005.

     I was planning to properly get into the game of The Game of Thrones – it actually looked all right, terrible voice acting and horribly exposition-y dialog aside. And then my projector lamp exploded, which kind of left me console-less.
     I expect I’ll be doing the new Secret World content (new investigation missions! Weee!) but other than that, nothing much planned.

  • Effigy_Power

    I am deep in the middle of Amin Maalouf’s “The Crusades through Arab Eyes” and William O’Connor’s “Dracopedia – The Great Dragons”, so I am feeling artsy this weekend, with time to actually put that into motion.

    I want to play more Torchlight, but the anticipation for Torchlight 2 is making it hard to appreciate this doubtlessly grand game. Sim City 4 has become boring rather quick, I find I do the same thing over and over and as such fail over and over… not one city yet with a positive environmental rating, yikes.
    Haven’t played anything on the 360 in ages, it feels… I am only a few hours into AC:Revelations, but can’t seem to bring myself to pick it up again, which is odd, because I love that series beyond measure. I think it’s the silly semi-Animus Tron-bouncy levels, which I hate, but for completion sake don’t want to skip… ah well.

  • lokimotive

    Right now I’m working my way through Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. One of my purchases during the Steam sale, it was something I was looking forward to as I’ve increasingly enjoyed the series up to this point. Unfortunately, Revelations seems to have retained the essence of Brotherhood, while inexplicably getting rid of all of the touches that I enjoyed about it. Even small things like not being able to tear down posters to get rid of your Templar awareness are annoying. Changes like that are just bizarre as there was really nothing wrong with them being there. Also Constantinople seems far less alive than Rome. I think that’s partly because you’re stuck in this walled city, which seems an incredibly strange design choice from a series that emphasized the exploration of the outlying countryside of its cities, at least in part. It’s certainly a game that seems almost entirely devoted to spinning its wheels. And, because of that, I’ve been mostly tempted to just barrel through the missions to get it over with, which is a distinct change from wanting to revel in its world.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I was debating picking up AC: Revelations during the Steam sale, but didn’t on account of not yet finishing AC: 2.  I’m glad for your post as it provides me confirmation bias for my decision.

  • doyourealize

    I’d like to keep working towards Plat in Dark Souls – a good game to play with a glass of scotch, by the way – but my modded version of Morrowind has been taking up most of my time these days. The Morrowind Overhaul makes the game look fantastic and is easy to install for people (like me) who aren’t too familiar with how to do all that modding stuff. Also plan to keep chugging away at Binding of Isaac.

    • Effigy_Power

      I likely won’t play Morrowind again in any foreseeable time, but wow… that Overhaul. I’ve used HiRes textures before and such, but this is pretty amazing. The spectacular lighting alone is really great. It makes the game look like new, Solstheim especially looks very Skyrim in the video they provide.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r6hilB6Dlc

      I might just download and store that for later.

      • doyourealize

        One of the included mods is the “better bodies” mod, which, besides vastly improving the looks of your character and NPCs, makes you choose one of three settings: full nude (without clothes means without clothes), underwear (like the original), or an unfortunate setting in which women are naked and men wear underwear. I chose full nude because…why not? And it’s pretty funny to run into those naked barbarians on wilderness paths, wangs out. However, the level of detail in the lady parts is a little disturbing.

  • Xtracurlyfries

    Probably more Dragon’s Dogma. I’ve still barely made a dent in the main questline but am up to level 20ish. Also, I finally got my pawns to shut up most of the time, though they still insist on telling me when we’re on a path that diverges. It’s like having a couple of kids in the back, “Look at that building!”, “Should you have taken a left back there?”, etc.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    I would like to be playing Valkyria Chronicles but apparently it would be easier to find a unicorn carrying the Holy Grail in its mouth. Gamestop has two copies but it’s like $40 and I could buy two other games on my wanted list for that. It’s particularly annoying because this Monday is a civic holiday in most of Ontario and I took today off just to turn it into a 4-day weekend for me. I guess I’ll just pop out and finally get Red Dead Redemption.

  • caspiancomic

    I think I’ll retire my usual roundup, since all my unfinished HIB items have taken a back seat to playing The Binding of Isaac nonstop, forever. Last night before the TF2 game (like, immediately before) I finally beat The Chest for the first time. I also got a couple of really rad character builds: PHD + Mom’s Pill Bottle + Safety Cap (constant stream of pills, all of which were beneficial. My stats were through the roof in that run, although I still died), and Dr Fetus. + Bobby-Bomb + Mr. Mega (instead of tears, massive homing bombs).

    Double Fine also got out their first Psychonauts OSX patch, so I played a bit of that, but it’s still imperfect, so I’m going to just derp around in the game until a more complete patch is released, and then probably start a new game. Since it had been nearly a month since I first fired it up, I had kinda forgotten where I was and what I was doing. It’s still a blast though- basically all I’ve done is run around the camp talking to folks and I’m having a lot of fun. Schafer and his team have a real talent for character design- everyone is so endearing, so well animated, their voices so well cast… I’m having a really good time, and I’m not even playing the game.

    I am also going to finally play Dear Esther, no more excuses. I’ve been getting cryptic hints from @Effigy_Power:disqus that I’m going to sob like a little child at the end of this game, and I’ve put it off for like three weeks now. I want to be drained emotionally! This weekend! No more putting it off!

    Also, while not “playing” per se, I’ll be rewatching CannibalK9′s excellent, comprehensive Let’s Play of The Void. I saw that @HobbesMkii:disqus and Raging Bear (sorry but as far as I know that space in your name makes you impossible to tag from a distance) had bought it on Steam, and it brought back memories. The LP is great, for people who want to experience the game vicariously.

  • Cornell_University

    the first Goblin Cock record, while intended to be ironically aping Southern Lord bands, is legitimately pretty good and a mixtape staple.  especially “childproof”.  you’ll understand when you hear it.

    I’ve been working out a lot more lately, so I don’t realistically know how much gaming will happen this weekend.  I haven’t bought anything new since the basketball games I mentioned last week but holy fuck do I need to advance the goddamn story in FF8.  I’m still on disc 2!  I’ve been playing for literally months and would like the trudge to be over at some point so I can stop boring everybody with it, including myself.  I think I accidentally erased all the good card game rules from all the continents so that will hopefully help me from being so distracted.  the plot still sucks though.  FF9 and Chrono Cross on deck!  is what I keep telling myself as I repeatedly slam my head in a car door.

    • Cornell_University

      didn’t notice the Drive Like Jehu shirt at first.  tragic example of dude in band wearing shirt of much better band (see also: every single punk and hardcore band from 1985 to present)

    • doyourealize

      “I’ve been working out a lot more lately.”

      There you go expanding on your badass persona. Do you work out so much that the only other thing you can do is eat?

      • Cornell_University

        I should have put the caveat “got fat and slow since I moved from Massachusetts to the midwest” in there somewhere.  Football practice probably distracted me.
        /breaks @doyourealize:disqus  ’s glasses, stuffs him/her in locker

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          The Midwest will do that to you, we’re kind of a cheese-based black hole.  A saturated fat singularity.
             I never made it too far in FF8, but I do recall being somewhat annoyed by that card game.  Not as much as by Blitzball in 10, though.  I dunno… while I objectively appreciate Square Enix trying to broaden the scope of their game worlds with these side amusements, I’m there for the giga-slaying, not the fussy recreational sports. 

        • Cornell_University

          I liked the card game a lot more once I had my GF learn the Card Mod ability and realized there was a benefit to it beyond OCD completism.  If you have a stacked enough hand and the ALL rule in effect it’s way quicker at powering your characters than battle mugging or trawling draw points.

          I have not yet played any of the post-PS1 FF games, and at my current rate I won’t have the time until 2025 or so.  Should I play them in order?  isn’t one an MMO or something?  I’ve heard good things about XII and lousy stuff about X and it’s sequels, but I’m pretty ignorant.

        • Cornell_University

          and while the ratio of fatty food to healthy options here can seem ridiculous sometimes, you are all MUCH MUCH nicer people than anyone living in Boston.  being a Pats fan in Indiana gets you gentle ribbing, being a Colts fan in Boston gets you reconstructive surgery.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I personally liked X more than XII, but that’s by no means popular consensus.  XII has better characters, but I was originally put off by the MMO-like qualities and the gambit system, which effectively plays the game for you.  I also preferred X for having more of a class system than XII, which has universal builds for all the characters.  But that preference is solely dictated by nostalgia for character class structures than how it affects game play.
             And yeah, I’ll take Minneapolis’ passive-aggressive politeness over what I understand to be Boston’s gleeful aggression any day.

        • Cornell_University

          a friend of mine put it best, one day as we saw a BU freshman orientation group walk past us on Commonwealth Ave:

          “You wanna know what Boston is like?  It’s like this!  Drunk people yelling at you!”

          …we were pretty drunk.

      • Effigy_Power

        Let me know when he starts eating broken glass with vinegar for breakfast.

  • urthstripe

    I actually started a whole lot of games and have made some progress on others. I started some others because I knew I would never get to them otherwise.

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Just beat the first boss. How annoying. Are they all like that? I guess I’m about to go to China… How long is this game?

    Borderlands: Have made no progress. Kinda wanna jump online and see if it’s any more fun, but that means playing with strangers.

    Far Cry 2: Graphics are nice but another open world, mission based shooter? Is there anything in this that should make me keep going?

    Hydrophobia: Prophecy – Strangely enough, I’m really liking this one. The water effects are really unique, I like the puzzles, and the atmosphere is neat and the danger is nicely propulsive.

    • doyourealize

      Pretty recently (last week, I think) I irked some folks here by criticizing Dear Esther and Binding of Isaac (though I’ve come around the latter). I was hoping to make it a trifecta, and DE:HR seemed like the right game, but the opportunity never presented itself…until now. And your question about length is, for me, the right question to ask. I enjoyed the game enough, even though, playing as a stealth character, boss fights were pretty annoying. But about 25 hours into it, I just figured, “That’s enough.” There are some great mechanics, and I liked the idea of sneaking around rather than jumping into firefights, but it just got old. It can’t really sustain that feeling of innovation after you’ve been doing the same thing for so long.

      So to answer your question: too long.

      • Effigy_Power

        You didn’t irk us.
        We just won’t ever give you the time of day again.
        And put lemon juice into you milk in the fridge.

        You robot. ^_^

    • djsubversive

       DX: yes, all the bosses are like that. they are the low point of the game, which otherwise is pretty good about letting you accomplish things in the style of your choosing.

      Borderlands: if you’re not in the Gameological Steam group, get on that shit. it would still be technically strangers, but at least they’re not the usual random strangers – they’re in A Steam Group!

      Far Cry 2: I liked it, but the respawning checkpoints and jeeps that are always faster than yours do get pretty annoying. I spent a bunch of time after the tutorial section basically driving around, looking at scenery, unlocking safehouses, and finding diamonds. also, a golden AK. Not entirely bad, but once you’ve played a couple missions, you pretty much know how the game is going to play.

      No comment on Hydrophobia, since I haven’t played it, but glad to hear you like it!

      as has been my usual situation lately, I’m going to be learning the ARMA 2 editor, and regaling (or boring) the steam chat with my small successes (and many failures). good times!

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

      DX:HR: The first boss is by far the worst. The next two are more interesting and aren’t just bullet sponges. The final boss is a classic Deus Ex-style level. I’d say it’s only really the first boss that’s badly designed. The others are fine.

      Hydrophobia: Prophecy: I really liked it, even if the reviews were poor. The story is preposterously bad, as is the voice acting for Kate, but it’s a good action game/platformer that controls surprisingly well (until you reach the last part of the game, but I don’t want to ruin it for you).

    • Asinus

      Once you get your car in Borderland and out of that starting area, the game gets a lot better. However, I was enamored as soon as I got to Fyrestone, heard that great (IMO) music, and saw the cell shading. I actually have bought it a couple of times now– I wanted to play with a friend on the PS3, but also kept a game slightly ahead of ours on the PC (though I tried not to go too far ahead or finish it before we did together). 

      Playing with a friend that you know probably makes it a lot better, but I also like to do things on my own. Playthrough 2 or 2.5 stuff is a lot easier with a friend. 

  • Andrew_Ryans_Caddy

    I’ve picked up Binary Domain, which came out a while ago and sort of flew under the radar. It’s not terribly polished, but it’s a lot of fun, and it has a Japanese goofiness that I like a lot. I also like that you can interact with your squad members, because I have a weird thing for making collections of pixels like me. 

    Speaking of being behind everybody else, I finally finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and I gotta say, I found it kind of disappointing. The endings were nicely disquieting and thought-provoking, though I would have preferred it if they were influenced by choices and actions along the course of the game, not just buttons you hit at the very end. What leaves me unsatisfied is that it doesn’t feel like the game’s narrative and characters were strong enough to hold up the idea. It felt like I did a whole lot less examining humanity using technology to become something new and perhaps not quite human anymore than I did crawling through vents. 

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

    Still plugging away at LA Noire from the Steam sale. Each time I play it my opinion of it seems to vary wildly. Sometimes it’s this great Phoenix-Wrightey crime-solving fun game, and sometimes it feels like a poorly designed, frustrating mess. This evening was a rage day. I did the multi-part clue hunt for the final homicide case, which I would say compares unfavorably to the triforce hunt at the end of Wind Waker.

    There were times when the next clue was at a locale not yet labelled on my map, so I would drive around aimlessly to find the locales arbitrarily deemed historic enough for me to mark on my map. However, none of the places I went seemed to pass muster, and I had zero indication of where to go. It seemed like I was at an impasse, so I drove back to the last locale, where my partner decided to get in the car (he had been caught on a wall or something before and I’d left without him), which triggered a conversation which just TOLD me where to go and solved the clue for me. AND the place it told me to go was one of the site I HAD VISITED IN MY CAR EARLIER, but the game apparently had decided I wasn’t allowed to know it was the right place until my character could talk to my partner and the game could solve the puzzle for me. It was a bizarre, frustrating sensation of at once being led my the nose, and somehow also being left utterly to my own devices.

    Also: I don’t give a crap about any of these characters. And now I’ve got a whole new desk worth of cases. I suspect tomorrow the pendulum will have swung the other way and I’ll be enjoying myself again, gleefully making my OCD Cole scrutinize every beer bottle and matchbook at every crime scene…

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

      The clue hunt at the end of the homicide desk is the worst part of the game, by far. You perfectly described my frustrations with it. But you left out the worst part: the game won’t let you drive into the La Brea tar pits! Why put an oozing, inviting pond full of tar in the game if the player isn’t permitted to sink a car into it?

      On the bright side, the game never again gets as bad as that clue hunt. Whatever frustrations you might have with the game in what’s to come, it’s all worth it for the spectacular second half of the arson desk.

  • Asinus

    Just started the DLC for Skyrim. Spoilerish… but I’m not very far at all… I’m disappointed that they seem to have gotten into the “vampires are good deep down…” crap that’s been so fucking popular. Because of those trends, I want to be a goddamned vampire slayer. I’ve been saving Dawnbreaker just to kill these fucking vampires, but they force me to be friends with one. I can handily kill her, but she’s essential (I couldn’t even remove the “essential” flag!). I was really hoping that I could actually play my character the way I want to (He fucking hates vampires and undead and has gone out of his way to kill them). But suddenly, after killing a cavern and crypt full of vampires without hesitation, I have to stop and chat it up with this one? Why? I wouldn’t do that. She’s a vampire who came out of a weird contraption in the ground. Maybe it would be world-breaking for me to kill her, but that’s not how I think. I’d kill this fucking thing. I couldn’t even take her back to Fort Dawnguard to turn her in. I joined the Dawnguard, why would I happily escort a vampire to her home (well, except to kill everyone there… maybe I’ll do that). 

  • Stl_Bob

    I saw Pinback a month or so ago. Rob put back at least 5 Newcastles during the 2-2.5 hour show. He chugged one during a break in “Fortress.” Pretty funny stuff.