What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The A.V. Club

The A.V. Club staff

Tales of pinochle, playtesting, and Perfect Full Combo.

By John Teti • August 17, 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.

This week, I bugged some of my favorite people from the A.V. Club mothership to share their weekend gaming plans. In the process, I learned there are people under 50 years old who play pinochle, the AVC folks are pretty plugged-in to the board game playtesting scene (if that really is a “scene”), and Josh Modell thinks he can beat you all at Words With Friends.

Genevieve Koski

My interest in video games waxes and wanes, so I haven’t played a console-based game in quite some time, but I always have an iPhone game in rotation to keep me busy during my daily train commute, and for the past several months, that game has been the imaginatively named Pinochle. Why Pinochle? Well, because it’s the only halfway-decent pinochle app I can find, probably because most people who play pinochle are too old to know or care what an app even is.

But it’s my all-time favorite card game—a complicated, trump-based game with distinct bidding, meld, and trick-taking portions of each hand—and one I was raised on. Pinochle was the default event during family gatherings growing up, and learning the game was a sort of rite of passage among the Koski clan: I was indoctrinated early, serving as dealer to the adult games until I could grasp the complex rules—both official and “house rules”—myself. (The day I beat my grandpa, who had been playing for decades, was treated as an achievement on par with graduating high school.)

Since moving away from home, it’s near-impossible to find anyone who can pronounce the game, much less play it; many people assume at first that I’m talking about the similarly Midwestern, hard-to-pronounce euchre, which is basically pinochle for idiots. I’ve tried to teach others, but it’s tough to wrangle three other people—or even two, for the three-handed bastardization of the game that my family favors—so I have to content myself with the buggy Pinochle, despite the fact that the stupid computer doesn’t even know when to lead with a damn queen!

Donna Bowman

Our daughter loves the movies just as much as her cinephile parents could have hoped, but our autistic son finds them interminable and assaultive. (He once remarked that a movie is “a video that is too long and too loud.”) So it’s become Noel and our little girl’s designated bonding-time treat to go see a film, leaving my son and me to find common ground in the little white box of our Wii. He’s touchingly thrilled whenever someone in his family wants to play along, and is even willing to put aside his usual methodical, completist practice of playing four players himself and trying to figure out every character’s reaction to every possible game situation.

Archer’s obsessive Wii pastimes are the board game analogues: Fortune Street, the various Mario Party versions, and the garish Hasbro ports like Family Game Night. If there’s a board or game show mode in a title, like “London Party” in Mario And Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games or “Spin To Win” in Wii Party, he will give the rest of the gameplay only the most desultory look. But I prefer simultaneous play to the turn-taking that’s rampant in his favorites. And I love the salted-peanuts “just one more game” appeal of simple, quick competitions far more than the long arcs of tournaments or worlds. So I always beg to play Tetris Party or Bingo Party. I can’t explain why I love Bingo Party as much as I do. It’s simply addictive. I’ll keep punching numbers on my 90-number cards until I can’t see the numbers anymore, and then I remember that I ought to blink once a while to keep my contacts hydrated.

When his sister gets back from ParaNorman with Dad, maybe she’ll join us playing Dance Dance Revolution II. While Archer uses the control pad exclusively and updates us on which songs and play modes he’s achieved PFC (“Perfect Full Combo”), Cady Gray and I take turns using the dance pad and hoping our favorite songs will pop up on random. Last song of the session is always the Konami original “El ritmo te controla,” in which the stepping pattern delivers a satisfying Latin shimmy.

Todd VanDerWerff

I will be playtesting Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Somehow, since I wrote about tabletop roleplaying for The A.V. Club, I’ve become a regular member of a couple of groups, and one of them is testing the new version of the game this weekend. I’m all but certain this will lead to everybody else creating robot vampire wizards (as in one of my other groups), while I’m just some regular guy named Steve, but I’m hopeful that the whole thing doesn’t turn into a character creation grind. The new “fifth edition”—out later this year, ostensibly—is said to be at once a return to the glory days of when the game was all about grinding out stats and a more simplified version of the game designed to gain new players. Considering I’ve only played the fourth edition (which is much reviled by much of the game’s fan base), I really have no idea what to expect, outside of orcs.

Tasha Robinson

You picked the right week to ask us this question. I’m headed to GenCon in Indianapolis for a full-blown gaming nerd-out this weekend—my first time going to the convention. As far as scheduled events, I’m going to be playtesting some new RPGs and trying out a True Dungeon live-action role-playing event with friends. On the à la carte menu, I’m hoping to get in on some of the open board gaming and try some things I’ve never heard of—though I’m particularly looking for someone who owns “Sentinels Of The Multiverse,” which I’ve heard is a blast, but want to try before I buy. At night, I’ll be running a Free Fate superheroes game for some friends at our hotel, and another friend is going to run a Dread one-shot, which apparently is a horror game that uses Jenga for conflict resolution, which sounds brilliant. And my favorite party game, Werewolf (a.k.a. Mafia, Witch Hunt, Are You A Werewolf, Do You Worship Cthulhu, etc.) will be running virtually nonstop throughout the entire weekend. Basically, I plan to disappear into games on Friday and not surface until Sunday.

Josh Modell

Since my son was born, I’ve pretty much given up video games completely, I’m sad to say. (I will make time for that new Resident Evil game this fall, though!) But I will continue to play Words With Friends at pretty much every waking moment, and even sometimes when I’m sleeping. I’m not as bad as I once was—my peak was 22 games going at the same time—but I’ve still got six or seven in progress at any given time. So that’s where you’ll find me, Gameological readers, this weekend and every weekend. My screen name is joshmodell, and I’m pretty good.

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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  • Staggering Stew Bum

    This weekend will all be about playing a game for 20 minutes, getting bored, switching to another game, repeat. There may be time spent in a fugue state staring at the PS3 homescreen wondering what to do next.

    Deus Ex Accounting Department is sitting there waiting to be continued but so far it’s equal parts frustration and boredom. Then there’s all those Steam games but god dammit the weekend is for the couch.

    • Fluka

      It is called Deus Ex HR because the HR department is what Adam Jensen gets a stern letter from after hacking everyone’s personal computers and stealing food from their desks.

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

        Wait. So I’m not the only one who spent an hour hacking into every corner of Sarif headquarters? Screwing around in that game is so much fun.

        • Fluka

          I also like Icarus-landing-system’ing three stories down the central atrium, landing next to some employee, and going “Yo.”

        • yerfatma

          My general impression, given the contents of the desks, is people are not happy working there. Which is weird, given the boss is a total idiot and the IT guy is so damned friendly. And the neighborhood seems like a nice place to pop out for a bite to eat.

        • Fluka

          @yerfatma:disqus Well, at least they’re happier than in Tai Yong Medical, where they strictly enforce that four-email-per-inbox limit.

    • Asinus

      THere have been many nights that I can’t decide what to play, so I stew until I’m too tired to really get into any of the backlog of games I really want to finish and then watch something on netflix. 

      This weekend though, what won’t I be playing? I am doing a massive upgrade to my computer (and rebuilt a computer for my parents and laid some bricks… but that’s not a metaphor) and will be playing minutes of several games to see how they work out. But, the motherboard went to a different address and I’ll have to pick it up tomorrow. I installed the HD7870 in my old C2D system just to goof around with it. I’ll probably ditch some friends to build the i5 on saturday, and it will rule. Then I’ll feel sad that I think of machines and objects as friends, too. 

  • KidvanDanzig

    Mann vs. Machine, if it starts working, at least.

    Also in the spirit of Mass Effect Transcribed (http://masseffecttranscribed.tumblr.com/) I will be starting an Alpha Protocol Transcribed tumblr over the weekend. Yaaaay!

    • Sandwichands

      That’s weird, I am going to start playing Alpha Protocol for the first time this weekend!

      • Baramos x

         Me too! (Never got around to it last weekend).

    • Captain Internet

      If any Gameological people want to try Mann vs. Machine at the weekend, I know of a private server, so add me on Steam via the Gameologial Steam Group. I’m also in the UK, so it’ll likely be an evening thing.
      Oh, and if you’re going to talk about the Mothership, you have to link to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSERB93GYfw

    • AHyperkineticLagomorph

       I’m somewhat doubting I’ll get to play MvM anytime soon. I’m still getting 20+ minute queues and if I can be bothered to wait that long, the game disconnects upon reaching the server.

      Which is pretty terrible, since I heard the mode is a blast. The upgrades can get amusingly silly, like firing 9 rockets simultaneously.

  • Kilzor

    I just started and am loving “Legend of Grimrock.”  Come for the most terrifying snails of all time.  Stay for the ability to be a suave mantid-man-wizard.  Also, fall back in love with auto-load and auto-save, a game player’s best friends.

    • doyourealize

      I’ve got this in my wishlist. I’m definitely intrigued by it, but a part of me knows that if I ever buy it, it’ll just sit in my library while I decide to play games I’ve already beaten a few times.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I’m in the process of drawing my suave mantid-wizard for the game.  He’s wearing a cravat!  And If may be so bold as to say, he’s wearing it well.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    I just purchased Wizorb off Steam after seeing the article about the mobile version, so I’ll be trying that out.  My wife picked up the Stronghold collection, so may give that a shot as well.  And finally planning to install The Witcher and, assuming it works on my Win 7 PC, play through before I start on Witcher 2.

    • doyourealize

      I bought and played The Witcher with Windows 7 (Enhanced Extended Edition), so you should be fine. While the first game is definitely fun, 2 is one of my favorite games ever.

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I got The Witcher from GOG and it works just great on Win 7, 64-bit, so you shouldn’t have TOO many problems.

    • WhiteBlacula

       I bought The Witcher during the Steam summer sale and hope to start playing it this upcoming week. But first, this weekend I’m going to finish Batman: Arkham Asylum. Arkham City was my favorite game of 2011 so I had to go back and check out AA.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Cool!  I played AA first and loved it.  I haven’t started Arkham City yet for fear of it sucking up a couple weeks of my time when I’m trying hard to change old habits and start doing hobbies that might turn into a career later.

  • Cloks

    We all know that Genevive Koski is actually playing Ghostbusters on the NES. I’ll be playing FFIV, finally beating it after 13 years. Hopefully.

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

       Ironically, she LOVES that game.

      • George_Liquor

         Nobody loves that game, ironically or otherwise.

    • Luc Tremblay

      IV was fun. I’ll be trying to finish the Android port of III (the DS remake). I got killed by the final boss and had to do a bunch of stuff over again, so I began to level up new jobs. Here’s hoping this round goes better.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

        That final boss in 3 is such a stupid spike in difficulty compared to everything else that came before it. I haven’t said “welp, looks like I have to grind a shit-ton” in a long time before or since playing the DS version.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I played all the way through III, got to the optional-five-wolf-headed relic guarding boss, promptly got my ass kicked, saw that I had to start two hours and five levels back, and haven’t played video games since.
             Well, that’s not true.  I just haven’t played that video game since.

        • Baramos x

           I’ve run into that with a couple of other Final Fantasy games, actually: Neo ExDeath in Final Fantasy V (eventually figured out a work-around), and Necron in Final Fantasy IX (that one was a real deal-breaker. I eventually replayed the game years later and actually learned all the abilities/found all the items/leveled up/grinded all throughout the game. Necron was sort of a challenge but mostly a pushover the second time through).

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

        When FF3 first came out for DS, I was so excited to play it. Then, a few hours in, I put it aside. I had forgotten how punishing NES RPGs could be. I had assumed, given that Square’s RPGs have become progressively easier with each passing generation, that   they would have lightened up on the difficulty. Not so much.

        • Aaron Riccio

          I actually enjoyed SquareSoft’s choices in difficulty: they kept the main game tolerable and threw in tons of near-impossible side-quests for those so inclined. But then they started making these linear-as-hell games that require less and less input from the players (remember when Sabin had to actually DO shit to trigger Bum Rush?) and started eradicating side content . . . FFXIII-2 had dozens of flaws, but at least it tried to bring some bonus difficulty back. 

        • Baramos x

           I made quite a bit of progress in it (made it to this floating tree dungeon), but I too dropped it. Which is odd, since I actually beat the original Final Fantasy on NES which is probably just as hard.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    I’m probably going to go visit my buddies out of town as they move in for another year of schooling. So that means fighters and probably some board games. We’ve been playing a lot of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 lately and i’m sort of beginning to understand the mechanics alright-ish. Probably drinking games will be incorporated, too. Woo, youth!

    • Sandwichands

      The most amazing drinking game I know (and so does everyone else)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_%28card_game%29

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

        Though I’m a non-drinker, I’m not asocial, so I’ve been suckered into playing Kings before. Last time I played, instead of having to drink from the King’s cup, I got stuck having to chug a beer cup full of 7-Up mixed with salted peanuts instead. Yummy. (Not.)

        The best part about playing Kings sober, though, is laughing as your increasingly drunk friends forget the rules and end up having to drink practically every time a card is played.

        • caspiancomic

           While out with my more drink-happy friends once, I decided to show solidarity during end of the night shots by taking a shot of vinegar.

          So yeah, I was pretty sick that night.

        • The_Misanthrope

          I always feel like I’m playing drinking games wrong, because I tend to drink a fair amount between my game-required drinks.  Then again, considering that most drinking games never quite finish right anyway, I guess it’s a moot point.

          Also, I’m pretty sure Koski just implied that my family is a bunch of idiots for playing euchre (which, oddly enough, we just call “500″).

        • boardgameguy

           strange.  i play both 500 and euchre.  they are separate games, although similar.  i think (on a range of complication), euchre<500<pinochle.  but 500 is my favorite.

          otherwise, the wife and i are hosting friends for dinner.  that may lead to Dixit, Cheeky Monkey, or Lifeboats if people are feeling cutthroat.

        • Cornell_University

          I’ve been cursed with liking the taste of alcohol to the extent that drinking games, while I appreciate them in theory, I can never really play along with.  because I’m usually just sipping on my beer or whiskey or whatever steadily the entire time, making my turn to DRINK! much less of an event.

          I also think I outgrew having to concoct excuses to put booze in my belly right around the time I was broken down and defeated by life.

        • Cornell_University

          AKA my solo career wakka wakka

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

          @The_Misanthrope:disqus : That’s been my problem as well with drinking games. I end up just drinking constantly, and then I’m out for the count. 

        • Electric Dragon

          @boardgameguy:disqus : ah a lovely bit of XML sanitising there from Disqus. If you want to type a less than symbol “<” you have to type in the HTML entity code “&lt;” to get it otherwise it causes that to happen.

        • boardgameguy

          appreciate the tip.  i was even going to re-post, but i just got lazy.  in summary euchre is easier than 500 is easier than pinochle.  games I might play this weekend: Dixit, Cheeky Monkey, or Lifeboats if people are feeling ruthless.

  • caspiancomic

    Hey, remember a few months ago when I was playing Link to the Past for the first time and everyone was crazy jealous? Well, get this. This weekend, thanks to the generosity of @Effigy_Power:disqus I’ll be playing Half-Life 2 for the first time. I look forward to finally being able to complain about the lateness of Half-Life 3.

    I also finally got Dear Esther to work, so I’ll be putting that away as well. Got a pretty crackin’ weekend coming up it looks like.

    Oh, and I’m going to drop something off in this week’s Keyboard Geniuses, so everybody get the appropriate amount of excited for that.

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

      I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but once you play through Half-Life 2: Episode Two, you’ll understand why everyone is complaining about the lateness of Half-Life 3.

      • Colonel

        If HL3 doesn’t feature Gordon and Lamarr becoming one, I’m gonna start a steam group protest.

        • doyourealize

          Good. The world needs more HL3 related protests.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         I have still never finish Episode Two. There’s one sort-of timed vehicle section that has killed me probably fifty times. I always *mean* to try again, and then the part of my brain that wants to see me happy kicks in and makes me go make a sandwich instead.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          I think that might be at the end? I was stuck on the very last bit for the longest time. Without getting very spoilery; that was the most anxious a game has ever made me feel. hooray.

        • George_Liquor

           It’s been so long, I’ve completely forgotten anything about Episode One or Two.

        • blue vodka lemonade

           @Douchetoevsky:disqus @George_Liquor:disqus It’s the bit where you have to drive around a big area, protecting various buildings from Tripods, just wave after wave of them. I’m bad at the vehicle controls, not great at FPS-es in general, and it all coalesces into me being very, very bad at making progress in that section. The save-point is not in a good spot, either.

        • Baramos x

           Oh, man, you gotta finish it.

          That’s the finale. Yeah, it’s pretty intense/exciting. Try saving throughout with multiple save files, you’ll beat it eventually. Man, I loved that set piece. The music in that battle was amazing, too. Everything about it…urgh…so good.

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

          @green_gin_rickey:disqus: I was stuck on that level for about a day, and my advice is not to really bother with your vehicle. Just hang out near the base and try sprinting from cover to cover. As @google-a64ed20b469cb5db810b75e3fd4c980f:disqus suggested, using multiple save files will help you get through.

        • Electric Dragon

          One other bit of advice – the car is really really good at running over the Hunters (the mini-tripods) because they’re more vulnerable to physics damage than weapons. This also means that punting logs and rocks at them with the grav gun is a useful strategy.

        • doyourealize

          Eurogamer did a retrospective on Episodes 1 & 2 about a month ago that explains the differences between the two, and how and why 2 is superior. It does, however, expand on how the last mission (the mission you’re at) does everything it can to squash that superiority.

          The article is spoiler-y, so I wouldn’t read it if you haven’t beat it.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

           Oh man, I remember the last bit of Episode 2. I was stuck at the part where they’re like “the tripods are coming from EVERYWHERE,” and after dying/failing to prevent the tripods from reaching the base like 100 times, I was about ready to give up. Then finally, I took managed to take down the first two tripods, but the last one was almost at the base, which was at the other end of the level. I hightailed it over there in my kickass Charger, at which point I realized I didn’t have a bomb with me. So I stop at the little cabin across the field, grab a bomb, run outside, at which point the tripod has bust through the front gate and is about to destroy the compound. Realizing that there’s no way I’m getting close  to the thing in time, I go “fuck it” and aim up in the sky in its general direction and launch the bomb. It flies across the field, and smacks right into the tripod just seconds before the base would have blown up. I’ve never played that game since because I know that I would never be able finish it in such an awesome way.

      • Baramos x

         Yeah, its a bit like all the people saying they’re now going to read A Song of Ice and Fire after watching Game of Thrones: welcome to the torture of waiting for the next one.

        • doyourealize

          If you like being tortured by waiting, you should also start reading Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle.

          Also, I’m kind of hoping, now that’s there’s a series and everything, Martin will have a little more incentive to finish the thing…especially since he spent the last two books stalling.

      • Asinus

        Still haven’t finished HL 2. I LOVE the beginning of that game and have played it several times (I might do it again right now), but after a while, it just feels like a rail shooter with very few options. I should get episode 2, though. 

    • Electric Dragon

      I noticed last night that Steam has dropped a 75% off Portal 2 voucher into my account so if anyone wants that (and I do also have HL2+Episode 1+Portal as gifts to give away), hit me up on Steam (I’m Electric Dragon there too, and a member of Gameological group)

      This weekend I will mostly be roaming the wilderness of the Mojave in Fallout:NV.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         I have that 75% off Portal 2 coup also, and am more than happy to give it to the uninitiated among us. Name’s blue vodka lemonade, etc.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Yeah, everyone who has portal 2 got one. I have one as well if anyone wants it. It’s a pretty great game. Well worth five bucks or whatever that coupon makes it.

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

       Is this your highly anticipated write-up of The Void? Or something else new and exciting? I guess I’ll have to wait with bated breath…

    • doyourealize

      I very recently (within the last year) also played the HL series for the first time. I’m not a huge FPS fan (although this could be because I always played them on console – playing on PC is a completely different experience), but I played them all through, one after the other, from the original to HL2:E2 and even Blue Shift until I ran into a game-breaking glitch. You’re in for a treat.

    • Effigy_Power

       Damn I’m generous.
      And so humble.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        The MOST humble.

        • Aaron Riccio

          Are you a bundle?

      • George_Liquor

         Humble like a FOX!

    • Baramos x

       Oh, man, I wish I could play Half-Life 2 again for the first time. And HL2: Episode Two.

    • logicalDemoness

       High-five, I played HL2 for the first time this year too. As soon as I got into it I wanted to punch my past self for not trying this earlier.
      But I’m still trying to get Dear Esther to work. :(

      • caspiancomic

        If you’re on a Mac, there’s a decent fix in the OSX bugs thread at the Steam forums. It involves deleting some file or another. Works a treat after that. If you’re not on a Mac… well, I guess I have no idea. Sorry boss, hope you get it figured out.

        • logicalDemoness

           I am on a Mac. I’ll check it out, thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000130595632 Michael Main

    VDW, you’re some guy named “Steve.”  Roll for save versus the battle-axe strike from the Orc.

    • Electric Dragon

      Make sure to equip the +2 Pocket Protector and the Horn-rimmed Spectacles (+1 to DEX).

    • JudgeReinhold

      “I am Steve! I am chaotic neutral! Hear me roar!”

    • duwease

      The first thing I noticed was Steve Heisler’s absence.  The second thing I noticed was that Todd’s greatest fantasy was to be Steve.  I’m not saying these two are related, I’m just saying maybe someone should swing by Steve’s apartment to see if he still has all of his skin..

      • Electric Dragon

        It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

    • TreeRol

      In D&D 5, can you just be “some guy”? That’s one of the things I love about skill-based systems like World of Darkness (rather than class-based systems like D&D). You come up with a character idea, and then assign the combination of skills necessary to be that character.

      Last year we did a post-apocalyptic campaign set in December 2012 in the town where we were playing. So I built myself as a character. It might not sound like fun, but it was the most interesting role-playing experience I’ve ever had.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        I was perusing a Something Awful thread about games the other day and people were talking about something similar to this, though I think it was a Lovecraft themed game. It sounded really interesting and I was super confused on how it all worked, based on their re-tellings of events that happened during their campaign.

        • TreeRol

          That may have been Call of Cthulhu, which is pretty similar to WoD. We’ve actually used the two systems interchangeably.

          If you were confused about game mechanics, CoC is a little more complicated than WoD, which is super easy. But obviously if you don’t know the lingo you might get a little lost.

    • http://twitter.com/tvoti Todd VanDerWerff

      I roll a 2. But I add… oh, no wait… I don’t add anything. My DEX modifier is… I don’t have a DEX. My only stat is Steve. :(

  • EmperorNortonI

    I’m not really gaming all that much at the moment, sadly.  A few hours here and there on Far Cry 2, and that’s about it.  I just moved to the second area, around the 50% mark, and unlocked the last few weapons.  I’m really digging that game.

    I did join in briefly for the last TF2 Thursday.  The Blue team was kicking ass with great authority, and no amount of balancing could stop its streak of utter awesomeness.  Of course, I was on Red team, and failing to do anything of note.

    Ever since getting into Dark Souls on the XBox, and then losing access to said console, I’ve been really looking forward to its port for the PC.  But of course, it’s not available on Steam, and I’m region blocked out of the Game Stop version.  Curse you, region blocking!  Why must you make my life so miserable!  I’ll probably be able to order an Asian region version from somewhere online, but I really resent the idea of having to actually buy a physical copy, and keep track of it, and stuff.  ARGH.

    • http://twitter.com/btjohnso22 Ben Johnson

      What do you mean Dark Souls isnt available on Steam? It’s supposed to be when it releases 9/20somethingish…

      • EmperorNortonI

         Ah, you’re right – except, you’re not.  You see, when something is region-blocked on Steam, they disappear it – the site pretends it doesn’t exist.  However, their system is not perfect, as when I search, I can still find the trailers for the unavailable game.  However, when I click on the trailers, I get an “Oops, this is not available in your region” message.  Another example is Dragon Age, which I would never have known was available on Steam had people here not mentioned it, because I simply never see it.

        On the other hand, GameStop fully acknowledges that the game exists, but tells me via a tiny little message in the corner that it’s not available in my region.

        Fuck region coding.

  • http://twitter.com/gumbuoy Ssinnigcm Mail

    This weekend is all about Sleeping Dogs. My impression from the reviews is that most of the characters from the game will let the titular dogs lie, correct?

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

      Some of them will try, but they may not succeed. Others are just shit-disturbers and won’t even bother trying. </semi_serious_response>

    • Fixda Fernback

      Yuuuuuuuuup, Sleeping Dogs here, as well. Really wish I could hit up GenCon, especially knowing AV Club will be represented there in some fashion (haha, nevermind, I read that as Tasha going to report on it, not just as a patron), but I’m trying to save up money for my trip to North Coast Music Fest in Chicago on Labor Day weekend, so homebound with video games it is for me! In fact, I’m off to play more Sleeping Dogs right now. I better still be ranked number one on some of those leaderboards, dammit.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/tasha-robinson,6/ TashaRobinson

        Apparently I AM going to report on it, not because I set out to, but because it is a requirement that A.V. Clubbers turn their lives into work. I’m looking forward to seeing how Kyle Ryan, whose daughter is currently being born, gets a writing project out of the birth.

    • dreadguacamole

        I’ll be playing Sleeping Dogs as well. I’ve been looking forward to it since I learnt a lot of the dev team was involved in Bully, so I’m glad it’s getting mostly positive reviews.

       What else – my son has discovered the joys of MAME emulation, so I probably have a *lot* of prehistoric isle 1 and 2, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and Joe and Mac – Caveman Ninja to play over the weekend. Hey, there might be a pattern here!

      • Fixda Fernback

        Oh man, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, what an awesome fucking game. That’s an incredibly cool bonding experience for you and your son. You should look into building a small, affordable cabinet with your son if it’s a  hobby you both enjoy together! It’s one of my to-do-soon goals haha. Also, great MAME rom I love is the classic Aliens vs Predators sidescroller, not to mention the X-Men one.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          X-MEN!  WELCOME TO DIE!

          ….uh, what?

          I love how Storm can defeat Wendigo without a single hit taken by standing just out of range and attacking repeatedly.  Just a TINY bit of extra reach on her staff/wand/thing.  My favorite character to play was Nightcrawler.

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

        My favourite arcade game was WWF Wrestlefest. It came out in 1991ish, so the roster consisted of Hogan, the Warrior, Earthquake, Slaughter, DiBiase, etc. 

    • AHyperkineticLagomorph

      I’ve also been enjoying Sleeping Dogs. However, let me say the game has a serious case of tone and mood whiplash.

      Not to spoil anything, but MINOR SPOILERS: On one mission, the triads want Wei to kill some people as proof that he’s not a cop. I was expecting a kind of dubious moral-choice ala some of the later Splinter Cell games, only not terribly written, but instead I was basically forced into a firefight anyway. That’s fine.

      Only then later I walked into an unknown mission and was literally forced into a car, with someone I didn’t recognize, and must have gunned down a hundred generic triad-members on motorcycles. No explanation is given as to who they are and why I’m doing this or even where that big ass machine gun came from.

      Though this may partially be because at this point, I’m not really all that sure what’s going on in the story.

    • CrabNaga

      Sleeping Dogs for me too. I anticipate a lot of mild annoyance at getting out of the “wrong side” of cars.

  • HobbesMkii

    Now that I’ve doubled my RAM and updated my graphics card, I’m playing anything I damn well please.

    • JudgeReinhold

      Take THAT, frame rate!

      • HobbesMkii

         It doubled. It was pretty incredible. Did you know most modern games have shadows that bend across terrain? Shadows! That are affected by the movement of the object casting the shadow in relation to the light source! Amazing.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      How much does upgrading general RAM affect performance?  Also, what card did you get?  
      Also, what are you having for dinner tonight?

      • HobbesMkii

         The RAM doesn’t seem to have made a huge difference, except that the computer doesn’t slow down as much when it’s been running for a while. I didn’t get a super expensive card, just an XTF Radeon HD 6770.

        Tacos.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I’m not sure which one I’m more excited for you.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

    Hey now, Ms. Koski, don’t knock euchre; it’s the official card game of the Indiana State Thespians.  Fellow actors and theatre departments in high school varied wildly in quality and personalities, but when there was a free evening during a state or regional conference, total strangers became fast friends over those six cards, watching someone attempt to go it alone was always a minor thrill, etc.

    That being said, I’ve never even so much as attempted pinochle–if you’re good at euchre, can it be considered training wheels for the bigger game? 

    Also, and most importantly, do you get to give noogies to Bill Cosby’s dad if you win?

    • orangeshoes

      I’m mildly offended to discover that euchre is basically pinochle for dummies as euchre has long been the go to game for my family and various groups of friends.

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

        Just because a game is more complicated, that doesn’t make it better.

        See also: Baseball vs. Cricket

        • Fluka

          I always figured that cricket was what baseball looked like to people from countries that didn’t play baseball (read: perversely complicated).  Are you saying that cricket really is more perversely complicated?  Wait, or that baseball is?  I don’t want to get sucked into reading this wikipedia page.

        • Electric Dragon

          Here is a better comparison specifically written for those who know baseball.

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

       While all of my friends growing up were nerds, it was only the most severely nerdy who could play euchre. Which makes me kind of scared that apparently it is the “for idiots” version of Pinochle. This apparently means that Genevieve is Queen Shit of Nerd Mountain, and NO ONE can fuck with her.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         Yeah, there was a particularly nerdy clique at my very nerdy magnet high school. Only the nerdiest of the nerdy clique at the nerd school would play euchre.

        I tried, once. I nearly lost an eye.

      • Aaron Riccio

        Alright, alright, enough of these dumbed-down card games: who is ready for some Duplicate Bridge?

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/genevieve-koski,4300/ Genevieve Koski

      I actually like euchre quite a bit; my mom used to host yearly euchre tournaments at our house, in fact. I was just being facetious with the “for idiots” thing, because euchre is basically (BASICALLY) watered-down pinochle. I mean, come on, you only have five cards! (Compared to 20 in double-deck pinochle, or 25 in the three-handed-with-a-kitty version I like to play.) Where’s the challenge in that?? It is easier to play while drunk, though.

      But yeah, nothing against euchre; I just get bitter because every time I want to play pinochle, I end up playing that instead.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SN6BZPD3ZFR5IHCBYJ74B7WN4M yahoo-SN6BZPD3ZFR5IHCBYJ74B7WN4M

        Good lord, you play three handed with two decks?  You must meld a book on every hand!  What’s your minimum bid, 300?

      • kateburning

        I’m pleasantly surprised that so many people popped up to defend euchre, as I’ve never met anyone outside of Indiana or Kentucky who actually knew what it was. I wasn’t aware that pinochle was similar, as we always just called it a game for old people (even my grandparents called it that).

  • Barnitosupreme

    I’ve gotten addicted to my brother’s Super Mario 3D Land game, so i’ll probably be playing that.

  • TaumpyTearrs

    More Arkham City GOTY edition between work shifts. I usually play story mode til I unlock a new freeflow challenge level, then go and beat the challenge level with all four characters. Yesterday I got SO close to breaking into the top 100 scores for the train level, i was like 500 points away from the person at 100. FUCK! A couple more hits on my last combo would have done it, but atleast I perfected jumping back and forth between Black Mask and the one-armed clown to get a ridiculous combo.

    I also hit my highest combo ever this week, 180 hits on the endless enemies Iceberg Lounge, then my younger brother played it and got a 220 hit combo, the bastard.

    Played some BF3 for the first time in weeks, and as always, my shooting has gone to shit without constant play. Armored Kill looks sweet (gunships!), but I am still debating whether I can give EA any more of my money in good conscience. The shit they have been pulling with BF3 has been really pissing me off, and this whole gun-promotion for Medal of Honor is pretty rank. Of course, EA releases like half of the games I want to play every year, so if I decide to boycott them it will not affect their profits at all but it will affect my gaming enjoyment.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      It’s so crazy to realize that I’ve been playing Electronic Arts games since they had the “Square-Circle-Cone” logo back on the Commodore 64.  Back then they were one of the best game companies…

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

        I remember a time when Maxis and Westwood were free from EA’s grasp, when Sim and Command & Conquer games ruled the PC. Those were good times.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Aww, Lands of Lore!  I got stuck somewhere in the middle of the game and never finished it.

      • The_Misanthrope

         You mean, like when this was published in computer magazines:

        http://chrishecker.com/Can_a_Computer_Make_You_Cry%3f

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

    TVDW, will you be writing up your impressions of the new edition of D&D? Though I’m not really into tabletop RPGs, I’d love to read your thoughts anyway. Who knows? They might get me interested.

    Usually when I comment on this column, I spend several paragraphs navelgazing about my Steam library, listing all the games that I could potentially play. (I swear I do it to spark discussion, really!) But this weekend, I know exactly what I’m going to play: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Sleeping Dogs.

    PoP:SoT feels like two games in one. There’s the ingenious, entertaining, difficult-but-fair puzzle platformer and the boring, irritating, difficult-and-unfair mêlée swordfighter. I suffer through the latter to play the former. When you knock down an enemy, you also have to suck him or her up with your dagger to eliminate him or her. The problem is that in the time between pressing the E key to use your dagger and your dagger making contact with the downed enemy, you’re completely vulnerable to attack. So when there are lots of enemies around, you can’t eliminate any downed enemies. Unfortunately, if you don’t eliminate them within a certain period of time, they come back to life. This makes the entire combat system feel like an exercise in frustration.

    But that platforming…oh, that platforming. Nothing beats running along walls, swinging off poles, jumping across chasms, or rewinding the clock any time you screw up. It’s so brilliant, elegant, and fluid, and I can think of no game that has captured its essence since. (Maybe later titles in the Prince of Persia series did, but I’ve yet to play them.)

    As for Sleeping Dogs, I’m taking my time with it, doing various side missions and just exploring the town. I read somewhere – I can’t for the life of me remember where – that the game is like what Grand Theft Auto would be if GTA had an editor. That’s how I feel too. On some level, I appreciate GTA’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, but it’s not something I want to see in every game. I may eventually come to hate my time with Sleeping Dogs for other reasons, but for now, I have to say that it’s a remarkably refined open-world experience. It knows exactly what it wants to be and plays to its strengths. Plus, it’s so refreshing to play a game without a colon or a number in the title.

    Anyone else playing Sleeping Dogs right now. What do you guys think?

    • dreadguacamole

       The incredible platforming/shitty fighting dichotomy is pretty much kept up throughout the main trilogy, fortunately/unfortunately. If I remember correctly, 2 has a little more focus on fighting, and 3 goes back to the original formula. Neither are as good as the original, and they spoil the storytelling by having the price go from charming fairy-story rogue to generic angsty computer-game protagonist. Still worth playing, though probably not back-to-back.

        I thought the 2008 reboot was pretty cool; they remove most of the skill requirements in favor of a more flow-based gameplay approach which feels almost QTE-like – and for once, I don’t mean that as an insult. The focus is shifted from reflexes to exploration and route planning. Not nearly as good as the originals, of course, but interesting and kind of fun. They also did some really neat things with non-linearity, making the game a lot of fun to explore. It’s a shame that it didn’t do well at all.

       I mostly say that because of The Forgotten Sands; It’s a return to the Sands of Time formula, and it feels like a full on retreat. It’s got some fun levels and a cool gimmick, but it’s rote, uninspired, and kind of becomes a chore to play.

      • doyourealize

        While I enjoyed all the entries in the PoP series (and trust me @Merve2:disqus , that combat is a thorn in many gamers’ sides) I agree about the reboot, as it’s probably my favorite in the series. I guess it could get a little repetitive at timese, but oh, that ending.

        I haven’t played Forgotten Sands, but of the games in that style, SoT will always be a favorite because it was the beginning, but I think I enjoyed Two Thrones (the 3rd one) as much if not more. The combat was more balanced if I remember correctly, and that platforming was still there. Warrior Within was the angst-y game, and while fun, it’s the lesser of the series.

        • Aaron Riccio

          Wow. I guess I may need to give the reboot another chance. I found it irritating and largely unnecessary, but if you guys are swearing by it, and Steam’s selling it at a discount, I guess I can play it again.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         I’m about… 1/3 of the way through the 2008 PoP and really like it so far, although the non-linearity feels kind of not-necessary, in that there’s not much of a difference between the various areas and the order in which you play them feels completely arbitrary. The art’s just gorgeous, though, and I even like the braindead banter between our plucky protags.

      • caspiancomic

         Alright, like-minded folks who actually enjoyed the Prince of Persia reboot! I actually really loved that game, so it kinda hurts and confuses me to see people hating on it so often. I mean yeah, the combat is a kind of atrophied growth on the otherwise strapping and healthy body of the main game, and the product as a whole probably would have been better without it. But I actually quite liked the characters, the climbing and exploration was a lot of fun, and the graphics and art design were out of this world, head and shoulders better than anything in the Sands of Time trilogy, and those games were damn handsome themselves.

    • Fixda Fernback

      Oh man, I envy you so much for getting to play the Sands of Time trilogy for the first time. I loved the shit outta those games. 

      And, yeah, I’m really getting into Sleeping Dogs. It’s the rare game that I got really excited for, and it managed to live up to my hype. I am just fucking in love with the soundtrack, I’ve been raving about it elsewhere but it’s got some of my favorites on it (Four Tet, Bonobo) as well as introducing me to some really awesome new stuff (I think it was called the Cantonese Opera?). In fact, while typing this, my guy is just chilling on his motorcycle so I can listen to the awesome song playing haha.

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        Dumdue > 24Herbs, though. By a li. I think you’d agree with me: http://youtu.be/W5wPgDgGCUA

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

        Okay, this is kind of embarrassing: this is actually my second crack at Sands of Time. I tried it a few years back, but I got stuck at the first big fight about 20% of the way through. I guess my gaming skills have improved since then. I’d be proud, but unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a use for these skills in real life.

        I’m also loving the Sleeping Dogs soundtrack. The game always seems to be tuned to exactly the right radio station for the situation, and I never have a desire to fiddle with the dial like I do when I play Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto.

        • Aaron Riccio

          Yeah; I didn’t want to cite authenticity too much when I was writing about Sleeping Dogs (since I’ve never been to Hong Kong), but the game FELT fairly legit, albeit exaggerated in some places and simplified in others. Had the same problem driving, though, that I did in The Getaway — stupid left-side lanes.

    • http://twitter.com/HttpLovecraft Http Lovecraft

      Hey @Merve2:disqus , do the (buyable) cars in Sleeping Dogs get better as you go?  Considering the awesome arcade-ishness of the car combat I was expecting every vehicle to give ridiculous turn-on-a-dime performance like GTA3, but instead (at least at the beginning) the cars slip & slide around the road like… GTA4. (sadface)

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

        I haven’t bought a single car yet. I think you’re farther along in the game than I am, last time I checked. The pre-order bonus car handles alright, though.

        Generally, the cars in Sleeping Dogs have great braking/accelerating, but I think their turning radii are a little too wide. Maybe it’ll get better when I unlock more vehicles.

        And I have to agree: the ramming mechanic is awesome.

        • http://twitter.com/HttpLovecraft Http Lovecraft

          I love that I can ever ram FORWARD, somehow!

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

          @twitter-495079299:disqus: Forward ramming is useful as a sort of “boost” or “turbo” in street races.

    • http://twitter.com/TheJadedJames James Alexander

       I just finished Sleeping Dogs (It’s only a 15 hour game) “GTA with an editor” is an apt description. But GTA4 is just a whole different level than that game. They are both good games. But GTA4 had way better missions/story/characters and all the crazy extras made the universe fun to stick around with even after I was done, even if it was just to surf the fake TV/Radio stations or the internet.

      Also GTA4 sometimes put you in situations where you had to chose sides in underworld disputes (some of which were “put your control down and walk around” hard) this is something Sleeping Dogs’ “undercover cop obviously in too deep” angle really could have benefited from.

      That’s what could have made Sleeping Dogs stand out. I see Wei Shen getting caught up in the lifestyle and forgetting he’s a cop and losing sight of his goals. But if the story was more interactive and implicated ME in this behavior it would have been much different.

  • Colonel

    I started playing Zeno Clash a little bit but it hasn’t clicked for me yet.  I mean, it’s weird and cool-looking but I’ve never been good at FPS melee combat (if PVK and TF2 has shown me anything).  Perhaps I’ll shelve it for a year and rediscover it, like I’ve done with Mass Effect, SimCity 4, and many others.

    So if that happens, Torchlight Torchlight Torchlight!

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

    Yeesh.

    Anyways, I’ll probably play a little bit more of my umpteenth replay of Mass Effect. I still love revisiting the world of the first game.

    I just played through Episode 2 of The Walking Dead and it was terrifically dark. Anyone know when the next ep comes out?

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I’m a little more than halfway through ME2 and I keep debating starting over at 1. Basically, I rushed through 1 and didn’t play all the side-missions and really wish I had, and I don’t want to finish 2 until I can pony up for all the DLC and get the “full” experience. Part of me wants to just see everything through to the end the way I’ve played it so far, but there’s that completionist streak…

  • Raging Bear

    Persona 3, Papo & Yo, and a rental of Saints Row the Third. I’d get through a lot more of these if I could just kick this damned sleeping habit.

    • Fixda Fernback

      Ugh, damn these biological ball-and-chains, demanding useless crap like “sleep”. Doesn’t my husk know there is much gaming to be done? I’ve been contemplating buying some energy drinks and just playing the absolute shit out of Sleeping Dogs (And other stuff) all weekend, hah.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Do tell us what you think about Papo & Yo, please. I’m all for fantastic recreations of Brazil with teal-tinted shadows, but I’m not sure about the price tag. Also, swing by the Steam chat room some time. We can always use more punning.

      • Raging Bear

        Punning in real time is always enjoyable. Except maybe for those weirdos who find puns unbearable.

        I’ve played Papo & Yo for an hour and a half or so, so probably not enough to make too many pronouncements. The setting is definitely what I like best about it. Grimy quasi-slums as transformed by the fanciful imagination of a child is pretty new to me, and it’s very nicely done.

        I can’t help comparing it to Fumito Ueda games, possibly unfairly, but then the influence seems pretty clear. In that light, there’s a distinct lack of connection between the boy and Monster. During actual gameplay, they give virtually no indication of being aware of each other’s presence, which is a bit disappointing, given that their relationship is ostensibly the premise of the whole scenario. Of course, this could all change later in the game.

        In any case, the puzzles are decent, and at least enjoyable to play out if not especially challenging (yet). I’d probably only regret paying the full price for it if it ends after another hour or so. Otherwise, it’s really rather good.

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

        I would recommend that you buy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majin_and_the_Forsaken_Kingdom Majin And The Forsaken Kingdom instead.

        1.  It’s great and unique, especially if Team Ico continues to struggle.
        2.  It’s similarly moving, if more in a Klonoa way than a Papo And Yo way.
        3.  I’m not going to say Game Republic should have survived, since that’s their only good game, but Yoshiki Okamoto deserved better.  http://psx.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/by_year/developerId,59175 http://www.1up.com/features/republic-yoshiki-okamoto-interview http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132047/yoshiki_okamoto_japans_game_.php?print=1

        If you didn’t hear, a man who developed or produced most of Capcom’s best games ended up like this: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/06/japanese-dev-legend-goes-from-riches-to-rags  That’s almost as sad as the story behind Papo And Yo.  He just reappeared in public 3 months ago, which probably means that he spent 9 months eating cat food.  http://www.stage.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?p=40444279#post40444279 

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

      You’ll be hibernating for three months later, so take advantage of your time for gaming while you can. I’m only a few hours into SR3, but it’s quite fun so far. You’ll probably enjoy it.

      • Raging Bear

        I always wake up in January, which is part of why I’m so tired and grumpy all year.

        I find a lot to like about SR3. I like that a lot of the humor is genuinely absurd and wacky, rather than (I’m not not going to make this comparison) GTA’s “all crowbarred references to anal sex and 69, all the time” approach. Plus, with Assassin’s Creed, I think my list of open world games with plenty to do just doubled in length.

        But for fuck’s sake, did they need to port the insane enemy spawning system directly from Red Faction: Guerilla? You shoot one damn gang member, and they start piling on from every direction and don’t let up for a second until you’re dead, or try to get away by car, which usually doesn’t work anyway. Still, though, mostly awesome.

  • http://openid.aol.com/proteusfirma Haven

    I’m gonna be playing D&D with some new friends as well–4th edition. (5th sounds like it’s…well, I don’t envy you the experience. Also, it’s apparently being pushed back to 2014.)

  • Swadian Knight

    I was thinking of buying Sleeping Dogs for the weekend, but I found a real bargain on both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II games with all DLC (About 5 USD! I still can’t believe it.). I’ve played both games before, the former much more than the latter due to the fact that the second one took everything I liked about the first game and threw it out the window. I hear the DLC’s are nice, though, and it’ll be my first time playng those, so I’m kind of looking forward to this.

    • dreadguacamole

        I sometimes think I liked the expansion to the first Dragon Age more than the main game. I understand this is not a popular sentiment, though…

    • indy2003

       I’m hoping to complete my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins this weekend (think I’m getting pretty close to the end, as I’m 35 hours in and about to reach my confrontation with Logain). After that, not sure whether I’ll move onto Awakenings or set it aside for a little while and try something else. Really loving the game, though. Unlike a whole lot of games which force the players to make difficult ethical decisions, the choices are effectively murky in this one. In many cases it’s rather difficult to know whether you’ve made the “right” decision until it’s too late – my character is a good deal more complicated and less explicitly noble than most of my RPG characters (pretty sure my version of Commander Shepherd could qualify for sainthood). Anyway, it’s nice to have moral dilemmas which are actually… um… dilemmas.

      Also continuing to play Dyad in short bursts and still having a really good time with it. I’ve only played through the first ten levels or so of the main game, but I’ve been trying to complete trophy levels as I go rather than saving all of those for later. My high score on the first level landed me at #252 on the leaderboard, which made me feel good even though it probably shouldn’t.

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I’m playing DAO right now and loving everything but: all female characters, and all combat. Which is a big chunk of the game, but I’m great at selectively ignoring things!

      I know that a lot of people don’t like II, but I don’t really know why (I haven’t played it and I only know the one-sentence plot description.) What makes it so different, besides the smaller geographical scope of the story?

      • Fluka

        What don’t you like about the female characters in DAO?  I am a much bigger fan of the ones in DA2 – generally speaking, I find the game a lot more progressive on the whole.  Also, Aveline is the bestest.  Generally speaking, as you can probably tell from the setting, the plot is a lot less focused on a single world-saving quest, and more on a bunch of at-first disparate stories of mounting political turmoil which eventually congeal into a crisis over the course of several years.  I found this effective, and a nice change from the usual fantasy themes, but there are others who found the whole thing boring and unfocused, so YMMV.  The gameplay feels a lot faster and more action-oriented.  Less micromanagement and strategy, which can be good or bad depending on what you liked or didn’t like.  The camera doesn’t go fully overhead.  I liked that my mage no longer died every five minutes when a darkspawn so much as breathed on her.

        • blue vodka lemonade

          Morrigan and Leliana both irritate me quite a bit, both because of their voices (not a fan of French accents, or whatever it is that Morrigan has going on with her ’twasn’ts and ’twills and all that) and because they’re both weird male-fantasy interpretations of “what women are like.” Morrigan is a barely-dressed Sex Witch who just needs a hug (and/or dick) to get over her emotional issues (same way I felt about Jack in ME2,) and Leliana is a bisexual MPDG with a dark past and a breathy voice.

          I’ve warmed up a little to Leliana over the course of the ~30 hours I’ve played so far, but I still only use her during quests because she’s good at lock-picking.

          I’m all for less micromanagement, though I’ve been dealing with it okay in DAO by playing on the easiest setting so I don’t have to worry about picking the right skills and playing with team synergy. Really, so long as DA2 has decent dialogue and good party interactions, supporting a plot that’s coherent, I’ll probably like it plenty.

        • Fluka

          The plot may be a too uncentered to count as “coherent,” but the party interactions are definitely better.  The Rivalry/Friendship system means that you can *gasp!* disagree with your co-adventurers without them storming off in a huff.  And they seem to interact with one another and have their own lives away from Hawke.  So I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.  (Also, the Morrigan/Jack comparison is a good one.  I like both, but that’s mostly because I’ve played both as a friendly female friend, rather than as magic-unhappiness-curing-penis man.)

        • http://twitter.com/TheJadedJames James Alexander

          I liked the idea of Dragon Age 2 not just repeating comfortable fantasy tropes. But Kirkwall wasn’t varied enough to focus an entire 30 hour game around.

          Legend of Korra focuses on one city while The Last Airbender travels the whole world. But Republic City is a developed enough setting to warrant that.

      • Swadian Knight

        Well, for the story part, the first thing you’ll notice is that the dialogue system is a really bare bones version of Mass Effect’s, replacing the freedom and range of the first game with a set of three possible responses that essentially amount to Agree, Jokingly Agree and Angrily Agree. A bigger problem still is that those options are represented by just one generic sentence, so you really don’t know how your character will act or what they’ll say when you choose one.

        The story has an interesting structure to it – it’s framed around an interrogation, which makes it more concise and agile than the first game’s – but there’s some severe problems with what they chose to depict and what they left out, like the fact that the story stops entirely in the first act until you grind enough money to proceed.

        The gameplay is strange. The combat was simplified and sped up and actually has a certain charm after you get used to it, but there is very close to zero strategy involved in it and the game throws droves of generic respawning enemies at you, which means it gets old fast. Add to that that sidequests are all pretty generic and that the game recycles the same 2 or 3 dungeons for every one of them (and some of the main quests as well!) and it really wasn’t a lot of fun to play this game vanilla.

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

      Is that bargain still up? If so, could you link to it please? There was a similar deal on both on Amazon a while back, and I missed out in by literally 20 minutes.

      • blue vodka lemonade

         Yeah, I’d love to pick up a big fat DA2 pack for when I finally run out of DAO content. Granted, that’s gonna be another 40 hours, but you never know when I’ll hunker down and play 15 hours in a sitting without thought for health or sanity.

        • Swadian Knight

          @Merve2:disqus @green_gin_rickey:disqus 

          I thought I’d posted a reply already, but disqus seems to have eaten it so here goes: I got the bundle off Nuuvem, which is a brazilian digital distribution website:
          http://www.nuuvem.com.br/produto/694-dragon-age-ultimate-bundle 
          The price for the bundle has since gone up to about 13 USD, but there’s a little sale timer next to it and the prices tend to get knocked down when they’re nearing the end of a sale, so a little scheduling goes a long way (that’s how I got my deal).

          Also, checking it out now it seems DAII only comes with the vanilla game, not the DLC, although it comes with a bonus key whose utility I’ve yet to discover since I haven’t installed the game yet.

          The website’s in portuguese, so just let me know if you need some help with it.

  • doyourealize

    After reading Genevieve’s response, I’m pretty sure that name is a handle and she grew up in my family. Or maybe that’s her real name, and she’s in family, but I haven’t met her. We’ve got a big extended family (both parents grew up in families of 9 kids), and whenever we see my dad’s side, which is often enough, several Pinochle games will break out, and there’s always someone willing to play, age 20-90.

    Kind of a related note, my Grandmother once saw us all playing Dominion, original box stacked up with like 6 expansions, and she said, “When I was growing up, we needed one deck of cards to play any game we wanted. Now you need six boxes of cards to play one game.”

    And for me this weekend, it’ll be the same as the previous two weekends. Morrowind overhaul with a smattering of Dark Souls (90% trophy get so far).

    • doyourealize

      Also, something I always forget to mention, I constantly have a few games of Chess going on my Chesspresso Android app. You started rated at 1400, and after a fairly recent streak of wins (including against one ranked much higher than me), I finally moved into the 1500 range. This was followed by an even more recent streak of loses that pushed me into the 1300s for the first time. I now sit at 1409.

      If anyone’s got the app (you can play unrated games for free, or rated games for $3 or $5 or something), send me a game request. It’s something I never get bored of. ID: doyourealize

      • Aaron Riccio

        Chess. Still an all-time favorite . . . but not for me. I’m much more excited about the new co-op levels being designed by users. You ready to revisit co-op? 

        • doyourealize

          They’re making co-op levels now? I’d love to play, but unless it’s tonight, we’ll have to wait a bit. I’ve got family coming this weekend, then I’m off to New Hampshire for most of next week, so probably not til after that.

        • Aaron Riccio

          @doyourealize:disqus They just started, so it’s probably better that we give them time to build some good levels first before jumping back in. Just hit me up when you’re ready, whenever. Other Gameological people, feel free to do the same. 

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

    I will be playing my home version of “The Digest” for my Atari 2600 Video Computer system (TM).

    (@Effigy_Power inspired me to try my own hand at Gameological ‘fanart’…Here’s hoping we can keep the ball rolling and the other gifted folks in the commentariat (@SpaceMonkeyMafia? @caspiancomic:disqus ?) continue to contribute visually (and aurally? ludicly? cinematographically?) to the culture being cultivated in the comments here….)

    REALLY, I will be playing “Scramble back from DC and try to get my shit together for grad school to start up again.”

    Today I’ll be playtesting the games my kids made in the game-making summer camp class I was teaching this week at the Smithsonian. Some of them were pretty ambitious, and most of them were pretty insane. There seems to be a uniform compulsion among 11-year-old game designers that at any point you could place a single enemy character, you might as well just place 50, because that equals more awesome. Obviously.

    • doyourealize

      Teti looks like Knox from Tim Burton’s Batman (whose name is apparently Robert Wuhl).

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

        His expression was based on the most flattering picture of Teti I could dig up.

      • TaumpyTearrs

        Correction, his name is actually Arli$$.

        Yeah that’s right HBO,  all your Emmys and Wires and Sopranos will never make me forget that you aired Arli$$ for SEVEN FUCKING SEASONS! Seriously, did Wuhl have pictures of you fucking a goat or something HBO?

    • Staggering Stew Bum

      Hmmm, I’d love to contribute but I don’t think the world is quite ready to see my eroTETIca fan art just yet.

    • Electric Dragon

      Reminds me of this.

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

        Those are awesome.

        It’s probably clear that my main inspiration was the original pencil+watercolor montage painted Atari box art, but more specifically I was drawing on the composition of the box for Warlords.

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

      Adorable.

      That is how I design games in R.P.G. Maker VX.  It’s like Golden Sun or other role-playing games where the 4th worst weapon is already Excalibur, so they’re stuck thinking, “I don’t know.  Let’s try kennings.  Comet-Blade?  ‘This sword was forged from an entire, island-sized meteor halted by the gods and frozen in space’s icy nothingness.  Does x2 damage to flying enemies.’”

      And now that you mention it, how I should design games in Adventure Game Studio.  Why have a balanced video game when you can have 1 long, interconnected inventory puzzle with hundreds of possible irrevocable failstates?  It’s like what Roberta Williams would have done, had she had the guts!

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

         Meanwhile I’ll design a game that all shaved edges and gentle direction, where your inventory never has more than one item, and if you take more than 30 seconds to complete a ‘puzzle,’ the characters will happily do it for you and get on with the story.

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

          *laughs*  Beautiful.  Throw in Gary Owens reading self-affirmation copy on a loop and I’ll have a 3-game deal with Telltale ready for you to sign tomorrow.  “You used Circle Block on Circle-Shaped Hole.  Have you been working out?”

    • blue vodka lemonade

       I take it these are your metaphorical kids?

      My baby (AKA 7-year-old) cousin “designed” a “card” “game” once. It was just War, except the card values are “a secret” and only he can tell you how much they’re worth. I played against him once and lost, 0 – 10,000,000,000.

      Tell us how those games work out! Hopefully none of them end in tears!

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

         ”My kids” is sometimes what I call “my students” when I forget that that makes it sound like they’re the fruit of my loins and not just the people I show how to do and think about stuff. “My kids” were the kids at my camp class.

    • Mooy

      I wasn’t actually going to post this, but I’ll just leave this here: http://imgbox.com/adyekT0P

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        I thought for a second that you had made an actual game, which would probably win you some sort of monarchy over keyboard geniuses.

        I see comment cat in there though. Talk about pandering.

      • Effigy_Power

        Cool. Mind you I did this long before it was considered cool. Therefore all credit goes to me. Just like the ArmA2 mod.

      • HobbesMkii

         Nooo! You need to post this on a day other than Friday! Now it’ll never make it to Comment Cat.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        That is awesome.  I had no idea the Digest is hosted in a shack in some whimsically frightening Appalachia replete with rickety bridges and small, yet impassable bodies of water.

      • Effigy_Power

        If @Mooy:disqus is as callous as me, he’ll just repost this a few times and in comment-sections where it won’t go under.
        I hope so anyways.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      That is awesome, man.  Is that all your line work?  If so, you undersell your drafting abilities.

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

         It is my pencilwork, with some fake Painter 7 watercolors over the top. I was happy to discover that, when subjected to closer scrutiny, those seemingly complex Atari covers were mainly watercolor washes over hatched pencil sketches, and you can knock one out fairly quickly.

        While I’m mostly a new media guy, my degree was technically a concentration in painting and drawing, so I have enough figure drawing under my belt that I can knock out a portrait in a pinch if need be.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Yeah, I’m a Fine Arts graduate who now works entirely in digital illustration and graphic design, so I know where you’re coming from.
             I love those old Atari covers so very much.  I love that the breaking edge of consumer technology could only be realized through analog production illustration.  It is most certainly the unearned nostalgia talking, but I honestly don’t think game box art or advertisements have been any better than they were at the beginning.
             So you’ve got your good-as-gold Fine Arts undergrad, what are you going to Grad school for?  

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

           @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus : I’m getting my Master’s in Art Ed. After graduating, I found myself gravitating towards teaching in various capacities (including teaching ESL overseas, which was awesome, and gave me a chance to see first-hand a lot of the Russian artwork that had inspired me throughout undergrad).

          Even when I wasn’t explicitly teaching art, I found I incorporated artmaking into my teaching practice and learning-through-artmaking into my plans for my kiddoes, and generally met with success. There were also great unexpected moments when art would ‘accomplish’ something (some formation of identity, some expression of concept, or some act of learning) that was really fascinating to me, and salved some of my doubts about the relevance of artmaking I cultivated from reading too much Tolstoi.

          Eventually I decided I wanted to go back to school and try to understand some more about this apparent interaction between art/artmaking and learning/teaching, and last year I decided to give it a go (the preschoolers I’d been teaching for the prior 3 years were graduating up to kindergarten, so it seemed like a good moment to move on – the kids were already at a period of transition and I wouldn’t feel like I was abandoning them).

          This has been “Cool Story, Bro: Oversharing with Girard.” Tune in next week when, apropos of nothing, I detail the minutiae of lunchtime procedure at a British primary school.

    • The_Misanthrope

       I’m pretty sure that compulsion still exists with many fully-grown game designers, if you replace “enemies” with “new  graphics technique”. 

      “That light-bloom effect sure looks pretty!  Let’s put a lot of it in our current project!”

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

    I haven’t played D&D since the 2nd edition was current. When I was younger, our adventures were usually simple dungeon-crawling affairs, but they gradually matured as we did. I always preferred an urban setting. I got much more enjoyment out of investigating and negotiating than I did out of combat.

    It puzzles me that there are those who still play D&D as little more than a dungeon-crawler.   

    Most other tabletop RPGs of the 90s were geared towards an urban setting. In “Star Wars” and “Heroes Unlimited”, you couldn’t imagine limiting yourself to mazes and mooks. 

    • Cliffy73

      Well, that’s the beauty of D&D.  It’s completely customizable to the type of game you want to play.  Dungeon crawl?  Sure.  Urban murder mystery?  High fantasy?  Political negotiation?  Get drunk and try to stagger back to your lodgings?  It’s all in there.  It’s genre agnostic without being a completely generic setting that you have to develop from scratch.

      Myself, I later gravitated to games that were **very** setting specific (Torg, for instance, although that too is very genre-flexible within its well-defined setting), but D&D can be whatever you want it to be.  

      (This is all my recollection from AD&D 1E; I stopped playing roughly when 2E came out.)

  • Brian Gabriel

    I’ve been trying to beat KOTOR 1 before GW2 comes out next weekend.

  • Cheese

    Persona 4 Arena, and maybe Jeanne D’Arc on my Vita.

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

      Holy crap! There’s a Joan of Arc video game?

      • Cheese

        Yes, it’s a PSP strategy RPG. Did you know that the English summoned demons to fight the French? Because I did not!

        It’s good. The characters are all story relevant like Fire Emblem, but overall it plays more like FFT.

    • rvb1023

      Figured I could clean up a few scrubs with Mitsuru before meeting someone who knew what they were doing online.  Turns out I was wrong and got my ass handed to me. A lot.

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    I’ve marathoned my way through most of Demon’s Souls in the past week. I’m currently in 5-2, which was much less of a pain that I was expecting. I had a lot more trouble with the Tower of Latria. My spouse restarted our Gamefly subscription, so we’re getting Lego Batman 2 at some point as well.

    • blue vodka lemonade

      Gamefly is ridiculous with how hard they try to get you not to cancel. I got one month for $6, then tried to cancel and they said NO DON’T, PLEASE TAKE THIS FREE MONTH. Then after that month I went to cancel again, and did. Cue two weeks later, when I get an e-mail to RE-START YOUR ACCOUNT FOR ONLY $7.

      I really wish I had more time/more desire to play through games really quickly, because it’s very close to being a good deal but I just can’t keep up with playing a game every week.

      • JohnnyLongtorso

        I find Gamefly useful because I can’t afford to buy new games and most games I don’t want to keep anyway. Plus after a week or two I’m usually either done with a game or sick of it, so getting two games a month for $17 is a pretty decent deal.

        Anything requiring more than 8-10 hours of play is not usually worth getting from Gamefly, unless you’re really dedicated to finishing it. Fortunately, most non-RPG games don’t take longer than that amount of time, so I can usually breeze through them in a weekend or two. Hell, I played through The Darkness II in a single day’s rental from Redbox. (I also did that with X-Men: Destiny, but the less said about that turd the better.)

        • blue vodka lemonade

           Having Gamefly over the summer was nice, and I got through LA Noire, Shadows of the Damned, and Assassin’s Creed each in about a week and a half and it worked out well. After that I had a hard time coming up with short, non-RPG games I wanted to play that they had available, and it stopped making sense.

          As it is, I have so many half-finished games sitting on my computer or in cases that I want to try and get through some of the backlog before I get new things.

  • JudgeReinhold

    Shit, that Josh Modell paragraph could’ve been written by me, if only you changed the parenthetical to say “I’ll play Crusader Kings II again at some point, I swear!” or “I’ll play the Mass Effect game I bought 18 months ago that remains in the box someday!” 

    I’m tempted to shot at Modell in WWF, but I’m a little rusty (I only have one game going at a time now). Still, I’m not competitive enough to give a shit if I lose. If any of you guys want to play me, I’m unrivaledvocab. 

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Sounds like me as well.  I still haven’t started on Arkham City despite buying it on release day, have played about 1 hour of Dark Souls, have The Witcher 1 and 2…and with our baby due late December/early January, my time is running out fast to get some of these out of the way!

  • duwease

    Tonight I’m going to give Spelunky ONE last shot to try and get the perfect run, otherwise I’m going to give up.  Then I’ll finally dust off the copy of Witcher 2 I bought and start that.

    This is the exact same comment I would have posted had you asked any time in the last 7 days, however, so its accuracy may be in question..

  • ItsTheShadsy

    I’m continuing my ongoing effort to stress-test my new computer, which is mostly an excuse to revisit PC games since 2007-ish that I wasn’t able to play. So far Crysis 2 has understandably pushed it the most, but I’ve gotten the biggest kick out of Dear Esther so far. Portal 2 is next on my list.

    Any lesser-known PC experiences that I might have missed out on?

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Now that it’s F2P, The Old Republic is pretty fun if you like Star Wars and MMOs.  (It’s the game I upgraded MY computer last December for.)  Just expect to play it mostly solo except for the occasional group mission.  I’m not sure if they’ve done any server merges since the F2P change.

  • Cornell_University

    I am facing up to it and taking another sabbatical from FF8.  Maybe when it gets cold and dark out I’ll pick it back up.  Self hatred is such a natural state of affairs in the winter.

    I downloaded a GBA emulator and have been playing FF Dawn of Fates, which seems to be just a port of FF Origins for PS1, which I know I own but I can’t seem to find.  the emulator is set to like 400% speed and I’m too dumb to learn how to change it so the grinding has been going insanely fast, though it was helped by learning about the Power Peninsula trick for the FIRST TIME in FF1.  weird how you can still have a dusty old cartridge of a game you’ve been playing since childhood and still find out new stuff about it.  ’course, if I had a Nintendo Power subscription back in the day I wouldn’t have had to wait 22 years to see it done on youtube.

    • Cornell_University

      I also have had a note to myself on my phone to download Wizorb for like 3 weeks.  Thanks for rubbing it in!

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

      It is emphatically not a port of that!  “Finest Fantasy” was localized so well, even through Game Boy Advance port problems and the fact that VI was near the end of its lifespan, that I’m legitimately mad that III got a silly DS “reimagining.”  Really?  We can’t just have an archive-perfect rendition of all 6 games with tweaks to align games with the Final Fantasy mythos and “developer’s cut” bonus features (yes, yes, the graphics got changed on the Famicom ones, but still)?

      If we can’t get fricking Final Fantasy preserved correctly, what hope is there for more obscure stuff?

      *realizes he’s ranting*…………….That said, enjoy The Theme Of The Wild Rose Rebellion at prestissimo tempo.  Maybe you’ll get really good at Theatrhythm as a consequence?

      • Cornell_University

        I will absolutely take your word on them being different, FF1 seems the same, but it’s been a few years since I played Origins.  Does the DoF version of FF2 still have that ridiculous glitch that you can endlessly select attacks/magic for your characters, then cancel them and still make your stats gain levels?  most hilarious mistake ever.

        I am not looking forward to playing the anthologies of the SNES era games (which I’ve had just as long as Origins but have never opened for some reason) that insert FMV sequences.  Square fucking loves those things and should probably marry them.

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

          *laughs*  They fixed it and a bunch of other things, which was part of why they were actually respectable ports.

          1 of the others, as you mentioned, is that it took until the Dissidia series for Square Enix not to butcher 2-d character designs in 3-d.  http://images.wikia.com/finalfantasy/images/6/61/Kefka_CGI_artwork.jpg  Run!  Run!  Or you’ll be poorly done in C.G.!

          You’ll actually love the endgame dungeons for all 6 (or 2).  2′s, especially, is rather memorable for what it does with the less permanent party members.

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

          Given that there are so many other ways to play Square’s SNES games now, I’d just get rid of those PS1 discs. The complaints you’ve heard about load times are no exaggeration, and the CGI was laughably awful even at the time. 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I didn’t know about the ‘Power Peninsula’ trick until my adulthood, either.  It tickled my to have my low-level party sneak up top, get into one encounter, die and reset or barely win and just scamper back to town to set bones and put eyeballs back into sockets.
         Grinding can be a malignant process, but when you can actually see your characters get stronger and stronger, it is crazy satisfying.  I owned that ‘Edvard Munch’s The Scream’ troll like a boss.

      • Cornell_University

        maybe it was one of the hints doled out on the 900 line.  and I wonder how much money Nintendo lost when the internet became affordable and people didn’t have to call that stupid thing anymore.

        (I’m basing my assumption that lots of people called that line off of watching The Wizard.  the only 900 tip line I ever used was the Sierra one for King’s Quest 4.  and I think I had to surrender that week’s allowance to do it.  fuckin’ evil trees.)

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Wizardry: Crusaders of the Dark Savant was my one tip line experience.  This was in high school too, when I could have been fervently trying to hide evidence from my dad that I’d been calling a phone sex line instead of fervently hiding evidence that I couldn’t figure out how get through the Dane tower.

    • ItsTheShadsy

      Man, I was just considering replaying Final Fantasy 8. Guess I HAVE to now…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

    Considering that The Last Story has apparently finally made it to store shelves, I’ll probably be playing that this weekend. Maybe. The problem is that I’m also picking up a 3DS XL on Sunday (two, actually, since my wife agreed to defer her birthday present for a couple of weeks) so that could cause some distraction.

  • PPPfive

    What a bunch of nerds

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Seriously?  Where?!  Let’s go hit them with our giant muscles!

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

        True story: My college friend who was a varsity football player enjoyed Barbie video games. He used to play them with his girlfriend. I found this out when I changed his homepage to barbie.com as a prank and he never changed it back.

  • Cliffy73

    I played pinocle once in my life — it was my best friend’s family game.  I don’t remember how the bidding works, although I do recall that I had to ask for a do over when I noticed, later, that I’d been dealt a double pinocle.

    At my house, like the house of every other white family in Akron except my friend’s, our game was euchre.  We played it regularly most weekends, even teaching my 5 or 6 year old sister.  (She once stacked the deck to deal herself a lay-down loner.  Her kindergarten-level dissembling was hilarious.)  My parents often went to or held euchre/wine drinking parties, and all the seniors in my high school also played all through our double lunch period.  But I married a Jersey girl and moved to the Mid-Atlantic, so now I only play when I and my S. Carolina resident sister are both visiting the folks at the same time.

    This weekend I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing the last month — playing a little Outwitters on my iPhone (I kept getting waxed so I’d dropped of a little recently, but yesterday I beat two guys who were ranked more highly, so I feel pretty good about it now), maybe playing some Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers on my iPad.  (I’ve just started getting into the multiplayer Planechase campaign, and it’s kicking my ass.  It’s particularly difficult because I refuse to change decks because I’ve almost got this one almost completely unlocked, but it’s totally the wrong deck for the first Planechase match.)

    Speaking of Magic, I’ll also be watching plenty of the World Magic championship which is at Gen-Con this weekend.  I’m still not nearly good enough a player to understand what’s going on at these high-level events, but thery’re still pretty cool. 

    • Cornell_University

      HELLO FROM INDIANA!  TRY THE FAT!

  • Bad Horse

    So how does everyone feel about GTA4 these days? It was definitely overrated on release, but with the impossible expectations gone, I’m finding it to be not quite as broken as I thought it was at first. Even the parts of it that are questionable (the realistic vehicle handling) or broken (the social system) contribute to making the city feel real, and that counts for quite a bit.

    Anyway, I’m playing that. For whatever reason, I’m finding it easier these days also.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       Its a very pretty sand-box.  I always play through GTA games once straight, but the real fun starts when I indulge the cheat codes.

  • TreeRol

    My group needs a new many-player game, so I’ll solicit advice here. We usually get between 7 and 10 for game night, which requires either a many-player game, or splitting up (which I like, but it does splinter the socialization).

    Currently in the rotation:
    Wits & Wagers
    Apples to Apples
    Cards Against Humanity (“Apples to Apples for horrible people”)
    Ricochet Robots
    Bang
    Citadels (which we don’t play often enough for my liking)
    Shadows Over Camelot (which seems like a much better idea than it ends up being)
    Catch Phrase
    Outburst (which one guy hates, so we can’t play often)
    Cranium (which I hate)

    Any other suggestions? I think I need to get my hands on Werewolf, since the funnest part of some of the games listed above is trying to figure out roles. But any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Aaron Riccio

      If you like Werewolf, might I suggest you try The Resistance instead? Same concept (Mafia at heart, right?), but there are “plot cards” that may help you pinpoint traitors, and there are no “deaths” — just failures. It’s a lot of fun, though as always, those of you who apply logic may get red in the face trying to get through to a room of people who go with their gut.

      • TreeRol

        Thanks for the advice – I’ll see if I can find it.

        I haven’t actually played Werewolf, but it’s highly rated at the Geek (and in this very article), so I figured I’d give it a shot.

        Oh, another one we play with secret roles: Saboteur. I think the mechanic is too fiddly in that one, though.

        • Aaron Riccio

          Yeah, I’ve done a lot of Saboteur, too. I think the expansion makes the game much better, but the randomness of the tile cards makes it harder to successfully screw people, especially without giving your role away. Still, sometimes everything just works out perfectly, and it’s a nice ice-breaker game to get people started with.

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

      If you’re looking for an in-depth experience that’s not too complicated, and you’re not tired of zombies, then I’d recommend Last Night on Earth. There are different configurations of the game for 2 to 6 players, it’s highly adaptable, and there are a bunch of expansions available.

      If you’re looking for a party game, I’d recommend The Game of Things (a.k.a. Things in a Box). It’s basically the classic improv game Things You Shouldn’t Say turned into a party game.

      • ItsTheShadsy

        Things is a lot of fun, but in small doses. If you play it for too long, it just devolves into a contest to see who can write the most violent/sexual/disturbing thing.

        …which, mind you, is still very fun. Like a David Cronenberg film.

      • TreeRol

         Sweet suggestions; thanks!

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I’ve heard good things about Dixit, though I haven’t played it yet. Similar to Apples to Apples, but with much more room for creative thinking and less “haha, you played Helen Keller! SHE WAS BLIND AND DEAF LOL!” I really need to check it out, my friends burnt me out on Apples to Apples a long time ago so I pretty much hate that game now.

      Also, there are lots of games that I want to try that I’m tempted to suggest you try, but it doesn’t sound like they’d fit in with your group’s current rotation, so I’ll spare you.

      • Aaron Riccio

        Dixit certainly has its moments, and I like the voting mechanic (similar to that of the late, great, Acrophobia); it’s interesting to see what people come up with their minds, or how they choose to describe cards. But yeah, it’s very much Apples-to-Apples-y, and that’s not necessarily a good thing for competitive people who are out on a slightly different wavelength.

      • TreeRol

         I never want to play Apples to Apples, although I usually have fun when we play. If you find that game extremely stale, I’d recommend the two-green variant. It gives you a bit more opportunity to be creative, and come up with some unique things.

        Dixit is very highly rated, but it doesn’t seem like it’d be very fun. I’m kind of hoping someone else picks it up so we can try it.

        I’d still like to hear your suggestions, though, @Douchetoevsky:disqus.

    • caspiancomic

       My last trip to Snakes and Lattes we played a game called Shadow Hunters. We only had five people, and the whole time we were playing it I couldn’t help but think it would have been more fun with 7-10, so maybe check that out. It was really fun, even with the smaller group, although games will probably only last less than an hour.

      • TreeRol

         That’s OK; not everyone in the group is a hardcore gamer, so that might work out well. Thanks!

  • Effigy_Power

    Having been a little cut off from the tabletop gaming scene I didn’t know there’s already going to be a 5th Edition of D&D and it makes me massively sad. I don’t buy that this is just a “Oh, you folks didn’t like 4th ED? We’ll make you a new one.” throw-in as much as an Apple-like cash-grab taking advantage of those who need to be constantly up to date.
    I really like 4th ED, and I’ve been playing this damn game for 16 years, so I can compare it to most other editions… I’ve never understood what the big problem with it is supposed to be. Those who like more complexity can always go to a former version. Well, my goal to possess all 4th ED books still stands.

    Also: While waiting painfully for Dark Souls to finally appear on my Steam thingie, I’ll be playing some Witcher 2, which has shown me the limitations of my computer in that I have to play it in 720… -feigned indignation-
    I’ll also try and get some matches in for Tower Wars which @Mooy:disqus had the grace to present to me, which I will remember to his fortune when I become Empress of the planet.
    Also I decided to work on a big graphical piece depicting my old LARP-group after talking about it to excess in the GS Steam Chat, which has become really a staple in the unbusy parts of my day, at least while Valve isn’t recafoogling the stuff while we are in there.

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

      How big were the shifts from 2 to 3 and 3 to 4?

      One of the things that the 2nd Edition tried really hard to do was to tweak without making substantial changes to the mechanics and equipment. 

      • Effigy_Power

        Going from 2ed to 3ed was pretty strange, as I remember it (god, that makes me sound old). A lot of the classes had effectively changed and a lot of skills also, but for the most part towards more sensible uses. The Rogue’s backstab ability for example was a far cry from the thief’s, which was a rule-disaster. Generally 3ed gave you more time to play rather than look up rules.
        The same can be said for 4ed in my opinion. A lot of people I know have called it the “WoWization” (a pun on both WoW and Wizards) of D&D, but I find that is an unfair treatment.
        What 4ed has done is not so much uber-simplify things as make them more balanced. Fighters were, for all their extra feats and such, pretty boring in combat. The odd cleave, the odd bullrush, but all in all it was “Get in close, chop away, rinse, repeat”.
        With 4ed the game added a lot more to do for every class without favoring any of them beyond measure.

        On the equipment, the changes have been pretty much only in the definition of weapon-groups. Sometimes groups were too complex (yes, I get that a scimitar is used very differently from a broadsword, still), so I find that making that simpler is better. Hammers and Maces do not need individual definitions. Blunt weapons for the major part are used the same.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      You’re a fan of 4th, huh?  Having been about six years from the last group I played with to a new one I found, I went from 3rd to Pathfinder and sort of side-stepped 4th entirely.
         I read the rules and I guess they didn’t really appeal to me.  I mean, they’re nothing terrible and if it was the system my group used, I’d be perfectly happy playing it.  But while I think there’s some real merit to how they restructured lower level characters, overall it felt… I dunno… antiseptic?  A little too encounter-oriented maybe?  It might be also just be pettiness on my part that the 4th aesthetic is making half-dragons and teiflings the good-aligned drow for the new century.
         But I’m always happy to hear about positive experiences, so I’m glad you enjoy the system.    

      • evanwaters

        4e is definitely more encounter-focused but I consider that a good trade-off for it being much more balanced and much easier to actually build adventures for. I’m worried that DDNext is going to suffer from caster supremacy again and won’t be as coherent a system.

      • Effigy_Power

        I can see how the skills and feats now being almost exclusively encounter-based is an issue, that’s clearly something I thought too. Then again, there are systems out there that make people roll ability tests to light a fire with a flint.
        I think the rules for most non-encounter scenes in most systems are superfluous in general. I rather have people roleplay their parts rather than just look stuff up on endless spreadsheets. That said, the skill-encounters are pretty interesting.

        If I have any major grief with 4ed it’s the treatment of alignments, which have been pretty castrated, and as you say, the overwhelming goodness of group-make-up. Having led some evil groups I can understand how hard and frustrating that can be, but 4ed may have undermined that too much.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Old rich dude in a metal band is a stupid asshole. News at 11.

      Here’s something semi-related that will make you feel a bit better though, probably: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/tom-morello-paul-ryan-is-the-embodiment-of-the-machine-our-music-rages-against-20120816#ixzz23oTrUdK5

      • Effigy_Power

        Nice.

    • Aaron Riccio

      As with all upgrades, necessary or not, there will always be new editions. Even if the old one is perfect, there comes a time where you need your users to spend more money, and if you’ve put level design/creation in their hands, the only way to really get them to shell out more is to make them reinvest in the fundamentals. 

      • Effigy_Power

        A lot of people were outraged shitless when 4ed came out, basically to the point where they were more or less arguing that their 3ed books would collapse into dust on their bookshelves the day of 4ed’s release.
        That is of course stupid. Plenty of people, the majority I’d reckon, plays 3ed, partially because of the d20 open gaming license.
        The same also happened as 3ed came out and anecdotally I hear the same happened as AD&D came out. So the old neckbeards and so-called purists will shake their bristles, the admirers of a certain edition will shrug and continue to play their edition and new gamers will maybe find a way into tabletop gaming.
        All of that is fine.

        What I don’t think is a good idea is to reboot constantly. I for example have pretty damn near all 4ed books on the market, not so much because I play a lot anymore, but because I appreciate the books and they give me lots of ideas for other projects.
        That said, I am not likely going to repeat that with a new edition… I’d have bought more 4ed.
        D&D 3.5 was a great idea that kept old books in circulation and also kept the edition itself alive and new(ish). I wouldn’t have had any issue with D&D 4.5, after all, most revisions only become clear after years of playtesting, because some situations may come to pass once in a million games.
        (Here should follow the story of a campaign I mastered where the group instead of breaking into a well-guarded house to burn some incriminating files, they wandered for 2 days to recruit a cloud giant they had helped months prior to shoot a massive flaming arrow at the house, burning the entire thing down to the ground.)

        I think what Wizards should have done is invest in a massive campaign-world, especially after their pretty lackluster revision of the forgotten realms, which I didn’t care for. Something akin to a world-wide campaign, with epic storylines putting dragonborn and dragon-ages to shame.

        Just rereleasing the same stuff in mildly changed form reeks of 4 iPhones in 4 years.

        • djsubversive

          slow day at work, so here’s some more rambling. :)

          Fourth Edition was responsible for the return of DARK SUN, so it gets major points for that. I think the Realms is way too old and full of stuff that would be impossible to change without pissing SOMEBODY off, so they should ditch it, completely. Give it the ol’ Al-Qadim, and focus on Eberron, because Eberron is awesome. Or bring back some motherfucking Dragonlance, but that’s an unpopular opinion that I only hold because Dragonlance was my first introduction to D&D (through the Chronicles books).

          Oh! Spelljammer/Eberron crossover. Elemental-powered space-pirate ships and Cthulhu-esque psionic horrors from beyond the outer deep.

          On the alignment thing, I think 4th made a gigantic leap forward compared to every previous edition. Scrap alignment completely, or at least divorce it completely from game mechanics. My last D&D character had the alignment of “Sam Fischer” (Splinter Cell) instead of “lawful neutral” or whatever and you know what? It didn’t change a thing, except give me a little more of a handle on what I would/would not do in-character.

          d20 Modern handled alignments pretty well, I thought. Totally optional, you can have more than one, but the only mechanical benefit you get out of it is that you get bonuses to charisma-based checks with people who share your alignments. It also broadened the definition of alignment, so my character had things like “the Company” (that the PCs started as a way to launder money) and “moneymoneymoney.” Needless to say, there were very few times when alignment came up in-game, and even fewer that it had any effect on anything besides role-playing.

        • Effigy_Power

           D20 Modern had allegiances instead of alignment, which did an okay job.
          It’s fine if you don’t want to use alignments as a game mechanic, but to categorically limit them also limits the choices of gamers.
          Wizards’ job is to supply as much rule-work as possible, so we can trim off the fat where we want to. Despite my general reluctance to use any social interaction skills, they might be helpful to someone.

          And yes, the same campaign worlds have been overused. Oriental Adventures could have done with a overhaul, but doesn’t belong to Wizard, I think, but to Green Ronin. (?)
          Faerun is a hard nut to crack and Dragonlance can be put in the garbage for all I care, I never liked it… also because Hickman and Weis are hacks.

  • blue vodka lemonade

    I’m on day 6 of Pathologic, and haven’t killed off any major characters yet, so there’s that. When my soul gets crushed to powder and I lose all will to live, it’s on to marathon bouts of Audiosurf to cleanse my brain before I inch forward in Dead Space and Dragon Age.

    Mostly it’s gonna be a week of putting off/dreading packing for school and cleaning the downstairs. I still have a couple suitcases I brought home from school in May that I never so much as opened. Who know what horrors await within!

    • caspiancomic

       Pathologic, excellent! I’m jealous! Is it as crushingly bleak as I’ve heard?

      • blue vodka lemonade

         Pretty much it is! A big part of it is the poor translation, I think, because it adds this whole extra layer of isolation and confusion, but all the intentional parts are just as soul-devouring.

        Between the roving gangs of children wearing stuffed dog heads, digging through 50 dumpsters to find 5 empty bottles to fill with water to trade for a new pair of gloves or a tin of unknown vegetables, and walking (slowly) across town to talk to people who pretty much all would kill you if it meant even the slightest advantage for them, it almost feels like a commentary on Western action/RPG mechanics. It’s kind of like Oblivion, but in one town, and you never get any stronger, and long, difficult quests are rewarded with a crust of bread and a handful of rifle bullets (which you’ll probably trade for more bread) instead of an enchanted sword and a heap of gold.

        • caspiancomic

           Jesus almighty that sounds so cool. That description actually reminds me a lot of One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, or any other gulag survival story you care to name, where the characters break their backs for hours and days at a time in a hostile environment and cherish things like stale bread and cups full of thin soup. I really wish I could play it myself, but I don’t know if I would have the willpower anyway.

          • blue vodka lemonade

            It’s pretty much Life of a Dostoevsky character, if Dostoevsky characters had to deal with a metaphysical plague that rises from the ground and kills everything.

            ETA: You should give it a try, it only costs like $10 or something. There’s a good buildup in terms of atmosphere/challenge, so the first couple days you’re pretty much safe to try out the mechanics and get your bearings. “Expert Mode” play is just playing the game, but with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8_BAoVwoaM as your soundtrack.

            You’ll shoot your mind out!

        • caspiancomic

           I’d love to try it out, but I don’t know if you can get it for Mac. I’d jump all over that shit if I could though.

          Also, I fired up that song and was like “what’s so ‘Expert Mode’ about this? This song is kinda jumpin’!” and then after about an eternity I checked the video and I had only been listening for five minutes. I’m ten minutes in now, and have gone quite insane. But I’m ride this wave to the end if it kills me!

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

    I am going to my 1st ever professional wrestling event, Chikara in Milwaukee.  http://www.chikarapro.com/aug-17-2012.php  Apart from their logos, they also steal video game designs from classic wrestling games for their promotional material.  (Also, listen to Colt Cabana’s podcast.)  4th Letter did a good primer on them, but, basically, it’s wrestling that’s good-natured.  http://www.chikarapro.com/roster.php  Multiple ant characters.  “The Mysterious And Handsome Stranger.”  A demented marching band leader.  http://wallsofjerichoholic.blogspot.com/2011/07/know-your-indie-wrestlers-rd.html

    You would have appreciated El Generico while he was around.  He was a redheaded Canadian posing as the most generic luchador alive.  Also, he could do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlTIN6TkQrg  Indie wrestling generally allows people to take stupid risks, but it can pay off.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTtDLd7eSF4

    To celebrate, I’m playing AKI and Human/Spike wrestling games.  I’ll possibly make time for Sculptured Software’s classic wrestling games, even if they mostly remind me of the smell of Pizza Hut and Chuck E. Cheese.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Have fun. Live wrestling is really enjoyable. I’ve been to Raw/SD/ECW tapings (2006 ECW, not actual ECW), and it’s really easy to let yourself get swept up and participate in the spectacle (like Punch & Judy but with athleticism) and even normally unbearable stuff (cheap pop/heat, signing contracts IN THE RING) becomes fun. Smaller stuff’s good too because of the proximity and, well, you’re spending your evening with people who seem to be really into Dick Togo for some reason.

      But of course I missed Liger when he was is my hometown. I still Rolling Koppu Kick myself over that. Yes, I can do that.

  • TheDonatistControversy

    Sentinels of the Multiverse is great.  If you’re looking for a fun, highly replayable cooperative game, definitely check it out.  And unlike Arkham Horror it doesn’t take hours to play or half an hour to explain to a new player.

    • Aaron Riccio

      Betrayal at the House on the Hill is also pretty fun/easy to learn.

  • stakkalee

    Family in town this weekend (which also means i may be late to the Comment Cat party tonight.)  So, no time for video games, sad to say.  We are going to the Smithsonian, and I’m going to try to talk them in to hitting the video game exhibit, but any actual gaming will likely be limited to Cribbage, my family’s game-playing-tradition.

  • George_Liquor

    OK, I submit that playing Pinochle on an iPhone does not make it a video game any more than playing it on top of your TV makes it a game show.

    • evanwaters

      It is a game played on a visual device. Hence a video game.

    • Electric Dragon

      The feature is called “What Are You Playing?” It doesn’t specifically reference video or computer games.

      • George_Liquor

         Perhaps not. But the subject matter this website focus on, and the fact that Ms. Koski directly references video games certainly implies it. Then again, maybe I’m being too fussy. I think I’ll take a nap.

  • Andy Tuttle

    I have work all weekend so there isn’t much gaming I can do. I’ve been trying to get in an hour of Animal Crossing on the Wii every day, and when I’m at work I’ll pass some time by playing that Pac-Man Bejeweled game on my phone.

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

      After 2 somewhat lackluster entries in Animal Forest/Crossing, I’m genuinely thrilled for the new one.  Too much of the content was shared between the 3(1/2, since our 1st was technically a remake) such that you could get away with playing 1.  Not this time!

  • evanwaters

    Ask me Monday. This is a problem with this feature- I’m not sure what gaming I’ll get in this weekend. Depends on how much free time I get.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      You should just talk about whatever you’ve been playing. MORE GAMES TO DISCUSS.

      • Aaron Riccio

        Ys Ys Ys Ys. I noticed that a bunch of reviewers appeared to have played the game (Origins) on Normal, and only as one of the characters, and I have to point out that, no, they haven’t really played the game. Although making my FIRST playthrough Nightmare was probably a mistake. 

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

      You can talk about what you played last weekend. Nobody will ever know! Muhahahaha…

      Okay, I guess the past tense would tip them off. But still.

  • Fluka

    The home Fancy Gaming PC has been on the fritz this week, with the graphics card drivers being all wonky and causing the computer to freeze constantly, and games to crash, usually in conjunction with the use of Steam.  Much detective work ensued, with my husband ordering and installing a different brand of card, only for the problem to get worse, after which he reinstalled the old one.  We seem to have reached equilibrium, meaning he can still play Skyrim about 75% of the time, and Deus Ex no longer kills the system upon quitting, sigh.

    Deus Ex continues slowly but surely.  My stealth skills have gotten kind of sloppy since I maxed out Cloak and figured out I could walk through a room of lasars and security cameras and guards without setting off a single alarm.  Despite being a pacifist, I have now put lots of points into the Super Arm Cannon Thingy, in order to avoid more bullshit boss fights. (I am irritated that I cannot evade/email-read those jerks to death.)

    Other than that, some Work Gaming.  I’m making progress on the text-based adventure game Computer Grid Job Submission Challenge.  There were some totally bullshit puzzles last night, but I totally solved it without having to call a computer hotline. *proud, sad.*

    • George_Liquor

      @Fluka:disqus Just a possibility: you might have a bum power supply, or a power supply rated too low to handle the load. I had a similar problem with random lockups & crashes on my computer. I tried swapping the video card too, but the problem only got worse. As it turns out, the amount of current my power supply was putting out was insufficient to support the video card while playing 3D games, and dropping in a newer, more power-hungry card only made things worse. All of my hardware problems went away once I swapped the old power supply for a new one rated to support heavier loads. 

      • Fluka

        See, now that’s very interesting.  We know for sure that the computer has power source troubles.  When Mr. Fluka first built the thing and turned it on, it wouldn’t post but would just keep going through the boot cycle over and over and over again.  We went and bought a new, better power supply, but the problem didn’t go away (and we were in no mood to buy another power supply after that).  Since then, we’ve dealt with the problem by A) mostly keeping it on, and B) a clever series of button pushes and wire-tugs which seems to Get The Electrons Movin’ Right (oh god) if we ever do need to power it back up.  The conclusion from the whole episode was that the motherboard itself was shitty, but he had no interest in replacing it.  We didn’t get any of these gaming crashes, however, until this past week, when everything started to go to hell.  The only change was installing a new wireless PCI card.  Maybe that upset the delicate balance of the system somehow.  Your account certainly gives credence to this whole suite of problems being a power issue.

        • George_Liquor

           Yeah, that sounds like a power issue. An easy way to test is to pull that card out and disconnect any peripheral devices that draw power from the power supply. I’m talking hard drives, (if you have more than one) optical drives, bus-powered USB devices, case fans, floppies, other expansion cards, etc. Basically, start yanking shit out until you have the bare essentials needed to boot into your OS, then start running stress tests like video games or Prime95 or whatever. If your computer is stable, start adding devices back in one or two at a time until it becomes unstable.

          One other thing to consider is how many internal devices are connected to a single 12V rail from the power supply. I’ve seen similar power issues with PCs that had the hard drive, optical drive, floppy and video card all daisy-chained off a single rail. Simply moving devices onto their own rails fixed the crashes.

        • Fluka

          Well, I have my homework for the weekend.  Thanks a bunch, @George_Liquor:disqus , for the very helpful advice!

        • George_Liquor

           No sweat. I hope it helps.

        • Effigy_Power

           @George_Liquor:disqus is technically correct. The best kind of correct.
          Especially the cycling through the boot sequence is a very distinct power-issue. Some AMD processors draw up to 125 Watts from the PSU, which is a lot. Count to that the power going into all your other cards and the mass of USB devices people have, some of which all turn on at the same time during startup, then that could be your culprit.
          I generally recommend a cheap little USB hub for devices that don’t really need any complex communication with the PC but just power. Better to get that from a hub itself than tax the computer more.
          Also, make sure your PSU fan can run unhindered and blows in a favorable direction. Especially when building your own, a lot of mistakes can be made when it comes to air-direction. Sure, there are tons of debates into what constitutes the “perfect” circulation beyond what is logical, but there are some wrong ones and a fairly large amount of modern hardware has temperature-sensors which may turn the device off to save it.

    • djsubversive

      emailing bosses to death would be awesome. More boss fights that aren’t just “Now we must battle!” scenarios would be great in general. It’s especially jarring in HR considering you could stealth your way through most of the other missions, and then get forced into a small arena for a fight. I was sort of hoping for more stuff like that first guy in the factory, where you negotiate with him to release the hostage.

      [obsidian fanboy] Obsidian did a pretty great conversation-boss-fight with the first Atris encounter in KOTOR 2. And, of course, there’s pretty much everybody you meet in Alpha Protocol (after the “beat ‘em up” part, there’s a “talk ‘em down” part). New Vegas even has both ends of the scale covered – you can go complete pacifist or murder everybody you meet and still beat the game. [/obsidian fanboy]

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

        At the risk of being a boss fight apologist, one could argue that DX:HR’s “social” boss fights – the ones where you have to convince characters to do things – are forced upon the shoot-’em-up-and-ask-questions-later players. That being said, there are only a couple of “social” skills in which to invest Praxis points, and talking to other characters requires no special items, so the social boss fights are far less egregious than the violent ones. In principle, though, they’re also restrictive.

        • djsubversive

          See, I figured the “shoot now, questions later” crowd wouldn’t really be playing the sequel to Deus Ex when there are other more appropriate games for them? I guess that sounds a bit elitist, though, and I can see your point – if you’re not a fan of something, it’s going to feel forced and restrictive compared to the parts you do enjoy.

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

          @djsubversive:disqus: That’s fair. The game is far from a mindless FPS, and I recognize I’m in the minority who played it violently. That’s why the boss fights didn’t bother me as much as they bothered others.

          While I won’t defend the first boss fight – it is truly terrible – I think the point of the third one is that it’s supposed to be restrictive, to force the player to recognize what life is like for non-augmented humans and to make him or her realize how much he or she has come to rely on Jensen’s powers. I don’t know if the execution is perfect, but I appreciate its thematic intent.

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          (spoiler-ish)

          @Merve2:disqus: I’d like to know if SE has any statistics on how many players fell for the “we have to replace your faulty chipset” trick. That whole thing reeked of “Our dubious website discovered a virus on your computer, better let us run a full scan. All you have to do is enable this Active X applet.” I have to say it was pretty satisfying to see Zhao push her little button and respond with nothing but a “Puh-leeeease” look on my face.

      • Fluka

        No joke, for the first non-skippable boss battle (Beefy McMachinegunarm) I ran away from the guy and hid.  I watched and waited while he kept throwing grenades and walking into them.  The plan was “maybe he’ll just kill himself eventually and I can go home.”  And sure enough, he *did* stagger and clearly took damage a couple of times.  If I finally hadn’t given up out of boredom, I am pretty sure this strategy would have eventually worked.

        • djsubversive

           hahaha, I think I did the exact same thing. I hid in a small room (because facing off with the guy in a large open area? that’s totally how my sneaky-sneaky Jensen would have approached that situation, sure, just WALK OUT INTO THE OPEN… cutscene-Jensen’s a moron), and waited for an opportune moment to do something… he started throwing grenades, and I heard him grunt in pain or whatever and I thought “I wonder if he’ll suicide if I hide here long enough”.

          I think I ended up throwing a couple explosive barrels at him, shooting those, and then hiding in the small room until he finished himself off with grenades.

        • Fluka

          Yeah, that’s what I did too.  My trusty stun gun (<3) locked him up for a while too, so I had some excellent barrel-throwing chances.  After all that self-grenading, I think he died in two barrels.  

  • djsubversive

    Weekly mod report time! There are probably a lot of horribly-constructed sentences (and too many parentheses), but these are basically my notes from the last week.

    Candy Apple Island had to be scrapped, due to some mod conflict with the Ridgeback – the “optional” pack requires yet ANOTHER mod in order to work, and apparently just having the optional pack (but not the required mod) installed tells the mission that you’ve got EVERYTHING, so it won’t let me edit it because it requires the other mod (that I never downloaded or installed). Odd and annoying and, strangely enough, poorly documented! 

    But, it was a mild setback at worst: CAI was my first attempt at anything in the editor other than “place a guy and a truck, then drive around an empty world.” I’ve been working on another mission to test my scripting capabilities, and a lot of that work got ported over to the new co-op sandbox test mission. I do miss kingHomer, the BMP-3 that could. And did. Until we all died.

    I’m able to semi-randomly fill a container with stuff (a list of loot, chosen randomly from a number of list, meaning I have to write up all the lists) and place it in a location (again, one from a list, but at least the locations have a radius they can appear in, so it’s slightly more randomized). This little discovery is being used to the fullest extent. As is being able to spawn units on a trigger, so I don’t have to hand-place every single unit – I can just set a few here and there, with triggers for the “full” group to appear when the players are within a certain range. This will save on loading time and should keep things from bogging down too much.

    There is one small problem that I recently discovered, though. The Ambient Combat Manager (which is great for setting up “random encounter”-style roaming groups of units) doesn’t allow custom factions, which we intend on actually using. Not a gigantic problem, since one of the factions should be rare enough (at least at first) that we’d need to hand-place them (or triggers for them to spawn) anyway, but it’s still annoying. 

    I’ve taken baby steps towards having conversations between units. So far, it’s all dialogue, and all pre-written (no choices yet), with a couple sounds inserted where appropriate (a static-y radio when you start losing contact with the chopper, mostly). I’m probably going about it the long way, but I’m still learning. There’s even a little surprise thing that I feel clever about, but don’t want to spoil for Mooy and Effigy. :D

    Ambient Animals works on Namalsk (the island I’m working with now); I saw a cow while checking the hostage situation to make sure things were triggering. Ambient Civilian Vehicles does not (I saw wrecks, but those seem to all be hand-placed by the map-maker). This might be because there are certain invisible triggers that have to be placed for those things to work, and they weren’t placed on Namalsk. I haven’t dug too deep into that yet.

    A bit of a rant: I’ve started to hate the DayZ community and I don’t even play the mod. Every time I search for how to get certain things to happen in the editor, I’ll find at least the first page is mostly taken up by “how to do [thing] in DayZ, and not get banned” or “DayZ should have [thing].” Or just a general “anyone playing DayZ?” thread. 

    OR I get an OFPEC or ArmAholic (two big ArmA forums) thread with somebody asking almost the exact question I have… 2 years ago, and with no replies.

    Overall, though progress is being made at a pretty good pace. I’m having fun figuring this thing out (most of the time), and I’m able to get things to happen how I want them to happen (most of the time). I still suck at the actual GAME, but whatever. Effigy can drive and Mooy can shoot. I’ll just fret about things not happening the way they did when previewing. :)

    • Effigy_Power

      I am not entirely sure it’s possible to not suck at ArmA2, seeing as the difficulty is beyond punishing with the ACE mod… I mean, getting a concussion from hitting your car into a wall at moderate speed, then passing out from sprinting with a heavy weapon in your hand, breaking your leg from a bad skip over a wall… who needs enemies? We should just make a mod to see if you can make it across the island without a stroke and a major contusion.
      Anyways, @djsubversive:disqus is making some pretty good strides, all of which make me think that this might actually be happening. We should really get the Steam-link to recognize the mods, so we can post some screenshots.
      Too much fun is going undocumented, like @Mooy:disqus being rendered into dust by a grenade, me wrapping my arms in tears around our exploded BMP3 and @djsubversive:disqus grumbling over a single misfiring script amidst a hundred that worked.

      • djsubversive

        hey, that “single misfiring script” was the one responsible for us being grouped together, and it not firing made finding each other in the pre-dawn near the ‘farm’ so much harder. “I’m by the car” “what car?” “the one we drove up here” “where’s that?”

        also awesome – the two of you being blown up, and me getting knocked unconscious by that grenade near Kamenyy. “Oh god, I’m not dead! I can hear them coming, but stupid chat won’t work if I’m unconscious.” That’s why I violently jerk my head around whenever I wake up enough to move… so you can see me laying there bleeding out. Also, the backblast from you firing an RPG knocking me and Mooy on our asses, with ringing in our ears and blurred vision. pretty great.

        And we CAN do the Steam thing, but I want to make sure we’ve got a “core” group of mods working nicely together first, so we don’t have to redo our shortcut-tweaks every time we want to play.

  • ferrarimanf355

    More Forza 4 for me.

  • Gary Phillips

    A Fearful Slaughter on the table, keeping various games of Stone Age at yucata.de going online.

  • Autriad

    Skyrim & Gears 3.  Months/years late.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1320596433 Matt Gerardi

    I’ll be burning through Dust: An Elysian Tail and Darksiders 2 this weekend. It’s kind of funny how similar they are–Metroid-style worlds to explore, juggle heavy combat, divisive art styles.