Keyboard Geniuses

IWHBYD Skull, Halo 3

Treasure, I Land

Highlights from this week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • September 14, 2012

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
Best Treasure Ever: The Bracket

At the start of the week, we asked our readers what makes a good treasure in video games. Then we asked you to choose only one, and weep with delight or sadness at the results. What, how do you play games?!

Preselected treasures were ranked and seeded accordingly by Gameological’s crack team of statisticians, scientists, wizards, and cats. However, we left the No. 4 slot open in each division as a user-selected wild card. Amid a slew of great suggestions, Spacemonkey_Mafia got us all extra hyped about the tournament with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and what sounds like made-up Norse mythology, but is actually Norse mythology:

O, Glorious Day! Rend and ruin finally come to Gameological! This shall be the proclamation that brings holy crusade to a formerly chummy little group of game hobbyists. Will you stand under the bloodied and tattered banner of the Clawshot? Coldly tearing into one, that in another time you may have called “Internet acquaintance,” simply for the sin of being wrong about a fake magic item? Or will you staunch your wounds with a thousand-word holy scrit proclaiming the superiority of the Varia suit?…It is Ragnarok come.

Cripes! Well, when you put it that way…

Golden Pantaloons/Biden 2012
Stylin'

At the time of writing, a fierce battle is being waged between the No. 7 and No. 2 seeds. There have been upsets along the way (my heart belongs to you, brave Coelacanth of the night!), but PaganPoet was particularly upset during this voting period by the “establishment victory” of a higher-seeded Zelda treasure pitted against an awesomely worthless Chrono Trigger chestnut. We have been urged to vote smarter in the future:

I can’t believe the Red Ring beat the Naga-ette Bromide…I mean, c’mon…one is an item that increases your strength, the other is softcore monster porn!! I trusted you to make the right decision, Gameological Society!!!!

Sewer In Court
Sewer Sharks

In pursuit of a bizarre ending to arguably one of the worst games ever, Drew Toal walked us through the near-forgotten Sewer Shark in this week’s To The Bitter End. As Drew notes, there is no mind-bending twist at the end of your post-apocalyptical janitorial adventures; the sunny, beach-y end that seemed to good to be true was, shocker, true. This paltry ending, among numerous other offenses, makes Sewer Shark an awful game. But The_Misanthrope suggested that its misery might be well appreciated by players willing to take part in its wretchedness, in a way that many B-movie aficionados are familiar with:

It is a pretty terrible game, but one could make a case that it is a “so bad it’s good” game. If you can have cult/midnight movies, why not the same for games? If you have some friends over and you’re all good and liquored up, why not start up your Sega CD emulator and take in one of Digital Picture’s “games.”

However, if you ever play it sober and by yourself, that’s probably a good sign of clinical depression.

Help Make This Open World A Better Place
Sleeping Dogs

John Teti was joined by Drew Toal for this month’s edition of The Digest. Before they became wounded by this month’s digestibles—Vietnamese bubble tea with terrifying flavors like “taro” and “pineapple”—the two were able to jovially discuss the unexpectedly enjoyable Sleeping Dogs, particularly how enjoyable the game’s open world was to explore. Merve elaborated further on what made the virtual metropolis work:

For me, what makes Sleeping Dogs feel like a real place isn’t the fact that it’s populated—although that certainly helps—it’s how it’s populated. The business district and the night market are full of people. The docks are slightly less busy. The alleyways are more or less deserted. A lot of games do this, but Sleeping Dogs gets the balance right. It never feels like you’re going from a “more populated location” to a “less populated location”; it feels like you”re going from one spot in the city to another.

Unfortunately, most “realistic” sandbox games don’t achieve Sleeping Dogs’ level of success. According to caspiancomic the majority of them are shoddily made and not worth the time of day. Free advice:

I think it’s a problem of shooting for sheer scale of setting, rather than the little realistic details. Things like the number and variety of people in a crowd (once you notice that there are no kids in GTA you never stop noticing it), non-human animals (people walking dogs would be nice), people doing things besides walking in a straight line to nowhere in particular (give your drones a bit of body language! A cell phone conversation, a coffee to drink, have people hail cabs or walk into buildings or something!), these things add up to give the impression or non-impression of reality.

Next up: the in-game stand-up comedy club—the true beacon of civilization.

For Whom The Bell Toals
Break out the bubble tea

Elsewhere on The Digest, commenters showed their undying affection to the flyest cohost ever to grace Gameological’s airwaves, Drew Toal. Excerpted from caspiancomic’s above post, Drew’s work on the segment was rightfully praised in what might be the downright nicest comment in Gameological history:

When I first saw Drew in his half-dressed, ridiculous-mustachioed state I thought it was the stupidest I had ever seen a human being look. By the end of the video I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. I feel like someone with that kind of magnetism must have a very easy time being alive.

And effigy_power gave us another peek into The Digest’s ever-expanding mythos, this time imagining our hosts as prim and proper detectives, solving one dastardly video game crime at a time.

Drew Toal cartoon

As always, we’re thrilled to see all your delightful artwork, and can’t thank you enough for reading. See you next week!

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893 Responses to “Treasure, I Land”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    I feel so honored to have finally been recognized by Comment Cat. This may be the first time the phrase “softcore monster porn” has been featured so proudly prominently, without even the slightest hint of shame.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Welcome to the club, Mr. Poet! From now on seeking Soupy’s approval will consume your every waking moment!

  2. Bad Horse says:

    Games don’t have so-bad-it’s-good because 

    a) even good games of a certain age often have all the characteristics of so-good-it’s-bad movies – thin characters, nonsensical plots, absurd dialogue, and

    b) movies are over when they’re over, and they go without any intervention from you. If you get blackout drunk during Plan 9, you will continue to proceed through Plan 9, and it will end sometime. Not so with horrific games, which are usually horrific because they’re broken and uncontrollable.

    Watching, for instance, Angry Video Game Nerd plow through some horrific piece of NES trash is fun, but his life must be pure torture. How does he even like games anymore?

    • Merve says:

      Good points, @Bad_Horse:disqus, but I think some games can still be “so bad they’re good.” I think of games that have shoddy or broken mechanics that can be exploited for hilarious results. Take, for example, Alpha Protocol. Early on in the game, I discovered that unconscious bodies don’t bleed to death. What I would do is I’d fire at enemies to weaken them, and then I’d finish them off with a punch or two. This allowed me to complete large portions of the game non-lethally despite going in guns blazing. I can’t imagine that Alpha Protocol was intentionally designed that way, but sometimes breaking a game is half the fun. If Alpha Protocol were a lot more polished and better-balanced, it would be excellent. If it were only slightly better made, it wouldn’t be enjoyable.

    • Girard says:

       I would suggest that, just how there are films that fail in such a fundamental way as to not even merit ironic viewing, which contrast with films that are ‘bad’ but still hang together in such a way as to be fun to get through, you can probably have games which are playable but laughably stupid (formally or content-wise), which contrast with games that are simply unplayable.

      I’m dealing in abstractions here, but maybe folks can supply examples, if this idea actually holds water.

      • From the various reviews I’ve read, Deadly Premonition fit the cake perfectly. I haven’t played it, but the dialogue, story, sound design, gameplay, and graphics are all terrible, but yet is SO bad that it’s like this one-of-a-kind experience. Not sure what to think about that.

        • Girard says:

           That’s that game that started out as a Twin Peaks rip-off, then got called out on it, and became a slightly less obvious Twin Peaks ripoff, right? I’ve often been curious to try that game, though admittedly never enough to actually TRY it…

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus I’ve played about half of Deadly Premonition.

          The story isn’t really terrible so much as bizarre–it’s something like a low-budget slasher movie crossed with Twin Peaks and a little Silent Hill, which means that even the patently ridiculous things end up seeming pretty sinister and unsettling.

          It’s a much smarter game than *most,* but that’s not a terribly high bar to clear. The characters are memorable, the setting well-realized, and the protagonist unique.

          The controls are awful, the map useless, the world too big to navigate comfortably, and the action sequences downright awful. There are maybe 3 different enemies, who share a set of 2 or 3 different sounds and 2 attacks. If you do try it out, play on “easy” mode. There’s no reason to suffer through the action bits any more than it already makes you.

          The graphics would have been impressive in 2001.

          Overall it’s a mirror-universe interpretation of Alan Wake or Heavy Rain, replacing the polish and presentation of those with a healthy dose of sincerity, likability, and ridiculousness. Open-world games could stand to take a couple lessons from how it handles NPC schedules (it reminds me of The Last Express in that regard, and boy oh boy do I like being reminded of The Last Express) and makes mundane tasks an important (somewhat too-important) part of playing.

          Too long, etc:
          It’s not so-bad-it’s-good. It’s more like so-bad-but-also-so-good, or maybe so-insane-it’s-really-insane. The closest benchmark I can come up with is Realms of the Haunting, and that’s not a good comparison either. Watch a Let’s Play for a while, or rent it, or just buy it since it costs $20 new. There’s also apparently a Director’s Cut edition coming out for PS3, whatever that means. Also, convince yourself it came out between the first two Silent Hill games, and you’ll be thoroughly impressed.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      You make the assumption

    • Pgoodso says:

      I think the main reason there are no almost so-bad-it’s-good games is the same reason there are no so-bad-it’s-good television: producers and time investment. A show OR a game will get canceled or changed very quickly if the early portions/levels/episodes seem laughable. The fact that games and television are episodic (or, at least, have much larger production times in general) allows more chances for the whole to become better than the rocky beginning. For example, I don’t think there’s a film studio or producer on the planet who would go for Blizzard’s “it’s done when it’s done” release date policy.

      The closest either form comes to so-bad-it’s-good are probably from soap operas and semi-comedic dating sims. Human interaction meets insanity meets sex generally helps you to simultaneously laugh at and become entranced with something otherwise camp and ridiculous for a very long period of time.

      Strangely translated but emphatic voice acting helps, too.

  3. stakkalee says:

    Alright, let’s keep it short and sweet this week.
    The most-commented article was, unsurprisingly, the Nominations thread with 223 comments.  The most-liked-comment (non-KG) came from @spacemonkey_mafia:disqus with 18 likes on his mordant comment regarding the relative merits of Zelda and Darksiders.
    Now on to Soupy’s favorites.  Only one new member getting a plaid jacket today, and he’s already jumped into the comments, so congratulations to @PaganPoet:disqus!  And “softcore monster porn” really isn’t too out-of-place for Keyboard Geniuses, so you’re really going to have to ramp up the raunch and filth for next time!
    @the_misanthrope:disqus gets a fifth pin, @merve2:disqus a seventh, and @spacemonkey_mafia:disqus is getting his ninth which moves him into third place!  And of course, @effigy_power:disqus and @caspiancomic:disqus each get a pin, bringing them into a tie for second at 10 pins apiece!  Although, technically Caspiancomic was mentioned twice in the KG, so I’ll throw it open to the Peanut Gallery: Does this count as one mention or does Casp get the coveted unassisted double?
    So that’s it – a relatively quiet week, huh?  Oh well.  Let me leave you with a link to a Geekosystem article on custom Monopoly boards.  The Fallout-inspired one is particularly sweet, but for sheer opulence you can’t beat the $2 million Solid Gold edition.  Cripes, talk about conspicuous consumption!  Anyway, everyone enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!
    Oh yeah – GO PANTALOONS!

    • Merve says:

      I say give the second mention to @caspiancomic:disqus; he’s a good lad and a fellow countryman.

      Speaking of custom Monopoly boards, this Mass-Effect-themed one is pretty freakin’ sweet.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        You shall all suffer for this, but I agree. Two mentions, two blips.

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        The Mass Effect themed board looks good, but its creator has made some odd choices. Illium is one of the cheapest properties, but I thought it was some Asari capitalist utopia. *snorts*

        Also, who’d want to buy the Derelict Reaper, let alone put hotels on it? I’d like to see the hotel advertising campaign:

        “For your next holiday, come to Reaper DerelicteReaper Derelicte overlooks the beatiful dead star Mnemosyne, and is kept from plunging into the stars deadly radiation and massive temperatures by unspecified space magic! RELAX by having your brain turned to indoctrinated jelly! UNWIND by being suspended from a dragons tooth and having your worries drift away! ROMANTIC for couples who want to spend more time together by being amalgamated into a lumbering scion! KIDS STAY FREE!

    • Girard says:

      I still have no idea how I missed the nominations thread!

      Scrolling back through, I watched the Digest that preceded it, and read the Sawbuck that followed it, but somehow my eyes just slipped right over that big rectangle with the colorful tournament tree.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Oh man, an arguable natural double!? This must be what winning Best Director and Best Film feels like!

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Enjoy it while it lasts.
        -cue totally not creepy music-
        Next time I am drawing a hundred nudes or something.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

       @caspiancomic:disqus  is solid.  He’s earned the deuce.

  4. WorldCivilizations says:

    Keep up the good work, Gameological Society. I finally gave in a couple days ago and made this account, and I have to say I’m really enjoying the site and my visits to AVC now always include a visit here as well. Really enjoying the content.

  5. ShrikeTheAvatar says:

    I always mean to comment on more articles, but I always miss when the articles go up (it’s really annoying that they go up at midnight or whatever it is).  

    So by the time I come around, there are already a ton of comments and it seems I miss out on most of the actual discussion.  I’m only ever around for the articles posted during the day, and it seems like those don’t get as many comments.

    So, long story short… first world problems, I guess.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I have that problem at AVC far more than here.  I get so tired of seeing a new Newswire pop up, and it’s already got 215 comments on it.

      • Merve says:

        To be fair, the first 150 comments or so usually have something to do with Canceraids.

      • caspiancomic says:

         That phenomenon is the very reason it took me so long to start commenting at AVC, and why I do it so infrequently. If you don’t jump on an article in the first half hour or so of being posted, your thread eventually ends up on page 3 with no replies. Although I’ve had some luck in the past: I recently had a lovely conversation about crepes with Noel Murray!

        • The_Misanthrope says:

           That brings back a little nostalgia for the too-brief time on the AVC when Wrapped Up In Books was still a thing.  I was participating in one of the moderated live chats, just hoping to see on of my comments make it into the live-chat feed.  Then, suddenly, when I was about to leave for a movie that I was going to see with some friends, so I just type in that I’m  logging out for the chat because of that very reason.  Before I even log out, I get a direct message back from none other than Donna Bowman, saying goodbye to me and telling me how much she liked the movie I was about to see (what movie it actually was is one detail that eludes me in this anecdote).  I suddenly felt like I had been touched by some holy presence…I was just so stunned!  Seriously, the AVC writers, for all the shit they get from the commentariat, are some of the most insightful, brightest critics I have ever read.

        • Pgoodso says:

           That’s how I feel about the Star Trek boards in particular.

        • Electric Dragon says:

           @Pgoodso:disqus : The Star Trek boards in particular stay live for sometime after the article is posted. Many of us check back on it at least throughout the weekend and often beyond, so latecomers will get included in the discussion.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Ah, the Trek board.  Gotta love Frakes and Rappin’ Jake Sisco!

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I think only the features go live around midnight-ish. The Sawbuck stuff is in the afternoon and the random “third” article of the day, be it a Digest or some other cool recurring feature, shows up in between the two. 

      Considering that I think almost all of the comments here are legit (cancer-AIDS free, or at least in remission), there’s no need to rush. Just think of it as having even more cool stuff to read through when you finally get around to it.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Ehh…I usually have the same problem but you just have to go for quality over quantity.    I mean, look at me, I used to be just a regular joe, but now I’m a five-time champeen! Just save up those trenchant insights and heartwarming anecdotes for just the right moment and soon, you, too, can be a winner like me.  You gotta believe to acheive!

  6. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    It’s been mentioned multiple times now in comments and interviews, but I was just wondering – any plans for an article or review for Guild Wars 2 any time soon?  I was thinking of consolidating some of my thoughts on it into one big post, but didn’t want to do it on a random article.

    • Mr. Glitch says:

       Throw it up on a blog & link to it from here. I’m having a good time running through old games once a week, and I’m really liking the musings of other commenters here, like Caspiancomic’s.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Good idea!  I can even use the website I created for my webcomic that I only ever did one of.

        BTW, anyone here know how to format a WordPress/Comicpress site?

        • Girard says:

          I’ve done some stuff with a WordPress.org framework uploaded to a personal website, if that’s the sort of thing you’re talking about. It’s relatively straightforward (if you’ve done websitey stuff before and have decent Google-fu…).

        • I do! I wouldn’t call myself a wordpress expert, but I have worked quite a bit with both, for my blog, semi-failed comic project, and for another site which should pick up steam next year.

          You can should me an email at kjohnson1585 at gmail if you have any questions. Actually, the easiest thing to do is get a bluehost domain name/server space, because they actually have a script to install WordPress for free. Then you can go in and DO YO THANG.

          Beyond that, like Girard said, it’s pretty straight forward, if you know some basic CSS and HTML to tweek various themes you can easily get.

        • caspiancomic says:

           Yeah, WordPress is pretty simple to use, it’s what I’m using for my own projects (WordPress and Comicpress both). If you’re talking about formatting as in gutting the site but leaving the framework in place, you’re probably best off trashing the lot and reinstalling the newest version of WordPress.

  7. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Bang-up picture, @Effigy_Power:disqus , but did you have to make Toal bald?
       I understand it greatly aids his academic and deductive credibility, but still…

  8. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hi everybody, Mr. Glitch here. My review of DOOM(S) is well… delayed. Reality has been way too intrusive this past week. However, rest assured that, like a hellish inter-dimensional rip, it will soon materialize at http://mathmanmustdie.blogspot.com

    • caspiancomic says:

       *Riot, table flip*

      I need to know about DOOM! I don’t care that there are like 70 versions and you’ve written one of these once a week without fail for like six months!

      *grabs the nearest person at hand, slits their throat*

      • Mr. Glitch says:

        Well then good news! My Doom console roundup is now posted, and there’s a prize at the bottom of it!
        Now put the knife down.

        • caspiancomic says:

           *restores table, deslits throat*

          Excellent! I got lots of mileage out of Final Doom back when the PSX was still fresh out of the oven. I think Final Doom was actually the subject of my most intense marathon gaming session ever. I don’t remember exactly how long it went on, but I spent an entire Sunday doing nothing but traipse through the game’s interminable campaign, and by the time I decided to stop playing I was noticeably dizzy and dehydrated. Christ knows where my parents were.

          Also, a 7th Guest Doom mod!? HOLY SHIT. I’m watching an LP of The 11th Hour at the moment, and The 7th Guest was one of the first games that really turned me on to video games. Before I got this Mac I had found a crackpot way to get it to run on my old PC, but you needed like 3 CDs with different files on them, and it tended to crash whenever it felt like it. Plus, although I remember that game fondly, the puzzles were often bullshit, always poorly explained, tended to have obtuse and unmentioned rules, and were actually occasionally unsolvable! Still, if you’ve got it in you Glitch, I’d love to see a 7th Guest article some day.

        • Mr. Glitch says:

          Well then good news! I plan to review The 7th Guest some time soon. I found my old copy and played through it again last January, so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind. 

          There’s a rather creepy footnote that I left out of my Doom writeup. While digging for that Stauf WAD, I ran across a list of the most infamous WADs on http://www.doomworld.com/10years/bestwads/infamous.php. Towards the top of that list is a WAD created by Eric Harris, one of the two shooters in the Columbine High School massacre. 

  9. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    I know it had no chance of making it (Soupy can’t be seen to be endorsing some lunatic who is mocking the sponsors), but I’m quite disappointed that my Borderlands 2 brainwashing trllogy didn’t get a mention. Surely it’s the first time someone has tried to integrate a story arc into successive Digest article comments?

    Anyway, looking forward to Strackmeier next week.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I’d like to have seen it featured.  Your opus kept me company throughout a week’s worth of bathroom visits, and that’s no small thing.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      You can’t fight the machine, man. It’s like totally in control… gnarly killer bummer dude man.

  10. caspiancomic says:

    PHEW! Article number three, and the final article for now in my series on The Void is complete, and available for your perusal at Game Theory.

    This one is about the poems which are read at 11 of the game’s 13 endings, and attempting to extract a bit of meaning from them. My next major topic is going to be Sonic the Hedgehog, particularly Sonic 2, and will probably consist of at least 3 articles. Before that, though, I’m going to take a quick detour into The World Ends With You. Expect something on that topic probably in two weeks or so. Hope you folks enjoy this one!

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I wish I felt inspired enough to write at length about some of the games I’ve finished. I wrote a brief blurb/recommendation for Metro 2033 on Steam, so I guess that’s something, right?

  11. Asinus says:

    Finding the Red Ring was better than beating the game. I think what disappointed me most about the 2nd quest was not being able to keep it (in the fashion of what now might be know as “New Game +”).