What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor, writer

The author of Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever explains why Final Fantasy VI’s gloomy World Of Ruin is so great.

By Drew Toal • March 1, 2013

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.

Justin Taylor is the author of Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever (2010) and The Gospel of Anarchy (2011). His short story “After Ellen” was published in The New Yorker last August. A list of his current projects can be found here. [Full disclosure: Justin and I were roommates for several years, during which time I one time made the mistake of challenging him in GoldenEye 007. He made embarrassingly short work of me.]

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Justin Taylor: So this weekend I’m going to be playing Final Fantasy III [a.k.a. Final Fantasy VI —ed.] , a game that I never played when it was new, and that I downloaded for my Wii, I want to say last summer. I’ve been slowly chipping away at it ever since. It was a good summer for Final Fantasy III last summer, but I’m a teacher, and the school year took some wind out of my sails, so I didn’t play it for a number of months. I came back to it over winter vacation, but now just sort of fiddle around with it whenever I can. I guess I’m about a year into this game.

Gameological: Is the end in sight?

Taylor: Well, all of my characters are leveled into the mid-50s by now. Let’s put it this way, I’m 44-and-a-half hours into this game. [Checks his stats.] I’ve taken 73,458 steps. Although a lot of those steps, I have to say, were just marching around back and forth in that little forest on the continent in the northwest quadrant, where the tyrannosaurs are?

Gameological: Sure.

Taylor: Yeah, I spent quite a bit of time just leveling up my guys there, which I felt a little skeevy about, but somebody told me that’s what everyone does.

Gameological: Well you’re a Zelda guy.

Taylor: That’s true. My favorite RPGs growing up were like the Zelda series, but really any kind of these single-player RPGs. A lot of them have certain amount of leveling up or whatever, but it’s all kind of tied to some linear quest, so the game just takes as long as it takes. But FF3 is so sprawling, and there are also so many damn characters, that if you want to keep them all on the level of each other, at some point you have to take the ones you don’t like using that much and just break yourself to go and take them out to do something that’s not too important. Like that asshole who just tells lore?

Gameological: I hated that guy. What’s his name again?

Taylor: I’ll look him up right now. [Looks him up.] Yeah, Strago. You know, you don’t really want to bring Strago out to a big fight, because he’s not that fun to use and he dies all the time. But you have to keep him on roughly the same wavelength as everyone else, because sooner or later, you’re going to have to break up into parties. Which, incidentally, is what stopped me on my last binge of this game. I had a really good run. The first thing that stopped me was when I was on the verge of entering the World Of Ruin, when I just didn’t have time to play through. And then after I made it to the World Of Ruin, I was very excited and played a bunch of levels. But then I hit the Phoenix Cave, and I had to break up into two parties, and I just didn’t have the energy—or the time, really—to do it.

Gameological: I always hated the airship guy, too. You know, the one with the stupid slot machine ability?

Taylor: Yes, Setzer and his slot machine.

Gameological: He sucks, but you want to keep him around because of his sweet airship. Like how you might be friends with someone early on in high school just because they have their driver’s license.

Taylor: Yeah, I fly that airship all over town.

Gameological: I remember you were pretty taken with that World Of Ruin when you first hit it.

Taylor: Yeah, I think it’s incredible. I really love games that have a moment where the basic reality of the game is rewritten or reorganized in some kind of permanent way. For me, the paradigmatic example is in A Link To The Past, when you discover the, uh, the moon jewel? Whatever that thing is, and then you get the mirror. And then you have to navigate between the light world and the dark world. These two worlds exist on top of one another, and you’re constantly going back and forth and figuring out what’s what. I think it’s great when a game can pull that off. FF3 definitely does a version of that. You get really involved in the layout of the land, and where the continents are, and you start to learn where all the towns are. Then you hit that midpoint, and climb that mountain, and there’s literally an apocalypse. And like a year goes by. You wake up and you’re on this little fishing island. You have to feed your uncle and find this raft. Once you get off that island, you realize that everything is somewhere else, and nothing is where you think it is. There’s that weird demon that flies around in the sky and attacks the airship now.

Gameological: There is nothing “final” about Final Fantasy. They’ve made dozens of games under that title, with no end in sight.

Taylor: And I have to say, each individual game seems to be endless. I don’t know how many more hours I’m supposed to put into this thing. I actually took a look at a walkthrough—not even to cheat, although I guess I did cheat a little bit—but I really just wanted to see how much was left. I’ve come pretty far in the thing, but it seems like there’s at least three major adventures left. I don’t know. Right when I got into the World Of Ruin and got the airship back, I took a run at Kefka’s Tower. I didn’t really know what was going on.

Gameological: You got smoked?

Taylor: Yeah. Definitely learned that one the hard way.

Gameological: That Kefka is a bad, bad man.

Taylor: Yeah, he’s terrifying. And he had that long speech on the mountain before the World Of Ruin thing happened. Actually, that speech alone—the fact that you couldn’t skip through that cutscene—that is probably what delayed my playing of this game for six months. It took me, I think, four or five tries to beat that mountain level. I kicked his ass, and then he gives this 10-minute speech. You can’t cut through it. You just have to watch it. And then after that, there’s that timed test where you have to get back off the thing and jump on the airship, but then you have to not jump because you’re waiting for the ninja…

Gameological: Of course.

Taylor: I misunderstood what side I was supposed to be running to, and so I kept dying on the time test and that makes you redo the whole thing. After like the third time that I had fought, and won, and had to sit through this fucking speech and then die running through the maze. I just said, “Fuck this, I’m going to throw this controller through the TV if I don’t stop it.” So every time I was going to go back and play, I was like, “Do I have two hours to just sit and watch this stupid speech over and over until I can figure out how to do this maze?” And I kept saying “no” for six months.

Gameological: The game has this whole steampunk thing going on—this fusion of magic and technology in the form of Magitek Armor. If you could have one magical ability and one bionic implant each, what would they be?

Taylor: Good question. I guess my magical ability, I suppose, would be regeneration. As for the bionic implant, and this may sound petty, but I’ve always wanted to shoot lasers out of my hands. I feel like I could be useful and do something with that.

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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  • Citric

    So still Persona 2: IS, and then I thought I beat Ni no Kuni but then I actually didn’t, but I assume I have to be close to the end – the section seems like padding, but I’ve nearly broke 30 hours so it’s not like it actually needs padding.

    I also decided to fire up Shadow Hearts, as part of operation “seriously, you  have a huge number of PS2 games you never finished, some you’ve never played, get on that.” I did the totally mature thing and gave all my characters bad words for names, because I’m an adult. But then, that sort of fits the game, which is sort of immature and… well… rapey. Like it was written by that Tosh guy. The main character is always talking about how he could totally rape the female lead, and then there’s that guy who rapes some weapon proficiency into the male characters – the female one gets some nice relaxing acupuncture. I enjoy other aspects of the game but a theoretical grownup I find that kind of gross now. Hopefully it gets over that as the game wears on.

    • vinnybushes

       Wait until SH: Covenant when you have to track down gay porn to upgrade your fighting little girl puppet.

      • Citric

        Gay porn is relatively respectable, because it’s consensual. 

        • PaganPoet

          That’s what I told my mom when she found my stash. Somehow it didn’t make her any less upset.

  • PaganPoet

    I just finished episode 3 of The Walking Dead, which is absolutely fantastic, but I definitely need to balance it out with something cheerful and colorful, because I felt completely drained and depressed after what just happened. I’m looking at my PSP sitting on my desk right now and realizing that I never did finish Patapon 3, so maybe that’s just what the doctor ordered.

    • Jackbert322

      PATA PATA PATA PON

      PON PON PATA PON

      PATA PATA PATA PON

      PON PON PATA PON

      FEVER!!!

      Man, I love Patapon way more than any self-respecting person my age should…

      @Effigy_Power, you’re missing out!

      • Cheese

        I keep meaning to get one of those games for the Vita. Which one should it be?

        • PaganPoet

          Patapon 3 

          Also, get LocoRoco 2; it’s delightful.

        • Jackbert322

          COUNTERPOINT

          Get Patapon 3, Patapon 2, and LocoRoco 2.

          There’s enough changes between Patapon 2 and Patapon 3 to make it worthwhile. Patapon 2 is also half the price, if that matters for you.

      • Effigy_Power

        I can legally drink and have tons of sex.
        I don’t miss out on shit. :D

    • The_Misanthrope

      Sloppy and unfocused?  Who says that?  It’s a post-magic-apocalypse, fer chrissakes; It’s supposed to be fragmented and, dare I say, ruined.  There is the satisfying narrative of bringing the old crew back together to the World of Ruin.

      Level grinding, eh?  Too bad Justin is too par into the game to use the Lethe River exploit.  Do they even make turbo controllers for the Wii?

    • caspiancomic

       Argh, I’ve been meaning to play The Walking Dead for so long now. One daaaaay!

      Also, I totally agree with you re: World of Ruin. I think the deliberate change of pace and “hands off” style of storytelling really drive the mood of that part of the game, and the fact that the game gives you very little direction or explicit motivation makes it feel all the more intimate and player-driven. You aren’t just collecting the Returners again because the plot said you couldn’t advance the plot without all of them: you, the player have to decide how much you want the team back together, and how hard you’re willing to fight and how far you’re willing to search to get them all back. It’s like the game itself has given up, and it’s up to the player to show the initiative to advance the narrative.

      Game: “yeah, the world is ruined, you lose. What? Yeah, they’re probably all around, I dunno. Gau’s probably on the Veldt, I dunno where everyone else went. Kefka? Yeah, he’s over there in that tower. Fight him if you want, you’ll probably lose though.”

      Player: “Fuck you, KEFKA WILL PAY!”

      I’ve only played the GBA version, and played it for the first time in my early twenties, and the whole sequence where the world is destroyed and hapless NPCs run panicked, some clinging to loved ones, some going mad with terror, and then your airship blows up and everyone sort of tries to save somebody important to them but then you all get scattered and lost, and then the world is like getting hella blown up, and then it’s like FADE TO BLACK, YOU LOSE FUCKER. Nah, not even “game over”, you WISH it was “game over”, you’ve got to just deal with this now, idiot. It really made its mark on me even though I was well outside the age of maximum impressionability. What I’m saying is: it’s not just nostalgia, that scene really is that good.

      Also, World of Ruin’s airship theme is the standout track on a standout soundtrack.

      • PugsMalone

        One thing I love about FF6′s soundtrack is the overworld music in the World of Ruin. At first, it’s this really dreary organ tune. But after you get the airship, it changes to the airship’s theme whether you’re in the airship or not, and that song’s sad but not without being hopeful.

      • stuartsaysstop

        Just stalked your comment history and it appears you have a PS3, so it’s my duty to inform you that Walking Dead is on sale for $13.99 this week on PSN. Been waiting for a sale for forever so I finally bought it on Tuesday. Hope I can get around to it, but between a new PS3 physical game I picked up on the cheap (Darksiders 2), the continuing saga of Persona 3, and a slew of games that have come forth after buying a new laptop with a somewhat decent GPU, I’m not convinced it’s going to happen.

        • caspiancomic

           Oooh, cheers mate. I don’t know why everyone’s always so down on stalkers, this was pretty helpful!

    • Bad Horse

      Ladies and gentlemen, 15 hours of corridors! Brought to you by criticisms like “the World of Ruin is sloppy and unfocused”!

      • Citric

        I think the 15 hours of corridors was more brought to you by the fact that development was a mess, deadlines were repeatedly missed and corridors are easy to make.

        • evanwaters

           That and entire segments of the game being designed completely independently of each other with nobody quite knowing how they’d go together. The development cycle for the game was a complete trainwreck.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      You have some great willpower to pause playing through TWD. I couldn’t stop from going to the next chapter in that game. Blew through it in 3 nights, I think.

    • valondar

       Episode 3 is the most… ruining episode of the Walking Dead. Episode 5 feels cathartic, but Episode 3 is just like everything my fault and the world’s slipping away between my fingers. it was pretty intense.

      I’ve known people who just put the game off for weeks after that not wanting to know how it ended. But the ending’s something else, so you know, do do that.

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

    I would also like to shoot lasers out of my hands. But only low-powered lasers. I want to be able to use my index finger as a laser pointer.

    This weekend, I might take a run at the first episode of Kentucky Route Zero, time-permitting. The game doesn’t have a “save-anywhere” function, so I actually have to set aside time to play it. That being said, from the few minutes I’ve played, I’m loving the atmosphere. However, I’m considerably less fond of the point-and-click navigation system, and I’d much prefer to be able to control the character with the arrow keys.

    If I don’t have the time for KRZ, I may make some progress in Assassin’s Creed II, Fahrenheit, or Costume Quest. Dragon Age: Origins, Civilization V, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning are sitting on my hard drive waiting to be played, but with Tomb Raider coming out next week, I don’t want to start a new game.

    A game I’d like to be playing this weekend but can’t: Max Payne. Through some fiddling, I had managed to get the game running on my machine, but it’s totally incompatible with AMD’s most recent drivers (version 13.1, I think). I can’t even get it working by running it in compatibility mode or by overriding the game’s anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering settings, which is how I got the game running before. Does anyone know of a workaround to get the game running in Windows 7 without having to roll back my drivers?

    • Captain Internet

      I stepped into the Gameological Society. The glamour and class here made my head hurt- I was the only one wearing a tie, and still it was me that looked cheap.

      I ordered a whiskey and drank it, then watched the barman’s moustache twitch as I ordered a second. Then I started looking for my contact. 

      This guy was a pillar of the community, not just one of the part-time Commentocrats who only turn up on Fridays to talk about their romance options in the Mass Effect series. He’d been there from the beginning. He’d seen the Murder Report. He’d seen the day of the Countdown. And he needed my help.

      “Max”, he said, his gold-rimmed monocle reflecting the light from the chandelier, “I need your help. Your first game won’t play on my PC.”

      “Have you… ah… tried turning it on and off again?”

      “Come on, Max, this is 2013. That hasn’t been required since Windows 2000. I think it’s compatibility issues.”

      Compatibility issues. I sure knew about them- I’d had them with every woman since Mona. And this guy wanted to drag me back to the day my wife died. 

      I finished my drink.

      “Are you sure you want to do this? I mean… nostalgia is great, but games were pretty rough back then. Sure you wouldn’t be better with something new like… uh…”

      I quickly checked the Steam front page

      “…Euro Truck Simulator 2?”

      “Are you sure you’re up to this? Max, we’re all sorry you were kicked off homicide, but if you’re going to make this Geek Squad gig work you’re going to have to do some research. Here’s my laptop. You know where to find me when it’s fixed. And Max…”

      “Yeah?”

      “Good luck.”

      I stepped outside into the rain, and headed for the Liquor Store. Disqus was going to fuck with my formatting, and I needed to be ready.

      • HobbesMkii

        Now I was a fat bald guy in Brazil, for some reason, and everything was exploding. I guess it’s a good thing I’m still a functioning alcoholic, or my life would really suck.

      • fieldafar

        Hey now, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is pretty cool.

    • Asinus

      This is a partially educated guess– I’ve never played Max Payne and don’t know much about the engine, but it might be worth checking the game directory to see if there’s an OpenGL.dll file in there… I don’t even know if the game uses OpenGL, so this is totally a shot in the dark. If that file is there, change the extension to dl~ or something. 

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

        Thanks for the suggestion. There’s no OpenGL file in the game directory, unfortunately. To my knowledge, the game uses DirectX.

        I know it’ll work if I roll back my drivers, but that’s something I’d rather not attempt until this summer when I have time to mess around with that kind of stuff.

  • Enkidum

    A little bit of Virtua Fighter V, and maybe some more of Scott Pilgrim and Ico. I also downloaded the Eve Dust 514 beta, and started setting up my character, but haven’t actually dared to play it yet, although I’m sure it’s pretty sweet.

    And I got the Kingdoms of Amalur demo, which I’m sure will waste my entire life away.

    • Link The Ecologist

       How’s the Scott Pilgrim game? it looks like something that I’d be interested in but I don’t have a console to play it on. I’m thinking of adding it to the list of, “to play on the ps3 I get after ps4 comes out so maybe said ps3 will be rather cheap, maybe?” (also I liked the movie)

      • Enkidum

        It’s pretty damn good, actually. A very loving Streets of Rage style homage, a hell of a lot of content, and apparently its really fun as a local multiplayer (although so far I’ve only played by myself).

        Reminds me a lot of Double Dragon Neon that came out last year – very well done and very fun version of a side-scrolling fighter. And it’s got a lot of fun callbacks to the comic, at least (dunno about the movie, since I haven’t seen it).

        And, it’s often pretty cheap, I think I picked it up for 5 bucks on sale.

        • SamPlays

          The Scott Pilgrim game is more akin to River City Ransom than Streets of Rage considering you spend a bit of time in shops. But it’s a great homage to beat’em-ups. I think I preferred the Final Fight series over Street of Rage but when I think about it, I spent WAAAAAY too much time playing Double Dragon 2.

          Also, the movie is quite good if not great. It’s very much a homage to video games in general but particularly the 8-bit generation.

        • PaganPoet

          Also the Amanaguchi-penned soundtrack is a delight.

    • William Miller

      A friend of mine just bought the PS3 Ico/Shadow of the Colossus pack. He finished Ico yesterday so tonight we are going to attempt to drunkenly play Shadow.

      • Bad Horse

        Good luck with that. Colossus is by far the better of the two games, though, so there you go.

        • William Miller

          Yeah, I played the PS2 version so luckily I know most of the tricks.

    • Kai

      After playing Dust 514, I sure am glad it was free.

  • Jackbert322

    MASS EFFECT 2 SPOILERS AAAAAAHHHHH GO AWAY @ChumJoely:disqus

    [i]In Memoriam[/i]

    Tali’Zorah vas Normandy – [i]All our conversations fizzled out awkwardly[/i]

    Samara – [i]Thanks for giving me Reave[/i]

    Kelly Chambers – [i]If it wasn’t for Garrus, I’d have totally banged you[/i]

    Doctor Chakwas – [i]That brandy made me an alcoholic[/i]

    Yep, Mass Effect 2 is done. The suicide mission went okay. I rather expected it to function as a parallel to Virmire, serving as the start of the third act. Instead it [i]was[/i] the third act. To be honest, I was disappointed. Compared to the whiz-bang of Mass Effect from Virmire onward, nothing much happened. Ultimately, I could sum up the story in just a few sentences. I just expected [i]more[/i]. Yes, the loyalty missions were for the most part great. But I have to say, the overarching story was no match. A footnote related to the loyalty missions, I was also bothered by how conversations with squad members effectively ended when you couldn’t pursue a relationship with them. I still want to talk with you, Thane and Jack! (@Fluka:disqus : In case you couldn’t tell, Garrus <3)

    The hour I've played of Mass Effect 3 in four sentences.

    My face looks way better. James looks like a werewolf. Why I am in the military? I'm on Mars.

    I'll be continuing Mass Effect 3 this weekend, obvi-duh-sly.

    • caspiancomic

       Oh God, you piddled about before going through the Omega 4 Relay didn’t you! I didn’t even know Chakwas could die in that game! And Kelly! I really liked Kelly! Not as much as I liked Traynor, but a pretty close second! And Tali! One of my favourite characters and my thing on the side when Liara wasn’t around! Take me instead, Jack! Take me insteeeaaaaaad!!

      Samara I can take or leave though, she was kinda weird.

      As for your impressions of ME2 as a whole, I kinda sorta agree. I think from a gameplay perspective it represents a huge step forward (even if they did change all the controls and the menus around for no good reason), but the plot was a bit soft on the whole. The Collectors were sort of introduced in the first hour of the game, and suddenly we were convinced they were this terrible threat to intergalactic peace, which felt a bit poorly set up. The reason the Reapers feel like such motherfuckers in ME3 is because we’ve spent the last two games wetting ourselves worrying about them, but the Collectors just kind of appeared out of mid air, and we were expected to treat them as a bigger threat than Saren was last time around. Still, cool cast. My heart belongs to Mordin Solus.

      Mass Effect 3 fun fact: Jimmy Vega is played by 90s heartthrob Freddy Prinze Jr!

      • Jackbert322

        Naw, didn’t piddle. I choose the renegade option of not sending a squadmate to escort the Normandy crew back. Apparently, they all got mauled going back by themselves or something. Whatever. I don’t care.

        *rips Shepard/Chambers/Chakwas fanfic to shreds, consoles self with detailed turian mandible diagrams*

        Seriously, it was played like “oh, by the way, even though them being here was all, like, inspirational to you, they died on the way back.” Jarringly casual.

        • DrFlimFlam

          You’re a cold SOB.

          Also, sending Mordin back, you know, Special Forces Mordin, is also a recipe for disaster.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

          Really? I sent Mordin back both times and he sorted it all out like a boss.

        • fieldafar

          @facebook-1192385620:disqus In fact, many guides/walkthroughs recommend sending Mordin back with the crew. 

        • DrFlimFlam

          Weird. I sent him back, figured medic/soldier, and he bit it. I didn’t talk to him as much as others did, though. I did everyone’s loyalty mission, but he never sang Gilbert & Sullivan to me. Jacob did better at getting everyone to safety.

        • Fluka

          Huh, was Mordin loyal?  I think he gets folks killed if he’s not loyal, but if he is, sending him as the escort is pretty standard operating procedure.  Unless the Suicide Mission tripped on some other weird flag – the math there is complicated sometimes!

        • George_Liquor

          Ditto on Mordin’s boss-ness, though we were on showtunes terms by that point in the game. The Omega relay is the put-up-or-shut-up moment in ME2; if you want anyone beside yourself to survive it, you have to finish all the loyalty missions and pimp the Normandy out with all the available upgrades.

        • William Miller

          I always send Mordin back. He gets real squad mates killed if you send him to defend and I don’t want him on my assault team (I usually take Tali and Kasumi as I don’t want them defending either).

    • KidvanDanzig

      When you get done with ME3, ME2 will look a lot better by comparison, not because of the ending but because the entirety of ME2 is basically segmented into episodic ~1 hour increments that keep the pacing smooth. And of course there’s a very high emphasis on fleshing out the team. ME2 is the most cinematic of the series, in a good way.

      ME3 feels really rushed in comparison, not in a development sense but in the sense that time is moving very quickly and you are off doing new big things every mission and there’s no time to get your bearings. Part of that’s intentional, I think (it is a race against the clock conceptually if not technically), but the game suffers nonetheless.

      A lot of people were sort of annoyed that they decided to drop the non-ME1 companions into cameo appearances, since Liara and Ashley / Kaidan are dull as hell by comparison. They also don’t show up until later in ME3, so they’re particularly light on characterization. YMMV

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        What I like about ME3 is that the Normandy crew has a lot more to say between missions. It is a shame that the Normandy crew you get, however, are much less colourful than the crew in ME2. 

      • Captain Internet

        As much as I love ME2, it does have exactly the same structure as the first series of Lost. Each character gets an introduction episode, and then later another that fills out their back story and introduces some additional quirks. 

        Due to the structure of ME2, each of those stories has to have a happy ending. But ME3 was far more brutal and unpredictable- some of the stories don’t tie up quite as neatly, and that made it thrilling.

        You know, until the last 9 minutes etc etc

        • Jackbert322

          See, I just didn’t much like that setup. Sure, some were good characters. And some backstories were good. But that was it. That’s what you got. Introduction, backstory, romance if applicable. Do that for twelve characters. Suicide mission! And there you go. My save was ~36 hours. Each intro and backstory took ~1 hour. That’s 24 out of 36 hours spending time with just one character. I didn’t care for that.

        • Fluka

          Yeah, the main plot of ME2 is all sorts of nonsense.  The game is a character-centric detour on the way to ME3.  It’s still my favorite of the three games (just a hair above ME3), because I love those characters and their stories, but if you want your good character stuff better integrated with your main story stuff, ME3 is the way to go.

        • KidvanDanzig

          I guess that depends on how you characterize a “happy ending”. They’re certainly happy in that the companion doesn’t die (the exception being murdering Samara to recruit Morinth), but they can end up in the same grim wheelhouse as ME3 if you’re a renegade. 

          The knock against ME2′s CNPC backstories (also a knock against Bioware’s character writing in general) is that they are dominantly concerned with family dramas. But even if many of the loyalty missions seem difficult to fail in the gaining-loyalty sense (some seem impossible) most can end on a down note, usually with Shepard encouraging or allowing someone to be executed. Last night we gave Jason’s* dad a pistol with a single bullet and walked away. Zaeed’s loyalty mission is all tension, and built on a pretty heavy choice, even if it comes to nothing in the end, as most ME choices do.

          Really I kept waiting for something like the last mission of ME2 to come up in ME3, something that is ostensibly linear but requires thoughtful strategy and has potentially dire consequences, but many of the large-scale gutpunches are unavoidable things. Tuchanka was quite good but it was the exception to the rule.

          *it’s a joke cuz Jacob is completely forgettable, see

      • William Miller

        The resource collecting in ME2 always pisses me off. I’m glad it’s at least less time consuming in ME3. 

        • Captain Internet

          I actually rather liked the planet probing- it was incredibly relaxing. You fly around the galaxy reading about fictional planets and listening to chilled out music. What’s not to like?

        • KidvanDanzig

          I agree w/ @Captain_Internet:disqus on this one. They really dropped the ball with ME3 with the Pac-Man minigame, which in addition to being incredibly aggravating and nonsensical / discouraging player exploration and lore reading, looks absolutely ridiculous, especially when they all converge on the normandy and one of the reapers starts thrashing about like a sperm cell trying to penetrate an egg. It’s like a really baffling D-grade student game proof of concept.

          Bioware never really got the broad ME series’ sidequesting / exploration down. ME1 was too bloated and samey, ME2 was dull for a lot of players in addition to being unbalanced, but ME3 was just the dumbest thing overall.

        • Bad Horse

          The ME3 Reapers were incredibly easy to spam too. All you had to do was trigger them, escape the system, reenter, check if you can make it to the planet with crap on it, escape if you can’t, repeat until it spawns you at an entry point where you can.

          Also, actually getting caught by the Reapers had basically 0 repercussions. It might have been scary if you didn’t just spawn exactly where you left off.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      VAGUE QUASI-SPOILERS FOR MASS EFFECT 3

      The narrative for Mass Effect 3 has a lot more momentum than Mass Effect 2. Rather than focusing on small character events, it’s all BIG STUFF.

      Conversations with the Normandy crew is much more interesting. The major crew members (e.g. Joker, James) will usually have something new to say after every combat mission.

      As far as exploring goes, it’s probably the best of the three games. It’s hard to say, though. All three games have unique flaws in the exploration mechanics. In ME1, it’s easy to lose track of what planets you’ve been to. Mineral scanning in ME2 gets pretty tedious. And you’ll see the problems with ME3 soon enough.

      I will make one general comment on balancing the story missions and the side missions: do “Priority: Palavan” ASAP. It’s similar to Mordin’s recruitment in ME2 and Liara’s recruitment in ME1 in a sense. Otherwise, the flow of the game is as you would expect: beating main story missions will open new doors but close others behind you.

      • Bad Horse

        I’m sure it’s just baked into the structure of Mass Effect, but I got a little miffed about 10-15 hours into ME3 when I realized it was basically the same recruitment-type missions as ME2, just with entire races and galactic stakes. I don’t know what I was expecting, though.

      • Captain Internet

        Other hot tip: talk to Thane on the Citadel as soon as he sends you an email. 

      • William Miller

        Also, make sure to go to Grissom Academy as soon as Traynor tells you about it. I think it’s okay if you wait one or two missions but I wouldn’t risk it.

      • KidvanDanzig

        ME3′s exploration is aaaaawful, and also the game doesn’t tell you this but as you progress through the main story some star clusters are opened to you and some are closed, so there are a number of quests that are unresolvable if you put them on the backburner for any amount of time, and some quests that you can’t complete until an undefined point in the future. 

        Add to that the fact that quest logs tell you which planet or solar system a fetch quest is located at (they’re all fetch quests) but not which star cluster (where the fuck IS the Elcor homeworld anyway?), and add to THAT that you have to be really lucky (or savescum) to ping 2/3 of the objects in a given system before Pac-Man starts, and exploring in ME3 becomes a major pain in the ass, it’s worse than boring. ME1 and ME2 were principally concerned with exploration, I don’t know what ME3 was going for.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          The trick with fuel is that you will hear a “ping” if you fly over a wrecked depot WITHOUT THE NEED FOR THE L2 THAT WILL CALL THE REAPERS

          When I figured that out, I enjoyed the exploration a lot more. 

    • Fluka

      Oo, Garrus-san!  Good job.  He’s a catch, that one!  Once you go mandible, you never go back, etc. (what is wrong with meeee…)

      Are you playing with the Javik (“From Ashes”) DLC?  If not, I recommend it – he’s a lovable total asshole!  

      • Jackbert322

        Garrus-san! Yep, things went well. He made up for my stocky vanguard build with his lithe infiltrator reach…mmm, mandibles…(helppp this is your faulttt)

        I am not, which reminds me: what’s the dealio with the extended cut ending? Basically, what I’d like to do is watch the original ending and the extended cut back-to-back, is that possible? If not, should I get it? And for the expensive DLC, which are worth it?

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          “Leviathan” and “Omega” are interesting side missions, but have little in the way of cool rewards.

        • Fluka

          So!  The Extended Cut mostly adds a bunch of cutscenes and some dialogue investigations to the very end of the game, as the name implies. It also adds some final dialogue with the love interest / squadmates on the “final run” before that too, though, and clears up some plot holes (while, uh, maybe making some new ones?).  It also lowers the Galactic Readiness requirement for getting the *full* version of all three endings (meaning a very ambiguous five second cut scene in *one* of the final choices, but some people feel strongly about this).  It’s definitely possible to play both.  When you finish, the game reloads before the second-to-last mission, so you can play the vanilla version once, and then replay with the EC from “Cronos” onwards.

          For the paid ones, From Ashes is the best, I think.  You’ll never be able to imagine the game without Javik!  (*Shakes fist!* “Biowaaaaaaaareee!”)  

          Leviathan is a fun story which, unlike the ME2 DLCs, has lots of squad dialogue.  It’s mostly supporting lore for the ending.

          Omega is much more actiony.  I enjoyed it, others found it disappointing, and it’s a little more expensive at $15.  Get it if you like Aria, or are curious about female Turians.

          There’s also a new DLC next week, “Citadel”, which is still under spoiler wraps.  Promises some conspiracy-ish combat, plus hanging out with characters from all over the trilogy (Wrex!).  Also $15.

          So definitely From Ashes, maybe the others, and wait to see on Citadel, heh.

        • Jackbert322

          Jeepers! I thought Citadel was going to be free since it’s going to be the last release of the trilogy. And I do like Aria and female turians! Hmm, I guess I’ll start with From Ashes. After that, luckily my birthday is coming up, so if I don’t rush through, I could ask for Citadel. And then maybe I’ll do Omega on my second playthrough; it’s true that my Paragon Shepard would clash a bit with Aria…although she does enjoy indulging her Renegade side on occassion…(I’m looking at you, bloody-nosed guy I interrogated in Thane’s mission.)

  • Necrogem

    You just had to rag on Setzer, huh?  He may not have had the best battle mechanics or been a terribly effective fighter, but he was a solid character with a fairly moving backstory (not to mention he was also the sexiest one in Amano’s drawings for the game… so I’m biased :P). He’s not exactly Shadow or Sabin or even Cyan, but he doesn’t deserve to be relegated to the same tier as Strago!

    More on topic, I will finally be taking up the Skyrim DLC this weekend since the last one just came out for my console (PS3) this past Tuesday.  I’m excited to be seeing Solstheim since I was a huge fan of Morrowind, but still nervous because everything else has been buggy so far… keeping my fingers crossed!

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      When I divide the team for Kefka’s tower, Strago and Relm are inevitably the ones left behind. 

      • PaganPoet

        I like Relm. I always leave Strago and Umaro.

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

          I generally leave Umaro on the bench along with Gau. I know Gau can be really powerful, but I don’t like having my guys berserked.

      • TheKingandIRobot

        I always leave behind Gau and Umaro, and that’s after hours and hours of Veldt farming just because I love seeing the huge list of Rages.  It’s still not worth it, he’s invariably going to spend at least one important fight casting Shell on himself, and Umaro just can’t access the high-end combos.  I view that Yeti as a ticket to taking an extra good character along, and love that my ship is in the hands of various feral humanoids.

    • aklab

      It pained me to read the Setzer hate. Fixed Dice + Offering, anybody? 

    • TheKingandIRobot

       Seriously, Setzer is great.  He plays up being a gambler and a cheat but he helps the party for no reason.  Sure Slot sucks but honestly so do a lot of the character abilities, and you’ll just be using him as a mule to carry the high end dart and dice weapons, since no one else can.

      Also his storyline with Daryl is amazing.  It’s heartfelt and sad, and even if the end result is just an extremely convenient second airship, the music on it is great!

      • PaganPoet

        “Epitaph” is just a heartbreaking version of Setzer’s leitmotif, and I agree the story of Setzer and Darryl is too sweet and sad to criticize. In fact, most of the characters have incredibly sad back stories and motivations.

        Here’s a great, real-instrument recording of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBGXvTqcOXE

  • vinnybushes

    My copy of 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors shows up tomorrow morning and I’m pretty darn excited. I’m planning on picking up a 3ds with some of my tax refund (like a responsible adult) and I’m doing prep work for Zero Escape. I’ve played some other visual novels and approximately two million adventure games so I know its a good fit. Gonna be a fun weekend.

    • duwease

      So good.  I just wish I didn’t have to buy a 3DS and/or Vita to play Zero Escape.  I don’t ride the subway anymore :(

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I’m currently loafing in my room at the Sheraton in Amman, Jordan, where I’ll be for work for a week.  So it’s going to be all iOS and Vita games for the duration.
       I got some quality Final Fantasy IX time on the flight and fortunately my room has internet so I can play the PS+ games on my Vita.  I think I’ll get in some more Uncharted.
       I understand the argument that a lot of people don’t want a console experience on a hand-held, but in the incredibly rare circumstances I travel like this, having meaty, narrative-driven games available is really nice.
       Granted, the occasional travel habits of a small portion of the user base isn’t really a viable business model, but I’m glad for it all the same.
       It’s currently the weekend here.  Tomorrow a co-worker and I are travelling up to Irbid, but for today I’m just loafing and playing games.
       

       An upside to staying in a nation where prohibitive alcohol licensing brings eight dollar bottles of wine up to thirty, is it provides me ample free time to work on illustration requests, such as the TrumpCraft, Donald Trump’s signature spacecraft.
    This one’s for you, Ms. Effigy Power.
       
       No longer chained to this terrestrial prison, The Trumpcraft allows our
    national spectacle of undiluted douchebaggery to slip the surly bonds of earth and ascend the heavens.
       Powered by pure Swarovski crystals, the Trumpcraft brings The Donald’s signature brand of 100% speculated animal-source
    steaks and virulent, untreatable strain of Venereal diseases to the most
    far-flung corners of the galaxy.

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      What I really want to know is what the inside of the Trumpcraft looks like, Former Miss America’s bathing in Champagne waterfalls, previous Apprentice contestants forced to hand feed you caviar mixed with McDonalds McFish Bites (because Donald ain’t no snob) and also that guy from Queen of Versaille and his scary wife wandering around somewhere?

      I need to know.

    • Effigy_Power

      Nice, though I was expecting more hairpiece.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        The three central fins are stylized fly-away comb over.
           The orange bow is half skyscraper monstrosity, half puckered, spray-tanned face.

  • The_Misanthrope

    I just picked up Deus Ex:  Hormone Replacement, Rayman:  Origi ns  (because I need something else besides Minecraft to play with the 6-yr-old girl in the house), and El Shaddai:  Ascension of the Something-or-other (because XBLA is selling it for the ridiculously low, low price of $2.99).  That is perhaps one of the few things I like about the end of a console generation:  the fire sale on old titles.  My biggest concern, however, is the whole digital-download issue.  I have a fair amount of content–games, video–knocking around on my 360′s hard drive.  I keep wondering whether or not they will transfer to the new Xbox iteration.  At the very least, it seems fair that I should be able to transfer all my video to my computer.

    Final Fantasy III/VI is one of my favorite console RPGs of all time.  From the many side narratives to the game-changing World of Ruin to secret characters, it just kept blowing my mind the first time I played it.  And, lest we forget, it also had this, which chills me to the bone to this very day:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyZoe-r9qb0

    • DrFlimFlam

      Rayman Origins is so fun. I just wish my kid hadn’t deleted our save files over and over again.

      • Citric

        I remember when my nephews deleted all of my Wario Land saves because they thought the delete animation was funny.

        • DrFlimFlam

          Kids are the worst. My son’s excuse was that he plainly liked playing earlier levels because they’re easier, and he wanted to set new high scores and unlock items this way. He wanted the reward of discovery without the challenge that later levels presented.

      • Chum Joely

        Oh shit, I didn’t realize that you were speaking from experience before… I am so, so sorry.

        • DrFlimFlam

          Eventually, you learn. On systems with a memory card, DON’T LEAVE THE MEMORY CARD IN THE SYSTEM (RIP, Skies of Arcadia Legends). On modern systems, make sure the kid knows the score. Now he knows that the first save is holy and cannot be harmed. If he wants to start with a new save slot, go for it. If he wants to delete, he talks to ME, and I take care of freeing up slots without taking out the original.

          I was pretty far in Rayman. A lot farther than I ever thought I’d get.

    • fieldafar

      Eh, I wouldn’t count on backwards compatibility on the New Xbox, so you might have to hang on to the hard-drive (and any physical copies) with the 360.

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      Yay for also buying El Shaddai on impulse and then realizing I probably won’t be playing it for weeks if not months!

    • SamPlays

      El Shaddai is a straight-up confounding game. I think Gameological (or at least the staff writing for AV Club pre-Gameological) placed it among the top of the heap for whatever year it was released. To be sure, the game looks great and its mechanics are pretty easy to figure out but it feels like the game is hiding something from you the entire time. It lacks just enough information to make it slightly frustrating, like one of those Atari 2600 games that make no sense without a manual. Be glad you only spent $3 on it. On the other hand, Deus Ex is a straight-up future classic and Rayman Origins is AWESOME. 

      • TaumpyTearrs

         I agree that El Shaddai seems to be missing a piece or something. I played a couple hours and thought the design sense was neat, and the combat is pretty straightforward, but it still feels off for some reason.

  • caspiancomic

    My God, has it been a week already? When you do nothing but sit on your fat wide ass playing video games, time flies. This past week I have been playing, and this coming weekend I intend to continue to play Ni No Kuni. I’ve gotten to the point now where the world has really opened up- I’ve got my boat and a spell that lets me teleport to any previously visited location, and the next item on my to-do list is to track down some “sky pirates”, which means air travel is just around the corner.

    Rather than talking your ears off about my general impressions of the game (short version: eeeeeeeee!!), I’ll mention a couple of things that have stood out for me. The first is a definitive answer to the question that Heisler and Teti were asking a while back: does this game ever stop holding your hand? Answer: yes. At first I was a little cantankerous about how the game assumed I didn’t even know how to move or talk to NPCs, but I’m probably around half way through the game now, and the last few major changes to the mechanics have been woven into the game without so much as a sentence’s worth of explanation. In fact, the last major thingy the game introduced me to, I still don’t know what it is or how it works (Drippy’s “Tidy Tears” ability. The game tells you he learned it, and that’s it! Even the Telling Stone doesn’t know what that is!) It never wholly leaves you to your own devices, but the handholding eventually atrophies.

    Second thing: the game’s difficulty curve is crazy. In this sense it reminds me of The World Ends With You. In that game, as in this one, every time you got anywhere close to “comfortable” with the game, and settled into a kind of groove, it would dump another gameplay mechanic into your lap and amplify the difficulty of the ambient battles just to make sure you’re paying attention. Every time you feel yourself getting complacent, and feeling like maybe you’ve finally got enough of a handle on things to coast from here to the end boss, suddenly you’re learning how to counter attack, or integrating computer controlled allies into battle, or taming enemies, or whatever. Plus, once all the mechanics are on the table, the combat is surprisingly complex and rewarding. The boss battles especially are great- they’re fast paced, challenging, tense, and actually require strategic thinking and careful timing, and not just wailing on the enemy until it falls down.

    So yeah, I’m basically super digging this game. I was hoping to have it finished before classes started up again on Monday, but it looks like I’ll be playing this game through most of March instead. No complaints here, though, it’s a great title. Also, it makes me really want to watch Nausicaa again…

    • dmikester

      I’m probably about five or six hours ahead of you, and I have to be honest, as much as I love the art direction and the witty translation (and all the Studio Ghibli references), the game itself is starting to really, really grate on me.  It has some of the worst tendencies of JRPGs as you get farther along, such as bosses that have way too much HP so the fight is more tedious than fun and side quests you have to do an interminable amount of grinding to accomplish. Also, to my total shock, once the world truly opens up (you have one more big travel surprise coming up), it doesn’t really feel that exciting or even interesting.  

      I’m having a hard time not comparing this to Dragon Quest VIII, which strikes me as a much more balanced experience.  In DQ8, whenever I got some new ability (such as when the world fully opened up), I felt that rare sense of awe and wonder that very few games ever really accomplish.  Here, it just feels kind of meh for some reason.  I hope that I don’t feel this way by the very end of the game, but I’ve noticed a couple of other comments on here that are somewhat similar.  to my experience.  Still, I’m super glad I’m playing it; it’s a beautiful world to play around in and it has a neat story.  I just wish the game was better balanced than it is.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    Still going through the New Vegas DLC.  Just finished Honest Hearts and absolutely loved it.  Fallout always tries to play with moral ambiguity, but this DLC was perhaps the most perfect and believable “there is no right decision” situation that either FO3 or NV came up with.  Plus the environment is amazing and varied.  I only wish it was bigger, because I would gladly have played an entire AAA title in Zion.  Definitely a vast improvement of the claustrophobic survival horror of Dead Money, which was (like Operation Anchorage) more of a chore to be accomplished in order to get the rewards rather than a joy in and of itself.

    • KidvanDanzig

      You ought to tell JE Sawyer that, it was his DLC and it seems to be the least appreciated New Vegas DLC overall. I think a lot of people didn’t actually realize that you could call Joshua / Daniel on their colonial mentality bullshit, they seem to think the game endorses one or both of their viewpoints but it’s pretty clear that they’re both really flawed in the way they think.

    • The_Misanthrope

       I wanted to like Honest Hearts more, but by the time I played it (after most of the other DLC and near the end of the game), I was far more powerful than anyone involved, barring Ghost of She.  Their petty squabble just seemed unimportant.  But it is probably the most story-driven of the DLC.

      I really was annoyed with Dead Money’s cheap survival horror tactics, but I can’t stay too mad at it because it gave me my favorite weapon (the fully modded Holorifle) and my favorite (albeit temporary) companion (Christine Royce).

      Old World Money is ultimately an interesting goof on Cold War science and B-movie tropes, so the story doesn’t have too much dramatic weight.  It is, however, one of the more challenging DLCs.  Those exploding robo-scorpions are brutal.

      Lonesome Road just feels too linear to be all that interesting storywise.  And Ulysees is one lone-winded, slow-talking SOB.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I loved Honest Hearts. Did you do the “survivalist” unmarked quest? That was one of my favorite parts. 

      I actually also liked Dead Money a lot because it provided a challenge. By the time I played all the DLC I was towards the end of the game and everything just felt too simple with my overpowered character. It was great to be stripped down and forced in to a brutal environment. 

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4

         oh yeah.  Once I found the first terminal I was immediately obsessed with finding all of the survivalist’s notes.  Quite a moving story for a video game, actually.

        • djsubversive

          The survivalist was the best part of Honest Hearts, I think.

      • djsubversive

        I also liked Dead Money a lot. I thought I was the only one. :)

        I think the problem it has (and I’ve said this before) is that it changed up too much from the base game. I liked the changes, mostly, except for the explosive collar. That got annoying real fast. Everything else, I’m cool with. I loved having to scavenge for a handful of bullets and a tin of meat, while the environment is slowly killing me and the natives are creeping around just out of sight (but I can still hear them…). 

        Good stuff. Plus, Dean Domino is right up there with Joshua Graham for “Second-Best New Vegas Character.”

        No-Bark Noonan is The Best.

        • KidvanDanzig

          It had some pretty interesting choice-consequence as well. Both God/Dog (well, God) and Dean Domino will have different final confrontations (completely different, in Domino’s case) based on the sort of early-game dialogue that gamers have been deeply conditioned to regard as inconsequential.

          Basically, never ever talk back to Dean Domino.

        • djsubversive

          @KidvanDanzig:disqus yes. I’m a HUGE fan of that sort of thing. I’m sick of games that let you do everything in one run because you’re the player and must be catered to.

          The Dean Domino check was particularly great, because I got caught by it the first time, like probably everybody did. When I realized THAT was what had caused the final confrontation to play out the way it did, I smiled. I figured that people were going to be pissed about it, though, because that’s how things go.

          Basically, talk to Dean Domino however you want to talk to him, but he doesn’t forget that shit like just about every other character in just about every other game ever that has “[Speech] I win.” options.

          Dean Domino is awesome, and next time I start NV, I might have to get the mod that lets you recruit him as a companion in the Mojave.

  • EmperorNortonI

    I’m not entirely sure.  I may play almost nothing, as I’ve got a busy weekend planned ahead.

    Last week,  I was totally obsessed with Crusader Kings 2.  I was playing a game starting in 1066 as the Hammamid Emirate, a Duchy-level power that begins with most of Algeria.  In about a hundred years, by the time the grandson of my original ruler took over, I’d managed to take Tunisia, Sardinia, and Sicily, and declare myself King of Africa, all while keeping my Decadence below 30, and around 10 by the end of it.  Lots and lots of fun.  It’d been a while since I’ve been obsessed with a game like that, so it was a lot of fun, but I also think it was fucking with my ability to sleep.  It’s been a couple days since I last played, and I feel myself gradually winding down, my mind relaxing bit by bit.

    Memoir 44 has been treating me poorly.  It has been a LONG time since we’ve had a fun, well-balanced match – the luck was swinging too hard in one direction or the other for anything to be enjoyable.  So, I busted out High Frontier.  This is an awesome game, for its brilliant incorporation of information into the map as much as anything else.  If you like boardgames, and have any interest at all in the real science and technology of space travel, then you owe it to yourself to check this game out.  

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      Memoir 44?  Google says that’s one of them there Table-top games, is it more Risk or more Warhammer 40k esque?

      • EmperorNortonI

         It’s not really much like either of those.  Memoir 44 is a hex based wargame, but the map is quite small in comparison to most of those.  Further, the hexes are big, and the units are little army men.  That’s cool.  Most importantly, the terrain is not printed onto the map – it’s made up of little terrain hexagons which you place over the map tiles.  Each scenario has a terrain setup and unit setup, making them quite different from each other.

        The gameplay itself is quick and fun.  You have a hand of cards, which allow you to move X number of units in one sector of the map or the other.  There are also special cards.  When you attack, you roll dice, according to the unit you’re attacking with, the range, and the terrain.

        There are hundreds of scenarios out there, both official and user-generated, and the game is a total blast.  It love it.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Aw man, Memoir ’44 comes up all the time in my search for boardgames as a good beginner friendly wargame. I can’t decide if I want that or Twilight Struggle first, but I’ll probably get them both eventually. Goddamn it.

  • KidvanDanzig

    Like everyone else, I’m playing Mass Effect 2, pulling a renegade engineer (with manshep’s mesh under a custom face so he actually looks good) through the game so that I can port him over to ME3, go through this Last Hurrah DLC, and put the series to bed for good. I would keep going through Skyrim but something is causing my loading times to skyrocket so it’s not even really worth it anymore.

    In other news, with the sequester looking in Washington I’ve taken a good hard look at my studies (public administration) and have started to wonder if maybe I should get into a different line of work. I think I’ve figured out that I want to make games. I’m not a great writer but that’s okay because there aren’t, as a general rule, dedicated writers on game staff (you can always spot a dreamer by their stated desire to be become a game writer). 
    I’ve done some light modding which I’ve really enjoyed, on Baldur’s Gate 2. Never finished it but I got pretty damn far. I’ve been told the work I’ve done is probably most conducive to a level / area designer line of work. Of course I need to learn how to code and script at high levels and all that, and THAT requires a pretty solid grasp of math that makes my chest hurt (calculus is required for a CS BA, linear trig is most of what’s actually used).

    At the very least, I’m going to mod with a vengeance once all these little indie games with tools drop (Project Eternity and Wasteland 2, most likely), so maybe if I can teach myself certain code languages and I make REALLY good mods I can get into the industry that way. OR I could just make mods for fun.

    I guess what I’m doing over the weekend is deciding to either dink around in Javascript and make a tetris clone to prove that I can, or download Unity and jump right into C#. That seems inadvisable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

      I finished Baldurs Gate 2. It took me an embarrasingly long time but I did it.

      I’m also getting back into programming and am re-learning the basics of C++ for no particular reason other than evening boredom.

    • Chum Joely

      I guess it depends on the game but at Ubisoft Montreal, we have dedicated scriptwriters on every single game, and all of them take their jobs very seriously as creators of interactive fiction.

      For example, here’s a great Kotaku interview with Jill Murray, one of the two scriptwriters on Assassin’s Creed: Liberation (their work on this game won them the Writer’s Guild of America award for video game writing). Great writer and just an extremely smart and thoughtful person all around.

      • Jackbert322

        Speaking of Assassin’s Creed, you need to tell your boss that a series has gone on too long when you’ve started to name entries after hardcore punk bands.

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

          Assassin’s Creed VIII: Anal Cunt

        • Chum Joely

          Yeah, at some point there was an announcement for Black Flag up on the huge communal chalkboard in the cafeteria, and someone drew the Black Flag band logo next to it pretty small. There were some knowing winks and nodding in the coffee line just next to it.

          Also: Assassin’s Creed IX: 22nd Century Schizoid Assassin

      • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

        No offense to you or your coworkers, but that award set off my major bullshit alarms. The WGA award nomination process is insanely flawed. There are so many games they don’t even consider because of their membership requirements. I think Assassin’s Creed as a whole has some pretty terrible writing (although relative to other games, it’s somewhere in the middle of the spectrum).

        • Chum Joely

          Well, you’re not wrong about the membership requirements and how that skews the process. Someone at work was talking about that and among other things, it seems that becoming a member of the WGA costs a very large amount of money (every year?).

      • KidvanDanzig

        While it’s true that there are an increasing number of dedicated writers in the higher tiers of the industry, such as Jill Murray, most of them seem to be already established in other mediums, usually sci-fi or fantasy fiction (Orson Scott Card, Harlan Ellison, RA Salvatore), or now even hollywood screenwriters (the Dark Knight Rises guy working on Call of Duty). From what I understand of medium- or low-tier indie studios (and I could be wrong) writing is generally a secondary skill that bolsters a primary discipline, usually design but sometimes straight programming. 

        I’ve been told that unless I can move some units of a novel I’d best focus on more practical development skills. Maybe I’m just gunshy because I grew up on forums full of armchair designers and modders who couldn’t write for shit but were convinced they could take the medium to the next level.

    • Fluka

      Dang, good luck with that.  The sequester’s been making me think about my career a lot too (large scale government-funded research science…my field already got our future totally cut before all this new business, to say nothing of the lack of tenure track jobs).  I sometimes fantasize about going into games too, despite my suspicion that it might backfire – hey the games industry is a *great* way to see more of your family, have job security, and feel like your work is really making a difference!  But that doesn’t mean that making your own stuff doesn’t sound like an awesome thing to do.

      • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

        Uhh, from everything I’ve read, the games development industry is exactly the opposite of those things. There is almost zero job security, you work excruciating hours (eg, you see less of your family), and your work might not make even the slightest difference depending on marketing and other exterior factors. 

        That said, best of luck to you @KidvanDanzig:disqus ! It’s a tough industry to crack in to, but if it’s your passion, you should go for it. Just don’t get taken in by one of those degree-mill “gaming” schools and their false promises. 

        I have a pretty good friend who works at Bethesda GS (he actually worked on Skyrim), so I can always find out pretty easily what kind of positions they are looking to fill.

        • Fluka

          Tone on the internet and all…that was the joke. ;)

          As cheap academic labor with no job security, the games industry is one of the places I can actually look and go “Whelp!  Could be worse!”

    • Chum Joely

      For the programming side, when I did my Tetris clone to prove that I could a couple of years ago, I did it through this very nice site called DirectXTutorial.com, which seems to still be active.  You end up writing an entire game engine from scratch in C++, which is pretty interesting as an educational exercise. 
      There’s a “premium” thing for like $35 which unlocked some useful stuff, although I don’t remember quite what. You may well be fine with the free version.

      As for Javascript vs. C#, two things: First, I saw someone asking exactly this question on the Unity forums just last week, and a couple of people replied that it might be better to start in C#, which is a bit stricter and keeps you in line more, before then moving to Javascript once you have some idea of what you’re doing. But, secondly, even if you prefer to start with Javascript, you can still do it in Unity. It supports various scripting languages, but primarily those two.

      My own baby Unity project right now is a little demo that has you cracking open doors by making context-based puns. This was actually Jill Murray’s idea, speaking of whom– part of a game about various forms of “weaponized social awkwardness”. I’ve got the core of the pun-detection technology down (looking up words in a pronouncing dictionary and checking if your word is appropriately similar to other words that the game has flagged as relevant in context). Now we just have to turn it into some kind of interesting gameplay. This may or may not be doomed to failure.

      • KidvanDanzig

        Sound advice, thank you! I think I’m going to get my sea legs with C#.

    • Captain Internet

      Don’t know much about Unity, but I’d recommend C# to start with. The learning curve is a little steeper, but it’s a more traditional programming language and you’ll be able to move over to others with relative ease. 

      JavaScript is really only like JavaScript. There’s a huge amount you can do with it, and it’s very forgiving, but it’s got a lot of awkward quirks and it doesn’t scale particularly well. 

      But whichever you decide to go for, my number one tip is buy a book. Learning stuff off the Internet works up to a point, but most of the tutorials out there are written by people who want invites to conferences. This appears to be the one to get for C#.

      Anyway, that’s my 2 pence :)

  • ChicaneryTheYounger

    Finished Far Cry 3 last night. Load of racist shite.

    • valondar

       Isn’t it just. The weird thing about Ubisoft is they’re downright terrible at game story (the opaque and elaborate Dan Brown nonsense sucks the fun out of the Assassin’s Creed franchise) and yet they’re very insistent on inserting it into a game and then patting themselves on the back for how revolutionary it is.

      • http://twitter.com/marrrrshall marshall

        nahhh man, some people like/really go in for elaborate Dan Brown nonsense! -one of those people

    • Chum Joely

      The lead writer had an interview somewhere where he was insisting at great length that he HAD to go over the top with all of those stereotypes and cliches in order to make people realize how ridiculous they are in the first place. So it’s just like EXTREME SATIRE. Not buying it.

      • Fluka

        Link to interview.  It’s pretty crazy all around.

        • Chum Joely

          Thanks for doing my homework for me, that is indeed the interview in question.

        • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

          Yeah, I read about that and just rolled my eyes. “Sure dude, you’re the most brilliant satirist to ever live, and we all just aren’t getting it. That’s why you are writing for Far Cry.”

        • djsubversive

          Reading that interview was what really solidified my opinion of Far Cry 3. I didn’t care for it, but I figured that it might not have been made for people who enjoyed Far Cry 2, strange as that may sound (I’m on record as having loved just about everything about FC2. yes, even that. and that). 

          Then I read that interview and realized that it wasn’t just me, it was that the game was actually trying to be clever all the time, it just failed miserably at it. That dude that gives you the tatau and then basically tells you, in-game, to “press the escape button to go to your menu, and then select Inventory to check your inventory.” or however he explains your menu functions to you. It’s blatant and obvious and oh so dumb, and it just keeps going on like that. The designated mission areas, the fast travel system with no explanation for it (at least FC2 used a bus system – although there could have been a few more stops), the inexplicable crafting (two more goat hides and I can carry another gun!), the MMO-style “vendor trash” loot that you get for no reason other than to take up space in your inventory… like, pretty much everything beyond “shoot man” and “drive jeep” is trying to shove “AREN’T WE CLEVER FOR POINTING OUT THAT YOU’RE PLAYING A VIDEO GAME, VIDEO GAME PLAYER PERSON?” down your throat.

          *ahem* Sorry. I did not care for Far Cry 3. At all. As a big fan of FC2, I felt almost offended. 

          Of course, I’m required to point out here that my favorite games are almost all bleak, difficult by default, contain choices and consequences (not “both options lead to the same prize” bullshit), Russian/Eastern European, open-world, tough to get into, unintuitive to play, and modding is almost always required. Choose two or more. (the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, Fallout 1/NV, 7.62 High Calibre, Arcanum, Deus Ex).

          With that said, it’s pretty likely that Far Cry 3 wasn’t made for me, but that just doesn’t sit right with me because I loved Far Cry 2 so much.

      • KidvanDanzig

        Gaming has finally found its Joe Eszterhaz 

        or, if you wanted to be more generous, its Kurt Sutter

        or, if you REALLY wanted to be generous, its John Milius*

        *Actually I just looked him up and he wrote Homefront. Nevermind!

        • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

          Yeah, that was actually one of Homefront’s selling points.. for some reason

      • ChicaneryTheYounger

        I dunno, satire usually contains satirical content.

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    I’ll be finishing up Resident Evil 5. Computer-controlled Sheva is… variable in her usefulness. Her AI gives her pinpoint accuracy and allows her to avoid getting hurt most of the time, but she has no understanding of the concept of conserving your ammunition. She also refuses to use any weapon other than the pistol, which is fine, because if I gave her a machine gun she’d run it dry in about 5 seconds. So I stick to the shotgun and sniper rifle and give her all the handgun bullets we come across.

    Overall I’ve really enjoyed the game, aside from the “press x to not die” quicktime events, which seem to be the leading cause of death in this game. (Instakill crocodiles and lasers are the others.)

    • The_Misanthrope

       RE5 is actually a good deal of fun to play co-op.  Computer Sheva is just useless, aside from drawing fire from you.  I never actually finished it though.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I think the press X not to die stuff might be the only times I ever died in that game. I really never understood the point of such a mechanic. It’s an artificial difficulty barrier. It ads literally nothing to the game except making you feel like “oh, I’m playing a game”

      • TaumpyTearrs

         I remember failing the shitty boulder-punching bit at the end a number of times, probably more than any actual deaths in the game.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I’ll let you guys decide what I play this weekend.

    I’m going to dig out the NES. What cart should I blow into for an hour?

    • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

      Startropics.

    • DrFlimFlam

       R.C. Pro-Am.

    • Captain Internet

      Elite.

      • ChicaneryTheYounger

        That’s a BBC Micro game, you cad!

      • ChicaneryTheYounger

        Huh. I’m just going to go with the “I was born in 1993″ excuse.

        • Captain Internet

          Didn’t work for Stalin, can’t see it working now.

      • ChicaneryTheYounger

         Who-lin?

    • Cornell_University

      Ninja Gaiden

      • mad

        That’s what I was going to suggest, never gets old.  So instead I’ll say:  Ninja Gaiden II (the best of the series).

        If you had a few hours, I would say, play all three and enjoy the story-triggered aneurysm you’ll surely suffer by the end.

    • Bad Horse

      The Guardian Legend.

      • George_Liquor

        I’ll second that.

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      Balloon Fight.

    • Cloks

      Silver Surfer. Because fuck you, that’s why.

      Seriously though, Startropics. If you don’t have it, you can get it from a decent used game store for less than ten bucks.

      • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

        If you do get it used, just remember the code 747 for when ROB starts yammering on about dipping a letter in water. 

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I have Startropics on Virtual Console, and I inevitably die horribly at Magma the Fierce.

        The game is also viciously unfair with its rooms of instant death.

        Sigh. But I really want to play it now.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      excite bike

      • djsubversive

        I vote for Excite Bike, too.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I do have that on the old “31 in 1″ cart. Maybe I’ll go through that.

      • George_Liquor

        It’s exciting and it has bikes!

        • Chum Joely

          You don’t say…! (strokes chin thoughtfully)

    • George_Liquor

      Duh. Marble Madness!

  • DrFlimFlam

    I might spool up WoW again, but I really want to play more Skyrim. I’m in prison right now, so I’d like to finish that Markath quest line and see what’s up with that. I’ve gone back to my 41 hour save in Dragon Quest 8 as the game to play when FlimFlam, Jr. is around, so I’ll probably get some of that in. I just did some tower thing so I could get some Spirit thing and hopefully get Jessica back soon. When you face off against 5 enemies and one calls for help, three dudes isn’t a lot.

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      Code Veronica was the only “old-style” Resident Evil I even came close to getting into, but damn man, those human-tank controls.  Every time you run around a corner the camera changes and I become discombobulated. 

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      Ooh Code Veronica was excellent. I think I played it on Dreamcast back in the day.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Being without Jessica is probably the roughest section of the game.

    • Eco1970

      They let you play video games in prison? And your wife is in prison too? I thought they banned internet access for inmates as well. Are you living in a progressive Scandinavian country, or is it like a halfway house type of prison for minor offences? What did you and your wife do?

      • DrFlimFlam

        I can’t tell if you’re joking or not. But my Khaajit was in prison. And is now making his way to Solitude.

        That whole Markarth uprising quest line really fizzles out at the end.

  • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

    I downloaded the Hearthfire DLC for Skyrim on a whim and lord I forgot how timesucky this game is! (Especially on the PS3 where never-ending load screens plague you at literally every turn and my character can’t be submerged in water past his head without the system crashing.) I’ve got a nice place going, though — my Khajiit alchemist is thrilled to have his own greenhouse on-premises, plus now that I have an armory to fill I have an excuse to tackle the rest of the Daedric quests I’d been ignoring. Gotta fill that room up with the doohickeys of the gods!!!

    • George_Liquor

      It’s become clear to me that Skyrim is the kind of game that’s only playable on a PC. Not because it looks better or is any less buggy, but because the console is often the only way to get around its myraid bugs and problems.

      Incidentally, I can’t recommend getting an SSD enough for anyone interested in PC gaming around here. Skyrim loads so fast on my SSD-equipped, but otherwise old & unremarkable PC that I can’t read the hint text on the loading screen.

      • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

        Man: what if they could just make the console accessible on, er, consoles? 

      • KidvanDanzig

        Not when you’re running 70+ mods B)

    • William Miller

      I was going to warn you about a persistent bug with Hearthfire regarding spouses disappearing or moving strangely but the only way I know how to fix it is with the console so I can’t help. If you’re lucky it was either fixed by now (I haven’t played in a while) or was a PC only thing.

      • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

        I think my character would be upset if Aela suddenly disappeared, but I reckon it’s something he’d at least half-expect. I’m surprised she’s stuck around as long as she has.

        • KidvanDanzig

          Thing to know about marrying Aela is that if you’ve got Dawnguard you NEED to get the werewolf quests from her BEFORE you marry her or else you’ll be locked out of the storyline forever.

          ~*Bethsoft*~

        • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

          @KidvanDanzig:disqus Aghh that’s bad news for me. Downloading Dawnguard seems to have broken Aela’s brain – all she does now is limp in place and tell me that there’s been a shift in the moons. 

      • KidvanDanzig

        It also breaks an alchemy table somewhere, I can’t remember which one

    • TaumpyTearrs

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

      After playing 50 or so hours of Skyrim on my PS3 before getting tired of it, this video gave me a good laugh.

  • stakkalee

    My gaming buddy and I have started a new LAN game of Civ4/Fall From Heaven – he’s playing ice shamans, I’m playing a human/nature alliance; his first AI civ target looks to be the dwarven craftsmen, mine the seekers of Armageddon.  My particular civ gets airships and a dragon hero – I’m looking forward to laying waste to some evil cities.

    My Mass Effect 2 playthrough is going well – Kat Shepherd just got back from the **SPOILERS** Collector ship, and I need to recruit Tali and finish everybody’s loyalty missions (I’ve done Miranda, Grunt and Mordin so far.) I have to say, so far Mordin’s mission has been the best; I got a VERY satisfying Renegade moment (when that one Krogan is speechifying and you shoot those explosives) and the thematic elements of his quest tie in very directly to the main plot.  Mordin and his team modified the genophage once it became apparent that the Krogan were adapting to it, and the salarian justification, both for the genophage and the modification, was to ‘thread the needle’ and (essentially) cripple the Krogan civilization but not actually destroy it in a genocide, thinking their solution to be the moral one.  But is Mordin really that different from the Reapers, who modified the Prothean genetic code to become servants?  If Mordin’s team hadn’t modified the genophage and the Krogan had successfully adapted, would the salarian justification look like Tali’s justification of the quarian preemptive strike against the geth, an ill-conceived idea that blew up in their faces?  In my playthrough of ME1 I spared the life of the Rachni queen, and knowing how these games work I fully expected her to show up again even before I ran into that asari in ME2 with the message, but in “real life” could I reasonably expect that the rachni wouldn’t just revert to their old ways?  Is a genocide to ensure your own survival justified?  The end result is still the same – the universe is still down one species.  Anyway, ME2 is the shit, and I’m enjoying it immensly.

    • KidvanDanzig

      Your choices w/r/t the end of Mordin’s loyalty mission will have stark implications for your ME3 run, if you haven’t played that game already.

      • stakkalee

        I haven’t played ME3 yet but I was hoping the genophage plot-thread would pay off at some point.  So far I’ve enjoyed how much ME2 has depended on the choices I made in ME1, with the little cameos from NPCs here and there.

  • Bad Horse

    X-COM. Not XCOM with all its tutorials, and difficulty curve, and zippy base management metagame. I’m talking 10 pages of incomprehensible purchases each turn. I’m talking 14 dudes on your Skyranger and maybe 8 of them will come back, on a good day. I’m talking you step out of your ship and there’s a pissed-off alien behind you who takes a reaction shot before you know they’re there and bam, your team captain’s dead, and there was never shit you could have done about it.

    I’m talking X-COM UFO Defense.

    • The_Misanthrope

       I love the XCOM reboot, but I will freely admit that it comes up short to the original in a number of ways.  That said, it also exceeds the original in a couple of key ways, so I suppose it’s a toss-up. 

      New XCOM is far more streamlined, but it does make for more predictable missions.  For the most part, the aliens will stay in one spot until you spot them, where the original’s felt more untethered to one spot, meaning you couldn’t rely on them staying in one spot while you sorted your shit out.

      I have also complained before about the paucity of end-game content.  Once you’ve uncovered the final mission, the game might as well flash a “Just Get On With It Already!” notice over every Council Report, as the game just stops giving you many missions.  The original would happily let you stall time indefinitely, as the aliens would continue building bases and pursuing an aggressive abduct-and-terrify campaign.

      Anyone tried the Slingshot DLC?  I keep thinking about getting it, but all the reveiws are pretty lukewarm.

      • Bad Horse

        I’m also doing my first run of new XCOM on Classic and I’m finding aliens to be much less stationary, so I think that’s dependent on difficulty. They never take invisible potshots, though, so there’s that.

    • KidvanDanzig

      smoke grenading your landing zone is absolutely vital

  • fieldafar

    No games this weekend, but I pre-ordered (I know, I know…) a copy of SimCity for cheap (thanks Amazon!). Let’s hope that doesn’t turn into a complete disappointment. 

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      I’m cautiously excited for that, but I wouldn’t pre-order.  Those servers are gonna go down on launch day like the power structure in a city whose coal plant just exploded.

      Though the game does look absolutely beautiful no denying that.

  • Cornell_University

    I seem to remember blowing the “wait for Shadow” part of the apocalypse portion of FF3 the first time thru and having to start the whole goddamn game over again.  I still have the cartridge but no longer an SNES to play it on.  did it get rereleased for PS1 like a bunch of the other games did?  If so, I probably have it (and I’m sure there’s something wrong with it)

    I still haven’t bought anything I’ve been crowing about the past few weekends, though I did impulse buy FF12 last sunday because it was $5 used.  It’s the first PS2 era entry I’ve played, and I was a little hesitant because i know it’s the first game to ditch the ATB system, and CHANGE IS BAD.  however, once I got used to the battle mechanics I’ve found I really like it.  It’s the first game I can remember in the series where the world opens up to you so fast, about 20 minutes of tutorials and back story and I could ditch my objectives and go kill Cactuars.  A welcome change, that.  Speaking as someone who recently had Ramza a lancer before the prologue was over in Tactics, I don’t plan on picking the story back up any time soon (reviews I’ve read said the story is way less epic and important as previous games, and since my most recent playthroughs are of Tactics and FF8, which had insane ridiculous stories in good and bad ways respectively, I’m taking a shine to that too).

    The license buy though, why the fuck did they put that in?

    • Bad Horse

      Having to buy gambits is the worst thing. I know they were trying to gate the complexity but in practice it meant that I was always bouncing around the party issuing manual commands for like 20 hours.

      • Cornell_University

        I haven’t gotten additional party members yet.  sort of kind of dreading it now.

        • djsubversive

          Balthier is basically Han Solo, if that helps.

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

      FF6 was rereleased along with FF5 in a collection for the PS1 (FF Anthology, I think?). Was also rereleased for GBA and, as mentioned here, Wii Virtual Console.

    • Cloks

      It was released in a two disc set with FFV, called something like Final Fantasy Collection for the PS1. I think every game before X except for III can be played on the PS1 thanks to all the re-releases.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I’ve had a copy of FF12 sitting around collecting dust for years now. I always wanted to play it but struggling to find any time. Glad to hear it’s fun. I’ve always heard bad stuff about it.

      • William Miller

        It is incredibly tedious (more so than the other FF games I’ve played) but I enjoyed it. It’s often impossible to continue the story without some major leveling simply because everything in the next area can kill you instantly.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      FF6 is available on PSN.

  • evanwaters

    Still on the Ultima games, each with their own frustrations and appeal.

    Ultima 1 is actually kind of fun once you get past the early curve of figuring out the basics of the game- once that happens it’s easy to get to a point where you have 700+ hit points, all the food you could ever need, and you’re flying around the map in a sweet-ass aircar that fires lasers. It’s just a question of then figuring out the actual quests you’ve been given, and figuring out the actual map, which is surprisingly huge (and it wraps around). I also realized, trying another character, that the dungeons are apparently randomly generated. And Diablo thinks it’s so innovative.

    I thought I had Ultima III figured but it’s been kicking my ass. Ultima II is tricky because it’s got multiple time frames, and for some reason not all towns sell food because that would be too easy, and it takes some pondering.

    Ultima IV is easily the best designed of the ones I’ve played so far- it’s as much an adventure game as an RPG, you’re mostly solving puzzles and exploring the map with breaks for combat. But oh my Lord the poison effect. It makes the game play this godawful noise every time you move to signify taking damage, there’s a random chance of getting it with every chest you open after a battle, and curing it usually requires hauling ass to the nearest town, which can be quite a long ways. (I’ve got a druid, but spell reagents are sold only in a couple of places.) Still it’s great fun and maybe I can beat it before plunking down on V, VI, and VII.

    • EmperorNortonI

       I played a mage as my main character, so healing and whatnot was never much of a problem.  I just stocked up on reagents, 30 or 40 of each.  Most of your characters ought to be able to cast a cure, though – the mage, Shamino, and Jaana ought to be able to do it.

      Ultima III is hard.  I managed to get to the point where you’re dungeon delving for Marks, but that was only by creating characters, stripping them of their loot, and then discarding them.  If I recall correctly, thieving was almost indispensable to doing well.  Ultima II is tricky.  Too tricky for my childhood puzzle-incapable brain, really.  There are all kinds of random things you need to give the random guy in X time zone, and nothing tells you what you need or how to get it.  Quite hard.

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

    I’m playing Binary Domain. And you know what, even with the stock muscle-bound dudes and skimpy badass women (complete with gratuitous ass shot of the sexy one), the game is kinda fun and manages to give the characters some personality. I’ve long extolled the virtue of non-silent Protagonists, and BD shows why.

    I love the silliness of the game, and it’s a decent challenge, too. I was mostly intrigued by their “team morale” system, but it’s pretty pointless in practice. Saying the right thing to people is pretty obvious (respect the leader, say “awesome BRO” stuff to the black dude, say cutesy feely stuff to the women), and even then, it’s not like you give so many commands to warrant their respect since it’s a fairly straight-forward cover shooter.

    Still, it’s cool to see a goofy shooter and robots a-plenty. And the plot isn’t anything new, but it’s intriguing none-the-less and I’m curious where it takes it.

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

    I can’t help but see a resemblance:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnRs3IT1z20

  • Fluka

    More Galactic Civilizations II, most likely.  Got myself a research-based Technological victory last weekend using the Altarians (I will never really leave grad school…).  That means that I should probably try to do a Conquest victory using one of the more iron-fisted civilizations this weekend.  After a week of technical and professional frustrations, however, and because I am tired and super-unmotivated, I might just want to go play something shooty-stabby.  Still gotta finish that ME2 ultra paragon run for next week…  Or maybe I’ll go back to Dishonored for a fast game of Corvo Attano The Loudest Man In Dunwall.  

    Meh.  In recompense for my grumpy and half-hearted WAYPTW, here’s my namesake in a box.

    • Jackbert322

      CANNOT LIKE ENOUGH.

    • Captain Internet

      Where are you sending her? You might want to cut some airholes.

      • Fluka

        I’m pretty sure she’s trying to get herself sent to Amsterdam to score some primo nip.  Luckily, despite her ability to open doors and start the gas stove (true story!), she has not yet mastered packing tape.

        • Jackbert322

          We have a dog (the most stereotypical cat acting dog ever – aloof, intelligent, all that jazz, oh, and she PURRS) and she seems to be pretty close to starting our gas stove. She jumps up a few times daily to try. As for doors, she’s such a cocky pup, she’s starting to open them backwards. Jumping up with her back facing the wall, spinning around, and opening with her paws, all in one fluid motion.

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

      This is why I need to pay attention here more.  Galactic Civilizations II is 1 of my 10 favorite games.  Unlike fighting games, I ALWAYS stick with 1 faction in strategy games.  For those who don’t, though, the series rewards you by actually having rewarding, unique circumstances for each group.

      It’s a wonderful game.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    After having a gaming PC for quite a while I’m finally finding my peak internet times and getting into some multiplayer FPS.  A lot of the Gameological steam group plays Planetside 2 so I might dip back into that mad continent.  It was a game where I was more enamored by what was going on around me then my ability to affect the outcome of things.  This is a game with absolutely no tolerance for Rambos or one man tank squadrons.  It’s brutal but when you’re in a gun ship dropping hell on bunkered in enemies at an outpost when suddenly you realize there are friendlies down there making a ground assault to flush em out, then you have to step back and appreciate how cool gaming is in 2013.

    Also Red Orchestra 2 and Bad Company 2…and Halo 4… 

    And Titan Quest! I didn’t like Diablo, I didn’t much like Torchlight but for some reason Greek Mythology ARPG Titan Quest just rubs me the right way.   I don’t really have a grip on some mechanics (I will often press the hot key for a special attack and nothing will happen unless i click the attack with my mouse) it’s a distractingly fun game.  This was going to be the weeks I get into Rome: Total War in preparation for the incoming sequel but i don’t see myself putting down TQ or any of the multiplayer shooters I’m enamored with right now.

    • djsubversive

      You liked PlanetSide 2 then? Good. It’s definitely a better game when you’ve got other green dots helping you. And communicating. You’ll have to join us again – it was fun!

      Sorry about all the “hey, we’re over here. die a bunch of times trying to get to us, only to find that we’ve moved on, after dying a bunch of times.” stuff. Sometimes things get hectic, and spawn points are being camped, and we just end up on the losing end of a base fight again and again.

      Titan Quest is a pretty fun game, too. Do you have the Immortal Throne expansion? It adds a new act at the end of the game, and the Shadow skill tree (which works well with everything, but is mostly Dex- and Int-based).

      • exant

        The one time I played Planetside 2, I dropped from the sky into some firefight and was instantly murdered by two huge tanks. Then I spawned again somewhere and flipped an ATV over and died. I haven’t played since, especially because I suspect my experience constitutes a fairly large percentage of most people’s gameplay time.

        • djsubversive

          yeah, that seems to be about right. They don’t drop-pod new characters into a fight anymore – they spawn you somewhere where there’s fighting, but in the spawn room so you’re safe.

          Flipping ATVs and dying from the result is pretty much par for the course as far as our outfit is concerned. It’s not always ATVs, though.

          If you’d like to give it a shot again, join the Neo Conglomerate on the SolTech server (soon to be, if not already, merged with one of the bigger servers, Mattherson). The Gameological Society outfit is small and terrible, but we have fun. Stop by the Steam group chat and let us know your in-game name. 

          That goes for anyone who wants to join a group of people who have fun playing Planetside 2 and don’t care about kill/death ratios or points (well, except Hobbes. Hobbes is a fucking madman when it comes to his k:d). 

        • exant

          On paper, I should love everything about Planetside 2 – team-based FPS with vehicles that requires lots of communication, so I will give it a shot again. It’s good to know there’s a group of chill people to play with.

        • djsubversive

          @exant:disqus neat. We’ll be around. Hobbes and Effigy are always looking for more people to explo– err… kil– err… fly around in a bomber. yeah. let’s go with that one. :)

          And when all the Liberators are on cooldown, we take a bunch of tanks and get blown up. And then go on a cross-country ATV trip. and get blown up.

          This game has a lot of “getting blown up” as part of the experience. I recommend using some of your first certs to get Flak Armor for whatever class you like to play. And then start focusing on that class. Engineer is a good support class (repairing vehicles and mech suits, deploying ammo, anti-tank mines). Medic is sorely under-used in our outfit. I’ve been playing a bit with it, but it doesn’t help when the squad’s only medic (me) gets killed for doing stupid shit (trying to run across an open field to get to a downed squadmate). But Heavy Assault is also a pretty great anti-everything class. Effigy just got a lock-on rocket launcher and I think it’s working out pretty well for her. :)

        • Effigy_Power

          Is it ever. I am droppin’ airborne fools like it’s going out of style.
          Well, actually it takes a few rockets to even take down something light, but it certainly occupies their minds and keeps them from raining death onto some infantry without any revengeance, which apparently is a word now.

      • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

        I very much enjoyed PS2 though my contributions were minimal, I remember getting split up from you guys and taking off with another squad for a while in their gunship and not really participating in any battles but being really impressed with the amount of activity going on in a friendly base.  It’s strange how much it can feel like an actual staging zone for a war effort.  Then a Vanu fighter shot us down and I drop podded into enemy territory to reunite with you guys at that Vanu base above the canyon where i remember following Hobbes as an engineer on a few attempts to flank the enemy by going all the way around behind the canyon.

        The game really lends itself well to emergent stories like that.

      • EmperorNortonI

         Sorry I’ve been away.  I’ve not been at home and gaming-capable on Weekends much of late.

  • feisto

    So…some guy made an online version of Bomberman that you can play with up to 1,000 players at the same time. It’s in beta, but so far, pretty fun!

    bombermine.com

    The game did crash once due to message spamming by an overzealous (and racist) Hudson Soft defender. I…hope that doesn’t happen again.

  • heavenkey

    Will continue to run around in AC III whoring myself to the pitiful errand missions and the takeover of the forts ( God, there is no sneaking what so ever required, you can dash in, slay the bastards , kill the captain and voila !). All of this just to raise enough money to fully upgrade my ship, complete the naval missions and to hell with this game. I think it’s not even worth it to complete all the memory sequences. Also, are there only 5 naval missions ?.   

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

      There are three missions for each route (four routes?) that can lower their trading risk, plus five or six Peg Leg missions and I think maybe one other random one after the introduction of the boat.

  • Cloks

    More Mother 3. I think I’m almost at the halfway point because I just experienced a three year time skip and got to play as one of the people I thought was a main character. It’s such a great game.

  • Zomboid

    Call of Juarez, because I downloaded it for five bucks. It’s…not great.

  • aklab

    Suikoden II for me! 
    Jowy… :’(

  • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

    Finally, one of these things focuses on a game I can relate to! FFVI might just be my favorite game of all time. Although I say that with the knowledge that I played it at a time when it was right in the nostalgia crosshairs, around 5th and 6th grade. 

    Kefka is probably the best FF villain there has ever been, namely because he actually accomplished his goals. He destroyed the world! 

    I agree about Strago for the most part. He was always on my last-pick-at-dodgeball list in that game, and just like Justin says, it was a chore to go out and level those weak characters specifically for the split-party areas. Although, if you took the trouble to learn all his lores, Strago was actually pretty powerful. But learning his best lores was one of the more tedious sidequests you could embark on in that game. Each of the characters has a strong point, but it’s really about the amount of time you want to spend getting them to it. So it usually wound up being the characters that get their strong points more easily and as part of the story that I used the most. Similarly, Gau is crazy weak unless you spend forever on the Veldt finding the right rage techniques. 

    Setzer I think was relegated to my b-list on my first playthrough as well, but in playing a second time I managed to turn him in to a very powerful physical fighter. Also, if you spend enough time grinding, you wind up with a shit ton of expendable GP, so his move GP Rain becomes extremely useful. 

    Then again, without the strategy guide, I probably would have been lost on most of this stuff. 

    Pedantic correction: Zelda is not an RPG. And it was the Floating Island, not a mountain :)

    What will I be playing this weekend? Assuming I don’t manage to waste all my time again somehow, I will probably be trying to finish Dead Space 3. I really feel the need to complete games without pausing to pick up another game first. Otherwise there’s a chance that I never get back to them. So I started Dead Space last week and now I feel like I need to finish it. It’s not that great, but still fun.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Blue mages are often the best part of classic Final Fantasy games, but Strago was a chore. You get him too late in the game to be really useful, and his abilities are mostly overshadowed by the fact that every character can use magic.

      • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

        Yeah, the lateness of his arrival is also what makes him so weak. Same with Relm (although her tech skill was also just crap, for the most part).

        On all of my playthroughs, Mog just destroyed everything. His magic skill was through the roof. Then Sabin + Shadow for like 1-hit physical kills. I guess it was kind of a balance issue. Yes, other characters COULD be strong, but why bother the tedium getting them there when there are already characters that can kick ass with much less effort?

        I mean, once you get Sabin Bum Rush, you win the game, pretty much.

        • Bad Horse

          Ultima + Gem Box + Economizer on Terra, for 2 9999 HP hits to every enemy on the board basically for free each turn.

        • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

          @Bad_Horse:disqus Oddly enough, Terra was one of the characters I barely used. Once you could take her out of your party, I pretty much never used her unless I had to. Not sure why.

      • mad

        I agree that Blue Mages are some of the most fun in classic FF games.  The thing about Strago is that he didn’t feel like a classic Blue Mage.  I don’t know how to explain that, it’s just a feeling…but maybe it did have to do with how late you get him.  Also, his weaker, early spells just aren’t that powerful, especially considering that every can use magic, as Unexpected Dave said.

        Despite all that, Strago became one of my favorite characters, probably because in my obsessive FF-ness I got every last spell of his, which made him into a powerhouse (gotta love Grand Train!).

  • Chum Joely

    At home in the States this weekend with not a lot of game access, so mostly I’ll be mourning my lost hopes of finishing Mass Effect 1. An unfixable crash on the PS3 version that comes up during the final boss fight with “zombie Saren” means that after 40 hours of playing, I just can’t find a way to keep the game working for the final 4-5 minutes. I’ve moved on, though– I just went and watched the “Paragon Ending” online, so I can see how things would have ended.

    Once I’m back in Montreal (having left the kids in the U.S. with grandparents for spring break from school), I guess I’ll fire up Mass Effect 2 and plug in the appropriate choices to the “interactive backstory” thing, so that I can continue where I left off. I may also try to get through Mirror’s Edge, but I don’t know how much further I have to go (I am currently halfway through the mission where I first go after “Ropeburn” or whatever the security guy/ex-wrestler’s name is).

    I’ve also gotten back into some short play sessions in my new-ish second playthrough (and first on Hardcore) of Fallout: New Vegas. I just cleared out the Bison Steve, cut Beagle loose and immediately reprogrammed Primm Slim to be the sheriff. That was a lot easier than on my last playthrough where I had to hike all the way down to the Mojave outpost and rustle up NCR reinforcements who just ditched Primm anyway at the end of the game. Next stop: NCR Correctional Facility. Let’s see if I’m up for it, with my Guns skill that’s so much better than my first time through the game…

    • djsubversive

      The Correctional Facility can be painful at low levels, if you get caught by multiple dynamite-throwers (like in the yard or the cellblocks). Did you get ED-E from Primm (Science makes it easier to fix)? Because that helps quite a bit. I usually hold off on clearing it out until I get up to Novac (well, the 188, since Veronica is more fun than Boone). I come back to clear out the Vicki and Vance Casino (3 days after you appoint a sheriff, there’s a bunch of deserters who show up at the casino. 3 days after that, it reopens and you can make some quick caps by playing Blackjack), then head up to the prison.

      • Chum Joely

        Reprogramming Primm Slim took Science 30, but ED-E takes Science 55. My character “Zero” is only at level 3 right now, so I’m nowhere near that even with Science as a “tag skill”. I was thinking I’d just try to pick up the parts (3 scrap metal, 2 sensor modules, 1 scrap electronics, if I remember correctly) and fix him up next time I come through town.  Thanks for the tips about timing, it sounds like I can get ED-E first when I come back down from the northeast, and then follow through on the rest of your little scheme.

        And of course my companion for all this is going to be Veronica, because Veronica will always be the love of my New Vegas life, no matter how many times I’m reincarnated as different couriers.

        • djsubversive

          yeah, getting the parts is really the easiest way to get ED-E early on. The scrap metal, electronics, and sensor modules are all relatively common items (I always just bring 3 of each because I can never remember the amounts).

          As fun as Veronica is, my love affair with her ended when I started sneak-attack-critting her with This Machine because she’d run in front of me to punch someone in the face. “Sneak attack crit on Veronica! Veronica has died! You’ve lost Veronica’s perk!” Reload.

          I suppose I could just make companions essential and save the trouble, but whatever. I roll with Raul or Arcade most of the time anyway.

    • stakkalee

      I ‘Liked’ this but it seems inappropriate.  I mourn your crashed game.

    • William Miller

      I don’t think you’ll need to use the interactive backstory other than for the final choice which isn’t flagged in ME1 saves anyway. All of the other flags should be set if you’re fighting Saren.

      Also, Mirror’s Edge is incredible. You still have a ways to go if you haven’t gotten by Ropeburn yet but It is a short game and while I admittedly know all of the pathways now, I can usually finish it in one sitting.

      • Chum Joely

        OK, so the choice of ambassador isn’t flagged in the saves anyhow? Seems like it would be significant for ME2, but OK. That’s good to know, thanks.

        • William Miller

          No, before the backstory comic came out, Udina was automatically ambassador. Unfortunately, it only changes one scene in ME2 (when you first go to the presidium) as far as I know and has no effect on ME3.

          • Chum Joely

            Actually, I did get as far as saving the council. That is the scene immediately before the final fight which caused the crash.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I had that same crash, only with LA Noire! Multiplatform releases are mostly garbage on PS3. I should have known better and stuck to my policy of only using it for Sony exclusives. 

  • valondar

    Another weekend, another time I’m really not sure what the fuck I’m going to do.

    On the one hand I picked up Dear Esther. A pretentious game that’s about wandering through the Hebrides, that sounds like my sort of thing, doesn’t like, like the game equivalent of a certain overture by Felix Mendelssohn, right?

    WRONG!

    The game is a linear corridor puzzle, in that it’s designed as a linear corridor disguised as an open world and I’ve bashed my head against the wall and drowned several times trying to figure out where the corridor wants me to go next. Frustration is all well and good in games and I’m admittedly a terrible gamer in literally anything, but frustration is clearly not the emotion DEAR ESTHER wants to evoke with its tranquil soundtrack and leisurely walking pace. When I’m looking around desperately for the next pitstop, I know something’s wrong.

    Okay so what else. Oh yeah. THE BANNER SAGA: FACTIONS. I’ve been looking forward to the central single-player campaign of the Banner Saga ever since their kickstarter was announced last year, and being able to play the game in multiplayer form has been addictive and ridiculously fun. It’s a turn-based tactics RPG game that some people tell me is like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre or other JRPG games I know absolutely nothing about – to me it’s essentially RPG Chess, with the level of careful tactical selection that suggests. I’ve taken to naming my units – and yes, you can name your units once you upgrade them – to the names from Wagner’s Der Ring cycle – Gutrune, Grimhilde, Siegmund, etc. – and it seems to fit the game’s pseudo-Norse mythology setting pretty well.

    The game also is very well balanced, you’ll always be pitted against a player with an army of comparable strength in random multiplayer… but remember when I said I’m a terrible gamer? Well, losing around seventy percent of my matches and being told impatiently I should just surrender to save people the bother really curdles my enthusiasm, even if this is a legitimately good game and anyone who wants a tactically intensive and engrossing experience should totally check that shit out.

    Also it has really really pretty 2D animated art. So yeah.

    Wait what else do I got on my plate? Oh yeah! Maybe I’ll play some CLOSURE. That’s fun! I’m loving this game’s puzzles, until they become too complicated and I feel I can’t solve them (see also: Portal 2). The central mechanic of this puzzle platformer – that only areas that are lit are ‘real’ and thus you need to move lights around to find the correct way to interact with the world – is simple and inspired, and the scarce, black and white, vaguely Limbo-ish artwork is charming.

    …I suppose I COULD try Mass Effect 3 again. That multiplayer doesn’t work on it for basically no reason (a problem I’ve had with games as varied as Dota 2 and Crusader Kings 2 even when let’s say Torchlight 2 and Terraria work fine) still ticks me off but I guess I need to get over that some day with the final DLC coming out in a matter of weeks.

    And every so often I hear the clarion call of World of Warcraft…

    • Fluka

      Plaaay Maasss Effeeect 33333333….

      Assuming it’s coming out this year, I think the single player portion of The Banner Saga might be the game I’m looking forward to most this year.  It’s just so…pretty.  Hopefully the plot and character stuff lives up too.

      • valondar

         The single player portion of Banner Saga is due this year. It’s going to be released episodically, in three chapters. And the more I read about EVERYTHING to do with the game, the more I love it.

        • Fluka

          Yaaaaaaaaay for both paragraphs!

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

      Are you playing ME3 on PC? You might have to tweak your firewall settings a bit to get multiplayer working; it’s usually just as simple as creating an application-specific authorization.

      • valondar

         I am, and I have. I spent the first week of owning the game looking through every recommended thing to do, and reinstalled it twice and on a third computer.

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

          Yeah, I figured you would have looked into something like that. I dunno, maybe your ISP is being a bunch of jerks.

        • valondar

           @Merve2:disqus That does sound like them, believe me.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I have only played Dear Esther in its original release, that is, as a Half Life 2 mod. I was under the impression that the only thing they changed in the retail release really was the graphics, but it sounds like I’m wrong. I don’t remember it being frustrating in the slightest. I loved it. I thought of it not as a game, but as a wonderful new method for telling a short story.

      • valondar

        I believe in Dear Esther the mod you can jump, and possibly run. Neither thing is available in the game, so I’m left flailing about desperately trying to figure out what the fuck the game wants of me and feeling stupid for not knowing, walking around ever so slowly their corridor puzzle.

        And yeah I agree that corridor puzzles can be fun, and puzzle games can be fun, and frustration is an indelible part of a puzzle. I just feel when Dear Esther frustrates me, the game is failing in what it set out to do – a tranquil introspective art game is not the game that should be driving you up the wall. You don’t appreciate the scenery when you run back and down twice over it looking for the next walking point.

        The game’s writing is extremely pretentious, but that’s fine, that’s why I bought it. I like pretense, I like games that at least try to tickle the art bone.

  • duwease

    Slowly picking my way through Ni No Kuni.. at the volcano now.  I thought I’d be tearing through it since I was sick all week last week, but as it turns out, I was the kind of sick that’s TOO sick for video games.  I feel like the guy who finally had time for his books in the Twilight Zone episode.

    Also, XCOM.  I finished my Easy run and I’ve got this down.. I’m trying an “Ironman-lite” Normal run where I only save in my base, and it’s going well so far.  No one in my wedding party has been senselessly slaughtered yet, and I’m about to assault the first base.

    Also starting over in Legend of Grimrock.  I have two mages, and mages suck donkey balls.

  • Link The Ecologist

    Wellll, this weekend I think I’ll be able to finish Chrono Trigger (as I am now on The Fated Hour). I got it on the wii’s virtual console and it was my first play through. All I can say is that even with all the hype my expectations weren’t too  much. Glen’s story affected me the most, and I laughed multiple times. Most fun playing a game start to finish in a while.

    So in anticipation of finishing that i bought Paper Mario, also on the virtual console, which I have also never played before.

    Also, like many of you I recently played the first two Mass Effect games. I got them during a winter sale and have not yet decided if I liked them enough to buy #3. First of all Thane (probably my favorite character) died in the last mission, so I would have to do that over. But after the last sequence I stepped away from the games for a couple weeks to think about them and realized that (as I guess most would agree) my favorite part of the games was the character development. I love sci-fi but the story itself just did not engage me, and the game-play involved too much of just shooting things to really be my cup of tea, though admittedly some of the bionics and such were pretty cool. So if I develop an overwhelming hankering to see where Thane and Mordin’s story lines go i might eventually pick it up.

  • Link The Ecologist

    Also just wanted to say no offense to drummers or sportswriters, but I thought this interview was the best in a while. Great discussion about how games can surprise the player (or frustrate them) and such.

  • Electric Dragon

    FINALLY got past the sodding kayran in The Witcher 2, which had had me stuck for MONTHS. Having done that, I’m breezing through pretty quickly, and about to head into the Scotch Mist between the camp and Vergen.

    New Job has started well, apart from this bizarre game I’m having to play called “Windows 8″. I literally had to Google “How To Close Programs in Windows 8″ at one point.

  • djsubversive

    This weekend, I’ll be playing more Skyrim, obviously. I’m enjoying that game a lot more than I thought I would. Ignoring the main quest for the most part, I’m just kickin’ around Skyrim killing bandits, drinking their mead, and taking their stuff. Also, helping the Daedric Princes when and where I find them, because Clavicus Vile was so enthusiastic. Found Morag Bol, Sanguine, Clavicus, and the dreaming one that was fucking with Morthal… V-something? Gave me a staff that I stashed at Breezehome. I’m currently on the hunt for the last bit of Mehrune’s Razor, and I’m planning on killing the guy in charge of the museum and taking all his stuff when I get it.

    Also, I’m working for the Riften Mob, but those jerks have me running all around the country for petty theft and forgery, so it’ll be a while before anything substantial comes from that.

    Other things: a few mods to make things more “hardcore” (Frostfall for survival/camping/hypothermia and More Complex Needs for hunger/thirst/sleep requirements), and no fast-travelling (except for getting from City to Palace without having to navigate fucking Markarth). It’s making the trips between cities more memorable, giving me a reason to explore off the road (when I don’t just keep going because I’m on a mission, damn it), and the frozen north (Dawnstar, Windhelm, haven’t even tried to get out to Winterhold yet) is a death-zone if I’m not prepared. 

    Pictures!
    Good morning, Skyrim! (Mods: Project Reality – Climates of Tamriel for the sky and Pure Water for the water) and a dungeon (Realistic Lighting Overhaul makes having a light source almost necessary for dungeon-delving).

    • Fluka

      Preeetttyyyyyy.

      How is Frostfall’s compatibility with other mods?

      • djsubversive

        I haven’t really used any major overhaul mods (ACE, SkyRe, SPERG, there are probably more), but I’m pretty sure that Frostfall is compatible with at least one of them (the one that adds a Survival skill, since Frostfall ties a bunch of the passive resistances and stuff to it).

        It IS compatible with More Complex Needs and Cloaks of Skyrim. Oh yeah, I’ve got Cloaks of Skyrim, too.

        • Fluka

          Hmm, interesting!  We have Cloaks of Skyrim, which is indeed boss.  The ones that I’d be worried about are the weather and camping mods we currently have (don’t know the names – this is all Mr. Fluka’s deal).  I think the Nexus mod manager makes swapping in and out easy, however.  Someday I shall try this.

        • djsubversive

           @Fluka:disqus I’m assuming you have the almost-required SkyUI, which incorporates the Mod Configuration Menu. MCM was awesome in New Vegas and continues to be awesome in Skyrim. Frostfall has an MCM menu.

          I don’t know that Frostfall is actually a weather mod, apart from “making weather meaningful.” Are there blizzards in vanilla Skyrim? I started adding mods before I even got to the chopping block, so I’ve got no clue what the game looks or acts like un-modded.

          Anyway, I highly recommend giving Frostfall a try. It works very well with More Complex Needs (not just compatible, they complement each other nicely).

    • exant

      Those screenshots are almost enough to make me want to reinstall.

    • George_Liquor

       Those mods are pretty amazing. Do they affect frame rates at all?

      • djsubversive

        what Effigy said. I haven’t noticed any big frame drops or anything. Occasionally, Whiterun will hitch a bit when there’s a bunch of people walking around at night during a rainstorm.

        I have gotten a couple of fucked-up textures, though they’ve corrected themselves after a reload.

    • Effigy_Power

      Funny enough, some of these light mods seem to improve the framerate by eliminating some lightsources.

    • Steven Davis

      Been looking forward to modding Skyrim, just bought a new graphics card. Those look great.

      • djsubversive

        I’m going to leave this here for everybody curious about my Skyrim mods. 

        It’s actually Effigy’s list of Skyrim mods, from which I took a bunch, along with some recommendations from Hobbes.
        I’m using some mods that I don’t think either of them are using, though (Effigy’s using an ENB series lighting thing, it looks like, while I have Project Reality and RLO for my lighting mods): Frostfall – Hypothermia / Camping / SurvivalProject Reality – Climates of Tamriel – Weather / LightingRealistic Lighting Overhaul – mostly for indoor/town/city/dungeon lighting, overwriting Project Reality’s dungeon settings, which were a little too dark, even for me.Imp’s More Complex Needs – Hunger/Thirst/Sleep requirements, similar to New Vegas’ Hardcore mode, but way more detailed (optional, there’s a Basic and a More Complex version – the Basic just tracks the 3 I mentioned, along with Alcohol, Caffeine, and Moon Sugar intoxication, and if you want to know more about the More Complex version, check the Nexus page because this is already getting long…)Cloaks of Skyrim – cloaks are awesome. compatible with Frostfall, so that cloaks provide rain and exposure protection, depending on the material.
        Convenient Horses – awesome horse mod. requires SKSE, and has a Mod Configuration Menu entry. One of the first 3 mods Hobbes recommended when I asked him.
        Immersive Weapons and Immersive Armors – the other two mods that Hobbes recommended, this adds a TON of new weapons and armors. They’re made by the same guy, and I think they might actually be collections of smaller mods. adds all the new gear to leveled lists, which means that sometimes you’ll be fighting a big honkin’ bandit with a horned helmet wielding a… katana.
        OBIS – Organized Bandits in Skyrim – totally changes up the bandits. adds new types and a few named bandits at some locations. also fucks with at least one quest – the Pelagius quest in Solitude. I fixed it by reverting to a save from before I entered the Pelagius Wing, disabling OBIS, doing the quest, and then re-enabling OBIS before I left the palace, and it doesn’t seem to have screwed anything up (yet… I’m sure it’ll take a few hours for things to unravel).

        There may be (and probably are) more, but those are the big ones that I could think of. The big “prettifying” ones are Project Reality and Realistic Lighting Overhaul, and one of the “better snow” mods. I don’t remember which one, Effigy probably recommended it.

        Effigy’s really the one to talk to about this. She’s got a lot more experience and way better pictures. :)

  • Bakken Hood

    With the recent DLC, I’m back on a ME3 multiplayer kick (Bakken Hood on XBL, if anyone needs a teammate).  I got the Geth Juggernaut in the gift pack, and with the aid of the flash drive trick (put your least favorite DLC on a flash drive, then pull that flash drive before you start buying reserve packs), I got the Krogan Warlord.  One-shotting Reaper Brutes with melee attacks is never going to get old.

  • exant

    Whenever anyone describes playing FF games, it sounds so un-fun, with reading strategy guides and grinding unpleasant characters. Then I remember I’ve sunk 40 hours into Super Meat Boy, most of which is dying in the same places 7,000 times (not much of an exaggeration). At least there’s no sequel to SMB.

    I’ll play Dota 2 this weekend. I’ve been playing it with some friends over Skype, and it’s been surprisingly fun. I played an early Dota clone at a LAN party a long time ago and it bored the fuck out of me. One player was clearly superior, but it took  literally hours until his team was able to gain enough momentum to win. 

    Dota 2′s games, at least the few I’ve played, seem to be much quicker and much more dynamic. Also, having fun people to play with makes any game fun.

  • The Guilty Party

    Over here http://www.lar.net/2013/02/28/self-censorship/ , arguing with a game designer about whether or not camera angles ogling cleavage is some bold stand against censorship, or just being a dick.

    That counts as a game, right?

    • Bad Horse

      A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

    • exant

      I waded in after you, but it will likely not end well.

    • Fluka

      Much as with the recent Oscars discussions, it amuses (i.e. depresses) me that there are artists who think using a gratuitous boob shot in a medium rife with gratuitous boob shots is somehow a bold, artistically brave statement.

      Oh, he said it was “satire”?  Well, go on then, you clever clogs!  I can’t possibly object if it’s satire!

      (What the hell do “censorship” and “satire” even mean anymore??)

      • The Guilty Party

        Censorship is when you say you don’t like something, and satire is when I do something because you said you don’t like it, apparently.

        Jonathan Swift’s got nothing on most 2nd graders.

    • valondar

       God, I sort of liked the look of Dragon Commander and I even picked up Divinity 2 in a gog sale (not played it yet). You had to make me feel bad, didn’t you?

      But also yeah wow that is one heck of an article I don’t… really.

  • Effigy_Power

    Planetside 2
    I spent a modest amount of money on some items (less than the game would cost retail, so that’s okay) and am loving the shit out of the Liberator and destroying other people’s Liberators with my fancy lock-on rocket launcher.
    For a free game, it’s pretty well built and increasingly fun. Sure, the big zerg-fights are a bit so and so and at the same time it’s pretty boring when the map is empty, but there is some good stuff to be found in the middle.
    Sub and Hobbes and KOReilly seem to agree, and Merve and Mooy to a marginally lesser degree. So jump in, we have guns to be manned.

    • djsubversive

      I’m going to second the “give it some time” sentiment. Also, join the Gameological Outfit. Hop in the steam chat and feel free to ask questions if you don’t get how something works. I don’t know everything, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the basics figured out and can answer questions from confused new players. :)

      The lack of a tutorial hurts, like Eff said, but there are a few guides available online. Or you can just join us and learn by doing (and dying). It’s more fun that way.

  • Matthew Johnson

    Justin Taylor is great…

  • stuartsaysstop

    Let’s see, just received Darksiders 2 in the mail ($15 from newegg), bought The Walking Dead on Tuesday ($14 on PSN this week), and still working my way through Persona 3 (approaching the 4th full moon I think) and Deus Ex: HR. I’ve convinced myself that I will finish DE: HR this weekend but I’m not sure what else. Plus I’ve got a whole slew of steam games I’ve been meaning to start: Civ 5 (my first in the genre), Dragon Age Origins (really, another RPG???), Amnesia, etc etc. I’m a bit overwhelmed to say the least, and while I guess I could stop buying games, what’s the fun in that???

  • Steven Davis

    I’ve spent quite a bit of today playing the “Slender: The Arrival” beta. It seems to be just the first game w/ good graphics, but from interviews it sounds like it will have lots more stuff in the final version. Looks & sounds good, same mechanic, still creepy.

  • Eco1970

    Played Android: Netrunner last night with a friend. He’d had his heart broken by a younger woman, so he drank half a bottle of whiskey while he was playing. I won the first game easily, while he was still failry sober, but the second game went on a long time. He beat me finally, even though he was ratted.

    I’ll be plaing some more A:NR this weekend, online usigg OCTGN, the online cardgame player, and maybe some Call of Cthulhu The Card Game too. And I’ll be grinding missions in the Scorched Desert with my t10 Illuminati in The Secret World, and helping another friend do his Solomon Island missions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

    Demon’s Souls on new game plus. All the joy of going back through an already pretty tough game but being one-shot killed by pretty much all the enemies past the half-way point.

  • signsofrain

    I’ve been ‘playing’ GTA: San Andreas on my PS2. By that I mean I did a couple of the earliest missions and now I pretty much just cross the blocked bridge and try to outrun the cops when the automatic 4-Star rating kicks in. Good way to kill some time if you’re bored. 

    I’ve also been experimenting trying to get my Gamecube to run backup discs. Damn games are loading to title screen then I get the ‘ol disc read error. I’ve been taking the cube apart, tweaking the laser strength, and putting it back together trying to get it to work. At this point I can strip down my GC quite quickly. I don’t want to alter my cube’s case so I have to buy mini-DVDs and it’s not like there’s a wide selection available locally so I’m pretty much stuck with TDK discs. I hope there’s not some kind of essential incompatibility. 

    Lastly, I’m gonna go back to Ni No Kuni and fight Moltaan again. He killed me when his HP was basically empty, right before I delivered the final blow! That soured me on the game for about a week, but I think I’m ready to go back and try again, this time healing more frequently.