The Bulletin

The Ouya console

Stacking The Deck

Forget the new consoles. This week is all about virtual trading cards and the Ouya.

By Sam Barsanti • July 1, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Steam Trading Cards now available, whatever that means
Steam trading cards

Hey, do you like to play video games on a console? If so, I’m going to need you to leave the room for a few minutes so I can talk to the PC nerds. Go ahead, run along!

Are they gone? Good. See, the last few weeks of The Bulletin have been a little console-heavy, what with all of the news coming in about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, so I thought I would give them a break and talk about something else this time. Also, Microsoft miraculously managed to go a week without putting a foot in its mouth, so I didn’t really have a choice.

Anyway, Steam—the popular digital PC game store that also has one or two Mac and Linux titles—has now officially launched an interesting evolution of the Achievement systems that the Xbox 360 made so trendy. Steam users can collect virtual trading cards (in games that support the feature), which can be exchanged for fabulous prizes like coupons and exclusive profile backgrounds—once you’ve earned a complete set. Cards and prizes can even be traded with friends, so it seems like the only thing missing is some way to battle your cards against each other Pokémon-style, but I guess that’s what actually playing the games is for. The official website has a complete list of the supported titles, including obvious Steam favorites like Borderlands 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal 2. Oh, and if anyone finds a rare holofoil Gordon Freeman, I will totally give you my lunch money for it.

Ouya, game system of the people, now in stores
The Ouya console

Originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the Ouya is a $99 Android-based game console that runs on pure, unleaded freedom. Its development tools are included with the system, meaning anyone can make games for it, and as the official website is very eager to tell you, “every game is free to try.” In theory, that means you never need to buy any games for it, but in practice, it means every game has an ad-supported “lite” version or some kind of demo. Plus, thanks to that philosophy of freedom and the controller it includes, the Ouya is also a perfect way to play pirated versions of classic games. Case in point, two of the most popular items in the Ouya’s store right now are Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 emulators that allow you to play any title from either of those systems. So I guess the future of game consoles isn’t what Sony and Microsoft are doing, it’s the stuff Nintendo was doing 10 or 20 years ago. Either way, you can now get an Ouya for yourself and celebrate the death of traditional video game retail models by going to Amazon, Best Buy, Target, or GameStop. Hey, wait a minute…

Free-to-play Age Of Empires coming to iOS and Android because why not
Age Of Empires

With an assist from a Japanese mobile-game developer called Klab, Microsoft will be releasing a free-to-play version of its historical real-time strategy series Age Of Empires on iOS and Android devices. Though the story originally appeared on Reuters, a later Game Informer post features a quote from the official Age Of Empires Facebook page that suggests this will not be a port of one of the original PC titles but rather “a new genre of strategy game appropriate to the platform and the audience.” What does that mean? My Video Game Publisher Translation Handbook says it means the game will be a “FarmVille-style empire-management simulation in which you have to use real money to buy trebuchets, which can also be upgraded with real money.” But who knows—the Handbook isn’t always right. (Usually, though.) Also, in a funny side note, Microsoft told Polygon that it “plans to release the game in other languages and on Windows Phone in the future.” So sorry, people who own a phone that runs Microsoft’s operating system, you’re going to have to wait if you want to play this Microsoft game.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition still half-dead
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition logo

A couple of weeks ago, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition was effectively scrubbed from most of the internet, with the developers at Beamdog reportedly forced to stop selling the Dungeons & Dragons-based remake on Apple’s App Store and on Beamdog’s official site. As reported by Game Informer, the developers cited “contractual issues” with a “publishing partner” and mentioned that they would be unable to issue patches or launch their enhanced remake of Baldur’s Gate II until the issue was resolved. Now, Beamdog is able to talk a little bit more about what’s going on—though not enough to actually explain what’s going on. In a follow-up Game Informer post, Trent Oster, Beamdog’s CEO, explained that the legal team for Atari (which owns the Baldur’s Gate license) demanded that the game be taken down. Oster won’t (or can’t) say why, but the game is still available direct from Atari. Perhaps Atari decided it wasn’t happy with whatever deal it had struck with the developers and wants a bigger cut of the loot. While we wait for some kind of resolution to all of this, I guess we could just play real-life Dungeons & Dragons like they did before computers were invented. I’ll be Samdar, the barbarian!

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96 Responses to “Stacking The Deck”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    Color me “cautiously interested” in the Ouya. Is it really legal for them to have an emulator app? Or will I sink a hundred bones into this thing only for them to get served with a cease-and-desist letter?

    • Sam_Barsanti says:

      I think emulators are technically legal, and in order to actually get games for them you have to load them onto on sd card and then put it in the Ouya, but I doubt that will stop Nintendo from making a fuss.

    • lokimotive says:

      Well they didn’t produce the app. I mean, it’s not like intel gets sued because their chip is used to run illegal software. Plus, the Goolge Play market has had plenty of emulators on it forever.

    • Dylan Williams says:

      My understanding from what I’ve read is that emulators themselves are completely legal. game ROMs (the files that an emulator app opens) are the part that is usually illegal but even that’s only if you pirate them. If you have an old cartridge, and have the usb device to create a ROM file out of it it, it’s as legal as ripping a CD into iTunes.

    • Citric says:

      NES emulators are totally legal – patents expired – but I’m not sure about the rest, since I haven’t heard of any legal precedent.

      Also, holy carp, Ogre Battle 64 is on Virtual Console? I checked because it’s the N64 thing I want most. I’ve got to get some form of Wii one of these days.

    • Uncle Roundy says:

      I’m not going to lie, I totally want one for emulation purposes. It’ll be nice to only have one box plugged into the TV and I don’t care enough about “experiencing the game as it was intended” to require the original system. Plus I can finally play games like Seiken Densetsu 3 and Rudra no Hihou on a TV—probably could have found a way to do that before, but this just makes it easier.

      • Merve says:

        Even better, you may be able to render some games in HD resolution, so some of the more stylized ones – I’m thinking games like Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie – will look super-pretty.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          You can already play Banjo games in HD. On the dead end 360.

        • Mr. Glitch says:

          I wouldn’t expect the Ouya to work miracles with these emulators. We’re still talking about games with sub-SD resolutions that have to be scaled up by the Ouya. That means big, chunky/blurry pixels, unless scanlines are inserted. 

        • Citric says:

          Having dabbled in N64 emulators, the textures will look blurry – and the N64 textures never looked great to begin with – and so will pre-rendered backgrounds, but untextured polygons can be rendered in a higher resolution pretty easily. Anything that mostly uses untextured polygons – lots of N64 stuff did – looks fantastic.

      • GaryX says:

        The only original system I want is a Super Famicom and partially just because of the box it comes in.

        Still, though, looks so good.

    • zebbart says:

      All I can say is, if Nintendo won’t do it I’m glad somebody will. $5-$10 apiece for the few NES/SNES/N64 games the Wii store offers is too few choices at too high a price for 20-30 year old games that already made millions. If Nintendo can’t offer an extremely low price or freemium deal on its old libraries then I have no qualms using this to give me and especially my kids a way to play my old games on a tv.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I think Google has or is about to announce their own console based on the same Android OS but with what I assume are different specs… I will wait to see how that goes first.

    • Mr. Glitch says:

      Emulators are legal if they don’t violate patents or contain any copyrighted material. A game console’s BIOS is often copyrighted, for example, which is why it’s usually not included with the emulator. Most 3rd party emulators reverse-engineer the console’s hardware/software in such a way that they deliberately avoid patent/copyright infringement. This is often the reason why emulators are imperfect or require an inordinately high amount of computing power to run. 

    • Girard says:

      Most emulators are legal (ones that require a system BIOS ROM to work – like PSX and PS2 emulators are technically illegal since the ROM is pirated, unless you have ripped it from your own physical system), so distributing them – especially if you’re not producing them, and especially if you’re doing so for free – is probably pretty safe. Certainly as safe as those companies that sell new systems that play NES and SNES carts thanks to expired patents.

      • George_Liquor says:

        Kind of only tangentially related, but the very first IBM PC clone was the suitcase-sized Compaq Portable, a computer with a completely reverse-engineered BIOS. IBM used off-the-shelf hardware components for the original PC, but they wrote their own custom, copyrighted BIOS. They made its source code available publicly with the idea that, if any other company were to duplicate it, IBM could easily claim copyright violation. In response, Compaq split their programmers into two groups: One group had access to the source code, and one didn’t. The first group recorded everything the IBM BIOS did in response to input and sent the specs to the second group, who attempted to recreate those responses using all original code. Ultimately, Compaq ended up with a completely original BIOS which was smaller and more efficient than IBM’s, while maintaining around 95% software compatibility.

  2. Sam_Barsanti says:

    Hey, remember that spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness that has been having a rough time getting crowdfunded? The cofounder of its developer was arrested a few days ago…

    http://www.joystiq.com/2013/06/28/precursor-games-distancing-itself-from-co-founder-following-chil/

    • PugsMalone says:

      Man, it really sucks to learn that someone involved with a game that I loved as much as Eternal Darkness is a godawful person. And then this child pornography stuff popped up.

      • GaryX says:

        I find that the sooner you half-anticipate the person making the wonderful you love is a scumbag of a human being, you will be much better off. It has served me well in art appreciation.

  3. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    I actually like the sound of Steam’s Trading Cards more than achievements so far. They don’t seem to have require anything more restrictive than simply playing the game, so you get a bonus for doing something you would already be doing rather than having to play with some ridiculous or arbitrary restrictions.

    Yes, I could just ignore the achievements, but that’s not how psychology works.

    • neodocT says:

       Yeah, I liked the idea too. I mostly ignore achievements, but this trading card thing seems slightly amusing, and it’d be interesting to get something out of them (even if it is something stupid like a profile background).

    • beema says:

      I think you get some base cards for just playing but if you want more you have to do specific things. Not entirely sure. 

      Frankly the only reason I want them at all is so I can get that new spiffy profile page. The old steam profile page is depressing.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I’d like it more if they were tied to achievements (most likely the easier-to-get ones, such as just beating the game). Currently you can only get a set amount of cards per game (3-5 it seems), and they can be duplicates. Each game requires 8 unique cards to craft the badge for said game, which means unless you get lucky and get a “booster pack” of cards for that game (which are randomly given out once you run out of card drops), you’re going to have to buy the rest of the cards on the Steam marketplace.

    • exant says:

      In Dota 2, you get a trading card for every $10 you spend, in addition to the normal random drops from playing the game. Recently everyone is getting trading cards with the faces of pro Dota 2 players (mostly Chinese), which is funny.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I’ve made like $7 so far with selling some cards I got for playing games I was about to play anyways. Except Serious Sam 3, that shit made me mad by beating me up with the Anti-Piracy enemy, the pink Scorpion you can’t beat. I tried to spank it with my Humble Bundle receipt, but it wouldn’t hear of it. No word back from CroGames, so they can eat a bag of hammers.
      Otherwise: Free pocket money for playing games? Yes please.

  4. Merve says:

    In other news, for those of you looking to hate the Xbone even more, apparently it was designed “with advertising in mind.”
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/125523-Xbox-One-Designed-With-Advertising-in-Mind
    http://sticktwiddlers.com/2013/06/28/xbox-one-dashboard-created-with-advertising-in-mind/

    They’re hinting that they may use voice recognition to target ads to you. Also, from the Stick Twiddlers piece:

    “What could transpire in the future though is something that we’re
    already seeing with a lot of facial recognition technology and
    personalised information being used to target advertisements. For
    example, Kinect could detect how many users are in the room and could
    serve advertisements aimed at families, groups, or individuals.
    Additional information from your Xbox LIVE account could also influence
    these by using metrics such as your gender, age, location, media habits
    and more, and Microsoft are very aware of the potential around this.”

    Sorry, @Sam_Barsanti:disqus, it looks Microsoft is incapable of going a week without putting its foot in its mouth.

    • neodocT says:

       Ugh, this is awful. Honestly, I don’t even terribly mind being on the receiving end of targeted advertisement in and of itself, especially considering how many companies already have that deal with its consumers: they get our data for advertisement, and we get a service (see Google, Facebook).

      Thing is, though, usually the trade off for giving your data is that you get a free service. With the Xbone, you have to pay U$500+$60 a year to give Microsoft the opportunity to profit over you. I mean, I’m sure Sony might go that route as well, but at least they don’t have a damn ad camera pointed at the users…

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I think it’s pretty apparent that Microsoft is all about corporate patrtnerships with the XboxOne. They’ve given the CURRENT generation the finger before its even over while setting up an entire ecosystem built around monetization of customers.

      I’m sure everyone does it, but no one is as stupidly up front about it as MS has been. They really need someone who can drive their messaging. This is just a slow motion disaster. Unfortunately, the system will still be successful, and no one will learn their lesson.

    • Citric says:

      I’m totally going to say “horse porn” a lot when I’m in the same room as an Xbone, just to see what it does to the ads.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        “Why do you have so many ads for Axe body spray?”

      • PaganPoet says:

        It’ll play this Britney Spears video on loop.

        • Merve says:

          Britney Spears released music after 2005?

        • PaganPoet says:

          Britney’s best album came out in 2007: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackout_(Britney_Spears_album)

          I unashamedly love that album. <3

        • Merve says:

          Right, that’s where “It’s Britney, bitch!” is from.

          -ponders changing his name to Britney just so that he can use that catchphrase-

      • GaryX says:

        I once saw a hilarious (but serious) suggestion that illustrated Gmail would not give you target ads if it determined your email was “too serious,” and they’d be offensive. As a result, this person suggested ending every email with a string of things like “9/11 death holocaust hitler wins murder” to trick Gmail.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Well, if I remember correctly it is actually illegal to collect such data from children under 13, so that’s going to be interesting.
      Also: The ad is part of the experience. Right.
      The experience is that a $500 device with $60 games and a monthly subscription fee actually considers it okay to also assault me with fucking advertising?
      Isn’t that like eating at a restaurant, paying your bill and then doing the dishes?

      • caspiancomic says:

         I wonder if that would actually work? Like, if the Bone is really collecting that kind of data in order to deliver targeted advertisements, if you vocally expressed disinterest in the ads you were presented, would you get knew ones? Could you grief your system into eliminating all its own ads?

        • Effigy_Power says:

          This is actually making me really mad. Imagine the uproar if HBO suddenly was studded with commercials and advertisements.
          “Whoa there, it’s just for their own content.” you may say, but that’s not the fact with Microsoft. They are not only pushing games, but also cars and computer parts (I’ve seen Alienware ads on the 360, I am sure I remember that right) and so on.
          Almost every bit of software has an option to get rid of ads for a one-time payment. Microsoft wants you to buy their stuff and keep paying them to give you more ads?
          That deserves nothing but an unabashed “Fuck off”.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I called Microsoft out on their “Spirit of 1984” in another thread. The plot thickens.

  5. neodocT says:

    So… how do you guys pronounce OUYA? Am I alone in saying “Oooh-Yah”, a name only slightly less ridiculous than WiiU?

    • PaganPoet says:

      I say “Oh-Ya,” since I tend to approach names from a Spanish-language perspective. Aren’t you Brazilian or am I thinking of someone else?

      • neodocT says:

         I am Brazilian, but I’m all over language wise. I grew up with three languages at home, lived in the US for years when I was young, and later went to study a few more languages, so I usually try to approach names from the language in which I read them. And since I’ve never read anything at all ever in Portuguese about the OUYA, I guess I got OoohYa in my mind.

      • Mr. Glitch says:

        I pronounce it ‘Throatwarbler Mangrove’.

    • Merve says:

      I’m still surprised that a console named after the Kool-Aid Man’s catchphrase made it to market.

      • neodocT says:

        Last generation had an X-Box, a Play Station and a Wii (Wiii!), not to mention the PSP and DS, portables what were just a bunch of letters. Naming things is apparently not a big priority in the gaming business.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I assumed it was “Uuee-Yaah”… so much for my former Goth-cred.

  6. beema says:

    Ouya? Ohhhh yeah, that thing. Crazy that the controller is that much larger than the box. The pictures make it look like the controller is gargantuan, but the box is just tiny. There are so many ways to play old emulated games though that it’s going to need more than that to attract me. 

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I like adding a controller to these primarily mobile operating systems, but it needs to be hardware that stands at the bleeding edge or can be replaced at low cost.

  7. Sam_Barsanti says:

    Microsoft REFUSES to give me a week off from talking about it. This is hot off the press: Don Mattrick, good friend of The Bulletin, is apparently leaving Microsoft for Zynga, the folks behind all of those Facebook games everyone hates.

    EDIT: Here’s a link: http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/1/4483248/report-xbox-boss-don-mattrick-leaves-to-take-top-zynga-spot

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The timing of this certainly gives the impression of a punitive transition due to the stack-of-pie dropping incompetence of the XBONE reveal.
         Having another position already lined up muddies that idea a bit.  but then again, it could all have been orchestrated by Microsoft as I imagine being president of Zynga is the corporate game development equivalent of a Siberian gulag.  

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         A Siberian Gulag that sends Facebook notifications to all your friends telling them to feed the proles.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          And harvest your own damn turnips, or if you can’t be bothered, pay someone to harvest your damn turnips for you.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      “Shares in Zynga jumped 10 percent following the report.”

      Wall Street not know for being a gamer.

  8. DrFlimFlam says:

    Yeah, that’s the kicker, isn’t it? You pay for the service and you are awarded with advertisements. Even when they try to play PS-plus style with free games, the four games they’ve announced I already own, and I’m not given another option but to ay what everyone else does.

    • Chalkdust says:

      In addition, the games they’re offering are significantly old, all things considered (and especially in comparison to the PS+ offerings, which will routinely offer new releases as well as back catalog games, and will have a launch title [Driveclub] for PS4 available free).

      The newest in the lot is Fable 3, and that came out two and a half years ago.

      Also, re: PlayStation Plus, they just put Virtue’s Last Reward up for free on Vita! Get on that, you two or three other people here who have Vitas!

    • Effigy_Power says:

      The sentence “The ad is part of the experience” says it all.
      Mind you, they never promised a pleasant experience. Having your arms ripped off by a gorilla is also an experience.

  9. MathleticDepartment says:

    Can’t wait for Origin to launch their virtual Pog-based achievements in response.  

  10. The_Misanthrope says:

    This is probably as good a place to start a trading card thread:

    At this point, I have five cards for Binding of Isaac:  The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, and The Emperor from the regular set, as well as The Hierophant from the Foil set.

    (To be honest, if Steam didn’t tell me that it was a Foil variant, I probably wouldn’t be able to visually distinguish the difference.)

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I hocked all of my cards as soon as they came in. Already saved up $7 for the Summer Sale.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

        “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”

      • I only have one game that offers cards, Crusader Kings 2. So far I’ve made 40 cents. Either your cards are worth a lot more Effigy, or you’ve got way more games than me.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          The value drops off very quickly after a game is added to the Trading Card program, because the market is flooded. I sold mine on the day after CK2 was added and only made like $2 off four of them.
          Still, it’s 40 cents you didn’t really have to do anything for but play a game you like.

  11. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    Dear Valve,

    Those trading cards are cool for people who are into that sort of thing I guess, but you know what I think gamer’s would really appreciate?  A new video game.

    Could be Left 4 Dead 3, could be Half-Life 3, could be a new IP, I’d just like  to know that you guys do more stuff than create hats and roll around in piles of money you get from that 30% cut you take from every Steam game sold.

    And no DOTA 2 doesn’t count because it’s a commercial followup to a freeware mod that was made in response to a free-to-play sensation that is sweeping the world right now (LoL).  I’m sure it’s a good game but it’s not really a shining example of game development prowess.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Maybe we have to accept that Valve isn’t strictly a software company anymore, but rather one that makes virtual hardware aka Steam.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

        I could accept that if it seemed like they were still even a little concerned with new software but at the moment it seems like Valve is concerned with 90% Steam related affairs and 10% game related affairs. 

        Yes, it’s possible that they’re still working on all these games in secret but I honestly don’t believe that’s the case as the internet’s rumor catching mechanism has zilch on any new Valve games.

        I love that Steam exists but I feel like one of my favorite developers essentially closed up shop so that Steam could function properly.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          That’s the truth right there. I guess it’s just possible that the success (and of course the money) of Steam has made Valve complacent to a point where the actual effort of making a game seems almost useless.

        • The_Misanthrope says:

           From all that has been written about Valve, it is sort of a strange case in the game world.  Instead of a corporate higher-up raining misery own on their underlings to get them to finish Call of Battlefield 5:  Beige Ops in time to post new quarter earning, they have a bunch of self-directed team initiatives started by someone that has a vision for a game.  The “creative commune” model doesn’t fully explain the paucity of games, but it does explain the lack of shit games being put pout by them.

    • Chalkdust says:

      Your timeline is off there (or your phrasing is weird), as it implies League of Legends existed before–and was what inspired–the Warcraft III-originated DOTA mod.  The WC3 mod was first, then the two main guys behind it split off to develop League of Legends (Steve Feak) and DOTA 2 (“IceFrog”).

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      The new Counter Strike game came out last year, Dota 2 (which is way fucking awesome) is being released this year. They’ve been pushing out a game a year pretty steadily for the past few years now, and it’s all quality stuff. I mean, compare that to the wait between Half Life and Half Life 2.

      And to “not count” Dota because it started out as a mod is really strange. Surely you count TF2 as a game, yes? Counter Strike? But yeah, Valve has been busy lately and they still are putting games out, much more consistently than they have in the past.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

        touche, really I just want them to work on the franchises I like, mainly Half-Life.  I really, really, really want a new Half-life.

  12. CNightwing says:

    Ok Samdar, you’re in a small village called Hommlet, gulping down an ale at the local tavern. You’ve heard that there’s work to be done for an enthusiastic adventurer around here, so what will you do?

    • djsubversive says:

      “Fuck Hommlet. Those assholes can solve their own problems. I’m going home.”

      (seriously, ToEE needs a party on top of their game, no pun intended)

      • CNightwing says:

        The locals don’t take kindly to your words about their town, a fight ensues, and you are holding your own until the local priest of St. Cuthbert casts Hold Person and you are driven out of town in a wheelbarrow.

        • djsubversive says:

          ha! my thief was prepared for this eventuality and stole all the small straight pieces of iron in the village (or is it a hamlet?) All that’s left are large bent pieces of iron. No Hold Person for you, cleric!

          (I did have to look up the material components and whether I was allowed to speak while held. speaking is not covered, so I’m assuming “no talking”)

          alternate answer: “a fight ensues”? I didn’t even get to roll any dice! That’s bogus, man. Plus, these are ordinary villagers; I doubt any of them can even get near my -7 Armor Class.

          In conclusion: Friends don’t let friends play level-based systems. Also, THAC0 is dumb.

        • I always found it a little strange that a midst such colorful, original deities as Gruumsh, Pelor, and Boccob was this Northumbrian Christian monk. Who was clearly acknowledged as a saint. Which means we could have a Pope Cuthbert.

          That’s almost better than Saint Isidore of Seville, patron saint of the internet.

      • CNightwing says:

        We’ve moved past 2nd Edition, so your -7 AC is rather easy to hit, and there is no THAC0!

        All that iron you’ve collected has attracted the attention of a local rust monster, and just as you stroll out of the inn in triumph, the most ridiculous monster in the game assaults you to get at that tasty tasty metal.

        • djsubversive says:

          wait, if we’ve moved past 2E, then why are we doing Temple of Elemental Evil? That IS where I’m remembering Hommlet from, right? If we’re using 3.0/3.5, I’m out. No way. Pathfinder, maybe (even though it’s basically 3.75). 4E, I’m not too familiar with. I thought we were doing 2E and characters are kind of a pain in the ass to create. I’ll be over here with a stack of rulebooks making my character. 4d6, drop the lowest? or are you one of those “3d6, six times, in order” jerks? I hate those guys.

          geeking out over D&D is kind of fun sometimes, as long as it doesn’t actually involve playing D&D. :)

    • Sam_Barsanti says:

      Aw man I don’t actually know anything about D&D…I uhh, examine my surroundings?

      • CNightwing says:

        The inn is relatively pleasant, there are two or three patrons there besides yourself, the barman and a barmaid. They offer a selection of local meats and cheeses, as well as homemade pickle. The beer is brewed on the premises and has a distinct gingery flavour.

        Listening to conversations between a farmer and the barman, you discover that the village has been bothered by a number of recent thefts of nails, small weapons and the like. They are quite puzzled as to why anyone would steal these cheap, but essential items, as opposed to the wealth of the temple of St. Cuthbert.

        • djsubversive says:

          Small straight bits of iron aren’t usually protected by clerics and possibly paladins.

  13. The_Misanthrope says:

    In other, extremely niche-y news, the consistently funny Let’s-Play-esque Youtube series Game Grumps has possibly become a little less consistently funny with the departure of Jontron (aka Jon Jafari), in order to focus on his eponymous Youtube channel.  The series will continue with NinjaSexParty’s Danny taking over in his stead.  A new show called Steam Train also debuted on the Game Grumps channel; It features the aforementioned Danny and Youtube animator RubberRoss playing through a backlog of Steam games.

    As usual for the internet, the fan community has gotten into an uproar over this.  While I will definitely miss Jontron’s unique voice on the show, I don’t blame him for wanting to move on after 500+ episodes of this little side project that soon came to eclipse his main creative output.  Time will tell if the new guy (whose work I will admit I know little of) can live up to expectations, but I’ll give him a chance.  Admittedly, I found Jontron himself somewhat grating at first, but over time, I came to enjoy his improv-heavy humor and his idiosyncratic take on games.  What really sold the series for me was the unique alchemy between Egoraptor (aka Arin Hansen) and Jontron.  Unlike the standard Youtube Let’s Play, Game Grumps really captured the feeling of sitting down and playing a game with a good friend: the elation of beating a tough boss, arguing and bickering over what to do next, the frustration with a shitty game, etc.  This was no more evident when they played co-op games, as shown in these examples (animated for your viewing pleasure):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCsD9ZGBdJ8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plqYhI8tV2o

    • Effigy_Power says:

      “the fan community has gotten into an uproar”

      The white noise of fan culture.

      • Chalkdust says:

         The first-generation PS3 fan of fan culture?

        wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

        • djsubversive says:

          and here I was thinking “the racist yelling of fan culture,” which is pretty appropriate.

        • Citric says:

          It’s weird how inconsistent those fans were.  Mine was in the MGS4 bundle, and sounds like a constipated jet at takeoff, my friend has the same model and his is quiet.

        • George_Liquor says:

          My X360’s disc drive sounded like a damn leaf blower, while my friend’s was much quieter. Of course, both of our consoles red-ringed within a week of each other. I guess they both received the signal to self-destruct at the same time.

  14. jroberts548 says:

    Does anyone know of a legal way to acquire ROMs for the emulator on the OUYA? 

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Buy the game, rip the ROM.  It would be nice if companies would just sell the ROM (which is easy to replicate) as a downloadable, instead of making one search for the cartridge (which is finite and possibly pricey).  Maybe the OUYA will create a demand for this kind of service, but considering Nintendo’s recent freakout over Let’s Play videos, they are probably just going to get more litigious.