What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Daniel Kibblesmith

Daniel Kibblesmith, comedian

The co-author of How To Win At Everything explains how to win at iPhone games.

By Adam Volk • September 13, 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.

Daniel Kibblesmith is a writer, cartoonist, and comedian based in Chicago. He’s currently a senior marketing copywriter for Groupon and the co-author (with Sam Weiner) of the humor book How To Win At Everything. He is also a contributing writer for The Onion News Network, has videos on Funny Or Die, and was featured on Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker. The Gameological Society spoke to Kibblesmith about outdated iPhone games, Star Trek: The Next Generation-based orgasms, and the evils of Candy Crush.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Kibblesmith: If the past few weeks have been any indicator, I’ll probably be playing Dots on my phone. It’s one of those fad iPhone games that came and went, and I’m always late to the party on those.

Gameological: What is it about Dots that you like?

Kibblesmith: I think I’m drawn in to its general mindlessness. And it makes soothing noises when you’ve done something successfully. It has this kind of computerized ascending scale noise when you get a successful sequence of dots. It really reminds me of more than anything that game they get addicted to in Star Trek: The Next Generation. They’re all wearing these Google Glass headsets that give you an orgasm if you put the ball in the cone or whatever.

Gameological: That’s a good one. Wesley Crusher and Ashley Judd team up to stop them.

Kibblesmith: [Laughs.] Yes! It was Ashley Judd wasn’t it? Probably the most farfetched thing about Star Trek: The Next Generation is that episode, because a teenager is like, “Come on guys. This video game is a waste of time.”

Gameological: It did seem like kind of a shitty video game, even with the brain orgasm thing.

Kibblesmith: Totally. It’s like Call Of Duty came and went in Star Trek. They’re all about pacifism and getting beyond their warlike ways, so the video games of the future are all just about boring shapes.

Gameological: Do you ever play any other games?

Kibblesmith: It’s pretty much just Dots for me. I flirted with Letterpress, but I just got clobbered playing it. I’m always late to the party with iOS games. By the time I get interested in one, people are mad at me. They’re like “Why are you bothering me with your Draw Something requests? I stopped playing that in 2009.”

Gameological: Did you actually like Draw Something?

Kibblesmith: I only tried it a couple of times because no one would play with me. And the only people still playing Draw Something are crazy people. It’s just the most half-assed thing. They’ll just send this black palm tree that they drew in 15 seconds because they’re trying to win Draw Something money. Nobody’s trying anymore.

Gameological: It did seem to fizzle out. People were like “Draw Something is amazing” and the next day it was like ‘Fuck, I hate Draw Something.”

Kibblesmith: It’s always that first fad. As a general rule of thumb, if I find out about an iPhone game, no one is playing it anymore. It’s like if you hear Jay Leno using a slang term in his monologue—at that point you just know people aren’t saying it anymore. That’s me. I’m like the canary for popular video games that are just about through. If I’m playing it, your parents are probably about to find out about it too.

Gameological: So how do you find out about the iPhone games you do like?

Kibblesmith: It’s word of mouth or some article linked on Twitter. “Boggle Bones got 7 million downloads. America can’t get enough of Boggle Bones.” And 6 or 7 months later, I’ll be on a long bus ride and I’ll be like “I wonder what Boggle Bones is all about?” And by that time the community has completely collapsed. It’s like going in to an abandoned mall.

Gameological: Your upcoming book is entitled How To Win at Everything. What’s your advice for winning at iPhone games?

Kibblesmith: The book is a comedy book—a humor book—in the guise of a bad advice manual to turn every situation in your life into some kind of hyper-competitive victory. But the best way to win at iPhone games is to design an iPhone game that’s so addictive, it will distract the player while I take their wallet. My friend explained Candy Crush to me. It just sounds like a machine that sucks money out of your bank account. That’s pretty much what my game would be. It’s so addictive, it’d distract you long enough for me to come along, jam my hands into your pants, and steal your wallet. It’s pretty much using the Star Trek: The Next Generation game model, only for the iPhone.

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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198 Responses to “Daniel Kibblesmith, comedian”

  1. Citric says:

    Probably Silent Hill Downpour and Digital Devil Saga (what, you’re still not done both of those already? You say. Yes, I’ve been neglectful because I’ve been spending all of my time reading books due to a new book reading toy). Also maybe a bit of Mario and Luigi Partners in Time.

    Though right now I’m playing “What the hell are you growling at, cat? It’s freaking me out.” So far my theories are: errant cat toy, some insect I can’t see, the final act of The Quiet Family.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      I think I’m one of the few people who really enjoyed Downpour. I think it could have used more boss battles and a wider variety of enemies, but it still had a lot of cool moments and quite a few bits that actually scared me a bit. Silent Hill 2 still has the only moment that scared me so damn bad I had to pause the game and leave the room for like ten minutes to calm myself down. Sadly, it was on something like my seventh playthrough of the game so I should have known it was coming, but it was my first time replaying it in years so I somehow forgot about that stupid armless monster hiding under that van in the alley towards the start. I hate that thing so much.

      • Citric says:

        I actually really like Downpour too, it’s not Silent Hill 2 but as a different thing it’s really enjoyable. Besides, if you’re comparing things to Silent Hill 2 you’re just going to spend most of your time disappointed.

        Except when you have to find one of those stupid pokers to get a ladder down. I haaaate looking for pokers.

      • dreadguacamole says:

         I was under the impression that it was generally well-liked. Aside from the stupid, binary decision points, I thought it was pretty good – I’d put it in the top tier of scary games with the Fatal Frame games, SH2 or Amnesia. It understands that you need more than jump scares or gruesome tableaux-es (tabloii? Tableauxux?) to do proper horror.
         It’s also got the ribbons quest, which is reason alone to play the game.

        • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

          I was saving the ribbon quest to do a little bit later and accidentally stumbled onto the end of it, so I missed out on solving it myself. It really sucked because it seemed like such a clever little diversion.

          Also, I occasionally judge critical reception of games based solely on YouTube comments where everyone hates everything in the most racist, juvenile, insulting way possible. That might be where I got the idea that people hated that game.

        • Raging Bear says:

          Is it? Am I just really that biased, post-Homecoming? I hated Downpour with a monstrous hate. I mean, I don’t want to bring down the room, so I redacted the angry screed where I detail everything I hated about it, but is that really just me?

        • dreadguacamole says:

          @Raging_Bear:disqus It’s the internet, dummy! Of course you’re not alone in hating something.

        • Raging Bear says:

          @dreadguacamole:disqus True, but the internet as a whole doesn’t really demonstrate a lot of sound judgment about gaming. If I’m going to find any validation, I need reasonable, level-headed gameologicists to hate it as well.

    • duwease says:

      *LOVE* Digital Devil Saga, and don’t see it discussed much.  It’s definitely an odd bird, even among Shin Megami Tensei titles.  Are you on game 1 or 2?

      • Citric says:

        Game 1, right around that theme park I think it is, the place where there are weird announcements when you arrive.

        I love that reportedly DDS was an attempt to be more accessible, so they decided to make it about cannibalism.

        • duwease says:

          Whoever was told to make it more accessible must have bristled at the instruction, because the cannibalism is just the tip of the iceberg for button pushing ideas in that game.  Then again, if you’re in the audience for an off-brand series offshoot of an already esoteric gaming franchise, I guess the bar for what’s “weird” is probably not where most would set it :)

          Without spoiling anything though, probably my favorite SMT ‘series’ (although I haven’t played Persona 3/4 yet).  Unfortunately (or not), the plot is self-contained, and doesn’t open itself really to supporting any future titles.

    • beema says:

      I think I gave up on Partners in Time. I had heard somewhere that the Mario & Luigi games were really good, so like an idiot I went out and bought Superstar Saga and Partners In Time. I played through the first and half liked it half hated it. Then I got to the second and realized it was exactly the same as the first and I think I just sold it back to Amazon. 

      • Citric says:

        I loved Superstar Saga, but Partners in Time is pretty much “Superstar Saga but not as good”. It’s my second attempt at it actually, the first ended without finishing it.

  2. caspiancomic says:

    I sort of showed my hand earlier this week, but this weekend I’ll be playing Fire Emblem: Awakening. It’s my first Fire Emblem game, although I’m relatively well versed in the general rhythms of SRPGs. Since it’s my first FE game I chose to play on ‘casual’ mode, since I wan’t sure what I was getting myself into, and now I actually kind of regret the decision since the game isn’t as demanding as I thought it would be. I’m four or five hours deep and already laden with underlevelled characters I’m probably never going to use, so I see now that the chance of having certain characters removed from my roster permanently could be almost considered a benefit. Still, I’m having a good time with it. Even though I don’t really know or care what’s going on in the story, the mechanics are pretty satisfying, and I’m learning more about them as I test the game’s limits.

    • NakedSnake says:

      “Removed from my roster permanently” = secretly relieved that certain soldiers were killed in battle?

      • caspiancomic says:

         More like “wishing certain soldiers were killed in battle to thin the herd out a little bit.” Although I have had both of my only two healers fall in battle so far, so maybe after some consideration I’m glad to be playing on casual mode after all.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Casual mode does take some of the white-knuckle tension out of the game, unfortunately. Conversely, playing Classic/Hard has been an exercise in frustration, at least early on. Random criticals pop up and ruin 40 minute levels.

    • Jackbert says:

      Try to use as many characters as you can. Switch it up. Having a balanced group is useful later. Also, marry as many people as you can. The Support conversations and the marriage-related combat bonuses are the coolest parts of the game.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       Didn’t you pick up Spelunky? What are you doing playing these high-falutin’ perma-death Japanese Tacitcal RPGS?

      Naw, I’m joking dude.  Fire Emblem on the GBA was my jam in high school.

  3. patagonianhorsesnake says:

    out of a desire to try something vastly different from anything i normally play, i’m giving final fantasy 9 a go. why 9? because i decided on that one at random out of the ones on the playstation store.

    i’ve never played a final fantasy game before, though of course i know about them. (there’s a cloud guy in one of them, right? he likes himself a good sword?) so it’s an adventure! let’s see what these slightly large-headed people have to show me.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      You’ve never played a Final Fantasy and chose IX at random?  I’m pretty damn curious to hear your impressions as you play.  IX is my second favorite of the series, but I’m really interested on the thoughts of someone who hasn’t been immersed in the series since the first.

      • patagonianhorsesnake says:

         my frantic fumbling through the first (dozen) battles would probably send anyone who has played the games running for the hills. “wait, what are all of these yellow bars? wait, i can attack now? wait, they’re attacking me now!”. i accidentally killed garnet in that trap monster… twice.

        that said, i’m having a lot of fun. there’s a sense of enthusiasm and fun to the characters, and that’s something i’ve been missing. but i am struggling with the fighting portion, and the dungeons.

        • duwease says:

          Don’t worry too much, there’s *some* fumbling in every Final Fantasy, for everyone.  There are some similarities in the turn-based battle system from title to title, but they try and revamp the mechanics each iteration.

          I particularly liked IX’s, though.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         IX is probably the best introduction to the series on account of there being no wacky Draw system or materia to keep track of and the nice 32-bit graphics can be more friendly to newcomers than XI’s pudgy sprites.

        Also, it has Vivi and if you have a heartbeat you probably will love that little bastard.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      The only Final Fantasy I’ve ever tried to play was 2 and I lost interest probably because I got a newer game. One of these days I’ll actually get around to playing one of them to completion I’m sure. Unless I get distracted. Which will probably happen.

      • NakedSnake says:

        I’ve been slowly turning my attention to them after ignoring them in my youth. I would say that Final Fantasy III (AKA FFVI) has excellent pacing and will push you along a lot better than many RPGs will. It’s still a 30-40 hr game but there’s less temptation to burn out an drop it.

        • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

          I have a history of not finishing old RPGs even if I was enjoying them a lot while playing them. Final Fantasy 2, Dragon Quest 2 and Exile Escape from the Pit are the ones that jump to mind. I played them all when I was much younger, liked them all quite a bit and still somehow managed to never get very far in any of them.

        • NakedSnake says:

          @chewbaccaabercrombie:disqus I have still never beat a spiderweb software game, which I feel bad about. Still, I feel like beating them wasn’t really the point. They were part of the “wander around and do things” school of RPGs that eventually developed into The Elder Scrolls.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           The spiderweb games are excellent, but you’re absolutely right that they’re hard to finish. So much to do! If you leave them for any amount of time and get back to them, it’s also almost impossible to pick up all the plot threads and realize what you need to do.
           It’s a shame, because their writing is usually excellent and the games are worth finishing, but I really need to make an effort to do it. I think they’ve realized this, as Avadon is a much more guided experience. I’m not quite sure how to feel about that.

    • Girard says:

      Good choice. One the one hand IX is kind of a love letter to the earliest games in the series, and may benefit from some context in that respect. On the other hand, it’s just such a damn good game – possibly the best Final Fantasy, almost certainly the best post-SNES one – that it’s also a great place to start with the series.

      • Girard says:

        Also, weirdly enough, according to the Insert Credit Podcast, Frank Cifaldi, of Lost Levels fame, just started playing FF9 this week, too, and it’s his first FF game. Weird!

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Final Fantasy IX is probably one of the better-aged Final fantasies because it doesn’t have a lot of pretense or emotional heroes. Count me as also looking forward to your impressions.

    • Unexpected Dave says:


      Never forget that you can get help with the select button. It’s useful in some unexpected places…

    • CrabNaga says:

      Prepare to get annoyed at the Trance system, which forces you into Trance in some random battle and never pops up when you need it (i.e. bosses). 

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        That’s crazy talk. Trance won the final battle for me, and it was looking dire before that!

      • Crusty Old Dean says:

        The worst is when you’re thrown into trance and the battle ends before that character even has the chance to make a move.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       Oh you’re in for a treat.  IX is a great game and a great streamlined introduction to pretty much everything that makes Final Fantasy great, interesting world, great characters and lot just a dash of grinding (though not too much, IX is actually the second easiest one after X).

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        So the two FF games I’ve beaten are the easiest. I suppose that makes sense.

      • Crusty Old Dean says:

        Really? I breezed through FFIX on my first playthrough, but I remember getting stuck at quite a few bosses in FFX (of course, I was too dumb to realize that spending 30 minutes running circles around a save sphere would greatly increase my chances of making progress).

        • CrabNaga says:

          Just hoard/grind Aeon Overdrives before bosses and unleash them all in rapid succession. That’s a never-fail strategy for 90% of the game’s bosses.

        • Kyle O'Reilly says:

           There is one incredibly hard battle with Seymour in the mountains outside the blue cat people’s village that I remember causing me a lot of stress but like Crab said,  Spam the Aeon Overdrives.

  4. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    This week, I had the chance to play a few more board games I hadn’t before:

    Dixit! A fun, imaginative game. It’s really easy to pick up, but it takes a little more creativity than most games. It’s also hard to take the scoring too seriously, given how lighthearted it is. I don’t think it’s the kind of game that would play well if you played it frequently, but I recommend trying it if you have the chance.

    Sentinels of the Multiverse! A cooperative heroes versus villain(s) kind of deck game with a bunch of well-known character archetypes. I’ve only played it once so far, and the beginning of the game was a bit stacked against us, but it seemed to tilt in our favor by the halfway point. The game doesn’t seem too bad, but the number of different rules in play during our game put it a little on the complicated side.

    Legendary! A semi-cooperative Marvel deck-building game, I’ve only had the chance to play one game but I like what I’ve seen so far. Again, the beginning was kinda stacked against us, but it turned in our favor once we managed to build up our decks. I’d be interested in playing it again.

    Outside of board games, I want to finish MirrorMoon EP this weekend. The game is relatively simple after you figure out the basics, but I like it enough; it’s pretty abstract, and the atmosphere is somewhere between calming and oppressive. Not sure how much time it’ll take to finish, but I have at least one idea of what to do. I think all I have to do is triangulate the position of an anonymous star system and travel there, but I expect it to be more difficult than it sounds.

    Once I finish that, I hope to dive right into Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs. I was considering waiting for a sale before picking it up, but it was too tempting given how much I loved the first one.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      Speaking of boardgames, I just got the iOS port of Agricola, and think it’s absolutely great.  The biggest problem I had with Agricola was that it took forever and a day to get everything set up, whereas this is instant.  Also, it scores for you.

      And, a friend of mine managed to get the 15 ticket accomplishment on the original Ticket to Ride.  I thought it was impossible.  I was wrong.

      • Jason Reich says:

        Hear hear. I’m new to Agricola but the app is awesome. I have yet to successfully complete even the first solo game.

      • boardgameguy says:

        Agricola is one of five games I consider a “10.” I haven’t tried the app, but I can only imagine how much time you save when you are ready to play. Does the app allow for asynchronous play with friends?

        • EmperorNortonI says:

           It has online modes, so I beleive it does.  However, if you think about Agricola’s base mechanics, “asynchronous” really only works if everyone is at least sorta paying attention at the same time.  Too much “everyone take one tiny move, then we all do it again” to make for a good turn and wait sorta game.

    • boardgameguy says:

      Dixit, to me, seems reliant upon either having new groups of people to play it with to see what experiences and connections they bring to the game or always playing with the same group that takes it as a challenge to find new ways to describe and hint. But I love it all the same. I’ve recorded over 20 plays and still find I enjoy it. Picking up a second card set can help with familiarity-fatigue.

      Also jealous that you got a chance to try Sentinels of the Multiverse. I’m still waiting for my first opportunity.

      Last weekend I had the chance to play Dungeon Roll, CO2, Space Hulk: Death Angel, and Takenoko. Between CO2 and Takenoko, we had lots of beautiful board art and components to enjoy: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1620185/co?size=large

      • TreeRol says:

        We played the hell out of Dixit when we got it last Christmas, and fortunately there are now 3 different decks in my group. I’ve taken to theming my stories: Phil Collins songs, Eddie Murphy movies, or the same amusing quote that someone had said 10 minutes earlier for each of my clues (good luck finding a card each time that fits “How am I supposed to get that sheep in the house?”). This game within the game makes it a lot of fun for me, still.

        • boardgameguy says:

          I also use the idea of setting a personal challenge for me. I must describe each picture as….someone that all players know. Or I will only describe using old saws, etc.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I’m not 100% sure, but I think the person who owned Dixit had an expansion for it already, so there was a little more variety than just the base game.

        My favorite moment was when I was the narrator and I chose to give the clue, “Look upon my works, ye mighty.” The card I put in was a person slouching on a throne and surrounded by gold, which seemed close enough, but when the cards flipped over someone had put in a card that was just a statue’s head in the middle of a desert. Someone still chose mine, so I got the points, but that was funny how much more appropriate theirs was.

        There was also the time I put in an Alice in Wonderland-style white rabbit card and gave the clue, “Looking glass.” I thought it might have been too obvious, but one of the other players didn’t know about Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass so I still managed to get points for that one.

        Sentinels isn’t bad, by my estimation, but for the first time I had to lean on the other players a little bit. There’s also a fair amount of text to read, too, what with all the beginning-of-turn and end-of-turn effects.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        I quite like Death Angel.  The system is a bit wonky to figure out, but it’s a lot of fun.

        • boardgameguy says:

          we even managed to win, only losing 2 marines. it was the most success we’ve ever had playing that game.

    • TreeRol says:

      I think we’re going with Dominion tonight. I’ve been reading a lot about strategy lately, and I think I’ve improved quite a bit recently. But there are still cards from the newer sets I haven’t tried, so I’m looking forward to getting a few games in.

      Meanwhile my quest to find an opponent for Twilight Struggle continues. I’ve had it for about 6 weeks and I’ve only been able to play two games. It’s not the easiest game to bust out at game night, but I’d have hoped for another taker or two.

      • boardgameguy says:

        There are places to play it online, asynchronously, including Vassel. There is this helpful forum for getting started: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/961856/how-to-play-twilight-struggle-on-vassal

        • TreeRol says:

          I’ve checked out Wargameroom, and gotten it to work fine (playing against myself). Now I’ve got to screw up the courage to actually challenge someone. Still a noob, at both the game and the system, so it’s a bit of a leap to do it.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        Dominion‘s a good one. I haven’t played it all that much recently, given that my friends tend to pick up new board games like they’re going out of style, but the game’s great and fairly customizable. The expansions are also good.

        Have you read the flavor text for the expansions? They’re pretty amusing, if you haven’t!

        • boardgameguy says:

          The introductory paragraph in the Intrigue rules made me laugh audibly.

        • TreeRol says:

          Yeah, whether Donald X. wrote those himself or someone at RGG did, they nailed it. It’s strange that the game itself isn’t particularly silly or anything, but those descriptions are gold. (Or platinum, even!)

          Dominion, by the way, currently holds the title of My Favorite Game. It’s so good, and so deep, yet quick.

  5. Cloks says:

    More Ass Effect 2! It’s giving me a serious hankering to watch Seven Samurai again, so I might do that as well. I’m also giving one of my friends Little Nemo in Slumberland for his birthday because he lost his copy.

  6. rvb1023 says:

    I’ve finally reached the climax of the Witcher 2, so afterwards Outlast then Puppeteer. The Witcher 2 is going pretty well, should be done with it in the next few days.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      I started Witcher 2 a few months ago and got to where I was almost going to fight the Kraken thing and then I just stopped. The game was clearly going to be consuming most of my free time. Now I regret stopping because I’m not quite sure I can just jump back in and relearn everything that far in and I’m hesitant to start everything over. Was it stupid of me to not just finish the damn thing? I was really enjoying it.

      • rvb1023 says:

         Really the only complaint (besides it running like crap on my PC) is the combat of the game really never evolves. And now that I finally got some of the high level swordsman stuff, combat is only difficult when I get ganged up on, which prescribed rolling solves.

        I did get more invested in the story as time went on to the point where I actually care what’s going on and I actually came to love some of the characters outside of Geralt, Dandelion, Triss, Zoltan, etc. The setting is great, makes me even more excited for The Witcher 3. The voice acting is really improved over the last one, only Saskia kind of falls flat in that department.

        Really a great game but I could understand getting burnt out on it, I sure did. Took me 2 years playing on and off to beat the first one and this one will take me under a year playing on and off if that means anything to you. It doesn’t take as long as other RPG’s given it’s fairly linear and not too heavy on side quests. Also no grinding, which is just great game design.

        • EmperorNortonI says:

          I kept hearing good things about those games, but the fact that the combat is action-y “dude with two swords rolls around and kills everyone” style completely turned me off to it.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I stopped playing after reaching chapter 3. Seriously, screw those gargoyles and the ruined city and all that jazz. Great game, but the world-design is as gorgeous as it is impractical. ^_^

      • rvb1023 says:

         Yeah, when I first got to the city I honestly got lost trying to figure out which guys I could fight and which guys would just eventually arrest me. Once I found the sewer everything was okay and there was one or two decisions I had to make that I actually had to think about, which is something I really didn’t have to do up until that point.

    • duwease says:

      What @chewbaccaabercrombie:disqus said.. I’ve put it down twice now (once before the Kraken and once slightly after).  I like the world they’ve built, but the combat just seems so clunky.  Do things change, or is it casting Shield and rolling, rolling, rolling to the end?

      • rvb1023 says:

         It stays pretty rolly, but after I started pumping vitality, vigor, and sword damage I mostly just pop Quen and tank the fights. Combat is definitely not this game’s strong point, but the swordsman does unlock an adrenaline bar that gives an auto kill when it fills so you can use that on some of the more annoying enemies.

        At this point my interest is all story and character driven, so it’s got that going for it.

  7. djsubversive says:

    ArmA III is out, and I’ve been touring Altis. Well, a small part of Altis. It’s big, and the vehicle handling isn’t the greatest. Hopefully the issues that people have been having will be fixed, because there are some neat places from what I’ve seen.

    There’s no campaign (yet), and I haven’t actually done much combat (I ran a guy over in an APC, and I gave the Infantry Showcase another run-through to see how much the AI has been improved – and the answer is “somewhat”). But ArmA isn’t about the campaign. It’s about making a silly little mission in the editor and then over-complicating it as I learn how to do things (I’m trying to do the last part less this time around).

    • Effigy_Power says:

      And NRA-weekend bro time with quad rides and boat tours. Just for some bros to connect and let your guard down.
      And shoot people.

      • djsubversive says:

        It took us a few shoulder-fired missiles and a bunch of grenades but we (me and Gutter – Eff and Hobbes have played games with him before) finally blew up an APC after I destroyed the wheels by running into stuff. I tried backing it into the garage/warehouse there, but the gun was mounted too high and it wouldn’t fit. We also threw smoke grenades and chemlights everywhere, trying to start a rave in the warehouse. Mostly because this guy looks like he knows how to party.

  8. Sarapen says:

    For the last two weeks I’ve basically just been watching anime on the Crunchyroll PS3 app. I haven’t played an actual game in forever. Well, Tower of Druaga originally began as a video game so I guess that’s kind of in the general direction. 

    Oh yeah, I just added Total Eclipse to my queue and I understand it’s originally from a visual novel or dating sim or something. But is Super Robot Wars OG any good?

    • Chalkdust says:

      If you haven’t yet, watch Kaiji.  It is an amazing exercise in escalating tension built around high-stakes gambling scenarios. As a guy with an interest in game design and theory, I found it really fascinating and engaging.

      Some I’ve recommended it to find the art style off-putting, but it’s unlike anything else out there.  Plus the theme song is fun.

  9. Merve says:

    I just realized that I’ve never Drawn Something. I really missed out on that fad, didn’t I?

    This weekend, probably some more Max Payne 3 for me. I’m about 3 hours in, and while the story is absorbing and has memorable characters, the gameplay is FUCKING TERRIBLE. When a third-person shooter can’t even get a simple weapons system right, you know that somewhere along the line, something went horribly wrong.

    • Nudeviking says:

      Draw Something was okay if you were playing with actually people you know.  It would be kind of funny, and in-jokey, but if you did that, “Draw Something, Draw Something, Make Me a Match, Find Me a Find, Catch me a Catch,” random user deal, you’d get some idiot who would just write the word out, which pretty much defeats the entire purpose of the game.

      I’d just randomly guess crap, that clearly was not the word they’d written and then give up, which pissed most of them off.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I played Draw Something with a group of friends who are all comic artists, so there was fun to be had for a while and we scored on some really obscure words. But then more and more terms like “Miley Cyrus” and “Bottle” showed up. By the range from obvious celeb-name drop to most generic word ever, it became clear that the makers weren’t going to put much effort into that.
        Even with good words tho, it got old eventually. I played it on the tablet with a stylus and got some good art done, art the game sadly didn’t save. And yet, I forgot about screenshotting my screen.
        I wonder if anyone played this game for more than 3 months.

    • SamPlays says:

      Wow, is it really that bad? I had considered picking it up and it seemed to get mostly favorable reviews. If you’re looking for some other FPS options, IGN has been doing one of their dumb Top 100 lists for the genre this week. The list is actually pretty good at the beginning but when they start including every sequel for every franchise around the 60-40 mark, it gets old fast.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       I’ve beaten Max Payne 3 and while it won’t win any awards (except maybe a Favelan beauty contest) I remember it being a fun distraction.

      What bothers you about the weapon wheel? 

      • Merve says:

        You can read about my frustrations with the controls and mechanics here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=173829220

        Special bonus: a screenshot of video games’ best insult!

        • Kyle O'Reilly says:

           I see, I see.  Maybe it’s a different experience on PC, I played on Xbox and didn’t really have that much trouble (though games resetting your weapons after a cutscene is annoying, it’s just one of the things I’ve come to expect).

          I’d say, give it a try with a wired xbox controller if you have one.  Switching weapons was pretty seamless for me on that.

  10. Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

    So I went to buy Rayman Origins last weekend and ended up also getting the Mass Effect trilogy. I already played the first one years ago around when it first came out, but I figured I’d start there anyway since I forgot most of what happened in it. I have to work Saturday though so it pretty much comes down to seeing if I have enough free time on Sunday to play and with Mass Effect it needs to be a decent chunk of time. It’s one of those games that I can’t really get anything done in less than a couple hours because I have an obsessive need to explore every bit of minutia I come across. Playing as a good guy so far but it’s kind of bothering me. Some of the “good” decisions I’ve come across so far seem like I’m helping someone obtain they’re own self centered goal at the cost of helping many by doing something else. Maybe those are isolated incidents, but they make me feel like a dick and give me points for being good at the same time. I’m not sure I like that.

    • ProfFarnsworth says:

      It seems to me that Mass Effect has that problem.  At least the first one.  I think that many of the “Paragon” decisions in ME1 were rather simplistic and very really made the whole thing odd.  Mass Effect 2 does try to fix that a bit, but not as effectively as I would like.  Mass Effect 3 does even better at explaining and showing a little more depth to “Paragon” and “Renegade” decisions, but still falls short of a moral decision.

      • Merve says:

        I actually liked the reputation mechanic in ME3, because choosing Paragon or Renegade options didn’t lock you out of choosing one or the other in the future.

      • Juan_Carlo says:

        All Bioware games have that problem.  Their moral choices tend to be of the silly, “Should you drown the puppy or give it a treat?” variety.  Plus, they only reward you for being full paragon or full renegade,  which kind of eliminates the whole point of moral choices to begin with as you get no tangible rewards for taking a more neutral path.

    • Girard says:

      The Mass Effect series is a prime example of the crappiness of binary moral systems in games, and Bioware games especially. You are constantly presented with choices where there isn’t a clear ‘good’ or ‘bad’ solution, but your responses are shoehorned into one or the other category. One weird result of this is that the game’s apparent criteria for what is ‘good’ seem slippery. Sometimes ‘Paragon’ means ‘Follow the letter of the law at all costs,’ sometimes it means ‘Do what it compassionate, regardless of the law or other consequences.’ 

      Which means your main strategy for determining whether a choice is ‘Paragon’ or ‘Renegade’ comes down more to “If I select the top right option, I’ll fill my blue bar, if I select the bottom right option, I’ll fill up my red bar,” pretty much breaking immersion and agency and turning it into a numbers game.

      • Bad Horse says:

        It definitely comes down to “I want to fill this bar up to the top” kinds of choices. My first playthrough I played the middle, doing paragon or renegade stuff according to my whims, and that was a lot more disastrous than playing strictly renegade turned out to be. But it’s not because one choice is “right” and the other “wrong” – they go to great pains to make both paragon and renegade choices viable from the For The Greater Good perspective. Like XCOM, the nature of the threat is so great that if you make a little bit of hamburger on the way, the game isn’t going to judge you much for it. Even the characters don’t judge you unless you specifically screw them over.

        I much prefer the Dragon Age route (X approves, Y disapproves) in terms of making moral choices meaningful, ironically, because it avoids judgment while actually giving some weight to the choices and gating off content after a fashion. 

        • Girard says:

          The Dragon Age model is streets ahead, for sure. It also more closely resembles the way moral choices work in actual, intersubjective reality. Your choices aren’t being judged by some objective, universal measure of good and evil but through the subjective responses of others to your actions.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I found it more satisfying from a role-playing perspective to just make my own decisions. The answer wheel does lead you to know what is “right” and wrong, but I just try to role-play it as best as I can. It’s the only way for your hero to determine HOW to hero without going completely on-rails.

      • Sarapen says:

        Yeah, this is how I do it too. Actually I have a rule of sticking with the first decision I made so I don’t get stuck with reloading and second guessing myself.

  11. NakedSnake says:

    Haha, this guy sounds pretty chill.

  12. EmperorNortonI says:

    Last weekend, it was EUIV.  I’ve had a hot and cold relationship with EUIV.  I’ll start out doing something, and find it a lot of fun.  Then, some game situation will come along and slap me hard in the face with a “WTF that should simply be impossible WTF this is 1580 not 1800 WTF” moment.  The first time, it was 20,000 dutch soldiers wandering around Appalachia and the Ohio valley in 1610.  The second time, it was Spain having no land army in Europe and sending wave after wave of 1000 and 2000 man armies to go take land in France, despite the fact that France was walking around with a 40,000 man coalition army on the Spanish boarder.  Utterly and totally absurd in both counts.

    As a former academic historian and anthropologist, I occasionally find my knowledge getting in the way of my gaming enjoyment. The more realistic the game, the worse it can be, and Paradox games really hit the uncanny valley of historical realism – close enough that you could imagine the system doing things well, because a lot of things are actually done well enough, but actually maddening because of the gap between what you’re seeing, what it suggests, and what you know you should be seeing.  CK2 wasn’t nearly as bad, as I’ve mostly ignored Medieval history.

    So, I’ve been waffling back and forth around all kinds of little games.  I put a few evenings into Incredipede, another game about which I’m hot and cold.  On the one hand, the art is incredible, and the gameplay mechanic is really really interesting.  On the other, I hate puzzle games, and they made this into a little puzzle game.  I don’t want to create a specific solution to a 30 second problem, I want to train myself to walk and run with bizarre collections of appendages.  This game is just crying out for some long-ish platforming levels, where you have to make your hideous monster with certain goals and limitations in mind and train yourself to use it effectively.

    I really want to get back into Wargame AirLand Battle, but find it too exhausting to really engage with, having started back to work.

    And I just started playing FTL again, and find myself liking it again.

    I’ve also got Papers, Please waiting for me, and a strange looking French RPG, Inquisitor.  And I’m vaguely tempted to try one of these new horror games that just came out, Outlast or either of the Amnesia games.  I usually avoid horror, as I am easily horrified, but the reviews have me tempted.


    • Effigy_Power says:

      For me, also a former academic historian, the games run exactly the opposite. My field was Medieval and Pre-history, so CK2 appeals more to me in general, but also drives me crazier.
      That said, I’ve always been a sucker for alternate history and “What if…” scenarios, so both games have most of their appeal in those mechanics.

      What if France never unites with Aquitaine? What if the Holy Roman Empire collapses? What if the Mongols conquer Europe? What if the Muslims hang on to Spain?

      Playing these scenarios can be pretty fun and I try to steer the game that way. I find that a lot harder with EU4, since (unless you import your own game) Europe is pretty much carved up by then and what remains is exploration and expansion. Makes sense, given the times, but stuff is missing.
      I currently have a EU4 game in which Scotland has taken all of Britain and Ireland under the Stuarts and is now expanding into Canada and America, having just conquered the Huron Nation… in 1504. So well ahead of time.

      I find that if you can turn off the part that tells you to expect the map to look a certain way at any given time, both games are infinitely more fun.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        Nah, the sandbox element, and the possibility of things going awry, is a lot of fun.  Back for EUIII, I was involved with a mod to create a dynamic Reformation, where it could start anywhere and go in many different ways.  That was a lot of fun, to see things turn out differently.

        It’s the game design decisions that I describe in my response to Hobbes that bug me.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I always hesitate to say this, because it always feels like such a fucking cop-out when I do, but Paradox’s grand strategy games have a well-deserved reputation for getting good after the first couple of expansions have come out.

      And I know it seems like they should just put another six months into development if that’s the case, but my theory is that they need the wide release in order to innovate on the mechanics of the vanilla game. And it’s not like the games are unplayable upon release (I’m looking at you New Vegas). They’re by and large perfectly enjoyable from Day 1. They just become far better games the more work that goes into them. 

      That doesn’t exactly address your complaints, but it does console me whenever I look at how little I’ve played EUIV in comparison to EUIII or CK2.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        The Spanish military problem is something likely to be fixed by patches.  That was just silly. 

        However, the colonization issues, and the oddities regarding quick religious and cultural conversion in a context-free manner are long-standing Paradox design decisions.  It was similarly bad in EUII and EUIII.  Official Paradox designs colonization the way it does for a reason – to allow fringe European powers to quickly build up manpower so as to fight off big land empires.  The Americas are designed as a blank slate upon which the Europeans can write their own destiny, with next to no difficulty or pushback, or heck, even required preparation or planning.

        As a Swedish company, maybe they just don’t get American history in the same way that they really get European history.  But I don’ think that’s the problem – it’s really a game-mechanics decision.

        They know it’s annoying to have off-culture and off-religion provinces, so to make players happy they allow for the simple and total eradication of other cultures and religions, on a fairly short timeframe.  From a gameplay perspective it works great – it feels satisfying to “clean up” your country.  But it’s simply ridiculous.  I’ve wiped Irish Catholicism off the map by 1620, and Portugal had converted most of India to Catholicism by that time.  The very possibility of such a thing is a clear testament to the priority of game design over history.

        I understand that.  It makes sense.  But again, it just hits that uncanny valley for me, and I balk.

  13. Brainstrain says:

    I’m playing Dragon’s Prophet. It’s not nearly as crap as I expected, and the male characters are ripped as hell. I totally get that it’s standard for fantasy games, but DEAR LORD they have a body I’d like to meet.

  14. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    I’m fairly consumed by Final Fantasy XIV (just arrived in Costa del Sol and wow. I don’t think I ever took that many screenshots in any other game) and Way of the Samurai 4, which is everything I wanted it to be and then some — it has fishing AND koi-koi. I’m on my second playthrough and I’m now playing as the most badass woman in games: stoic, deadly with a sword, always carrying a bottle of wine on my waist and never without a pipe in my mouth. I’m so consumed, in fact, that I had to drop my daily Under Defeat training. But I can also have pretty bad impulse control, so Monster Hunter 4 might happen.

    • Chalkdust says:

       Way of the Samurai 4!?  How did I miss that coming out.  Does it actually teach you how to play koi-koi, or just assume you know?  All these imported games with distinctly Japanese parlor games built in (I’m looking at you, Yakuza series), but they never have a decent tutorial.

      Some games I would love to learn how to play via the medium of video games: hanafuda and variations such as koi-koi, shogi, go, and mah-jongg.

      Sigh.  I’m also terrible at poker, and hoped the Poker Night at the Inventory game would be a bit more newcomer-friendly.  But alas, I’ve not earned any of the TF2 in-game items because the computer knows when to hold/to fold, whereas I do not.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        It’s only 15€ on the European PSN at the moment!

        It just assumes you know koi-koi, but the game is fairly easy to learn if you keep a reference nearby. I learned with this one (but its computer opponent is pretty merciless). Mahjong in particular seems far more impenetrable.

  15. dreadguacamole says:

     I’ll be playing farmer, fox, chicken and grain with tropical fish; I’m building a fresh-water aquarium, and my son wants aquatic frogs. Which is awesome, but apparently they may eat everything else in the tank if you’re not lucky, so we’ll need to do a lot of monitoring to make sure kermit and frogger play nice.

    I’ve been exploring the dusty, cobwebbed corners of my steam library. So far, I reloaded Deadlight (utter piece of shit; very pretty, though), the original Valley Without Wind (I liked it better than the remake! Ugly as sin, though), ARES (fun but shallow), Blocks That Matter (Eh, it’s ok. I tend not to like puzzles with easy-to-get failstates), and the Sleeping Dogs DLC (Year of the Snake is excellent – as good as anything in the main game).
     I’ll keep on with it for a while, I think, since I’m having fun. I’m eyeing the DMC DLC next. I really should finish up A Machine for Pigs, which is an excellent slow-burner so far, and the humble bundle discussions yesterday really got me jonesing for Brutal Legend and Mark of the Ninja.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      My family had a great big freshwater aquarium when I was young.  Admittedly, I was young, so my memory might be inaccurate.  However, we had the little tree frog thingees, that would hang out near the surface and dive down all the time.  We fed them the bloodworms every so often, and they did just fine.  Use the live ones, the fish love them too.  And we also had a ton of little tropical fish, tetras and stripey things and angelfish and whatnot, along with a algae eaters and little mini catfish, and several great big plants.  We had to occasionally restock fish, but as we didn’t have any reproductive groups (except on very rare occasion the tetras, and one huge group of black mollies that spawned and got their own tank), that was pretty normal.  It was a money sink, but we were gradually getting the hang of keeping it together.  Then the Northridge earthquake destroyed it all.


    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       I like the image of exploring the deep dark, bat-ridden corners of a steam library where forgotten bundle games lay with Steam winter sale cast offs, frozen half-to-death and reaching out feebly with their hands for but 5 minutes of your time to install Direct X 10 and give them a try!

  16. Girard says:

    Student teaching means my life has become wall-to-wall work (A full-time job PLUS graduate coursework PLUS other extracurricular student responsibilities and meetings, and no you don’t get paid, you pay for the privilege! YAY!). I’ve found I can usually secure a brief Saturday night gaming window with my current schedule, which at present is used to chip away at Xenoblade. At my 2-hours-of-gametime-per-week rate, I might have the game beaten by 2015…

    • Jackbert says:

      I’ve played around an hour each of The Binding of Isaac and Animal Crossing: New Leaf the past week. I want to play X-Com: Enemy Unknown, but I don’t think that’ll work in fifteen-minute chunks. I guess this post is what I might be playing this weekend.

  17. Unexpected Dave says:

    I probably won’t be spending too much time gaming this weekend, because of the Atlantic Film Festival. But next week is GTA V!

    • SamPlays says:

      There’s a small handful of NL shorts (Impromptu, The World is Burning) and feature lengths (The Grand Seduction, Hold Fast) so do me a favour and check some of them out. Jeune et jolie looks pretty good, too, and I’m curious about Don Jon. Hope you enjoy the festival!

  18. DrFlimFlam says:

    To all Animal Crossing buddies, my town is going to spike on turnips this morning or this afternoon. I will update as soon as I know for sure because it’s time to sell some turnips.

    I’ll play more Skyrim as I can, though The Dark Brotherhood is markedly less fun this time around. My main problem is that there seems to be no good way to kill with the bonus reward while not getting caught. I remembered having fun with creative ways to succeed in Oblivion, but in Skyrim no amount of invisibility potion, stealth, or careful positioning will keep me hidden from guards and other onlookers.

    Also more Saint’s Row The Third and FFVII, my two PC games of the moment.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I don’t recall failing any of the bonuses in the Dark Brotherhood questline, and the only time I racked up any amount of infamy with the law was the [SPOILERS] scripted failed assassination attempt on the Emperor.

      My character was a sneaky archer/destruction mage, though. Pretty well suited for assassinations.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Vittoria Vici is bugged and doesn’t always pay out the bonus, even though the only way to get her with the gargoyle is while she addresses the crowd anyway. It’s just gold, so I didn’t care, but I want the improved armor from the Imperial tour of Skyrim, and man, I could not get that guy alone anywhere. Once I hid and waited until late at night in Solitude without realizing I was blocking the path for guards changing shifts, so when I popped out and arrowed him in the back, there were a dozen guys pulling swords on me. I later got him in Windhelm or something. And ran.

    • Ack!  Would’ve loved to take advantage of this turnip markup.  Is there some kinda of central notifications hub for turnip prices we could all use? :P  Are you on the Steam chat group?

      • SonjaMinotaur says:

        I wish there was a better way to coordinate, too. I need to unload my turnips tonight! (I can’t do morning trades anyway…if I want to keep my job) 

        • I’ve only seen the turnip salesperson once, having bought the game labor day, is the idea to save up a ton of dough and buy Sunday, then hold them til you see a good price?  Is this the big/easy way to make money once farming beetles gets boring?

        • SonjaMinotaur says:

          That’s the general idea: I’m trying to play less and make more money.

          You buy turnips between 6am and noon on Sundays.  I use an alt character who exists only to hold onto turnips so I can maximize storage space. 

  19. SamPlays says:

    This book seems eerily similar to the concept of Nathan For You (i.e., “great” advice on how to make your small business successful). The Claw of Shame episode was spectacularly cringe-worthy.

  20. Effigy_Power says:

    I will spend my weekend in self-loathing and penance, since I pre-ordered GTAV on the PS3. Seriously, I wasn’t thinking I would, which made it safe to subject people around me to every rant about things that bugged me, especially the lack of a female protagonist in the story.
    But my stupid, stupid eyes got glazed over with the scale of the “leaked” map and the luster of the multiplayer activities and over-ruled the part of me that constitutes most of my complaints aka The Brain.
    I was actually hovering over the Amazon Order button for a while before I resigned myself to it and it IS just a game, but… ech… I made a huge stink and then caved, so I am no less a hypocrite than the Rockstar people I railed against, since I clearly didn’t think those issues were bad enough to not give them $60.
    Ah well… that activities stuff with the Rock Star Boys Social Club better be fucking amazing.

    Once the self-loathing has fallen prey to the inhalation of THC-heavy vapor and some items of comfort food, I will pick up some more EU4, making sure North America remains British under my Stuart Empire, drive around a Greek Island with @djsubversive:disqus and then I don’t know what else.

    • Smilner says:

       I’ve been reading up lately on the call for a female protagonist to the story, and it was a new perspective to me and one I had not really considered.  Probably mostly because I’m a dude, and it’s the nature of the hegemonic “standard” to not consider the point of view of the “other” without prompting.  At least I’m self-aware.

      Anyway, I acknowledge the validity of their reasoning, i.e. it wouldn’t have played right into their story of masculinity.  I suppose the argument for them to tell a different story is neither here nor there.  But it got me to thinking if any of the prior iterations cold have been as effective with a female as the lead.  SA and VC certainly would not, since they deal with protagonists who came up through two of the most classically misogynistic sub-cultures in history.  IV might have worked, since it’s a revenge story and that certainly transcends gender, but I don’t know anything about gender roles in Eastern European armed forces to be able to speak on if or how the story would have needed tweaking.

      Besides, Nico being a lady would have really changed the dynamic with Brucie, from gloriously comedic and over the top into something much more unpalatable.  Of course the argument is there that nothing is there to stop them from changing any number of aspects of the game to fit the different paradigm, but that argument gets too circular and hypothetical for my tastes.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        The Balkans (or wherever Nico’s from, I think it’s faux-Kosovo, Fauxsovo) aren’t famous for fighting women, so Nikoleta Belic’s story would have changed dramatically (although it might have made the revenge storyline more interesting).

        Does the game imply that Brucie is gay? So any interactions with a female Belic would probably be without as much of the hypermasculine posturing, given that he’s not trying to impress her.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          That’s really the point where I myself am conflicted. If the story is written from a male perspective, then you can’t tamper with that. Saints Row has the simple choice of being completely nuts, so the gender if the character is pretty much a moot point. GTA has become much more story-driven and serious, so the integrity of the “script”, if we want to call the stolen-together menagerie of crime movies that, is important and a valid point.
          The problem is the number of games under this franchise and the complete lack of anyone who seems to be able to write a good female, criminal main-character.

          The boss in SR is for all intents and purposes gender-neutral, a sex-less being that can alter its appearance between male, female and what have you. That’s fine, but female voice acting doesn’t make a female character. Women ARE different from men. The environment, especially in a crime setting, reacts differently to women than it would to men.

          It’s a really fresh and untapped field, and yet all crime women ever get to actually lead in is born out of desperation or interaction with men, at least in a popular fiction setting.
          Women poison their abusive husbands, become a weed dealers because of debt after their husbands die or go on a rampage to save their children. Female crime seems fated to be born out of domestic situations and that’s not cool.

          Women in popular fiction seem incapable of getting into crime just for the money, violence or even twisted fun, which seems bogus. There has to be some writer out there who can create a somewhat negative role-model of GTA-proportions who is a woman. Dan Houser, for all his merits, doesn’t seem to be one and that makes me sad, because he is really quite good in everything else he writes.
          I really enjoy crime-laden sandbox games, but it’s a lonely field for a woman. GTA, Sleeping Dogs, Mafia… the world of organized crime is one of male dominance in real life and apparently seems condemned to remain so even in a virtual setting full of old Chinese Ghosts, bullet-sponge characters, endless supplies of suicidal cops and trains full of Alien goo. Unless of course I want to cross over into the gender-neutral world of insane slapstick crime known as Saints Row… I suppose that’s something.

          I don’t know how angry it makes me anymore, but it definitely makes me sad. I guess the makers of such games will have to contend with taking my money with a frown, which I am sure is breaking their hearts.

        • Smilner says:

           Well Eff, I don’t think you have to resign yourself to shutting up because you caved in and forked over the cash.  Rather, the fact that you are a customer gives you more credibility on your opinion.  Historically, Rockstar hasn’t ignored customers, but rather have ignored the shrill, keening complaints of the critics who would never have bought the game in the first place.

          It’s important of course to remember that it’s not really our place to direct the story.  They are artists, we are patrons, and this is the chosen medium.  We haven’t commissioned work to them, we’re participating in their interactive pieces.  To try to corral their story to fit out druthers would be presumptuous of us.

          Obviously, the second paragraph above contradicts the first, but I think it just illustrates the fine line video games walk.  This isn’t a product like Budweiser, that drives sales by casting the widest net, pleasing everybody by pleasing nobody.  We demand these nuances, and they know they will have to deliver.  What we are all doing right now is the best thing we can do: we are engaging in the discourse, and we can hope that the Powers That Be are paying attention to the buzz.  I should hope that with a 280mil budget, they’ve got a guy on staff to check over a few messageboards.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I have been wrangling with the same points a dozen times, so they are certainly valid. Shoe-horning in a female character to tick boxes is obviously nothing anyone wants, because it would never feel organic. The problem here is less the readiness to “inject” female protagonists rather than the non-existence of any good writing effort.
        There are career criminals who are women. Not quite so much in the field of organized crime, where the old misogynistic traditions of those organizations prevents most of that, but individually.

        Mind you, in the end such arguments are a bit trite when you remember that San Andreas for example had jetpacks and alien goo and whatnot. If we can suspend our belief so far as to accept that, we probably can imagine other things.

        And yes, I imagine that a lot of publishers rather than the developers themselves pull the strings in this regard, since the consensus is apparently that male gamers can’t be moved to play female protagonists. Not only does that seem like it’s totally wrong (Tomb Raider and Metroid say hello), but it also doesn’t seem to spark the question why it’s totally fine for women to be roped into playing men all the time.

        But, in the end, I’ve taken a lot of weight out of my swing by buying this game, so obviously you can do whatever you want once you’re big enough as a brand. It blows and I am not happy with it, but then why would gaming be different than any other industry, especially entertainment.
        When the most popular men’s magazines are about cars and tools and women apparently get “Good Housekeeping” I probably shouldn’t wonder why these things happen.

        Ah well, I’ll just have to kill a lot more people, blow up more cars and rob more banks than anyone else when the Multiplayer finally lets me be a lady.

        PS: What actually bugs me more is that the solutions would be so simple: How about a customizable non-story character for Freeroaming, which will make up 90% of my time in GTA anyways? Wouldn’t kill you, would it? Especially with the switching between characters. If the story is the interaction between 3 guys, fine, I can live with that. But give me some silent chick to roam the vast city with and all that complaint goes away. I am not holding my breath, but you know… hope springs eternal.

        • Carlton_Hungus says:

          I thought I’d read you could create a female character for the intriguing GTA Online system.  That would be your free-roaming mode right there (although I know not everyone is keen for online).

        • SamPlays says:

          If you use your imagination, just assume that any male character in any video game is quietly transgendered. Applying that lens would probably make pretty much every game that much more interesting (and probably hilarious in some cases).

          I agree with your point, though, about the general lack of strong female leads in video games. I’m sure there are lots of examples where a female is kicking ass and taking names but is she scantily clad? Does her figure make Barbie look less grotesque? Does her invoke a glorification of violence through sexuality? Anyone can chime in with their own examples but Jade from Beyond Good and Evil may be one of the few female leads who is smart, modestly dressed and close to having normal proportions. Plus, there are no romantic ties that motivate or challenge her actions. She’s a really good role model for males and females alike, IMO. There are far more examples in literature, film and TV so video games have a long road to travel before it escapes its male-centric worldview.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        The standard excuse (aside from the technical/production issue) is that allowing a choice of gender for the protagonist will either not work with the story, or will require too many alterations to accommodate. I think this excuse gives too much validation to gender roles and stereotypes. It’s easy to think, “No woman would murder a drug lord and steal his house.” Well, no sane man would murder a drug lord and steal his house either. Tommy Vercetti is an individual, just as a hypothetical Tammy Vercetti would be an individual.

        And just because institutional sexism is a big problem in real life, that doesn’t mean that it should overwhelm the story of a fictional criminal. Tommy Vercetti is a man, but he’s also a murderous psycho. People keep him at arm’s length; they don’t pal around with him. People would have the same reaction to a Tammy Vercetti. They wouldn’t constantly be sexually harassing her; they’d be scared to death.

      • Fluka says:

        I think part of the reason people have been calling for V in particular to have a female protagonist – besides the fact that “for heaven’s sake it’s game five already” – is that the three-character narrative framing would have been an easy opportunity to sneak in a female protagonist.  As you say, the previous games wouldn’t have really lent themselves to that kind of gender switch.  In this case, however, you have *three* separate characters, and it would have been easy to slot in at least one story which could have “realistically” supported a female playable character. 

        Dan Houser’s been excusing it by saying that they wanted to tell a story about “masculinity.”  Wouldn’t it have been really interesting, within that theme, to look at how a female character interacts with the traditional GTA machismo?  A female gang member trying to prove herself as one of the boys, a formerly good cop breaking bad – it’s not like there aren’t ways you can’t slot this into the series’ social commentary and satire.  After all, these narratives aren’t simply born out of thin air.  If a plot absolutely can’t accommodate a character who isn’t male, then it’s just because you write it that way.

        I already had my fun with Saints Row IV, however, and frankly have never been interested in GTA, so the end product is that I’ll probably just ignore the game.  Incredibly high budget AAA games gonna be safe and boring anyway. Plus, no announced PC port yet anyway, *shrug.*

        • SamPlays says:

          The fallacy of suggesting a story about masculinity must exclude female protagonists is rooted in the fact that gender is socially constructed. 

          Everyone has their biological sex, which is predominantly binary (though evolution frequently tries to change things up), and those distinctions of sex have been labelled “male” and “female”. Gender, on the other hand, refers to how social and cultural factors shape our reality and and sense of identity. The traits ascribed to “masculinity” and “femininity” are not intrinsically associated with our sex. 

          Because humans love to classify things, either naturally or by force, there is a deeply rooted association between sex, gender, sexuality, and historical roles. We are all familiar with the stereotypes that accompany distinctions between males and females that extend well beyond biological sex. 

          This is part of the reason why genuine* LGBT individuals continue to be stigmatized: they deconstruct the assumptions about what sex and gender really mean. The existence of individuals who defy traditional classification presents an fundamental crisis of epistemology – our historical understanding of sex and gender has proven to be wholly inadequate. 

          IMO, any lens on masculinity necessarily requires males, females and everyone in between to be part of the critique. Asking “What does it mean to be male?” cannot be adequately answered without also asking “What does it mean to be female?” in order to properly explore the relationship between gender and society.
          Now where’s my goddamn Cinnabon?

          *I say “genuine” because I’m aware of individuals who adopt the LGBT label as a trend rather than a real expression of their identity.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          It’s a shame all of this great discussion is happening on Friday, the day Soupy is blind to such pondering.

        • SamPlays says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus In the spirit of the AV Club Q&A happening over yonder: Fuck Soupy.


        • HobbesMkii says:

          @SamPlays:disqus How dare you, sir?! You’re excommunicated from the church!

        • SamPlays says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Friday comments might get more recognition if the damn cat spent more time reading and less time sleeping, cleaning genitals, splashing around toilets, climbing curtains, swatting bugs, eating food, eating inedible objects, hocking hairballs, meowing at nothing and licking plastic bags.

      • Merve says:

        I think why this particular line of criticism bothers me is that the lack of female protagonists in games is a massive, industry-wide problem. Why this particular game and why now? There are modern military shooters out there that switch characters for practically every mission, and when people ask their developers why they don’t have female characters, the devs just plug their fingers in their ears and sing, “LA LA LA LA LA!” Dan Houser actually tries to semi-thoughtfully engage with his critics on the issue, and he gets shit for it.

        In my opinion, it’s a great thing that people are eager to examine creative works through the lens of gender. But you can’t really examine a creative work through any lens until you’ve actually, you know, experienced said work.

        Basically, “I’ve played your game and here are some social/cultural considerations that you should take into account when making your next game” is far more helpful than “Change this not-yet-released game to suit my demands!” and it’ll go much further in getting more female protagonists and more female protagonists into games.

        • Smilner says:

           Well, I don’t think we’re really to burn Houser on the cross, and maybe the game is full to the brim with powerful, influential, not-defined-by-their-relationships-to-men female supporting characters, but it still bears discussing.  I think the reason it’s coming up here and now is that the storytelling within GTA is generally held to a pretty high creative standard.  And industry-wide is absolutely right. It seems that even when they get it right, they get it wrong.  I’m reminded of the absolutely inessential, gratuitous, and maddeningly nonsensical sex scene in Heavy Rain.  What precisely the fuck?

        • SamPlays says:

          Gender seems to come up relatively frequently on these boards. I don’t think it’s specific to GTA/Dan Houser. It’s more like revisiting a long-standing question in the face of yet another AAA game that has a shoddy history with it’s portrayal of women.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I think this is kind of disingenuous. I complain about just about every big release, thank you very much.

          But really, I don’t think there are many people saying “CHANGE THIS GAME RIGHT NOW” rather than people who are disappointed by YET ANOTHER game without a woman protagonist. And with the three character gimmick it would have been the perfect time to have at least one.

          • Merve says:

            I don’t think I’m being disingenuous. I’m not talking about any particular commenters on this site. But take a look at something like this. Surely, it’s better to engage someone who actually responds to a question with a semi-legitimate answer in dialogue. It’s not deserving of the same reaction as “We didn’t create female multiplayer characters because we didn’t have time” or something like that. If we pretend that every excuse is equally illegitimate, then we’re not going to get anywhere.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I folded like a house of cards a couple of weeks ago, around the time they explained the coming online component.

    • Cloks says:

      If there was a female protag, that’d take away from my chances to stare at hot man-ass for the duration of the game.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        Hehe, like I want to stare at a woman’s butt for hours on end! I’m not straight, bro! 

  21. HobbesMkii says:

    Far Cry 3. It’s kind of a fun successor to Far Cry 2, including all the same jazz, with a different spin (diamonds now just mean loot chests, rather than actual diamonds). The story is pitifully lacking though, and leads to some absurd moment of cognitive dissonance. My favorite moment so far has been having a heartfelt chat with his girlfriend whom he’s just rescued, our protagonist Jason Brody ditches her in a cave. On the way out, though, he stops to take some drugs in a clay bowl and experiences a flashback, and then wakes up 50 feet away, still in the cave, and ambles past his girlfriend–WHO SAYS NOTHING. “Are you okay? Cool. I’m gonna go back out there. But first…Drug break!”

    Also, I’d thought that I’d heard a couple of the pirates talking about how Vaas had raped one or the other (or both) of the two women in this vacation party, but no one ever mentions it in dialogue and their hair is incredibly perfect (do they have a secret stash of hair product somewhere on the island?) so I guess it never happened? It’s not like someone at Ubisoft would bring up the possibility of rape in a game and then just gloss over it, right? Right?

    Jason Brody is a psychopath. I’m not saying that because he turned into Rambo-esque killing machine just in the first 10 minutes of the game. I’m saying that because when he was tasked to take a flamethrower to a drug farm, he lit a dog on fire (my call, naturally) and then exclaimed, regarding the flamethrower, “I love this thing!” (his call). Also, the flamethrower kind of sucks, so I don’t understand what his attraction to it is.

    Like it’s predecessor, it seems to have a poor grasp of economy building. I bought all the weapons I wanted before I’d even gotten into the crafting aspect of it, and now I just wandered around the island with $6000 in cash on me (I hope I don’t get mugged).

    • duwease says:

      Yeah, the story is.. hmm.  Supposedly it’s rougher moments are supposed to be satire that shows itself in the end.. but I never saw it.  Interested to hear your thoughts after finishing it.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       DO NOT, under any circumstances, read any interviews with the game’s pretentious, head-up-his ass writer.  I was enjoying the game as a dumb, jungle-shoot-tapirs-and-ride-jeeps-em-up until I read an itnerview the guy did on RPS and the amount of pretension he brought to the table along with his outright hostility towards gamer’s’ for “not getting” his intention made me barf hard and decide to never finish the game.

      It didn’t help either that the second island is a bullet sponge snoozefest.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      I played part of Far Cry 2, then I played Blood Dragon, then I started Far Cry 3. I enjoy Far Cry 3 so far, but Blood Dragon was so much more fun in my opinion. It’s basically the same game, but the humor makes it way more enjoyable than the attempted seriousness of Far Cry 3. Plus the protagonist is a complete sociopath in 3 and it makes it hard to like him as much as the dude from Blood Dragon.

  22. Smilner says:

    Probably hopping between GTA SA & IV in anticipation of…

    Well, you know.

    And there’s the biweekly continuation of my D&D4e campaign with my wife, my ten year old daughter, and my best friend.  We just hit level 2, but I think we’re going to have to bite the bullet and figure out how to storm the tower, otherwise we’ll never garner the favour of the late Lady Saharel and get our oracular questions answered.

  23. stakkalee says:

    Minimal gaming for me this weekend due to a number of real-life plans, but I should have some time to spend in Skyrim on Sunday.  I really want to finish finding the Stones of Barenziah so I can clean the damn things out of my inventory, and I also started the Dark Brotherhood quest by killing Grelod.  Now I’m in this room with 3 captives and some asshole telling me to kill one of them – my Argonian assassin doesn’t value human life at all, so killing one of the captives isn’t a problem, but I don’t like being kidnapped, and I feel like my kidnapper should learn not to leave me my weapons.  On the other hand, I’d rather BE a member of the Dark Brotherhood than destroy them, so I saved the game and I’ll decide when I go back in.  I’ll probably join up, but we’ll see.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I like how flexible that quest is. You can kill a variety of people in that one room. I let the sellsword live.

      • stakkalee says:

        Yeah, that’s the thing – I don’t care who I kill.  I just want to maximize my opportunity for hoarding.

  24. indy2003 says:

    Kind of a busy weekend for me as I’m doing some local theatre stuff, but I’m still hoping to find time to get a few things in.

    A couple of smaller titles via PS Plus: Runner 2: The Legend of Rhythm Alien and Galaga Legions DX. The former is a fun but surprisingly tough auto-run platformer which demands very precise timing. After a while, you’re using pretty much every button on the controller, and trying to keep which button kicks/ducks/blocks/jumps/bounces/etc. can be quite challenging. The latter is a fairly simple, fun HD Galaga title – quite easy to “beat,” but the challenge lies in attempting to improve your score. Both are a nice way to chill for a half-hour or so, though Galaga is far more relaxing than Runner 2.

    I may spend some more time with Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the Vita, too. It’s fun, though it certainly feels more repetitive than the other Vita titles and the touchscreen elements feel more like a cheap way to extend the gameplay than an essential factor (rub your screen to clean that pickaxe you just found!). The frequent cutscenes are well-acted, but generally don’t have the wit of the scenes from the other games. It’s lesser Uncharted, but it still feels enough like Uncharted to deliver a good time.

    Also finished up Hitman: Absolution a couple of days ago. Though the game was inconsistent (that final level was pretty underwhelming, and a couple of assassinations were too firmly scripted for my liking), it’s generally a refreshing change-of-pace from the average AAA title – it certainly rewards players who prefer to take a quiet, creative approach to the levels. The story was a mixed bag at best. Found the game’s portrait of 47 quite effective, but some of the supporting characters were… well, the less said about them, the better. Still, the stellar gameplay compensates for that.

    • duwease says:

      Good summary of Absolution.  The story was rough, the supporting characters were.. not mentioned here, and there were unexpectedly long traditional stealth sections instead of puzzle-solving assassination mayhem.  But still, it was Hitman, which is just a great series, even in a less-than-perfect entry.

  25. duwease says:

    Had an adventure game binge this week:

    Kentucky Route Zero:  Achingly beautiful, but the story is so abstract and nonsensical that I couldn’t really get into it.  The characters and the world are so abstract and devoid of rules to ground them that it just seems more like an art piece than a story.

    Gone Home:  In direct contrast, the art style of Gone Home is servicable at best, but the story is fan-effing-tastic.  I blew through this game like a book that couldn’t be put down.  I’m very impressed with the detail of the story they were able to tell through found objects and environmental details.. the characters all felt like real people.  It’s an evolution of the typical story told through found diaries and voice recordings.. there were intentionally misleading plot threads, and turnarounds, and all sorts of things that must have been hell to make work in a game whose story is at the mercy of player agency.

    Deponia: This rounds out the clearing out of my Steam sale game cache.  Very pretty hand-drawn high-definition art, but the humor and dialogue seem to have lost something in the translation from German.  Maybe I’m just spoiled by the incredibly funny Telltale re-imaginings of Lucasarts properties.  Still, a solid, old-school adventure game, which are rare nowadays.

    Also played Gunpoint, which I dig, and continued thoroughly enjoying Saint’s Row IV, which is like an endless bag of addicting potato chips.  There’s so many varied and silly things to do packed into such a tiny area, that the whole “Give me 5 more minutes.. lemme just do this thing right next to where I am” turns into 3 hours.  Haven’t had that happen since Civ 5 almost a year ago.

    • Effigy_Power says:


      Cha-ching residuals, baby.

    • Fluka says:

      Damn fine slate of games, that!

    • Juan_Carlo says:

      I love adventure games, but I can’t really get into Daedelic games (who did Deponia, Whispered World, etc).  They are very much proponents of the 1980s school of completely nonsensical adventure game puzzle logic, which I no longer have the patience and interest for because it means that solving puzzles usually just boils down to combining all random shit with other random shit in the off chance that it might be what the game wants you to do.  Like, I gave up on Whispered World in an exasperated fit after a puzzle where you have to combine the dentures with the bear claw and the statue of a turtle so you can scare your brother and get ahold of the pantloones.  It just makes absolutely no sense to the point that there is absolutely no skill or thought involved.

      • duwease says:

        Yeah, I was able to avoid a walkthrough for awhile in Deponia, but then I got stuck and it turns out touching something AFTER some unrelated story event makes a person have a different reaction than the 20 times I tried it before that.. ugh.  Some of the silliness of puzzle logic I treasure as a quirk of the genre, but when it’s bad, it’s BAD.

        Telltale strikes a good balance with their games.. I get stuck occassionally, but it’s nothing I can’t figure out by another run-through of the various screens or putting it down for an hour.  Don’t think I’ve had to use a walkthrough in 3 seasons of Sam & Max or the season of Monkey Island, which is.. 24 games?

  26. Marozeph says:

    I finally got my new couch, so my further gaming endeavours will be a lot more comfortable. I’ll continue getting my ass kicked at Dark Souls and will probably start with Remember Me and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       Wait, somebody actually bought Remember Me?  That game had a bit of my curiosity but only like $20 worth.  Let me know if it’s any good.  It seemed like those piece-meal detective dream sequences were cool.

      • Marozeph says:

        I finished it and i think the best description is “interesting, but flawed”. There are some neat ideas, like the combo-builder, the memory-manipulation and the general theme of the human mind getting turned into and treated as data.

        The execution can be rather lacking though: you can’t counter attacks and the dogde often didn’t work as i wanted, resulting in the loss of a combo (this might be due to my incompetence though). Adding enemys that hurt you when you hit them was imho also rather awkward – you can’t save combos, so you often have to build a heal-focused combo from scratch. And while the memory-manipuation is a lot of fun, it’s completely underused – there are only (minor spoiler) four such sequences in the whole game.

        The story also tends to go nowhere – it never really feels like the bad guys are completely abusing the technology, or at least moreso than the main character does. And there’s a weird “Star Trek V”-vibe going on, with the bad guys having a single painful memory that stops them from becoming completely swell people.

        From a technical perspective, i can’t say anything bad. Neo-Paris looks great (how often do you see dystopian futures with bright, vibrant colors?) and the soundtrack is pretty good, especially when it gets weirdly distorted.

        Short version: I don’t know if i would recommend it at full price, but for 20$, i’d suggest giving it a try.

  27. boardgameguy says:

    I hope to try out FTL this weekend after picking it up in the Humble Bundle. I may also try out English Country Tune and Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers so I know if I want to come back to them before starting games from the new bundle.

    Otherwise, all next week I’m going to be in Pittsburgh for work. Do we have any gamelogicians in the area? If so, I’m looking for recommendations on good local beers, places to eat, and anything else worth tracking down. I will be staying near the Convention Center but am willing to explore beyond. Help me, please.

  28. aklab says:

    Started Bastion last night. Wow! 

  29. evanwaters says:

    In CKII I have succesfully established the Norse Empire of Britannia under Emperor Skwizgaar The Great. I’ve actually backtracked once or twice because succession can pop up at really inconvenient times, it’s the sort of game where savescumming is often necessary. But there are only a couple of measly de jure provinces left, though peace treaties make claiming them a long and tedious process. I’m starting to target some of the Norse holy sites now, so I can reform the faith and get rid of some of the penalties there.

    But having gotten to such a dominant position there I’m starting to look at other games- been a while since I visited World of Warcraft, got a lot of alts to check up on there.

    Star Made has one fundamental problem that I’m running into- it’s a game without a lot of safe stopping points. You have to join a faction to actually have safe harbor to dock at, and before that I was shipjacked twice, losing lots of money in the process. And no hearthstones here, you have to manually fly to whatever your safe docking place is, so don’t try straying too far. It’s great if you know you’re not going to have to go anywhere or do anything for a long while, but that makes it pretty casual-unfriendly.

  30. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    I’ve been playing Dead space 3 in short bursts and I’m pretty mad at the internet right now for what they told me this game would be and what it turned out to be. 
    “Ugh,” said the internet, “This game’s not even scary it’s just dumb shooting and stuff.”
    “Cool,” I said,  “That way I can see this game’s wacky Alien-meets-Event-Horizon mythos to the end without having to get stressed out by fear constantly!”

    Wrong!!!  This game is supes’ scary.  It’s fun, but goddammit all your guns use the same ammo and they really don’t give you very much of it, so when you find yourself locked in a snowy, dark supply depot with necro-morphs pouring in and your gun clicks out of ammo, you have to scramble through dead bodies to find something to throw at them but oh you missed and now they’re running and spitting acid and you’re dead.  Beautiful game though.

    Also, I figured out how to jig-up my IP address so I can access British Netflix and finally see the third season of Inbetweeneers and all the doctor Who Xmas specials they haven’t given us over here.  So that’s what I’m doing to keep from soiling myself this weekend.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      My opinion on Dead Space 3 is closer to the internet’s than yours, it seems. At the start, resources are fairly limited (unless you have DLC, I suppose) but eventually I found myself flush with resources and not much to use them on because my build-a-weapons could already tear through anything that bled. Plus, after two games, I think the strings are starting to show; when you can walk into a room and say, “This is an arena, and the enemies will be coming from the vents there, there, and there,” the surprises are wearing thin.

      If you’re having trouble, why not build a shotgun? Military Engine plus Conic Dispersal, if I recall. If you have one of the damage mods that adds fire or electricity, all the better.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         I don’t know if I missed something early in the game but I’ve only had the supplies to build one actual weapon adn it’s a spotty grenade launcher.   Everyother attempt to build anything has ended with a “not-enough-resources message.”  So I’m still using that junky SMG they give you with an attachment on it.

        Honestly, I hate the work-bench because I thought I’d be building wicked awesome guns like everybody says and I just have not had the supplies to do so far and I’m about 34% through.


    I’m not 100% sure of what I’ll be playing this weekend.

    I’ve dipped my toe into A Machine For Pigs- enough to get a few glimpses into the mindset and behaviors that brought the protagonist to that point. I am playing on a five year old Macbook Pro, though, so it lags an awful lot and my shadows are very blue for some reason. I will continue my explorations for as long as my nerves can handle it.

    Quite a few games that I need to finish- Skyrim I can probably pick up and work on a bit. Fallout: NV has gone for so long that I feel tempted to re-start (and because I want to play through the DLC again because I think they’re great). The X-Com project needs me, I dropped Bioshock Infinite mid-way, Farcry 3 kept trying to strong-arm me into advancing the plot by locking off upgrades so I refused to continue. I got that game to mess around and poach tapirs not sit through an amateur production of Heart of Darkness!

    Plenty of tabletop RPG books to go through as well; I picked up Murder in Baldur’s Gate because it’s system neutral and I loved the computer game so much in my youth, so I plan to sit down with that.

    I’ll also continue to fail horribly at Spelunky.

    • djsubversive says:

      Far Cry 2 is Heart of Darkness.

      Fallout: New Vegas does have some great DLC. Dead Money is the best of the four (I know many people would disagree with that, but I enjoy “fuck you, player” games). Honest Hearts has the best non-Holorifle loot, though, in A Light Shining In Darkness and the Survivalist’s Rifle. And the armors.

      • WELCOME_THRILLHO says:

         I’m with you on the DLC. Dead Money is really good- I think I played on that one more than Honest Hearts or Old World Blues. I just loved the feel of pulling off a heist crossed with a survival horror atmosphere- and the fact that the NPC companions all had interesting facets to them.

  32. Fluka says:

    Going to the beaches of my childhood and playing pinball and 10-cent skee-ball.  That Star Trek: TNG pinball machine had better still be there…  Also eating funnel cake.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

       Get ready for those vicious out lanes.

    • TreeRol says:

      My buddy has that machine, but it doesn’t work. And hasn’t worked in the 4 years I’ve known him. It’s just sitting there mocking me. Fortunately his Twilight Zone machine works, but damn. How can he not get ST:TNG repaired?

  33. nich obert says:

    I’m playing Blockheads


  34. WayofThePun says:

    I have been so subsumed with the multiplayer of The Last of Us lately, that I haven’t had time for much else.  It’s incredibly well balanced and satisfying.

    I recently purchased Papers, Please and have been really engrossed in that as well. I’ve played through once, and ended poorly, so I’ve been trying to get the other endings.

    During my commutes, I’ve been getting better at an android game called Cook Serve Delicious which tests your muscle memory skills as you try to piece together increasingly more difficult orders at a virtual restaurant. The game could easily have been terrible, if it weren’t for the humor of the game between days and the satisfaction you get when you complete a long day with a perfect combo.

    • CrabNaga says:

      My first time in Papers, Please also ended pretty badly. I got behind in funds early on, which caused all my family to get sick, so I had to spend tons of money on medicine to have a hope of breaking even. Then I [SPOILER] took the Ezic gift, and ensured my failure.

      I’m on my 2nd try now, and have been keeping ahead in funds very well, and have even been able to buy all the booth upgrades. Unsure if/when I want to finally move into a class 7 apartment (or if there’s even any reason to).

  35. Chalkdust says:

    After a few-week hiatus to do other stuff, returning to Tales of Xillia.  I didn’t realize I was basically two maps away from the endgame when I set it aside originally.  Now it’s time for a dozen hours of sidequests!

    In addition to the usual “hunt down these super-hard monsters for unique weapons” quests, there’s a lot of supplementary story material in these quests, giving all the characters nice personal moments.  One involving a lost love of Rowen (the game’s Wise Old Man archetype) was particularly touching.  Pretty good dub work there, though the dub overall is solid.

    As is the case with Tales games, there are a bazillion obscure little scenes to find, so I’m probably gonna cave and refer to a walkthrough for like only the second time in 50 hours (the first was to make sure I hadn’t missed any of the series’ trademark and damnable missable events… I missed like four! grumble grumble).

    • ocelotfox says:

       The biggest problem with Tales of Xillia is really the story’s pacing.  It vacillates between good forward momentum and bogged down narrative too often to really get you invested.  Though, like most Tales games, the characters are really well developed, unlike most of your traditional JRPG party members (although, Leia is probably the shallowest Tales character to date, not much going on there that hasn’t been done a million times).

  36. Citric says:

    Sale alert! Do you want a console version of Bioshock Infinite? Are you in Canada? It’s $15 in Wal Mart.

    They also have a bunch of other stuff, but I think it varies from store to store. 

  37. beema says:

    I’ve been attempting to slog through my unfinished-games-on-steam list. Most of which were bought in the mindset “this sounded pretty cool, and hey it’s on sale!” and then proceeded to find out I really didn’t like them and they languished for months.

    I finally beat that piece of shit Limbo after owning it for like 2 years. Crossed off an indie horror game (actually that one was free, and I didn’t hate it, just no motivation to play), and now I’m tackling another indie horror game Lone Survivor. Pretty close to the end of it. It’s a nice game in many ways, but it just didn’t hold my interest.

    Up next on the list: I Am Alive, and Quantum Conundrum. Bughhhhhh 

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Yeah, thanks to a spending spree on humble/indie bundles in the last couple of months, I now have a backlog of something like 30 games to get around to, and I am managing about an hour of game time every 3-4 days.  So maybe I’ll finish a few of them by the time I’m 50.

    • CrabNaga says:

      Limbo isn’t perfect, but it’s hardly a bad game. The trial-and-error gameplay is probably not for everyone, but if you consider each unexpected death as less of a punishment and more of a reward/learning tool you can enjoy it a lot more. Some of the puzzles got pretty clever later on, especially the gravity ones.

      • Chalkdust says:

        Yeah, I don’t remember any particular point in Limbo as being cheap, obtuse or unnecessarily difficult.  I even found all the hidden eggs on my own!  But that’s a once-and-you’re-done game if I ever played one, very little reason to revisit it except to relive it.

  38. His_Space_Holiness says:

    Still more New Vegas. I went and took over the Strip from Mr. House, which changed exactly jack shit, so now I’m wandering around and using the Explorer perk to hit up every interesting-sounding point of interest before heading to the dam. After that, DLC time.

    Also, I realize that Vault-Tec was essentially a company built for the explicit purpose of playing cruel, Rod Serling-esque existential pranks on its customers, but goddamn, Vault 11 was fucked up. Fallout’s always had its tongue more or less in cheek, but that was one of the few times when I left a building wondering what the hell was wrong with people in this universe.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      The thing I loved most about New Vegas was that the fucked up shit that you kept seeing never felt exploitative. Also the amount of different, interesting things taking place. It was like walking around in a world full of little (sometimes sci-fi) short stories. The writing was ok, to good, but the way information was given to you was fantastic. 

      Knew it would be a favorite of mine after I stumbled upon Nipton and the lottery story slowly revealed itself, followed almost immediately by the little detective-y quest Boone gives you in that town with the dinosaur. And then the game just kept up with the interesting/horrible things. 

      So fucking good.

    • djsubversive says:

      Vault 11 is basically Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” There’s one thing I wonder about, though: who was the survivor who couldn’t go through with it? No-Bark Noonan is my theory, but there’s no real evidence to back it up.

      Searchlight is a good place to explore. and the Deathclaw Promontory (it’s a ‘hidden’ area on the east bank of the river, a bit north of Cottonwood Cove). Also: Vault 34, Death Wind Cavern, and the Silver Peak Mine. Brooks Tumbleweed Ranch has an amusing encounter with a nightkin.

      DLC-wise, I recommend doing Honest Hearts, then Dead Money, then OWB, and Lonesome Road pretty much right before the Second Battle for Hoover Dam. Honest Hearts can actually fit in anywhere, but the other three have a connected story, sort of (HH mentions it, but it’s not as well-integrated as the other DLCs).

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

         Thanks for the tips! I’ll check those out.

        • djsubversive says:

          if you go looking for the Deathclaw Promontory, bring plenty of ammo and save often. Last time, I think I had about 30 of the fuckers in all, including 2 Mother Deathclaws.

  39. SnugglyCrow says:

    What I’m not playing this weekend: Binding of Isaac.  Finally achieved Dark Boy two days ago ending the worst video game savaging of my life.  But I haven’t downloaded the Wrath of the Lamb expansion yet so I’m basically just taking a week or two off. 

  40. KingGunblader says:

    So much Rayman Legends you guys! I just beat the main game, and now I get to unlock the extra world, play all the Origins levels, plus the challenges, collectibles… It’s just so awesome. I’ll be thinking about it come GOTY-time, that’s for sure.

    • ocelotfox says:

       I managed to hold off for a week or so, but I finally broke down today and picked it up.  And sure enough, 4 hours later, I love this game as much as I did Rayman Origins (my 2011 GOTY).  Michel Ancel and his team have really found the perfect mix of cute, slapstick comedy, amazingly animated scenery, and incredibly well-designed platformer.