Keyboard Geniuses


The Dice Is Right

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • September 6, 2013

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

Honey, Badger Do Care!

This was a monumental week for badgers everywhere. Might And Delight just put out the world’s first badger video game, Shelter. In it, you play as a mama badger protecting her kinfolk, and Derrick Sanskrit appreciated its portrayal of parenthood and the stress of shepherding kids who are about as smart as walking potatoes. CNightWing swooped in to bring us a few Badger Facts™that Shelter may have missed out on:

It’s funny how they picked badgers for this game, since their young don’t leave the cete that early in life, and tend to be quite social animals. I’m curious how they represent the different senses a badger relies on—in particular I see that the night is dark to you, when a badger would probably be using its sense of smell to ensure it stayed away from predators and definitely fires.

There was a good show about badgers (and rabbits, water voles and moles) on the BBC recently: “The Burrowers,” which gave me at least a completely different impression of badgers than this game appears to. They might have done better with rabbits if they wanted flighty youngsters and mama-centric care.

Losing your badger babies to the elements is one of Shelter’s defining crises, and Enkidum shared a scary story about getting separated from his kid:

Five years ago, on Christmas Eve, I realized that I’d only gotten my wife a fairly shitty present. The kids had wanted to get her something as well, and I needed to get some stocking stuffers. This was during a very rare severe winter snowstorm (in Vancouver), with most of the side roads impassable, but nevertheless we took the bus to the big mall about half an hour away and found a couple of nice things. Of course, taking young kids around a frigging mall is frigging awful at the worst of times, and this was the busiest day of the year. The snowstorm was only getting worse outside.

I wanted to get some sort of craft-y things for the kids to make something for her in the evening, so we went into the dollar store. I found a couple of things, and lost my son. Turned around for less than 30 seconds while I was looking for some ribbons, and he was gone. Wasn’t going to panic—this sort of thing happens, he’s usually just found something that attracts his attention and is staring at it round the corner. I went through every aisle in that store a good four or five times, asked the staff, went outside the store and walked by every place we’d been near—no kid. He was just fucking gone.

So I get security to come. They take details. Half an hour later (a good 45 minutes since he went missing) someone announces over the PA that no one listens to that if *** can hear this, can he please come to a customer service desk? Which is I suppose all they can do over the PA, but it felt astoundingly useless—the kid’s five. Even on the off chance he’s listening to the PA, he doesn’t even know what a customer service desk is. And of course, I’m walking around with my 4-year-old daughter, who doesn’t really get what the hell is going on, but she’s beginning to worry about her missing brother too. And it’s a mall, a couple of hours from closing time, on Christmas Eve.

Then I have to do the thing which, honestly speaking, made me feel worse than the kid going missing, which was calling my wife and telling her. She…wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit over this one. She takes the bus over, by the time she arrives it’s been close to two hours since he disappeared. I’m trying to think about suspicious people who might have been around at the time—but it was the frigging dollar store, which is just full of crazy people who obviously want to whisk my children away. My daughter’s hungry, my wife isn’t speaking to me, and I’m in a mall which I hate without our son.

It ends not with a bang but a whimper. After two and a half or three hours, security calls us and they’ve found him downstairs, a good half-kilometer away from where he disappeared, watching Mario Kart games at Toys “R” Us.

What I’m saying here is, never have kids, and if you do, tie the little fuckers to a post until they’re 18.

Phew! Good thing everything turned out okay. Elsewhere, Girard told us why doesn’t yell at his little walking potato friends:

I’ve worked with kids for a long time, and even just walking a line of them down the street—on the sidewalk—is an exercise in knuckle-whitening terror. I almost never yell at my charges. As a result, they know that when Mr. “Girard” is yelling, something super serious has just gone down. One of the only times I’ve yelled at one of my kiddos was during an outdoor walk when one girl, apropos of nothing, broke from the line and dashed into the middle of the street. It was completely arbitrary, no one’s fault (unless you can fault a 4-year-old for having low impulse control or a teacher for taking their kids outdoors), and no one got hurt, but it totally freaked me out.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Avatar
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

A lot of games let you pack in the snacks for a quick health boost, but we put together a list of games that actually show you getting fat (or skinny) in this week’s Inventory. Sly Dante added a bizarre Japanese game to the list:

A damn good list, but it could use some Yume Penguin Monogatari, a Famicom platformer where the goal is to reach a weight goal each level by collecting diet drinks and avoiding foods and attacks that fatten you up.

Basically, it teaches you the valuable lesson of “Lose some weight, fatass, or your girlfriend will ditch your sorry blubber butt.”

Effigy Power let her Sim folks let themselves go:

I’ve had some Sims in both 2 and 3 get pretty damn out of shape. One of my first characters in Sims 3 was a lazy couch potato and shut-in, because I wanted to get to know the game indoors first. She got really big really quick and was the frequently too depressed to work out unless she got a snack from the fridge. It was rather haunting. I managed to get her to finally get into jogging and working out to music and eventually got her down to a manageable weight, but could never get her off the chips.

Still, she became a top scientist. Because everyone can be everything, regardless of aptitude. What a brave new world.

And the comment threads’ resident retro maven Mr. Glitch brought word of a vacuum game that fits the Inventory in a sidelong way:

This may be a stretch, but Clean Sweep for the Vectrex could qualify. You play as a vacuum cleaner sucking up money left behind in a botched bank heist. As you suck up the stolen loot, you grow fatter until you fill up, at which time you have to deposit the money back in the vault at the center of the screen and shrink back down to normal size. As shameless Pac-Man clones go, it’s actually a lot of fun.

Nintendo 2DS

Of all the weird new console tidbits coming in lately, Nintendo really took the cake by announcing the 2DS, a 3DS Game Boy without the 3D. Sam Barsanti brought us that news, and more! in The Bulletin. In response, Grovberg formulated a cheeky theory to explain Nintendo’s line of thinking:

Summary of original 3DS coverage: “The 3DS is great, but the 3D is a gimmick no one wants. I turn it off at every opportunity.”

Summary of 2DS coverage: “What the hell is Nintendo thinking by removing the 3D? Only a fool would buy it!”

I’m starting to think the whole device is just a viral marketing plan to trick people into loving 3D.

Killer Is What?
Killer Is Dead

Anthony John Agnello checked out the latest Goichi Suda joint, Killer Is Dead. Suda is well known for his stylized and broadly satirical games, but Anthony couldn’t figure out what Killer is trying to say—if anything. In the conversation that ensued, Naked Snake offered one definition of satire:

In my opinion, the best satire must function on two levels. It must first stand on its own as a representation of the genre it is satirizing. Only then can it insert subversive messaging. Good satire should, I think, always be something people can mistake for the real thing. I hate it when satirists think they can skip straight to the part where they make fun of the thing they are critiquing without worrying about the underlying art/media. It has to be fun/interesting first. Otherwise, it’s just “college” satire.

Fan-Fiction Theater
Rayman Legends

With his take on Rayman Legends, Anthony John Agnello filed his second review of the week. The Misanthrope took note of Anthony’s prolific output and brought us a bit of speculative Gameological fan fiction:

Three games reviews in two days? Did Teti dole out some kind of “What I played over Labor Day weekend” assignment?

Agnello stands in front of class with a sheet of paper in his hands. Reading from the sheet, he begins in a stilted monotone: “The game I played over Labor Day weekend is called Rayman Legends. It is about this weird-looking guy with no arms or legs that can still walk and punch things. I think his name is Rayman because that’s the name of the game. He runs and jumps around mostly but sometime he hits monsters. Other times, he has to beat really big monsters that are trying to eat him. I would say what I liked most about this game is that it had very funny drawings that made me laugh. I really enjoyed this game even though my younger brother kept hitting me. The end.”

Daydreams aside, Anthony was impressed by the game but a little let down by its reliance on the inventiveness of its predecessor. As was Crab Naga, who reflected on the issues sequels face:

Legends definitely loses some of the magic that Origins had, but that’s inevitable. I feel like that loss of magic happens for practically every single big sequel. You often get a bunch more polish, but that polish counter-intuitively removes that magic coating.

See: Mass Effect 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Metal Gear Solid 2, etc.

I feel like all of these games have much more realized and refined gameplay, but I also feel like these games also lose a lot of the rough edges that made the great segments stand out. It seems that, for example, replacing Mako segments with another shooting segment is more fun by default, but I can remember practically every individual firefight in the original Mass Effect, and almost all of Mass Effect 2 is a blur to me. Whereas for Legends, it seems like the “Mako segments” removed were the Mosquito shmup levels, the Tricky Treasure levels, and practically any level that doesn’t have you moving forward at a breakneck pace all the time.

Gameological Puzzle Challenge
Weird dice

Hey, you, hotshot Sherlock freakin’ Holmes over there. Gameological’s got a mystery that needs solving, and at the time of this writing, we still need your help. John Teti brought me a mysterious grab bag from Chicago’s premier odds-’n’-ends emporium, Uncle Fun, and we found these odd-looking dice. Oh, wait, hold on. I’m just getting word that Spacemonkey Mafia cracked the case. Great job, Spacemonkey. You’re a gumshoe through and through:

Well, here’s the issue. They’re not dice at all.

Spacemonkey's strange dice creature

Oh god, and I touched those with my bare hands. Well, folks, that’s it. Thanks everybody for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

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95 Responses to “The Dice Is Right”

  1. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

       Exempting my own testicular fossil, This is a very satisfying collection of comments.  I’m going back and liking all of ’em that I haven’t already.

    Weekend Prompt!
       I’m already imbued with a certain amount of guilt for playing video games.  It’s one of my neuroses hard-wired by my Teutonic, god-fearing genetics.  Why am I wasting time with this virtual geegaw when I should be working on my craft, cleaning the baseboards or digging a neat grave for myself so upon my inevitable death, my family can just roll my body in and I won’t have to be a bother?
       But even so, not all time-wasting is equal.  There are many degrees.

       What is the most amount of time you have spent with the game that least deserved it? 

    • PaganPoet says:

      Candy Crush. For sure. It’s all good fun for the first few levels, but then it takes a devious turn when every single level is 100% about luck and tempting you to buy powerups and extra moves. 

      I completely recognize this fact, and yet I haven’t deleted it.

    • PugsMalone says:

      Two games that I’ve played way more than they deserve are Hatris and Mario Superstar Baseball. They’re not really horrible, but they just didn’t warrant as much time as I sunk into them.

    • neodocT says:

       Candy box…

      ::hangs head in shame::

      I also spent an inordinate amount of time playing phone tetris and phone sudoku some four or five years ago, but I’d argue that those titles deserved it.

    • rvb1023 says:

       Final Fantasy XIII. 140 some hours. That platinum was really bad.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        God help you, what was the platinum for XIII?

        • rvb1023 says:

           The main hard part was 5-starring all the bonus hunts though this part was actually the best part of the game.

          The not all that hard but mostly tedious part was grinding for money to upgrade all the weapons. You needed six trapezohedrons for the final evolution and a shitzillion Platinum Ingots for mats to upgrade them to that point since it was the only source of good money. Ingots dropped off only one type of enemy, the Adamantoise, a stupid giant turtle you likely got your ass handed to you by the first time you show up on Gran Pulse. Fighting these guys normally took 10-20 minutes depending on gear and timing so there were a few ways to get it done in about a minute.

          My poison was the Vanille Death trick. Adamantoise was oddly not immune to the death effect from Vanille’s ultimate and death had a 1% success rate, increased by one for each debuff (out of 6) on the enemy, so the normal battle would start by summoning her Eidolen and using it’s ultimate to immediately bring the thing down to its knees so it couldn’t 2 shot you while spammed every debuff and then death. If it didn’t work and he stood back up, just restart the battle to preserve your TP, since it costs 3 to summon and you max at 5.

          If it did work, you had a 1% chance of a Platinum Ingot dropping multiplied by 5 if you managed to 5 star the fight (Which you always did with this trick). Then you had to grind your TP back to at least three and then you could attempt again. Wash rinse and repeat for several dozen ingots.

          My only defense is I became so good at it I just would do it while watching Netflix on my computer, so I at least accomplished something in my life. Being a Final Fantasy fan really proves how much of an idiot I am sometimes.

      • MintBerry_Crunch says:

        It’s okay. We’re all damaged people here. 

      • Carlton_Hungus says:

        Congrats, I never had it in me.  The platinum for XIII-2 was much easier.

        • rvb1023 says:

           XIII-2 was a walk in the part by comparison. XIII took me over a year to do. XIII-2 I was done a week later. I suppose Lightning Returns won’t be that hard either.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        Grinding the fucking turtle. 

      • dreadguacamole says:

        Hat’s off to you! I remember I played an optional battle in 12 that lasted more than forty minutes, asked myself “what the fuck am I doing?”, and never touched the game again. I understand some of the other battles can take a lot longer…

        • rvb1023 says:

           XII’s combat was such a bore to me that I honestly didn’t have it in me to beat it. I heard the Yiazmat fight is something else though, that it’s so long it actually has a save point in it.

          XII should have been a much better game but the combat was so dull.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      I’m tempted to say Candy Box, which made quite a stir a short while back, but I don’t recall spending all that much time on the game itself. It’s all made in JavaScript, meaning you can actually go in and mess with the code yourself, so once I grew disinterested I started messing around (and cheating like the dickens).

      Instead, I’ll take a different tack and say achievements in general. I think they’re a double-edged sword; they encourage me to play more of a single game, but just as often they work against me, and it takes longer to earn them than it stays interesting.

      • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

        I finally about six months ago started playing games completely ignorant to what the achievements are and have been having more fun. If I like the game a lot then after I finish I might still try for some more achievements, but I don’t think I’ll be as obsessive about it. 100 percenting Castlevania LoS, the Darkness 2 and a few other games were incredibly time consuming and frustrating at times. I’m one achievement away from being done with Skyrim and I have to grind to level up to get it. I think this and using walkthroughs to find collectibles I hate in games I’m not all that into were the reason I finally made a conscious effort to stop caring about achievements.

      • huge_jacked_man says:

        The only achievements I appreciate are the ones that reward a true challenge (SS+ achievement in Dustforce, Trial Athlete in Super Street Fighter 4) or creative enough to add a fun/interesting challenge to normal play (Foxiest of Hounds in DX:HR, Little Rocket Man in Half Life 2 Ep. 2).

        I don’t like patronizing achievements handed out like cookies for finishing the tutorial or even for beating the game on normal difficulty, or those that reward boring collectathon crap. This said it is pretty interesting to look at Steam global achievement stats for games that feature them as it tells you what % of people who bought the game actually beat it, there’s so many games where 25% of users never even finished the tutorial. 

    • caspiancomic says:

       Ha! I’m kind of familiar with the occasional bit of self-flagellation that comes with a fondness for videogames. Not long ago my sister and I were discussing some child actor or another who had vanished off the planet after performing a few roles, and she informed me that apparently he “writes about videogames” now. For some reason, my first thought was “ha! what a loser!” Then I sort of had to spend a little bit of time thinking about my life.

      My answer for the prompt would probably be… hmm, Beyond the Beyond maybe? It was apparently the first true JRPG on the original Playstation, but has almost no legacy and has left basically no impact on the history of the genre due to the fact that it’s a boring grindy cliched waste of time. That said, back when I played it my tastes weren’t yet fully matured, so I actually rented it twice, and spent two separate weekends getting something like ten hours into its extremely non-memorable plot. Considering how much of it I played, I remember almost nothing about it. When I gave up, I was in some kind of tree themed dungeon. I tried reading a Let’s Play of the game not long ago, but a) even reading the LP didn’t jog my memory of the game, that’s how much I’d forgotten it, and b) even just reading the LP was intolerably dull.

      • Jackbert says:

        I find Let’s Play’s in general are intolerably dull.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I will watch a perfect run of a platformer like Mario 3 for fun. That’s it.

        • Jackbert says:

          @drflimflam:disqus : I suppose I’ll do that if there’s no talking over it.

        • huge_jacked_man says:

          I watched 2 LP’s in my life, one was Rain which was indistinguishable from actually playing it and the other one I enjoyed a lot was Naka Teleeli’s Persona 4 LP.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Writing about video games without the benefit of having ever been in Partridge Family meets the Bad News Bears?  That’s low, Casp.

      • Citric says:

        I got up to a point where a character got cursed and thus most of the things he did would not work.

        I then said “nope!” and that attempt at Beyond the Beyond was Beyond hope.

        Wasn’t it the first game with the weird Camelot spasms that also affect characters in Mario Golf for one of the portables and Golden Sun?

    • Jackbert says:

      When I was little, I had a DS and a paltry collection of very inexpensive licensed games. The worst of the bunch was Superman Returns. I’ve always loved Superman, so I played it a lot, but, after revisiting many of my old DS games recently, I can easily say it was the worst out of all those bad games.

      • PaganPoet says:

        “When I was little, I had a DS…”

        The DS came out when I was 20. Oldie Hawn over here.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I grew up playing Tiger Electronic Baseball. Kids these days have it so awesome.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @drflimflam:disqus My big handheld as a kid was Snoopy Tennis. Beat that, you allegedly old person!

          My high score on this game was somewhere in the mid-3000s, as I recall. It gets pretty crazy at that point. Lucy is after you all the frickin’ time.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      I have a very low tolerance for bad games, especially when I have a large backlog to clear. However, the Taito version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for NES really got its hooks in me one weekend. It’s a very short platformer that can theoretically be beaten in about twenty minutes. The annoying thing, though, is that the very end of the game forces you to select the correct grail out of about 20 virtually identical possibilities. You get a sketch of the Grail in the second level, so you aren’t choosing completely blind. You only get one chance, or else it’s game over. I chose… poorly, again and again.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      I once applied for a job working on an existing Facebook game, so to prepare I played a lot of it even though it wasn’t all that great. And I didn’t get the job anyway, so there was absolutely no point to it. I can’t even remember what it was called. To this day I almost never play Facebook games at all.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      As a pitifully desperate achievement whore, there are plenty of games I’ve stuck with and played all the way through despite hating them, but I inexplicably played the first Modern Warfare (see, I loathed CoD before it was cool) a second time on max difficulty to clean up.  I have 920/1000 points for that game, and I don’t recall enjoying any of it.

      • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

        The only way I can even play Call of Duty games is if I have a friend there to pass the controller to when I get bored or frustrated. If I try to play them on my own they don’t keep my interest for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

      • huge_jacked_man says:

        CoD4 is the only game I go 1000/1000 for and I didn’t even like it. Veteran difficulty was like a study on how not to make higher difficulties.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Either Mafia Wars, Cafe World or Farmville.

      Back in 2009 I got permission from my wife to quit my full-time job and take a shot at being a freelance artist.  (I had tried to find another job for months, but was having no luck, and was literally going mad with how much I hated the company I worked for.)  She got me quite a few clients from her coworkers, who were impressed enough with my pastel drawings to hire me to do pastel portraits of pets and people.

      Most of my pet portraits were really well done, and I was as happy with them as the customers were.  But the requests for people were based on a single portrait of Johnny Depp I’d done, copied from a photo from, at a very large scale (18 x 24).  The people wanted much smaller portraits done, as my price for larger work was more than they wanted to pay.  I did a couple that the recipients were happy with, but I was never satisfied with them.

      As I got increasingly frustrated with my people drawing skills, I started to spend more and more of each day on Facebook games, including the three from Zynga mentioned above.  “Oh, I have to stop working so I can re-plant my strawberries every ten minutes!”  “Oh good, I have enough energy to run some more Mafia missions.”  “Crap, my food spoiled, gotta start over!”  Before I knew it, I’d been sitting at my desk for EIGHT HOURS clicking on stupid shit that barely qualified as a game.  I did this for a couple of months before quitting all of the games at once.

      I spent so much time on those shitty games that I had to rush one family portrait job and did an even worse job on it than usual.  The customer hated it and sent it back, I tried to redo it in a larger size, but never finished it.  I was so frustrated that I quit drawing people at that point.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I had no idea you were an artist, Aurora.  I guess unlike some of us, you’re better than trying to draw attention to yourself with ridiculous doodles of fantastical genitalia.
           Do you have an online portfolio you either can or are willing to link to?

           Also, good story.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          I have a few of my pieces here, including the aforementioned Depp portrait:

          I forgot about my Eccleston pic, that one turned out halfway decent as well.  But my favorites are the portrait of my cockatiel and the orangutan.

          I haven’t drawn anything new in pastel in almost three years now.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

             You render a kick-ass orangutan.  Nice work.

        • stakkalee says:

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus That’s some beautiful work man.  That tiger is gorgeous.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Thanks!  I stopped drawing because I got discouraged.  Most of my artwork is just copies of photos, taken by myself or others, and I felt like it wasn’t really original enough.  And I wasn’t drawing what I really wanted, which is more fantasy or sci-fi
          oriented stuff, but every time I tried I would get a creative block – either out of fear of not doing it well enough, or not being able to come up with something I wanted to draw.  (The aforementioned difficulty with drawing people is a big part of that.  I have all of these books on drawing figures, faces and hands, but get angry at myself when trying to practice them.)

          I was really proud of my Gates of Ironforge line drawing, because that was done in perspective and from the reference of the game itself rather than copying another picture of it.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus   I’d hate for you to stop making art.  You’re too talented to let it just go dormant.
             I think of a quote from cartoonist Lynda Barry, concerning when making art stopped being a source of pleasure for her:  “I’m not sure when these questions [Is this good? Does this suck?] became the only two questions about my work, or when making pictures and stories turned into something I called ‘my work’– I just know I’d stopped enjoying it and instead began to dread it”.
             I recommend you check out her book 100 Demons, she’s a super great and insightful cartoonist.
             And speaking as one who was also paralyzed by fear of fucking up and subsequently, never completed anything.  I was saved by going digital.  While the start up costs can be exorbitant  Photoshop and a Wacom tablet gives you the freedom to fuck around with zero consequences and really explore ideas.
            Keep drawing.  Not enough people do and your kid will love you for it.  Eventually, I assume.  Mine still doesn’t care.

    • stakkalee says:

      Great, your “Like”ing everything probably just threw my numbers all to hell!  rassa-frassing, no good, grumblebum, OOOH!

      Now, this isn’t a judgement on the actual “worth” of this game, but Red Dead: Redemption was Not For Me.  Everyone I talked to about the game loved it, sang its hosannas, offered to have it’s babies, etc., and as a result I kept trying to get into it, long past the point when I would have given up on any other game.  I kept thinking “It must be me.  When did I stop liking quality things?  What’s wrong with me?” and beating myself up over my lack of taste.  Once I finally accepted that I found the game boring, and that was OK, I put it back in the DVD case and promptly forgot about it.

    • MintBerry_Crunch says:

      Assassin’s Creed III. I finished it. I don’t kill people in my spare time, so I might be something entirely worse after having finished that commercial entertainment product

      I only did it because I have an unnatural adoration for spectacularly animated games. There’s just something mesmerizing about human (-oid) motion that is so pleasing to my eye when its done so technically well. And the recreated colonies—the people with their adorable outfits and hats and little routines.

      But holy hell, that game was mangled after being passed through so many hands and focus groups. All Connor enjoys, it seems, is diving from atop of weathervanes to catch feathers, almanacs, or kill two of every thing with the press of a button. (And let’s not forget how Connor gives thanks for the animals he kills, BEFORE HAVING THE GAME COMMAND: “PERFORM DOUBLE AIR ASSASSINATION ON BEAVERS”. WHAT. THE. ****?)

      Oh, and not being dressed as a British soldier makes you super-totally unambiguously innocent, so don’t kill anything else but those men in uniform. (This is when I experimented choking people out and flinging them from atop of crates, or off a pier. GUESS THOSE COLONIALS HAD GILLS BACK THEN, HUH GAME?) 

      I could go on. And I’m very sorry for that. 

    • Cloks says:

      Half Life 2 Deathmatch. There’s nothing special or redeemable about it, it’s just some of the maps from Half Life with multi-player enabled and most of the weapons from the game available to dick around with. I’ve spent most likely seventy hours in this game because it used to be the only multi-player game that my friend and I owned (before we bought TF2 way back in 2008) and we wanted to play games together. Some of my fondest memories of it are just shooting each other up with a variety of crazy weapons, playing catch with the grav-gun and frequently dying due to filing cabinets landing on ourselves and playing through the weird maps that the game’s large Russian user-base created. 

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       I don’t know about “wasting time.”; Everyone “not busy being born is busy dying.”  Anytime someone complains that I’m wasting my time on something, my standard retort is usually along the lines of “Well, unless you’re curing cancer or solving the crisis of world hunger, you’re probably wasting time, too.”  It always bothers me when people rank their time-wasting activity (say, sports or other outdoorsy activity) above the ones I tend to prefer (reading, games, movies, etc.).  I get along with Mother Nature just fine, but it’s seasonal allergy season, so our relationship is on a bit of a “break” at the moment.

      That said, I do piss a lot of time away on inconsequential little freebie games, because some facet or another of it–a puzzle or a goal that I am close to attaining–obsesses me so much that I can’t go to sleep.  One good example of this is the perfectly average Virtual Villagers series.  My laptop came pre-installed with the extorty little arcade thing that lets you play games for a span of time by buying these virtual coins.  However, all the games on there also have some come with a small allotment of trial coins, which I abuse the hell out of.  The game itself is  like Little Computer People, but with RPG-ish elements and a hidden-object game.  The virtual villagers will continue to grow and prosper in real-time, even after you quit.  However, they don’t necessarily take the best courses of action if left to their own devices, so whenever I quit the game and try to do something else, I am wracked with anxiety that the hapless fools are letting their food supply run out or allowing the fire to go out.  Even better, I have no intention of actually buying this game or buying coins to continue playing it longer than the trial amount, so eventually the game kicks me out and the villagers become just more lost data.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        People say things like, “will you wish you had played more video games on your death bed?” I don’t know, but I feel fairly certain I won’t care one way or the other after that bed is vacant. I’m just here to have some fun before its over.

    • Girard says:

      Probably any number of RPGs. The most recent that stand out in my mind are The Last Story – which seemed specially designed so that every aesthetic and ludic aspect would seem stupid and irritating to me, yet I played through all 80 or whatever hours of it – and the Mass Effect Trilogy – which I’ve already spent plenty of comments picking apart. Mass Effect wasn’t horrible (well, it was kind of horrible…), but it certainly wasn’t good enough to merit me contributing 90 hours of my precious life on Earth to…

    • Enkidum says:

      I can’t remember what the game is called, but I’m pretty sure it was a Sawbuck Gamer that I heard about it from (FUCK YOU GAMEOLOGICAL SOCIETY!!!). It’s a defend-your-castle-from-waves-of-invaders for iOS, you have a crossbow and some automatic magic shooty orb thing and you have 3 magic bombs you can press. Then you get gold for each animal you kill, and you go through level after level after level.

      There’s also a PvP mode which is actually kind of cool – you’re not fighting the other player, but just playing against exactly the same opponents, and whoever lasts longer wins.

      Anyways it’s a F2P and you upgrade everything with your gold, but after a while you realize that there is really no difference between levels 100 and 400. And I think I got to about 400, which probably represents, oh, I dunno, 40 hours or something ridiculous, before I uninstalled that.

      I was especially annoyed after I realized that some of the achievements were deliberately designed to waste your time investment – you get an achievement for basically spending a bunch of gold to survive longer in a particular game, which means you’re reducing your ability to advance, which just felt kinda slimy.

    • Citric says:

      I finished the SNES JRPG Magic Knight Rayearth.

      It is awful in every meaningful way.

      But I finished it.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Retro games can certainly been ungrateful timesinks. I’m pretty sure that the time I spent beating Adventure Island 2 and the Death and Return of Superman were worse than wasted.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      We are big into Skylanders here, so I played the tap tap wait game tied to it, Skylanders Lost Islands, for months. Even spent $3-4 dollars on fake moneys. And then the game reset on me out of the blue. And then it saved the reset to the cloud. And I was FREE.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      A wicked Android game called “Subway Surf”. It’s basically Temple Run but easier and I have unlocked every character, which is depressing on a lot of levels once you find out how long that takes.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      My one and only excursion into World of Warcraft was an eight hour binge where I accomplished next to nothing. I definitely see why people get so into that game, but I for one will never play it again. If I want to sink ridiculous amounts of time into a game I’ll stick to Bethesda games.

      I also for some reason played Mafia Wars and some ninja game on Facebook for months at one point. That’s definitely time I wish I could get back.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        My final run in WoW was earlier this year, while grinding to 90 actually caused me wrist and hand problems because my job also involves lots of typing. After that I decided that MMOs just aren’t worth it.

    • Matt Koester says:

      My friends and I have played through the N64 port of Cruis’n USA countless times now, and it’s worse with each playthrough. The whole game’s complete lack of basic geography knowledge (Mt. Rushmore shows up in an Arizona level), use of scantily clad bitmap women (given shirts on the nintendo port), and the AI’s tendency to pile up into massive traffic jams make for a fun, if completely stupid waste of time.

    • fieldafar says:

      Hmm… probably Tetris Blitz. 

    • dreadguacamole says:

      A great number of shoddy console titles I got because I had nothing better to get on my rental service. I’ll play them when I have one of my bouts of insomnia.
       They all kind of blur together into a forgettable morass of mediocrity, but it’d include things like Matt Hazard, Anarchy Reigns, Dead Island, countless shoddy PS RPGs (Air Tonelico – Ugh!) That sort of thing.

       A more specific answer… probably the last few Assassin’s Creed games – a series that lost charm and gained bloat with each installment after 2 (I did enjoy Brotherhood, but I didn’t even try to get everything on it – that’s rare for me, since I’m kind of a completionist. It only got worse from there.)

    • huge_jacked_man says:

      If I start a game that enjoys a certain amount of popularity I feel obligated to finish it. Games like Oblivion. I spent 60 hours bored out of my mind trying to figure out what it is people loved so much about it and its idiotic level scaling. Assassin’s Creed seemed also to go out of its way to be as soul-crushingly boring as possible.
      At the moment I’m going through my Steam backlog of open-world games. I beat GTA: Episodes From Liberty City this week and it was alright I guess but now I am slogging through the unmitigated disaster that is L.A. Noire.

    • Boko_Fittleworth says:

      For just a moment it occurred to say “grad school.” I mean, I love it and all but getting all the achievements is a real pain in the neck.

  2. Jackbert says:

    Too bad I missed that parenting thread. I’ll share my most harrowing experiences with children here. I work at a science museum. My job is split into two parts. In class, I assist the teachers in, well, teaching the children science. Outside of class are the breaks. Kids get three a day, snack in the morning, lunch, and snack in the afternoon. During breaks, the other counselors and I supervise the kids; engage them in activities, break up conflicts, etcetera. 

    One day, during lunch break, I was supervising the 4-Square game, which is by far the most popular, and therefore most volatile, activity. The other consolers are doing who knows what.

    Around three-quarters of the way through lunch, some children run up to another counselor, saying that a kid is digging by the bushes. (Our number one rule? Don’t go in the bushes.) Said counselor goes to investigate. Right after he reaches the bushes, he turns around and sprints back. At this point, I’ve left the 4-Square game to stand with the other counselors. He tells us some kid has somehow dug a hole under the fence. We all go over and see that he’s wriggled under and is running down the hill towards the river.

    Suddenly, everyone votes me as the fastest and I’m assigned to run after him. The hole could only fit the six year-old that dug it, so I have to run down the area where the kids play to the gate, run back up on the other side of the hill, and run down the hill. Fortunately, since the kid is six, he doesn’t get too close to the river before I catch him. Catching him was easy compared to carrying his wriggling self back up the hill.

    The moral of this story is kids are awful little shits until they’re eight.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Why, do they hit a growth spurt around eight?


    • ProfFarnsworth says:

      That one is great.  My most harrowing story is probably a bit too harrowing to share at the moment.  I will probably need a few years for it to become a “laughable” event for me.  In the mean time I can give a good lesson with it.  Expect the unexpected!  Even when you think that you are through the woods, you aren’t even close yet!

      • Enkidum says:

        Yeah, there’s stories involving me and my kids that I’m not really comfortable sharing, because they reveal that I’m kind of a selfish dick sometimes. And I want to keep the illusion that I’m this cool progressive person.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I think most parents are harder on themselves than any outside person could be. Which is at it should be, probably, but just the same.

        • aklab says:

          I hear you. I am/can be the worst. 

          (although FYI your avatar appears to be a baby holding a bottle of wine)

    • aklab says:

      Are we doing harrowing-kid-stories? Awesome! I harrow kids daily. Most recently, last Christmas Eve, my son tried to zipline down a wall-mounted clothesline. The wall mount popped off the wall and hit him in the back of the head with such force that I found plastic clothesline-mount shards 10+ feet away in every direction. And then he fell the 4 feet or so from the clothesline to the brick patio.

      He had to get 7 or so big metal staples in his head, which he thought was the coolest thing ever. When he got them taken out he asked the doctor if he could keep them for “next time.” *shudder*

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

           Boys are such undiluted agents of chaos, I just can’t believe it.  Wrangling those little engines of destruction into human form is no small feat. 

        • aklab says:

          You are so right. It is really something to behold. I had to read your description aloud to Mrs. Aklab!
          Incidentally this same boy has had lived through quite a few early traumas, including but not limited to dying for a few minutes after birth (He had an Apgar of 0!), but his ridiculous surfeit of raw lifeforce should see him through a few more centuries. I’m preeeetty sure he is some kind of invincible superhuman. 

      • Jackbert says:

        One time, also around Christmas time (December 30.), my at the time two year-old brother slipped on a plastic Fisher-Price horse and gouged himself less than a centimeter from his eye. He still has the scar. Less than a centimeter from his eye.

        He freaked out at first, calmed down when I let him play with this toy bicycle I never let him play with, freaked out again when they tied him into a papoose to stitch him up, and finally calmed down and fell asleep when he got the bicycle back.

        • Enkidum says:

          I have an inch and a half long scar, running down the side of my wrist, obtained from putting my hand through a window (it was lying flat on the ground, I was jumping off a roof, long story). Inch further to the left, and I would probably have bled to death.

      • Enkidum says:

        Reply to your comment above: no, it’s not a bottle of wine. What kind of parent do you think I am?

        It’s scotch.

    • Girard says:

      Funny, I find kids start to turn into horrible little shits at about eight, crescendoing at about 12 or 13, before turning into something resembling a reasonable human being…

  3. stakkalee says:

    Edit: Stupid double-post. Stupid Disqus. Stupid bold tags.

  4. stakkalee says:

    Another week of successfully avoiding my obligations, whew!  The most-commented article this week was, of course, the WAYPTW thread with 229 comments, more than doubling our runner-up, The Bulletin, which only had 105 comments.  And now the Top 5 Most-Liked (non-KG) Comments:
    1) With 16 likes Andy Tuttle (@facebook-100000164287028:disqus) give us the pun we deserve.
    2) Tied for second with 12 likes each, @Citric:disqus has no walkthrough to help him with this problem and @PatagonianHorseSnake:disqus has some game ideas.
    3) We also have a tie for third!  With 11 likes apiece @Sam_Barsanti:disqus pitches a new feature and @Fluka:disqus has that “possessed hands” disease.
    We’re welcoming 2 new members to the Plaid Jacket Society today, @SlyDante:disqus and @Grovberg:disqus!  Welcome aboard!  We hope you folks stick around for a long while!  And now for our returning members: @CrabNaga:disqus is getting a second stud for their third selection!  @CNightwing:disqus gets a fourth stud, @NakedSnake:disqus gets his sixth, @Enkidum:disqus gets a seventh, @The_Misanthrope:disqus is at nine, @Mr_Glitch:disqus gets his tenth stud, and our top 3 commenters each get a stud, meaning that nothing meaningful has actually happened.  @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus is getting his 26th stud, @Effigy_Power:disqus gets her 28th, and @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus is getting his thirtieth stud! How soon until his stud-count outstrips his age?
    And now, Linkdump: Art Edition!  The Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn is having a Nintendo-themed art show this weekend; if you’re in the neighborhood, maybe check it out.  And here is artist Mike V.’s take on the Disney princesses as Capcom fighting characters.  That’s it for this week!  Enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • Girard says:

      “How soon until his stud-count outstrips his age?”
      It just did. Until October, at least…

      • caspiancomic says:

         @paraclete_pizza:disqus has been averaging 1 stud per year throughout the course of his life. Impressive feat since the site’s only been up for about 18 months.

    • Citric says:

      At least my potentially super awkward weekend has netted me likes, the most important currency of all.

    • Sam_Barsanti says:

      The Bulletin got ONLY 105? He now, that’s loads of comments and I bet all of them were great!

    • Matt Kodner says:

      Ooh, Stakka I’ll have to check out that gallery tonight. It’s literally STEPS away from a venue where my friends are playing a show tonight. 

      I’ll report back!

  5. Xyvir says:

    Very good comments this week, I loved the comment cat. Makes me realize I need to start commenting here more again, I’ve only ever got that one comment cat mention. : (

    Anyway, I finished something video-gamey-esque that I’m proud of and therefore I think merits a brief mention here. I’m working on a NES-RPG-inspired battle card-and-dice game called dvp. And, a while ago I heard about a board game called ‘Escape: Curse of the Temple’ that has an official soundtrack. Being extremely jealous I didn’t come up with the idea of making a /soundtrack/ for a board game, I replicated the idea and made a soundtrack for dvp. It’s all chiptuney and stuff what-seeing-as the game is inspired by the NES. Here is a link to the FREE soundtrack:
    dvp ep

    • signsofrain says:

      Clearly I need to spend more of my employment hours here, and up my commenting game in general. I got lazy when Teti called me his hero after my first ever post on AV Club…

    • Destroy Him My Robots says:

      Hey, nice job there. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you working with? Peach and Triforce?

      • Xyvir says:

        I don’t mind you asking. I used OpenMPT for the tracking, and for the all the instruments I actually just used a handful of samples I found from a few other tracker files, not sure exactly where I got them. If you’d like I can send you a copy of the raw samples, or even a template in the tracker file of your choice (.it, .mod, .mpt, etc)

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          Thanks for the reply! Oh man, trackers are great and thanks for the offer, but I’ve switched to time-based sequencers some time ago, and with it largely to synths (except for ridiculous 4GB-for-one-instrument soundbanks and straight loops for choppin’).

  6. HobbesMkii says:

    How long ago was this written? We’ve solved the Dice conundrum!

    • Girard says:

      The real solution was not as worthy of comment cat accolades as the goofy shit, obviously. Dude. This is GS. Get with the program. The goofy shit program!