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.
Just in time for Halloween, Matt Gerardi brought us some vital Walking Dead-related news. The second season of Telltale’s video game adaptation will star Clementine, an adorable little girl left orphaned in a world of zombies, bad people, and unfair quicktime events. Roswulf was excited about the possible new directions this different, littler perspective could bring to the game:
Choosing Clem as the new player character could push the Telltale folks to explore narratives from a different perspective. Player avatars are so often given charisma and superpowers and treated as the natural leaders of their groups. That’s not going to work with 8-year-old Clementine, and I’ll be fascinated to see how The Walking Dead works when your companions aren’t as likely to be swayed to adopt the player’s plans. There’s a whole new level of powerlessness to be explored, and I’m hopeful Telltale can do some wonderfully inventive things with it.
Season Two could very well be a great control-a-small-child game, but Aurora Boreanaz reminded us of a bad one:
The Adventures Of Willy Beamish was a really shitty example of “play as an actual kid.” When your parents were around, if you didn’t respond to their commands fast enough, they would get mad at you and send you to military school. This resulted in me losing the game no less than three times before I even finished the intro.
Gameological Goes German (Kind Of)
In the comments on last week’s Keyboard Geniuses, Cnightwing told us they were at something called “Internationale Spieltage Essen Spiel,” which is apparently a giant German board game convention. It turns out Cnightwing was there to compete as an underprepared member of the Swiss national team in the board game tournament. Huzzah! ‘Wing brought us a full report on the tourney:
As our scores were being tallied after the first round of the Europe Masters tournament, it became quite clear that, much like Carnegie Hall, the only way to get to the top of this tournament was practice. As a brave (adopted) Swiss team member, the tournament was a great excuse to go to Essen Spiel for the first time, and it was well worth the trip. Competition aside, there’s something about a gathering of like-minded people to make you appreciate humanity again, at least until you try to take the Deutsche Bahn to get home before midnight.
The Europe Masters has been running for years, with the majority of teams and winners coming from Germany, but I had never heard of it. Switzerland had not sent a team for a few years, so it really was as simple as asking them if we could get a place, whereas those German teams had to go through what I can only assume were Glee-style regional qualifiers and then a national competition. It was no wonder that this year they triumphed again. A team from Hamburg took the top spot, and one of their members had the best individual score. The nicest thing about the contest from our perspective was that for the 75 euro entrance fee, we got sent practice copies of this year’s four games to add to our nascent games club’s collection, and we got to take away a second copy of each game for ourselves after the day itself. Now, if we’d only had more time to use those practice copies, it might have been a little less embarrassing.
How’s that for a cliffhanger! There’s lots more to the story, which you can read over at the original comment. Cnightwing also dropped by the comments of this week’s Decadent column to leave us with impressions of the non-tournament scene at the convention:
First of all, it’s important to understand just how busy Spiel Essen is. Hotels near the convention centre booked up about a month in advance. Thankfully, the city has pretty good transportation, so you can stay just about anywhere for a reasonable price. There are a lot of people that attend, and you will often move through the corridors between stands at a snail’s pace. In general though, the crowds are quite diverse—lots of families, a range of ages and nationalities, and everyone’s very friendly. Whatever hotel or restaurant you end up in in the evening, you’ll find people with games. I found it was a great way to check out things you didn’t have time to see, or to read through some rules if you were curious about the mechanics of a particular game.
The fair is split roughly into three sections. The largest hall contains mostly publishers, who will sell you everything they can at a relatively good discount—even for new games you’ll get about 10% off the planned retail price. The next largest has smaller publishers and a lot of sellers—not just of current games but quite a few with old stock or second-hand games. If you ever wanted the original Game Of Life or some once-printed expansion, you’ll find it. I did find it hard to get English copies of language-dependent games, though. Finally the third hall is in conjunction with a comics convention and contains a vast array of more typical geek fare such as LARP gear, costumery, a wonderful British ale and mead stand, role-playing games, miniatures and so on.
It was a totally awesome experience—but do set yourself a games budget and stick to it or it’ll add up quickly!
Sounds fun! Again, this is an excerpt from Cnightwing’s extensive report. You can read the full story by clicking this here link.
Virtual Reality Bites
Drew Toal did The One’s work by writing about how Saints Row IV out-Matrixed Enter The Matrix 10 years after the fact in a Decadent essay. Both games pit you as a super-powered person smashing bad guys in a virtual reality prison, but Saints Row did it better, argues Drew. Pgoodso was quick to mention that Enter The Matrix wasn’t the first Matrix to get virtual reality wrong:
It’s touched on in the piece, but it is worth reiterating how absolutely uninspired Neo’s “mastery” of the Matrix is. He’s supposedly able to bend the rules of reality in the Matrix. Neo could easily be the Matrix’s Green Lantern or Scarlet Witch (literally if he liked the comics enough). But he limits himself to classical Superman powers. Hell, there’s been teleportation, invulnerability and walk-through-walls cheats in games since DOOM, and he chooses to fly—non-instantaneously—to save Trinity?
Then there’s the arsenal. The “real” world of Zion actually has energy weapons and EMPs that can disrupt AI circuits, so by the film’s narrative logic, energy weapons of that nature are perfectly physically possible. They also have those walking mech defense units. As such, why in the world are they using ’90s era weaponry in the Matrix? To blend in better while they dodge bullets and suspend themselves in midair? You can bring in an Uzi, but you can’t bring in, say, that energy weapon that gets used to kill Joe Pantoliano? Or at least an Apache helicopter? At the very least Neo should have turned on Big Head mode and turned himself into a velociraptor. Then he would have at least been as creative a messiah as the programmers of Turok.
Anthony John Agnello must love cereal because he compared the new Batman: Arkman game to a bowl of Rice Krispies—bland, but enjoyable! Taking place around Christmas time, the game looks really pretty, like a perfect milky bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats. See, I can do the cereal analogy thing too! Fluka is of similar mind and pitched a pleasantly non-violent Batman game that sounds lovely:
One thing that catches my eye: the whole Christmas and snow thing. Can I buy the game and just have Batman silently wander the rooftops, his footsteps muffled as he listens to the distant sound of carols, his heart heavy with melancholy? Without any of this silly punching and bataranging? He can keep using the grappling hook, but only to continue his snowy, solitary wanderings. Maybe, à la Proteus, he can chill out with an owl.
Well folks, that does it for my time behind the Keyboard Geniuses wheel. I’ve had a great time putting these together the past year. You geniuses deserved each and every one of those studs. Matt Gerardi will be taking over, so be sure to say hello and good luck adjusting to his tyranny. Thanks everybody for reading and commenting, and we will see you next week.