Archive for June, 2012

The Video in Games, Moonrise Kingdom, & QUANTUM CONUNDRUM

The Video in Video Games:

One of the major problems with arguing against Video Games as a sight of meaning is that they inherently differ from typical games by including video in them. Video Games are there for a hybrid form between real life games like hide and seek and film. The problem with this mixture is that any medium capable image is also capable of meaning and the control that one has in shaping the possibilities and framing of a game means that poignancy can abound. Hence focusing on the absence of meaning in play ignores that games contain another medium with in them perfectly suited to meaning production. It’s what happens when the two collide that makes it all interesting.

Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s latest and like a lot it deals with trauma and the rather flexible borders of acceptability. It is essentially a record of society enforcing mental illness by trying to block the romantic intentions of a 12 year old.

QUANTUM CONUNDRUM is the latest game by Kim Swift. The game is not portal. The puzzles rather quickly differentiate into new territory (a lot of glass breaking and platform building) and the game play becomes hypnotic. The game suffers from one major problem: Portal derived a lot of it’s charm by being a disturbingly realistic fps in a sci-fi world that humorously devolved many of the overtly serious conventions of the fps into comedy. It was like opening a Gears of Wars games only to find out the locust were emotionally disturbed pansies, Portal turned genre expectations on it’s head. QUANTUM CONUNDRUM does not do this, the game’s cartoon lay out screams kid friendly game and while the dialogue isn’t entirely unenjoyable seeing Ms. Swift’s trademark humor in the dimension it was intended, takes some of the bite out of it. The story in other words lags, the game play shines. I fine myself strangely frustrated by the narrator because I think I would rather be him than the little child at the door step. It was patched yesterday (hopefully with better video options) and I bought the dlc season pass so we’ll see if the second outing from Portal’s main lady works as well. So far it’s fun and really drew me in.

Anyway, I continue to have this weird nagging I should be posting about philosophy sensation, but really am taking a break into game design. Stuck on a fairly hard problem over at right now and my game in Codea continues to lag on a simple display issue… sigh… programming can be so much fun (I would really like to get into A.I. and bioinformatics), but leaves me with many mysteries. Back to my classes and probably Crysis 2.

June 24, 2012 at 12:14 am Leave a comment

LOL and Dota 2

The problem with LoL post-Dota 2 is that LoL’s more fair to new players. You don’t lose money from dying, almost everyone hits level 18, and the towers are good defenses, but the problem is the game becomes 50 minutes of pure frustration as a clearly winning team is held back or decimated at the end. League of Legends fails to reward players for early gains and extends what would be a shut out match into a prolonged noob fest that never ends. Dota 2 has rage quitters, games are often one sided or even worse a single hero can carry a team to victory, but if a dota game lasts more than 30 minutes it’s due to the performance of the team. Hence a skilled Dota team ends a game quickly and while quitters quit, ragers only have a few precious minutes to gripe, and trolls can only get in so many jabs. Hence LoL traps lesser players in prolonged games with their betters building up a community of gripes, trolls with epic spiels, and other less enjoyable elements. It’s like cabin fever only in troll form. What’s worse is that LoL has spent the last few years silently mimicking Dota. LoL’s play field now resembles Dota’s, Lulu is basically a stand info for Lion, Fiona is Juggernaut, etc. The once mighty split between the games and their designs has come down to a low reintegration of Dota’s designs into LoL’s game space.

Part of the point of LoL was to make a game more equitable than Dota, this meant sharing experience from creep kills, better protection for new players, and parrying down Dota’s lethal and complicated assortment of equipment. In some cases innovation is good, I would rather play Janna than against Invoker with the item that sends out twister, in other cases LoL produces a hegemony far worse than Dota’s sometimes cheaper mechanisms. LoL’s rune system and mastery points inherently enable higher level players in ways Dota’s champs never will be. What this has meant for LoL is that mages have typically been unviable because most people go all magic resist with their runes. On the other hand dying in Dota keeps you from getting gold, this allows for a strategy of targeting carries to keep them from ever building up the reservoirs necessary to get essential items, cheap, but true. In LoL gold simply accumulates and doesn’t dissipate when you die making saving up for items much easier. I prefer LoL’s items and gold system, but find the runes and masteries to be to enabling to older players, not only does a more experienced champ have… Well more experience, but they also enter the game with better armor, hp, magic resist, and other things, creating a play environment that simply makes low level games a pain and even high level where everyone is 30 are annoying too. Dota’s equalizing of the play field makes early kills easier and it’s weaker torrents make defense of them less of a priority. Well that’s my spiel on league of legends. In a nutshell, games like this are inherently frustrating, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the thing is Dota makes loses short and overwhelming, league of legends makes them 50 minutes exercises in the worst parts of human nature. I still like LoL’s women more than Dota’s primarily male cast, but over all Dota 2 has a lot going for it, and LoL increasingly looks like its cheap clone. One additional note, LoL does have really creative modes like Dominion that Dota lacks, but even the design language of Dota shows more forethought, Dota champs are easily recognizable, LoL group fights are confusing. Dota 2 is what riot games will have to face up against. Taken the age of LoL’s engine, it could use a new coat of paint and a few lessons from its ancients.

June 18, 2012 at 2:42 am Leave a comment



Mark said we should start the ogre game, so we did. Rachel and Michael got the part out of the box and Alex opened the service tunnel, we ran through the hallways, down to the fixtures and found the valve in question, and then tag “you’re the ogre!” everyone took ten steps back, Rachel said, “oh no the ogre!” and ran to the wall and then I began the slow work of replacing the valve, wrenching slight shifts of pipe off and occasionally turning around, everyone froze, “Michael froze last,” screamed Rachel and so Michael went back to the wall, resisting against the sweet plastics condensing the impurities and humidity into something we can breath. Rachel began an eventual swoop to my left side while Marco pinced me on the right, all the time I was feeling back there for the right nut. Finally, I found it and wrench! Off came the piece and snap the replacement in place and then, “gotcha!” Someone had tagged me with my back turned. The lights flashed, Rachel was recorded as winner and the panels began to dim down into dullness. A flicker arouse in one of the vents and Marco ran into it, we all followed afterward.

On march first Mom got her first batch of passwords from the Doctorow act. She decrypted the keys and began siphoning through the scroll of passwords. 666morde666 DEathc4mp roger Williams, 414 oak dale drive, Missoula, Montana,
666morde666 Deathc4mp,
666morde666, deAthc4mp,
What were these doing in Mom’s files while the first question she asked and then She clicked on Jesuitacademy and and logged in.

Rachel had given this day to making flowers in photo booth for grand ma. She started out with a series of portraits of them, and then she zoomed into little details, a skirt here, a teddy bear, grand pa’s ancient Mac book, and put them in fractals that scrolled out into floral arrangements that she bean to trim. After a few minutes she exported the whole thing to grand man’s funeral wall and recorded a short video of her saying good bye. I got the job of cleaning out old comments, archiving the pretty ones, and deleting any especially potential spam. When we were done grand man’s wall pristine with just one love filled message sitting there, almost instaneosly, like a hug capable of pulverizing a paparazzi, a hundred new comments came up, some text based, a few videos of grand ma in various games, one friend recounted the time they jumped through Koopa’s castle, another on the Doctorow act and how she didn’t need to know what it would reveal, and she loved her anyways.

June 8, 2012 at 3:10 am Leave a comment

Video Games, Text, Wii u, Megarun

When I was growing up companies were large wise beasts, not necessarily moral, but rather consensus builders that based their products off mass taste. What I realize later on is that companies are in fact replicators of a single person’s taste. The ipad is simply a device built for a Californian buddhist, it is that said Buddhist simply controlled the means of production that ensure it ends up in our hands. Communism worried about the means of production, capitalism simply accumulates it in hegemonic clumps. Some of these clumps spread out over time, video game production has become a reality for even us digital gleaners. When we begin to see a product as what it is, a single group’s answer to a question, corporate products begin to take on a new light. Vogue is Anna Wintour’s popularity sheet, etc. That said things design for an amazingly small group of people can satiate millions. Nintendo’ Wii u idea is simply to link your tablet isolated family together into one TV while providing some basic options already available in Steam. If it will all work out as it does Iwata’s imagination is another problem. Games as a shared social space is a nice idea though and using your tv to share what you’re browsing is cool too.

Text games have been growing on me and Varytales is a new collection of them. Text is crack and the act of reading is quite fun, Emily Short’s tale of home schooling is cool and I enjoyed it. A Hate Story by Christine Love is another text based game I like. What I find myself thinking about is interaction in these stories. Ms.Short’s game is simply a choice based narrative, Ms. Love’s game is rather a search engine that queried requires you to present evidence to an A.I. Ms. Love’s game is great and would make an awesome addition to any library. I continue to find myself thinking in this direction, it’s funny to find literary theory coming down into games, but the question of the reader is an important one, and these games differ from big budget ones only in that the (usually more than) binaries in Ms. Short’s story are navigated (in theory) in big budget games by space, bullets, and dialog trees. How stories will morph to meet the not necessary, but tempting option of nonlinear narratives is another idea, especially if we’re all so similar that Steve Job’s device can make us happy, why would what Goethe wrote need to branch into cosmopolitanism if everyone enjoys Goethe? The act of choice in narrative is simply there to enrich and not necessary for difference.

There are a lot of games I’ve been thinking about recently.

Megarun is a free to play ipad game that faithfully recreates
the jumps and smashes of Yoshi’s Island or other Super Mario brothers games.
I am not that familiar with Endless Runners, I have never played Canabalt and only know the Hunger Games e.r. and a rather bad one starring a knight, but Megarun does the formula right, while also doing that super cute animal thing that makes anything shine. The game’s possibilities when it comes to paths are rather enticing, the enemies are fun to smash, and the variability of the jumps makes it shine.

Anyway, I am downloading Crysis 2 now that it’s on steam, am still unable to play Battlefield 3 despite having the entire game on my pc and having paid for it (I believe E.A. will be fixing origin’s drm problems around 2030) and other wise finishing up with my programming classes on
Also still can not watch the new Flaming Lip’s video on vimeo due to shitty south east asian support on the part of vimeo. Was thinking about something else, but anyways another year goes by and the desktop at work stand unused as we fiddle around on our phones and the digital addictions grow larger, what ethnicities will we pass down to the next kids to deal with all of this? How will we distribute the ever expanding profits pie so at to enable us grow? Questions we’re all asking.

June 4, 2012 at 4:22 am Leave a comment


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