Posts filed under ‘my life through software’

Shelter by might and delight

We’re supposed to use words to describe things.

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Shelter is a game by Might and Delight. Might and Delight’s history is unknown to me beyond their last game P.I.D. Which was a disaster in some sense, but a compelling one in another. Shelter is a far more focused game. You are a badger mom. Now I know you just went out and bought the game based out that fact alone, but maybe we should discuss the mechanics?

You know that little grey baby at your side? It needs food. Your cubs will starve to death if not given enough food and that makes up a healthy portion of the game. Shelter is not a stress inducing game, what it does right is realize the potential of ambient play. It’s also really really linear, but the linearity ensures you don’t get lost. There are a few thankfully small sections were the anxiety bird descends and the play mechanics change to scurrying from cover to cover.

Creatively the game derives from nature documentaries, Disney films, and Metal Gear Solid. Mechanics include a well done night level, flash floods, and using brush to hunt foxes. The game is more than it’s parts by a long shot. It is propelled by a soundtrack that’s indolence and any meanderings capture the experience of a nature walk perfectly. The outdoors are meant to be relaxing, Shelter understands that.

When you’re in the wilderness thought often ceases. Nature still provides enough for the mind to see that our attention often shifts elsewhere, we become attuned to the asymmetrical ambience that surrounds us. Nature is a form of meditation and Shelter realizes this. The game is as charming as a nature walk. It reminds me of a 3 day hike I took into the Grand Tetons, the stillness of that horizon. With ambient play becoming so vast Shelter does something important: it doesn’t risk atmosphere for mechanics.

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    On another note I recently bought SMB2 aka Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic from the 3DS eshop and am enjoying it immensely. It got me thinking about platformers and the way they ended up going. Yume Kojo is not an inherently violent game, each and every critter can be chocked out of the way, playing as the princess you can politely put them down in another space. This creates an interesting tension because enemies require skill to be squashed. The game preserves a slightly more complicated ecosystem of ostriches, shy guys, ninjas, and ninnies. The game also has some interesting mechanics, things pulled up from roots include bombs, a watch that stops time, and a potion that makes a door and what with those doors anyways? Do the coins in the alternative dimension do anything? I collect them like rare gems Hoping they increase my score a bit. Yume Kojo is a lot like Quack Shot, it’s not necessarily lethal and it also makes riding enemies a breeze. It suggests a different place platformers could have gone to a less lethal and more constructive world. One where gender is a choice, and platforms are cosmopolitan accommodators. The vertical levels designs still give me the chills, those pauses as we adjust to the next free fall sections. I love this game even if it’s not as adrenaline pounding as Mario Brothers be. I want to make a spiritual sequel with horses and dragons and mice, a gravity system, an insane race to awesome. So many of these ideas need to be fleshed out, but instead we’re getting a 4 player 3D Mario that looks awful.

    Also have been playing this game a bit:

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    It took a little bit to get it and I won’t get in depth this early through, but the hype is worth it on this one.

    September 30, 2013 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

    Two things

    Wasabi on a Zombie’s tongue
    The sensation so hot is forgets all about consumerism
    Are there pokaballs in your daesin?
    Does pretension pay?
    The blue sky is pleasured by a Samuria with orgasmic hands
    His erections lead the way.

    Also, this is a video game blog kinda. Might and Delight made a little platformer called P.I.D. Awhile back. There next game is Shelter and it’s really a serene experience, imagine laid back jazz motifs to a wilderness survival game. It works and I really like it, will update with photos when I get a chance, off to Phuket to surf till Friday.

    September 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

    For Kakao

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    An iOS game only has to compete against idle time. When you’re at work and all the work is done, you can boot up Plants vs Zombies and play all you want. An iOS game only needs to be better than another iOS game. So this week I have been exploring that most heinous part of gaming: the casual or social gamer. On message boards all over the net console games decry the social gamer. Social games are often seen as the bane of console fanatics. Numerous triple A publishers have sacrificed time and resources for big budget console chart toppers to dip into the apparently more lucrative world of iOS and android games. This has led to anyone who ever liked Final Fantasy 9 having to ball tears and sheathe with hatred after discovering the director of their favorite game now makes mobile crap.

    Mobile crap is the detritus of a market in which cash hungry or merely desperate, but surprisingly digitally literate, desperadoes shovel shit onto a mobile device’s App Store. These games are obviously rip offs of other games or perhaps there’s something there and console gamers aren’t seeing it. Try getting off Candy Crush Saga etc. regardless mobile crap is all the stuff you wish wasn’t on an App Store in lieu of your favorite game. In the midst of sampling these crap tarts I came across a shump that’s a bit of a gem. I have no idea what the name is though because my Korean has shriveled to a neuron in my memory bank and I think some sujo swept the rest away.

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    Ok so I have a small confession to make: I like big brilliant cartoony graphics. Really, they do things for me. This game makes Mario look like a noir, the colors pop is so vibrant. Another pleasure of mine are Japanese shooters that involve magical girls who often ride brooms and fight hoards of baddies. This game instead has you piloting a robotic cat submarine so double points for originality.

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    But what makes the game stand out is that it’s an endless shooter. Shumps often require you hold down the shoot button for long periods of time, hence this loss of a button is actually an improvement, more shooters should just simplify down to auto-shoot. Now unlike almost every other shump I have ever played my bullets have range. Your stream of damage only goes about 2/3 of the screen in front of you meaning that maneuvering is necessary. Ok so add to this a typical level up super powered beam thing and a distance tracker and you start to get the game. Oh yeah it also gets a bit tough early on and the waves of enemies become almost impenetrable after the third boss, so I am pretty confident practice of in app purchases are required. Probably the later. Additionally instead of being a bullet hell dodger this game is a school of fish dodger if you can damage them enough you can weave a path a through the game other wise you’re just going to have to dodge. Dead fish float in the water till a tap clears them causing bonus points and in the case of puffer fish an additional explosion.

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    For Kakao is how I found then, these little shumps are all intended to be used on a Korean social network. As far as I can tell none of them are beatable with out in app purchases, but for the 3 days I have before vacation begins they will suffice.

    But is that how these games work? Do they provide such small subjective and personal Utopias that cash flush gamers like myself end up punching lots of little transactions into them? Has the App Store fragmented our tastes and little niche bubbles pop up a FarmVille addict there a match 3 fan there? What mobile crap makes me wonder about is how to design a market place that rewards such niche markets, that dots every subjective desire with affection, but then requires them to stand in line with their nemesis? It makes me curious how hegemonies in the industry will strangle it and make it their usual plateau of influence. Big name publishers are desperate to dominate the mobile space, is their consistent and steady output of crappy games and ad campaigns intended to destroy the lush indies underneath who might have your perfect game? And let’s not forgot about those consoles. They compete with your home time, when home cinemas and 3D TVs could be equally demanding pressures as much as family or the joy of jogging could be. Console games compete against time that capitalism requires: your leisure time or the spending moments, it’s that iOS and Android have out a shopping mall in our hands and ask we spend our idle time more productively that worries me.

    Tried these two today:

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    I don’t remember the name of the game, but one is a really direct clone of a puzzle arcade game. The thing about the games is: I had fun playing two of them, so I don’t know maybe the console mobile division is a healthy separation.

    September 25, 2013 at 4:04 am Leave a comment

    In praise of fascism or Ni No Kuni

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    About all we knew was that Shadar was evil. His means were horrendous, in the family safe environments of our game there exists a condition: broken hearted. Shader imposes this condition, how exactly he does I do not know. He has never come down to impose it on me, and the condition is so common that his imposition of it must spread like a disease, people all over the content are broken hearted except one little area Shadar decimated where he left behind a single witch to carry out his heart extracting activities.

    Ni No Kuni approximately translates to another world. That is where the action happens in this game: in a fantasy land that connects with the “real” through a surprisingly wholesome mechanic of feelings. Why one world would be exciting, large, and quite adventurous and the other is a mundane town is another question. Does the excitement of the other world require a boring counterpart at it’s base? Is our world in other worlds a sedate pill from which fantasy suckles? Motorville is the emotionally regular plateau on which Ni No Kuni rests, an entire fantasy globe transcribed to a single linear plane of automobiles and country stores. This fact is rarely acknowledged in the storyline.

    Shakespeare stole from other stories. He told tales he had heard from others, but his genuis was in finding the reasoning and diversity of people residing in them. Anyone can tell you Hamlet, but who can explain Hamlet? Much less who can make an indecisive brooding douche bag into a compelling character? Ni No Kuni follows acknowledged tropes: you are the Messiah, “the one the prophecies foretold” but the game offers little explanation for Oliver’s actions. Your name is Olivier btw, your magical doll is Mr. Drippy (high lord of the faeries) who comically has a Welsh or Scottish accent so deep it becomes amusing. Ni No Kuni might be designed by Level-5, but it lacks Miyazaki’s magical ability to make relatable characters. The characters in the game are literally cut from stereotypical cloth. In the 50 something hours I spent in the game, it rarely stopped for characterization and even story moments while often uplifting are scarce in plot detail. Ni No Kuni has great design, but a puny storyline unworthy of the Ghibli heritage. This isn’t a case of plot by theft, rather it is laid out in so stereotypical a fashion the story is in the commons: your are the Messiah.

    As the Messiah Oliver espouses the virtues of kindness and selflessness. He is hardly as complicated as Buddha or compelling as Christ, rather he is plain and his philosophy hardly varies into the harsh reality of ethics. He is simply put a childhood fable, but one whose momentary influence on a child’s ethics will be shattered the moment a child decides to take a selfish act. Oliver acquires and maintains his status as the good guy by remaining “pure hearted” or simple in his ethical dimension. This is why Shadar is such a surprise.

    Ni No Kuni’s main nemesis is a wizard known for leaving his victims “broken hearted”. The broken hearted are enfeebled in such a manor that they can no longer accomplish basic duties like opening doors, adventuring, etc. Shadar attacks your group several times in the game, but never quite fleshes out as a character. Once you beat him the game attempts an explanation of his actions: Shadar was a soldier blah blah saw some atrocities blah blah asked to kill kids refuses blah blah is horrified by war and… becomes an evil wizard to stop war. Yes Ni No Kuni is a game in love with fascism. Shadar’s global reign of evil is also a time of peace. In order to prevent war Shadar became a dark wizard who intimidated an entire globe into acquiescence. I know. Way to go Shadar. This one little factoid might be the storyline’s defining moment. It’s the only thing in Ni No Kuni that provides depth to the characters.

    The Pokemon like battle system is awesome, in the higher levels your a.i. Driven companions can become a bit of a chore, but over all the affinities, the weaknesses, the strengths all balance out to a remarkably interesting team. Leveling up creatures to their final form isn’t a lengthy task and the game provides a gym somewhere to do it.

    Graphically the game is just amazing. Studio Ghibli’s creations are some of the most intricate and well designed creations in the history of animation, and the expression and characterization their designs provide are amazing. In the end players of this game will go in for this reason. The battle system is ok, the storyline is passable, but drops into the horrid at times, however the world is enchanting and the privilege of raising Ghibli pets is hard to pass on. I had a lot of fun.

    September 23, 2013 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

    New Divekick and Sir You are Being Hunted

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    Sir You Are Being Hunted

    Top down design, according to Mark Rosewater of magic the gathering, is when the story is the creative point for the game. In the case of Sir You Are Bring hunted, the summery after glow of BBC Science Fiction series is the top of the iceberg. Robots, gentlemen robots mind you, are you hunting you through the English countryside. While fodder for a juvenile nightmare, it does lead to some good game design. A hot air balloon hovers around the island, and it has a peculiar Knack of catching you off guard. Robots dogs pin you to the ground, and heavy ferns are your cover. In a slight nod to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series of games, Sir is hard, fairly open world, and given to little blue anomalies that swim around and can give away your position at night. This isn’t Dishonored, there is no free climbing mechanic, you can’t wrestle a robot from it’s back (that I know of), and the player is more than effected, you are often crawling through British underbrush fearing for your life. The goal of the game is simple, find the 8 steaming hot pieces of a machine, and bring them back to your stone henge like base. Fortunately, because this is a game, getting those pieces requires looking out for balloons, hiding from robot hunters, and finally scrambling through ruined houses for food. Food is plentiful, but good food is scarce. Bad eggs will cause your stamina to plummet. One more good idea in the game is the damage system. If your stamina is high, you will recover health. Add to this that each shot that hits you has a chance to inflict bleeding, bleeding doesn’t stop till you bandage the wound, hence even small gunfire can be deadly.

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    Sir is in alpha so I will forgive one simple problem with the game: it feels tedious. The game lacks missions and objectives that make it interesting. The 8 fetch quests per island become perilous quickly which adds to the challenge, but hiding in weeds quickly becomes boring. Perhaps I haven’t played it enough, but the game does need more options for out witting your robotic foes. It’s not a game about empowerment, it’s a game about tossing a bottle for a momentary distraction in order to desperately run for a smoking part only to be chased by robo dogs, and then bandage your wounds in tall grass before hoping to sneak by some more hunters and loot a house that will hopefully give you food. I am about 90% confident, this game will rock on launch.

    Divekick

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    Divekick is the exact opposite of top down design. It is rather a game derived mechanically from an over familiarity with a genre. Divekick is a fighting game and and it consists of 2 buttons: jump and kick. This extreme minimalism is surprisingly enlightening. Divekick boils the genre down to a scenario and produces incredible game play from there. Fighting games could be taken down further, but Divekick reveals how much depth simple stance, stature, and stage can produce. All of this fails to mention the kicks, which are surprisingly unique and deadly. Dive and Kick have straight forward and fast kicks, other characters can warp, some can even leave traces behind that count as collision, and my pick was a horned monster Internet troll who can barrel in the air putting himself at risk, but also extending his reach. Divekick is exactly what indie games should be: quick, effective, and interesting. That is also a discourse in a genre, is icing on the cake. Strongly recommend especially for the 9.99 usd price point. It’s so much fun and surprisingly strategic too.

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    August 22, 2013 at 7:37 am Leave a comment

    Dishonored

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    When I wasn’t rolling around drunk trying to get Ladyboys to sleep with me this weekend I was in Dishonored. Dishonored is in actuality a revenge story and less a return to honor. If Corvo loses his merit badge is entirely up to the player. The game centers around Chaos, a meter that fills each time you kill an enemy in the game. Higher chaos means more bloodshed while lower chaos implies more stealth and fewer rats. The plot is fairly simple: Corvo Attano is a bodyguard to the empress, the empress is killed and you’re framed for it. A prison escape ensues and while the game progresses we learn more about a whale oil run Victorian metropolis infected by a foreign born rat plague that leaves it victims Zombie like and the city desolate in it’s wake. Corvo is rescued by a group of “loyalists” eager to return the crown to it’s rightful heir. Moral decisions await you.

    The game is brilliant for a manor of reasons. The plot is only slight above comic book level, in fact it could be an Xmen comic except it lacks as many super powers and surprisingly the protagonist is rather frail. The mechanics are original, but derived from similar stealth game play techniques found in Thief and Assassin’s Creed. Drop from heights to kill, choke hold from the back, and of course the magic shhh I am ducking down so you can’t see me or hear me. Bottles can be thrown to attract or distract attention. Additions to this usual crew of abilities include possessing animals and later humans, an X-ray vision ability, the ability to summon rats, and blink a short range teleport. The later is almost required by the game. These abilities aren’t what makes it brilliant, but their originality, especially possession, make the game play more endearing than most FPS games. What is brilliant is the way the game consistently frames violence and vengeance.

    Corvo is given a lethal and non-lethal option of solving his assassination targets. In one level for instance a street gang offers to kidnap the aristocratic / lecherous owners of a stone mine and put them to work in their own mines, or you can lethally kill them in person or via steam bath. Most of the non-lethal options are interesting, and tie into the story well. Dishonored is a game that allows justice, not in the form of violence, but rather in retribution. The man who staged the empress’ death can be eliminated by airing his personal confessions on the air waves and more disturbingly his mistress can effectively be trafficked into the hands of a lecherous noble (I choose murder on that one). The game lets you navigate moral depth at your leisure and often makes the less violent approach the more entertaining. It also frequently drops empathy on you, the empress’ assassin turns out to be a reluctant killer, the head of the royal order you can allow to be poisoned or branded with a heretical mark. Granted this is a game where being a serial choker somehow puts you in the right, but it is also a game that lets you decide wether to sacrifice a man to a witch or fight her after (I went with witchcraft on this one). The binaries lead up to a much more emergent whole. Dishonored’s last moments anticipate the player’s moral compass really well. That’s what’s brilliant about the whole thing, in the end I wasn’t confronted by a murderous psychopath, but a man who did the right thing, but just went a little to far and was in paranoid company. I had planned to kill my final target, but his guilt ridden bleary eyed insanity convinced me otherwise. I let him live and a golden age prospered.

    Btw the next dlc for the game came out today, but it’s not up on steam yet.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

    Bad Games: Steam Trading Cards / Guardian Cross

    Villian had begun to simply leave the games open. “Sell them immediately,” he told me. jas concurred. In the second day of the Steam sale they discovered Steam Trading cards, a new currency Valve has introduced that sounds odious on paper. Cards work like this: you open a game and let it sit there. Every half hour you get a new card. The cards are worth 0.40 to 0.12 u.s. cents. The wages of play are low. The case gets worse when you look at the trading card’s FAQ: be sure to login in every week to be eligible for boosters, the FAQ advises. So not only do we need to play more games for puny material rewards, we need to use steam weekly to qualify for more cards. The problem is, the system works fine when you’re actually playing a game. I opened Dust: An Elysian Tale as my first trading card game and immediately got engrossed. Every hour or so a new card would pop up in my inventory. The cards were carefully made, the art work expressive and exactly like the thing on collectible trading games in my youth. The promotion worked in other words, instead of sitting there waiting on cards, I played Dust for a few hours. Trading Cards are only available in certain games, but they work as a reason to open games. You are rewarded with a nice piece of artwork and the possibility of netting a u.s. quarter in profit for doing so. The cards are then in turn grindable for experience points on your steam profile. Get to a higher level receive rarer cards. My level was already well above many other players, I have the 8 years of service badge and numerous holiday sales behind me.

    The gamification of Steam, the way it has become a RPG is questionable. Gamification often makes Things competitive that shouldn’t be. Karma fishers (I am one btw) race to get their links on reddit before others do. Particularly avaricious fishers down vote other Fisher’s links and often triple post links to several reddit’s to score better. Both of the later behaviors I do not engage in. Points systems are great, but introduce stress in places we go to relax and converse in. In the case of stackoverflow teenagers racing for guru status in a particular nerdy field often troll each other just to gain an advantage in status or merely take out deep seated frustrations. Long before quantization became a norm, delicious made links… Delicious, I loved posting to it as much as I enjoy the new followers on my blog. The problem with Steam’s exp is that it doesn’t seem to introduce anything: reddit at least encourages timely link drops while sadly degrading conversation with fishers looking to score high points in comment threads. In other words points encourage better coverage of the net outside of reddit while making conversing inside of reddit less tenable. Steam exp can do something worse: it can inspire game gluttony and completely enjoyable stings of literally watching a menu screen for nothing more than 0.15 cent card drop.

    As it turns out Dust: An Elysian Tale is far more than I anticipated. The combat is breezy, but the three enemy types require strategies to get through and the story line picks up amazingly well around chapter 2. Questions of ethics and genocide, of situational violence and the greater good come to the fore. It’s a really well done game with a very well rounded ethical compass. The only problem is, I wasn’t really playing Dust: An Elysian tail I was playing Steam Trading Cards. You see, steam only allows you to collect half of the cards required for a badge from a game by playing the game. The other cards need to come from different games. In order to complete my mission and try out these new badges I had to get out of an engrossing platformer just opening up to a dimension most games don’t touch and get into another game.

    As I said Steam Trading Cards is an advertisement, it promotes playing through a multitude of games. Most of these games I already own. In order to get my Dust badge I needed to sell cards acquired from other games in a marketplace and then turn them into the cards I required. This turned out to be a 6 hour affair. I opened The Binding of Issac and sacrificed my badge in that game and almost four of my life in order to shift 4 more cards out of that. The gave me enough for 1 or 2 more cards for Dust. I like The Blinding of Isaac, but I have to admit, I really just wanted to play Dust. Isaac expended I moved onto Monaco. Now Monaco is not a game I enjoy and even worse all my progress had been lost in an update that enforces online play. I struggled through Monaco, but ultimately left it and Isaac running on the PC while I went out and paid bills and ate dinner etc. promotion avoided, I got the cards and didn’t even play the game. What’s worse is that the game I was playing was the most heinous of con jobs, it incentives spending time with media I would rather not consume while discouraging you from using any other service except Steam for long periods of time. Ludology needs ethics, capitalism needs more than trade laws and bankruptcy courts: it needs a moral conscience. Steam Cards work great as a reward for playing media you enjoy playing. Really, I wish I still had my fidget card as a memento of my play through, but their design also degrades the practice of games while turning a game into time sink, players simply open an application and wait on money to come through. As a game it subverts the practice of gaming, and me more skeptical of digital marketplaces as a whole. It also turns out my friends list is now limited, expandable only by grinding a useless quest unless I happen to like trading card enabled games. Yet we see these games so often now. On iOS Square-Enix had turned Hiroyuki Ito from a game designer into a cash machine.

    Ito was the director of Final Fantasy 9, the game that in many ways Introduced jrpgs to the more serious plots and writing that mark Final Fantasy today. He did this by directing a game that had great characterization, all of the characters were enjoyable to interact with and their role well realized. He did the Sam thing win Final Fantasy 12. Both games made us aware of what it’s like to care for digital characters and then made this link part of a slice of atmosphere miles long in length. Ito is a master of intention, his characters inhabit real understandable states, they are relatable and often down trodden, their worlds are perfect simulacrum of our own presumptions of what a fantasy world should be, he gives us what we want with out the power fantasies that usually permeate gaming, although his games do build into power trips eventually. What makes this situation devastating is that Ito’s last game is Guardian Cross, a pay to play iOS title that nickels and dimes you at every turn. You have lose 5 points per battle, gaining 3 of you win. When you run out of points, you need to purchase more. The game is based on cards (again cards!) that you must squire from a shooting range. The gun game is so rudimentary it almost feels like a budget hunting sim. In addition to this, the hunts are also limited, you need to pay for them too eventually. Graphically the game has the production values of third rate Church booklet. It looks like a piece of crappy propoganda more than the exaggerated details of his previous games.

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    Ito is clearly being under utilized, and seeing his work being degraded to this stature is alarming in the extreme. The artwork on the cards though is beautiful.

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    Cards are not gaming’s oldest medium and the simplified combat system in Guardian Cross is sickening. However trading cards are a more recent medium. Wikipedia claims trading cards came about in the 19th century and then picked up popularity in the 1950s with Topps trading cards. Trading Cards hold literally no intrinsic value. They are an abstract commodity, like money, reliant on a group of users who assign value to them. In the case of sports cards value is often determined by performance of player although personal preference comes into play too. In the case of purely made up cards like the Garbage Pail Kids, they are simply collectible because they work as miniature artwork. In a country such as America that lacks pronounced art galleries, they work as a totem for children to trade in for their image needs. Cards have artificial rarities, Topps trading cards makes sure that some cards are rare, foil, common, etc. their artificial scarcity makes them desirable. Yet, despite this asymmetry, despite the fact we could easily produce a more lenient and less competitive world of trading cards where consumers can just buy the cards they desire, we continue to buy into an artificial market that scars us, rewards us, and disappoints us. What we want is winners, but we all agree to be regular losers in order to do so. Asymmetrical markets, scarcity, and inequality are part of the discourse of these markets. trading cards are a cruel world, but the exact hell we desire. If they are anything to go by, we’ll be designing games with even more punishing systems of control, with scarcity that truly envelops entire wholes, with the exact necessary cruelty we all seek to produce by purchasing them.

    July 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

    Daily Doodles, Steam Sales, Potentiality, Purchasability

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    Yesterday I bought Stylus for my iPad and Valkyrie Chronicles for my ps3. If the later will entertain me as much as the Stylus is open to question, but what’s above I made this morning during a little down period at work.

    Concerning Back Logs
    Let’s say games are like marbles, the further they are up in the sky, the more fun and force they exert when they hit the track and begin rolling in the track. Games store potential the way gravity does, the problem is Steam lacks gravity sometimes. During these periods, usually Steam sales, the average consumer may as well be playing cars in a super nova. Gravity is warped and the potential of games goes out the window. In my case I have survived numerous steam sales. These sales leave archaeological layers the way dinosaur bones do, you can identify when gamer teenagers graduated to gamer fully employedness by simply looking at their steam log and determining when they first blew over 300 USD in a 36 hour period on Steam sale. Sales build up dirt and grunk in Steam’s layers aka lists. But the thing is a more massive object exerts a greater gravitational force. as everyone knows the fun of dropping things is the force with which they hit. Your account becomes a small planetoid around which potentially shrinks, the length of the drop reduces to nothing. The fun of games is reduced by the size of my back catalog. Their Purchasability shrinks when I still need to finish X and Y. So great is my steam catalog, that I can not justify another purchase. Part of this is simply Steam’s Microsoft like decision to refuse a firm design choice and instead force us to peal through layers of options to choose the rightish design template to reduce back catalog showing. By default Steam shows all games you own, by default iOS makes it somewhat difficult to achieve what Steam does naturally. Apple clearly understands the need to clean up a mess more than Gabe does. The problem with these Steam sales is that conditions return to normal. Those 2.99 triple A games you bought pile up, the planets go back into alignment and gravity resumes it’s due. And all our games come crashing down, more garbage in a pile of wasted potential, and what’s worse is that we have to carry it all around.

    When I was in College we were told about an experiment: a group of college students had to carry around all the waste they produced in a week in a bag. Students jokingly thought it would be rather small, but soon discovered the bag grew enormous and eventually untenable. Steam’s inherent UI works like this. Every time I open it, by default it shows me all of my purchases. In order to cope psychologically with the depth of my greed, I have to create categories and determine favorites. I don’t get why it just doesn’t show what’s on my machine (this option is available in a click, but clearly not Dan Gilbert style easy to do). What’s worse is that Steam is one of those schizophrenic types, in reality Steam is a slob, but hey it’s got a second personality as a diligent cleaner. The problem is when the potential exists to be a slob, the cleaner is annoyed. You see we’re fascists. I get down on my knees and scrub toothbrush style to get stains out of my bathroom, giving me the illusion that games aren’t there when they are is just more annoying. Steam can ends it’s delusion of being neat and clean with a simple click, and often does.

    Well anyways, My back catalog continues to work one effect: I feel almost no need for new games knowing how many I purchased before and have never played.

    P.s. purchases include rockin’ android bundle, Dishonored (gift), and to the moon this season. Waiting on rayman origins to finally drop to 50% before I buy.

    July 17, 2013 at 5:19 am Leave a comment

    Find Mii or empowerment, the princess in distress

    The vast majority of games deal with empowerment. Skyrim turns you into a bad ass, many FPS games similarly build the character into a gun toting colusus, and Guild Wars 2 level syncs were derided by some because it failed to make the average character feel powerful. Empowerment is usually what we build in games either through skill or through simple accumulation of credits and special abilities. It is also a fantasy primarily associated with a masculine becoming in gender.

    I bought a 3ds in April and have been walking around with street pass on for the last few weeks to try out the mii plaza games. Here is how it works, you make a mii and share it via street pass, your mii in turn is traded via wifi to other 3ds owners who in turn you get a mii from. The result is a surprisingly engaging game of vanity, every person I have made contact with has hats well beyond my level and other vanity items I have yet to acquire. It makes me feel surprisingly self-conscious about my mii because I want to impress and delight other as much as the crazy ones I’ve picked up have. Of the two miis I’ve collected both were pretty awesome and made me laugh. Street pass increased the virtual connection, the identification with my avatar by making dress a social and location based commodity. It made the Miis more valuable by making them scarce and special. Then there are the games.

    Find Mii is a game in which your Mii is disempowered. Your Mii, like Princess Peach, is stuck in a cage at the end of a dungeon. You are the princess in the dungeon in this game. It’s a strange sensation for me because I am so used to games making me feel powerful, yet I love this camaraderie of 3DS ownership and seeing these street passed Miis try to take out Ghosts in a very jrpg style. The game creates a connection between players and then uses that connection to have someone else’s Mii (which you play as no less) go out to rescue your Mii. It’s a strangely disempowering experience, yet works surprisingly well as a game, it might be the best location based game I have ever seen. What does Fnd Mii say about the relation between player and avatar especially as you experience the actual avatar playing the game as foreign while identifying with your own avatar in the cage? It’s interesting that representing a disempowered and to some extent feminine fantasy in gaming took the creation of location based games to increase your connection with the avatar and then a simple swap of that stronger identification to make you feel like some strangers are coming to rescue you. It really says a lot about the potential of game play outside of physical controllers.

    When we talk about and design games we often do with the implicit assumption of a joystick, games are emotionally established and carried by a general assumption of a single player story driven joystick controlled game. That using other interfaces like location and touch can bring unexpected emotional resonance to a game should not be unexpected, yet what Find Mii and Street Pass are proving is that location games can show peculiar places in game designs and take us on metaphors more provocative than just empowerment.

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    July 16, 2013 at 12:25 am Leave a comment

    The hokey pokey

    The hokey pokey is a fairly famous children’s song used by educators to get children to repeat key concepts in an enjoyable environment. The song has no really definable structure beyond doing some basic actions and then singing the chorus: “you do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around..” They key thing is no one knows what the hokey pokey is, it is literally Nonesense, but something in its juxtaposition of sensibility and surrealism it acquires a freedom rarely scene in speaking: it is free from meaning and hence an invitation for fun.

    The hokey pokey works as a gate way, a means of relieving ourselves of the strictures of meaning and simply having fun. Teachers have been using it for years and it’s puerile charms never wear off.

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    What the hokey pokey becomes is a means of avoiding meaning while engaging in meaningful play and in this sense it’s a lot like Super Mario Brothers. Miyamoto’s handiwork simply avoided the pitfalls of meaning entirely, it is not profound in a narrative or literally meaningful way, it’s design decisions eschew taste and narrative in favor of a mixed up world where plumbers navigate through a surrealism more intense than in any other pop cultural artifact I can think of. Where the game becomes useful is in a similar manor as to how the teacher employs it: brief spurts of relief from meaning in the midst of some intense learning. Mario Brothers lets us carry around a portable space to return to when we no longer want meaning in our lives. In this sense it is art, and possibly more affecting in Dadaism than Dada itself.

    What Mario Brother also reveals is the way surrealism is coded in literature, when Dali sought to escape meaning he meant it in the narrative / literary sense hence his paintings willing subvert the narrative traditions of Western painting. What he avoided is what Mario Brothers fills in is the ability to not make sense and enjoy it. The void in Dali is a dark and unnavigable dungeon, in Mario it is rather a dance we do to entertain ourselves. That we’ve enshrined both surrealisms suggests that None sense is a bigger and more important thing than it’s unassuming manor projects.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:25 am Leave a comment

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