Stolen Pixels#244: Fan Bait

By Shamus
on Nov 26, 2010
Filed under:
Column

To a lot of people, Poker Night at the Inventory was probably just a really cumbersome way to get a bunch of Team Fortress 2 unlocks for $5. We know how gamers get sometimes. But those who took the time to install and play the game were treated to some really engaging characters and fun table banter.

There are better poker games out there, but this is the only place you’re going to see Max, Strong Bad, Heavy Weapons Guy, and Tyco Brahe all together. Well, aside from my comic.

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From the Archives:

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    2 hours and 500$ lost later, the Heavy leave the table to go get Sasha and bring some more weight to his ranting against the dealer.

  2. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

    Dammit Shamus, I had a plan. A simple, easy to follow through, plan. And you had to go and ruin it. Thanks a lot.

  3. Kdansky says:

    While overall, the game is okay, it’s got some issues:

    1. The NPCs play incredibly bad, like utter beginners. They regularly go All-In with hands that give you a 3% chance to win if you’re lucky. That can be frustrating when you are all in with your Ace/King and they call you with their 2+7, and then manage to win due to lucky flops. Sure, that can happen, but when you play against good players, this is rare, as they don’t take such stupid risks. The better you are at Hold’em, the less you will like the game.

    2. Bugs. Sometimes your cards are invisible. Sometimes the voice files are played over each other. And sometimes, a pair of kings beats a pair of aces, which is incredibly annoying. I suppose that can be patched, and it doesn’t kill the game.

    3. The banter is repeated too often. I have not yet heard all variations, but some I’ve heard four times. They should have added some “already played” flags.

    All in all, I would want my money back if it was 50$. But it’s 3$, so I’m fine. if you are a [person who takes money for sexual favours] for TF2 hats which everyone are going to own by tomorrow, then I recommend it. If not, I don’t.

    • Galenor says:

      I agree with your other points, bar #1. I believe that each of the characters actually have their own play styles, and reading them is a good advantage. The Heavy and Max are very likely to go all in with a crap hand – Max does it because he’s spontaneous, and The Heavy does it to intimidate the other players. Tycho incredibly rarely matches an All In, let alone initiates one – if he does, it’s more than likely his cards are good!

    • Sander says:

      Point #1 is funny. You’re saying the opponents play so bad they win more often. That’s just all kinds of silly.

      • Kdansky says:

        No and yes. They usually lose (about 90% of the time, obviously, if their hand is 1:10 to yours), but since they are four and you are one, if all do that, you still go down nearly 1-0.9*0.9*0.9*0.9 (that is 35%) of the time. They can take the loss easily (because they are four) and you cannot (because you are alone and are OUT if you lose). Basically, playing risky works in your advantage if you are a “team” of four people against a single player.

        If they played better, they would play less risky, and allowing you to take more of the 90:10 wins.

        • Sander says:

          You’re taking more risk but your total gains will also go up because of it. As opponents play worse, you will win more. It simply won’t feel like that, because the way in which you’ll lose is more likely to be frustrating. In other words, losing with AA vs KK feels normal while losing with AA against 38o does not. But going all-in with AA vs 38o is a lot more profitable than going all-in with AA and having your opponent fold their 83o.

          The interesting part is the disconnect between what people see as profitable (opponents playing smart) and what is actually profitable for them (opponents playing dumb). You see it all the time in people who play poker so it’s not surprising, but the complete failure of the untrained human brain to deal with these probabilities is interesting.

  4. Brandon says:

    I’ve never been a fan of virtual card games myself, but I was interested in this. It’s a bit disappointing that those are the only characters they wrangled up as characters. It’d be neat to see some others in there, although I guess that would be much more work recording lines for them, the more you added.

    How about those Steam sales. Yikes.

    • Irridium says:

      Those sales are nothing compared to the Christmas ones.

      Still, a chance to win the top 5 games on your wishlist? Yes please.

    • Samkathran says:

      Oh, it’s actually just a card game? I never really looked into the game myself, so I just assumed it was going to be another adventure game with the premise that these guys got together for their usual cross-over poker game and some wacky story unfolded (so close to a pun!).

      And yeah, Steam is already bringing out the sweet deals. I mentioned this when I got New Vegas, but they’re going to rob me of my money with these low prices, I swear! Fortunately, I’ve managed to restrain myself to just buying Alpha Protocol (for now), since it sounded like a game Shamus liked but with some bugs that held it back. The indie bundles looked like good deals too, but I thought about it for a while and I really had no interest in playing them, so I passed.

  5. X2-Eliah says:

    Hm. Heavy – Don’t like TF2, don’t care about him.
    Max – never played the games. Pass.
    Tycho – kinda neat dude, I guess. So-so.
    That 1990 fighting arcade guy – Erm, what?

    Poker – KILL IT WITH FIRE KILL IT MORE such a boring, incomprehensible game.

    So, er, yeah, I am completely unphased by either this game or the video for it. Am I the only one such?

  6. Hitch says:

    Yeah, fanservice poker. Cool. I don’t play TF2, so new goodies for that don’t hold much appeal. The game seems amusing, though. Probably even $5 amusing.

    Anyway, since you don’t seem to be willing to post a link to your latest Shamus Plays, can I just throw in here how much I laughed at Normon’s frustration with William Pestle?

  7. Eljacko says:

    When I imagined the voices for the characters in Penny Arcade I always imagined Tycho as having a very labored, fake-sounding English accent. As for Gabe, I always imagined him voiced by one of my more exuberant gaming mates.

  8. Jarenth says:

    So. Who’s willing to bet that the sequel, Tuesday Poker Night at the Inventory, is going to have Sam, Homestar Runner, the Spy and Gabe as characters?

    Come on, come on, place your bets. There’s no losers, except if you lose.

  9. Slothful says:

    Normally with simple card games and the like, it’s the banter around the table that makes the game fun for me, since the actual card game doesn’t take up most of my brainpower. With this, all that would draw me in would be a simple list of sound clips that I wouldn’t be able to hear all of them anyways and they’d get annoying after constant repetition.

    The card games that draw me in normally have to be kind of complex so that I get to have some kind of crazy strategy.

    Except for Pit. That’s just fun.

  10. GTRichey says:

    It’s fun and amusing… until the dialog starts repeating. At that point the only reason to continue is to get all the TF2 items. Worth $5 I suppose, but doesn’t have much lasting appeal.

  11. Alex says:

    I can’t say what Tycho or Gabe sound like any more than the next man, but I’m pretty sure Tycho doesn’t sound like a bad impersonation of Microsoft Sam, which is apparently what they went with… =/

  12. RichVR says:

    Kelsey Grammer? What are you smoking, Shamus?

  13. Andrew says:

    After a couple of days playing this the voice chose has co-opted my internal ‘Tycho’ voice to such an extent that I can no longer recall what he sounded like in my mind before I played. Sad.

    Definitely worth the $5 even though I’ve never touched TF2 or Steam and I don’t like Strongbad. Having strangers and people you don’t like at a poker table is a good thing sometimes.

    It’s still buggy, and I’m hoping for some fixes, but I’m not going to complain.

  14. HeroOfHyla says:

    I never really read characters with a “voice” if I haven’t heard one for them. Tycho’s voice was fine to me after playing for a few minutes, though I can’t imagine that voice doing the really “seething with rage” type stuff you see him doing in the comics.

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