NOT the Diecast: What’s the Haps?

By Shamus
on Oct 22, 2013
Filed under:
Diecast

73 comments

It’s been two weeks since the last Diecast. The crew have a lot going on and other things have pushed aside the recording of our 90-minute exploration of fractal digressions. So in the spirit of the “what’s happening this week?” section I thought I’d do a drive-by of the stuff I’ve been doing when I’m not doing this.

Zombiecide

splash_zombiecide.jpg

Are you sitting down? I guess that’s a stupid question. Who takes their laptop jogging? Anyway, are you positioned in such a way so as to reduce the risk of injury when hearing shocking news? No? Well then get into one of those positions, because I’m done with this clumsy intro:

I’ve been playing tabletop games.

I realize that’s not the sort of thing you expect out of the guy who’s been running a site called “Twenty Sided” for eight years, but it’s the truth. Figures, dice, cards, everything.

I played Zombiecide. I give it my unqualified recommendation. It’s a co-op zombie board game. Sort of, “Left 4 Dead: Analog Version”. It’s more board game than roleplay, although I suppose you can inject some roleplay flavor if that’s your thing. You get a character and you’re sent into some environment with a goal. (Ours was “open all the doors and find 1 supply for each survivor.”) You gain levels by completing goals, but gaining levels increases the threat level of the zombies flowing into the gameworld. This means that in order to win the game you have to do things that will make it very likely you will lose. It’s fast-paced and fun and easy to learn.

The Stanley Parable

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Do I need to praise this game? Isn’t everyone already making a fuss over it? It’s sort of becoming the new Portal: The game everyone is shouting at you that you “HAVE!” to play. Sorry about them. I know how annoying those people are. (They’re right, though.)

If you missed the hype, it goes like this:

You play as Stanley, and there’s a narrator. Stanley finds himself all alone at the office one day. As you enter a room with two open doors the narrator says, “Upon entering a room with two open doors, Stanley took the one on the left.”

What would you do in this situation? The entire game is basically an exploration of that idea from different angles.

Why are you playing this game? For the story? Then why are you deliberately working against the narrator? Or if you’re doing what the narrator says, then why bother playing a game at all if you’re just doing what you’re told? It’s strange, surreal, subversive fun.

The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

splash_rspod.jpg

It’s a sad story. Back in 2008 Hothead games released On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. (You might remember that this is back when I was still shouting into the storm of activation-based DRM. Man, that was an ugly time. I’m really glad indies have moved away from that sort of stuff.) A few months later they released Episode 2. Then (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) they never got around to making Episode 3.

Years later a completely different team showed up and made more episodes. This was good for fans of the lore, but bad for my daughter.

Esther recently discovered RSPOD and fell in love with the first two episodes. She loved being able to make her own character. She loved having a female avatar in the gameworld. She liked the narrator. She liked the humor, at least the parts that didn’t go over her head. (Yes, I let her play the games and yes she knows what those words mean.) She liked the expressive characters and the accessible combat.

She was sad when she got to the end of Episode 2. Then I (foolishly) told her that there was an Episode 3. I bought it for her. I didn’t say anything about it. I just installed it and let her find her own way with the thing. The next morning there was a little note:

The new penny arcade game SUCKS! :(

According to Steam she gave it 39 minutes.

The new one is a Final Fantasy IV riff, which is great for nostalgia-driven thirty-somethings and terrible for a thirteen year old girl with no knowledge of or interest in its mechanical forebears. No voice. No avatar. No girl character. (At least, not to start with.) No expressive faces. Instead of seeing characters smack each other with garden tools you’ve got little retro 2D sprites bumping around.

I played through the Mass Effect series so I know how it feels, but this is the first time she’s ever gone through something like this.

sniff. They grow up so fast.

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Footnotes:


2020201373 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. shazmus yung'un says:

    So from that I take it you can’t say when/if the agendas will synchronize again soon?

    • Humanoid says:

      Shamus could substitute it by just putting a mic on his dinner table to record what they talk about over meals and I’d listen to it.

      For all I know, bad Simcity news could be a regular feature of their dinner conversations.

  2. arron says:

    I like the Stanley Parable. I’ve always wondered what lay outside of the limits of the game – be it level geometry, story events or AI. Like what you can do in Deus Ex : Invisible War if you climb outside the geometry in Upper Seattle by stacking boxes on top of each other. Or seeing the cut content going through the files that might have been had it been completed. There’s a whole mission in a museum that had the entrance in the Old Seattle Overlook. That’s the difference with games and real life. Once you find a flaw in the reality to reveal what lies outside of what you’re supposed to see, there’s all this unplanned possibility.

    Both have their limitations (i.e you can’t just create matter just be clicking your fingers and wishing it into existence) but the game is obviously a structured story experience you have very little freedom in.

    Real life has no story, so you don’t feel so constrained by the many barriers that are there. When you play something like the Stanley Parable that forces you to see the artificial constraints, you can see them in other games and in your own life. It’s a very clever experience :)

    • arron says:

      This is one of my favorite sites. It shows cut content present in the game files that is either disabled or not present in the main game. The possibilities that the narrator planned out but in the end felt that you were not going to experience. In many cases you can see how the original game concept evolved as items and level files were altered.

      http://tcrf.net/

      There’s some surprising ones. The System Shock one has a whole load of audio logs, enemies, items and level elements that were never used. Deus Ex had an option to remain with UNATCO and fight your brother Paul..and Deus Ex : Human Revolution had a Zoo that was cut. There’s some neat stuff on that site :)

      • Jokerman says:

        Thanks for the link, really interesting stuff there. Ive looked through a lot of games, Mafia 2 looked like it could of been a really good game at one point.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Er, to be fair, you can get the gist of some of it by playing the original mod and appreciating the differences, by going to the Museum Ending in the full game (follow the “escape” sign) and in the endings where they pretend to take you behind the scenes (Confusion Ending, Escape Pod Ending, Outside The Window Ending). Also, if you attempt to speedrun you can fall into an area not catered by the Narrator until you reset.

      Most of the game is deliberately designed to let you try to break it only to reward you with snarky quips and/or “secret” endings, but there are a few places it can be broken for real.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “I like the Stanley Parable. I’ve always wondered what lay outside of the limits of the game – be it level geometry, story events or AI. ”

      There are quite a few endings that hinge on this.One of them is based specifically around you exploiting the level geometry to go outside the game world,which is neat.

    • Volfram says:

      Have I got a webcomic for you.

      A bit older, a sprite comic based on an NES game that was never made, and one of the influences behind me aiming for a minimalist angle on website design.

      You can read a version that still works on most modern browsers here.

      “If you don’t mind me saying so, your apocalyptic glow is quite beautiful.”

    • Nyctef says:

      I’ve been one of those people telling everyone they have to play The Stanley Parable.

      I am totally unrepentant, though :)

  3. UtopiaV1 says:

    For more tabletop news and some funnies thrown in, may I suggest this site? – http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/

    Makes me really want to get into board games until you find out they’re £50 a pop. I don’t spend over a tenner on any computer games, not even new releases, just wait ’til they’re on a Steam sale or something! Board games don’t do that sort of thing…

    Thinking of getting into board game reviews Shamus? Fair warning, it’ll cost ya!

    • broken says:

      Seconding the SUSD recommendation. They have well-written reviews and their videos are also high-quality. I’ve never had any regrets from purchasing a game based on their recommendations.

    • Nick says:

      The expensive ones are yeah, but more commonly they’re around the £30 mark for a normal-sized board game; the smaller games are a lot cheaper than that.

      I recommend Ticket to Ride (the Europe game is best IMHO but there are plenty of people who would disagree with me on that) and/or Settlers of Catan for those unfamiliar to board gaming

  4. papersloth says:

    So I’ve asked a couple of people but never got a satisfying answer: is The Stanley Parable worth it for those who played the mod already? Does it have something new to say, or will I just repeat “ok, I get it” to myself for the whole duration?

    • Zagzag says:

      I’d be interested to know this too. I assumed initially that it was literally just the source mod, though I’ve heard from those who played both that they added a very small amount of content, but not much.

    • Tohron says:

      Much of the structure is the same, but there are numerous new additions and changes. Looking back, I’d say is was just about worth the asking price if you’ve already played the mod.

    • Jexter says:

      I would say so. There is some content overlap with the mod, but what is similar has usually been remixed in some way, as to still keep it interesting. Most content is new, though. The game has gone from 6 endings to 12+, some of which are so obscure as to be nearly impossible to find without a guide.

      The game is, as a whole, much more fleshed out. The sheer volume of jokes – whether from narrator dialogue, easter egg whiteboards, or secrets, is so high that you’ll probably never find them all, even after a dozen hours of playing the game.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I think it is, and I didn’t even really like The Stanley Parable.

    • MrGuy says:

      It depends on what you’re looking for. TSP isn’t really a “game” in the classic sense. It’s a brilliant exploration of gameplay conventions and the nature of free will. If you played the mod, you won’t get your mind blown again with the game.

      If you played the mod, and want additional stuff to do/different endings/generally more TSP, then you get that in the game. There’s more interesting “flavor” around the world. There’s a few random/semi-random things that weren’t there before.

      To some degree, it’s like re-playing a higher-res more detailed version of Bioshock or Jade Empire would be. If you loved the world, you might want to explore a little more. But you’re not getting that punch in the face again. (This is why I hated Bioshock 2).

      That said, I bought the game anyways. Frankly, I did it because I loved the mod so much I wanted to give the people who built it some money. They deserve it more than some of the AAA studios out there do. The extra content is just a bonus.

  5. Zeta Kai says:

    I. Want. My*. Diecast.

    Bring. It. Back. Now**.

    Annotations:
    * = Okay, it’s not actually mine. Shamus & Company make it, & release it free into the wilds of the Internet, so it belongs to everyone & no one. But I’m a member of both groups, so it’s kinda mine*** as much as anyone else’s, & I feel entitled*** to more of it, if I choose****.

    ** = Please. Pretty please?

    *** = Not really.

    **** = Which I do. Gimme**.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      …I once complained at work about our legal team annotating things in a peculiar fashion that made it near impossible to read anything they sent out (without re-reading it three times).

      Never again shall I make such complaints. Bravo.

    • MrGuy says:

      Pfft. With just a little more effort, you could have made the annotations loop, thus trapping pedants forever. And also making the Halting Problem applicable to forum posts.

  6. Neko says:

    Sigh, for a moment I thought I could get an awesome new podcast, “What’s the Happy Haps?”, led by our beloved host Atlantic Accent Rutskarn.

  7. Phrozenflame500 says:

    Glad to see you enjoyed The Stanley Parable as much as I did. I played the original mod and followed the development of the remake for a while. It’s probably the only game I’ve ever broken my personal “no day one buys” rule for.

    Also, have you tried out The Wolf Among Us? It’s Teltale’s new adventure game that was under development during TWD. It’s a weird pseudo-noir based on the premise of “fairy tale characters hiding in New York as humans” with a story based on a comic book that I’ve never heard of ever. It was strangely under-marketed considering how well TWD did, but it’s been given great reviews and personally I think it may be better then TWD in some aspects.

  8. Hoff says:

    I understand how your daughter feels. I loved the first 2 PA games, and while I have played and enjoyed some throwback retro RPG games, including Cthulu Saves the World, another game by Zeboyd Games, I really do not like PA 3. It is completely different, and all I could think was “I just want a proper sequel, and I’ll never get one.”

    • ET says:

      I too, would have liked a proper sequel.
      Although I enjoyed the retro-style gameplay and mechanics, games 3 & 4 became a boring slog after about six hours.
      I mean, they took the mechanics of old-school games and decided to clean up a lot of it, to remove boring tedium, which I greatly appreciated.
      i.e. Giving you infinite potions instead of having you restock your supply of 10 every time you visit town, paying 3gp each, out of your ten billion gp.
      However, the story itself becomes boring, I think because of bad pacing.
      I can’t remember, really; Heck, I can’t even remember if I finished the games finally.
      I think I gave up after about hour 25 of game 4.

    • Groboclown says:

      I don’t understand how Shamus’ daughter feels. Because I shelter my daughter too much to show her these games and their … different sequel.

      Then again, unlike Shamus, my daughter is really sensitive to this kind of thing – she knows what the words mean and makes it clear she doesn’t want to hear any more about them.

  9. Darren says:

    So: young-person appropriate games with at least the option for female-centric plots!

    My nominee: Legend of Mana (originally on Playstation, currently available on PSN for PSP, Vita, and PS3)

    Argument: Players choose their gender (though they have no option for visual customization) and then are turned loose in a nonlinear sandbox RPG. There are numerous female characters who come across as superior in various ways to male counterparts in each of the three main plot threads. Sierra is as skilled a warrior as her brother Larc, but she hasn’t foolishly sold her soul to gain power. Pearl is helpless initially yet by the end of her arc is nearly game-breaking. Daena and Matilda are the voices of reason to Escad’s blind hatred and Irwin’s destructive nature. Then of course the entire plot is kicked into motion by and culminates with the Mana Goddess.

    More generally, it’s a gorgeous, fun game with an amazing soundtrack, a large number of quests, and numerous game systems to experiment with and master, from golem construction to monster husbandry to equipment forging. It’s not terribly hard by default, but does offer some punishing New Game+ options.

  10. The Other Matt K says:

    I really enjoyed OtRSPoD3, but I definitely benefited from not having played the first 2 in some time, and having enough distance that the differences weren’t too glaring. Notably, even the relatively minor changes between 3 and 4 ended up bugging me more than the shift from 2 to 3. I’m often the same way with movie adaptations – I refuse to read or re-read a book right before the adaptation comes out, since if it is fresh in my mind, I know all the differences will drive me mad. But if I haven’t read it in a while, I can usually appreciate the similarities without being bothered by the changes.

    • Jarenth says:

      I was going to say something that was basically this. The time between Precipice 2 and Precipice 3 definitely dulled the loss of the former; I’d pretty much given up on seeing a continuation of that one.

      I enjoyed the current Rain-Slick Precipice 3, but I would also have enjoyed an actual Rain-Slick Precipice 3. I’d actually have liked for both of them to coexists, impossible as that probably is.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The new penny arcade game SUCKS! :(”

    I had the same reaction at first,but I decided to stick with it,and after a while,once I got used to it,it doesnt suck really.It is just different mechanically,but the humor is still there.

    Especially if you play the prequel,and you get to play with your old character tied in a featureless sack,with just the rake extending out.

    “I played through the Mass Effect series so I know how it feels, but this is the first time she’s ever gone through something like this.”

    No,not really.The mechanics may have changed,but the feeling is still there.This is a penny arcade game,only delivered differently.But it takes quite some time to get used to though,which may not be worth it for many.

    • ccesarano says:

      I dunno, I always felt bad about criticizing Rain Slick 3 because it was only made by two guys, but at the same time, it’s pretty obvious. Dungeons are not interesting at all. There’s no actual sense of place and paths branch off without any indication of what may hide a treasure and what doesn’t. Even in the tech-limited days of FF4 dungeon design was more interesting.

      The game has nothing BUT the combat, which starts out quite interesting but then turns into something quite formulaic. I’d say the Super Mario RPG combat style of Rain Slick 1 and 2 made it more entertaining, not to mention combat had a tendency to move at a faster pace. Most of all, though, and it doesn’t matter if this is true or not, it FELT as if you were doing more in Rain Slick 1 and 2 than just wandering through long, featureless paths fighting stuff.

      The writing is still top notch, but honestly, as much as I loved Rain Slick 1 and 2 and would love to finish the story, it’s hard for me to pull the trigger on number 4. If anything, I’m finding it harder to even will myself to play Cthulu Saves the World or Breath of Death VII.

      I think Zeboyd has potential, but first it needs to be more than just two guys making the most obvious of independent games.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        The thing some people forget when discussing those old-school JRPG’s and how simplistic their exploration and combat were compared to contemporary genres is that they were really, really hard to get right.

        So nowadays, when indies Kickstart an homage to that style expecting it to be easy, they find they’ve bitten off a lot more than they could chew; there’s a reason the companies that made those games often misfired on it even in its heyday, and why it was mostly traded in for visual flair as soon as that became an option.

        • Trix2000 says:

          It certainly gets interesting when you start designing maps and encounters and realize how much you take for granted. In my limited game design experience, there’ve been multiple times I’ve drawn out a map that looked good on the surface… but played out was SUCH a mess.

          That’s not even getting into balance and trying to find good calculations on which to base things like combat – there’s a lot of freedom there, but it’s also easy to spend a TON of time trying to keep the numbers in line with your own (and potentially player) expectations.

    • RCN says:

      I don’t know. I used to like Final Fantasy and other JRPG games. Final Fantasy VII was the first JRPG I played (and one of the first RPGs really) and FFVI and IV were my favorite. But nowdays whenever I play a game with that style of gameplay I feel so bored I can’t bother to go through even for the sake of the story.

      For instance, I tried to play Cthulhu Saves the World and, despite liking the writing, the JRPG gameplay was so droll to me that I just couldn’t get very far…

      CRPG games are another matter though. I loved me some Might and Magics as well as my Baldur’s Gates and nowdays I find myself still playing through these kinds of games just fine. I played through Legend of Grimrock twice (and I very rarely play a game more than once) and I’ve been having lots of fun playtesting the Might and Magic X alpha.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “I’ve been playing tabletop games.”

    NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!

    EDIT: Why did you have to fix the “text breaking through the comment boundaries”?It makes yelling so much less fun.

  13. Hal says:

    “I’ve been playing tabletop games.”

    Welcome back. We missed you.

    If you’d like something you can pick up fast and enjoy with your family, might I recommend Forbidden Island? It’s become the easy-play game for my gaming group lately (we’re between campaigns.) It’s easy to pick up but can be very tricky to get right. There’s also a slightly more involved game from the same designer, Forbidden Desert. Also fun.

    • Cuthalion says:

      As long as we’re throwing games out there, my favorite these days is Smallworld. I’m kind of a fantasy geek though, so repeatedly taking over the world with randomly matched race-trait combos in a game where everybody gets to keep playing until the last turn is kind of right up my alley. No idea if Mr. Young’s family would like it or not, but I like to tell myself they would.

  14. Paul Spooner says:

    Excellent! Glad you’ve found a fraction of your time to get back to your roots. Or, your other roots, besides computer stuff. I seem to recall some of the first long-term games you played were table-top economics simulators. Glad you’re enjoying it!

    I really like the Stanley Parable, though I don’t plan on purchasing the game. I feel like I’ve already learned the stuff it has to say, and try to say the same things myself. For me, it’s kind of the Spec Ops: The Line of story based games. It drags you through a de-composition of the forms that it’s critiquing without offering any real alternatives. (and I didn’t need to play Spec Ops to understand that one either) Of course, I only played the mod, so maybe I’m completely off on that one.

    I played the first RSPOD and came away rather cold. Maybe the problem was that nothing went over my head, or that the (absolutely cosmetic) character customization didn’t really mean anything to me, or that the entire game world is so damn bleak, hopeless, and saturated with existential despair. Whatever the cause, I never played any of the sequels regardless of the developer.

    Now that I say that, I can’t think of a single game I’ve played that suffered from “the new X sucks” syndrome. I’m sure it must have happened at some point, but I can’t think of an example. There certainly have been bad sequels to things that I enjoyed, but I’m not enough of an avant-garde maven to need to purchase them without knowing what I’m getting into. Probably why it’s good to know someone like Shamus (and his kids?) who like to test the waters… Someone has to play it first. Or, in this case, last.

    • Jexter says:

      While the new Stanley Parable is somewhat of a deconstruction a la Spec Ops, it’s probably more accurate to view it as an excuse to throw a never-ending series of surrealist jokes at the player. (I’ve heard it described as Portal as written by Douglas Adams, and that’s not a bad description.) Given that it has over an hour of narrator dialogue alone, I’d say it’s definitely grown into more than the mod was, and is worth experiencing. Of course, to each his own. However, if it ever shows up for 50% off, I’d full-heartedly recommend picking it up, regardless of prior reservations.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        I’m currently expecting to enjoy it the way I enjoy most story-based games, which is to say, via Youtube. The irony (in this case especially) does not escape me. It is an hour of entertainment either way, but playing requires my full attention, and listening to someone else play requires only my ears. The scant load on the imagination (required to speculate on the experience of playing it myself based on the vicarious signals) is well worth being able to do productive work at the same time.
        I’d feel bad about depriving the creators of compensation, but by all accounts they are more than happy with their take at this point.

    • Alan says:

      Even if you pass on the new Stanley Parable, you owe it to yourself to play the demo. It’s an entirely new game. And that game isn’t The Stanley Parable. And that assumes you can call it a game. Interactive comedy, perhaps? Either way, it’s about an hour long, amusing. and free.

    • Disc says:

      I can’t say either Stanley Parable the game nor Spec Ops ever really taught me anything new, but I did find the first absolutely wonderful as a platform for self-indulgence, trying to find ways to make the world and narrator react. Unlike Spec Ops, the philosophical jabbing actually felt appropriate. The way Spec Ops handles it most of the time just made me want to punch someone in the face. The biggest failure was indeed, lack of freaking alternatives. If the game was narrated in a similar manner to Stanley Parable, it’d probably be along the lines of:

      “There’s shitty option A, and shitty option B, make a choice asshole. Oh, you discovered the very rare hidden option C, clever you, not that it fucking means anything. We got still more of this shit left that we want to drag you through. We hope you feel bad or at least horrified.”

      The main character being such a massive, irresponsible asshole and there being fuck all you can do to change the course of the plot, the only winning move is literally just not to play at all.

      • Greg says:

        I have to say, I have the exact opposite reaction to both of these games.

        In Spec Ops, yes the main character just couldn’t leave well enough alone, but to me that felt real. Once you accept how ridiculous the situation is (an entire city abandoned due to sandstorms for 6 months, I know, not an easy thing to swallow), it felt like he was reacting as most stereotypical protagonists would: I know what we need to do, or I trust this person to tell me what we need to do, now let’s go kill some dudes and make it happen. It also did a good job of portraying the “decisions under fire” mentality, at least for me; his mistakes seemed believable once you understand that he’s got a hero complex.

        Being dissatisfied with not being able to change the fundamental outline of the plot misses the point entirely, I feel; the game is about the tragedy of this guy, this guy who acts suspiciously like the stereotypical bro shooter. The designers had a story to tell and a message to impart; they weren’t creating an open world, choose your own adventure game. I agree, there were parts where they made the rails a little too obvious, but overall the effect really, really worked for me.

        I’ve just played the Stanley Parable for a couple hours, on the other hand, and … I’m kinda regretting that I spent money on it. I mean, sure, okay, it’s subversive and funny and is clearly trying to teach us all the inherent ironies of demanding choice in a program written by other people as well as how to deal with enforced helplessness, but as a consequence there’s no immersion. There’s never a sense that I am Stanley, or that I am in this actual situation with this sadistic narrator, or that anything I do matters in the slightest. And to top it all off, the gameplay is essentially a theme park ride.

        I saw some people deriding Spec Ops: The Line a while ago for berating the player for taking a choice that the designers forced them to take. I could kinda see where they were coming from, even if I thought that this was the point. However, here, the Stanley Parable tells us straight out: you can’t win this game. There is no win condition. It never ends. And then proceeds to mock us the entire time we’re playing, lampshading the hell out of how all we’re doing is riding the rails set out by the narrator, who occasionally will storm off in a huff or turn outright sadistic, as well as congratulating itself on how it’s putting one over on the player. Maybe it would work better for me if I found the Narrator funnier, but without any sort of immersion whatsoever I just can’t care much about anything he says or does.

        That may sound like I absolutely hate the Stanley Parable; I don’t, I think it has some good ideas and the writing is stellar. As a game, though, it just does not work for me at all.

        • Disc says:

          I don’t mind linear storytelling, but I do object to a plot trying to dictate my actions and motivations towards directions that make no sense to me. I had one too many scenes where my intuition told me to do something completely different than what the game seemingly expected me to. Admittedly a big part of this problem was my lack of connection to the main character.
          One of the burdens of playing with already defined characters is having to find some common ground with them, something to relate, in order to really get into the story. With Captain Walker, that never happened for me. His decision making stopped making sense to me about 30 minutes in to the game. Having some idea what a reasonable soldier would have done, like first made sure he got a word back to HQ and wait for more orders before embarking on a ridiculous quest of murder and mayhem. But as I recall that never happens for some reason or another and he just pulls himself and his teammates into the abyss on a whim. Trying to rescue the assumed P.O.W in the start was about as far as I was willing to stretch what a three man recon patrol would ever do when it comes to making “decisions under fire”. I did my best to try and roll with the punches, but as the plot evolved, things just got crazier and the character redemption I was hoping for never came. It’s the point where I start to really wish I could wrestle the control away from the plotrails, because they’re essentially holding my enjoyment of the game as a hostage. If the game had been any longer, I’d have probably quit it in frustration.

          My “problem” may be, that I just haven’t played enough broshooters (last I played was Call of Duty 2 a lifetime ago, and I’m not even sure if it really counts) to appreciate the joke, but even as a parody, it just feels a kind of lame excuse for the plot and the combat, which honestly wasn’t all that great either. It works, but I had a lot of frustrating moments with it.

          It’s a shame really, since I can still appreciate trying to tell a Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now style of a story of tragic people in tragic situations, dwelling at the edges of sanity and humanity. There’s a lot of messages and points you can send and make within that theme, and giving it a shot is commendable, since it hasn’t really been done in video games besides perhaps a select few RPGs. All in all, I’m still glad the game works at least for some.

          As for Stanley Parable: It’s hardly a game, even if you stretch the definition, so there’s no really blaming you or anyone else who didn’t like it. Like you said, no win states. No obvious value to the player. I think one of the reasons why I liked it, was because I’m not usually a very goal-oriented player. Goals are good for focusing your efforts, but the journey itself is where I get the most enjoyment out of almost any game, and this game won me over by giving me a chance and an excuse just to act plain silly and rewarding (or punishing) me for it as it pleased. Essentially, the game wants you to make up your own goals. Trying to find out what and how much I could get out of the world and the narrator became the goals in my case.

          • Disc says:

            Addendum: As for the characterization, the same principle applies. Stanley is whatever you make of him. It’s the strength of silent protagonists, since when they’re not tied into all sorts of preconceived notions, cultural judgements and what not, there’s room for everyone to make their own interpretations of the character. The truth of it is essentially whatever makes sense to you.

            There’s a certain liberation to it that I enjoy about playing silent characters, but they’re by no means the only type of character I enjoy playing. And it’s not that they’re without faults.

    • Zukhramm says:

      How would you know you have understood a game if you haven’t played it?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      There are series I’ve gone soft on over the years, but the only time I would feel comfortable pointing to one and saying, “The new one just suuuucks,” is Ace Combat, with the release of Assault Horizon. I won’t bother explaining why, because no one has that kind of time.

  15. Steve C says:

    It’s about thirteen that this happens to everyone. It’s one of the reasons why teenagers are so moody. They get their expectations crushed by someone else’s failure. Reminisce and commiserate with her over what happened with Star Wars, or System Shock, or Thief or {insert letdown of an entire generation here}.

  16. Woogles says:

    This is interesting to me, because I enjoyed episode 3 of RSPOD much more than episode 1 (though admittedly I didn’t beat either). I found the combat of the first episode very dull, and I felt that the narrator really dragged on.

  17. Blake says:

    Board games are best games.
    I haven’t tried Zombiecide yet, may have to though.

  18. Grampy_Bone says:

    Esther is right, the Zeboyd Penny Arcade games are pretty weak.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Which brings us to the question of whether it’s better to have no sequels, or “bad” sequels (false choice, I know, good sequels are best, but sometimes they are too expensive for a variety of reasons). The former seems easier, as one can be an unapologetic fan of “the series” but the latter really offers you more options, as some people will enjoy the works, regardless of their perceived quality, and those who do not are by no means required to experience them. As Shamus says, it’s good for people who wanted more of the lore. Even if they are weak, is it better than nothing?

  19. The Rocketeer says:

    One pedantic thing: It was a tribute to Final Fantasy VI, not to Final Fantasy IV. I point this because one of these games is good, and the other is not. The difference it makes to the final product is immaterial to me; Mike Krahulik is best enjoyed in his extremely narrow band of competence, which is the Penny Arcade strip, and then only most of the time.

  20. Andy L says:

    Are you sitting down? I guess that’s a stupid question.

    Not stupid at all. Many of us have standing desks.

  21. Kavonde says:

    I freaking love Zombiecide. It really is a tabletop version of Left 4 Dead, but with the twist that instead of playing one of four statistically-interchangeable characters, you’re choosing between playing as Bruce Willis from Die Hard, Danny Trejo from Machete, Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead, or Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

    (Don’t pick Sheldon. Sheldon sucks.)

    The combat is fun, tough, and tactically engrossing. Even at the beginning of the game, fate can decide it wants you dead by spawning a Tank that no one’s going to be able to even inconvenience with their starting gear. (Unless you have Bruce Willis. He can ignore one point of damage per round, which means that he can box the Tank while the rest of the group tries to put together a molotov cocktail.)

    Of course, the base game only contains half a dozen characters. The rest have all come as Kickstarter rewards, and I don’t know if the expanded character packs are available for sale yet. And the Season 2 Kickstarter has even more movie characters transported into the zombie apocalypse. Might be going just a bit overboard now, I think. I mean, sending Emma Stone, John Cleese, Jack Nicholson and the Dude to fight zombies is funny, but maybe the joke’s wearing a little thin, you know?

    Oh, and the new expansion’s set in a prison. A friend of mine has obtained it, but we haven’t gotten to play yet. I’m definitely looking forward to (presumably) more defensive missions, rather than the “scout-and-loot this city” ones we’ve already done two dozen times.

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