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.
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
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
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.