Oh shut up, katana plunkers.
Ooo, a new one.
Watching Cubs-Sox from a few days ago (hey, I’ve been busy, sue me) from the CSN feed, because the Cubs announcers are much, much, muchmuchmuch better than the Hose announcers. Len and Bob, as I alluded to there, are normally very good. And yet, I swear to god this comment just occurred, referring to Frank Thomas:
"You look back at how patient he was as a hitter, and still able to put up tremendous power numbers. If he was a free swinger like an Adam Dunn type of a power hitter, or a Reggie Jackson type of a power hitter, who knows how many home runs he might have hit?"
Now, first, I have to give my guys credit for recognising that Adam Dunn is an excellent hitter. A lot of commentators seem to have issues with their brains in that regard. That said, Adam Dunn is a free swinger? You sure about that? Seems to me that he led the league in walks last season, and has been damn close pretty much every season.
For fuck’s sake, Major League Baseball. What’s it going to take?
Comedy moment, courtesy Terry Francona: "That’s a little bit scary when you see it sticking in the ground like that. I’m sure that’s why the league is doing tests on bats, because someone is going to get hurt."
"We played 14 innings because we were lousy in the field. Lousy and lazy in the field. I never criticize my players for making errors, I never will. But when you make a lazy error, that really [bothers] me. I made a big mistake when I said in January he’s going to be a better shortstop than Ozzie Guillen. I never thought I was that bad."
Yeah, that really did come out of that man’s mouth. It’s time to play everybody’s favourite game: "How many ways is Ozzie Guillen wrong?"
1) He says he never does, and never will, criticise his players for making errors. And then he immediately starts criticising a player for making errors.
2) He never thought he was that bad. Clearly, he misremembers.
3) The White Sox played 13 innings, not 14.
Recognise this? Yeah, it’s an energy card from the Pokémon CCG.
I mention that because there are similar symbols used in my game — you’ll see things like that red ball with a stylised fire image on it. They don’t mean the same thing, of course, since I’m not making a Pokémon CCG (though maybe I should — I hear there’s money in that!); when you see them in my video game, you’re probably looking at a weapon, a piece of armour, or a combat skill. They mean fundamentally the same thing in different contexts, but we’ll go into a bit more detail about exactly what that is. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll assume that there are two types of symbol: the red fireball symbol (which represents fire) and the grey sword symbol (which represents "normal," or "physical," or "BONK," or whatever the fuck name I settle on). Furthermore, I’ve made crap images ( and ) to represent them.
Now, say you have a weapon. We’ll be totally bland and formulaic and call it "Longsword," to indicate that this is your most basic of swords. This weapon may have a line on it that reads to the effect of "Damage: ." What that means, in a nutshell, is that a hit from this weapon does two points of normal-type damage to the target. A more interesting, but still entirely formulaic, weapon, say, a Flametongue Sword, might have the following line instead: "Damage: ," thereby indicating that it does two normal and three fire damage on hit. Why use dots instead of a line like "Normal: 2 Fire: 3?" It’s more intuitively understandable. The length of the dot row tells you how powerful the weapon is in general terms, and it’s easy to compare the widths of different sections of dots to tell which type of damage the weapon is stronger in (I bet you knew the Flametongue did more fire than normal damage before you even counted dots, for example). This metaphor can break down if the numbers inflate, but I’m intending to keep them low.
Armour, as I say, uses the dots as well, but in its case they represent the damage that piece of armour will negate. If you have, say, leather armour, and it has "Blocks: ," then you’ll only take one point of damage from that Longsword, and four from the Flametongue. If you have some type of chain mail that has "Blocks: ," though, you’ll take no damage at all from the Longsword. You will take three damage from the Flametongue, however, not the two you might expect at first — the chain mail blocks only the normal-type damage, and can’t block the fire-type at all.
That’s pretty much the gist of it. All offensive and defensive items and abilities have a set of dots on them representing the damage they do; the total damage is a simple matter of subtracting the defensive dots from the offensive dots.
A Steam Demo Roundup, that’s what.
And Yet It Moves: A crazy minimalist indie physics game. You play as a little stick-man dude and you have to get to the exit of the level, which appears to be made out of torn paper. You can walk and jump, and you can also rotate the world. Rotating the world is the key element here, and it’s much simpler than it could have been; you can rotate in either direction, but only in 90-degree increments, so there’s no need to worry about finicky rotate-the-exact-right-amount bullshit. There’s fall damage in this game, and while I normally hate that, here it’s pretty much a necessary part of the game, since it’s really the only thing that prevents the game from being totally challengeless. Critics were pretty harsh with this game, but I rather liked it; it’s quirky, straightforward, and easily understandable. The soundtrack, though? She is not so good.
Crayon Physics Deluxe: A crazy minimalist indie physics game. In this one, you have single-screen levels, and on each level are a ball and a star. Your goal is to get the ball to the star. To accomplish this goal, you can draw objects in the world (all of which draw in crayon, naturally). I like it quite a bit, except that it seems to be very easy; possibly the later (non-demo) levels are a good deal harder, but the ones on display in the demo can usually be solved just by building a damn ramp. If it gets harder, it’s worth it. In other news, I think this is the only game I’ve ever played that has native tablet support.
Blueberry Garden: A crazy minimalist indie physics… huh. In this one, you play some kind of a weird bird, and you have to wander around a lot. You can eat some stuff, and then some other stuff you touch and it magically warps into a big pile in the centre of the world. A lot of people seem to be way into this game, but I didn’t really dig it that much; it seemed very arbitrary and buggy. I did not understand why some objects were magic teleporting stack items, while others were not. That said, the game does have one great moment — when you realise the water’s not just for show.
Braid: A change of pace: an overwrought, pretentious indie platformer! You may recall Braid from its Xbox Live Arcade debut, when some dudes got all hot and bothered about it and I had one or two things to say about their rabbiting. Well, now it’s on Steam, so I’ll have one or two things to say about their rabbiting again. Frankly, I don’t know what they got so excited about; it’s not that good. It’s certainly not "important" in any magical special way that makes it better than other, similar games.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; it’s an okay game. I’ve played worse. But it’s really not that special; almost every element seems like it was ripped off from something else. You run and jump and stomp on mobs to kill them, which is standard Mario platformer stuff. You play goddamn scavenger hunt, like every other platformer of the last ten years. You collect puzzle pieces so you can reassemble them into paintings, like in Banjo-Kazooie. You can rewind time, just like in that Prince of Persia game Stephen got all queer for a few years ago. Top it off with a visual style the game calls "painterly" and I call "faux-sophisticated blurry watercolourish bullshit,"and pretentious dialogue that puts all other pretentious dialogue to shame, and you have a thoroughly ordinary and highly overrated game.
Freedom Force: It’s an old one. So old, in fact, that the demo doesn’t seem to have heard of this "Windows Ecks Pee" thing and will complain that it doesn’t have any idea what version of Windows you’re running. Fortunately, it lets you attempt to start anyhow, and the game itself works fine. Guys, I’m serious: this game defaults to 640×480. That’s how old it is. That said, its age doesn’t really show as much as you’d expect; turn the resolution up and jump into it, and the graphics are good enough that you may well forget its age, due to an old principle I’ve mentioned before that states that visual style is more important than technical specs. And Freedom Force has visual style in spades. I do find myself wishing it had a bit more in the way of play control, though; the game looks at first blush like a Diablo or Neverwinter Nights kind of affair, but it honestly plays more like the world’s most twitchy, fast-paced RTS. You send your team of heroes in to fight the bad guys, and they all die in like two seconds because you need to micromanage their abilities and you just ain’t got the time. I understand you can do that with the game paused, but, still. In short, I dug the parts where I had just one dude to control, but once it was a team, I couldn’t handle it.
Larva Mortus: I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to Freedom Force for complaining about its play control. Larva Mortus’ is worse. To be fair, it’s really just not cut out for play with a keyboard; the play control is fundamentally Robotron, and you can kind of see how it would play well with two joysticks, but not so well with a keyboard and a mouse. Of course, it would be dead boring anyhow. Imagine Smash TV, but instead of wave after wave of mobs, every room has, like, five. Sure, they all rush at you as soon as you enter, but the fight is over as soon as it starts. Oh, and you can take basically infinite hits, too, since you can just stand there and let your health regenerate after combat. We all know what a fan I am of waiting to recover health. And, hey, what’s with the YouTube-prank-video bits where like a scary monster face suddenly pops up over the top of the game? Is that like a play mechanic I haven’t figured out? Or is it just a really stupid visual style choice?
Zeno Clash: This game was a huge disappointment, since it doesn’t seem to involve fighting as or against Zeno. Just an idea, game developers: before you adopt a "trendy" spelling of some word in your game’s title, you might want to check and make sure it doesn’t mean something else. That aside, this game was also a huge disappointment, since the reviews said shit like "refreshingly original," and what I got was a fucking first-person melee game with bad voice acting (sometimes to the point of unintelligible voice acting), bad dialogue, and a high degree of repetition. I’m like some kind of caveman fighting dinosaurs and aliens with guns, and you’d think that would be a surefire winner, but in 2009 it’s well-and-truly been there, done that territory.
The Path: Okay, Tale of Tales, I’ve been down this road with you before, and here we are again, looking at another one of your avant-garde game-as-non-game projects. I called zombie bullshit on your previous game due to flaws in its visual design and flaws in its song-isn’t-completely-terrible design, so what do you have for me this time? Well, much like The Graveyard, it’s a non-game experience. You control this girl, and you have to get to grandmother’s house without being eaten by a wolf. Your instructions are to stay on the path, which seems fairly simple, since it’s straight. But your girl can be distracted by things if you let her. As you progress through the woods, the environment gets darker and more sinister, and the mood becomes more tense. Then you reach the house and you’re done.
I don’t know, man. I can kind of get into it. It’s all mood and no gameplay, to be sure, but it doesn’t make any secret of that. And the visual and audio design really work well to create the shifting atmosphere; are there wolves in the woods? Is it really that dangerous to step off the path, even just for a minute? It’s sort of interesting to note how significant and fun things like that can be when a game is basic enough that you’re really focused on them. What spoiled The Graveyard was that the old woman’s model and animations weren’t detailed enough — you spent the whole game watching her, but she was pretty uninteresting to watch. She just looped one animation over and over again, and didn’t make it far enough into the uncanny valley even to seem creepy. She just looked kind of… N64. This time around, the girl looks a bit better, though her face is still bizarre and blocky, and she moves a bit better, though it could still use some work. At least she doesn’t turn by pivoting in one spot and looping her "walk" motion, though.
I will say this. This is the second Tale of Tales game I’ve featured in one of these roundups, and they’ve both cost me hundreds of words, whereas most games I have one or two pithy comments and maybe a gratuitous link and I’m out. I’m not sure I’m completely on board with what they’re doing, but I’m glad they’re doing it; like the end result or hate it, they’re doing something novel. They’re the opposite of me; whereas I’m trying to study gameplay and make a game that’s completely, compellingly playable, they’re eschewing gameplay entirely and focusing on mood and story-ing. And they’re sufficiently on the ball not to limit themselves to banal storytelling like some assholes; they’re really trying to maximise the role of the game as interactive story rather than passive cutscene-and-minigame player. Sooner or later they’re going to nail it.
Javier Vasquez, what do you think about tonight’s 2-0 victory?
"You’re not going to gnopeet the win every time out, but I’ll take it."
You sure aren’t. Because that is not a word.
To be fair to Javier, I’m fairly sure the error here is Yahoo’s and not his. I mean, seriously. Even if he did utter something that sounded like "gnopeet," would they have printed it straight-up? And would they have spelled it with a G?
Edit: A few hours later, and they’ve fixed it. Fun while it lasted, though!
We need politicians like this in the states.