Review: Might & Magic (PC)

No, Seriously, You Should Play Might And Magic

I know, I know–it’s like how you’ve always meant to watch Citizen Kane. Didn’t they do some kind of social science study about that, how people have these should watches on their Netflix queue but screw that, I’m'a watch Buffy again? Yeah, you say you want to play the old-school games, that you’re this Person Who’s Interested In Games And Gaming History And All Of That, but when it comes down to it, I mean, do you really want to be staring at this for the next several dozen hours of your gaming life? Fuck that, pass the Skyrim.

 

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Web Comic Artist John Campbell Set Fire To His Kickstarter Stuff

About a year ago John Campbell started a Kickstarter going for a reprint of his stupid zany webcomic. Somewhere along the line he admitted that he had faked being depressed to excuse the fact he hadn’t mailed anyone shit. You can read about it here

Starting in January 2014, Campbell’s postings on his tumblr blog started getting really weird. I mean, at this point you don’t think he’s crazy but it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s ranting in that terrible faux-HEY LOOK EVERYONE I’M SO WAAAAACKY style. By mid-February he is full on pants-on-head Timecube crazy.

Then, he decides to respond to this genuine reply from the creatore of HijinxEnsue to a woman asking an innocent question about how to help her daughter make webcomics with a flippant, crazy rant about how she’s probably going to get sexually assaulted. This does not go over well with Joel Watson of Hijinks Ensue. and things get heated.

On February 21st, Campbell write an I quit post where he basically implies that Joel Watson should quit writing webcomics and go save a predominantly black orphanage or something.

On February 27th, Campbell writes the most fucking insane rambling screed since Nixon’s White House tapes and posts a video of him setting fire to the books people ordered for his Kickstarter.

(I think we all owe Joel Watson a world of thanks for sending this guy completely off the deep end, even though as he pointed out to me in reply we all should have seen the signs of this coming awhile ago.)

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WITTGENSTEIN

State of Decay (PC)

A very fun but glitchy open world/Grand Theft Auto clone that is perhaps a bit too short. It could definitely do with some polish and shows its console roots. Still it is ridiculously fun when everything pops off well and perma-death really does give you a sense of danger.

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Who Will Stand Up For Dungeon Keeper?

(Editor’s Note: There is a new game by Electronic Arts called Dungeon Keeper. It is a “free to play” microtransaction game that is a pile of shit. They are trying to filter reviews at the Google Play Store, through a process of only taking you to the review screen if you first say you will give it five stars. Thanks to Eurogamer for the article.)


Let’s get the low-hanging fruit out of the way. Fahey from Kotaku wrote some piece of shit article talking about how all mobile gaming is shit, so he doesn’t get why people are mad. It’s typical Kotaku linkbait and there’s nothing worth even quoting except this:

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BRAWLERS: The Best Brawling Games In The World Right Now

Call me a weirdo, but I say brawlers have more in common with Robotron than they do Street Fighter-style one-on-one fighting games. In brawlers the enemies don’t try to mimic human opponents, they have set patterns of movement and attack. You are more than a match for any enemy in the game on an individual basis, the challenge comes from handling them in numbers with various combinations of enemy types while navigating an environment full of hazards. While you may have all manner of combination attacks and counters to unleash on a single hapless foe, the real game here is taking apart the entire mob of enemies without getting too torn up yourself in the process. Position and crowd-control are the top priority in brawlers. Think “Oldboy.”

Over the last couple years there’s been a miniature explosion of brawlers for the PC, so let’s take a look at some highlights:

Shank 2



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3k3y for PS3: An Exercise in Frustration

The 3k3y (“three-key”) modchip is a device designed to let PlayStation 3 owners execute “unsigned code” on their consoles. Technically “unsigned code” is defined as any code Sony hasn’t authorized you to run on your system. Publicly people proclaim this means things homebrew games and custom applications, but privately everyone knows they are primarily used to run pirated games. The only legitimate application for running games from a hard drive is to keep your kids from scuffing up your original discs, but regardless of how handy this might be, due to current DCMA laws, even this is illegal.

You can run “unsigned code” on a PlayStation 3 by using one of two methods: either by running a custom firmware, or installing a modchip. The advantage that modchips like the 3k3y and its competitor the Cobra have is that they allow you to run the original firmware (OFW) versus custom firmwares (CFW). Custom Firmwares are easily detectable by Sony; running CFW and connecting your PS3 to the PlayStation Network (PSN) is a good way to get your console banned for life from online play. Additionally, to install a CFW you have to be running a specific, older OFW that, unless your PS3 has been sitting in a closet for a couple of years disconnected from the Internet, it’s unlikely you’re running. You also can’t downgrade firmwares on the PS3 without purchasing additional hardware (or paying some kid on Craigslist $50 to do it for you), and many newer PS3s aren’t even capable of running the older OFW needed to install CFWs. Long story short, if you’re not already running a CFW on your PS3, chances are you won’t be able to install one and a modchip like the 3k3y is your only alternative.

When I hinted to Santa that I was interested in getting a 3k3y, he told me he had no idea what I was talking about and that I was on my own. So, I ordered one for myself to see if the chip lived up to the hype.

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Penny Arcade’s Forum Moderators Are Also Virulent Losers

So I’m on the Penny Arcade forums ONLY for a very specific subforum involved with running community activities that has nothing to do with Penny Arcade proper.

So I try to get in today and it says I don’t have permission. All the subforums are gone. Did I get banned? What the heck did I do? Given how universally shitty mods are, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was banned without notice for no reason.

The actual reason? Christmas shutdown. Every subforum has been disabled for a week, with only a “Christmas hangout” forum available.

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Eurogamer puts Turn 10′s feet to the fire, brings them a mug of warm cocoa

(Editor’s note: quickly find all past and future columns from Jerry Whorebach, Senior Writer at Caltrops.com, through this tag.)

Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson interviews Turn 10′s creative director/media daddy, Dan Greenawalt

In terms of the free-to-play mechanics that are coming into it – because it came as part of a wave of Microsoft games that introduced mechanics more typically found in free-to-play games in full-price games, what’s your take on that and how do you justify their inclusion?

Dan Greenawalt: So that’s how you felt about Forza 4?

Ha ha ha! I love how Dan calls Eurogamer out on their bullshit narrative here. They want you to believe Forza 4 was perfect and Eurogamer didn’t have a bad word to say about it, then Forza 5 came out and it was different and Eurogamer noticed it was different and sounded the alarm. When the truth is, Forza 5 was about the only game you could get for your brand new Xbox One that wasn’t already available in a much better version on some other platform, so a lot of people who hadn’t played a racing game since the days when they were actually supposed to be fun got stuck trying to wring some enjoyment out of it. Needless to say, they were FUCKING APPALLED at the kind of bullshit Turn 10 has been perpetrating for years, egged on at every turn by those staunch consumer advocates at Eurogamer.

I did feel that way about Forza 4, so I’ll admit an inconsistency there, but it wasn’t pronounced as much. It’s certainly much more of an issue in Forza 5.

Dan Greenawalt: I understand that if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck… I know the statement. But honestly if you look at free-to-play games they usually have things called paywalls, where you’re slowly wearing something down and the only way to get around it is to pay. That’s not what we implemented in Forza 4 and that wasn’t our goal in Forza 5 either. We don’t have paywalls. We have acceleration, and that was based on feedback from players in Forza 4 – there’s a small group of players that can’t be bothered to do things and they have disposable income. They’re the sim guys in a lot of cases. They don’t want to do the career, and they don’t value those aspects, and that’s alright by me. With Forza 4 we had car tokens that range from one dollar to three dollars – the most expensive car was ten million credits in game, and it only cost three car tokens which would have been three dollars.

That felt like it was not making the car exclusive enough for those who are willing to pay. So we made car tokens equal to credits – it’s not about making more money, it was actually about saving people’s time when doing the grind.

I’m not sure how Dan reconciles the statement “we don’t have paywalls” with the fact that every Forza ever has required you to pay a monthly fee to access the multiplayer features (multiplayer features such as custom races against CPU opponents), but there’s not really any time to call him out on that one since he immediately doubles down on the bald-faced lying by claiming they decided to charge more real money to unlock pretend cars because gamers honestly felt they were getting them too cheaply before. At least, I hope to God that’s bald-faced lying. It’s probably not bald-faced lying, is it?

I remember you saying last time we spoke that this felt like the first Forza that wasn’t compromised – but do you think you could have done with another 12 months of development, and didn’t have the pressure of having to launch alongside Xbox One?

Dan Greenawalt: Not really. We’ve developed a team that’s made to have process around concept, and prototype and production and close-down in a very set cadence. It’s how we hire and how we staff, and it’s kind of how we are. In statistics there’s the idea of the inverse U – the more time you have something can get better, and the more time it takes eventually it gets worse. In game development it’s similar that way. You can’t make a triple-A game in a month – I’m being hyperbolic here – and as you take more and more months, you get more time to get the quality required, the innovation required and you have to be able to throw things away to make a triple-A game.

But – and I’ll be hyperbolic again – after, say, six years, your technology starts getting old. It starts getting outdated, and you have to rewrite it, so you’re in the state of constant rewrites. Looking at most games being developed, the two to three year basis is the sweet-spot for triple-A games. But we’ve optimised our team to do the two year product cycle. It’s hugely disruptive to add another year – you’re having to throw a lot of work away. Since we’ve made a team that’s able to make games in two years, I think another year we’d have to change our processes to make the most of that.

The version of this article that went up this morning had “inverse U” – the statistical concept better known as Broussard’s Lament – spelled as “inverse you”. This indicates two things: one, Eurogamer’s copy editors aren’t getting paid to Google every obscure piece of trivia that comes across their desks, and two, Martin Robinson’s articles in their unedited form most likely resemble text messages from a harried gorilla.

Comments? Join us on the forum.

Jerry Whorebach

Foodfight (2012, Animated Movie)

Is Foodfight the worst animated movie ever made?

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Everyone Is Four

Let me preface this (waves hands) ALL of this by saying that RPS has directed me to more games I like than any other site. They are doing a real service to independent games. The last game that the two of us both loved, after some rushed consultation (Don has one finger on the “dump caller” button even when it is instant messaging) was Air/Sea Battle for the Atari. It’s hard for us to find common ground, but RPS manages to find a way.

However, Rock Paper Shotgun has been on a social justice kick recently. Of course, we’re not supposed to call it a “kick,” because that implies that social justice isn’t the cause du jour meant to bully other people into being ashamed and thinking exactly how you think. How could you be against sexism, racism and bullying??? Social justice is a Livestrong bracelet, but the ICU hasn’t turned on Lance yet.

Social justice has never and will never change anything. Most people are trying to get through to JOOOOOCKS through the comfort of their bedrooms, so you have to unironically credit Nathan Grayson of RPS for trying to confront game developers directly — since he left his house to do it. In a world where straight white cis males are a vicious line of tanks, Nathan Grayson is the Chinese guy who stood in front of them.

Here’s his interview with the guys making something called Heroes of the Storm. Since it is an “x of the y” title, I hate it and hope that everyone involved becomes homeless, and not the cool kind of homeless where you have a great Movember beard and could get laid by other street trash if it were cold enough.

As time is winding down, Nathan tries to cram in a few questions about how the girls in the game look like hookers or something. Dustin Browder, also known as the guy who designed Starcraft II, the best e-sport game ever made, does not wish to ENGAGE. He also does not want to be rude, but there really is nothing to be gained by engaging Nathan here. Zero.

RPS: You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that’s totally fine – just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree – that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all – and StarCraft’s own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes?

Browder: Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That’s sort of where we’re at. But I’ll take the feedback. I think it’s very fair feedback.

RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a medium that’s notorious – often in a not-good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.

Browder: We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.

RPS: But it’s not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn’t everyone feel empowered? That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.

Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.

[PR says we've run over, tells me I have to leave]

RPS: Thank you for your time.

First off, I imagine the PR person wheeling Nathan’s chair backwards while all this is going on, trying to fake-laugh over Nathan tediously talking about these extremely important women’s rights issues. In his head: “I HAVE A DREAM!” Out his mouth: “Umm okay b— okay.” If you want to read all of his staircase wit, it’s here.

Secondly, I love that Dustin blew him off with a “Cool story, bro.” Because that is the sort of reply you should expect when you start quoting memes, telling people the flavor of drink you want is Hitler Did Nothing Wrong or attempting to go full tumblr on a guy with an office job.

Chicks in tight pants in games doesn’t make the player sexist any more than shooting people in games makes the player a murderer. None of it matters and nobody’s opinion will ever change. There’s the jackasses, who, BEFORE THIS CHICKS IN PANTS THINGS BECAME THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER, the most important thing ever was shouting at the rooftops that GAMES DON’T FUCK YOU UP. They are now suddenly crying out, “NOT THE SAME THING!! This really DOES fuck you up!!”

I’m sorry that 90% of the chicks at conventions come dressed as Cammy from Street Fighter. I’m sorry that the rest come naked, except for whatever sticks to their skin on the cab ride over. Nerds are disgusting animals around girls and our solution is to stop having game conventions, where half of this shit arises from. Nobody will do that because of money. Nobody will stop putting their female characters in bikinis because they make more money when they’re dressed that way.

A games site trying to change how people think is adorable, but trying to change the way money is made is futile. That said, I think RPS ought to continue to have these interviews, but at least have the balls to start with these questions. I want their first probes into a new ware to be about how exploited women are because the girl from “Beyond Good & Evil 2″ might be wearing lip gloss, the discount aluminum siding of the patriarchy. Lead with this shit, if that’s what you want your site to be about. Just make this what the site is about, since that is what the site is about. You’re not going to change how a single person thinks, but if you really think you can then go for it.

(Polygon gives this article an 8/10.)

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The Warezwolf and Don Rogers