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What game are you playing?
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geggis
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June 16, 2017 - 12:03 pm
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I forget that I own Deadly Premonition.

TACOs! Totally Arbitrary Collectible Objects. Anachronox also had a cool photography quest where you had to track down and snap all the Red Bipidri in the game. They made this very particular sound so you had a rough idea of where they were hiding. I got them all in the end. I think what I like about photography quests is that they make you slow down and look closer at your environment, a bit like the scanning in a Metroid Prime game.

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xtal
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June 16, 2017 - 4:26 pm
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I'm trying to get away from worrying too much what genre(s) a game falls into. This is mostly because so many games are picking up an "open world" formula, and for that we're at a place that feels like Peak Open World.

It naturally becomes less useful, like so many things do in the world of video games. Anyone I interact with I'm trying to have them stop saying things like "the combat is visceral" (no, it isn't) or my pet motherfucking peeve, "Metroidvania." Metroidvania is the most useless bullshit term that for some reason still lingers in games. Just so everyone here knows, the cool people are now saying Metroid-style. Because that's actually a way to speak that isn't completely flawed. So yeah, "open world" has joined this bunch in my mind. (tl;dr: Saying "Metroidvania" seems like a way to coin check how many other like-minded dorks you're hanging out with. It's not useful if you want to speak to an 18-year-old.)

I think it's increasingly helpful to avoid-- or at least examine when using it-- the term open world because, 1) you're not setting some preconceived expectation and 2) you're not saying that, of all the things, this is what is most notable about the game.

So yes Steerpike, please steal, borrow, do what you must to play Breath of the Wild. You may then see that, indeed, Gregg is just a black-hearted crumpet tosser.

And Gregg, I wouldn't go into State of Decay thinking about it as this vast and open game. It is technically a world you're free to roam in, but it's relatively small. And I don't think the emphasis is ever on pure exploration. Exploration is more of a necessity to survive and strengthen your home base. State of Decay has more of an old school PC game mentality, one I'd describe as a modestly-sized sandbox simulation. By that I mean it seems like a game made by people who cut their teeth on things like X-Com UFO Defense, and evolved what they liked about that game.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

Steerpike
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June 20, 2017 - 8:32 am
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State of Decay does a good job with its open world play area especially because it doesn't try too hard to be too big, so the developers didn't feel they had to fill the world with fourth-wall-breaking "activities" that have little or nothing to do with the gameplay. Also, much of your time in State of Decay is devoted to survival, to finding things that you need and making sure you have enough essentials. Exploration is a factor, and of course there are story quests and so on, but the uniqueness of the experience comes (in part) from the fact that there's such a sense of variance despite the fact that you're basically doing a lot of the same thing. Not everyone loved State of Decay, and it certainly has its issues, but personally I found the overall experience gripping and enjoyable. In fact I still go back to it and the second DLC Lifeline every now and then.

I mentioned this earlier but my little online group has been playing a lot of 7 Days to Die. This is one of the many Early Access Rust-likes floating around. It takes liberal inspiration (really it just takes, liberally) from Day Z, Minecraft, Rust, and a bunch of similar games. What's impressive is how well it integrates all of the ideas into a cohesive whole. It's clear that the developer is working with limited funds and manpower, and equally clear what this game might turn out to be if they're able to realize all of its potential. We just recently added the Valmod Overhaul mod and found it even more interesting to play with.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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June 20, 2017 - 5:38 pm
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I've gone back to State of Decay over the past several days. What with State of Decay 2 talk at E3 and it coming up again here, I wanted to see how almost four years of distance between it would make it look. I can happily confirm that the game has aged well (in my opinion).

Listening to an array of E3 coverage last week, I heard State of Decay (the first) described by two different people, in two different and unrelated conversations, as "rough around the edges." I LOL'd some hearty LOLs. That term has stuck to State of Decay like... I don't know. Like burnt rice to the bottom of a pot. Messily. But it's fine, I guess they're not wrong. Anything that gets called "rough around the edges" is going on my "to look into" list. It's worth talking about the things I perceive to be wrong with State of Decay because the game is so good. That's why it gets called rough around the edges anyway, right? Because we love it so much. State of Decay is first cousins with Fallout: New Vegas.

Something I feel about State of Decay that I can't recall feeling about many (or any) other games: Sometimes I'm not sure that the game would actually be improved if complaints I have (which are probably similar to others' complaints) were addressed. For example, I think that information comes too fast and hard. Literally, the information coming over the radio that Lily relays. There are too many updates and things to do too quickly. There's almost never nothing to do. But what if that was fixed? It's possible that some of the tension would be lost. Similarly, the amount of times (and the pace) which some of your survivors become upset or afraid, where they'll then stand in some room of your home base until you either address their issue, or too much time passes and you lose some morale, happiness, etc. Sometimes it's comical; there's been five or six people standing around all sad or mad at something, and it does seem a bit stupid. Them being locked and useless until their shit is resolved. But what if this too was fixed? I don't know. With some time and a notepad I could flesh out this list.

This is why State of Decay 2 is exciting. It's an ideal sequel in theory because it's an opportunity for Undead Labs to hone and build upon their original vision.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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geggis
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June 20, 2017 - 6:41 pm
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xtal said
I'm trying to get away from worrying too much what genre(s) a game falls into. This is mostly because so many games are picking up an "open world" formula, and for that we're at a place that feels like Peak Open World.

It naturally becomes less useful, like so many things do in the world of video games. Anyone I interact with I'm trying to have them stop saying things like "the combat is visceral" (no, it isn't) or my pet motherfucking peeve, "Metroidvania." Metroidvania is the most useless bullshit term that for some reason still lingers in games. Just so everyone here knows, the cool people are now saying Metroid-style. Because that's actually a way to speak that isn't completely flawed. So yeah, "open world" has joined this bunch in my mind. (tl;dr: Saying "Metroidvania" seems like a way to coin check how many other like-minded dorks you're hanging out with. It's not useful if you want to speak to an 18-year-old.)

I think it's increasingly helpful to avoid-- or at least examine when using it-- the term open world because, 1) you're not setting some preconceived expectation and 2) you're not saying that, of all the things, this is what is most notable about the game.

So yes Steerpike, please steal, borrow, do what you must to play Breath of the Wild. You may then see that, indeed, Gregg is just a black-hearted crumpet tosser.

And Gregg, I wouldn't go into State of Decay thinking about it as this vast and open game. It is technically a world you're free to roam in, but it's relatively small. And I don't think the emphasis is ever on pure exploration. Exploration is more of a necessity to survive and strengthen your home base. State of Decay has more of an old school PC game mentality, one I'd describe as a modestly-sized sandbox simulation. By that I mean it seems like a game made by people who cut their teeth on things like X-Com UFO Defense, and evolved what they liked about that game.  

I meant to respond to this the other day.

As much as I hate portmanteaus, Metroidvania is useful to me, as is 'Metroid-like'. I mean, if you know what Metroid is, chances are you'll know what Castlevania is too. I really like Metroidvanias or 'Metroid-likes' so a shorthand term for those is a good flag. You know you're going to get a world that's mostly closed off until you start gaining the necessary abilities to unlock it.

'Open world' is a lot more vague but it's still a useful phrase when describing Bethesda and UbiSoft games or Zelda or Minecraft because they're vast and open. It's when you start getting to games like STALKER, Beyond Good & Evil and Miasmata that are more... intimate, I guess, that 'world' starts to lose its meaning. 'Open', sure. 'World'? I dunno, that sounds so vast. Like you say about State of Decay: it's relatively small, but open. Quite frankly, that (and everything else you said in that last paragraph) sounds much better to me. I'll take more focus and less sprawl any day.

Now, back to my tea and crumpets...

Steerpike
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June 21, 2017 - 9:13 am
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The word "Metroidvania" is just so ugly. Really that's my only problem with it. It could only have been worse if they'd managed to cram Blaster Master in there somehow, like "Blastroidvania" or "Metroidvanster."

Actually "Blastroidvania" sounds prettier to me. Not much, but some.

State of Decay was definitely "rough around the edges." It's the poster child for that term. But xtal's right, its roughness was part of its... not charm, exactly, but its strength and its grippy-ness. I've started the game many, many times and never finished it, because I tend to start, play for several hours, then not return for a couple of days. By the time I do my base is on fire and everyone is miserable and/or dead, which is irritating to me. That's something they ought to adjust in the sequel -- either remove it entirely or add a checkbox in the game settings labeled Disable real-time events and make it an opt-out. Those of us with shit to do were turned off this game a few times because of an intended "feature" that works best for those who can guarantee their ability to make time every day.

I'm looking forward to State of Decay 2 on account of its four-player campaign co-op. I can't think of a game that lends itself more to this style of play, and I have really high hopes for Undead Labs hitting it out of the park. Like 7 Days to Die, a game in which you can stick together or sort of split up and deal with your own projects, it should grant a wide range of opportunity for different ways of enjoying the game without breaking anything that's integral. They don't even need to customize the campaign for co-op, to be honest; they could just pull a Dying Light and have all four players be identical copies of the same character. Or, of course, each player could start as a character and come together as the story allows, then do the usual swapping out thing.

I can see a few shouting matches starting that way. "You took Lily!" "I had to, Roman was tired out," "You son of a bitch!" etc etc etc.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Dix
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June 21, 2017 - 10:16 am
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Now, four player co-op in a game like that? That I am on board with.

I think I'm almost done with Persona 5. I can't even imagine life without Persona 5 anymore, so I have no idea what it'll be like or what I'll play next.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

Steerpike
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June 21, 2017 - 10:35 am
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I believe I'm maybe 70% of the way through, and it's going to be a major trauma to leave it behind. Maybe I'll just immediately start NG+ and pretend nothing has changed, at least until Persona 6 comes out.

On my active list along with P5 are Endless Space 2 (those guys make UIs that should be in museums) and Prey (I stand by my position on aliens shouldn't be allowed to turn into bananas).

ALSO: Gregg turned me on to crumpets. They are delicious!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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geggis
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June 21, 2017 - 10:56 am
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Hai and I have been eating a lot of bagels recently. Everything ones and... onion and chive? Either way, they're amazing. I know you're supposed to slather them in cream cheese, but some good butter on them while they're hot is incredible.

I finished They Breathe, Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving last night. They Breathe was pretty eh, Gravity Bone was daft and tedious, Thirty Flights was crazy and cool. Hoping to play Firewatch next. I'm on a short games binge.

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Synonamess Botch
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June 21, 2017 - 11:48 am
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Wow Steerpike, glad you're loving P5 so much.  I can't but completely agree about how great this game is.  I'm just a couple days away from the resolution of the 4th Palace story beat and I am as hooked as ever.  I can't think of any way in which this game doesn't completely surpass P3 and P4.  I am thrilled and continually pleased with how they've taken the familiar Persona mechanics and themes and integrated them seamlessly into the "Phantom Thieves" conceit.  I even love the tutorials, which tend to annoy people waiting for the training wheels to be taken off.  All of it is just so well done, I never get impatient.

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Synonamess Botch
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June 21, 2017 - 12:14 pm
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Steerpike did you mention what difficulty you're playing on?  I'm playing on Normal and finding it a bit too easy.

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Dix
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June 21, 2017 - 1:37 pm
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Synonamess Botch said
Steerpike did you mention what difficulty you're playing on? I'm playing on Normal and finding it a bit too easy.  

Operating on the assumption you're asking me, since Steerpike hasn't said anything about Persona 5 for a little bit (I'm not sure if he's still playing it?), I went with Hard. I played through P4 on Hard without much trouble, and for the most part P5 has been the same way: challenging enough that I have to think about my moves against tougher enemies and have usually had to throw myself at bosses and things a few times to overcome them, but I haven't hit any completely hard-stop roadblocks. The last couple palaces have been quite difficult, though.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

Steerpike
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June 21, 2017 - 1:55 pm
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I'm playing on Normal and generally it does seem pretty easy. There are moments, like the Fifth Palace boss, that threw me for a loop and necessitated a number of tries, but that instance at least was borne of impatience on my part; and a failure to judge how much health "a sliver" might actually mean numerically.

A sliver is more than I can do in one turn, let's put it that way.

Persona 5 is a fantastic game. I can't see anything beating it for my 2017 game of the year (though it occurs to me that I should publish my 2016 ones before I get all talky about next year) and it consistently impresses me with the depth of its message. I wish it didn't stumble on social issues where it does -- gay characters receive appalling treatment for example, flat-out not-funny offensive WTF were you thinking treatment -- but the game as a whole is simply amazing. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a traditional JRPG should try this one; in all my years I've never seen a better example than Persona 5. And "all my years" is a lot of fucking years, as I realize to my horror when I count them. 

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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June 21, 2017 - 2:33 pm
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Dix, my bad, for some reason I thought your message about almost being through with the game was Steerpike's.  Anyway, yeah I'm starting to regret, if only slightly, playing on Normal.  I didn't realize it would be so much easier than the typical Persona Normal.  I didn't play P4 on Hard because it seemed a little too hard and offered no bonus for doing so.

Oh, and I know exactly what I'll be playing after P5, although it is a tossup between Nier and Nioh.

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xtal
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June 21, 2017 - 2:56 pm
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Are you new to bagels, Gregg? As a guy who worked in an office for 10 years that had a Tim Hortons inside it (Americans know what this is now, right? I saw them in California!), I have eaten a lot of bagels. Survived off of them, you might say. It's possible that bagel is the food I have eaten more of than anything else. If you need any bagel recommendations or tips I'm your man. For starters, "everything," "sesame," "blueberry" and "cinnamon raisin" are all excellent types. The two former excel with cream cheese, the latter two with butter.

Okay, here's my beef with Metroidvania, Gregg. We're "old" men now. When I say old, I mean we're both in our thirties. I'm not trying to hurt the feelings of the legit old people around here like Scout and all those "fat chicks" of yore. I just think it's a good time to replace that term with something more language-y. Like Metroid-like, or Metroid-style. Them young folks are coming up from behind!

Steerpike, if you do go back to State of Decay (I think you should), I definitely recommend you not worry too much about beating/finishing it. The ending of the game is pretty disappointing from a gameplay perspective (I wish we had a word to replace "gameplay" too). I think I mentioned this in my review years ago, but the pacing of the game is not well balanced, and by the time you're ready to leave Trumbull Valley, you're probably too overpowered. My tip is not to rush, and just focus on what you enjoy doing in the game. I don't know if the ending can ever be fun; I think one of the DLCs (I still haven't tried them) addresses this by going to a never-ending mode.

This is my absolute #1 tip for anyone who wants to have a good time with State of Decay: push yourself and take risks. I think the game is at its best when you're on the brink of death and missions are close to falling apart. So yeah. Push it to the limit!

I've also been reminded, playing again, just how much this game is not an open-world, in the sense that exploration is not even remotely a focus of the game. The focus is survival, and so you're never exploring for fun or curiosity (at least I'm not). I have so much to say (anyone surprised?), I'm going to add a State of Decay Revisited to my growing list of unfinished writing projects. Look forward to that probably never!

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Synonamess Botch
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June 21, 2017 - 3:29 pm
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I just remembered you can change the difficulty at anytime in P5!  Sweet!

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Steerpike
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June 23, 2017 - 8:59 am
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I just remembered you can change the difficulty at anytime in P5!  Sweet!

You're right! I'd forgotten that too. I've been rotating my active games day to day, and today is a Persona 5 Day. Maybe I'll ratchet up the difficulty and see how I handle it... though by this point I'm probably used to my sort of careless playstyle and will get destroyed.

Xtal, I saw State of Decay remastered on the Steam Sale yesterday, and I almost bought it with the thought of playing through. In the end I denied myself, though history shows I don't do well with self-denial so I'll probably buy it today; it'd be cool to play the game with 1,080 of the Ps. I always felt the comments about SoD's graphics were maybe a little harsh, but even so I wouldn't refuse a nice HD remaster.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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geggis
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June 23, 2017 - 9:55 am
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Steerpike, if you can steel yourself then SOMA is absolutely worth picking up. Failing that, I think you'd really enjoy Fran Bow.

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Synonamess Botch
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June 23, 2017 - 10:36 am
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I started SOMA but have yet to come back to it.  I plan to!  I really like the "WTF is going on here?!" setup.

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Steerpike
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I'll grab it. Despite my general fragility when it comes to scary things, Soma should be okay. It seems less immersively sweet-jesus horrifying than the Amnesias of the world.

"WTF is going on here?!" is basically my default setting.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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