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Tycho / 12 hours ago

EA’s premium digital offerings - EA Access on Xbox and Origin Access on PC - grant early play for their titles.  Except when it doesn’t work, and you got the same error message people were getting in the betas.  I once suggested that EA games came with “free misery,” nearly ten full years ago, and it’s a policy they’ve maintained with pride.

The problem isn’t with subscription services or VIP access or whatever; it’s their bits, they can apportion them however they want.  And clubs are fun, I like clubs.  But it also has to work.  Am I still salty that I signed up for it to play Mass Effect Andromeda, and then Mass Effect Andromeda ended up being… Mass Effect Andromeda?  Look, there’s no way to know for sure.  Except that’s why.

I really warmed to Anthem over the course of the two beta periods, not enough to pay for the Fast Pass, but enough to believe that Gabriel wasn’t simply hosting a ravenous parasite in his skull when he said he was having fun with it.  Whereas The Division 2 beta was essentially an All Clear - hardcore PvP players have concerns that weren’t addressed by it, but the crew I play with mostly plies our trade on the PvE side of the equation.  What I came away with was that they hadn’t forgotten the lessons they learned over the course of the first game’s life, and they weren’t going to have to relearn them all, which was nice.  The only question for me is whether or not I want to buy Anthem if I’m only gonna play it for three weeks total, or if I should just play Apex Legends until Division 2 drops.

EA really can’t figure this shit out, can they?

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 4 days ago

The main new things I’ve learned about Apex Legends are as follows:  one, the Wingman is the return of the old Pistol from Halo.  Remember that?  How it was a pistol, but also kind of a sniper rifle?  Yeah.  Except here there’s also a mod for it called a Skullsplitter; I’ll let you tumble to its purpose on your own.  It is surprisingly, perhaps even comically effective. 

Two, the Ping system we already said was great is even cooler than I thought, because it works in places I never thought it could.  By which I mean, the inventory screen.  I can… tell people what I need?  Without having to tell them?  This is holy, and I praise the divine spark within it.

Oh!  And what’s more, we learned to parse the subtle nuances of the Ping system, and we’re passing these cognitive morsels on to you.

Someone who follows me on Twitter agreed with us that “Apex Legends” might leave something to be desired as a name.  The difference is that he did something about it, bending software to his will in the creation of a device that will generate a new name candidate every time you click the page.  He’s also making an RPG about Goblins and releasing it as a quarterly zine…?  And he’s Kickstarting it?  I don’t know this guy very well or anything but the two things I know about him are both cool.

Something I’ve been surprised to see has been Gabe playing shooters with the PC as his platform of choice.  A little bug in the lower right hand of my screen is forever informing me of this while I’m trying to enjoy my progressive indie content.  He’s playing Apex Legends and Overwatch on PC - connected to a Discord, no less.  I am not in this Discord, I should say.  I was not invited, because he, Amy, and their spouses want to win.  If these games tracked wry observations that call into question everything we know, then…  fuckin’... I’d be festooned with accolades.  Like… festooned.

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 6 days ago

Gabe heard Titanfall downstairs, but on multiple axes - none of which made sense.  His sons were playing multiplayer, which they were able to find enough players for somehow, and Kara was playing the single player campaign.

The failure of Titanfall 2 is generally laid at the feet of Electronic Arts for not managing their stable of releases strategically, though there are many fans of the first Titanfall who’ll say - independent of any business considerations - that changes to titan shielding and vertically truncated map design didn’t help either.  Either way, it’s wild to think that the a freemium game ostensibly in the same universe somehow goosed this now ancient game, shocking it into terrifying unlife.  It has a miraculous quality that we have to onboard and marinate on, and under optimal circumstances I’ll be the sole lens through which you can observe the divine.

I’m watching this Activision Blizzard news in horror.  We were just down at Blizzard, the paint was still fresh enough to smell in the studio we streamed from, and the guy who brought us down there lost his job as so many others did.  And even though cuts were supposedly not in development, that’s certainly not true up where I live.

I saw Activision’s statement about why they “broke up” with Bungie over at GameSpot, but it’s like…  more than seven billion wasn’t “enough” according to the onyx spire they worship.  I don’t think they can be trusted to determine what constitutes enough.

I own a company, I understand that they have to make money, but the top of that organization is completely divorced from every other part of it.  It’s sick in the particular, unaccountable way that is an accelerant to revolution.  The people who generate the wealth they bathe in are so abstract as to be inconceivable.  I have some experience with this; there are people who will pulp you to get a “good year.”  One hesitates to suggest that they serve Evil Gods, you know, far be it from me to make a moral pronouncement, but their purposes are inimical to human flourishing.  The human being, essentially considered fungible and endlessly replaceable in its capacity to generate value, exists nowhere in their calculus.

The parable of the golden goose has endured for a reason, and that is because none of these motherfuckers ever seems to learn it.

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 1 week ago

There was a spike of normal functionality mid-week, like one might expect from a modern city, but just as soon as we’d tasted civilization it was gone again.  Brenna went shopping for the End Times, like she was stocking for a radical shift in governance from something like we have now - with established channels of authority from Federal, State, and County - to a marked declension of it centered primarily around tattooed despots with shotguns on quad bikes.  It has served us well.

We have already traded some Dark Meat for a few chunks of fragrant wax.

As I suggest in the strip, we’re from a place where such things are so commonplace as to exist below the conscious threshhold.  But that town, benighted though it may be, at least has an immune system that kicks in under these conditions: tools and trucks and salt and gravel and people who get up earlier than you do so you can go to work.  This is a town that is built for and from Good Vibrations and has no fucking clue what to do whenever anything outside that sun-kiss’d band occurs.

Honestly, I kinda like all this; I walked down into Ballard to get a the copy of the Genestealer Cults Codex I’d reserved at Mox, the even though it was very cold and generally considered to be impassable by vehicle the neighborhood had begun to thaw socially if not any other way.  I like apps and the Internet and stuff but I do generally speaking consider the current state of things to be Fucked, and the only medicine for it is to talk to each other, which has been the primary fruit of this apocalypse thus far.

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 1 week ago

I was watching Ninja stream Apex Legends this morning, and the title of the stream implied that while it had previously been a sponsored stream, he was now playing it because it’s fun.  I mean, I think so too.  We just made another comic about it.  It’s had twice Fortnite’s viewers on Twitch since it came out, but of course that’s two-fold; the dynamics are such that you can pay a person to play your game, but you’re also paying them not to play the other game for a 2x perceptual swing bonus.  I’ll be very curious to see where this is at in a week’s time.  But, again: it’s always worth remembering that royalty is a temporary condition.  I have a theory that suggests these cycles of Fame to Famine are getting shorter, with more explosive crests and more subterranean falls, but that’s mostly because it seemed weird to me how quickly they seem to reboot Spider-Man.

We felt like it was worth making a comic about the Ping system in Apex Legends, without which the game would still be very good but not as great.  Because there’s no real way to play the game Solo, as a “team” of one you’re always being slotted with Randolina Jolie.  I think this is the right choice, because the assumption that you’re in a team creates the lattice beneath a host of the game’s other systems.  So, because others are a fundamental consideration, work to enable useful communication isn’t an edge case or an “if we get to it” consideration.  And they’ve simply murdered it here: you can communicate a host of sophisticated information about enemies and items.  You call items out with useful information about their power level, and you can even say “Yes, that’s an item I want” or “This crate is open and I don’t like that because of what it represents.”  It’s very robust.  There is a super challenging art installation in the Mid-Rise Zone called “Call Me When You’re Dead” you can observe with a ping, and using only a couple button presses you can wonder if it’s possible to be “filled” with emptiness, if this is really all there is, and suggest that you’d give consciousness less than one star - were possible to do so.

There is a fascinating space in games that exists whenever the systems are muted for a moment, you can only hear them thrum through the wall, and now it’s a bunch of people doing things that people have always done forever.  The best part of Catan is trading, and the only rules around it are whatever you can cajole a person into.  The narrative subtext there is that no matter what you trade an opponent, they’re going to kill you with it.  They will sharpen it until it goes straight through you.  I love every spare, extrasystemic crevice a game has in it that can be filled with communication; you can win against people who you shouldn’t be able to with the use of correct speech.  I like it when voices are the only tool too, because that’s a tricky game in itself, but it’s codified here in such a practical, immediate way that sands off the scratchy bits around trying to succeed with complete strangers.

I feel bad about all the voice lines they’ll need to do every time they make a new character.  Like, real bad.  But I also think in any discussion of the genre, this is gonna get dragged out as an example of how not to fuck it up.

(CW)TB out.   




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