Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 05:03 on 24-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
@Adrienne: Here you are. This is for the Bachelor's playthrough. Haven't been able to find one for the Haruspex yet, but Quintin Smith talked a bit about his story when he wrote about Pathologic on Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
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at 04:58 on 24-04-2012, Adrienne
Alasdair -- I would love to see those blog posts, do you still have the link? I've got a lot of admiration for Pathologic but really can't make myself actually play it. (I'm deeply in love with Icepick's follow-up game, The Void, and have played it a bunch though i haven't beaten it.)
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at 04:23 on 24-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So, anyway, a few months back I linked to a series of blog posts detailing his experiences with the abasement RPG Pathologic, specifically his experience with the Bachelor's storyline. I mention this now, because a text-and-screenshot Let's Play of the Devotress/Impostress' story has appeared in SomethingAwful's public archives.

After reading it, it becomes quite clear why you can't play her story until you've completed either the Bachelor or the Haruspex's first. It also becomes clear why the manual calls the game a "decision-making simulator." Things get trippy.
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at 04:16 on 24-04-2012, Adrienne
So over on the FerretChanges article, Michal says,

I thought the general position was "Steampunk is really cool in concept but there's nothing out there that's actually any good yet and probably never will be."


...and then goes on to cite a single exception. I'd like to add for consideration another, though it's not a book or story, it's a browser game: Fallen London/Echo Bazaar. It's got upwards of a million words of original content, the aesthetic is certainly broadly Steampunk, and it is FUCKING AWESOME.
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at 21:27 on 23-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Hey, Ray Wise is not a "no-name actor!" He's just getting some shoe-buying money for his wife, is all. (Though if he did the movie in the character of Leland Palmer...that might be worth seeing.)

Also, because I already made a Bioshock joke with the first movie, I'm hoping this new one reveals that John Galt is actually a twenty-foot long insane man-fetus who lives in a giant tank and randomly electrocutes his employees through the aid of a flying outboard motor.
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at 20:09 on 23-04-2012, Ibmiller
Oooh, just found out that they've completely recast (read: suckered entirely new no-name actors) Atlas Shrugged: Part II: Even More Trains! With More Vanilla Renditions of Rough Sex!
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at 17:15 on 23-04-2012, Bjoern
Kyra, it's online in several parts on YouTube. Here's the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMJZ-_bJKdI

But you're UK based, right? In that case, Amazon.co.uk sells it for less than five quid and its well worth it.
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at 02:55 on 23-04-2012, Guy
I loved King of Kong when I saw it. Don't know where/if it's available but I do recommend it.
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at 23:06 on 22-04-2012, Wardog
Currently watching The King of Kong. A documentary about the competetiveness of professional Donkey Kong players.


That sounds weirdly awesome - is it available online for the watching anywhere? I imagine it's rather like the top WoW raiding guilds except with more gorillas.
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at 21:35 on 22-04-2012, TheMerryMustelid
That made my day also, said this liberal disingenously.
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at 02:36 on 22-04-2012, Fin
disingenuous liberal just made my day.
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at 17:23 on 21-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
My problem with Dishonored is that, well, the hero is ridiculously overpowered. I mean, he can STOP TIME and SLAUGHTER EVERYONE IN THE ROOM in the blink of an eye.

So...Why is this a stealth game? Why am I sneaking when there is no possible way for the guards to survive a direct onslaught of the Army of Protagonist?

Well, c'mon man, it's a trailer. Ya gotta be flashy if you want to move product. :)

More seriously, though, the interviews the developers have done have made it clear that it's completely possible to complete the game any way the player wants, whether by stealth or blades a-blazing. (For what it's worth, one of the project leads cut his teeth on Deus Ex back in the day.) However, there will naturally be supplemental mechanics that affect how the game plays out. The big one that I've seen emphasized in interviews is something called "chaos". If you run around as a kill-crazy bastard, it will change how the world works and the story plays out. More guards will appear in later levels, characters will be less willing to help you, the plague currently ravaging the game's world will get worse, and naturally the final outcome will be different. The developers have described it as an "analog morality system", but the best analogy I've seen for it is the notoriety system from the Hitman games. You can be aggressive in your playthrough, but it may not be the most optimal course.
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at 15:38 on 21-04-2012, Bjoern
Currently watching The King of Kong. A documentary about the competetiveness of professional Donkey Kong players. A fascinating glimpse into a completely bizarre subculture...

Also, I still hope that this is not actually a documentary but rather a satire in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap.
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at 15:23 on 21-04-2012, Axiomatic
My problem with Dishonored is that, well, the hero is ridiculously overpowered. I mean, he can STOP TIME and SLAUGHTER EVERYONE IN THE ROOM in the blink of an eye.

So...Why is this a stealth game? Why am I sneaking when there is no possible way for the guards to survive a direct onslaught of the Army of Protagonist?
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at 11:28 on 21-04-2012, Wardog
Speaking of games, although CD Projekt Red makes me go all cupcakey inside, I just wanted to give a shoutout to Larian studios for being adorable. They're the company who did the Divinity series, which I suspect is one of those RPGs only I played, although I think their latest Ego Draconis did pretty well for itself. The founder, Swen Vincke keeps a genuinely interesting blog and here is a video of them unboxing their facial animation capture set, which makes me want to hug them so hard. I am massively looking forward to Dragon Commander :)
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at 03:14 on 21-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Oh, hey, and the first trailer for Dishonored has appeared.

Question: Am I weird for spending all my time wondering why that armored car was running on rails and the possible implications of that question for the setting? (Was it just adapted to use the city's tram network, or is does this game take place in a world where rubber was never discovered? The latter case is certainly plausible, given how the initial background materials imply that the human race is confined to a rather small archipelago with a climate like that of northwestern Europe, but how could you run a motorized industrial revolution without rubber? And so on and so on.)
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at 02:53 on 21-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I saw The Cabin In The Woods last Friday, actually, and I find myself in broad agreement with Abigail's critique. I would recommend seeing it, however, simply because I found it pretty damn funny. I found myself enjoying the control room parts of the movie the most, thanks mostly to Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins' onscreen rapport and for the sheer ridiculousness of portraying the construction of a slasher movie in the context of a modern office environment. [To be perfectly honest, after seeing those scenes I started wondering what kind of gold Thomas Ligotti could have spun out of that premise, which in a roundabout fashion is why I'm going to be buying My Work is Not Yet Done next week, damn you Arthur :).] I also enjoyed it since I interpreted the movie as an attack on the centrality of the monster in horror fiction, but representing them as both a generic threat designed to introduce a sense of danger to a story and an entity that bears little difference from a wild animal, and as such does not deserve the mystique we surround them with. Mind you, this is just my opinion here; I've come to believe that monsters have ruined modern horror for the most part, and the only time I care for them is when they're supplemental to the main action.

Oh, and you should also see this movie because you'll get to see a man get murdered by a unicorn.
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at 02:24 on 21-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
@James D: I would suggest you track down a copy of Michel Houellebecq's H. P. Lovecraft: Against The World, Against Life (you can buy it in stores, or grab a copy here). It's an extremely interesting analysis of how Lovecraft thought and how his writing worked. There's a pretty extensive section devoted to his racism that actually gets into the questions of how his racism evolved (long story short: it initially started out as garden-variety waspish snobbery, but after he spent two years in Jazz-Age Brooklyn failing to find a job it wound itself up into hyperdrive) and how exactly it influenced his writing.

I suppose the reason Lovecraft's racism doesn't rankle quite as much is that it feels like a mask, a way of expressing what is, at heart, a fear/disgust/hatred of the biological. The fact that his racism often seems rather formless and arbitrary (there's a rant of his mentioning "italico-semitico-mongoloids", whatever those are), combined with the fact that he married a Ukrainian Jew he met through amateur journalism implies to me that "racism" in and of itself was not the whole story. There's also the fact that there's a pretty impressive thread of self-hatred in his works which muddies the picture even further, but that's another story.
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at 21:20 on 20-04-2012, Wardog
Oooh, we're going tomorrow (currently unspoiled). I confess I'm curious.
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at 21:02 on 20-04-2012, Ibmiller
So...has anyone seen Cabin in the Woods? Since I'm still on the outs with Whedon until and unless Avengers is more than just passable (plus I loathe horror stories), I've not. But I'm curious to know what reactions are, after reading Abigail Nussanbaum's review (warning - if you check her review out, there are massive, massive spoilers).
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at 20:20 on 20-04-2012, Bjoern
James, the story you're referring to is "Medusa's Coil".
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at 19:05 on 20-04-2012, Rami
Adrienne: Congrats on submitting the bug and kudos to the SASS maintainers for taking it on board!

James D:
Unlike Robert E Howard's racism, a lot of Lovecraft's racism is almost too goofy to take seriously.
Oh, I dunno, maybe this century's Lovecraft would just have been a Birther ;-)
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at 18:34 on 20-04-2012, Adrienne
Kyra, that's AWESOME. Oatmeal is one of those very hit or miss comics for me, but i think a lot more highly of the guy than i did before.

Also in the realm of small victories, I submitted this bug report about sexism last week, and got an awesome response from the project maintainers: https://t.co/qBHiszWC
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at 17:24 on 20-04-2012, James D
Imagine if he'd lived longer and gotten progressively crazier and more curmudgeonly with every passing year. He'd be writing stories in which the protagonist immolates himself and his whole family because a great-great-grandmother once borrowed a cup of sugar from someone who had once been slightly polite to a mulatto.

Come to think of it, a product of miscegenation like Obama getting elected would probably drive Lovecraft himself to insanity, if he were around today.
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