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 15:36 on 24-06-2011, Robinson L
Although Jay Lake has got many, many issues, I do appreciate his linking this article on the hypocrisy of homophobes citing the Bible to justify their bigotry.

Alasdair: I've come to realize I don't really have the attitude for games everyone else does.

I concur with Arthur on this point. I read that and my initial reaction is This is a bad thing because...? I also appreciate reading your game reviews whether the resonate with my feelings on a game or not. Of course, if money is an issue, then of course you have to be the judge of that part.

Pyrofennec: What's with people getting fucking defensive when anyone suggests that what they are saying/doing might just be racist, anyway?

Is that a rhetorical question? Because if not I may have some partial answers.

I am seriously stoked for The Hobbit. I have problems with the Lord of the Rings films, but I still adore them to bits.

Andy: Seriously though the Battle of Five Mountains is described very cinematically even in the book. That would be awesome if it's done properly.

Completely agree.
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at 14:55 on 24-06-2011, Andy G
On the topic of the Lord of the Rings films, even though my general opinion of them was "they're okay", I really liked the battle scenes, and the action scenes in general - as far as I'm concerned, Jackson did sage work on those, and I expect to see similar degree of ass-kicking awesomeness in The Hobbit.


What's the bet that somehow the first film will end with a huge battle scene that wasn't in the book?

Seriously though the Battle of Five Mountains is described very cinematically even in the book. That would be awesome if it's done properly.
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at 14:55 on 24-06-2011, Andy G
On the topic of the Lord of the Rings films, even though my general opinion of them was "they're okay", I really liked the battle scenes, and the action scenes in general - as far as I'm concerned, Jackson did sage work on those, and I expect to see similar degree of ass-kicking awesomeness in The Hobbit.


What's the bet that somehow the first film will end with a huge battle scene that wasn't in the book?

Seriously though the Battle of Five Mountains is described very cinematically even in the book. That would be awesome if it's done properly.
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at 14:01 on 24-06-2011, Vermisvere
here is Martin Freeman being a hobbit. SO CUTE!


I'm still trying to work out whether that's a prosthetic nose he's wearing.

On the topic of the Lord of the Rings films, even though my general opinion of them was "they're okay", I really liked the battle scenes, and the action scenes in general - as far as I'm concerned, Jackson did sage work on those, and I expect to see similar degree of ass-kicking awesomeness in The Hobbit.

On the other hand, the two-movie deal is a pretty obvious money-hoarding scheme. Damn Hollywood.

I found repeated close-ups of Frodo's face pretty traumatizing. Those eyes. That expression.


Same here.
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at 12:59 on 24-06-2011, valse de la lune
That's a lot of hands, Arthur.

(Not going to lie, my feelings about the books aside, I... could never keep my attention on the films for more than ten-twenty minutes at a time though I don't have much of an attention span for movies generally. That and I found repeated close-ups of Frodo's face pretty traumatizing. Those eyes. That expression. Errrgh.)
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at 12:50 on 24-06-2011, Arthur B
I have mixed feelings about The Hobbit, I think like Fellowship of the Ring it's far more straightforward to adapt than The Two Towers or Return of the King in terms of its structure, and I thought Jackson did the best job with Fellowship.

On the other hand, I thought he did the best job because he was inventing less material himself, and the two film model seems predicated on him inventing a stack of material surrounding the Necromancer in Mirkwood.

On the third hand, the Jackson stuff I like the absolute least is where he takes something fairly ambiguous in the books and then imposes a very literal interpretation on it - like how Theoden seems to be actually, properly possessed, rather than simply weighed down by an image of himself as a weak and feeble old man that Wormtongue has subtly encouraged. And The Hobbit relies much less on subtlety and ambiguity than the second two parts of LotR.

Plus despite having mixed feelings about the Jackson movies I'm still intending to get the Blu-Rays of the extended versions once they come out. So on balance I'm cautiously optimistic but I am prepared to be disappointed with it.
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at 12:18 on 24-06-2011, valse de la lune
I don't think it's possible for an author to respond to negative feedback without coming off as a butthurt crybaby, helped along by the fact that... well, usually they are being butthurt crybabies.

it's the easiest thing in the world to convince yourself that if you've been to Africa / got a gay friend / adopted a Chinese baby you can in no way be prejudiced ever.

'S called aversive racism if you need a catchy term for it. I've had people say racist crap to me only to excuse it w/ "but I'm marrying a mail-order bride from the Middle East how very dare you suggest I might be racist." Great fun.

What's with people getting fucking defensive when anyone suggests that what they are saying/doing might just be racist, anyway? And--

Jay Lake: I apologize, Arthur. I misunderstood the point of your comment. This occasionally a touchy topic for me, because of the extratextual criticism (and frankly, unfounded hatred) I’ve been targeted with over the past few years.


Oh right, this is the dude who said he felt "unsafe" at cons because of Racefail '09. Lol "unfounded hatred." What a butthurt crybaby.
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at 12:16 on 24-06-2011, Andy G
I have to say, other than the shock of realising that Elijah Wood is in the cast (I think or at least hope because they are going to frame the story with flashforward scenes with him and Ian Holm looking back), I am cautiously pleased by the cast for the new films. Now we'll just have to see if lightning can strike twice. And if the two-film split makes any sense.
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at 11:05 on 24-06-2011, Wardog
Also something cheerful: here is Martin Freeman being a hobbit. SO CUTE!
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at 11:04 on 24-06-2011, Wardog
Re: Jay Lake, I genuinely have no patience for writers who think it's appropriate to critique reviewers. I mean, read that stuff if you want, and I guess it's okay to say thank you if someone says something you like but whinging just makes everyone involved look bad. Not that Lake needs much help there :/ The dude is totally chronic for spurious self-justification. Don't me wrong, I have a vague degree of sympathy for that (not that I think it's okay to do it) since it's the easiest thing in the world to convince yourself that if you've been to Africa / got a gay friend / adopted a Chinese baby you can in no way be prejudiced ever.
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at 10:56 on 24-06-2011, Wardog
the only things I actually seem to like are obscure Euro/Russian titles from Good Old Games, and I've come to realize I don't really have the attitude for games everyone else does.

And this is bad because...?

Oh, wait, Arthur just said that but better!
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at 10:52 on 24-06-2011, Arthur B
Michal:
Heh. I'm going to assume that the "Arthur" commenting over there is Arthur B, who is a braver soul than I. Though I'm still a bit miffed by what Lake is trying to say even when he provides such long explanations.

It is. What I'm taking from his responses is that following the whole racefail thing he's now really sensitive about being called out for a lack of standing, which would kind of explain why he jumps to declare what standing he has in his response to the Mainspring review...

...except you weren't actually addressing his lack of standing. Oh well.

Alasdair:
In all honesty, I'm seriously thinking about getting out of the game review racket. I don't have the money to buy new stuff, the only things I actually seem to like are obscure Euro/Russian titles from Good Old Games, and I've come to realize I don't really have the attitude for games everyone else does. You can kinda tell the writing is on the wall when Yahtzee describes Portal 2 as "a sightseeing tour that begrudgingly has a puzzle game in it" and your initial reaction is This is a bad thing because...?

I honestly don't think any of that's a problem. I have no qualms about reviewing games long after their release date, and I think there is in fact value in having reviews which go back and look at games after the hype has died down and after the thrill of discovering a new game along with everyone else has passed and seeing if it's stood the test of time so far. And reviews of obscure Euro/Russian titles are actually way more useful than reviews of popular games which have had exhaustive coverage already.

As far as having a different attitude towards games from other reviewers, I don't really think it's a problem so long as that attitude is evident in your review; it's better to acknowledge your biases upfront than pretend to an objectivity that nobody actually possesses, not just because it's more honest but also because it's more informative - it puts the reader in a position where they can say "Well, they clearly have a problem with this part of the game, but that's not the sort of thing that bothers me". (This is actually why I think Yahtzee's reviews work, when they do work - the man is incredibly critical about everything, but he enunciates his criticisms to a sufficient extent to let you decide whether the thing he's complaining about would be a deal-breaker for you or not.)

Basically I have been really enjoying your game reviews and would be super disappointed if you stopped. :)
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at 07:18 on 24-06-2011, Vermisvere
Essentially what Jay Lake seems to be suggesting is this:

"Everyone interprets the book in different ways, and what you think I was trying to convey is in fact the complete polar opposite of what I was actually trying to say in Mainspring about Africa."

And his final explanation for shoving in the bit about his life in sub-Saharan Africa makes no sense to me.

I mentioned my experience in Africa because I was musing on the connections between fiction and life.

Or trying to show off.
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at 04:23 on 24-06-2011, Michal
I'm just surprised that Jay Lake seems to care what I think. Also, happy that Imaro might get a little more exposure thanks to the amount of traffic coming in from his site to my blog.

Jay Lake's attention strikes me as being a bit like the eye of Sauron ... do you want us to gather round his front gates while you sneak in the back?

Heh. I'm going to assume that the "Arthur" commenting over there is Arthur B, who is a braver soul than I. Though I'm still a bit miffed by what Lake is trying to say even when he provides such long explanations.
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at 03:51 on 24-06-2011, Vermisvere
Ah, Team Fortress. The cartoonish humour never gets old. :-)

Hey look, I got Jay Lake's attention (second link down). I don't know why it's an "odd critique", or what living in Nigeria has to do with anything, but there ya go.


To be honest, the entire "I did in fact spend some years of my life in sub-Saharan Africa" statement strikes me as a bit of a "I know more about the subject because I've lived in Africa, so hah!", which he tries to soften by preceding it with the words "Although it's not germane to either reading or critiquing the book..."

And the whole "Mainspring is about 19th century attitudes..." is pretty much the equivalent of the author trying to excuse the book by saying "I'm not being racist and stereotyping, I'm being realistic!". "Odd critique" has nothing to do with it as far as I can see, but maybe I'm just reading far too much between the words.
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at 03:02 on 24-06-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I still do really like one game, which is now free to play, by the way.

Also, science!
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at 02:53 on 24-06-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Still sounds like you did better than me, Cyrus. I saved my money and bought F.E.A.R. 3, because goddammit I thought the first two games were fun.

I shouldn't have spent my money. The plot only makes vague sense, the gameplay is afflicted with terminal consoleitis, and even the co-op isn't enough of a gimmick to redeem it. I tried bashing out a review of it, but I just couldn't make it compelling.

In all honesty, I'm seriously thinking about getting out of the game review racket. I don't have the money to buy new stuff, the only things I actually seem to like are obscure Euro/Russian titles from Good Old Games, and I've come to realize I don't really have the attitude for games everyone else does. You can kinda tell the writing is on the wall when Yahtzee describes Portal 2 as "a sightseeing tour that begrudgingly has a puzzle game in it" and your initial reaction is This is a bad thing because...?
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at 00:44 on 24-06-2011, Rude Cyrus
So I just finished playing LA Noire last night, and I have mixed feelings about it: the city itself is quite beautiful, although there's very little to do in it; the adventure aspects are fun, even if you don't really have a choice as to how the case turns out; some characters are endearing, while others have no explanation as to their actions. Overall, it isn't bad.

Then we get to the ending.

I don't know what is going on with Rockstar's writing team -- ever since GTA IV they've been trying to include these big storylines with realistic characters, only to fall flat on their faces every time, whether it's through having the protagonist make dumb decisions, be unsympathetic, or being railroaded into a bullshit situation. They did it with GTA, RDR, and they did it here. Spoilers follow:












They kill Cole just like they did with John Marston, only instead of dying heroically or anything, he gets washed away in a flood. What. The. Fuck. He doesn't even try to fight it, he just gives up! I know it's meant to be a Noble Self-Sacrifice as atonement for an atrocity committed during WWII, but it would've been much more interesting for the protagonist to have the face the consequences of his actions, which includes cheating on his wife with no explanation. As far as I'm concerned, it's a sacrifice that is neither noble nor necessary.
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at 20:33 on 23-06-2011, valse de la lune
Yeah! Finished at #30, just this month, I think. Quite concise compared to SiP, though I basically made a face at the last panel (creepy factor more than anything, but that's neither here nor there).

Re: Jaylake--I will totally join in the efforts to sneak in the back.
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at 19:49 on 23-06-2011, Cammalot
Wait-- has ECHO ended?
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at 19:28 on 23-06-2011, Wardog
Jay Lake's attention strikes me as being a bit like the eye of Sauron ... do you want us to gather round his front gates while you sneak in the back?

@Pyrofennec - is it finished then? I guess I thought it was going to go on forever like SiP so I didn't pay much attention after the first volume. I felt broadly okay-to-meh about it, at the time but that was largely based on affection for SiP.
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at 19:07 on 23-06-2011, Ash
I'm slightly creeped out by the fact that Mister Lake gives us his weight.
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at 16:48 on 23-06-2011, Michal
Hey look, I got Jay Lake's attention (second link down). I don't know why it's an "odd critique", or what living in Nigeria has to do with anything, but there ya go.
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at 16:20 on 23-06-2011, Arthur B permalink