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 23:23 on 22-02-2015, Arthur B
What I think's really sad is that apparently the big deal about Godus is the land sculpting feature, but from what I've been able to find out about it (from the game's wiki) it seems pretty lackluster. You can... flatten land and pull land levels out a la the "level terrain" tool in Sims 2, and it sounds like that's it?

And that, of course, was a feature of Populous and a cornerstone of its gameplay.

That's part of what makes Godus such a shame: if Molyneux had just kept his mouth shut and delivered a straight update of Populous for modern systems with modern graphics, everyone would have been happy.
at 22:37 on 22-02-2015, Alice
Wow, you're not wrong about Jim Sterling's aesthetic, Arthur. o_O

Definitely a useful overview, though, thanks!
at 20:48 on 22-02-2015, Melanie
That was a glorious trainwreck of an interview, for sure. I mean, this part:
RPS: Do you think you can make a great game?
Peter Molyneux: I think I can try.
RPS: But do you think you can achieve it?
Peter Molyneux: You’ve gotta try, man!

Have you read this fictional interview with him? With the room and the horse?

What I think's really sad is that apparently the big deal about Godus is the land sculpting feature, but from what I've been able to find out about it (from the game's wiki) it seems pretty lackluster. You can... flatten land and pull land levels out a la the "level terrain" tool in Sims 2, and it sounds like that's it? And houses can only be on flat land, so your goal is basically to level as much as possible? There's so much potential when you put "god game" and "terraforming abilities" together! Like having your people live on the mountains, and then raising mountain ranges that lead wherever you want them to go. Or digging vast cave systems for defensibility. Or having a city built into the side of a cliff. Or growing an enormous forest and having them live in treehouses. Or, since you have supernatural powers, having them live underwater in a huge faith-sustained bubble, or in a floating city or what have you. Instead... leveling stuff.
at 14:23 on 20-02-2015, Arthur B
Jim Sterling presents an aesthetic somewhere between "hang on, that man's who's forgotten his fedora" and "hang on, that man's forgotten his swastika armband" in his videos, but he's good at the facts and has a comparatively fair-handed overview of the context to all this.
at 23:03 on 19-02-2015, Alice
I'm not a gamer, so this was my first exposure to the story, and wow. That was... quite something.

at 12:07 on 19-02-2015, Arthur B
Forget ethics in games journalism - give me more brutality like this.
at 19:08 on 14-02-2015, Orion permalink
at 19:48 on 11-02-2015, Orion
I don't understand the edits. It's mortifying enough without the stutterframes and whatnot. I wish they had just let the tape run.
at 18:40 on 11-02-2015, Fin
That whole thing was painful, but I really can't get over the Nazi tracksuit.
at 04:29 on 11-02-2015, Arthur B
I'm pretty sure In a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land was conceived as a collaboration between Ligotti and Current 93. Which is cool, anything that distracts David Tibet from further engagement with the Boyd Rice/Doug P./Death In June end of goth-folk is to be encouraged.
at 02:36 on 11-02-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Oh God...I've been rereading Teatro Grottesco, so seeing that picture of Mr. Rogers with all his puppets with that quote from "The Clown Puppet"...lawls were had, has the children say.

Also, I was introduced to iTunes over the holidays, and I found this: a musical accompaniment to Ligotti's "In A Foreign Town, In A Foreign Land" stories by the postindustrial/experimental Brit group Current 93. Looking at their discography they appear to be fans of Mr. Ligotti.
at 15:56 on 10-02-2015, Arthur B
Still not got around to tackling Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, but here's Mr Rogers sharing some of Ligotti's wisdom.
at 17:22 on 08-02-2015, Arthur B
So I just watched The Purge and I don't really have thoughts on it developed enough to be worth an article, beyond these:

- I thought it would have been a much better film if it had avoided the "creepy masked killers" angle entirely (because we already have The Strangers) and instead just concentrated on the early conflict between the dad and the daughter's boyfriend. Have dad and boyfriend go into a room privately to thrash out their differences, then have gunshots blare out and the two men burst out of the room in different directions, both claiming that the other drew first. Boom bang, you suddenly have a family civil war playing out within the confines of a suburban house.

- On which note, the mass killing of the poor the film plays out would of course be a near-inevitable consequence of the Purge, but I think they missed the point that the day after the Purge you'd find an awful lot of security systems being opened up by concerned police to reveal a total massacre of the occupants with no signs of break-in.

- As pointed out by my brother when we were discussing it, if all crime is legal during the Purge, why is it good for the economy? "All" crime includes white collar embezzlement, so shouldn't every company of every significance go bust overnight as its management plunders its accounts for all they're worth?

In short, the filmmakers pitch The Purge as this big "what if" exercise but then they don't offer anything but the most shallow possible speculation as to what the consequences of the Purge would be.
at 02:19 on 03-02-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So Star Trek Online may be dying a slow painful death, but if you still need a Trek fix, there's something wonderful out there for you: Star Trek Armada III: A Call to Arms, a total conversion for the hybrid RTS-4X game Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. I've been tinkering with it on and off over the past few weeks, and it is amazing. There's a bit of a learning curve (I'd recommend playing around with the base game before installing the mod just so you can figure out how it handles), but once you get the rhythms it become the biggest Trek playset you never had. This thing is truly a labor of love; looking at the ship and station loadouts is a trip down '90s Trek gaming memory lane, and damn near everything is useful in some way or another.

Also, if the late TNG era don't float your boat, they're working on a second mod set in the pre-TOS days that should be out by the end of the year.
at 17:26 on 02-02-2015, Arthur B
Russell Madness. Because talking animal movies and underdog-in-sporting-event movies aren't hit-and-miss enough by themselves.
at 21:07 on 01-02-2015, Melanie
The real trouble began the day you arrived at court. Every last nobleman hides a viper in his smile. How you long for the purity of life in your village, which is currently on fire or something.


But I think my favorite's all these "x in western art history" posts! "Women Rejecting Marriage Proposals In Western Art History". "Families Who Hate Each Other In Western Art History". "Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History". I love it.
at 12:39 on 01-02-2015, Arthur B
The Toast is great, it's got one of the best signal/noise ratios of anything in my RSS reader.
at 12:08 on 01-02-2015, Alice
I don't know who here also reads The Toast, but I suspect Ferretbrainers might enjoy these two pieces from their "how to tell what novel you're in" series:

How To Tell If You Are In A Soft Science Fiction Novel

How To Tell If You Are In A High Fantasy Novel
at 19:09 on 31-01-2015, Arthur B
I have Conspiracy Against the Human Race on my Kindle - I'm thinking I should get around to reading it.
at 17:30 on 31-01-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I admit that I haven't read Conspiracy yet, but I have wondered that sort of pessimistic philosophy for a while now. I think that the key thing to remember is that these philosophies are not intended to attract converts. They operate on core assumptions, such as the inability of both materialism and metaphysics to provide fulfillment to human consciousness as well as the Gnostic malevolence of the universe, that most people do not accept. In my opinion, these philosophies are more for people who already accept the core principles, consciously or otherwise, and are looking for a way to organize their thoughts into a cohesive worldview. Mind you, I have no problem with this. While an optimistic worldview may be the majority, there will always be those who are either unwilling or unable to accept its principles, and coming up with an alternative philosophy seems a far better prospect than eternally torturing yourself by trying to fit into a world you don't want to be a part of.
at 09:55 on 30-01-2015, Janne Kirjasniemi
I've been getting into Ligotti recently, I read Teatro Grottesco and The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. THey're very good, although in some the constant refernces to things which have some unthinkable attribute gets a bit worn out. I mean I get that those cosmic horror objects can't be described, but still...I'll be sure to get those reprints. I wonder has his sales figures picked up after he was alluded to in True Detective? Probably.

On The Conspiracy, that sort of anti-natalist pessimism is supposed to be kind of depressive, I think, but for some reason, I find it sort of endearing. It's sort of like realizing the four truths of Buddhism and then just dwelling on it, instead of trying to accept it.