Default Tester

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Join Default Tester and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

Great question. If I only had one video I could play it would be this.

Oh crap sorry! Extra Credits! Along with Heathcliff, I dedicate this story to the following people, in no particular order:

Ada Lovelace

Kurt Vonnegut

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Grace Hopper

Ray Kurzweil

Gabe Newell

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

The Fam

Monday, October 21, 2013

Issue : Games : Preferential

Stanley went to public school and got good grades. Stanley participated in after school programs like the boy scouts and intramural swimming. Stanley caught a staph infection at summer camp.  Stanley stayed away from drugs and alcohol.  Stanley let a dog lick his wiener once, but never talks about it. Stanley went to Purdue. Stanley majored in Economics. Stanley rushed for Kappa, but was rejected for pooping himself and not eating the poop. Stanley joined the workforce. Stanley has student loans. Stanley works in an office.

The Stanley Parable is a game about choice.

Games are just a bunch of assets assembled any which way. There is not that much to it. The hard part is building the shit. Textures, programming, bit maps, rigging. It's a whole big to-do. Then some designer comes in and kind of just, puts stuff places. There are fancy words for it, linear pathing, spawn points, funnel dumps. But designers are mostly kicking over a toybox and playing Transformer Barbies.

The best part about games is that you don't even need a protagonist.  If you are playing a game, it's implied one is there. You can simply tell a story around empty space. A disembodied perspective wandering around. Stuff talks to that perspective. Objects react to that perspective. the perspective can manipulate specific assets. It's all smoke and mirrors. Following breadcrumbs.

Am I inside that person? Do I control the actions of this person? Has all of this already happened? The cognitive dissonance of participating in a story about someone else as that person is a third rail. The moment I realize nothing I do matters is the moment I begin pressing buttons, searching for the combination of actions needed to make it stop. The Stanley Parable is right there with me, and makes the questions the point.

Anyway, I heard Tim Burton signed on for Beetlejuice 2. That should be fun. Also, Arkham Origins is launching multi platform. Thanks for that. Also there was something else I wanted to say but forgot so also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.177 Issue : People : Gooch

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Issue : Games: Recrudescence

I hung up my comic book jersey a while back. Had to have been round the World War Hulk era, so '08-'09. Sounds about right. Every once in a while I would hear a bit of scuttlebutt and peek my head in digitally. But it's not the same as opening the shop door on Wednesday, hearing the little metal bell, the smell of disintegrating particles of display case polish and corrugated cardboard escaping into the street. Some greet you vocal, some head nod, some assess you as human and carry on.

Familiar faces lining the walls in new predicaments. That tactile serotonin response from a hardback rectangle between your thumb and forefingers. The slight "pop" when tape separates from plastic. Muscle memory guiding the book from its sheath and cradled into your palm like a newborn in one fluid motion. The smell of wet, breathing, ink. Can't virtual that.

Comic book characters are not that different from real life people, outside of the obvious. If you fall out of contact with a friend, life keeps on trucking. If you fall out of a comic book characters life, same concept. Unless they die, then the story is over. No, the life is over, the story switches focus. Well, in the comic book version of life, instead of the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism in absolute it has traditionally been, death can be an inconvenience, Thanos' boo, or a convenient plot twist.Thanks, Superman.

Anyway, I ran into a friend that had things to say about The new Mighty Avengers run. He did that thing people do where he goes," Bruh, I'm not gonna tell you anything about it. Just read it." I hate that shit. But I blind read anything anyone suggests this way. So I decided now was a good a time as any to head up to catch up at the local spot.

For anyone reading this missive that has not touched a comic book in years, has considered doing so, and has not yet done this, please for the love of god get there as soon as possible. So many things. Ok, so Spider Man is dead, Doc Ock, is Spider Man, and J. Jonah Jameson is Mayor. The Avengers are I don't know where doing I don't know what. The X-men are all girls and Jubillee is a vampire. The Illuminadi are even more off the rails since their last great idea of shooting hulk into space, and that's just a slice of Marvel.

You know what... Just read it all, read everything. And also R.I.P to Tom Clancy, for more reasons than the things he gave us. Also I don't have beta codes, also I can't afford to fly there I'm not rich, maybe a remote. Also if I was an And 1 player my name would be Ballaholic. Also get well TC. Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.176 Issue : People : Corrigendum

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Issue : Games : Temperate

Valve's new controller. Valve's new console. Valve choosing Linux to love forever and ever. Yeah... I guess. I don't know what the hell is going on. Everyone in the industry is finding ways to poop the bed so fast it's hard to decide what not to care about more. I should be the last to "meh" this event. I mainline their network API, my virtual office is set up in a Valve made game.

It's just that them flopping toward a saturated console market like a sea turtle to an inflatable swimming pool is kind of sad. Like Mark Zuckerburg announcing he is finally hopping in the ring to do battle with Twitter.

All these new consoles, peripherals, thingamabobs and whatchamacallits popping up. With imaginary markets ready to devour the servings. I have pomp nor circumstance to give to these things.

It feels like 94 all over again, people pushing bad money over good into the dreamers abyss. They make you seem the asshole for asking because it really is a sexy tech, but who is going to buy the Ocular Rift? Who is the core market? Where will the functional practice of this thing happen? "Oh man I just had a long ass stretch of classes, lemme put on my Johhny Mnemonic ass headgear and play roller coaster parachute shotgun until I vomit. And I'm gonna do this everyday!" I know what the Ouya does, I just don't understand why it exists in a market where everything else does what it does. The U-Force, the Virtual Boy, the Wii U.

Remember the Guitar Hero era? Awash in drum kit's and mics and all kinds of plastic peripherals? It wasn't even five years ago. Remember piracy? AAA's not recouping on legacy franchises, and the Ragnarok of surviving in an industry bleeding talent and money, with a fickle, vocal, and promise worn public playing the role of the sieve? That's now. Great time for chances, way to take the vox populi's temperature, and deliver.

Nasa wants to go to mars as soon as possible, the people want food, clothes and medicine. The government, ever stalwart guardians of the every man, side with the people. Nasa says the best way to get food, clothes and medicine is to build smart people. Rocket goes to Mars creating hope and wanderlust in it's wake, hope and wanderlust build smart people, smart people create food, clothes and medicine so everybody can get to mars comfy.

In the long run, the way to get what the people want, is to build a rocket. But rocket building takes money right now, and right now people are like, fuck rockets, I just want to spend an hour or two not worried to death about if my kid is going to get hurt and I can afford the doctors bill, if I'm going to have a job tomorrow, or a pension when I retire at 70 years old. If you can't build me a better life, build me a better distraction.

The video game industry has money, so it's building rockets. I just... don't ask me to care. The company I know and love makes innovative games with great writing, design, function, and wonder. And sometimes they push the yardstick forward on how you receive toys.

This other company is storming a foreign beach with alien weaponry and shaky allies, against an entrenched axis in truce for the greater good, and a population lullaby-ed by the status quo and believing any gaming technology without plug and play tenure persona non grata. Although, it would be nice to play Rouge Legacy on the couch. This computer station gets hot as a mug in the summer. Oh it's fall? well, shit.

And thanks haters for everything you had to say about how late I am to the Dark Souls party and how soft I am for crying about how hard it is. Ya know, talk about my momma all you want she is a strong black woman she can take it, but my cat's? Man? And yeah so what I did cuddle with em after the Catacombs boss stitched me up for the 20th time. We threw a goddamn cuddle party, and my cuddle runs deep, so deep, so deep put 'er butt ta' sleep. Too far? Probably. Oh and JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.175 Issue : People : Lucubration

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Issue : Games : Sedulity

So a long time ago we went to the east coast for a family reunion. You know the deal, park bar-b-q's kayaking, matching t-shirts, the rekindling of long dormant arguments concerning incidents of vague and questionable merit, that kind of thing. My mom laid out the out the time frame and sent me to pack my stuff, stressing that we would be gone for longer than I had ever been away from home so make sure to bring everything important to you.

We touched down in the D.C. and got my aunts house to set up base camp. My mom opened both my suitcases to find only a Pogo Ball, various comic books and R.L. Stein novels, my candy stash from Halloween, A signed autographed picture of me with Dusty Baker, and my Super Nintendo with the super Mario World pack in. She lost her shit, I didn't get it. Sitting in front of her was the accumulation of everything I cared about in the natural universe. Her orders carried out to a tee.

We are both very stubborn people so after her initial response she decided that the best way to handle the situation was to have me live with the decision I made. I was to only wear the clothes on my back. She decreed any family members to give me clothing would receive the most dire consequence. I was to play video games and eat candy, the entire trip, oh woe is me.

I spent the first full day there in fistfights with cousins that wanted to play Super Nintendo but like dummies packed clothes and deodorant instead of bringing their own . I was not in the business of rewarding bad decision making. I was branded a weird angry shit and forced to the basement like Chunk from the Goonies. A basement I shared with my aunts kid. She wasn't there for fighting, she was there because she wore socks on her hands, sometimes a ski mask on her face.

She had a condition marked by dryness, crusting, flaking, cracking, oozing and bleeding of the skin. The compulsion to scratch to release pain is high, but that would only lead to more scarring, hence the extra gear. She wasn't down there for fighting, she was down there because kids can be assholes, and parents thought it was contagious.

We traded lives, she would take off her sock hands to play, until we shook up the fashion world by kitting finger holes in them. We gorged on candy, she really dug into X-men and Calvin and hobbes. People would sneak us down food or stories from real life. Spent about a week and change down there. Instead of fishing and doing the electric slide we did %100 percent completion. She teaches little kids with developmental problems now, I do video games. Sometimes it happens like that.

Anyway, I guess I'm bringing this up because Yamauchi is gone. He wasn't a good dude, a ruthless business man, and one of the main reasons for the third party diaspora and why networking still can't eat off a Nintendo console. But wow did that man have an eye. Never played a game in his life, but guided a golden generation of developers, and handpicked some of the best games ever made. His favorite shit to say? Technicians did not create great games, artists did. Good guy.

And also no I am not playing GTA V I can wait for it to release on PC, it's becoming Madden-esque in how it is the same game every other fiscal quarter and yes I still love the game and yes I understand my hipster levels are reaching critical mass and to add more fuel to the fire yes I am playing Dark Souls again just to remember what it is like to feel.

If you ever wan't to truly want to feel disrespected in a video game, get into a sword fight with a random enemy in Dark Souls until both your health meters are low and watch as that egotistical bag of bones hops back, pulls out an Estus flask and drinks it while looking you dead in the eyes, as if to say, "I'm gonna drop my guard to freshen up, then I'm gonna walk over and stab you to death with a McFlurry or some other technology you never seen before, and then I may go grab a bite to eat with friends. And you ain't gonna do shit about any of the above."

And you know what, you sit there and watch, because you don't have much more in the tank, and because you know that skeleton will do it, if you interrupt him, he will cut you. And then you have to start all over, and he will be right there. That's not a boss, that's just some dude. Think about that. Really, just like, think about that... Play Dark Souls oh yeah and JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.174 Issue : People: Purtinacity

Monday, September 16, 2013

Issue : Games : Mote

Outlast is a game about modern medicine. Back in the day if you got sick that was pretty much it for you. A rash developed, well god must be pissed, counted every third step while walking up, and wouldn't stop till you got it right? Throw some leeches on your back and walk it off. Such is life. Not much has changed apparently except that Outlast wants to remind us that there is a lot of money in the business of the sick.

Outlast is also about the desperate state that freelance journalism has found itself in. You play a guy so thirsty for a byline that he trucks up to the middle of nowhere for a basic and mostly legal big pharma cover up story. the place is called Mount Massive Asylum, which oddly enough shares the name with a rave I attended up at Indio. The similarities don't stop there. Tightly dressed, sweating, unintelligible wights hopped up on pills, flailing out of their minds to bright lights and loud sounds. Medical masks, the lingering aroma of vicks vapor rub.

Also, it was damn near impossible to get out, place was a labyrinth. Good times.

Anyway, the game is scary in every ostensible way it needs to be scary in. It does you the favor of screaming and cursing for you, and at you. Audio cues are kind enough to let you know when you are going to be scared. Archaic "Find the fuses" quest structure is the bigger man and lets you in on when you are going to have to play a game of buck naked psychopath peek a boo while chasing after trinkets by way of memory thanks to no map. I get why it's not there, I get it.

There are maybe six dom actions in the game, walk, run, climb, shimmy, and duck. And they all help to immerse, or better yet, turn a two hour party into four. Maybe the unreal engine is just a wrap. It was built to shoot and stab and dominate from the first person perspective, so it's tough to feel helpless after the tutorial stretch, which is a freebie. A horror game built in Unreal is like that Nightmare on elm street flick but all the players are O.P. dream warriors. Oh a dude is chasing you? Walk into a hit and pass on by, you have two. Or better yet shimmy into a crevasse, or better yet, run back to the zone boundary.

What happened to taking away a players agency only because you can? Making the controller not work, mimicking the mortal fear an actual person would feel by loosing grip on the reins? Perhaps they broke the mold with the N64 Amnesia : The Dark Decent. I am loading up the new Amnesia tonight, we'll see. And by the way, what is up with releasing these horror standouts in September? Can a citizen of the marketing caste help me out? I would love to play these over the Halloween week. Gaming has the memory of a mayfly, we will forget these titles. they will be flotsam.

No need for fetch quests if the tension is long basted like a quality K - horror film, if the gore is malignant and unrelenting like a french slasher. Video games have a massive cheat sheet from literature and film, they have a the advantage of an extra sense, the sense of touch. Hey, Outlast is scary though. that's worth something. Anyway, yeah I have not been posting, I'm not dead. Stop with the whole, "How ya doing buddy? Still alive? Calls." Ok thank you for the calls it's great to hear from you and it's nice to know you care but I'm fine just lazy and you knew that. Lates, oh wait no also JERBZ.

The Protoculture mixtape v.173 Issue : People : Demi

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Issue : Games : Sandstorm

Salty Bet is a game about gambling. Well, I guess it's not a "game" as much as a it is a bunch of choices you make that you watch play out in real time along with a bunch of other people that have made choices as well. And if that describes a game, well then we may need a bigger industry.

Naruto fight's Homer Simpson, Rare Akuma vs. Alien Queen, and in between a shit-ton of Dragon Ball Z potato bouts. That type of stuff.

The meat and potatoes of the Salty system lies in the cascading far right corner. This dynamically updated wall of text native to any twitch stream has somehow mutated past the naturally vitriolic enzyme a stream of its like would secrete. It kind of smells like almonds.

The cash means nothing, and the kids are all feral. You will see text about women and minorities that shouldn't surprise you anymore but will, and only because of the arrangement. It is after all still fighting game land. But when the combatants appear on screen and the initial round of betting begins, I still look to these proxy demons for advice, even with the knowledge they will say whatever they have to say to tip the betting odds in favor of their champion. And just in case you are wondering, always bet SHAQ-FU. It's just common sense.

The excitement is there. I feel like I am back in the Scoops shop twenty years ago and I want to put my quarter up but I don't know. There are these big kids from like, 8th grade all around and they are talking shit, breaking down fireball zoning, Guile handcufs, and "Iger uppz." I wanted to be there, among them, for some reason or another, so I jump in at the risk of getting my bike stolen, getting beat up, or even worse, losing. Kids are dumb.

One thing about the fighting game community, you must invest something to get anything of substance from it, be it a quarter, real or fake, your time, your patience, your expectations. And you get out what you put in, I imagine. Or you don't, I don't know. All I know for sure is that the whole M.U.G.E.N system is broken and never, never, never, put it all on Angus. Trust me. Unless it's real Angus, then all in.

Sup to all the PAX prime folks, hope you have that Purell on deck. I promise I am going to be in real life soon and yes it is me playing dammit stop asking. Sad enough that is. Also yes I said a bunch of stuff about RYSE that might not be fair but cmon, I've been saying that about the CryEngine forever. That doesn't make it better, huh? Ok. Also JERBZ.        

The Protoculture Mixtape v. 172 Issue : People : Darude

Monday, August 19, 2013

Issue : Games : Santuary

Gone Home is a game about 1995. I was around in 1995, and I assure you it drips of the place. But the game anticipated my nostalgia milking meter to go off, and pressed forward with a disarmingly calm patience and sense of purpose. Like when a psychiatrist sits you chair, dangles a watch in front of you, and asks you to count backward from 100.

I'm inside a house. It's raining. Oh, I'm a girl, cool. The house is creaky, there are a lot of rooms, there are electronics on, mostly static, sometimes a voice. I expect a gargoyle zombie dog at every corner, or the kid from the ring to crawl out of a TV, but it doesn't happen. Not that I stop expecting it to happen, which is terrifying.

The rest of the family is nowhere to be found, but a picture of the family develops over time. Dad's there, and Moms there, and her sister is there, leading you all over the house, letting you in on things they could never tell you in person. The girl I am playing as isn't in the house, or, in most anything laying around the house. Her absence shading in the blank portion of the photo.

There are footprints of F.E.A.R  in the hallways and Bioshock in the interactions of this games DNA. They were pocketing the best ingredients off the conveyor belt while whipping up those gigantic feasts. Sneaky sneaky.

There are other things that make Gone Home one of the best games of the year and one of the best interactive stories of the year. But to find out what those are, you should, you know, play it. I am interested to see how it does with a generation not born in the target zone or don't have the sitting strength for any problem that's solution can't be sent through the barrel of an M14. Well, I guess I already know the answer.

It becomes a media darling, yet sales are the rap equivalent of "Double wood in the hood." Hey, that's ok. The best thing about the state of gaming today is that it can sit in the dusty recesses of a virtual store like a digital mogwai, waiting for just the right person to find it. And I'm guessing Steve, Karla, and Johnnemann figured as much.

I don't think I enjoyed this game because I was around in 1995. I enjoyed this game because I was in it. If you are wondering, I was the kid that never got his street fighter cartridge back.

Anyway, I hope information carries golden parachutes for the latest round of Ex-Pats. Such is life folks, such is life. Also give me a ping if you have wants for tickets to the dev convention thingy, lot of good networking to be had. The cost: your soul. But are you using it? Really... Really? Id make it into a paper mache swan. Deep thoughts, also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.171 Issue : People : Astray

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Issue : Games : Crucibles

Every artist is a crybaby. That is because the buy in to become an artist is so high, what with the currency being your own self esteem and sanity. It's the same for any comedian, sculptor, musician, etc... The Sword of Damocles dangling from the time you mail off that manuscript, take the stage, grab the mic, or read the review. An easy life at a high price.

I know I am soft as goose feathers when it comes to my stuff, and feel every hit. A few days ago an editor said I write like Steve Urkel after popping a molly. Yeah, ok. A friend said that my stuff was past their "weird shit threshold" but was sure someone out there would enjoy it. A forum comment said, "There is nothing good about this, I do not like the person that made it." The simple cuts are the deepest.

I find it hilarious when people are taken aback to find the creator of a work of art to be indeed sensitive about said art. I wonder how it would go to walk up to an MMA fighter and say, "Hey man congrats on that win against Silva, oh, also you are bee-i-tch that can't fight and I do hope you give me a reason to smack the shit out of you." Everybody feels, it's part of the package, some train themselves to express it, others train themselves to suppress it.

People seem to believe the cure for the sensitivity is success. I'm not too sure about that. It seems to me as if the sword hangs lower the closer you get to the top, but the people that make it there have calloused through uncounted failures. Don Quixote's chasing windmills across a landscape of empty theaters, cold shoulders, rejection letters, and false stops. On a road trip that never truly ends. Only at some point the windmills grow expectations. I'd Imagine after awhile both success and negativity become indicators of progress.

Also, I finally watched the new Jay-Z video that bookends his "Internet Album." I can't do it, I am sorry, I am so sorry. People are out here starving, nation facing real issues, and the top dog of my guild is acting like the Bushman for famous people. I hope information doesn't have to suffer a Mr. West administration. Also, new EQ looks good guys, really. Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.170 Issue : People : Endure

Monday, July 29, 2013

Issue : Games : Coterie

I'm just gonna go ahead and get this off my chest. Good for you if you have a game you want to make, and you have all of the functionality mapped out, and you have all the assets sketched, and you have environment, and you have topography, and you have programming templates, and you have a production road-map, and you have a hiring and marketing budget, and you have a publishing plan or an indie campaign and/or crowd sourced money. But when you gather all of these coins and then say, "And as for the story, we will build it as we go along," I just, I kinda call the ballgame then.

And I get it, I do, we have been over this loads of times, there are three great nations in gaming, Story, Code, and Art. All with splinter lands among them, all necessary for the world to float level. All are mighty, all are gracious, all are lauded. And unlike other worlds, say, the worlds of film for instance, a game creator has the ability to step out of the machine they build to let other people drive, instead of that machine doing tricks in front of the audience and them only guessing at the other possible permutations.

It's a baby that grows by way of exponents, which necessitates a whole other skeletal base and rearing. That shits hard to do. But creating a soul-less mechanical behemoth,  putting a joyrider in the cockpit, standing over their shoulder telling them which buttons and levers do what, and then releasing their agency on a landscape in no particular direction rarely ends in any other way than the rig in a ditch and the driver moving on to another shiny thing.

If they bought the vehicle or paid a lot for the seat they want the vehicle to look good, that's art, they want it to preform well, that's code, and they want a reason to purchase that particular model, wherever that is. Sad truth, regular passengers (e.g. Not Us) are in there, be it a bus, a train, or a car, to get somewhere. They don't care how the engines or the wipers work, they just want them to. The story of where they are going and why is usually the interesting part.

And yeah, I can feel the shrugs from those that know me, dismissing these as the braying of a malcontent word nerd fresh off another failed pitch of Lord of the Dragonflies meets Terminator in a Buffy crossover post apocalyptic past where Hulk is president. An impossible game that would take a team of a thousand monkeys, a memory capacity that does not exist, and an uncomfortable knowledge of  Dickensian bowel movements. And maybe I do rep dat gang? So what? Doesn't make it any less true.

Also, Shadowrun Returns. Not a fan of kicks or starts, is what it is, but you guys made it look goooooood. A year turnaround, on budget, a build set that is just... thank you, and the game could not be more legit. My words good sirs. The heart of the franchise beats loud and true. First X-Com and now this, these kids are way too lucky. I hope that poor mans Rick Deckard got his commission, and uh, also, uh, yeah, Jerbz.

The Protoculture Mixtape v. 169 Issue : R. Batty

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Issue : Games : Scrum

I feel bad for comic book people. They talk like they have had their festival snatched from them by the same bullies that gave birth to the artist in them; origin stories. But in between breaths you can hear how much they don't want to admit that it's larger, and feels good. They are still around that cavern in back of the main hall, full of old dusty tomes, a place the confused wander into from time to time if only to say they covered the whole floor. They are buying and selling and bartering, a noble folk clad in silk screen samurai and flame, chain wallets, ponytails, and old green van sneakers that kind of point up at the toe.

All us creeps swim in the same water, some dive deeper than others. Like an engineer must have a foundation in physics to do his job, a Film nerd must have a background in literature to do his. I major in video games, she majors in post industrial tech-step, he's really into cars. It's all the same in that nobody gives a shit, except other people who give a shit.

And therein lies the paradox of this new world where everybody is encouraged give a shit about everything for a day. It's the Cinderella situation on a schedule. Halloween for your wanderlust. The tribe that sells things to other people did a very good job of making sure that this new reality is indeed a "Celebration of Geek Culture!" I'm good with that. It's fun, it's inclusive, it brings in monies for everybody. I get it. I just feel bad for the comic book people, relegated to the back. They look like Jesus at Easter, confusedly watching all the kids crowd around a rabbit.

Most don't even show anymore, the others come to people watch. There are tons of other cons for them now, even more fragmenting the imaginary and transient target demo, some of those cons running the same days as this one. Sup with that?

It's fun, It's fun. I usually slide in on the last day to buy stuff and chat with artist weirdos from jobs past. I'll let you know when I'm down there next time, promise. Those crowds, you know how it is. Anyway, I hope information got enough material to get through the summer drought, and JERBZ and whatnot.

The Protoculture Mixtape v. 168 Issue : People : Veneer

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Issue : People : Obloquy

It's bad when you click into a Steam sale only to find that you own everything offered, but you still consider buying something again even though you didn't play it the first time? Right? Is that bad? That's bad...

And for everybody hitting me up wondering how I feel about that whole bizarre-o O.J. trial result thing well just stop it. That little kid was let down a year ago. Everything that has happened since then has just been a good ad campaign for hoodies. I get it, this is not the sixties, government spying, financial malpractice, murder. America officially doesn't gives a shit about things anymore. We all saw it coming. 700 other kids with melanin died in one city since that one kid died. Tweet about it.

And also, maybe he was an asshole, just a little jerk-y fucking jerk, and deserved to be shot dead. I mean, that was the winning defense right? "Maybe the little dead kid wasn't that cool?" It's in the neighborhood of a fair argument, and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. Not fair enough to get a kid murdered in the street, but fair enough to start a dialogue about it.

Most people that read this rag play video games. People that play video games understand more than most that kids are just awful. But nobody talks about it because they are also special little snowflakes going on adventures. An example was recently made out of a LoL kid that had a lot to say about what he was finna do. Scared the shit out of anyone that has typed anything bad into the internet ever.

People sending him all types of salaams, saying "He's just a kid!" The dude was 18 years old, and said something about shooting up a school full of kids and eating their still beating hearts. That's not cool, but it's ban him from the game, internet regulation not cool. Not raped and murdered in prison, not cool. Everyone does it/ I used to do it can't really be an excuse anymore. They aren't shenanigans or hi-jinx, consequences are showing up.

And guess what, maybe they need consequences. The kids are getting fucking feral.

And as long as I'm making friends, sorry, don't have any sunshine for Mr. Jet setting super hacker wildflower Billie Jean ass contractor dude. Maybe it's the salty old squid in me but my respect still goes to Pfc. Manning, sitting in a cell for what he said and did, owning up to it. Doing what you feel is right has consequences. Doing what you know is wrong has consequences. The internet has not changed this. I know I am one of the last people that should have any input, 'specially on this issue, just saying.

Anyway, I bought football manager 2013 because it is the only thing I did not own yet and it turned out to be a soccer business spreadsheet or something. I'm not sure about my life choices. I hope information keeps the Baltic visa, and bundles up. Also why can't a zonal marking system account for my target man in an open wing formation? Bullshit. Also Jerbz.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.167 Issue : People : Capitulate

Monday, July 8, 2013

Issue : Games : Cognizant

A medium time ago I spent most of my time freelancing as a hack journo. I used it supplement my schooling (boozing) and to justify avoiding what I thought to be real "writing," which were books, essays, poetry, and dream journals. I now realize of course that all writing is pretty much the same.

The best part about journalism is that to enter the hallowed ranks of the field all you have to do is say you are a  journalist. That's it, that is the key to unlock any door anywhere in the world. Everything else is simply a matter of scope. Show up appropriately dressed, and say you work there. I now realize that this trick works for pretty much any job plus or minus a lie here or there. But at the time I learned it, Wow! What a trick!

At the start of the week I would troll for political or entertainment events through local entertainment magazines and newspapers. Then I would call an organizer and say "Hi! I'm ___ from ____ magazine and I would like to cover your event!" Then I would show up to the event in a plaid button up shirt, black pencil tie, tape recorder and journal, skinny leg jeans, and pointy toe dress shoes, or green Adidas, depending on the event. It never did not work.

The lanyard they would give me when I showed up unlocked the backstage area, where the key was to never make direct eye contact with anyone or anything you did not personally know, this meant you were busy. And if you did know anyone or anything back there make a really big deal about it. This meant you were big deal that knew big deals.

It was easy to get interviews after learning a simple trick. Everybody back there is lying, with the person or persons on the marquee being the biggest and boldest liars of all. And in that shared lie that grandiose illusion they cast was shattered. I was just another fish swimming in the sea.

I showed up to a show at 4th and B one night to get an video game tie in interview with a girl from a hip hop group that had recently blown up, and she was on the cusp of a solo album. So I did my prestidigitation and appeared in the green room right after soundcheck. I glad handed my way toward her and told her that I was a fan of her music and would like ten minutes for an interview about her involvement in the voice work of a recent video game.

She asked me if I smoked, I said yes, so we went to the back patio. We sat down at an open air gazzebo, I pulled out my tape recorder and placed it on the table, she pulled out her brand of choice and lit up, as did I. I did the requisite greeting and asked her how she enjoyed her experience working on a video game. I got the canned answer of loving games since mario brothers, the mocap was awesome, long hours, etc...

The whole time the interview was going on, there was a gaggle of local females of a very large and very ratchet variety spewing insults at her through the metal fence separating the gazeebo from the public sidewalk. There had to be about thirty staff in the gazeebo, but no one was willing to be first to recognize their existence. The subject of my interview made penetrating eye contact with me at all times, smiling and speaking excitedly with her hands.

The ratchet team were getting progressively and disturbingly descriptive in their attacks. They began with her "ugly ass face," worked down to her "flappy ass underarms," then to her "skinny ass thighs." Nothing was hitting. They then moved onto "I fucked your man," then onto I fucked that n!@#$a right there. I think that was me. We didn't have sex, but I was flattered none the less.

Their voices were beginning to flag and they had almost given up, when  all of the sudden, paydirt. "Bitch, you can't sing, you only in the group as a joke, and nobody likes you." The singer jumped up bridged the gap to their faces in less than a second. There was all types of finger pointing, "bitches I'm gonna's," "Bitch I wish you would's" and "Try me bitches," thrown around. The singer had to be dragged away, the ratchet gaggle escorted away by security. The interview was over, all good though, I got what I had come for. A real answer.

The singer and I went back into the green room and imbibed a few relaxation aids. She apologized for what happened out there said that isn't her. I told her even if that was her out there, that would be fine as well. She smiled.

I turned off the recorder and we ended up talking about games for a while, and it turns out she really knew her shit. The conversation became all mega drives and final fantasy's and DEL lyrics. I had just picked up Elite Beat Agents and brought it with to kill time. I handed it to her and that was it. She was there until showtime. I never ended up writing the story, didn't have enough material. Next time I saw her, she was peeing on stage.

I hope information recovers from the loss of the biggest, funniest, saltiest, and best of us. There is nothing more I can say. Oh yeah, and Jerbz.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.166 Issue : People : Esteem

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Issue : Games : Jaegar

I am going to say this, and then not say anything for a while after I say this.

Here is what I want to say, I get it, you are an adult person with an adult job and are obviously way too mature and shit to watch anime anymore. It is an embarrassing part of your past and you would be mortified have it slip out at a dinner party that at one point in your life you were like, one internet armscye video away from a Ranma 1/2 cosplay.

And in true dark knight fashion hero has become villain. You now walk around shitting on anyone displaying childlike wonder past a defined age threshold, nose held high, surviving on a diet of NPR, Modern Family (love that show), and  Family Guy/Simpsons. Getting judged for what you enjoy sucks, and you are doing what you have to do to "make it" in the "real world."

I get that. shh, it's ok. Bring it in for a big bear hug, that's it.

But also, fuck you and get over yourself as soon as possible because Shingeki no Kyojin is the greatest thing to ever happen to eyeballs and if you are not watching it you have no respect for yourself or your dojo. It's about... you know what?

It's maybe about giant babies that are also old dudes with creepy smiley molester faces that eat people, ok?

It's maybe a metaphor for humanities frailty, and how in dire situations people become the monsters. Maybe it's about badass zipline sword fights. I don't know! Don't worry about what it is about right now. I have seen every episode at least twice and still don't quite understand what the hell is going on. But I know it's awesome. I know that.

Just get there, and also check out Devil is a part timer. It's funny, poignant, and doesn't take itself too seriously. We should all take notes.

I am sorry about what I said about you at the jump. I was just excited. You is... I played Deadpool. Wow High Moon, shit load of bugs in there. I get it though, you only had about five QA guys on the title and you fired most of them months before launch. So, that happens. A lot of grey's, and that battle system is archaic. Pop up combos where the the mob planks? Game is funny though so, there's that. Also did a full pass against A Firelit Room. Super elegant, should have worn a top hat and monocle for that craftsmanship.

Really though, Attack on Titan. Watch it alone, hide it under your bed like a porno magazine. I don't care how you do it, just watch it. The young you will thank you. I hope information remembers that time we threw a bunch of apples at that bee hive pretending we didn't know what was going to happen to us. Also, Jerbz.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.165 Issue : People : NEET

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Issue : Games : Unity

Ok, so that happened. What happens now? Is all forgiven, do we all just move on? It's almost as if there is a certain melancholy around the industry towards the reversal. I think people are a bit disappointed that they backed down.

Also, it is not making people give any more of a shit about their system then they did when it was all Draconian. Way back when in those halcyon times called a couple of days ago Microsoft was a very easy evil, an evil doing evil shit for the greater good. That is the devil we know.

And now they are no longer the Machiavellian prince, just another company that will not do something because it will cost to much. I had a bit about New Coke on deck the second I heard about this event and that other guy beat me to it. Fine keep it, I like the Facebook Beacon shenanigans better anyway. In that I didn't like them. I don't think I even had a Book face then. Do I have one now? I have to have one, who doesn't in this post 9/11 world?

Whatever, both John Locke the English philosopher and John Locke the character from Lost were completely on point when they asked the question, "Why all these n$@#as trippin' over a console they ain't even finna buy?" That's deep.

I hope information doesn't take all the hate to heart. Listen, and help where you can. The donation was a giant step. Also Unity is the fucking shit I can't draw to save my life so I will buy all the assets where has this engine been all my life I am in love we are getting married I don't care if it's a platform swinger we can make it work. Oh yeah and also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.164 : Issue : People :  Indomitable

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Issue : Games : Calamity

I don't know man, I just... I can't, I can't.

This feeling in my gut is most certainly schadenfreude in another dimension. But not in this one. I wear the dispassionately curious gaze of  Mr. Wonka as he watched Augustus fall face first into the chocolate river. The distant echo of courtesy cautions reverberating through sound stage as Mike Tee Vee leaps in front of the camera. In reality the company in question is behaving more like Veruca. A Bad Egg.

There is a generational segment of me that loves this shit. Loves the vitriol the internet is spewing at it's new/old hero turned heel. Over the last couple of days I have had to come to grips with the fact that I never got over SEGA. These two new cats, pretenders to the fucking throne, have been trading blows over the gravesite of my sworn house for years now. I almost began to believe them invincible. Some part of me wanted this to happen for a long time.

If you really think the console wont sell or that this is the end for them then you are on bath salts and need to calm down. This is just a big hit. But for Steambox, Nvidia, Apple, this may be the on ramp. To see one of the titans stumble over their own hubris may not be good for the industry, but for us kids without a country it's all of the awesome. Its the bully getting beat up.

Sony gets credit for pulling that Sun Tzu shit. They stepped back and let the enemy defeat itself. It wasn't long ago they were in almost the exact same position, must have learned something. Good for them. We still ain't cool on many levels, jihad is jihad and all, but, not bad.

In this reality my heart goes out to Major Nelson, who has to look the angry proletariat in the eye and evangelize the choices his company most certainly didn't make in another dimension. But we live in this one, and it tis' what it tis'.

Here is the thing about making new friends: The choices that you make to appease new friends almost never fall in line with the choices needed to keep the former happy. It's a common way to lose the former, unless you are the Wii. And life is about making choices. It's all very dramatic really. All very high school lunchtime brawl. But then again, we make video games for little kids. What the fuck do we expect?

I know why you did it, I know what gods, old and new, you attempted to appease. And there is something to be said for the courage it takes to step forward in that. But wow, "You got knocked the fuck out!" Ya did, it happened. Don't make a big deal out of it. At least you get to fight another day.

Good news is that there is lots of new work out there because of the launch crunches. All this chaos means growth. That's how growth works. Hope information has been grinding XP in LUA and Unreal 4. TC, you are loved and all that mushy shit. Please get better so I can finally return your comics. And also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.163 Issue : People : Banners

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Issue : Games : Anticlimactic

 Video game marketing departments deserve a slow clap. At first I didn't quite understand this whole "conference before the conferences," thing. I dismissed it as classic vanity, one company realizes they don't have to share the stage with anyone else so they all follow suit.

But I recently attained the Shyamalan moment in that there was a brilliant twist embedded in a metric fuckton of  questionable choices. The surprise was Machiavellian in its simplicity. And dare I say the fix is as justifiable as it is evil.

The buzz about Xbox infinity, only to have it actually be named Xbox one? Some sacrificial douche flippantly pointing toward the Xbox having to always be online then being torn to bits by internet lynch mob, only to have it revealed that the system will have to "Check in" every 24 hours? It's a dance, it's scripted.

Cozying up to digital delivery, Network, and major retail while simultaneously abandoning Indy development services and openly challenging used game retailers over the course of the last two years. All calculated steps. For independent developers, Gamelfly, and Redbox this reveal was the montage from Good fellas where they clean up after the big robbery. And GameStop is Tommy DeVito getting made.

Fanboys played the part perfectly, reaching critical mass, doing nothing about it, then forgetting anything happened right in time for the next tumbler to fall into place. The death and taxes of video games are the outrage of our hardcore user base and their mayfly memories.

Video game marketing and PR are learning lessons from boring metric and business centric presentations of the past. They are splitting the message. Remember Sim City always on DRM? Nope? Ok, moving on.

It's them, its always been them. They have the internet downloaded, they are getting really, really good at this. And here is the twist. All of the boring stuff is now out of the way, people have had the chance to be angry, have seen all of the funny .gifs and done all of the foot stamping they are going to do. So now during convention season all any of the companies have to do to look like golden gods is to present the vox populi games.

Which conveniently are the only cards left to play. Que rousing applause.

Anyway, I'm not mad at them. We are struggling as an industry, the real enemy are at the gates and have taken the form of non gaming platforms that smell money in the water. We desperately need new business models to attain financial solvency. Or whatever. These people are doing their jobs.

Besides, all most people do on that system is watch Netflix anyway, and consoles are just... you know what I wont even start. It will be ok true believers. Just wait till you see what they want you to play. It's actually pretty cool.

Hope information gets certified to sell used. This Week in Gaming, yeah, I dunno. I hope everything is ok. But well, there are JERBZ!

The Protoculture Mixtape v.162 Issue : People : Longcon

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Issue : Games : Incurious

A little while ago the fam and I got together to watch WrestleMania 29. It took place in Metlife Stadium which is loacted in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Attendance for the event was 80, 676 give or take, which is a record breaking number. It aired live on Pay-Per-View. About five or so of us packed shoulder to shoulder at our buddies house. Snacks on deck, reminiscing on old marquee matches and rivalries of the past. Favorite wrestlers, favorite entrances, favorite eras. That sort of thing.

Also, grown men still get together to watch wrestling. We should be caught up now.

The show is second to the build up. If you were to watch the event itself you would recognize that the Rock was facing John Cena, and that would probably be enough of a drift to carry you through the programming. But had you been watching Smackdown, or Raw, or saw the Royal Rumble, then you would know that the road to the main event is a winding path, and those names could have been completely different had the story  been told different, but there they are.

The buildup is the show. And if you watch closely, you can see the so called surprises coming from a mile away. The buildup to WrestleMania is based on a formula. You have your heroes and heels, you have your tricksters, jobbers, and workhorses, you have your allegiances and splits. At their peak all these elements work in tandem to create an event. The event can only be as quality as the disparate elements of the buildup allow, and they are all working toward the same place.

It's a dance, it's choreographed. Once you realize this, you begin to appreciate the quality of the dancers as well as the song. It's also a lot like a video game. There is progression, there is emergence, there are tiers, there are levels, there are stages, there are props, there are actors. And if any of these function incorrectly, there will be bugs.

After the event ended we were all in agreement that WrestleMania was an overall underwhelming event. There was nothing that happened that we did not see coming, Every shot was called, every prediction came true. These projected to lose, lost. Those projected to win, won. All in real time, as if the script was completed months ago, and played out like a eulogy for the suspension of disbelief.

The new Hollywood ending is for things to end up exactly how you imagine they will. And to be honest, the unimaginative build up to the event didn't earn a single surprise, good or bad. They had the perfect opportunity to make something special, a group of the best athletes to come around in a few generations, and more time than most receive to do it right. They shit the bed.

I don't blame the Rock, I don't blame CM Punk, I don't blame John Cena, Del Rio, Big Show, Jack Swagger, Jericho, Mark Henry, Kane, Orton, Zeb, or Dolph. They love and break themselves for this life. They are the game's lifeblood, they are the ethic I chase. And to be honest I don't even blame Vince McMahon. He has done more for wrestling, good and bad, than most will ever truly appreciate.

But when you get to a certain level you loose the ability to see the whole field, and begin to trust in the formula even when you feel it failing. That is why the bridges between top floor and bottom floor are so vital. People forget that.

I do blame middle management. Those day laborers in between, the stripe-less entitled, those with no past or pleasure in the sport. Those whose degree's grant no question asked entry into decision making rooms where they steer toward committee consensus bereft of internal navigation calibrated by integrity. They only know how to move the pieces on the chessboard. They don't know why something would move there, or what the cost of that move would be. Or maybe they do, and just don't care.

I guess I'm bringing this up because I haven't watched a wrestling match since WrestleMania 29, and neither has the fam it seems. The event stole something from us. I couldn't tell you what that something is, but I am sure it is important. Don't get me wrong, my eyes will be back on the mat sooner or later, as will the rest of the guys. Being hurt by something you truly love can only bend you, not break you.

At the end of the day it was just another thing that happened in a lifetime filled to the brim with things that happened. I don't regret being there to see the events unfold one bit. There will be more buildups full of dat pomp and/or circumstance, more marquee players, more choices made. I will be front row center, hella hyped for the next storyline that grabs me, that's for sure.

I hope information stops taking baby shits all over the apartment. They are becoming impervious to Febreze. Also SpeakingOfGames is late so no This Week in Gaming for now (a bunch of late muthafuckas this week, CP time.) Also, JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.161 Issue : People : Vestigal

Monday, May 13, 2013

Issue : Games : Copycat

So this thing can make a gun that can shoot, like, one bullet? Ah, cool. Remember that one science fiction story where instead of using the cool new technology to make something that benefited humanity, the people got really worried about the one bad thing it did, then ran out there with pitchforks and beat it to death?

And then when the people were sufficiently scared of the new technology and wanted nothing to do with it, the people that got them all riled up in the first place went ahead and made the one bad thing with it? Their reasoning being defense against the people that would make the one bad thing? I don't know, it's an old science fiction story, can't remember the last time it was used.

We are never getting a hoverboard at this rate. Blade was right, "Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill."

Video games are hibernating. This is the time where every one holds cards close to the chest because convention season is coming up. You will see a lot of fluff pieces, "Critical examinations," or straight up opinion and conjecture, depending on where you go to get your information.

Game companies use this time as an in between crunchtime version of crunchtime. Your game is out, or your demo is pretty much code complete, so it's when you see post mortems on projects, people pitching DLC docs, or otherwise reintroducing themselves to work lost in the last sprint.

The other thing going on is research. This is when we finally have the chance to do the thing we got into this business for in the first place, play games. The trade off is that once you see the inside of something the analysis of that something never truly turns itself off.

It begins the second you launch a title. In your mind you say things like, "Oh, that was a nice splash screen!" Or, "Wow, that took forever, and I couldn't even skip it." You automatically navigate into the options menu, just to see what is offered. You benchmark, you watch the credits.

You scroll through the unlockables, collection items, and trophys. You putter around the user interface, taking mental note on font, system design and ease of navigation. There is a game in there somewhere, but what's the rush? It starts out as work, then becomes a ritual. You see every disparate element being assembled in real time, you see which battles programmers won, and which ones designers lost.

You experience the communal thoughts, feelings, and perspective of these people you may have met, will meet, or are long gone, but all share a love for something you thought particular to you. It's a game in itself. It's also work.

I don't miss how I used to see games very much at all. Actually, if the game is good enough I forget to judge it on the first pass, and instead enjoy it for what it is. The reproduction of what a younger version of myself thought to be magic in this waking life.  

Metro: Last Light is still downloading. I have enough time to grab some grub. Nah, I'll just go ahead and starve to death. Fuck tha hunger po-lice. Also This Week in Gaming, Also, JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.160 Issue : People : Forge

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Issue : Games : Blood in Blood out

Blood Dragon (a.k.a my Injustice chaser, seriously, I claim to hate the game and it is broken as hell but I cannot disengage. The quarter munching komic book store remora in me will not allow it) is a game about how much mileage you can get off a solid engine and a good memory.

Not good memory as in you are able to remember things well, or good memory as in RAM that should be replaced every 5000 miles. More something that happened that was awesome, and would be awesome if done again. So basically the 80's - mid 90's.

But how does this work? As in, the work of the late millennial have been in the entertainment industry Catherine wheel for a while now. To the point where you are not surprised to hear rumors of a gritty Gummi Bear or Denver the Last Dinosaur reboot. At this point you kind of expect it.

There is a point where they will run out of material. It has to happen. Then what? Executives and producers are bad at identifying original talent now, how about a generation of them raised on nothing but imitation. To the point where they cannot identify the Poetic Justice in Kendrick Lamar and Time Bandits is an off the wall comedy cashing in on the popularity of Tyrion Lannister. Or will they just reboot the reboots?

Will it come to a point where this is it, these are the same intellectual properties we will be seeing picked apart for the next thirty years, and there is nothing to be done about it? Well, it seems easy enough to just, like, take chances on new stories. But... nah, That's so Ravenholm. I say to the point a lot in this piece. It's a bridge, like when a freestyle rapper says "Listen," or "Off the top of the dome." I could have prepared more.

Blood Dragon is fun, though, I was talking about Blood Dragon before right? Yeah I was, ok. It's exactly everything it offers, plucks the best parts of what Far Cry 3 was, and doesn't outstay it's welcome. Which is a great thing. It's better if you have seen They Live. Blood Dragon and They Live's ties are tangential at best, but everything is better after having seen They Live.

If you expect me to say something about... the beach house, calm yourself and no. Also no This Week in Gaming because SpeakingOfGames is lazy (no you are not, sry). I hope information is working on a new manuscript, and also, JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.159 Issue : People : BlueMoon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Issue : Games : OTM

Dino D-Day is a game about what would happen if World War 2 and Jurassic Park decided to hang out. It's a TF style class based shooter. You have your normal classes, soldier, medic, velociraptor. There is some back story to the game, I think. Nazi's teamed up with smart dinosaurs, them Nazi's be tripping.

There are the classic team deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill maps. A weekend of free play went down, I think there is about 50 more minutes of it. I don't know. There are, like, 20 textures in the game. Some of the dinosaurs can pick up goats and throw them at people.

Dinosaurs can also pee on enemies. That's cool, I guess. I'm sorry guys, I don't know what else to say about the game. I wanted to talk about Monaco as well, but seeing how this went I am not going to.

I haven't even played it yet. Well, I have seen and played it about ten thousand times since 2010, but haven't unwrapped it from plastic or downloaded it through a pay gate. People think video games, just, come out. They don't. They are like babies, babies that sometimes take five years to get birthed. That's painful.

The guy that had the Monaco baby is local, and is also an indie guy. Well, he is an indie guy that used to be programmer # 120323 at this other place. People also think video games are a thing that pretty much anyone can do or decides to do if you drank and drugged through your twenties with no solid direction. People also think that if you wan't to make video games, once you get hired onto a video game company, then well, you made it.

Spoiler, they aren't, and you haven't.

Here is the thing (cover your ears kids) about dreams, most people aren't specific when it comes to describing their dream, and are type horrible when it comes to pursuing them. When people say they want to make video games for a living, they are talking about the video games they like to play, or want to see made, or have in their head.

If you work at any major house, be you producer, programmer, artist, designer, or quality assurance, you will be assembling games, not making them. The larger the team the larger the chance you will be trolling the floatsam and jetsam of some marketing feedback hive mind with a pool skimmer, placing things here and there in hopes of pleasing some sprint 32 metric sheet. And mom said you wouldn't get anywhere with these video games.

The guy that made Monaco was in this situation, until one day he said, "Fuck it, I know the games I want to play, I want to make the games I want to make, so I will go do that." And that was about it, he quit his stable gig and went to do that. He wasn't rich, he wasn't some loose cannon industry superstar with a chip on his shoulder and a pile of offers on the table. He was just some dude that wanted to calibrate his dream, then go in that direction.

And it wasn't eazy, he almost went broke, lost faith, held fast, sacrificed, the whole nine. He could have just gone back to his major house and called it a wash, but he kept going despite everything in his life telling him to pack it up, like a stubborn asshole. A bit later he started to win like, all of the awards, and his game hadn't even come out, which is a good sign that it would do well.

People hear indie and think it all about afghan scarfs, transient wire frame concepts, fixie bikes, and a golden parachute/safety net combination that allows you to fuck off for a few years while you "find yourself." Spoiler alert, sometimes, it's not. It's about taking a risk on a very specific dream by walking into the desert alone. And if that is indie, then I'm into that.

Anyway, his game is about a group of people that like to steal stuff by way of elaborate heists. That sounds cool, I guess. Also he is a programmer, which makes this game even more surprising  because programmers usually have no imagination at all, and end up making games about aliens with big titties shooting aliens with bigger titties, or normal sized titties. So congrats on the game being really, really, good as well.

How about this, whatever you are doing, if you believe in it and enjoy it, never give up doing that, no matter what anyone tells you. It's worth it, and it will work out. Oh yeah, and pick up Dino D-Day when it comes out, or will it be in beta soon? Man, I really don't know. It's cool guys, you have time. Deep breaths.

I hope information fixes those bugs and passes Xbox cert. Also, This week in gaming. Also, JERBZ an shit.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.158 Issue : People : Jobs Comforter

Monday, April 22, 2013

Issue : Games : Dead Island

Dead Island : Rip roaring rapids, is a game about expectations. As in, everyone had some for this game, I think, and everyone is taking a big poop, or pooping on it, the game, because, of said expectations.  I enjoy the game for what it is, but had no idea it is as guilty a pleasure as it is, it seems.

And ok, is the game a hyper violent? Yes. Is the game misogynistic? Yea. Racist in that "homage," way? Ok, yeah.  Is the game lacking a cohesive and engaging narrative? Yuup. Is the game full of bargain basement level design tropes and artificial intelligence that somehow manages to make zombies appear dumb in a way where you begin to feel bad for zombies because they are in this game? Jeeah!

Fine, yes. Are the RPG elements out of place? Maybe, well, yeah, but in a fun way, well, maybe not a fun way. Am I going somewhere with this? No.

Somehow, despite itself, this game manged to trip over a design element that almost makes up for everything it is lacking. Indeed, I am talking about the mindless hack and slash FPS combat. This primal, inelegant system is a glimpse into the future of gaming from the first person perspective. Hey, I didn't say it was a good future.

If you take a look at the indie scene of today you will notice a lot of auteurs using pixels to convey their art, mostly because it is cheap and easy for one or a handful of people to do, but also because most designers  have run out of love for turning people into a disembodied gun, and have also run out of ways to freak the medium.

It's plateaued, Unreal, Crisis, the Creation kit, very few people are finding any gas in those tanks, or the ability to drive is thought to be the privilege of large studios that are terrified of wrong turns. But little by little, innovation sneaks out of these systems, see: Elizabeth, see: Chivalry. This type of stuff.

These are the heroes Gotham needs now, then with the deeper immersion stuff. If HD porn was too jarring, try livestreaming from a hookers uterus. And for all it does wrong, Dead Island : Rosanna took a gamble on a system and, well, won a pyrric victory, of sorts, which in AAA land is as good as you are going to get these days.  It's dumb, it's expensive, it's repetitive. I like the game, don't hate the player.

 And yes I am late, and have been late for things all week, and for that I am truly sorry. And yes this piece is short, and for that I am mildly sorry. I had a whole thing on the other situation and scrapped it at the last minute, which is new for me, the holding back of things. Better to keep it about games for now methinks.

I hope information's hair doesn't catch on fire and then hang blanket out the window and ermagerd JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.157 Issue : People : Constituent

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Issue : Games : Simulationist

Evoland is a game about tradition, and basically the role playing version of A Christmas Carol, in that you get visited by the ghosts of RPG past, present and future.

The past is dipped in sanguine nostalgia caked in it's systems, menus, and characters, then whisks you away just as you begin to realize how annoying the constant backtracking, something happened somewhere game play mechanics, and random overland battles actually were.

The present arrives in three high definition dimensions, loot tables, and top down slashing. There are also destructible walls, airships, and flower girls not long for this world. This visitation only served to remind me of a time when developers were not afraid of the concepts like adversity, choice, and permanence. And how the games they made were better for it.

The future is most true to the source material in that there is nothing there. There is not an original word, texture, system, or object in the whole game. This truth is also truthy to the state of modem gaming, because role playing games have not seen substantial innovation in many, many years.

Through necromancy a bloated spikey haired carcass with amnesia appears every fiscal quarter. The kids are repulsed, the adults are bored. Evoland's credits are the gravestone that laments the loss of a genre that did the same thing over and over because they thought it was what it was supposed to do. Giving phoenix down to the undead.

How old are we now anyway? Some people have video games date of birth pegged at 1947 with Missile Simulator, some say it was '61 with Spacewar!, others swear it was '03 with Call of Duty.

There is a school of thought on the subject that claim the whole argument moot, that the digital canvas is just another extension of the same basic game our species have been using to pass the time since the lights came on.

The only difference I see in all of it is that these days things move fast, much faster than ever before. Especially in our neck of the woods. Folks that have been around for a couple decades or more have had a front row seat to the show. We have seen how platformers split into side scrollers, which begat brawlers, which begat adventures, that sort of thing.

So the idea of tradition, or, things that whole generations of humans do over and over and over because somebody did them first, is new to video game land, mostly because video game land is new to the world. Kind of. But how does that work for us?

For instance, a parent that wants their kid to read would usually give them a children's book, Cat in the Hat, Everybody Poops... Is there an equivalent for that in the video game world? Should a kid start with Super Mario brothers?

What happens to a kid that starts a story at chapter thirty? Or coming at a different angle, what happens to the story when it's that kids turn to add a chapter? Personally, I say start em at the top. Tabletop. That's even better.

Whatever. The game is Definitely a standout entry on Greenlight, the gaming industry's version of a rapper standing outside of a club trying to sell you his CD for eight bucks, and well worth a weekend for what it is.

Alright fine, I get it, the news thing is a wrap. SpeakingOfGames does it better over on Reddit anyway, so there you go, ill just bite his shit. Cry Moar. Oh and almost forgot to mention Arena.xlsm, play it because saying you experimented on an Excel tab makes you sound more grown up.

Hope information chokes on information, wait, wha?  Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape v.156 Issue : People : Twink

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Issue : Games : Wanda

A medium time ago I was a Navy dude, and yup, I lived the stereotype. Drinking, fighting, and random’s were all any port call was about. But that type of existence can only last so long before the descents, plural, begin, and the descents tend to feel like the good times, so you can’t really tell where they start. But you get a good idea of where they end.

My first naval visit to rehab was because of an unfit for duty wrap. I had gotten blackout drunk one night and was physically unable to wake up for my watch, a watch I would have stood armed and completely sloshed for, had I made it there, which is not unusual at all in the military world.

According to the report, after the third late call, a yeoman came down to the berthing to get me and heard me snoring in my rack, curtains closed. I told him to fuck off. Then the watch chief came to get me, I told him to “eat my butt.” All the while holding the sliding curtain to my rack closed. It had become a standoff. I’m not sure though, I wasn't there.

The first class petty officer from my shop came down to join the crowd of five or so stunned overseers which now included the officer of the watch and a few tired but bemused military policemen.

And as he told me later when my petty officer leaned down to physically yank me out of my rack I gave him a surprise Bruce Lee style one inch punch through the curtain, replete with a “WatAA!” sound, that clipped his nose and sent him flying back, which in turn gave the MP’s carte blanche to drag me out by any means they saw fit.

Turns out I was butt naked in there, have no idea why. I was also covered in Arby’s, as in; I had secured a meal from the fast food establishment and somehow managed to cover most of my body in roast beef, French dip, horseradish, and curly fries.

So not only did the MP’s have to deal with dragging a naked, screaming, belligerent E-nothing to the brig that night, but they also had to deal with him smelling delicious. And yes, I realize I probably had sex with an Arby’s sandwich, I’m ok with that. There are worse fast food chains to bring home. I still have no idea how it happened though.  Outside food was not allowed on the boat, and I don’t think the country we were in even had an Arby’s. Love finds a way.

So anyway the assault charge was dropped at the court martial because my petty officer vouched for my character when I wasn't in the bottle, and the captain found the incident report so goddamn hilarious. I was stuck on boat restriction for the rest of that deployment and sentenced to two months at a rehab facility on the base where they build submarines, train dolphins, and experiment on sick people. I thought to myself, “Nice, I could use a vacation.”

I had my own car so I drove myself down there, checked myself in, and met the staff. The base was all tropical, like an episode of “JAG.” So was the staff, a bunch of “Jag’s.” They represented all branches, because it was a communal base, they all smiled like they were paid to, even the devil dogs, it was weird.

And they would do that thing where they touched you while talking. As in, if they were asking you how your day was, they would put a hand on your shoulder, and say “Hey shipmate, how’s it going?” It was that kind of stuff. I wasn't too worried about it because I had met their kind of “help” many times, and knew what they wanted to hear.

And a person like myself at the time, as in, a person that had no intention of stopping the self-destruction ride, had no reason in the world to, and wholeheartedly believed anyone that thought we should could go fuck themselves slowly, had a whole list of responses and breakthroughs to give people like them, in order to make things go smooth. That base was full of us. We shared tips and tricks during smoke breaks.

And I really didn't care what they were talkin ‘bout because I had brought my PS2 with me and on the way to the base had stopped by a Gamestop to pick up a copy of this game I heard about called ICO. My plan was to set up shop in the base recreation center, play games, eat some of the best mess hall chow I ever had in my life, and two months later go back to work and drink myself silly.

So that’s what I did. I went to AA meetings, group counseling, and holistic physical/spiritual training sessions during the day, and during the afternoon I'd run across the street, connect my console, and play what would later be known as a milestone game for the system, and gaming in general.

There was this little pale skinny bald headed kid that started coming into the bay a few days after I plugged in. About nine or ten years old I guess. Everybody seemed to know him because he would come over asking to play their game, or just asking stupid questions in general.

They called him Powder, like the movie, because military people think up stupid names for everything. It’s like an unspoken law. I thought I would be ok, because I am a black dude, and never smile. But I forgot that little kids don’t play by the same rules as everybody else, they will step to anybody, and talk about anything. They don’t give a fuck.

ICO was like catnip for this kid, the first day he pulled up a chair behind me talked all kinds of shit. “Why does that kid have horns?” “What are those shadows?” “Ooh you should jump on the windmill.” “I don’t think that girl likes you? Is she a ghost?” I never wanted to face mash anybody so much in my life.

I knew what was up with his condition. I had seen enough of them where my mom worked. You only get that pale when you are terminal. And his coughing fits lasted way to long, and he got nauseous a lot, so he was on rads or maybe a cocktail, the treatments are tough for adults to deal with, hell on kids.

His folks were serving for sure since he is getting treated on base, probably officers. The waiting list for a place like this is definitely birds and up. I figured he should be alright if rank has any sway on fate. His mom showed up a few days after he did. She tried to do the polite, “sorry about my kid” thing that parents do. I told her it wasn’t a big deal.

She also frequently did that thing where casual game players try to prove their “downess” by quoting the one game they played and enjoyed Ad-nauseam. Hers was Monkey Island, so if I fucked up during combat she would poke her kid to get his attention and say things like, “You fight like a dairy farmer.” And I would have to respond, “How appropriate. You fight like a cow.” And they would laugh and I would die a little inside.

This went on for weeks, and it turned out a few of my counselors were friends with the kids mom, and they were super excited that I was spending time with the kid. They said the kid was responding better to treatments, and they observed a massive change in my attitude.

I thought to myself, yeah whatever, the kid and his mom get on my nerves, but ICO is a fucking awesome game, you guys are off my back, and the mess hall has bacon bits, three cheeses, and ranch dressing. What is not to love about this situation?

About a month into my stay the kid got sicker and couldn't leave his room anymore. The mom asked if I would be willing to go hook up the system in there and play. I figured we sat there for all this time figuring out puzzles together, talking smack, and discussing back stories for Ico and Yorda. It would be jacked if he didn't see the ending.

When I got up there the first thing I noticed was the crappy CRT television the room had which was bullshit. We didn't rock with that, so I convinced the nurses to roll in one of those fancy new 480p flat screen TVs with the CRT back’s in there.

True G’s smeb in Composite, can’t ball in PAL. The kid couldn't really talk anymore, could mostly only lie on his back and stare at the screen. He could smile though, and shake his head when he disagreed with what I was saying or doing.

We made it through the game like that. And I don’t want to spoil anything (but if you are reading this crappy rag and haven’t played ICO then c’mon seriously what the fuck?!) but the only time the kid said anything during those last days was in the Queens room.
He yelled as the shadow wave passed and I ran for the sword, so did his mom who was in the corner of the room with her hands over her mouth. I walked up, grabbed it as the next wave got to me, then ended it. There was this yell/moan combination from the kid, and then he started coughing. His mom ran over there, and I walked over and held his hand as we watched the credits. Whatever.

It turned out the game wasn't over, there was this beach, and we walked over to the left side, and something happened. The kid mumbled something, I have no idea what he said. I really wish I did, still  imagine what it could have been.

My last days at rehab I went to see the kid, he was sitting up and feeling better. We had nothing to play anymore, so his mom left the room, and we just talked. We had not really talked about anything but the game up to that point, but those days we talked about a lot of things. He was incredibly grown up for a little kid, a lot more grown up than me. He would have been something special had he made it.

The first thing I did when I got back to the boat was go to the NEX (which is the military version of a bottle store), bought myself a 40 and a fifth, and drank myself stupid at the park with my old friends who were more than happy to welcome me back. The next morning I woke up on the baseball field covered in my own vomit. But it was ok; I didn't have to work.

A handful of years later I got a job as a video game tester, and the second game I am assigned to test is this hush hush title that everyone around the office called “Wanda.” I frequently had to excuse myself to the bathroom while testing. Every person working in the gaming industry for any period of time, especially testers, have a game that breaks, or almost breaks them, that was my game. I quit drinking for a very long time after that title. I finally had a reason. 

I think I'm bringing this up because people keep saying that Lucasarts Games is dying. Personally, I think dying is a strong word for what is happening to it. I don't think it was ever what people thought it was, and what it is becoming is closer to what it always should have been. Having said that, good luck to the talented folks being displaced by whatever it is going on over there. Hope you land gracefully.

Hope information catches you on one of your good days, and JERBZ and shit. 

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