Mass Effect 2

So I finished ME1 and started up ME2. Just like before, there was an initial stumbling-around phase where I get used to the new controls and systems, and then everything starts to just feel way better than the original did. Combat is no longer about making their bars go down faster than yours; I am forced to aim, pick the right targets, use the right weapons, and take advantage of my teammates’ abilities, which you don’t really need to do much of in ME1.

I will say that I do miss the RPG elements of ME1 more than I did the first time I played through these games. I still find a lot of ME1’s weapon and upgrade system extraordinarily tedious, but I think that ME2’s relative lack of customizability isn’t any better. Honestly, I think the problem is that the guns and abilities in both games simply lack personality–which is a failing of both the FPS and RPG elements of the series.

I’m playing through as a soldier this time, since I played as a Vanguard in my first run. I like the tanky, in-your-face classes. Vanguard was perfect for this since they have that one ability that basically Psycho Crushers you into the heat of battle, shields charged and shotgun at the ready. Soldier, by comparison, is a bit more straightforward. Find cover, activate bullet time, use appropriate gun/ammo combo. Use squad abilities as necessarily. It’s entertaining enough, but there’s no soul to it. Just a handful of standard boring guns.

You know who made some great fucking guns? Bungie, back in the Marathon days. DOOM‘s weapons basically differed in a few predictable ways–you had the rate of fire, or you had area of effect, with damage more or less related to ammo scarcity. Marathon‘s weapons each had their own personality. Akimbo pistols for long range, akimbo shotguns for close range, finesse charged shots with the Fusion Pistol and spray-and-pray with the Assault Rifle and Grenade Launcher. Those were some fine guns.

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Why I Love PC Gaming

Started playing Mass Effect again in preparation for ME3; I played through the original 2 over holiday break last year but my saves were lost when I migrated to the desktop PC a few months ago. Not a terrible loss; I lost a few characters in the ME2 ending, and I kind of rushed through the first one anyway.

I could barely bring myself to finish the original, thanks to its clunky battle system and stupidly long elevator rides. That hasn’t been fixed in my second play through, but a few console tweaks make the game far more playable. All you have to do is type slomo 3 to speed the game up 3x and/or setrunspeed 1600 (I think) and Shepard will be zooming around the Citadel tagging Keepers like nobody’s business. Tank level? No problem, just crank up the speed. It’s like playing classic SNES RPGs with fast forward on, only it’s a modern PC game. Far more playable this way.

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IndieCade 2011

IndieCade 2011

Guys, guys! Guess what’s happening in downtown Culver City next weekend?

No not the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, IndieCade! Every year some of the most creative independent game developers in the world assemble in this godforsaken corner of L.A. County to drink, dance and play games together.

Also, there’s like some awards show and some conferences and such. But mostly it’s about cool games and cheap booze! I’ll be there next weekend to express my love for both, and to prepare I thought I’d highlight a few of the lesser-known games I’m excited to play. Everyone knows how great games like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery are, but there are plenty of innovative and exciting projects on display at IndieCade every year that just get lost in the shuffle. Here are a few finalists from this year’s show that can’t slip under your radar.

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You Guys Are Both Wrong

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life? 
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair. 
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life? 
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. 
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

I don’t care about your stories of out-smarting some CPU, and I don’t care about your sand-castles unless I get to storm them. There’s only one thing worth caring about in the world of video games, and that is the deliciously sweet and salty taste of nerd tears. Specifically, yours.

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I’m Not Racing, I’m Just Sprinting

 someone on the internet is wrong

Arguing on the internet is a waste of time. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, and you aren’t going to convince anyone of anything on so vacuous a medium.

But sometimes, someone is just… off the mark. Offensively so. And so here I am, throwing my hat into the ring in defense of we Builders.

I chose this video over the vast trove of Minecraft demonstrations littering the web because it does just as good a job of demonstrating the innate beauty locked away inside the human imagination. If you want something a bit more topical, just google “Minecraft” and click the videos tab.

My point: The dude in the video above is dancing — I’m assuming he really likes that song.  Then he posts a video of it on the internet, and a few people see it, and like it, and pass it along. Hasn’t blown up or won him national accolades or anything (there are “only” 45K views).

But that’s not the point, is it? “Hey,” he says. “I have made a thing, to music I enjoy.”

And fuck you, it’s beautiful.

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Minecraft Is For Kids

After reading Jeff Vogel’s post about why adults don’t play Minecraft, I realized that I’m part of the problem. Exploring or creating things no longer holds any intrinsic reward; I play games to discover wonderful things, but those wonderful things must now be strewn throughout a game like bread crumbs lest my attention wander. I don’t play games for fun anymore.

We’ve had this conversation before. We’re older, we’re busier and we’re adding new branches to the unique and beautiful snowflakes we imagine represent ourselves. We don’t have the time to sit and play in the sandbox anymore. And that’s a good thing, right? I mean, the reason we were sitting in that sandbox playing with dirt in the first place is because we had nothing better to do. Now we’re older and wider, we have careers and cars and music and shopping and Netflix and I mean, who really wants to go back to that sandbox?

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I Beat DXHR Without Dying, Give Me Your Nerd Points

I successfully finished my DXHR hardcore/no-death run. Spoilers:

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