Episode 02: Word Salad

The Poop Epiphany Podcast, episode 02.

Viking AstronautTopics discussed:

10 Comments

  1. dasfuller

    Yo, we’re going to have to come back to Destiny as a discussion topic. I heard some of the craziest conspiracy theories about that game from one of my friends Wednesday night. I googled around a bit, and it turns out there’s a lot of real traction to these theories. I love this stuff, so we’ve got to talk about it.

    Reply
  2. Adam

    The same epiphany Canelli had about Destiny was exactly what led me to cancel my World of Warcraft subscription a few years back (since I’m a PC Gamer, which of course makes me better than you silly peasants). I was quickly frustrated with the common game technique that WoW implemented of increasing difficulty through grinding rather than agency. Not by forcing you to learn a new skill, but by forcing you to get bigger numbers. To obtain a new level or piece of armor that will let you hit the big monster harder than you did before. It felt very much like the rat race where I was doing the same thing all the time, but now the numbers are just bigger and the scene is slightly changed. But while I make this realization and switch to games that incorporate more powerful narrative (Dragon Age) or skill (League of Legends, DOTA2) I can’t help but think, so what? It’s not as if the skill is really serving me in any way, except for perhaps some improved reaction time. Maybe I’m only disgusted by games like WoW because it makes the fact that I’m a rat on a wheel more obvious, but in Bioshock I can escape behind some flimsy narrative as a way to hide my own rodent tail from sight.

    Now that my hopeful profession has morphed into becoming a video game developer of some sort, I’ve been reading a lot on the agency of both player and AI and came across this article which focuses mostly on Shadow of Morder with the agency and effect of AI on your character. It reminded me of an irritant in stories or narratives that I kept encountering until DFW expelled it a bit with the entire focus sitting on one person, as if they were special or chosen. Why can’t we control the refuse? The non-important ones who die offhandedly in narratives? Perhaps it’s less exciting than being the super soldier killing machine, but wouldn’t it be a much more expansive perspective? It’s one of the many reasons I picked up This War of Mine on Steam’s holiday sale, if not only for a new perspective on war games.

    Speaking further on This War of Mine, it incorporates really well the moral power of decisions not only on you as a player, but on the characters that you control. It truly gives your choices power, and makes you feel like a dick. I love games like that, two that pop up immediately are Red Dead Redemption (especially the Undead Nightmare DLC where you are faced with the deicision to destroy the last of the sasquatch population or not) and Wolfenstein (where you choose which of your friends has to die at the hands of the Nazis). But while choices in those games like RDR and Wolfenstein do have a lasting effect, like seeing or not seeing the last Bigfoot running around or experienceing only one of your friends through the campaign, they fail to change the narrative a significant amount. Perhaps this a betrayal of my wish for less games that focus solely on your character, but I want to see the agency of your actions truly effect your future path as a character, unlike the throwaway actions like killing the doctors or not in Last of Us that Canelli mentioned. Maybe I should finally pull Mass Effect out of my library and check that out.

    Finally, to wrap up my self-important soliloquy, horror games. The game you were talking about Fuller is Amnesia, where you’re trapped in a castle with, would you guess it, amnesia. You have to explore the castle looking for a way out, and on your journey, you come across freakishly realistic and historically accurate torture devices that attempt to not only scare the piss out of you, but confront you with the monsters of humanity, both past and present. The way the game does this is to make these monsters that chase you around the castle shapeless, only obervable by the way your chacter reacts. If you allow them to come too close, you start passing out and eventually die, your only option being to run and hide in dark corners or barricade yourself in rooms where other horrors may await. The lack of power is interesting, espeically among popular games like Far Cry or GTA and on the extreme side Minecraft that allow the player to to whatever the hell they want and have almost limitless power. But in Amnesia, the point is (as far as I’m concerned) that you have no power, and that’s the scariest part. You must confront these demons of humanity, ones that you cannot even see that rage inside of yourself, and your only option is to run and hide.

    I should uh…I should go do something with my life. Or play Red Dead Redemption. Ya, I’m just going to go do that instead.

    Reply
    1. dasfuller

      You want a game that’ll test your skills? Battletoads for NES. End of story. Big mic drop.

      Reply
      1. Adam

        Is that a real thing? I saw that on 4Chan raids all the time and now it’s popping up as a collector’s game or something all over the internet. I didn’t know it was an actual game, thought it was just a troll tool.

        Reply
        1. dasfuller

          This is just level 3 (out of 12 total levels in the game):

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye-kPP3D27o

          I would say that 95% of the people who’ve played this game have never seen level 4.

          Reply
          1. Adam

            Well what do ya know, and is there any better way to test out a new super powered graphics card for my computer than emulating an NES game? I think not.

    2. dasfuller

      Okay, now that I’ve read the rest of your comment:

      I’ve heard about This War of Mine and find the premise intriguing. It also helps that it looks gorgeous (as gorgeous as a bombed out city can look, I guess). A game that’s similarly subversive is Papers, Please. I’m going to get it for my phone any day now (as soon as I finish reading “Air Guitar” by Dave Hickey–a recommendation from my wife that I now share with you because it’s that good).

      Also, today I watched the walkthrough for Playable Teaser, the aforementioned PT from the podcast. That is some real pants-wetting shit, man. At the same time, reading the comments and a couple other sites, the logic behind the game (the symbols and how they relate to the story and what you’re supposed to do to prevent being attacked by “Lisa”) started to become more clear. It’s awesome in that respect.

      (Part 01) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrL8ybvDSkA

      (Part 02) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCx2aFG4TYk

      Reply
      1. Adam

        Watched that with my little brother who quickly proceeded to scream and leave. I can only imagine what controlling the character would be like instead of just watching.

        Reply
        1. Luigus (Post author)

          Dude, it is TERRIFYING. Totally worth experiencing, yet at the same time, totally worth avoiding. I couldn’t control it for more than a few seconds before I handed it off to one of my advisees.

          Reply
  3. Pingback: Mind blown…in this dimension at least. | Poop Epiphany

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *