Talk about anything and everything Squad-related here -- what you've been playing, what you're looking forward to, and how big your Pile of Shame has grown after that last Steam sale...
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Beige

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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Beige » Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:53 pm

Also, totally agree re: DotE pixel art. They absolutely nailed that... whatever flavor they were going for. Minimalist sort of 90s-ish Blade Runner Meets Total Recall atmosphere. Character portraits expressive enough to show what's what, yet vague enough to be open to imagination.

Strangely, many of the absolute best games of 2014 were pixel stylized, from Dungeon to La-Mulana to Shovel Knight, to Necrodancer etc.

I've heard that kids and millennials today don't jive on the block and beep aesthetic if they weren't suckled on 16 bit originally, but what do they know? Stupid kids. Now that the '90s are back, are we to look forward to GoldenEye era retro low poly nostalgia making a resurgance? Opening that can of worms again.
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by RedSwirl » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:18 pm

Beige wrote:I've heard that kids and millennials today don't jive on the block and beep aesthetic if they weren't suckled on 16 bit originally, but what do they know? Stupid kids. Now that the '90s are back, are we to look forward to GoldenEye era retro low poly nostalgia making a resurgance? Opening that can of worms again.


We're already in that state. That's what the Minecraft aesthetic basically is, and have you seen stuff like Drift Stage? That game has mid-90's SEGA all over it.

I am of about the era you describe with these "millennials." My earliest memories are of the tail end of 8-bit gaming, but elementary school for me was the SNES and Genesis. During those same years however you had Virtua Fighter 1 and Daytona in the arcades, and I would say that stuff is maybe one step of evolution below GoldenEye. That look to us represents a time when basic 3D graphics felt like the future. That was like our vision of VR. That nostalgia is the whole reason I can even bear to look at games like Elite 1, Ultima Underworld, and anything on the Build Engine.

/90's kid

Anyway, I started playing STALKER. Squad Mission thread is already up.
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mrgilder

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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by mrgilder » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:37 pm

RedSwirl wrote:
We're already in that state. That's what the Minecraft aesthetic basically is, and have you seen stuff like Drift Stage? That game has mid-90's SEGA all over it.


I'm salivating over Drift Stage. It's the Ridge Racer and Auto Modellista lovechild that I've always wanted, which is necessary these days considering how far Ridge Racer has fallen. The launch window of the the PS4 felt so hollow to me because it didn't have a proper RR game to back it up.
Check out my artwork on tumblr or deviantart.
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Alex Connolly

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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Alex Connolly » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:33 pm

Wrote a few more paragraphs on Project AURA, if you care to indulge. Absolutely fascinating game. Also, at this stage of having next to NO documentation for the production chain - giving it a strange survival crafting ambience - I'm enjoying the bejeezus out of simply trying to get things to work. Hurrah at working out the desalination tech. Still figuring out the bits and bobs to get my botanic dome working.

It might feel like they've meticulously broken down what would ostensibly be placing structures that - in any other game - would just work, but it does speak to the limited resource element and high cost of production in the far-flung, ecologically ravaged future. Much more so than Anno 2070, with its binary Good/Bad fluff and the 1404 reskinning.
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Beige » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:34 pm

Hey Squad - Firaxis and Sid Meyer just announced a strategy sim about building starships.
I'm excited.

http://www.joystiq.com/2015/01/19/sid-m ... _truncated
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Alex Connolly » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:39 pm

I expect Ace Patrol In Space, which isn't a bad thing.

Focus Home and Tindalos also announced Battlefleet Gothic yesterday, so the more spaceships, the merrier.
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Beige » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:42 pm

Image

Hey all - nobody's talking about the Talos Principle, so I figured I might as well. It's what I've been doing for a week or more in and around spates of Mario 3D World co-op.

Do you like Portal and solving visual spatial puzzles? Do you like Philosophy, epistemology and meditations on the meaning of existence? Do you like both those things together? That's what the Talos Principle is.

OK, well that's what the GAME is specifically. The Talos Principle (the Principle with a capital P) is actually a lesser known sort of philosophical yo-mama snap that can be used to upbraid chin-strokey types at risk of getting too big and high minded for their britches. The Principle specifically makes reference to an ancient myth about a mechanical bull (Talos) that was animated and lifelike yet couldn't function without its scalding mechanical blood. "Even the most rarefied philosopher..." it goes "can't function without his blood." It's the ultimate triumph of the meat, basically. Proof that the highest minded among us are still essentially organic meatbag biology, bound by the confines of meatbag physiology and eventually death and dissolution, lest we forget. Hence its starring appearance in a game about androids.

As you've probably heard, in this game you are a robot who awakes to consciousness on a plinth only to have a Godlike entity (Elohim) begin yelling at you in his booming voice. Solve logic puzzles, he says, be wise... prove your intelligence.... oh, and also most certainly under no circumstances are you to go up that giant obvious Tower of Babel I've just placed in the center of the world. Immortality awaits for those who follow my precepts.

Everybody who mentions this game can't help but point out that the guys who made this (Croteam) are the same guys who made Serious Sam. It's like, Soccer game... soccer game... Serious Sam 1 through 6... Philosophy Game. I'd love to have been in the meeting where the guys just snapped and said FUCK IT, NO MORE GUNS, WE NEED MORE DESCARTES.

The game contains basically 2 faces: Puzzle Solving and Philosophical Discourse.

In mode A, you walk around placing crates on things, aligning light beams, and using increasingly more byzantine devices such as fans and time rewinders to progress through cleverly designed Portal Chambers while pleasing the not-Glados figure in the sky. These portal chambers are all situated within gorgeously realized Philosopher's Walk style contemplative environments -- photogenic crumbling Athenian ruins, mysterious and enigmatic Egyptian colonnades, austere and contemplative Western monasteries, etc. The musical accompaniment is top notch too -- pitch-perfect quiet and contemplative in an Androidey-New-Age sort of way (if slightly repetitive after an hour of exploration in a single area.)

The puzzles are all variations on gameplay you've seen before -- expect to place a lot of boxes on pressure plates -- but they are, seriously, like *the best* implementation of this hoary old chestnut that I've ever seen in a video game without portals probably ever. Sure, you're doing light puzzles and flipping switches... but consistently over and over again I am surprised and delighted to encounter new problems that require a fresh mental arrangement or variation on creative thinking to crack. 20 hours into it and right at the end of the game, I'm only JUUUUUST starting to feel Crate Fatigue and Puzzle Sameness which is a huge mark in the Talos Principle's favor. I didn't think anyone could be as creative and clever in making these old saws perform new tricks, and it certainly speaks hugely for the minds of Croteam. Someone over there is a puzzle visualization master.

The structure of puzzle solving is that there are green, yellow and red tetris blocks which you receive as rewards at the end of puzzle courses. These blocks represent "easy, medium and hard" difficulty respectively are used to open doors to further puzzles -- this is the main game. Beyond that, there are about 40 or more "super seeekrit" stars hidden diabolically around the level which represent Shit Getting Real IN Puzzle Land. Collecting these stars is unquestionably the highlight of the game for me -- even red difficulty puzzles are hand wavey at this point. Cracking a red puzzle probably takes 10 minutes on average, but finding the way to get the stars (assuming you can even FIND them) is regularly as much as an hour long enterprise or more. This makes the Star Challenges madddening gordion knot brain-burners require huge leaps of deductive reasoning and outside the box thinking, often involving elements beyond the boundaries of the game's implicit barriers to overcome. Grabbing one brings in La-Mulana levels of satisfaction every time -- knowing that you went above and beyond.

In mode B, you type furiously on a console, exploring decaying hard drives and reading server logs about philosophy, which is more interesting than it sounds. Digging through emails, perusing old .HTML documents and chat logs from what reads like the last days of an Earthly society at the tail end of a very slow, very stately cataclysm is consistently fascinating. I very much enjoy the mental tete-a-tete that occurs at regular points between you and the personification of MS DOS (named Milton) who serves as the operating system for what library archives remain. These segments play out like that conversation between J.C. and Morpheus in Deus Ex -- just two programs rapping about the nature of man and reality. I enjoyed the fact that the game immediately begins psychologically profiling you based on your responses to regular questions about ethics and morality, and then comes at you hard to challenge your beliefs once it has your measure. Apparently my own philosophy trends towards the dictatorial imperative, and being called out on minutiae of these ethical conundrums and asked to justify my rationale all the time kicked me back to my old Philosophy 201 tutorial roundtables at university 15 years ago.

As I said, "provided you like both puzzles and philosophy, preferably at the same time" this is compelling stuff. Weird stuff. Stuff that has a very specific authorial voice and tone to it, which immediately puts it leaps ahead of Shadow of Mordor in my books. The Talos Principle has a very distinct bouquet and flavor that you will either love or hate pretty much immediately. I found it a little slow at first during the part where the hand hold you through the early puzzles, but satisfying in the extreme once we got rolling.

If you like feeling smart and playing video games that make you feel smart while contextualizing the human qualities of Intelligence and Cognition within an Isaac Aasimov-ey framework, here you go. It's a matter of immense personal pride for me so far that we have solved 100% of the basic puzzles and collected 100% of the stars in the game without having to go to GameFAQs or outside help even once. There were times when I wavered on it, but we held strong and kept bashing until we made it through. We are now working on the Super-Super-Secret puzzles. The WTFIdonteven puzzles, so I'll let you know how that goes.

There are multiple endings and we're not too far away from one now. When I stand before MaAt and am judged, I know my efforts will speak for themselves.
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Alex Connolly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:43 pm

Good write-up, sir. Seems to be getting the love from the right people.

------------

An addendum to Sid Meier's Starships...Pocket Tactics has you covered for all the info known thus far. http://www.pockettactics.com/news/ios-n ... ships-far/
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by Calin Kim » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:46 pm

I'm glad that Beige and Rampant Bicycle have been spoon feeding me information about The Talos Principle, because it sounds exactly like the best game that I never want to play. I'm on board with all of the allusions to Paradise Lost, but I'm out on all of the puzzles and puzzle solving. I've heard the game favorably compared to Portal, which is definitely the moment at which I need to bow out, because I didn't really like Portal. I have had a copy of Portal 2 in my house for about four years now, and I haven't bothered to play it...

One of my new year's resolutions was to beat all of the PS3 and 360 games I have on disc but haven't finished, so I'm working on that. I started Bayonetta a little while back, and that will be the first one I cross off the list. I'll probably have more thoughts when I play more of it.
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Re: Whatchya Playin' - Brand New Digs Edition

by RedSwirl » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:45 am

Completed Saints Row IV. I originally wasn't planning to bother with it at all after The Third, but after trying out enough of it on the Steam free weekend I said "whatever," at that $5 price. That's exactly how I got into The Third in the first place.

If you look back a page you'll see my post in The Third. SR4 is basically that taken to its ultimate logical conclusion, and probably a bit beyond it too. What it gains in additional insanity and potentially fun game mechanics it loses in focus, its fun feeling much less uniform.

I didn't play any Saints Row before The Third, but from what I understand it started off as a mediocre GTA ripoff and the franchise slowly started to realize it needed to break off the chains of the GTA formula and its seriousness. The Third is the game that did this once and for all, becoming a much looser take on GTA's caricature of America and in my opinion much less frustrating mechanically, though still outdone by GTA V's technological leap forward. SR4 is kind of a parody of... everything I guess, or maybe just Volition throwing in everything they wanted to before, knowing it was their last game before the big company shakeup.

Volition did this by basically throwing in Crackdown and Prototype-style super powers that let you completely tear the city apart. I'm not sure however if they knew what to do with those powers. All the challenges balanced around them basically feel like they belong in a different video game, and they're a mixed bag in terms of fun. I'm actually having the most fun when I'm choosing not to use my powers and doing regular GTA/Saints Row stuff.

Still, SR4 is in my opinion a successful parody of... things. The narrative contains clever humor. In the midst of how much the game wants to have fun it even manages to make time for functioning character development.

Honestly though, I wish Volition had put that creative energy into Red Faction Guerrilla 2.
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