I’ve been playing Dead Island this week. I see a lot of similarities to Borderlands, in terms of general structure. In the same way that shooting bad guys in Borderlands was satisfying enough for me to excuse the sort of “RPG Lite” story and mission structure, the melee in Dead Island goes a long way towards allowing me to excuse its flaws.
The melee gameplay at first is just okay; pull the trigger, and watch a melee attack. The sort of attack changes a little bit based on context and where you’re aiming. That’s the “digital” control for melee.
But in the options menu, change it to “analog” and then the game comes alive. In analog mode you aim your crosshairs at the part of the zombie you want to strike, then hold the left trigger. This switches the right stick from controlling your aim to controlling your weapon arm. Move the stick left, then right, and you wind up and deliver a backhand. Up, down delivers an overhead strike. Diagonal movements produce diagonal strikes. The character I’m playing with favors edged weapons, and after about 1/2 an hour of experimenting I was lopping off heads and limbs with precision (as long as the weapon was in proper shape). Facing a “thug” (a larger, slower zombie who swings haymakers that knock you onto your back), I find severing arms first to be prudent. “Infected” (fast-moving, wildly swinging zombies) can do much damage in a short time, so I usually deliver a kick to the chest to stop their forward momentum, and follow immediately with a swing at their neck to behead them.
No first-person game I’ve played has made melee fighting as enjoyable for me as this one, and though the game suffers from many “video gamey” flaws (illogical inventory, NPCs that ask you if you’ve completed their mission as soon as you’ve accepted it, etc), just the act of disassembling zombies is so enjoyable that so far I’m able to just laugh them off. I’ve found a couple of guns in the game so far, and have just sold them. I don’t want to shoot zombies; I just want a nice sharp machete.
In the Year 2000–I hung up my WoW subscription and bought an Xbox. Yes, I played Wow. I’ll pause while you snicker.
There was no party chat when I got into Xbox but there were loads of DickyDoo’s. It’s a pleasant and insular time we live in, with a nice group of gaming friends I don’t think I’ve spoken to a random in over a year. Those early days of XBL were rough… crammed full of Fred Durst badititude and X-treme everything it’s a wonder most of us made it. I hung in there, despite the DickyDoo’s, by trying to change the social environment. I wrote posts that were equal parts bold and naive on the XBL forums. I called for a kinder gentler gaming environment.
“Rape” should be banished for the gaming lexicon! Racial, gender, and sexually pejorative terms tossed out!
Obviously, my campaign was a stunning failure. My posts were thoroughly trolled, flamed, and bogged down by the L33Ts.
But, did I really lose to the avalanche of DickyDoo’s? I’m writing comics and casting their caricatures as horrible pervs
If the L33Ts do get you down or make you feel icky by associating in the same hobby, here’s a gaming feel good story for you. The journal Nature has published a brief piece that lauds players of fold.it for having helped with a real scientific break through. The players sequenced a difficult protein sequence in a mere three weeks, overcoming a problem that was stifling research into HIV and other retro-viruses.
Maybe my nerd brother can interpret the piece for me when he gets a chance… in any event, it’s certainly a Huzzah moment for Good Guy Gamers everywhere.
Baby Indy stands firmly resolved that the following are unnecessary:
Being a benevolent ruler, he did let Molly and I watch “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.” I didn’t follow the CoCo Vs. Leno feud, but all the publicity surrounding it did remind me that I loved Conan. I spent many a happy nights in college watching Conan… that goofy redhead inspired me to insert many a Rust Monster into my DnD campaigns. I even rolled a Dire Masturbating Bear once–the party avoided him by creating an she-bear illusion, I’ll spare you the rest of the details.
Back to the movie, it did provide an interesting insight into the deep pit of insecurity that drives O’Brien’s brilliance. He is at once genuine, hilarious, endearing, and cruel. Conan has always been a very human entertainer–this humanity comes through in one of the documentary’s quieter moments–Conan sitting alone on a flight of stairs, his head in his hands, waiting to go on. This is not a facade, nor some contrived drama. Naked sincerity is refreshing from our entertainers–it is this sense, that you’re getting to see an unfiltered person dealing with the trauma of a brutal business that makes “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” an interesting movie.
It’s not uproariously funny, but it certainly is engaging.
I’m filling in for Jack this week, as he’s having back problems that prevent him from sitting at the computer and being funny. I’d like for everyone to take a minute and think some warm, healing waves in his direction. You don’t need to know where he is, just focus them on the monitor or a convenient USB port, and the magic of the internet will do the rest. Just address them to Jack in your brain. Miracles of modern technology, right? What an age we live in, etc. and whatnot.
Speaking of which, please find enclosed above our comic about technology, about how kids’ toys are specifically designed to annoy parents, and how some parents still play with toys, only our toys are way cooler. Or something like that, I didn’t have time to read it closely. Although, that is a pretty cool spatula. If I had that, I’d spatula everything not nailed down. Fried eggs would be at least 15% more delicious!
My mother’s first present to my first child? A blinking plastic monstrosity that bleated incessantly at exactly the right frequencies to cause me to grind my teeth down to brittle nubs. Thanks, grandma! Don’t think I don’t know exactly what you were thinking!
Without instant streaming I’d never have watched that embarrassment of a movie again. It’s likely I’d have wandered through the rest of my life saying things like, “Christopher Lambert kicks ass!” He very well may kick ass, but those movies don’t.
If there’s a movie you loved as a child and you stumble across it. Keep stumbling. It’s a bad movie. Don’t tell your spouse to watch it. She’ll laugh at you… and you’ll deserve it. You may even owe her a “Steel Magnolias” penance.
Think, “The Wizard” is awesome? I sure did, turns out it’s a 90 minute Nintendo commercial complete with plugs for Nintendo Power Magazine. Yes, it’s got child acting savant Fred Savage, but it’s still awful.
Wait… was Fred Savage a good actor? Or do I just remember him as a good actor because Winnie Cooper talked to him?
No more blogging, I’m going to see if “The Wonder Years” is on Netflix–that show kicked ass!
I’m behind a day on the blog accompaniment to this piece. Mea culpa–my back has been out from picking up Baby Indy.
Despite telling him that he’s letting lower organisms show up his species, he’s still not making a lot of progress on the walking front. I know, I know he’s only four months old. Honestly though, isn’t four months of lounging about enough for these babies?
Other parents tell me that their babies are just as free loading. I’m not an Evolutionary Biologist, but I think that babies and their “inability to walk” are destroying the food chain advantage our species has spent 5864 years cultivating.
I just pray that the cow I had for dinner never realizes that it takes our young nearly a year to do what their young do within minutes.
From what I’ve read online this “I’m going to destroy my father’s back because I’m too lazy to walk” stage is just a phase. Like post-college liberalism or pre-death conservatism the only lasting harm is in a shoe box full of embarrassing photos and perhaps a few stupid hats.
P.S. Everything in this weeks comic actually happened. Except the incineration.
This week’s comic was inspired by the classes my wife and I took before Baby Indy was born.
I did learn some useful stuff in those classes, and some weird stuff too.
Like, I learned that women of all backgrounds seem to relish stories of berserker women mangling their husbands during a contraction. I’ve never seen an audience so rapt, as our class of pregnant women when the nurse told stories about bedridden women in full stirrups lashing out…
“So he reminded her again that she’d made a pledge not to take any pain meds during birth, and told the doctor she could tough it out. Before we knew what was happening, she’d gotten a hold of the forceps…”
“Another time, a husband arrived still wearing his golfing glove. Apparently, he’d decided to play-out the hole rather than come directly to the hospital. Once we got her to let go, his hand lacked anything you could call a digit. It was really more of a mashed fleshy flipper…”
Thank God my wife loves me and she spared my hands. I’m pretty sure I could run a dual axis controller with flippers–though I’d prefer not to have to.
Oh shameful gamer, you have deprived yourself of a really entertaining co-op experience. Perhaps even worse, you didn’t have the background knowledge to get this week’s Unicorn Soup comic. So here’s some crummy exposition.
Borderlands is a game predicated on the well known fact that gamers love collecting shinier, bigger and flashier stuff. All this collecting leads your protagonist to the mysterious “Vault” where players are led to believe there’ll be amazing stuff. In the end though, the Vault isn’t crammed full of guns it’s crammed full of an angry space… well, you saw the alt-text this week.
It looks like a vagina with teeth.
To purge that visual, here’s a teaser trailer released this week at Gamescom…it’s not very long so you may have to watch it several times to get the teeth thing out of your head.
I like to imagine that one day I’ll get a fan letter. In my imagination my fan letter goes a little something like this…
You and Jim are my “Bill and Ted.” I’d like to be your Rufus. I have a time traveling phone booth, streamlined ponytail, and trench coat. I’m also from the future.
Much like the fictional Bill and Ted, your art has changed the future—because of you a transcendent period in human history will dominate the millennia following your deaths. Poverty and disease are distant memories. War has been forgotten. Facebook now allows people to permanently delete their profiles. It’s a beautiful period in human existence.
Also, much like Rufus, I believe that I can help to protect you from the forces that are conspiring to destroy you. You should know that a Replica Jack and Jim are even now bound for the awesome studio apartment you share. You’ll be happy to hear that I was able to wound the Replica Jack last Thursday at the city pool. Find enclosed the pinky toe I was able to bite off Replica Jack in the deep end.
Please write back soon and enclose your apartment number. I’ve found your apartment complex, but I’m really getting tired of knocking on doors.
PS I hate you.
PPS Let’s not fight.
PPS Does Jim ever talk about me?
PPPS What was the first comic you and Jim ever wrote together? I was unable to find this in the Jack-a-torium (or as you would call them the library).
That was a long fan letter, I’m not reading that. In my imagination I’m very busy.
I’m just going to imagine my secretary takes care of my fan mail.