A Rifle, a Helicopter, and a Jet

I literally screamlaughed when this happened, and I thought that it was important to capture it and package it for the YouTube audience.

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On “Android Whores Don’t Cry”

“Android Whores Don’t Cry” is a short story by Natalia Theodoridou published in Clarkesworld. You can read it here.

One of the things about William Gibson‘s work that I have always loved is that the cyberpunk dystopia came with a strong aesthetic move. The world might be shit and you might have to live in the trauma, but at least you can patchwork your skin or polish yourself or cut your body into whatever shape you please. The personal aesthetic is the political.

Theodoridou’s story hinges on the aesthetic, and where Gibson always has a kind of political individualism* involved in the “exist how you like” personal aesthetics, “AWDC” instead leans into growth. In this world, androids grow nacre, or mother of pearl, all along their bodies. They become rigid, they become fashion statements, and their aesthetics infiltrate the rest of society. “AWDC” is this slice of Gibson done better, and it’s an excellent experience to read a story that surpasses a great in a very specific way.

The nacre is an assertion of non-death. The world that Theodoridou has crafted is vague. We’re in a country where images of death have been outlawed. A Massacre Market exists for the sale of religious objects, photographs, films. The General leads them all, and they slaughter the students, and the only way you would know is from the black market.

It’s a weird intersection of concepts, and I’m not sure it all congeals into something coherent in the end, but I’m a sucker for a distributed narrative told in fragments from different sources.

This has been a weird conceptual summary. I like the story. Go read it.

*I’ve edited this to say “individualism” instead of “libertarianism” because it’s more specific and closer to what I actually mean there.

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“gameplay loot” and “story loot”

Earlier today I made a tweet that said “I increasingly want games with a ‘story loot’ versus ‘gameplay loot’ option.

I got some agreement and some comments, and it seems like most people read me as saying that I wanted more items that function as story, which isn’t exactly what I meant (although I do love that and have written about it here a little). And at that moment I could have laboriously tweeted fifty tweets or I could have written this. Here we are.

Crach_an_Craite

What I mean is that there is often a massive disconnect between how important and powerful an item is in a narrative and how important it is statistically in a game. It really isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but it is one that I find eternally annoying.

What flipped my switch into thinking about this was a moment in The Witcher III when I was given the ancestral sword of Clan an Craite, the Winter Blade. It is a big moment. Crach an Craite tells you that he cannot offer physical aid, but he can help you by handing over this sword, and in my playthrough I even had Geralt be all “no, please do not give me this.”

He forces Geralt to take it, and it’s a heavy moment, and there’s this story implication that Geralt might take this sword into battle with extraplanar enemies that destroy it for good. A sword that has lasted for generations might disappear forever.

It’s tropey and the most high fantasy of high fantasy, but it also works. I immediately equipped it and prepared to do the Big Mission that was coming up.

Then I killed some rando monsters in a side quest and found a sword that was so much better, just phenomenally better, that I had to stick the Winter Blade in my inventory.

There’s a disconnect there. It’s story loot. It drives the narrative along and helps generate some genuine affect in me, but at the end of the day it’s always going to be transplanted by gameplay loot. Story loot helps you invest in the character and the world; gameplay loot helps you mechanically progress in the game. They aren’t inherently opposites, but they are often deployed that way in the open-world games of today. That level 33 mission reward has to be more mechanically effective because it comes later in the total chronology of the player’s experience, and it doesn’t much matter if that makes sense from a player perspective or not.

These are just some thoughts, but I think I would like to see a “story loot” toggle switch in the same way that The Witcher III or the latter Dragon Age games have difficulty settings that allow you to frontload the story experience over the mechanics of the game. It should be fairly simple: if an item is a legendary, plot-bombshell piece, just lock its stats sky high. It breaks the standard mechanical progression ramp, but that would be the point: the item matters so it matters that you now own it.

 

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Rocket League Pro Strategies

I made a video showing off some of the best pro strategies in Rocket League. This video was super fun to make and I find it completely hilarious. Maybe you will too! Or maybe you won’t. What you will think is a mystery to me!

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Erik Wolpaw on Valve’s Organization

When you moved to Valve – that must have been a strange day – what did you expect to be doing?

I figured I’d be spending most of my time getting fired in a few weeks. Thank God for Portal and Team Fortress and Valve’s decentralized management structure that created an environment where nobody 100% knew who had the authority to fire me until I was able to actually make a meaningful contribution.

– “RPS Interview: Valve’s Erik Wolpaw

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You’ll Never Believe What This Witcher Does

I’ve been making things that I find super funny and putting them on YouTube and this is one of those things.

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On These Are Your Friends

theseareyourfriends_1

These Are Your Friends is a fifteen second game that gave me more enjoyment than 90% of sandbox open world military shooter fantasy space sims. Dayton McKay made it.

You’re a giant, powerful woman who can pick up her friends to protect them. Or you could pick up the little red notfriends to protect your friends. But you’ve only got one arm, and you have two little friends, and safety is impossible to achieve.

theseareyourfriends_2

Airplanes and boats, the demons of modern industry, crowd the game’s universe.

I love it go play it here.

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