Archer Spense's Blog - Oct to Dec 17 (6 followers)
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Oct
27
PermalinkQ.U.B.E. Director's Cut and The Turing Test
CUBE

Cube is a direct-to-video 1997 Canadian science-fiction horror film directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali. Several smart people find themselves trapped in a giant Cube in space and must survive a series of lethal Double Dare like physical challenges using their brains. Surprise! All of them die except for the one with down's syndrome because everyone knows retarded people are genetically superior and smarter than normal humans. Especially Canadians (who are now dumber than Americans)

Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut

This is a video game that is a first person puzzle game that is quite obviously inspired by Portal.

The puzzles involve mostly manipulating colored blocks. The colors specify the blocks behavior and all the puzzles revolve around basic physics. All of the puzzles are simple in nature; most are simple platform based where you must figure out how to get to an exit. The few that aren't are color based or involve manipulating a ball to an exit.

Q.U.B.E. is neither complicated nor hard. And this is in spite of the game giving little to no guidance on what the puzzle mechanisms are. They are very simple to figure out. The puzzles in general were also fairly easy to figure out. I can count on one hand how many times I was stumped by one.

Because this game is taking after portal, it has a story for some reason. And the story is a dumb person is stuck in the cube with you, and its puzzles have driven him mad and he doesn't want to leave it now.

I don't know what it is about games like this, because the you are a test subject in a sterile laboratory experiment looking environment (because, duh, Portal) contradicts the ending of the game which kind of doesn't make much sense. The whole thing feels like you are a test subject being fucked with in a psychological experiment. But you're not, you just happened to randomly wind up in some random Portal themed puzzle cube in space.

QUBE is actually decent as a puzzle game. Its a little on the easy side except for a few tricky puzzles.

Very easy and short 1k with a guide.

well, except for maybe the time attack arcade levels. Those are annoying. Controls are a little sluggish and imprecise to be fun.

mostly a fun game. I liked it.

The Turing Test

Going with a theme with this blog entry.

Turing Test is another game clearly inspired by Portal. It too is a puzzle game that is first person and takes place inside a sterile looking psychological experiment environment and has a deep, though provoking story that makes you want to kill yourself.

The puzzles for Turing Test are all figure out how to get to the exit. Each chapter is a set of 10 puzzles and each chapter introduces a new puzzle mechanic. But still, they are all just figure out how to get to the exit using the few energy orbs available to open and close doors.

The challenge is inconsistent. Only a few rooms are really difficult to figure out. Most are either brain dead simple or require some exploration and minor puzzle solving. The inconsistency is in how the rooms are ordered. There are quite a few times the puzzle difficulty drops between rooms.

Story wise, Turing Test is thought provoking. The title itself is taken from an actual psychological test involving computers speaking with humans. The test is if the human can tell the computer is a computer. But the game puts a twist on it in an attempt at role reversal. Its hinted at that Ava (the person you play as) is actually playing out the role of a computer or robot despite being a living breathing sentient creature. Not a literal computer or robot, Alex. I'm speaking metaphorically. A robot is programmed what to think, how to behave, and how to perform a task; they have no free will. This is a truth revealed about Ava as the story progresses since she is essentially a victim of circumstance and has no choice.

Also, I may be reading into things too much, but the computer in the game is named Tom. Tom is short for Thomas, a name that means 'twin'. Believe it or not, but that's what Tom and Ava are. The thing that makes them the same is the player. However, the two are represented as opposites. Tom: an AI operating on cold logic. Ava: a human whose logic is guided by emotion. These two aspects conflict, but that's the cleverness of Turing Test's narrative. Both Tom and Ava are constructs that exist to perform a task. How this task is carried out is not out of free will, but dictated. This is even after its revealed Ava is quite literally a slave. Both to who she works for, but as the story goes on, her biological programming; what would be considered instinct. As in, she wishes to remove her restraints (Tom specifically) and survive.

A little side note about The Turing Test: it was made by the same people who made Pneumonia. In that game, the protagonist breaks the fourth wall by rebelling against the player. As in they're trying to break free from your control. It must be a signature of the developers, because this too happens in The Turing Test.

Wondering if this video game character trying to break free from the video game schtick will appear in Battlefield 1944. Can't help but imagine the controls getting really shitty while the character you play as starts spazzing out about being a slave to the military industrial complex and how he won't do what you want.

I am paying way too much attention to the story with this game. Most of it seems like a waste since the actual story comes down to a dilemma that sets Ava and Tom against each other. Its up to the player to side with one or the other. Without spoiling anything, siding with Tom almost comes across as playing a profoundly cruel practical joke on an AI.

The ending sucks no matter what you choose. Honestly. It begins to build itself up into a nice little bit of sci-fi drama, but the actual end is a huge let down.

What also doesn't make sense is if you side with Ava, how the fuck will she escape? You arrive at the end of a series of mostly 1-way puzzles with no way back. Is it not a trap?

Anyway, the game.. Like Qube, Turing Test is another quick easy 1k.

I also found the game enjoyable. pretty good free game this month.
Posted by Archer Spense on 27 October 17 at 06:21 | Last edited on 28 October 17 at 00:13 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Oct
22
Permalinkthe spectacular collapse of NeoGAF
the last 24 hours have been pretty interesting in the progressive land of NeoGAF.

I'm not quite sure what happened exactly. All I know is spontaneously, within a matter of a few hours, all of the mods and admins of NeoGAF up and quit.

the common thing I keep reading claims its related to something that happened earlier in the week. Which is Evilore was accused of sexual harassment. For the 2nd time. 1st was in Europe and that was years ago. There are also strange rumors of some sort of coercion involving doxing or threats of doxing NeoGAF mods and admins. Its hard to know exactly what went down other than it all sort of happened very quickly and publicly.

without the power drunken mods around, members were able to speak freely and the site went into complete chaos having a full melt down. That is until it mysteriously disappeared from the internet for maintenance.

one of the most unusual things about this whole affair is how NeoGAF is almost universally hated. This is no joke. If what was posted on the forum before it shut down is to be believed, a vast majority of the members of that site despise NeoGAF. Quite a few game industry insiders are likewise thrilled to be urinating on the ashes of NeoGAF. #NeoGAF on twitter (https://tinyurl.com/yc5zng4y) was hot enough to be on the trending list briefly. The vast majority of the tweets being highly schadenfreude in nature. The internet in general. Even idiots like Cliffy B. whose progressive leanings align with NeoGAF's is talking shit about the place. Nobody likes NeoGAF. Kind of crazy to know it still somehow had pull and influence over the video game industry even when their causes made absolutely no sense and carried out in the most toxic and hateful manner; things they claim to be fighting against. NeoGAF's hypocrisy is widely known it seems. That and pedophilia.

Me, personally, I'm not quite certain this is a good thing. NeoGAF was interesting. Over time it was like watching a disease process take place. It was once full of people who shared a common interest in video games. Then there was a sudden notable shift towards politics. All those people passionate about video games were quickly replaced by assholes who are a combination of insane, stupid, and angry. The kind of change where Pokémon discussion goes from "what's your favorite pokemon?" to "WTF does this game only have 2 genders to pick from? Fuck you Nintendo!"

The problem I see is this: NeoGAF is very likely gone at this point, but the unstable assholes it made a safe space for aren't. I'm wondering if NeoGAF's collapse isn't unlike an infected cell bursting and releasing new viruses that will infect other forums and further pollute video game culture. If NeoGAF were still around, it would be the go-to for those types and would make them easy to identify and roll your eyes at for their dumbassed opinions they love to force on everyone.
Posted by Archer Spense on 22 October 17 at 23:16 | Last edited on 22 October 17 at 23:40 | There are 3 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Oct
11
PermalinkCuphead is spelled SEE YOU PEE head
I have this XBL friend. He seems to believe I don't like any video games. Thankfully Cuphead came out recently. After buying and playing it, I can tell him he's wrong because I liked it. I didn't just like it, but I'd give it a 10/10 score if I were a game reviewer I found it that good.

The game itself:


Cuphead is mostly a run n' gun shooter with a few side scrolling schmup stages. Unusual to Cuphead's design is most of the stages are merely boss battles. Its the reason so many label the game as "boss rush mode" when it isn't at all (come on people, a boss rush is an endurance marathon of one boss right after another without stopping)

What's special about Cuphead is that it attracted attention on its visual style alone. For years this game was essentially vaporware, but journalists, games as art fake gamers, and real gamers were enthralled by the unusual 30's style US animation Cuphead teased them with its promo teasers.

This throwback to 30's style animation isn't what's special. Its secretly the fact this game is a throwback to traditional aspects of video game culture that feel like they've been left in the dust decades ago. Strangely they've become abandoned and forgotten. Or changed to such a degree that people have become out of touch. Example of what I'm talking about: in the 8 and 16 bit generations, schmups were a dime a dozen and were largely uniform in design. The common tactic used then to draw attention to your game even if it was shallow and rubbish was to make it pretty and visually impressive. The term for this was 'eye candy'. Frequently it was the schmup bosses which got special treatment to be big and pretty. And while the circumstances and competitive market have changed (the genre Cuphead is, is teetering on dead/niche), this is exactly what was done to bring the spotlight on Cuphead. It worked just like it did 30 years ago.

Its not just that. In playing the game, it felt like tradition was a closely held philosophy with Cuphead's design. And I'm not talking about the graphics/visual style. It truly honest to god feels like a work of passion that harkens back to simpler more innocent times. In that it attempts to capture and deliver an experience from the best the genre had to offer decades ago. If feels out of place and refreshing in this terrible cash grab age of lazy unfinished games full of microtransactions and cut content/former unlockables sold as DLC.

so, on to a review of Cuphead

graphics:


External image


sound:

it sounds like fucking garbage. Everything sounds like its coming out of a god damned record player.

control:

control? oh, you mean gameplay!

yes, gameplay. The quality of the interaction one has playing the game. Honestly, its about as perfect as one can get. I'm being totally serious.

The controls are sharp and precise. Typically with games like this (especially Japanese ones) the issue with controls is a combination of player movement (usually too slow) and bullet speed (usually too fast). Cuphead manages to balance these things just right.

Perhaps the weakest part of this game is the parry system where you push jump in the air just as you touch a pink projectile. I'm not saying this is bad, but sometimes it feels picky and a little more difficult than it should be.

that being said, I never had difficulty with the controls ever. I grew up playing games like this, and I'm astonished to read actual real critics who write about video games for a living saying the controls for this game are bad or poorly configured.

fun factor:

can't start this section without asking the obvious: do you like side scrolling run n gun schmups? do you like side scrolling schmups? Cuphead has a different take on the formula primarily being mostly long drawn out boss fights, but spiritually its the same. If you enjoy games like Contra and Metal Slug, you will likely also enjoy Cuphead.

design wise, the game is tough but fair. the litmus for this is the feelings I have about dying. I never felt like I was fighting the controls. There were few places where I felt the game was cheap/unfair until I noticed the pattern, figured out a trick to survive, or simply got gud (which is what you're SUPPOSED to do in these games). Frequently I was dying because I was genuinely fucking up.

Usually damage came from failing to parry a bullet. It is maybe the most frustrating aspect of the game. Truthfully, it's a different and unique concept and takes some getting used to. But its not so difficult I wasn't able to get better at it. Seriously.

the best thing about Cuphead is it's NOT a rememberizer. As in its not predictable and bosses don't follow the same patterns every time that can easily be memorized. Quite a few bosses even do completely different attacks each time you restart. This adds to the challenge and keeps things fresh.

the difficulty can be a bit much sometimes, but honestly, throwing a fit and swearing is part of the fun with games like this.

conclusion:

Cuphead is a fucking great run n' gun. Its the best (only?) of this generation and among the best the genre has to offer.

My absolute favorite game of this genre is Contra III: The Alien Wars. I played the hell out of that game on hard and thoroughly enjoyed it. In many ways, Cuphead feels and plays a lot like it. Right down to Konami's stringent "play a harder difficulty to get the ending!" And I don't believe this is coincidental, but intentional. As I stated far above, it seems Cuphead was designed with tradition in mind when it comes to video game design. Tradition in the sense of tried and true concepts that have proven themselves. And wouldn't you know it, when executed properly, they still work.

Cuphead, again, is a fucking brilliant game. It is a popular game in a dead genre that is outselling contemporary FPS games designed by arrogant video game rock stars whose ground breaking innovation is genderfluid bathroom signs all for an already congested market (and yes, I'm talking about Clefairy B. Fuck that guy)

stop calling it bullet hell, dumbass:

one of the things I've noticed about Cuphead is that the genre has been so neglected that it seems most people have become dumb to it. I don't know how many times I've heard people claim Cuphead is bullet hell when its not.

Japanese make bullet hell games. The first one of which I became aware of was 1999's Gigawing where the bosses literally vomit bullets all over the screen and the designers expect the player to maneuver through the teeny tiny spaces between them. If you want real bullet hell, play a Touhou game.

Cup head is not like that.

Stop calling it bullet hell. You sound like a fucking idiot when you call it that.

controversy:

this is by far the best thing about Cuphead. Somehow this became a controversial game. And it all started with the video that blew a million minds:



that's game being played by a guy who has written professional about tech for 25 years and video games for 18. He's also Asian, and if he didn't surrender his cultural values, he would have committed seppuku for shaming his ancestors.

predictably most of the internet was shocked and outraged by this. Many became vocal about it questioning how someone so inept at video games would have a job writing about them.

The new games journo pros reacted to this backlash in the most reasonable and measured way possible: trying to put out the fire with gasoline whilst screaming GAMERGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE!!!!

http://archive.is/gcdjx

https://twitter.com/catovitch/status/905844725575507968

https://twitter.com/HanFreakinSolo/status/905085992507461634

(yes I stole these from a reddit post, forgive me)

What. The. Fuck. Is wrong with these people?

the weird thing is this was the first wave of controversy. the second was when the game actually came out and more new games journalists played and wrote about it.

The next serious piss take came from Laura Kate Dale. This is the 2nd time I'm invoking his name. And its quite clear to me the dude is a professional lair whose only skill is bringing attention to himself. He'll write a hilariously contrarian blog article for Kotaku provoking someone to call him out on his shit. The moment the right person does, Laura will react as if its some sort of personal attack.

https://twitter.com/LaurakBuzz/status/916705545574379520

if you told me I'd like and respect Pewdiepie 10 years ago, I'd tell you you're full of shit and an asshole, but HERE WE ARE! Fucking Pewdiepie coming correct and not giving a fuck. Props.

so of course, the proper way the journo pros react is to get defensive, and begin caping the poor fragile oppressed man in a wig in the most condescending manner possible.

https://twitter.com/kezamacdonald/status/916781924705865729

the funniest thing about this is Laura's writing style has made it incredibly easy to criticize him. And by that I mean you know the entire content of the article by reading the headline. Not only does it serve as bait for a hot take the likes of Pewdiepie's, but ripe for the super predictable series of events that seems to happen in waves....

Cuphead is somehow, magically tearing away the flimsy illusion that new games journalists are in fact non-gamer SJW hipsters. Fraudsters. Imitators. Poseurs. They're not what they claim to be. They're emblematic of shitty human being label they hurl at everyone they don't like. Cuphead is the beam of sunlight that Dracula hisses and recoils at.

The funniest thing. And I mean this, is that its revealing that SJWs follow a psychological pattern just like the 5 steps of death... I've been thinking about this and trying to come up with a clever acronym, but I can't. Currently, thanks to Cuphead, the fake gamer SJW hipsters do the following:

Dismiss

"people praise this game for its difficulty, but that gets in the way of it being fun"

Deny (excuse making, or bargaining phase)

"b-b-but not liking a game because its hard doesn't mean I'm bad at them!!!"

Retaliate (anger)

"HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE ME! THAT'S HARASSMENT! ANYONE WHO LIKES THIS GAME IS OBVIOUSLY A REAL GAMER! REAL GAMERS ARE SCUM! I HATE THEM ALL! IF ONLY THEY COULD BE PUT ON TRAINS AND UNLOADED AT CAMPS SO THEY CAN CONCENTRATE BEFORE BEING PUT IN OVENS! GAMERGAAAAAAAAATE!"

-right now, the Cuphead controversy is right around here-

Derangement (different take on anger)

"Group of people like thing. Me not like group of people. Ergo thing bad too."

skipping ahead, the second to last step will be acceptance. Which will be presented in a disingenuous way where they will act like they always liked and accepted the game.

The final step is worship. And in true hipster art fag fashion, it will take a twisted nonsensical almost hypocritical form.

imagine all the following all being said in a short period of time:

"Stop criti*I mean harassing my diversity hire for contradicting the popular consensus about this game being good for being difficult!"
"I'm going to produce something that proves I'm hip and with it on video game culture!"
"https://twitter.com/kezamacdonald/status/808748070158602241"
"Now to put my plan in action to those racist fascist Nazi gaming chumps!"



and to think most of these snot rags believe hate is wrong and capitalism is evil and yet they're the most angry greedy grasping people that exist.



my feelings about the journo pro side of the present controversy (especially the VentureBeat game play footage) is that their clickbait strategy has changed to be based off the "I was only pretending to be retarded" meme. Seriously. Is it even possible to legitimately be that bad? The only reasonable excuse outside of being mentally handicapped would be never having touched a controller in your life. What makes me suspicious any of it is real is how any journo pro would angrily defend what any normal human would normally acknowledge as indefensible.

other bullshit Cuphead controversies:

All 1930's cartoons were racist, ergo Cuphead is also racist
:

https://twitter.com/stillgray/status/916324047205441536

Cuphead is racist against people who are bad at video games

http://archive.is/DSDUO

Cuphead poses the importance of redefining that problematic mouth breathing monosyllabic toxic masculine man-word "difficulty"

http://archive.is/fOFYb

Cuphead is classist for not giving me the same rewards for beating a stage on easy mode that a person of average skill gets for beating normal difficulty

http://archive.is/E3POV

may not be related but American Taliban issues fatwah regarding use of the word "gameplay". Denounces those who defend it as anime kafir

https://archive.fo/C52Q3

BTW, if you were playing some attention you may have noticed the same thing I have... Which is all the people voicing these extraordinarily warped perceptions about video games. They're all "new games" journalists. Every single one. The fuck is going on with that industry?
Posted by Archer Spense on 11 October 17 at 00:40 | Last edited on 12 October 17 at 07:09 | There are 6 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.