Don’t Blame Me – I Had No Choice!

An irresponsible splurge recently had me picking up one of those HTC Vives and so I’ve been lost in a wonderland of Virtual Reality. I’ll write up an article some time about my experiences with VR but for now I’d like to write about one particular game, the recently-released Accounting by William Pugh (of Stanley Parable) and Justin Roiland (of Rick and Morty). Don’t consider this to be a review, but rather a jumping off point for a discussion about decision-making and player responsibility in games. Actually, no wait, I’ll give a short one-sentence review of Accounting right now. It’s very entertaining and terribly fun, but I don’t know if I would even call it a game.

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Why Make a Firewatch Film?

A few days ago RPS reported that Firewatch is getting a movie adaption. It looks like the rights to this movie adaption and other “future projects” have been bought by a production company, for what that’s worth.

I’ve already written about how I liked Firewarch (and hated the introduction), and I’m pleased that the game has been as popular as it has that media production companies have caught the whiff of a potentially money-making property. It’s always good to see something different receive acclaim and find an audience, so good-going developers Campo Santo!

However, let’s pretend for a moment that this isn’t just film-studio speculative purchasing of a potentially popular brand-name (are there plans for a Firewatch franchise?) and have some fun doing some speculation of our own!

How could a Firewatch movie be handled if it were actually going to be made?

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I Don’t Trust these Goddamn Guys

The game begins with your return to Dunwall and you are soon met by the ugliest man in the world. “Corvo, two days early,” he says in a weedy yet arrogant voice, “Full of surprises, as usual.” I wonder what the chances are of this man turning out to be a villain, and estimate it to be around one in one. Two minutes later he has guards arrest you next to the body of the slain Empress. I don’t think this is a spoiler, since it happens in the opening minutes and, really, is the premise that begins the game. This article will be full of other spoilers, though, so don’t read on if you plan to play Dishonored. It really is a truly excellent game. After you’ve played it, read on as I bitterly criticise it.

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The Hitm’n – A Night at the Opera

It had started like any other job. Some Pablo-Escobar-wannabe in Chile and his son were in the coke trade together, and had stepped on the wrong people’s feet. I’d been called in to dispense some high-roller justice. Discretion is always the plan, but sometimes things don’t go to plan.

The tabloid rags reported my failing like the salivating lapdogs they are; 15 dead and one injured. I’d hit the targets, sure, and I got out of there relatively unscathed, but there was a civilian casualty and another poor mook laid up in the hospital. Worse, I’d been seen and a cool fifteen-gees were needed to keep the gawker from flapping his yap to some upstart investigators.

Just another day, but I could’ve done better. I don’t need to admit that often. In my mind, I couldn’t stop replaying the moment that the bullets started to fly and when it all went south. I was never this rattled; what was going on?

Then Diana called.

“Agent Forty-Seven” her cold, sophisticated voice did things to me.”I think I’ve got just what you need.”

“Listen baby – This ol’ Hitm’n isn’t what he used ta be!” I told her matter-of-fact-like.

Suddenly her voice changed. It was warmer and slightly amused, “how would you like to go to the opera in Paris, Forty-Seven? Tickets on me. You could use a vacation!”

Vacation…  that was the plan…

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Embronominalisations: Massacrationing the English Language

Massacration were a parody heavy metal band from Brazil, originating as a sketch on that country’s comedy show Hermes e Renato. I didn’t know this when I found them back in 2006, when my friend and I in Australia typed “metal” into Youtube, and were greeted by the Metal Milkshake music video. From there we watched the rest of their videos; Metal Bucetation, Cereal Metal, Metal is the Law, and of course Evil Papagali. We were hooked.

Massacration obviously loved and understood heavy metal so well that they didn’t come off as pandering, annoying or insincere. They poked fun at heavy metal sub-cultures and the overall pomposity and grandeur of so-called traditional heavy metal with such love – and actual decent songs – that metal fans embraced the band, especially in their native Brazil. Actually, I’m not sure how many people know of the band outside of Brazil, and that’s a real shame.

I was inspired to write about Massacration for two reasons. Recently I went out for some drinks in Beijing, and I saw a bottle of Cachaça behind the bar, reminding me of the epic Massacration break-up song, The Bull (NSFW)

Tragically, I also recently learned that lead guitarist and video director Fausto Fanti (aka Blonde Hammet) took his own life in 2014. So, this is also a way for me to pay respects to him, and bring a bit of recognition to his great band and sense of humour. RIP Blonde Hammet.

So how does this all tie into nominalisations? Does it? Let’s explore!

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The Language of Puzzles

Hello. This is my first post on the site and unlike other posts that are funny and readable and interesting, I’m going to write long-winded garbage that have titles like “The Language of Puzzles”. In fact, I’m unafraid to be so pretentious that I start this post with a quote from Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel Escher Bach, as follows:

Next, one opens the bottle and examines the marks on the paper. Perhaps they are in Japanese; this can be discovered without any of the inner message being understood – it merely comes from a recognition of the characters. The outer message can be stated as an English sentence: “I am in Japanese.” Once this has been discovered, then one can proceed to the inner message, which may be a call for help, a haiku poem, a lover’s lament…

What Hofstadter is saying is that every message is really two messages. The inner message has the content the writer was trying to convey, but then there is an outer message that tells the observer “Hey, there is a message here!”. That there is some meaningful information in the message, not just random noise. These marks on the wall was someone keeping a tally, not just scratchings. These modem signals serve a meaningful purpose, not just annoying screechings. Maybe you encounter a message and you can’t decipher what it means, but at the very least you are sure that it is, in fact, a message. Let’s make this post about games before I forget why I’m here and start reading Wikipedia articles about linguistics.

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Firewatch: Personal Pronouns and Inhabiting Idiot Characters

Firewatch is a great little game. It’s an interactive drama, with literal exploratory elements, that doesn’t overstay its welcome because it only takes 3-4 hours to complete. The voice acting is great, the art-style works well with the beautiful scenery, and the atmosphere of the game that is built through a combination of its writing, conversation-system, and exploration-mechanics, makes for a thoroughly gripping experience.

If that sounds like your cup-of-tea, then don’t read on too far, as I really recommend Firewatch as a unique, fun, narrative experience. Before you play though, it is very important to turn OFF the navigation marker, which is ON by default. I also highly recommend turning OFF the game music, and this is a point that forms a strong part of my criticism of the game.

While I did really enjoy this game by the end; just after it started – I hated it. I think it will be interesting to explore why I felt this way.

Minor spoilers after the jump. 

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