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Tycho / on Fri, May 1 2020 at 12:43 pm

There are fully four versions of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and it’s crucial to know that the Ultimate version isn’t even the most complete one.  It’s the one right before the Collector’s Edition, so, I mean, technically it’s the Penultimate Edition but whatever.

I’ve been gone for a while from this series, getting out after Unity, which really should have been exquisite but was really, really okay.  I recall the videos going around at the time, with people’s eyes and teeth, you know… outside their faces, but I never really experienced much of the technical side of it.  The hero is really important in these games, and they forgot to include one.  Maybe it’s better in the original French.

I’m coming back for this one, though.  Watching Gabe play Odyssey got me most of the way there - the urge to traverse that old loop started to stir after a long while.  Now I just gotta pick a version.

I’ve been acting as a Spotter for Graab while he’s racing, handy in any motorsport format but fundamental on the Oval.  You can see the “big benefits” here in this clip from last night’s offering, while we’re looking at the tape from the race:

Gabir Motorsport, a proud member of the Dragon Race Team China family, is already turning heads as their second season begins - new sponsors, a new car, and striking new livery indicate that this is a new year for the team.  Anything’s possible.  New engineer Vasily Sokolov has been head down since the summer, and only the sounds of the CNC machine emerge from his bay - are we be looking at a striking reinvention of last season’s Wyvern Mobility Platform?  And who will slide into the reserve driver slot, so recently vacated by Hong Liao?  Find out on today’s episode, streaming live at 2pm PDT, and until then - stay #HongStrong.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Wed, Apr 29 2020 at 1:13 pm

Unless it’s a literally intractable hardware problem, like a jabbering hub or some shit, I am secretly delighted by a computer problem.  Now printers, printers I hate.  But anything else, put me in coach.

I did get very bored once, so bored that I engaged in the home technology repair equivalent of digging up Cold Cases, and determined that something I thought was a hardware problem on a Surface Pro 3 - intermittent freezing of the screen with no rhyme or reason - was actually a software driver responsible for a “clever” power saving mechanism.  It can take a very long time to figure out your Hardware Problem, you know, isn’t.  I don’t know how Gabe was able to fix the streaming problems he’s struggled with for two days, and when I asked him in a text he replied with the bewildering

i built something new

which makes me think maybe he’s not, you know, a hundred percent okay.  Like, in his mind meat.  I’ll look into it.

Seeing Tactics rise to prominence years after I would have called time of death has been such a pleasure, even as we’re clearly reaching an embarrassment of riches that borders on the draconic.  It’s a feat that I think largely rests with Jake Solomon, though judging from his overall persona, ultimately he’d find a way to thank Sid Meier.  Hitting Jake’s Twitter and watching him direct a mentor’s praise toward XCOM: Chimera Squad‘s lead designer Mark Nauta nourished me spiritually.  Chimera Squad’s only ten bucks for the next couple days, which makes no sense, but you might as well take advantage of their quarantine-addled decision-making praxis-hyphen.

I have Chimera Squad installed but didn’t start it because I didn’t want it and Gears Tactics fighting each other for time - I wanted to start each, and see where they went.  I started with Gears because I like Gears and also because I thought the genre switch made sense just on the face of it.  I was right, which is to say, they were right.  Tactics games of the XCOM school have a fundamental “horror” arc, there’s a lot of skulking and revelation, but the Gears variant of this is like… how about we have you fight like two screens full of fucking guys?  And here’s a hole that goes all the way down to their Devil House.  How about they keep coming out of there?  Overwatch isn’t just “i shoot stuff,” it’s a specific cone template where they focus their consciousness.  And watch your sightlines, because there’s friendly fire (!!!).  This is all a long way of saying that it’s a turn-based version of Gears.  But that’s one thing to say, and another thing to actually do, and they did it.  The more organic movement offered by the lack of a Grid lets you build these weird charge lines for melee that feel really unique.  The only fundamentally Gears things they’re missing are Co-Op and Horde Mode, and the second is really contained in the first.  I love what Splash Damage did here and I hope other people love it too, enough that they have a shot at containing those other things inside the little machine they’ve built.

The things that make Gears Tactics as an experience choppy and strange don’t happen when you’re murdering monsters in deadly urban valleys and inside-out museums - they tend to happen after a mission, or when it is transitioning from fight to fight.  They didn’t really think hard about how rough transitions, or, uh… just a blank screen with a voiceover can kill the experience.  I think I can probably live with that, but it does seem very odd when juxtaposed with all the other portions of the experience they clearly polished to a gleam.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Mon, Apr 27 2020 at 12:01 am

Fortnite as the candy shell for marketing payloads isn't new. I mean… they weren't uncommon in Club Penguin, even. I'm not trying to say that Fortnite players are no better than the writhing arctic birds you'd scrape off the dance floor at a DJ Cadence show. I'm saying that if you have a place people come to that place is a marketable venue - whether it exists in the physical world or not.

Fortnite offers differing levels of "engagement" with brands. Sometimes there's a skin. Sometimes these skins have a more elaborate scenario involved with them. Of particular interest to me personally has been the musical overlaps, partly because there's no type of music I can't find value in, even as a cautionary tale, but also because in the current moment of roiling horror we are surviving it would be impossible to attend a concert that wasn't thoroughly projected into the digital realm.

They did their collaboration with Marshmellow, which took the form of a DJ set and really worked for what it was. When I say really worked, that is a relatively compact way of saying that 10.7 million people watched it. So it probably ranks high in terms of shared media experiences for our species.

The Weezer event took place on the Creative Mode side of things, which I like - they aren't just stamping these things out. They have a model they can (and almost certainly will) use again here, and they coulda done it, but they didn't. But this Travis Scott shit.

This Travis Scott shit.

I find Travis Scott sorta overproduced, but I spend a lot of time on TikTok, enough to have SICKO MODE laser etched onto my cognitive apparatus. It's incredibly catchy, which I want to be mad about, but what's the point? Being mad about feeling good is not a great time investment. So while it was impossible to avoid the marketing for Astronomical - and you should click that link because it's a link to the concert I'm describing - I felt pretty content to leave it be. I checked out the show afterward, and it became clear very quickly that I'd been wrong in a way that would alter my behavior going forward. I don't play Fortnite, but I have installed Fortnite specifically to attend events like this.

Mike's son Noah considers this his first concert. It's sort of your job as a parent to provide an inoculation against marketing messages, which there was an attempt to do, but this was so clearly an act of artistic worship - an unpredictable and bizarre media fusion - that I'm comfortable saying they've built something new that has as a prerequisite a bunch of other things that didn't even exist twenty years ago. The tech tree on this shit is intense. I'm just gobsmacked by the whole thing.

My fantasy for Wednesday was to try and do a special Musical Episode of Acquisitions Incorporated: The "C" Team, but I, uh… kinda cut my hand pretty bad, in a way which makes the clawing and clutching so vital to playing the ukelele very difficult if not impossible. I'm not sure I've ever been in this mental state before: my primary goal, once I had held something on it, seemed to be… cleaning? I was ashamed of all the blood everywhere, I remember this clearly, the shame, and I started cleaning it up when I should have been doing something else. What kind of fucking primate machinery is this, psychologically speaking? Jesus Christ. Anyway, I'll let you know when my shit gets fixed so I can play music while also playing D&D, something I am continually trying to do.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Fri, Apr 24 2020 at 12:01 am

I definitely like racing, though I prefer the more arcade excursions - as an index for your use, I consider Ridge Racer Type 4, Project Gotham Racing, and Rallisport Challenge sorta the high water marks for the kind of racing I like. You'll note these games are quite old. Imagine my torment.

I would say that my education on "motorsport" recently has been the constant reassertion that, even though there is a superstar driver demigod component, they're functionally team sports wih a profound degree of specialization. I understand what this means broadly now, but even before this I'd been fascinated with the Rally-specific role of Co-Driver, and that's something we can bring to iRacing with the fully supported Spotter role they offer.

I didn't really understand how chatty racing can be, but it is. There's no way for me to offer main heals in iRacing, not until they let me operate the pit in VR I guess, but until then I can reduce cognitive load in the process elsewhere and provide much needed moral support coupled with unrelenting paternal scourging.

Speaking of Motorsport and the Management thereof, the last race of the season saw an ascendant Hong, and the unshakeable faith of the #HongStrong contingent was richly rewarded. A borderline mystical time penalty for the third place driver put Hong on podium in his first ever professional race, and the ouster of Nick Chu from DRTC's Number One seat wasn't far behind. Now, it's a new season. There are drivers to hire, and fundamental engineering challenges to consider for the 2020 car. As incredible as it seems, these are all things that happened in a videogame. The most grotesque ramification of Chu's miserable performance on-track is that we have to come up with a better name for the stream than Chu-Tang Clan which isn't bloody likely. Season Two starts at 2pm PST!

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Wed, Apr 22 2020 at 11:48 am

All true!  It’s all true.  But we should keep our wits about us: it’s really just an upgrade from “lethargy” to “several seconds, each round, of conscious activity.”  Even under this dilapidated rubric, I think the delta would still surprise you.

I didn’t play Counter-Strike under my actual handle back in the day, because…  It’s weird.  I literally play games differently under my real handle, and almost always worse.  I didn’t play League under it either - that was a game I “tried hard” at - so Valorant has inherited the Other Me, the one who kinda/sorta cares about shit.

I play much closer to the vest under Tycho, which is itself just another, different word I started associating myself with.  I think there’s the idea that the performance might accrue to me in some way, cling to the handle, and so I worry more about everything I do.  It creates the opposite effect of the one it intends to.  Not only is it less fun, just in general, it actively suppresses the kind of real-time awareness required to succeed in this context.  This other dude hasn’t internalized complex, self-defeating notions of what he’s capable of.  I generally think of myself as an item my friends equip, but they’re probably better off with a teammate and the stats support this.  In a game as lethal as this one is, it really only takes a fraction of a second’s reaction time to win most duels.  The level of mediocrity I taught myself to accept is profound.

Get your daily supply of Vitamin C with Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team!  Is that anything?  Let’s try it on.  As is often the case, there’s some kind of Ruckus our heroes have stirred up.  That part is completely normal.  Except now something hinted at during the fateful PAX East game - was that really only, like, a few weeks ago?! - has reared its ugly head.  Or, it would rear it, if it had one.  Join us tonight for two hours of blissful camaraderie caboosed to some deeply meshed metacommentary on our three year campaign.  And don’t forget!  On the 29th, we will attempt - attempt! - to do a Musical Episode.  Come see us on the stream at 4pm PST!

(CW)TB out.

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