Just played Villainous with my kids. I am flabbergasted. Saying that this is Wonder Forge’s best game doesn’t do it justice because it stands up with the best designs out there. It’s a beautifully executed, completely unique game and if you love Disney...they pulled out all the stops to make it FEEL like classic Disney.
Déformation professionnelle is a French phrase -- perhaps coined by the Belgian sociologist Daniel Warnotte -- that describes the phenomenon in which an individual's perceptions and behavior are unduly influenced by habits of thought and action that are acquired in the workplace.
To the extent that professional deformation determines an individual's emphases and antipathies, it will influence his choice of leisure activities, as well. The result is that workers in similar occupations can be expected to enjoy similar hobbies. Consequently, during work hours and leisure time, individuals will seek out others with the same deformity. Together, these individuals will normalize maladaptive ideas and eccentric tastes.
No survey has been taken, but it's widely believed that Information Technology professionals are vastly over-represented in online discussions about boardgames, relative to their share of the general population. In what ways has professional deformation influenced their tastes in boardgames? Let's speculate.
We finally finished a game of Quest for the Dragonlords this weekend.
We had started the game a week ago...
I was going to save this for our return of the Friday news, but really this deserves a little extra, I think.
I just recently learned that as of January 6th , 2009, the magazine "Electronic Gaming Monthly" is no more. Another company bought out their parent company and is keeping the online element but ditching the magazine itself. The magazine's current issue is its last, meaning they won't even get a chance to send themselves off properly.
Frankly, I'm entirely in shock.
A couple of F:ATies have emailed and PMed me requesting an update on my house burning up situation and our rebuilding efforts. These F:ATies also seemed to believe that other people might be interested as well. I had hoped that by this time I would have been able to announce that we were back in our home, and post some feel good "before" and "after" photos. Sadly that is not the case. Our current estimate is that our house will not be suitable for human occupancy until sometime in January, and even then, the rebuilding will not be complete.
It's been nearly two months since the fire, and I have finally moved beyond shock and hysteria to the point where I can laugh at some of this. The support of all you FATies, both online and face-to-face, has really helped me get to this point. Therefore, I thought I'd share some pictures with you, so maybe you can be amused as well, because as ATers we know that explosions, destruction and wreckage is actually pretty entertaining.
Before the fire at our house was even out, our insurance adjuster was on the scene. He handed us a folder and a $5000 check to cover our "immediate needs." Going on a $5000 shopping spree has always sounded like it would be awesome. However, it is amazing how un-fun it actually was.
This week it will be four month since the fire and we still don't have a written itemization of what is getting torn out and rebuilt on the interior of our house. Four fucking months! If you have ever had your car wreaked you know how this works. You can't take the car into a shop to get it repaired until an adjuster takes a look at it. Imagine it took four months for the adjuster to get out and look at your car.
I've called our adjuster every week since Thanksgiving, and every week he has said he was going to the house, and every week he has had some excuse why he wasn't able to get there. Last Wednesday I told him I wanted to go in the house with him, and he needed to call me by 3:30 pm every work day to either tell me what day and time we were going to meet, or to tell me that he still couldn't make it that week. He called me that day at 3:20pm to tell me were meeting on Thursday. The Man says that the prospect of calling me everyday to tell me that he still wasn't doing his fucking job was the push he needed.
Now we are waiting for his write up with the break down. He says I'll have it by Wed. We have a contractor on board to start the demolition as soon as he get's the paperwork from the adjuster and can draw up the contract, and then we have to sign the contract and get it back to him. He says they will probably be able to start next week, but I'm not holding my breath.
We now know that the entire second floor needs to be gutted. All the ceilings on the first floor are getting torn out and replaced. The entire house needs to be rewired. So my hope that we would be able to move back into the house by the end of the summer seems very unlikely.
The icing on the cake is that the inventory of personal property for 4 rooms in our house is missing.
The good news is that we do have a roof on the house.
I've always hated those hypothetical "What 10 games would you want to have if you were stranded on a desert island," or "What 3 games would you save if your house was on fire." I guess I should have paid more attention to those, because two weeks ago we quite literally had about 5 minutes to grab 5 games off our selves before all our games were packed up to be put into deep storage for 8-12 months.
This is the spot for all the talk about how much great stuff you are going to trade for my copy of Phoenicia in the F:AT Arms Trade #4
HE FUCKING DICK AND THEN BULLSHIT!
Actual trade thread is here: Arms Trade #5
Use this space to make fun of each other's offerings and/or demand better things get put up.
Further to Friday's post about a new line of boardgames constructed from LEGO bricks, to be unveiled this week at International Toy Fair Nürnberg:
Here's a first photo of one of the games in the product line. The designer appears to be Reiner Knizia.
Not exactly the expandable miniatures game that I dream they'll someday produce. One can still hope.
OK, maybe not a scoop. Here's an article with a different photo of the same game.
It's time to let Lovecraft go.
I think this is kind of old news so I'm not posting it as a big, high profile thing...but I just got word from FFG's Bryan Bournemuller that they're rolling out a whole line of card sleeving products including....tada....little tiny sleeves for those little cards in practically every game FFG makes. There's also some art sleeves with Cthulhu, AGoT, and DESCENT artwork. There's even a TI3 one that has everybody's favorite lion man on it.
Two questions I have about them:
1) Where were these when Will Kenyon spilled beer on my copy of ANDROID?
2) Will they be sold in 10,000 piece lots so that I can buy a few to sleeve all of my FFG titles?
Good news overall...and a good business opportunity that's really kind of long overdue for exploitation. They're calling the line "Fantasy Flight Supply" so maybe they'll turn out some more accessory products like a rolling cart I to carry ARKHAM HORROR around in.
Wow...Christmas came early for me today. FFG sent me a package with all three of their big December releases- TALISMAN, COSMIC ENCOUNTER, and ANDROID. The timing is perfect, since I've been laid off from my job and I was already lamenting the fact that I wasn't going to be purchasing any of them until after the new year, if then.So here's a scouting report...
So yeah, obviously I have a 360 now. I've done a couple of video game reviews here and there but now that I'm actually part of this console generation (Wii doesnt' count, apparently) I figured I may as well blog off on some of the games that are oldies to everybody else but me. Think of it as an archaeological diary.
I broke in my 360 with BIOSHOCK, a game I've been hearing about forever. When it came out back in '07, I thought it looked pretty great and then I had to suffer hearing about how awesome it was from my friends. I downloaded the PC demo on my laptop, and my laptop kindly said "fuck you" when I tried to run it. It mocked me by letting me see the opening plane crash and swimming to the island before it practically said "no more for you".
But now, a few years on, I picked up the game for $15 last week and finished it last night. It was, in fact, a pretty great game. I'd say it was actually the best FPS since the first HALF LIFE and it definitely lived up to its billing as a "spiritual successor" to the classic SYSTEM SHOCK 2. It was also a good game to get me accustomed to seeing HD graphics since I've been a Wii-nii for the past three years- the game looks great, with some really nice lighting work and lots of detail that makes the world of Rapture come to life.
And what a world it is. The undersea city of Rapture is surely now one of gaming's great locations, and the level of world-building that the game accomplishes almost completely through visual presentation, posters, settings, props, and larger vistas is incredible. The first couple of times you look out of a window and see the underwater cityscape, with its neon signs and Art Deco architectures, are breathtaking. Rapture feels like a real place, even if the stylistic sensibility is kind of all over the place. It does feel like the visual style is a little too comprehensive in terms of 20th century graphic design styles- Art Deco prevails in most areas, but there's also everything from 1920s constructivism to 1950s commerical graphics. That being said, it hangs together pretty well as a whole, even if those with careful eyes are going to spot anachronisms and inconsistencies left and right.
Aside from the usual FPS/light RPG elements which were mostly well done, I thought the story was executed extremely well with no boring, dull cutscenes. I think it's a pretty effective technique in a game of this nature to filter the story out through diary entries. It adds a lot to the lonely, immersive atmosphere to hear a recording of a character that isn't even present in the narrative explaining a situation or event that you're seeing the aftermath of. Much was made back when the game released about its Ayn Randian elements, and that's definitely there, but there's also a lot of Orson Welles, George Orwell, METROPOLIS, BLADE RUNNER, Jules Verne, David Lynch, and a number of other cultural touchstones throughout. The connective tissue is intelligent storytelling with commentary on larger social and moral issues. It's rare to play an action game that dares to put forward an agenda, but BIOSHOCK definitely does and I appreciate that.
I also really appreciated the direction of the game- there are a couple of set pieces that are really amazing, on par with some of the scripted events in HALF LIFE. There's some great timing on a couple of them, but my favorite has to be a bit where you walk through a hall littered with corpses and at the very end, a couple of them stand up to say "hello" out of nowhere. Scared the shit out of me.
Overall, the gameplay is pretty stock standard for this kind of game, and that's OK. Weapons and plasmid choices are interesting and there's a whole array of skill "tonics" that can be equipped, although once I found my favorites I sort of stuck to them and never changed. You can "invent" items at special vending machines when you find various components, there's upgrade stations so you can pump up the abilities of your weapons. There's a kind of POKEMON-ish photography piece where you snap pictures to "research" the weaknesses of various enemies. There's a tile-laying minigame that represents hacking. Hacking gets pretty old after the 20th time you've done the routine on a security camera or machine gun turret- eventually I just electrocuted them and smashed them with a wrench rather than deal with them in a more civil fashion.
Enemies were kind of a major problem for me though. I really, really got tired of the Splicers in all of their variations, and I thought that their AI was mostly terrible and of the "run toward that guy" variety. Their incessant chatter was also more irritating than creepy after a hundred times ("There's semen all over everything" was the one that still freaked me out), and I also felt like there was some strange inconsistency in their vulnerability. Sometimes I could take down one with 10 rounds from the machine gun, sometimes I had to unload two full clips. There's really not a lot of variety in the enemies barring attack patterns and weapons, and really only the Big Daddies and various security devices are the only other adversaries.
I was glad that the game ended when it did- it was just the right length. When I'm at the very end of a game and I'm thinking "OK, I'm about done with this" and then it ends, that's just right for me. And it had the kind of end-boss fight that I really like, where you get smashed the first time or two and then you figure it out and you win- none of this Square Enix crap where the end boss is so unbelievably hard that you have to keep playing the last 30 minutes of the game over and over again. I'd say it took about 15 hours total to run through it, and I did in fact get the "happy" ending because I was nice to the Little Sisters. It was brief, but actually kind of touching.
Definitely looking forward to the sequel...I've heard that they're taking it in a different direction, I'd be interested to see what that means. There's definitely room to explore more facets of the concepts presented, and I hope they maintain the high-minded approach to story that really puts BIOSHOCK above a lot of other titles in its class.
A brief follow-up on our earlier scoop about Knizia's involvement in the creation of a new line of brick-built LEGO board games:
This press release is in German, but it seems to be saying that ten games are planned for the product line, not six as reported elsewhere. Here’s a translation. It's not clear that all ten games were designed in cooperation with Dr. Knizia, but the press release can be interpreted that way.
The Brothers Brick reports that the games will initially be released only in "Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK and Ireland with more countries to follow in 2010."
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