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May 11, 2012

Friday Frivolity: Double Fine's (Documentary) Adventure Begins

The internet: To its proponents, it is a marvel of the modern age. Casting aside the old means of information distribution, the immaterial, collective mind of the masses promises a sort of constructive anarchy: one in which all is accessible with the click of a mouse, and the common man can speak truth to power with nothing more than the staccato tapping of a keyboard.

To the rest of us, it is a turgid cesspit that must be destroyed at all costs. Indulging the most vile perversions - be they physical, intellectual, or what modern psychology calls "sexy perversions" - this "progress" of which futurists once spoke has become our undoing. Indeed, the internet is a sump of depravity, so insidious in its nature, and so pervasive in its influence, as to bring even the most innocent mind under its spell. We once dreamed of the stars; now we flutter about the social landscape - rudderless, constantly-distracted servants of the carnal urge - without even a moment's care for what white-haired men call " traditional family values."

So while you enjoy you lolcats and silly flash videos, pay no heed to the Luciferian visage in your computer screen - grinning a fanged grin and clapping its cloven hooves together with glee - but make no mistake: you, poor wretch of this foul Year of our Lord, 2012, are complicit in the doom of civilization.

For shame.

Thankfully, there exists some hope on the horizon: a bearded, yet boyish figure that we in the know call "Tim Schafer." Indeed, this hobbit-like creature of mirth promises to deliver us from moral decay, in the form of the fabled "documentary," and ongoing series that will follow the development of Double Fine Adventure. Those who backed the project have already been made privy to its existence; for those who didn't, the video has been made available on YouTube, courtesy of 2 Player Productions.

Having already seen it, I can confirm that the installment is a rather heartwarming tale. Waxing nostalgia on classic, point-and-click adventure titles, while outlining the challenge of developing such games with mainstream publishing, the video follows Double Fine Adventure's Kickstarter campaign, from its inception to its satisfying conclusion. I'll not spoil the rest, since it is highly recommended viewing: Schafer and Gilbert are infectiously charming, and the kids at 2 Player Productions have a talent for capturing the story in a rather sentimental way.

So for those who have yet to see the Double Fine's video update, click above and enjoy its feel-good loveliness. To the rest, happy Friday!

via Game Informer


April 27, 2012

Friday Frivolity: Google Destroyed By The Zerg

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The Zerg: Scourge of Terra, blood-enemy of the Protoss, and general menace of the infinite multiverse. For generations, we have fought a proxy war against them, and despite heavy casualties, humanity has beaten back their endless rushes. Now, the insectoid onslaught threatens our greatest asset - that which bestows upon us the whole of human knowledge - Google.

One would think that so many repulsions would sap their resolve, yet the Zerg know nothing but chaos. Capriciously destroying all in their wake, these mindless beasts of impulse seek the annihilation not merely of Google, but the minds into which its information travels. Indeed, the Zerg menace is larger than a simple removal of data - that endless stream of 1s and 0s that comprises the binary plane - it imperils our very humanity: reducing us to our most base and bestial form, so that we may come to greater resemble them.

I'll keep this short, since lord only knows how long Google's battlefield shall be trod by stalwart defenders of liberty. If you enjoy mini-games, and are an ally of civilization, simply type "zerg rush" (no quotes needed) into Google search. Hand in hand, we soldiers of the cybersphere shall beat back these creatures from the ramparts once more, and march toward our final victory. The old ways shall be torn asunder, and we shall come to embrace a new age: an age of reason, egalitarianism, and above all, humanity.

God help us if we fail.

Via Destructoid

April 13, 2012

Friday Frivolity: Soundless Mountain II

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Drawn to one another by some otherworldly force, the relationship between Pyramid Head (the "punisher") and James (the "victim") has no doubt inspired discussion, analysis, and fan fiction of the most dreadful sort. Silent Hill has always prided itself on tackling adult subject matter, yet nothing in its canon compares to the beautiful, almost poetic depiction of "alternative" relationships. In this case, I of course refer to sadomasochism. Granted, James's status of "hapless, first-rate gimp" might strike one as inherently abusive, but such bother ignores the reality of BDSM culture. Despite Pyramid Head's rather "forward" method of courtship (link nsfw), he and James share an intimate bond: one based not on a kind of cartoonish, one-sided cruelty, but an understanding that however "sick" Pyramid Head's punishments may seem, they spring forth from his inherent, psycho-carnal desire to bring pleasure to an eager partner.

Unfortunately, this is not the focus of Soundless Mountain II. Despite the name's suggestion that this would be some kind of Brokeback Mountain-style, "a love that dare not speak its name" story set in Mistress Torment's Pleasure Dungeon, SM2 is a NES-style version of Silent Hill 2. Incidentally, it's a startlingly elaborate one. Much of the music, sound effects, and environments have been downgraded to the 8-bit era to great effect, complimented by gameplay that is, while rather slow (walking, in particular, is a bit of a bore), quite solid. The game features some familiar Silent Hill fare - an overlay of fog, a broken radio, and of course, stomping one's enemies with due prejudice - while retaining the old-school feel of the NES era. While the controls are simple, the game does fail to note (for those who are planning to give SM2 a whirl) that down+Z must be used to deliver that final, fatal blow.

As a closing thought, I've had the occasional tryst with the "modern" 8-bit tramp. Despite finding the whole trend rather cute, yours truly is on a personal jihad against "demakes," and other such nostalgic bother; in about a month and a half, they will have officially eclipsed zombies as "most annoyingly-overused theme in video games for people that simply cannot be bothered to think up new ideas." That being said, for every 42.5 lazy, 8-bit atrocities, there's one that actually comes across with the charm they all so desperately try to convey. Such is the case with SM2. While rather slow - Silent Hill proper has never really favored frantic, combat-heavy gameplay - the game is commendable, if for nothing other than the sheer amount of effort that went into its creation.

The game is available for both PC and Mac, so for those who have enjoyed the Silent Hill series, and perhaps even for those whose budding loathing for all things "retro" shall be burned into the very fabric of space-time, check out Soundless Mountain II at this link!

March 23, 2012

Friday Frivolity: TF2 Meets Flight Of The Conchords

As some may have noticed, it has been some weeks since the last Friday Frivolity. Partly, this a consequence of writer's block; mainly, it's to do with the gaming sphere's insistence on not being funny, favoring instead the dull path of "reporting on things." Yet every now and again, one finds a little diamond in the rough while watching YouTube videos of cats scouring the internet for late-breaking industry news. Such is the case of "What is Wrong with 2Fort Today?"

The video was inspired by Flight of the Conchords, a well-known music duo, hailing from that far corner of the Earth known as New Zealand - or as cartographers of old (probably never) called it, "Newe Zelande." Those of you with your fancy book learnin' and college-boy smarts may know the country as a sort of ecological Mecca: A shimmering gem of the natural world, where man's avarice has yet to despoil Gaia's beauty. Those of us in the geographically-impaired camp know it as "that place where Frodo lives."

Regardless, the video sees Team Fortress 2 taking a trip down Mirth Lane, with our friends Engineer, Doktor and Heavy giving a stirring performance of Flight of the Conchords's "What is Wrong with the World Today?" So if you enjoy your music dripping with emotion - mourning a world lost to human callousness, random decapitation, and monkey-borne illness - check out the video. Hope may be but a faint ember amidst the ashes of our shared promise, but within that ember lies the potential - tended with care, and stoked with the breath of our very humanity - that it may grow and spread.

Team Fortress 2: Lighting the way toward a brighter tomorrow.

March 11, 2012

Sunday Silliness: Tim Schafer Confirms "Ballin" Status, Provides Photos

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Tuesday marks the deadline for Double Fine's Kickstarter venture. Taking in over 2.5 million dollars thus far - for reference, that's roughly 2.49995 million more than I currently have in my savings account - it's a rather daunting sum. In the past, I've suggested that Schafer plans to spend his money on coke, a straw made of pure jade, and an array of "exotic" women - each given room and board, and "serviced" on a rotating schedule. I hold fast to this theory - one can only assume that the Double Fine "Pleasure Dome" is undergoing construction - so while these objects of man's darkest desire get the visa situation sorted out lucky ladies await their accommodations, one wonders how Schafer & Co. are planning to spend the money that you, noble backer, have graciously provided. Will more staff be hired on? Should we expect prettier graphics, better voice acting, or a more lengthy experience? How much does actually it cost to maintain a harem of Belorussian immigrants? About $5,000 per week.

Double Fine's recent updates have provided few answers to these questions, save for the news that Double Fine Adventure will, given the outpouring of financial support, be featuring voice acting and support for multiple platforms, as well as multiple languages. Somewhere between "Schafer's new chinchilla snuff film" and classic, 2d adventure goodness, the game is currently in pre-production. Thus, any speculation is rather fruitless.

The documentary plans to chronicle the project, but in the meantime, Schafer has provided the following photos. A few, scant gamers/trolls have seen this as an insult - assuming one has a fully-functioning sense of humor, allowing one to view the spectrum of seriousness (including negative seriousness, i.e. "joking"), this shouldn't be an issue - despite the fact that Kickstarter has yet to pay out. Also worth noting, as per the photos, is that Double Fine has invested (wisely, I should add) in a money tree.

So if you're planning to help fund to Double Fine Adventure, you've got a few days left. Having opened up my heart (and wallet) to the project, I'm a bit biased, but if you're already planning on playing the game, you can effectively buy it for a $15 donation. So happy Sunday, and check out the latest video update from Double Fine after the jump!

Tim Schafer: Sweating Cristal since 2012.

Images via Venture Beat

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February 17, 2012

Friday Frivolity: "The FP" Trailer

There are films, and then there are masterworks. Cinema's primitive origins - privileged audiences of the 19th century found themselves enthralled with the simple wonder of Eadweard Muybridge's "Sallie Gardner at a Gallop" - have birthed a groundswell of creativity, capturing the mind's eye of artists across the globe through the magic of the moving picture. Yet every now and again, there comes a truly transcendent work, and staggered by the grandeur, you find yourself left in helpless submission to that singular moment when the third eye opens - the majesty of the infinite possibilities and variables of space-time suddenly beheld by a quivering spirit - into which flows the truth about life, love, sex, death, and the central axiom upon which all existence, both material and transcendent, fundamentally rests. The sudden flood of revelations tears your corporeal form asunder, erasing from this dimension all that was once your mortal essence. Yet it is in this divine trance that the transmigration of the soul begins, hurling toward the Great Expanse on a wave of white hot-flourescene: an ethereal stream, stretching from the now-opened mind into the infinite firmament. Then, finding yourself awash in a sea of celestial light - you, intrepid star-child of the Higher Planes - the screen goes black, a slow crescendo of melody envelopes your being, and the credits roll.

Such is probably not the case with "The FP," a "Warriors"-style jaunt though the fields of silliness. Set in a dystopian future, rival gangs game to the death - their weapon of choice, a knock-off of Dance Dance Revolution - in a battle for pride, power, and the prestige of being the greatest dancer in all of Fraizer Park. Grills shall be flashed, dancing boots shall be donned, and the eyepatch of our noble protagonist shall serve as a harbinger of the baditude that is to come. In "West Side Story," territorial disputes were settle through dance-offs; in "The FP," such disputes are settle through "beat-offs."

So check out the 2:30 fever dream that is "The FP," and happy (very late) Friday!

January 28, 2012

Friday Frivolity: "The (Not So) Pleasant Cycle Of Thundermountain"

Internet, you are nothing if not quirky. After a caffeine-induced jaunt through the labyrinth of YouTube's "related videos" section, yours truly was met with a rather curious TF2-themed bit of multimedia weirdness, "The (not so) Pleasant Cycle of Thundermountain."

Utilizing the famed "Gary's Mod," the video is an offshoot of the "Vicious Cycle of X" meme. The videos feature frantic, offbeat weirdness - bearing all the hallmarks of something scraped together from crayon scribblings on the walls of a lunatic asylum - inspiring YouTube user "Sakuukuli" to buck the trend in a most subversive way. Casual viewers may be charmed by the juxtaposition of an otherwise-violent video game with the sweet, classical stylings of Georges Bizet's "Les Toreadores;" yet beneath the sheen of silliness, the above video paints a harrowing portrait of that irredeemable species of which we are all a part: humanity.

"The (not so) Pleasant Cycle of Thundermountain," presents us with a portrait of a brave, egalitarian age. With the scourge of Capital and it's trappings vanquished, mankind sought to forsake the law of the jungle and step, ever so tenuously, into the age of genuine civilization. The old ways of thinking (one might even go so far as to call it a "vicious cycle") of warfare, hatred, and social division would die, and in its place would be erected a new system of relations - one built on the principles of kindness, compassion, and the Universal Brotherhood of Man (just a poetic flourish, ladies). Internationalism would rule the roost, and a united humanity would step boldly, arm in arm, into a brighter future, Leaving behind material want, and vulgar lust for power, ours would forevermore be the epoch of peace, progress, and the pursuit of happiness not for a select few, but for all.

Yet in the end, our bestial origins prevailed, and like the savage apes from whence our humble species arose, we once again sought to destroy the reviled "other." Tribe against tribe, friend against friend, the Brotherhood of Man was torn asunder Indeed, the empty battlefields of TF2 are a tomb - not for a soldier, nor even an army, but for mankind's highest aspirations. Our species would died not in a blaze of glory, as the video may superficially suggest: Rather, our demise was the dull consequence of our pride, our callousness, and above all, our stupidity. One cannot help but dwell on the haunting words of T.S. Elliot:

"This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper."

So enjoy the video, happy Friday, and may God have mercy on your souls.

January 14, 2012

Friday Frivolity: Modded Loveliness For Deus Ex

For those without watches, calenders, or an innate sense of linear time, it's still technically Friday night. You could go to the bar, gallivant your way to a upscale club, or if your feeling particularly festive, throw your own nsfw German Sparkle Party (my third eye thanks you, VorpalBunny) in the living room of some unsuspecting suburban home, thus causing a mighty ruckus, and confusion as to whether or not the responding officers are "part of the scene."

Failing this, you might, just might, be up for a brief stroll down memory lane, with the FPS wonder that is the original Deus Ex. However, this isn't your grandma's Deus Ex; no, this is the eight kind of random that is the "Malkavian" mod. Presumably taken from the oddball (it's nicer than "bats**t insane") clan from Vampire: The Masquerade, members of whom were known for their, shall we say, "unconventional" dialogue choices. Overall, it's just - well, I'll let the video speak for itself.

Find more modded goodness, as well as links, after the jump!

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January 6, 2012

Friday Frivolity: "Baby Got Back"

Most of you know Jonathan Coulton from the end credits of Portal. Already one of the most entertaining and clever games I had ever played, the deadpan, silly, and dark humor of "Still Alive" brought everyone's favorite romp through the world of weird to a memorable, and wonderfully fitting close.

Since then, Mr. Coulton has put out a rather absurd amount of media - YouTube videos aplenty can be found on his website - and he has reached the higher peaks of what we struggling musicians call "making money" from his albums. Yet somewhere amidst his works, and perhaps overlooked by there was a faint glimmer - a diamond in the rough, to used a tired old expression - his feel-good cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Granted, this cover has been done before: The hardcore band Throwdown released a rather aggressive version of the rap classic, and Jackie Beat gifted us with the extraordinarily NSFW (seriously) re-imagining, "Baby Got Front," - the latter of which was aimed at what academics call "man-fanciers of the male persuasion." Still, I prefer Coulton's cover, and not only for it's charm and comically upbeat tone; rather, it somehow brings into focus the spirit of Sir Mix-a-Lot. I refer of course not to the rapper, but the historical figure on whom his persona was based.

A perilous journey to the land of digression awaits... after the jump!

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December 23, 2011

Friday Frivolity: Mega64 Tackles Skyrim

My head is kept scrupulously shaved at all times, but every now and again, a rogue strand of blonde hair escapes the unforgiving blade. Aside from nagging at my latent OCD, said strand makes it a personal mission to disorganize my thoughts, cause me to gloss over obvious things with utter ignorance and, in the case of this video, refresh YouTube roughly six times after being convinced that my graphics card has suffered some sort of "technical event."

The kids over at at Mega64 have been at it again, this time offering a few jibes in the direction of Skyrim. Armed with only a computer, internet connection, and a sense of humor, you are given the relatively simple quest of watching "The Best Skyrim Fan Film," which may not grant XP, but does elicit a fair bit of chuckling.

There's not too much to say that won't spoil the video (further), so I'll just leave it there, wish all y'all a Merry Christmas/Kwannza/Atheistmas/Festivus/More Hanukkah, since I will be out gallivanting until I can gallivant no more.

A special holiday message awaits you after the jump!

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December 10, 2011

Friday Frivolity (Saturday Edition): Realm Of The Mad God

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Google Chrome: It sits on my desktop, leering with its Hal 9000 eye, and asking in a creepily monotone voice, "Why won't you play with me Dave Jesse?" After several months of treating it like my unwanted stepchild, while Firefox got all the attention/spyware, I decided to take the youngin' for a ride on what my computer illiterate uncle still calls the information superhighway. "I wanna go to the Chrome Web Store!" chirped the little one upon loading, and so we set off in search of this potential Mecca. That is when I came across a little title called Realm of the Mad God, a wonderfully simple (or simply wonderful) top-down MMO from Wild Shadow Studios. Hopping on the retro bandwagon, graphics are bare bones: 8-bit sprites trot along 8-bit landscapes, shooting 8-bit bolts of "something" at 8-bit enemies. The game plays like a twin stick shooter, adapted for keyboard and mouse: your standard "WSAD" controls movement, and you simply click the whatever direction you'd like to shoot. There are a variety of character classes, which are unlocked as your level up - for example, building your wizard to level 5 unlocks the priest class - but your free account is given a mere one character slot. More can be unlocked with gold that, as one might expect, must be purchased - capitalist devils. As you traverse the pixel-scape, you'll battle swarms of enemies and bosses (sort of) for experience and gear, all the while making improvised teams with fellow players, in the interest of felling a particularly bothersome baddy. It's a bit like your WoW "PUG," but for people with crippling ADD.

I highly encourage giving the game a shot. It's free, it's simple, and most importantly, it's quite a bit of fun. Realm of the Mad God: Because you didn't need that weekend anyway.

November 18, 2011

Friday Frivolity: The Dark Underbelly Of Video Game Reviews

As you peruse the comments section of any video game review, there's bound to be some criticism of the writer's opinion. It seems like a relatively minor thing, but as anyone who has traversed the internet knows, said opinions can cast their dark shadow over the reviewer's subsequent work, manifesting in reader blurbs like "yeah, this is the guy who *game title* a *numerical score*, and gave *other game title* a *other numerical score*" - and that's not entirely fair. Such is the premise of "Modern Game Journalism: The Movie: The Trailer," a two and a half minute tale of hubris, intrigue, betrayal, and... murder??? Created by Mega64, whose work I came to know through their live-action homage to the Metal Gear Solid series, the video satirizes the sometimes hysterical reactions that video game reviews inspire.

Personally, I don't tend to get terribly hung up on reviews. While it's helpful to have some sort of consensus about game quality, so as to prevent the frittering away of one's riches - though as VG247's Brenna Hiller noted some months ago, video game journalism isn't immune from corruption, even passively - they're by no means a solid indicator as to whether you will like a game. I thoroughly enjoyed Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, despite it's rather lukewarm reception by the media at large - Wootini's review, as well as Classic Game Room HD's rundown, enticed me to open my wallet (and my little boy heart) to it's simple splendor. Conversely, I didn't particularly care for Final Fantasy XII, which received far more generous praise. Thus, when considering a game purchase, I tend to heed the advice of a a few reviewers whose taste mirror my own.

Digression aside, enjoy the video, as well as the rest of the night, and may your Fridays be fun, fanciful flights through the flowering fields of frivolity.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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