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Steve the Pocket

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  1. I get the feeling this game was only ever tested on the computers the developers happened to have in the studio, and that they were all the exact same hardware and software config. Making a game use the CPU clock as a timer was recognized as a bad practice at least as much as a decade earlier, when they started having to equip PCs with turbo buttons. Doing that in a way that makes it unclear what the "correct" clock speed even is, coupled with dodgy optimization that makes the game start to run slow unless you have a faster machine than the recommended one... that's just unforgivable. That should get you sent back to flipping burgers. I did some quick digging on the studio behind it, Data Design Interactive. Turns out they're the same ones behind those awful cookie-cutter Wii and PS2 games from the late 2000s that are basically all reskins of each other—The Ninjabread Man, Trixie in Toyland, and such. That explains a lot.
  2. Had to rewatch this one in light of Cult of the Lamb, which achieves most or all of what this game set out to do in a much better package, but also ping-pongs back and forth between that game and a completely unrelated action-roguelike à la Undermine. One thing that both games have going for them is that their respective cults are based off things that really exist in their universes—the Mothership is really coming, and the One Who Waits is a real enemy of the more established religion's gods. This means they're able to stretch the rules and give your cult genuine supernatural powers that you wouldn't have in the real world. Super Cult Tycoon doesn't really take advantage of this; aside from the monoliths you have as your endgame goal, the Robert Sentry is really the only tool you get that requires any paranormal explanation. Cult of the Lamb goes way harder by handing them out on the regular, starting with your inability to permanently die. Need to get rid of a troublesome member without the morale hit that comes from killing them? Just have them ascend to a higher plane before your followers' very eyes. Did one of the Old Gods just curse your community with famine? Declare a fast and watch as they can magically go without food until it blows over. Did you luck out and end up with a follower who has really good attributes? Make that blessing last by giving them the talisman that doubles their natural lifespan. Even acquiring new members happens by defeating bosses in the roguelike section and rescuing the innocent people they were possessing. No need to go out into the world and spread the good word. It's an interesting study in contrasts. It also put me in mind of the famous old god-sim Black & White, both in your ability to use godlike power on the regular and in the stark moral choices involved when choosing what new powers to add to your roster.
  3. Also, wow, that iPad commercial. Really inspires confidence in Mac customers that the people making their computers envision a future where no one even knows what one is.
  4. Ross, I appreciate you calling out the fuck-you-got-mine attitude that a lot of pirates have when it comes to these things. Anyone who has a fuck-you-got-mine attitude about anything, frankly, can go burn in hell. Maybe the real reason the world is in such a mess is because the only people who care and have the resources to do anything about problems would rather spend those resources on solutions that only help themselves.
  5. I don't think I would have even noticed if he hadn't mentioned it. He has the body language of a Jewish caricature, but the face says "old-West prospector" to me. I have more questions about what a human is doing living in the dwarf city.
  6. People in the YouTube comments are saying this was meant to be played in co-op, and that's why the single player is unfairly hard and gives you more items than you have room for and items you don't have the stats to use and so on. That actually makes a lot of sense, since the opening cutscene introduced its cast like they were part of the Fellowship of the Ring, going off on an adventure together. But, goddammit, if you're gonna make a game like that, just don't even give players the option of attempting it solo. Back in the days before every single game was required by law to be released on consoles and thus pass certification requirements like "must have a working single-player mode" they could have gotten away with that, but they probably figured they'd lose out on sales that way. Yeah, "sales" to people who will just return it when they realize it's unplayable.
  7. Every time Gordon passes by another one of those tags that just say "A GUN" I wonder if he's gonna notice it and comment on it yet or not. I feel like that's the kind of thing he'd make fun of. Also, TIL about the corpuscular theory of light. Ross just keeps finding obscure science stuff to whip out when the situation calls for it.
  8. A guy on YouTube known as Iron Pineapple has been doing a thing lately where he plays obscure games around the vague theme of "People have said these games remind them of Dark Souls", which could mean nothing more than being melee-focused and not piss-easy. Three of them so far have been games from the turn of the millennium: Severance: Blade of Darkness (also known as Blade: The Edge of Darkness), Rune, and Die By the Sword. The first two are both from 2001 and are covered in this episode, and by a weird coincidence both also appear to let you pick up enemies' limbs and use them as clubs. Die by the Sword, however, is by far the most fascinating. It's by Treyarch, of "got bought out by Activision and stuck making Call of Duty games for eternity" fame, and its big feature is that you use the mouse to swing your weapon and it just follows your movement exactly. You know, like how a lot of games on the Wii handled the remote. (It's probably no coincidence that all the Call of Duty games Treyarch developed had Wii or WiiU ports, and they ported Modern Warfare 3 to the Wii as well. Apparently people who've played them say they control well, considering.) The result is, unfortunately, kind of janky, but it's not like Ross hasn't dealt with jank before.
  9. On the subject of the environment, something I forgot to bring up before: I really hope they shared assets between this and the Watch Dogs series, or the other Tom Clancy games, or both. There are a ton of generic materials and objects that might as well be identical between one game and another, and I'd hate to think their artists were stuck doing hundreds of man-hours of redundant work. Even if they were running on different engines, the source files were probably created in the same industry-standard programs and file formats.
  10. Wow. I remember this game garnering some controversy when it launched over the whole "armed quasi-military organization with no oversight" thing, but this is so much worse than I thought. Gee, I always wanted a game set in the Last of Us universe where you play as one of the evil military guys enforcing the quarantine zones. And speaking of other games of dubious merit that this makes look good by comparison, the stuff about the failure to establish why almost any of the "bad guys" are supposed to be considered the bad guys reminded me of Homefront. That game was criticized for going way too far to show how cartoonishly evil the invading forces were, but at least it bothered to establish it. Hell, if the footage you showed was any indication, they couldn't even be bothered to show any of the "rioters" and "looters" actually doing any rioting or looting. They're just kind of milling about in the street. I'd call it a Kyle Rittenhouse simulator but frankly that's an insult to Kyle Rittenhouse. I have a hunch that the real reason nobody criticized this game's always-online nature is that they were too busy slamming it for being a piece of shit. I understand the preservation angle in the long term, but from the perspective of someone just reviewing the game it'd be like that joke about the couple at the restaurant who complain that the food sucks, and also that the portions are too small. Besides, if a game's only justification for being preserved is to show other developers what not to do, I'm not sure I'd be on board with an arrangement where you still have to pay the publishers for the privilege (and that's without getting into the other valid reasons never to give Ubisoft, in particular, any of your money). Really it's a good argument for just making abandonware an official legal concept. So if a game is so bad that its own publisher decides to pull it from distribution early, it just instantly becomes public domain so anyone can snag a copy without paying the corporations a dime.
  11. By the way, I did like the subtle callback to Freeman not buying into string theory, though I was somehow expecting a stronger reaction to learning that he was expected to work for a team whose entire model hinges on it. But then, he has more pressing issues on his mind by this point, and doesn't really want to work for them either way.
  12. Oh boy. If the gravity gun is going to have that much kickback for the whole rest of the series, I can't imagine how Gordon is going to deal with it. It makes sense that something that throws hundreds of pounds around would, but then again given how many laws of motion had to be bypassed to make it possible in the first place, that would probably be one of the first kinks they'd iron out. On the other other hand, this could be what it's like after they did everything possible to reduce the kickback; we are talking about projectiles that weigh more than the wielder himself* being instantly accelerated to rocket-launcher velocities. *according to one of the first Google results for "gravity gun weight limit"
  13. "Last man standing gets to keep all the noise." OK, I think I missed something. Was that a code you were told to give or something? Also, big slow clap for the developers for making the player character have the absolute worst voice acting of not just this game, but possibly of any game ever made. In fact, I kept waffling back and forth between thinking he must be, and couldn't possibly be, just a text-to-speech program. Are there credits? I really want to know if he has a credited voice actor. It wouldn't surprise me if the original plan was to just do what most games did back then and actually have the player pick from a list of lines, with no voice acting since the fact that you'd already read the one you're choosing would render it redundant... only to have the publisher demand voice acting at the last minute so they just fired up a text-to-speech program in lieu of having time and/or money left to hire and record somebody. But I also don't think they had text-to-speech programs that sophisticated in the '90s.
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