Wednesday, December 30, 2015

EXP Podcast #361: 2015 Game of the Year Leftovers

The freshest toy of this holiday season.
Our Game of the Year plates were just too full to accommodate everything last week, so this week we talk about some more of our favorite games from 2015.  It's like a delicious, unending plate of leftovers, so pile it high and indulge yourself.  Don't worry, the squid is totally fine to eat; it's only been in the fridge for a few months...

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:

- Runtime: 38 mins 53 secs
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Super Mario Maker: Mr. Saturn Stops By

We contemplate our futures as the architects of the Mushroom Kingdom's destruction.  Perhaps Mr. Saturn will save us?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Making Merry (and Mario)

Chimneys are just a kind of pipe I suppose.
Hey everyone!  We're wrapping up the 2015 with an awards show and some game of the year selections.  Check back next week for some game of the year honorable mentions.

Speaking of games of the year, I'm taking advantage of the holidays to do a little Mario making.  Nothing like staying nice and warm on a cold winter's night by creating courses to delight and troll loved ones.

Check out my Mario Maker profile here:

Jorge has also been up to some mischief:

The more I play this game the more impressive it gets, so maybe my New Year's resolution will be to keep playing and making throughout 2016.  By the end of the year I'll either become a master level designer or lose complete trust in my fellow human beings.  Of course I suppose those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

Talk to you all soon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

EXP Podcast #360: Games of the Year 2015

Geralt isn't on our list. And he looks pissed.
What a year is has been for gaming! We've browsed through police interviews, parachuted through the sky, and dug deep into the earth. Now, as 2015 draws to a close, Scott and I return for our annual Game of the Year discussion. As always, we encourage you to share your favorite games that you've played. Yes, even if that includes The Witcher.

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:

- Runtime: 56 mins 30 secs
- Intrio & Outro Music by Brad Sucks

- Additional music from the Super Mario Maker, Rocket League, Life is Strange, Bloodborne, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain OSTs respectively.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy HotS-idays 2015

'Tis the season for wielding a huge hammer and smacking our enemies in the face in Heroes of the Storm! This week Scott takes Murradin into battle.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Love-Hating Fallout 4

Dogmeat is sick of this shit too.
I'm in love-hate with Fallout 4.

It's actually really difficult to settle on how I feel about the game as a whole. When asked by my coworkers if I'm liking the game, I mostly respond with, "sometimes," which usually receives a knowing nod of the head.

I'm clearly not the only one annoyed by small petty inconsistencies in the otherwise alluring game. Scott agreed with me earlier this week in our 2015 Gamey Awards in which we gave Fallout 4 both the Unjustified Rage award and Gamiest Game of the Year award. It's our own fake award show, but still.

The loud generators have pestered other players enough to have their very own Quieter Generator Sound mod. I'm not crazy, it really is annoying. There is also a mod for changing color gradients of your pip boy, another for labeling your settlement occupants for easy job management, and even one for stopping the player character from interrupting NPC conversations (Seriously, it's rude and weird). All of this is to say the world Bethesda created is fascinating, but it lives upon a shambling, cobbled-together mess of a game. At least modders care enough to fix it.

For me though, currently playing on PS4, these fractures in Fallout 4 make it hard to love.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

EXP Podcast #359: Experience Points Presents the 2015 Gamey Awards

Sorry winners; we couldn't afford real trophies.
It seems like anyone and everyone can have an awards show these days, so we've decided to test that theory.  This week, we introduce our very own, highly serious, and extremely dignified awards show that will from here onwards be referred to as "The Gamies."  Ever wanted to know what was the most tempting money-waster or who was the best waifu/husbandu of 2015?  No?  Well too bad because we're going to tell you anyway.

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:


2015 Nominees and Winners for the Gamies

The “I really shouldn’t buy that but I want it” award
  • Xbone Pro-controller 
  • Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival 
  • American flag Jim Raynor in HOTS
  • Any VR technology 
  • The yarn yoshi amiibo 

Unjustified rage, biggest gear grinders
  • Halo co-op 
  • Loud generators in Fallout 4 
  • Herbalism 
  • esports everything 
  • Weird Japanese game names 
Best Buddy
  • D-dog
  • Dogmeat
  • Warren (Life is Strange) 
  • The Doll (Bloodborne) 
  • The chimney sweep kid in game of thrones 
Best Waifu/Husbandu material
  • Gerralt 
  • Venom "Punished" Snake 
  • SquidKid (I think you mean Callie & Marie) 
  • Eve (Her Story) 
  • Asher Forrestor 
  • The doll 
"Gamey-est" game
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainMGS V 
  • Fallout 4/Fallout Shelter 
  • Mario Maker 
  • Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture 
  • Prison Architect

- The Game Awards Winners
- Runtime: 41 mins 18 secs
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Downwell: The Avatar Edition

We're still spiraling down into the depths, but we have plenty of topics to keep us amused.  For example, which is a more culturally significant movie: Avatar or Independence Day?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bad Will Towards Men

The children rued the day Frosty returned.
This week on PopMatters I get all Grinch-ey.  Not towards Christmas, but against my fellow players.

I'll admit it: I've been playing lots of Heroes of the Storm lately.  I think it's a good game, but it's reminded me of why many games, especially MOBAs have such toxic communities.  Those games are systemically predisposed to make strangers hate each other.

They're difficult games from a mechanical perspective (memorizing the right combos, mouse movements, build orders, etc.) and new people can accidentally bring their whole team down.  But it's the larger strategic layer that really fuels resentment.  It's one thing to lose in a fighting game or a shooter: you fail to execute on hitting your opponent and not getting hit and you lose.  In objective based games, it often doesn't matter if you're a worse technician than you're opponent as long as you're a better tactician.

So when I see someone who walks right by the map objective in HotS in favor of an ill fated push into enemy territory, it's easy to get frustrated.  Especially when this player inevitably starts giving people a hard time about their KDR.  I've been sentenced to a long, losing campaign not because of some deficiency of my basic skills but because hardheaded fools aren't observant enough to see the bigger picture.

It's a feeling I never really feel when playing a single-player game, no matter how brutal they are.  I'm entering into a system that I don't control, but at least my fate is in my own hands.  The mistakes are mine, as is the decision to engage with the system.  In Downwell or Spelunky, there's no one to be mad at besides the uncaring algorithm.

It's why I'll always find The Binding of Isaac to be a relaxing, almost meditative experience.  Even though there's a lot of losing, I'm in control of it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

EXP Podcast #359: Game of Thrones Episode 6 Debrief

"Well shit. Now what?"
Winter has come at long last! This week on the EXP Podcast, Scott and I revisit the cold north of Telltale's Game of Thrones. This marks the end of Season 1. Did it achieve the great heights we've come to expect from Telltale? Does Mira get ahead of the drama at King's landing? Is there an actual Ice Dragon? All this and more!

Quick technical note, due to some unfortunate audacity issues there are a few pieces of audio missing from this week's episode. Let's call it another Westeros mystery and move on as best we can.

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:

- Runtime: 43 mins 42 secs
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Downwell: Persona, Punchers, and Pastel Palettes

What's that Lassie? Jorge and Scott fell down a well? What's that? They're talking about Persona 4? Let's just leave them there in that case.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Games I Fear to Play

My latest PopMatters piece is up, and it's a personal one of sorts.

I've thought about writing this article since we lost my brother-in-law. I've had words and sentences and stories running through my head, but even now it doesn't feel like it came out right. I hope there's some value in it yet.

I've lost a lot of family members over the years, but never someone so close or so young. So fresh from that wound, I felt a frantic desperation to put my thoughts down in writing. It's like a frenzied need to sketch out Paul and what he means to me, to get something down on paper before I forget, to capture his form in some way like he hasn't left. It's a terrifying endeavor because you know you'll never do it justice.

I don't think I realized how hard it is to articulate grief. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work on a game like That Dragon, Cancer, or any game for that matter that lays bear personal emotions.

To all the game developers out there who venture into the lands of personal grief, regret, and more: Thank you. You inspire me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

EXP Podcast #357: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Debrief

Don't even think of parallel parking that thing.
It just wouldn't be the holiday season without a little Call of Duty, now would it? Black Ops 3 is coming at you like swarm of angry bees. Don't worry though: we're here to guide you through this near-future dystopia. Rule number one: don't ever trust robots.

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:

- Runtime: 37 mins 27 secs
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Spelunky: Keeping up with the Jessica Joneses

Jorge and I work off some of the Thanksgiving calories with one of our favorite pastimes: Spelunking. Then again, we may just be under the influence of the Purple Man.