Play Journal 2013-06-20: Forgot to put a title on the damned journal entry
by Thom Kiraly
Most of these play experiences deserve their own posts, but that’s not going to happen, so let’s just get to it; here’s some stuff I’ve played recently:
Apocalypse World – Finally!!! We have a campaign of AW (sorta) up and running. Ok, so we’re only one session in, but anyway. I’m the MC and I oversee a Brainer, a Maestro D’ and a Quarantine. They’re an odd bunch and it’s always a challenge to come up with exactly how they fit together. Fun point to my players reading this: I have no idea what’s happening, you’re doing all the cool shit!
So, yeah, the Brainer… I fucking hate the Brainer. And I also like it a lot. Every time the Brainer is part of a scene it feels like shit is about to either go down or go crazy real fast. This scares me a bit, but I hope I can trust me Brainer player enough to not abuse that fact too much. In Apocalypse World, a little abuse of your powers is, after all, always a really, like, super good idea.
I wish we would have had an hour more to play, since character creation ran a bit late, but instead we have a really cool place to pick up the action when we play next time.
Impossible Road – My go-to game when it comes to getting a quick fix (i.e. when I’m on the toilet). Current best: 92 pts.
Vesper.5 – Nothing much to say. I’ll have more in… a week maybe. Right now, I’m spending a few days walking straight down. Feels good.
Monaco – I’ve explored some of the Pickpocket’s story and I really like how the game conveys its parallel stories. Still want to play a local 4 player game. Oh, and I’ve also realized that the Gentleman in Monaco is actually… the Most Interesting Man in the World:
LAZA KNITEZ – I’ve written enough about this game for a while. Only difference this time was that the controllers wouldn’t work and we used the keyboard instead.
Hokra – We set it up in our booth at a gaming music event hosted by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. Got to play a couple of times and won about half of the games. Even without a lot of spectators, there was a lot of shouting and the game got as intense as always. At least once everyone had gotten into it. Always a blast.
Kairo – A game unlike most things out there, Kairo gave me a feeling of taking part in some sort of sacred activity. I’m not sure what that activity would be, but I’ll say that it wasn’t unpleasant. One note: I’m not a huge puzzle game fan. Most of the time, I just lose interes and feel that the puzzles serve no other purpose than simply being in my way, but Kairo had me at least looking up the walkthroughs in order for me to progress. Does that mean I’m not… a hardcore gamer? Well, in that case: WOOHOO!
Grit – When Douglas Wilson recommends a game, I tend to listen. So when he started tweeting about Zach Gage‘s game Grit, I was intrigued and had to try it out. This gave my girlfriend and me a chance to get back to playing together. Even though I do a lot of stuff that involves digital games, we have played very little of that sort together. Most of the time, the games we play together are of the tabletop kind, so Grit fit right in. It’s also a quick enough game that it’s not a huge investment for someone to just try out once or twice. I’m not going to write about how we worked out the kinks in the system and how those have been changed in the latest iteration (we played v.2 BTW). Instead, I just want to point to how the specific context of play influences the experience of the game. We’ve been wanting to play more games together and Grit (+ our oversized cards) gave us the excuse to do that. Trite as it may sound, that’s what stuck with me.
Urverkshjärtan – A gaming buddy of mine wrote this RPG for a convention with a steampunk theme. Luckily, he slapped on a healthy serving of creator/creation drama (a theme that I’m a huge fan of ). Urverkshjärtan [Clockwork Hearts] is a game for three players. Everyone plays a scientist building an automaton. I played bishop who built a prayer automaton to save humanity and himself from sin. BUT (!) the players also play each other’s automatons as well as the society surrounding the two characters. These rotating roles worked very well as no one was ever left without anything to do.
A strange thing I did a lot throughout the game was that I kept asking for permission from the other players. I’m unsure of whether this was due to us not having played together all that much or the game in itself.
Badland – I felt that this game winning the Nordic Game Indie Sensation award at least meant that I had to try it. It’s a very well-made and polished game and I enjoyed most of it, but I won’t spend a lot of time with it. Then again, I’m not sure that’s the idea in this case. I’m sorry I didn’t play with headphones, but sometimes you (I) need to be able to keep an ear on other stuff (my kid). Also, this game served as one of those games that help me zone out. Sometimes, that’s all I want from a game.
D&D 4 (Dark Sun) – It’s been ten years since I last played D&D and 3.5 as well as Pathfinder and 4e has been added to the history of the game. This was very obvious in the way that I’d forgotten a lot since my days playing D&D after school. A funny thing, however, is that D&D is so much a part of the gamer unconscious (or the unconscious gamer… I can never tell) that I picked it up quickly. The additions I had a hard time dealing with were the ones that felt like they were very influenced by MMORPGs. It used to be you could just… hit a dude, you know.
Our GM (oops, sorry, I meant to say DM) did some great stuff with adding color and brutality (because that’s totally called for when playing Dark Sun) to the game.
Snek – Any game made by Pippin Barr is worth a try and the same goes for Snek. The game’s opening screen “Best learned in private. Best played in public.” says a lot. The performative aspect, in particular could be made very interesting, either through additions of weirdness (like, you know, using a strap-on for the thrust mode) or simply some personal expression. The fact that you’re actually creating music while playing adds to this potential.
Also: I have a global high score! Admittedly, that’s because not many people have played the game yet, but still: HIGH SCORE! YAY, I’M GOOD AT THRUSTING!
Mass Effect 3 – [SPOILERS ahead] Won’t waste many words on this as I’m getting more bored every time I played it. I tried switching to “Narrative Gameplay” (i.e. super easy fights) and that helped a little bit, but I really don’t care about the whole saving the galaxyverse anymore. I did get laid however, and unlike in ME1 and 2 I didn’t really see it coming until it was happening. Maybe I’m a bit naive, I don’t know. Also I totally fuckin’ shot Udina in the face without meaning to. The renegade symbol flashed and I twitched and shot as Ashley shouted “Gun!”. I always, always go with Paragon, but this is a thing that happened and I refuse to go back and change it.
Kinect stuff – Went to the new superdupermall in town, Emporia, to get my phone fixed and walked past a wall covered by a huge screen showing the outlines of some landmark buildings in Malmö (or the equivalent). All of a sudden, a big black splotch that looked a bit like me appeared on the screen. Turns out, the whole wall was monitored by Kinects and projected a dreamy shadow image of you onto the Malmö panorama. This part of the floor also had a big hall with six Kinect station running a bit more traditional Kinect games like Kinect Adventures. I held Lil’ M in my arms as I jumped up and down and that seemed to be to the kid’s satisfaction.