The politics question mark of Infinifactory

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Infinifactory is a strange title. The game features a limited amount of scenarios, each requiring a finite amount of output. And without spoilers I can say, that the neverending story this is not. You finish the last puzzle and you get an ending. I get the factory bit, just not the inifini bit. Spacechem is about making chemicals. In space. Granted it’s not exactly an exciting naming convention but at least it delivers on both parts.

Now, I know that it’s a distant relation of Infiniminer which to some may be enough but allow me to speculate: Infinifactory is a progression in Zachlike naming into the self aware stage. Zachlikes – the shorthand for the genre that Zach Barth and Zachtronics spawned – are expressions of the belief in endless growth. You make better and better machines that will continue to convert input into output, steadily and reliably.

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Positive Uplifting Battlegrounds

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I have a PUBG winrate of 0.000. By the unique logic of PUBG maths this puts me in the top 7% of players, rated by winrate. Probably along with all the other 93% schmucks who have yet to earn a single fowlflavoured dinner.

In Hearthstone I have – or rather had – a winrate of probably slightly above 0.5, i.e. averaging a win and a bit for every loss. Although the odds are much more in your favour in a game of Hearthstone (1:1) than in a game of PUBG (1:99) this is still a much better performance.

And yet: While I have yet to savour chicken, PUBG leaves me with a much better taste in my mouth than Hearthstone. In Hearthstone losses linger, while wins evaporate. In PUBG on the other hand, the positive experiences are accentuated.

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Hitman’s Show And (Don’t) Tell

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Hitman (2016) may or may not be a great game but it gets one thing brilliantly, astonishingly right. It is a quest marker game that is playable without quest markers. I would wager that it is in fact designed to be playable with or without quest markers. And for that I want to smother the good people of IO Interactive. With kisses, that is. Not a pillow. Or a bag. Or any other of a thousand possible, inviting murder instruments.

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A Sickening Thud: Mirror’s Edge and uncomfortable game design

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As I was restarting the Mirror’s Edge chapter entitled ‘Heat’ for the umpteenth time, I wondered quietly – possibly not so quietly, possibly out-loud-swearing-ly – at what point the sound director of the game had thought to themselves: What this game needs is more sickening thuds.

Every time you midjusge a distance or gets cheated by the controls and, consequently, plunge to your death, it goes k-chud. The foley artist should be be given an award for Most Absoleutely Vile and Disgusting Sound. I’m thinking it has to be melons but there’s a sense of bone breaking somewhere in there, too.

Mirror’s Edge’s sound design is actually pretty indicative of the game design in general. I found myself asking “To what extent is this game-design-wot-makes-the-player-uncomfortable-for-thematic-reasons and to what extent is it just game-design-wot-is-bad?”

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Grow Home

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Grow Home is a game for four year olds. So my only excuse for enjoying it so much is that while it is meant to be played by four year olds, they are clearly meant to be playing it through the convenient medium/controller of an at-hand adult, as the controls require far more precision than the kiddies possess themselves.

The game was released for linux about a year ago but as with so many Steam sale purchases I only found the time to sit down with it over the holidays [Editor’s note: Written, if not actually published, Xmas 2016].

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Down But Not Out: Pressing F to revive

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Coming back from vacation I found some time to check up on the blog. It’s been over a year since the last post which felt kinda dumb because I’ve been writing stuff all year. All the posts just ended up in draft state I could never seem to bother to pull them out of. [cue drama voice] Until now.

[Roll montage of heavy editing, darling killing and screenshotting. End on editor with coffee stains and unbuttoned shirt looking tired but pleased.]

So I’ve got a theme refresh upcoming and five pieces cued up for publishing. There was a lot more on Hitman for some reason but if you think the one that I am going to publish is a meandering mess, you should see the others. Yikes. Please enjoy.

Mimicking Monkey Men: Why I didn’t get past my first Overwatch match

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It’s not you, Overwatch, it’s me. You taught me something about myself, even if we were only together for half an hour.

I did your tutorial. It taught me extremely basic mechanics that I would have figured out by myself and not much else. But that was ok. I figure, it means that the veterans will be relieved that’s it’s over quickly, and the noobs will not feel left behind. It did misfire and would not let me move on before I had taken out all the target dummies even though there were none left. So I had to restart it but that was ok because, as I said, it’s short. I ended it thinking, those are some very basic mechanics, Overwatch, I wonder how you will teach me your actual game.

I was then gently nudged towards either a real match or a match with bots. I can’t remember which I picked. Somehow your UI confused me and with no previous experience of the game, how do you tell the difference? Avatars monkey about, be they real monkeymen or fake.

We were let loose on a scene and I though, what now? Everbody else jumped, ran and were generally off to the races. I stood still, thinking, pondering, asking questions, not moving. What was the goal, what was I there for? Was there a team or was it all against all? How could I tell the difference? Was it indiscriminate murderizing from the get-go or would there be a signal? Should I start moving? I probably should but why? I stood there for a while. I guess you’re expecting me to tell you that somebody ended my reverie shouting “You think too much, therefore you aren’t” before blasting me in the face. In reality, everybody else were much too busy and away and I quietly saw myself out.

You didn’t give me an answer to my questions, Overwatch, and I think I know the reason. Aping. You want me to learn this game by aping the other players. They jump about, I jump about. They shoot, I shoot. I won’t quite know why or how at first but I’ll figure it out as I go. For now, I should just do what everybody else is doing.

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