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.
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.
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.
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?”
This video showcases a mod for Euro Truck Simulator 2 that turns a humble 90 km/h-capped truck into a monster racer doing 560 km/h. That’s roughly half the speed of sound in case you’re wondering.
I enjoy the sedateness of driving in ETS2. It’s humdrum in a good way and requires only low-level attention and skill (until you suddenly remember your turn at the last minute). It can be a way to drift into a slightly meditative/sleep-ready state. It can be a walking simulator where walking can be as challenging as you want it to be. It can be a vehicle (no pun intended) for podcast listening or music enjoyment. It can be a way for ADHD sufferers to focus. It can be quite relaxing.
Racing seems antithetical to the game as played by most people. However, the mod is a) an entirely optional add-on for those who seek it out and b) quite funny. I for one found the video hilarious. When trucks fly and so on.
You know the vague foreboding that that brilliant thought (ok, Descartes-wannabe, let’s not kid ourselves, more like bad pun or meme-in-the-making) you just had is already somewhere out there on the internet. Similarly, you know the sense when people tell you that what you’re going on about as if though you were the first to think of it has a name and people have been working on it for decades.
No, what games are good at is suggesting stories. The thing that games have above all other media is interaction, which is to say that games have systems. Systems that dictate the rules of a fictional world. Systems that allow the audience to prod the world and feel it push back. Systems are what make games into games, rather than movies with joypads.
Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? “Hamlet”, Shakespeare
“Permadeath” is the new black. Wired did a feature on it and games featuring it (above all DayZ) have made waves in the past year.