Friday, April 5, 2019

Lester burnham in "American Beauty": an instadeath:nights

Lester Burnham, as played by Mr. Kevin Spacey, lately accused of sexual assault
american beauty joins crash grand canyon donnie darko has a very donnie darko style character you know you all know the brightness on my tv cant be adjusted but but! there is that scene that attraction that lester burnham played by kevin spacey has, sure in retrospect even creepier than otherwise, to his daughter's teenage friend, which resolves itself apace to Magnolia, by paul thomas anderson, a pretty sad stupid movie, all of these movies with their positive-tone endings are pretty bad, even the ones that end with the death of the main character, i.e. this one and donnie darko

they are all bad because they take as a given a certain love is inherent, proceeds apace of death and confusion, when in reality the love that kevin spacey would find came out of something problematic and to its problematic grave it should follow: essentially the body of that teenage friend, not to the family photo which is where his brains end up splattering.

To be honest, if we are being honest, and letting ourselves conclude that the things we find are essentially problematic, not cancelled, but problematic, I guess to that end I find that our virtue comes and goes in problematic places. Sure, in that body of a teenage daughter's friend, and it ends up leaving through the same path it came in. Or it doesn't; it spreads like a bullet a gooey mass of blood all over the wall. Sure, that's destiny.

There's something about this movie innit tempts a certain amiable viewership with me, a critic. Yeah they take the time to circle around a moral point. But is it ruined bc it's all white people? Would the inclusion of a few people-of-color help? Probably probably, yes.

I have this intense fear of being exposed as someone, just like the other white shitlords out there, being traced on the internet and my crimes revealed. Like being a troll. Anything can be spun up and whipped; and there's this gunning in the air...

That is to say though, Georges Baulldiare quote, "art which avoids evil rapidly becomes boring" (paraphrased). Shittalking, happening behind closed doors... No chance to respond. You know, social anomie. It's all linked, and Lester Burnham had his chance to, but at the moment, he realized that he was something boring. The same pathway towards the soul leads out rather than in, the things that touch us have a habit of spinning us and bringing us to a vile end.

Georges Bataille. With my apologies.

marvel studios movies ranked

marvel studios movies ranked

  1. sama raimi spider man trilogy
  2. daredevil good villain
  3. the avengers 2012
  4. black panther 2018
  5. iron man 2008
  6. ant man
  7. doctor strange 2016
  8. captain america winter soldier
  9. camptain america civil war
  10. incredible hulk 2008 ruffalo honerary inclusion
  11. g of the galxy 2017 #2 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

games roundup: bloodborne, hyperlight drifter, uhhhhh Paratopic, Binding of Isaac, more


Have been waiting a long long time to play this. It's super violent, you get covered in blood the longer its been since you've saved, which is nice. Also it treats violence the way Bioshock does, with you questioning your role in the ecosystem by putting you up against evocative enemies: priests, mobs with torches, werewolf ppl, etc.

This game has "punishing and rewarding" combat which relies heavily on timing. Sadly it also relies on a drip-feed of healing potions which are sometimes sparse, sometimes plentiful, and because they drop randomly from enemies, it makes me feel like often my deaths are from a lack of grinding.

There's more to be said about the potions plenty/scarcity; sometimes you have to play survival horror, sometimes you can bloodily tank + massacre everyone. But there's no grease on the ropes here, to buy xtra potions you have to sit through 2 loading screens.

It's the loading screens which are the issue I guess.

Limbo & Inside

"Inside" is miles ahead of "Limbo", for being a playable cutscene. Streaming this for my buds Angus and Corey was really fun bc they were so pulled in.

"Inside" manages to achieve a lot with landscapes, and also with NPCs, and also sometimes with puzzles and also sometimes with hazards. The evocative mystery elements are pretty good. Maybe there's something lacking; but both "Limbo" and "Inside" aren't really into being complete messages as much as impressionistic depictions.


Hyperlight Drifter

Made more sense to me, felt that more poignant, when I heard the creator has a degenerative (?) heart condition which the story in this game is broadly a metaphor for. Otherwise it just seems like stock imagery, narrative wise, a black goo monster/sickness.

I played to the simple end, but uhh... it's an appealing game with great combat, and it should have all the appeal of the mystery of its ruins-filled world, but something's missing for me... genuine inspired elements like decayed frozen titan hanging off side of zelda mountain, these seems underused... deeper story about genetic modification kinda ends up being about generic monsters in tanks.

What's really cool, tho, is the ambiguity provided by the HUD elements. Due to the diegetic cnxns between the avatar and the data presented to the player, mostly routed thru a little floating homonculus, it seems as if yr player character may actually be in a virtual reality themselves. This is supported by the dataish way segments of the floor keep popping in and out; but I really like that homonculus...


A short walking-simulatorish game which has 1-3 cool bizarre moments and one very cool facial rendering technique. This is a good case to ask whether or not a short, surrealist, and boring game does enough. In my experience it was a pretty intriguing setup with a very small payoff.

Rain World

This seems like one of the first Adult Swim game releases not based on an TV show. The cute illustrations on the package do not match the brutal and alien gameplay visuals. This is a lot like Knytt, if you've ever played Knytt, but it has many more surprises, incl. very cool weapons.

You run around and eat/be eaten, with a lot of depth resting in an organic balance between predators, prey animals, spears, plants, etc. which deeply rewards experimentation and improvisation.

I am not sure if I am crazy about the save/death system. You need to survive a certain number of saves (meaning: trips between save points) for certain doors to unlock. It seems to encourage an organic form of exploration: you need to survive to explore more. Dark Souls however had a tighter sense of rhthym, more arcade-y, this is a little loose and wobbly. That being said it's stylish and I need more time to analyze its effects, I have no idea how big this game is.

Condemned: Criminal Origins

May have been innovative in ps2 days, this game is the quintessence of a "beat up homeless" simulator. It doesn't shy away, in the enemy design at least, from realism tho, so there's something to be said for the horror therein.

I stopped playing when I got to the bit where you meet up with your radio contact, who turns out to be a horrifically reskinned version of the player model, who is an anxious timid italian man (the player is an italian man, the radio contact is a middle aged black women with glasses).

Baba is you

Certain level of unwritten rules in this game, like "text can't overlap with other text". The whole game is based on writing rules to solve sokoban puzzles, so occasionally the unwritten rules throw a wrench in the gears.

That being said this is such a perfect puzzle game, if so because it takes very little for granted, all objects have only pictoral value and are assigned meaning via on-screen puzzle pieces. The arrangement of the non-negotiable rules-pieces can make aesthetic flourishes, like a good layout in a magazine:

The rules outside the walls cannot be changed, but they are pretty.

The Enigma Machine

Fun to chat with this thing, albeit its cyber horror leanings are too archetypal.

Binding of Isaac
The music is actually quality, drops and serious beats, and the visual aesthetics are original... The whole theme is child abuse. Like horror/comedy.

Gameplay after years of playing still holds up. =randomly and slowly lvling a more and more fucked over kid, with v. serious and lovely endgame aspirations. A warm and generous skinner flash classic.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"In the Woods" Review'd

Once you get all the papers settled you'll have a good time with In the Woods. I have it on authority that Pearce Shea pretty much put this together in a fever state, which is saying a lot for Pearce's fevers....

Let's go ahead and say what happened: 3 players went to the woods, and they saw some shit. They got out after two-and-a-half hours. It was pretty good~! It drew people in, it really did.

"In the Woods" is a fairly large document that was pretty easy to run. Even the navigation, given the lack of a map, wasn't that bad. This is a puff piece.

There is a map, but it's supposed to be secret. There's a lot of unspecified elements of play, the text written specifically to include lacunae as is the wont of indie rpg games. The DM makes up a bunch anyway. Although its worth it to note that In the Woods intentionally includes game-design-lacunae as a means to engender a creepiness.

That being said, the non-lacunae are surprisingly solid. You bounce up and down on the floors of this thing and it holds! It's not that surprising. There's a solid construction:

  1. character creation
  2. rules
  3. introduction
  4. hex map
  5. hex map key
  6. bestiary
There's mysterious elements, not given much explanation. There's some factions in the hex map. There's a serviceable lightweight combat system.

Benefit of horror often is to keep you guessing at the elements. RPGs tell a similar story, bcuz players elaborate on an archaeology. You won't discover all of the elements; but you can, maybe construct an explanation; but I, the narrator, am waiting, there to stick a thumb in your eye...

to purchase:

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Michael Raston's "Angel's Burial Ground" Review'd

Overall Michael Raston's "The Angel's Burial Ground" suffers from a lack of glamour. There's something here, some things beautiful and interesting, but it's stuck behind (A) the lack of an illustrator and (B) some occasionally mediocre prose.

(A) The lack of an illustrator
1. The cover is ugly.

2. That which is entirely new and interesting within the text can only be visually suggested by the public domain art collages.

3. The angels, in particular, seem begging for illustration, they're colorful as fuck:

for example.

4. It's simply a less-appealing book without beautiful or interesting illustrations.

(B) this book has a smattering of humor and self-aware charm but, for the opening at least, it relies on straightforward description of fantasy elements, which, ultimately, in the scope of other ARTPUNK products, seems mediocre.

1. I think a good introduction is actually quite important to the rpg books that I like. think about Deep Carbon Observatory's introduction... minimalist. A widely loved part of AR&PL's opening:

The many zany intros of James Raggi. A good introduction is a good indication that the writer intends to do away with what's normally dry and boring.


1.The space described is claustrophobic and wonderful and detail-rich, unique and scary:

another example.

2. The lore of the scale-men particularly appealed to me.


This text seems reasonable, although not particularly convenient, to use as a reference text. I'd print out the map page and refer to it, etc.

But: I've mostly stopped using resources that don't fit entirely on one page.


about half of what drew me into TRPGS again was texts which were self-conscious departures from the fantasy norms for prose. Not just departures from fantasy norms, but departures from prose norms.-- Surprisingly presented texts...

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

the odd joys of CULTIST SIMULATOR

I can't figure out the Stag's Riddle but I've got the right ritual to turn my depression into demons. And I'm just raiding the hell out of various international sites. I start killing all the detectives sent after me. And yeah, I'm eating their bodies.

But eventually some kind of Constatine mfer gets sent after me and he knows how to kill my demons... not good....

also I figure out i need to have 36 grail points that beat the game. So I need to like get 10th level Grail tools, rituals, and like a lvl 10 grail influence. and by this time my hunger for bodies is generating a lot of notoriety and the Constantine guy has killed like 6 demons so I'm getting nervous.

For the entire duration of playing this game I've had an issue with my ergonomics so clikin and draggin little cards was kind of a strain. This game does not do the best to make clickin and draggin those little cards super easy. It's pretty simple and functional though.

Cultist simulator is also self-care simulator with the addendum that the eventual goal is to develop greater and greater viscious cycles. You have to take your mental and physical health seriously, with the addendum that to pursue your spiritual goals you will put these things at risk. And more significantly, the lives of others, which may or may not trip up your own little cycles of self-care and renewal.

I have found Cultist Simulator broadly as a potent metaphor for the creative process in a life, the cycles of care and funding buffeting a spiritual journey which is poisonous. The slow accumulation of the supernatural that the fictive elements in CULTIST SIM provides helps create this sense of a gathering magic which is parcel to my best experiences with creativity.

Moreover, the us-vs-them experience, being hunted by the results of your mischief, underlines my desire to see artistic exploration as an antagonistic exercise. You can make enemies in the art world or in the artistic discourse, there is always a time to fight, those duties are represented in the game.

Deeper tragedy, too. An artist can use participation in a tragedy is a way to get some juice.

And of course, the possibilities of manipulating your emotions via your (artistic/occultist) work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

drug lord generator for Tzop Secret

drug lords template:
1 machine gun kelly
2 pharmacorp head
3 mac os name e.g. "snow lion"
4 irish grandma
5 the godfather
6 roll on dunkey's supervillain generator (

the drug lord retaliates:
1 bombing attempt (ballisitics 40)
2 2d6 gangsters (30 skill) attack
3 pc resource destroyed (skill 50)
4 pc resource subverted (skill 50)
5 poisoning (skill 50)
6 come up with something more bizarre

their resources:
as a base:
>judges and politicians
>50 base skill

extras: (they get 1/d4/d6/d8 of these)
1 WEB affiliation (may call on one favor from WEB)
2 +25 skill in one skill
3 1 luck point
4 science + piece of advanced tech
5 xtra capable bodyguard (combat skills 70)
6 come up with something more bizarre

Thursday, February 14, 2019

larceny 1870 kentucky review

larceny 1870 kentucky straight bourbon whiskey $26.99 as I bought it

tastes kinda like soda. but also whiskey

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Obra Dinn review'd

"Obra Dinn" is like "Papers, Please" in that Lucas Pope's ambitions to create a different kind of gameplay are realized. All critics everywhere noted that "Papers" made literal paper-pushing fun. The same is true of "Obra Dinn's" insurance adjustment.

That being said, "Obra Dinn" represents a deeper success than "Papers, Please", because the game's deepest gameplay offerings are deeper. Comprehending the identities and stringing together the evidence represents a puzzle which requires a lot of thinking and deduction often along non-lateral means. You'll need to write stuff down probably and the true nature of events is ultimately somewhat unclear. "Papers, Please" was comprised of mostly simpler memory and reflexes challenges, although it did have some legit moral surprises.

The thought-immersion required for "Obra" matches with the historical immersion, of which there are several layers:
--the graphical f/x of the game which reflect early computer games, i.e. an alternate history of vgs
--1800's military ship life, the essential knowledge thereof being vital for completing the game's challenge
--the role of the protagonist matching shapely up to the role of the player; there's the unassuming task which you and your character are identically given.
--the again unassuming and historical conception of death: your job is to remember and re-experience over and over again the deaths of 81 people. How that affects you is entirely up to you.

The result is a game which presents an "honest" challenge. "Honest" in the classical sense: there's a legitimate issue, realistic and well-laid, that you have to solve using comprehensible means. And it's challenging because of the genuine nature of the realism. And the moral conclusions you draw from playing it are your own. And it looks like one of those old timey video games from when there were less preconceptions of what was and wasn't possible.

* * *

The big L here is the music. People praise it but it's often quite hackneyed, sort of b-rate Pirates of the Caribbean stuff. I can't get too much into musical analysis, but there is a gameplay loop which is particularly bad:

Finding new memories:
1. intro to new variation on musical theme (ok)
2. strings of excited discovery as you enter the new information into your book (ok, but gets repetitive)
3. tension of low strings and low ringing bell as you discover a new body within the memory (tense and creepy and I like that part)
4. long and drawn out melancholy strings as the "spirit" of the body leaves a slow winding trail as it climbs around the ship like its donnie darko (pisses me off, you have to follow it slowly)

the above issues are totally ameliorated upon repeat viewings of the memories. it's the classic "unskippable cutscene" problem pretty much, being able to skip cutscenes you've already seen (or just want to skip) is what all gamers want, you kinda can't do that for a lot of this game, yadda yadda...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

reviews of some switch games and poetry


I keep on thinking "SJW"s "SJW"s in my head playing this game. How coked am I to use the phrase "SJW"? A lotta 4chan lingo seems to beat the path around the political spectrum, you can't feel too bad... anytway... game is very positive... with a diverse cast of characters and some gender-ish commentary, discusses helpful/non-helpful relationships, the main character has panic attacks, the living embodiment of the panic attacks is the main antagonist.

All and all, the story kinda sucks bc of the preponderance on healthy relationships (with the self mostly) leads to dialogue which is boring feelings-exposition. "I had a lot of time to think, climbing out of this cave [...] That Part of Me was right, I can't do this." Not a bad theme but one that is too literally realized, and cliched, to be interesting.

The art in video games is usually entirely tied to the gameplay and Celeste has enough precision in its movement and fast enough load times to make the glittering, cutesy, sometimes kinda threatening pixel art fit. There's no argument that the gameplay is not excellent and the art not well drawn; but there's not a lot of surprises (in the art). There's one horror bit but it's mostly sparkly colorful stuff which doesn't do much for my desire for mystery. (why not? the core struggle of the game might not be what i'm looking for. yeah there's the weird beasts floating around sometimes, what are they doing there, the mountain has some complexity, even some horror... hollow knight also at its most central concerns was missing something, I think, that for comparison blue velvet has. I might just default to say skin on the table; blue velvet's concerns are human and ironic, pessimistic and strange. hollow knight's concerns are mostly, ancient for the sake of being ancient, or really, about the life cycle, celeste's concerns are psycholgical and personal and wholly optimistic. I'm not up for an optimistic story of personal/psychological achievement when it's not that well written and adorned with sparkly colorful imagery.

BUT the gameplay is good, punishing and rewarding, and makes some genuine innovations: most of the gameplay rewards, the strawberries, are entirely optional and, self-consciously, do nothing. But you will likely pursue them anyway and be frustrated doing it... also while almost all of the levels feel like tests of reflex, many of them are actually intellectual platforming puzzles well-laid. The sense of achievement u get beating this game, adjusted to fit yr own level of achievement via optionalness, is real video gamey storystuff.

Into the Breach

UNLESS there's some mystery inner-story I forgot to unlock then the NIHILISM OF TIME TRAVEL expressed within Into the Breach FAILS TO BE FULLY EXPRESSED. "FTL", the studio's previous game had some, like, optional hidden mysteries within the mechanics, like, you could have a subquest involving a cyborg-infecting virus. Not so with ITTB...

ITTB has bits and pieces of intense cynicism in its expanded-mobile-game length which normally means a secret is there somewhere; Hollow Knight had its share of secrets. ITTB tho doesn't include any hidden content.

The result is a game which uses cynicism to construct a mood rather than a solveable mystery. Bits and pieces will flow out through sentence-length dialogue... minimalism which feels mobile...

Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers

What's notable and IMPORTANT to note is that CT:TT does get hard, and pretty quick. Nintendo games kinda like Pixar often good at presenting simultaneous kid-and-adult experiences. But the thing about all modern Mario games is that hard levels are presented as demonic puzzle cubes and nothing more, as Toad slips deeper and deeper into the bounds of hell.

DOOM (2016 ps 2018 switch)

Released for the switch, DOOM 2018 has the best possible character protagonist; self-conscious and nonplussed. Doomguy is an immortal player who seeks to kill demons, so the game is not ambitious beyond its schedule, SCHEDULE: KILL KILL KILL KILL.

Overall tho the game is just that much uglier for bowing to 3d modern shooter requirements; ammo pickups cynically burst out of enemies and are cynically vacuumed up into your suit, bc the developers knew they had to create interesting gameplay and here's our bandaged-on solution: chainsaw gives ammo, execution mode gives health. The language of this is flickering orange or blue overlays, whereas previous DOOM games afaik didnt stray from steel or demonflesh, so DOOM 2016/8 loses some on visual tone I guess.

Douglas Oliver's "Androissements"

Only notable thing is the book-length poem "Video Hall of Fame" which is Oliver's notable and COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL, AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT with video-game poetry. The dude was 2 years from old age death when he wrote it in 1998, (book published in 2003, Oliver died in 2000, unknown [unresearched ] when he wrote it -ed)  but the interaction with video game concepts is as varied, clear, and familiar and poetic as it can be. There's a fuckton of it too, and what Oliver does really well is draw out commonalities in level design (industrial zones, damsels in distress, stereotypes, class distinctions, etc.) and considers the subconscious areas these cliches provide.

Pay attention, you druggies,
seekers of the mystic:
when inanition or when
manifold indignities
wreck or minds, the gates
to your temples, though broken,
are guarded by demons.

One thing I really deeply need with video game critical thinking is a deep consideration of games from the experience of playing them, as some of my favorite internet artists do, often to consider the ritual of gaming to be an intense and nihilistic commitment of time, fer example. Douglas Oliver however did it as a member of a generation who didnt grow up with vggames (I think). D.O.'s "video hall of fame" gets the peter webb seal of approval for most considerate and well-formed work of vg-pop-culture poetry known to peter, all of the artists trying to do the same should read this work

commentary on:

Into the Breach's  mechanics and everythin correctly transmit a vision of the world wherein u are constantly on the knife's edge of the End Of The World, better than probably any other game does: a single uncorrected mistake in the game will lead to a complete game over, 1, and 2, every game over is correctly and definitively surmised by the time traveler theme to be an actual end-of-the-world, in one particular timeline, at least.

Time travel and video games have shared that commonality for a while, the idea of retrying a bunch of times as a source of patient horror, as the most common video game story is of a time traveller finally getting it right after thousands of dead timelines like the bodies in hotline miami.

Into the Breach, taking the extra care to make this timedeath story a central theme, and then also not commenting on it too much, ends up not being cliche, a success. Yet like I said some kind of ultra-horrible middle note, a deeper mystery within, would have bit me out.

But. Anyway. I don't feel the anxiety of timelines less travelled, although I acknowledge that creating timelines where things did go right is ultimately futile, probably, although I can see how an organization such as the Rift Walkers could exist where they're doing this. Like maybe the successful timelines become partners in a timelines-spanning organization. Tachyons, baby!

BONUS CONTENT: Stephen's Sausage Roll as well didn't commit to internal memory, a secret, just as Yume Nikki may or may not have an actual coherent secret left to find. You think there might be one, waiting somewhere in the code, but the gamers cry, there is none, there is none... No challenge, no internal meaning, just a yearning for "the email which will close the laptop of my [living]."

Possibility threatens a co-extant, co-strangling sense of pain, red lines, flickering into view. Shuttered memories of past gameplay conversations, definite misses, con visits: all these equate into a nothingness, water in the tank. Shattered memories of expectations, as a young kid, that the gameplay would prove something more, the first tastes of aesthetic.

The way the mind reels around a certain prerender, texture, the sense of a brain spinning, content. That this embodies an internal meaning, sure, circumspect.