Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day Six

By RPS on December 6th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

On the sixth day of the month of Horace, it’s worth remembering that although Horace is infinite and endless, other things are brief and limited. That makes them no less valuable to us. Like this astounding morsel behind the seventh window of the advent calendar. What could it be?

It’s… Thirty Flights Of Loving!

Alec:

2012 was the year I finally lost my already well-frayed rag with game storylines. The bloated self-indulgence of Assassin’s Creed III was the final straw, but the likes of Halo 4, Diablo III, Mass Effect 3, CODBLOPS 2, Hitman: Absolution and oh so many more all contributed to the damage. Time and again I had to endure pseudo-mystical nonsense and posturing macho super-soldiers, hysterical Saturday morning cartoons as directed by Michael Bay, space magic, ancestor races, prophecies and so much talking. Talking, talking, talking for an eternity about nothing about nothing at all, about someone else’s made-up, ad-hoc gibberish starring one-dimensional ciphers. People write Wikipedia pages about these kinds of insipid adolescent fantasies, you know. People write and buy spin-off novels and comics about it. What is wrong with those people? Why do they give so much of themselves to something so puerile and meaningless? And how much more of this shit will I have to suffer over the coming years?

Then there was Thirty Flights of Loving. Thank God there was Thirty Flights of Loving. Wordlessly telling or at least implying a good dozen interlinked stories I badly wanted to know more about in the space of 15 mute minutes. Each new scene a world unto itself, loaded with character, atmosphere, seeds of possibility and cats without wasting anything.

Lean as can be, rewarding analysis rather than spoon-feeding exposition, but also a dramatic, explosive, immediate spy/criminal movie despite its nuance, opacity and, admittedly, simplicity. Those fifteen strange, jump-cutting, cubist minutes are as thrilling as anything games offered this year.

I hate writing about Thirty Flights because it does such a stand-up job of telling its tale without words. By typing these ones I’m failing to learn its lesson – engaging, personal-feeling game narrative via the visual, the sonic, the architectural and the interactive, not by droning on directly at the player’s face.

I want to know more about Blendo Games’ Nuevos Aires / Citizen Abel world. I’m so glad they decline to tell me any more about it. Instead, adventures!

Nathan:

I don’t replay games all that often. At least, not immediately. Mine is a brain that seeks to wring constant novelty and wonderment from this world – which is a nice way of saying I’m extremely easily distracted. But the second Thirty Flights Of Loving’s credits rolled (or I rammed a car into their fancy museum party, as it were), I dove straight back in. Admittedly, this is in part due to the fact that Thirty Flights Of Loving is, like, 30 seconds long, but – more importantly – I felt compelled to know every inch of it.

Sure, at the end of the day, it wasn’t much of a game in the traditional “overcome a challenge, get points/achievements/maybe also a pony” sense, and yeah, it made judicious use of smoke and mirrors. But that was kind of the point: to do a whole, whole lot with very little. And in doing so, Thirty Flights left just enough room for imagination to take the wheel – to traverse moment-to-moment gaps with powerful leaps of logic and emotion. As I pointed out a while back, my favorite parts were actually the bits it didn’t show me. I got to own those.

Even then, Thirty Flights wasn’t the most complex tale ever, but it was just so well-told. Many games – in their misguided quests to fill out some arbitrary notion of “correct” length – just kind of wash over me. You’ve shot one dude, you ‘ve shot ‘em all, basically. But, to this day, Thirty Flights occupies my mind as this series of nearly perfect, completely unforgettable moments. Rapid cuts, a totally wild chase, oranges, cats, crazy psychedelic drunk-o-vision, blood everywhere, her smiling at me, her pointing a gun at me, that sunrise.

Oh god, that sunrise.

Put simply, Thirty Flights did an incredible number of things I can’t believe other games haven’t tried. And like all the best pioneers, it did them so well that I imagine successors will have one hell of a time topping it.

.

101 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    ropable says:

    Oh that’s it. I’m getting it.

    • gerafin says:

      I have it, but I still haven’t ‘got’ it.

      • rebeccaadams15 says:

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Yesterday I was angrily shaking my fist at people who had bought Stacking but not played it yet.
    Today I am hanging my head in embarrassed silence.

    > Why do they give so much of themselves to something so puerile and meaningless?

    Didn’t someone famous say something like “Pop culture is born when economic growth outpaces education”?

    Less snidely, I still read sci-fi and fantasy though now at age 38 I realize my mom was right all along. 95% or more of it really is crap. But I still do it, I still pick up “generic adolescent hero quest trilogy #1 million” instead of the timeless literary classics. Some sort of mental comfort food I guess.

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      Harlander says:

      95% or more of everything is crap.

      • acheron says:

        I was about to say exactly the same thing.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        Good as a rule of thumb, but not to be taken literally.

        Also there may be a qualitative difference in the remaining good 5%. Is listening to the very best boy-band music ever created as good as listening to the very best of classical music ever created?

        • Snids says:

          Maybe 5ive.

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          Llewyn says:

          One thing we tend to overlook when comparing cultural output from different periods is that our ‘classics’ (whether Shakespeare, Mozart, Dostoyevsky, the Beatles or Sid Meier) have already been through a pre-selection process based on their merits to some subsections of society. We tend to compare the highlights of one era with the total output of another and forget that not all 19th century writers were Dostoyevsky.

          • MistyMike says:

            I wish so much people remembered this when they say things like ‘games were better in 1988/1998/2000 because Ultima/Baldur’s Gate/Deus Ex’ etc.

          • luukdeman111 says:

            thank you for saying that!

            I hate it when people say, back when games were good… It seems like they simply forget the Portals, Bioshock and world of goo and the likes….

        • frightlever says:

          “as good as” is also meaningless.

      • ScorpionWasp says:

        I’m not so sure about that. For instance, I rarely walk out of the movie theater pissed off, feeling my intelligence has been insulted, utterly perplexed that something so goddamned shit could ever receive the “go ahead”, like happens with 95% of all games I try. My subjective evaluation of the output of cinema is something like, 2% is terrible, 70% is competent, 16% is really good, and 2% is fantastic. For games, it would be more like, 80% is terrible, 15% is competent, 4.5% is really good, and 0.5% is fantastic. And contrary to movies, there’s no gaming journalism (with the exception of this one website and a few key other personas like Yahtzee) to help you know beforehand whether something is crap or not. When a Twilight comes out, the critics annihilate it (and that’s DESPITE its popularity). Merciless parodies can be found everywhere. When a Final Fantasy comes out – with the very same brand of puerile bullshit – all the “specialized coverage” suck its metaphorical cock. It’s disheartening.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Well, you’ve got acquired taste in video gaming, congratz !

          My dad got a yearly subscription to the theater, during 5 years (nb: he reads tons of books and have been regularly going to theater for years). The first 4 years were excellent: at least half of the plays were very interesting/moving/well played, really worth the time spent in it.

          On the fourth year we moved from town A to town B, with a different theater. That town was bigger and had much more money and at least twice the building area/scenes. But the theater director wasn’t really good at selecting and getting good interesting theater companies to play there.

          After a year of disappointment and “what the hell is that crap”, with only a few of “okay” experiences, he didn’t renewed his subscription. People who very rarely went to the theater were still going there, not aware that most of it wasn’t good nor interesting at all.

          Same with cinema:

          a) Independent film network movie theaters:
          (not the hipster-“it’s art you can’t understand it” bullcrap, I’m talking about real movies that normal people can enjoy):
          => You’ve got 50% of good stuff (the other 50% is made of the local-country-comedy-with-B-grade-actors of the season ; Israeli–Palestinian conflict movie of the season ; midlife crisis feel-good movie of the season ; etc…)

          b) Big popular movie theater chains: 80% is utter crap (so bad that you wish you could get a refund for the ticket), 15% is okay, 5% is good.

          Regarding video games:

          If you go at the store and play what’s on the shelves, you’ll get 90% crap, 8% okay, 2% good.

          If you read RPS, and have gaming friends (and not just WoW/CoD “bros”), then you’ll get closer to 50/50 (= 30% good, 30% okay-average, 30% crap, 10% “who did this, I want names !”).

          It’s the same everywhere, there’s a lot of noise because there’s always money/fame/recognition/self-esteem to be earned there, and since information is never perfect many people can get away with it.

      • -Maelig- says:

        Funny thing is that it was actually an SF writer, Theodore Sturgeon who conceptualized this idea, although he was slightly more optimistic than you in arguing that 90% of everything was crap http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_Law

      • AngoraFish says:

        95% of crap is crap.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          The other 5% is also crap, but with some undigested bits of corn mixed in.

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      Stellar Duck says:

      I’ve actually given up on fantasy with the sole exception of Discworld and I find myself reading less and less sci-fi. And what sci-fi I do read tend to go further and further back. Just finished Flowers for Algernon and I think The Stars My Destination will be the next one I read. But right now I’m going to read something more interesting I think. Probably gonna start of one of Dostoevskys books as I recently bought all his books and writings for 20£.

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        Lars Westergren says:

        > I’ve actually given up on fantasy with the sole exception of Discworld

        Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was the last really good fantasy I read. Neat deconstruction of the Harry Potter books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and fantasy-as-escapism thing. I can’t go into more plot details and how it relates to the current discussion without spoilers. The Locke Lamora books are highly entertaining blockbusters, but won’t leave a lasting impression on your life…

        > And what sci-fi I do read tend to go further and further back.

        Same here. Charles Stross, Iain Banks and Vernor Vinge still produce some good stuff though.

        > I think The Stars My Destination will be the next one I read.

        Read it last year. Decent, didn’t think it was great.

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          jrodman says:

          As period pulp, it’s fucking great.
          As a work of writing it is somewhat mediocre.

          Approach it the right way and it’s well worth the read.

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          JB says:

          Lars, you’re a star. For the last few days I’ve been looking for a book that I seem to have misplaced. I was unable to recall the author or title, but I could remember the cover, and bits of the story. It was Halting State. Your mention of Stross fired the information back into my brain.

          Thank you, sir.

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          phuzz says:

          Charlie Stross gets many recommendations form me. He’s also one of the most varied writers I’ve read recently, Merchant Princes starts out as fantasy for example, where as Glasshouse is definitely Scifi.
          Both will fuck with your expectations as well, which I always enjoy.

      • Mirqy says:

        Ursula LeGuin early fantasy still stands up. I find some Gene Wolfe books incredibly rewarding, the knight/the wizard if you want to focus on fantasy. There are dozens and dozens more – hard to find amongst the dross, but there are things to find that can stand with classics of any genre. Just don’t go by whatever amazon or waterstones are plugging this year.

      • dE says:

        When it comes to science fiction, I’ve come to love modern Sci-Fi by female writers. Often coming from people with an university carrier, there are curious ideas and impressive thoughts encased within. It’s also a different point of view and doesn’t necessarily rely on narration techniques the likes of “Handgrenade Herbert” got known for (aka lots of pew pew and military fetish).

        When it comes to fantasy though, I have given up. Especially since all the “Dark Fantasy” crap started to flood the shelves. Whenever I browse through books, I have to wade through absurd amounts of “Vumpire Lovez Diarreah” or “Dark Angel Slayer Vampire Wolf” or “Nightly danger: Hunter of the night”. The originality starts with what kind of crazy halfbreed combination the author can come up this time. The challenge however seems to be how close they can get to Anne Rice (I stole Jesus’ clothes) or Meyer (Sparkle, Sparkle, Sunlight Debacle) without getting a Cease and Desist letter. Or several.

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          Stellar Duck says:

          About modern female sci-fi writers, you make a good point. I’ve read some really excellent short stories in the last couple of years in a magazine called Lightspeed or something like that.

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        xao says:

        I still read a lot of the writers from the Zelazny tree, particularly Cook and Brust. There are quite a few other authors I enjoy, flaws and all: Rothfuss, Erickson, Esslemont, Kadrey to name a few. I think there’s still plenty worth reading in both genres.

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        Saul says:

        You should all read Joe Abercrombie. Seriously – possibly my favourite fantasy ever. I’ve described his work as Discworld meets Game of Thrones.

    • whatfruit says:

      95% of classics are overrated crap.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        If you take the effort of learning about the time and context they were written, and why they became classics, pursuing them are generally worthwhile in my experience.

        • belgand says:

          Sometimes, but not always. I think disagreeing with the literary canon is actually an important step and one that needs to be made by all students. If you just blindly accept that something is great because somebody else told you it was you’re not thinking very critically or independently.

          Which is also a somewhat roundabout way of justifying my view that A Separate Peace and Ethan Frome are terrible. I mean, seriously, who tries to commit suicide by sledding into a tree?

        • frightlever says:

          95% of effort is crap!

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          Phinor says:

          Whether it’s movies, music, literature or games, I just can’t subscribe to the idea of “but it was important/better back when it was made”. I understand the idea and obviously it’s an important one but I have never managed to actually have it any effect on my own judgement of things. If a 80 year old classic movie doesn’t compare well to a movie made in 2005, then it doesn’t compare well and that’s that. For me anyway. The movie might be very important milestone and all that, but quality/content-wise I can’t give it any plus points for that.

          Now there are still a lot of classics that I enjoy and are among my favourites. Literature seems to do best followed by music, movies and then games. Or in other words, the “simpler” the medium, the easier it is for a classic to remain truly great. Again, just my personal opinion.

        • YourMessageHere says:

          I think it’s important to have some awareness of classic literature, but at the same time, if something’s not appealing I don’t think it’s necessary to read it if you’ve taken the trouble of finding out why and how a thing is a classic. I’ve read a few chunks of Dickens, for example, and I know enough to realise I’ll never enjoy reading it, but I’m glad to have a little knowledge about why his work is known as classic and what sort of reception it got. I would get a hell of a better insight if I actually read him, of course, but knowing what I do about his writing, there’s nothing (e.g. pleasure or satisfaction) to be gained besides that, and a lot of time I could otherwise use better to be lost.

    • jhng says:

      But there is still the 5% — I finished China Mieville’s Iron Council yesterday. A stronger and more brilliant novel than many supposed ‘classics’ I’ve read.

      • Jhoosier says:

        Mieville’s series is good, as is Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl.

        I’m rereading a lot of Niven, and realizing how much my 14 year-old self missed out in comprehending the Ringworld series.

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          Jackablade says:

          The Windup Girl is a fantastic read. I’ve been on the look out ever since looking for more books in that similar vein. I’ve run through some of Bacigalupi’s earlier books, but while they’re solid and you can see he’s working his way up to the Windup Girl, their view of the future world isn’t nearly as well developed.

          Any recommendations in that respect? I’ve heard Rob Zeigler’s Seed is worth hunting down, but I’ll be damned if I can get my hands on the bloody thing here.

          • malkav11 says:

            Do you mean specifically the post-global warming, post-peak oil stuff?

      • TomxJ says:

        City and the City. Go get that in your life.

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          phuzz says:

          Or Embassy Town.

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          Lamb Chop says:

          Perdido Street Station still holds up as Mieville’s best fantasy novel, imo. The rich oppressiveness of the world is unmatched in his later writings. The City and the City is certainly also brilliant. Have to add another vote to Windup Girl as being a marker of the new form of post-apocalyptic fiction and a successor to cyberpunk. The way it deals with the consequences of genetic engineering and the energy crisis is incisive but not heavy-handed and the story is ridiculously good. It’s not quite reached the level of Snow Crash, but almost nothing has.

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        Sarigs says:

        You know I was about to mention Windup Girl when I started wading through the comments but couldn’t remember the author’s name!
        The City And The City was fascinating, a great concept and the way it’s written, though taking a bit of getting used to, is very rewarding in keeping you guessing as to what’s going on!

    • bill says:

      But was 95% of what your mum was reading at the time also crap? Because what used to annoy me was when my dad said fantasy and sci-fi was crap while reading crappy procedural detective books that definitely don’t stand any higher in the food chain.

      At least with a crappy fantasy/sci-fi you got to imagine some kind of cool new words, rather than imagining a rainy london every damn time.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        > But was 95% of what your mum was reading at the time also crap?

        I wish I could say yes, but as a professor of linguistics married to a professor of literature, they have a pretty impressive bookshelf.

        • dE says:

          Well, all you need to do is rewind to an earlier time period. Most of todays classics, which teachers use to butcher the dreams of innocent pupils with, were considered useless crap and a waste of time – around the time they were made.

        • Eyhren says:

          Sf has always had the potential to explore academic or philosophical concepts just as with any other form of literature. When you understand the culture and political climate of the era, you gain a fascinating insight into the way writers like the Strugatskys and Stanislaw Lem (and Tarkovsky in his fantastic film adaptations of their works!) used the concepts and themes of science fiction in order to veil their critiques of the Soviet Union while simultaneously dealing with issues of ecology, ideology, consumerism, existentialism, the search for knowledge and the relevance of humanity in the face of the infinite unknown of space and time. There is even a rich tradition of weaving linguistics and philosophy of language into sci fi with Delaney’s Babel-17 in the 60s, Hoban’s Riddley Walker in the 80s and even Mieville’s Embassytown from last year. I love incorporating science fiction into both halves of my literature and linguistics degree and if my lecturers can get all liberal-artsy and excited about it then I’m sure your parents could too :)

    • malkav11 says:

      A lot of it is crap (like anything else), but imho, the highs of SF and fantasy are up there with or exceed the highs of the “literary classics” (some of which, like Shakespeare, were the popular fiction of their era). There are some mindblowingly good writers working in genre fiction.

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    Clavus says:

    I’ve played it a few times after the first RPS articles. It’s indeed a great concept they’re promoting. What if you have a game where the story depends on how the player interprets the situation?

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    Yachmenev says:

    I played it, kinda liked it, but I also felt that I didn´t really understand it. :(

    • Premium User Badge

      Luringen says:

      Same. I knew it was very well made, and that a lot of well thought-out work had gone in to it, but I didn’t understand what it tried to do except show off good level design.

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        Harlander says:

        I feel the same way. I should probably go and have another run through it

      • baby snot says:

        @Luringen – I think you mean structure… Or maybe you mean the level design was so good I didn’t realise how much i’d been handheld through the game?

        All I know is I felt like I was staring in Pulp Fiction or Jackie Brown and can I have some more please?

      • Bhazor says:

        I really don’t understand the compliments of level design.

        For a game thats about 10 minutes long it still managed to have you backtracking through a dull hotel. Twice. Then theres the overlong seagull sequence and the dullest chase montage I have seen since Puma Man.

        It makes no use of interactivity, theres no where to explore and theres nothing else there. If it was a 10 minute flash animation it wouldn’t have lost anything.

        Compared to Gravity Bone this is just rubbish.

        • Totally heterosexual says:

          But gravity bone was pretty much the same.

          • Bhazor says:

            Gravity Bone had basic puzzles (that still managed to become repititive), platforming and a brilliant chase sequence. It also had jump cuts that made sense and meta game humour like missing slots in your inventory and the traditional video game.

            In Fifty Flights theres none of that. You just walk from one trigger to the next and wait for the next cutscene.

            Also Gravity Bone was a free mod.

          • Totally heterosexual says:

            None of those actually required any proper player interaction either.

          • Bhazor says:

            … they did though.

          • Totally heterosexual says:

            Not really. It was just as much a of a notgame.

          • jorygriffis says:

            Bhazor, I think what totally heterosexual is saying is that both Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights lack meaningful interactivity. There are arguments to be made to the contrary, but the idea is that Gravity Bone’s few interactive moments are so linear–use spray on lock, hammer on lock, camera on bird–that they actually don’t represent player agency any more than walking down a corridor does. Brendon Chung basically made the decision that rather than interesting challenges, the interactive bits in Gravity Bone were more like barriers against the player’s enjoyment of the game’s story, and that the sequel would be no worse off without them.

            (Gravity Bone is perfect just the way it is, though, bar maybe the shitty platforming part. I do miss things like the inventory slots gag, probably my very favorite thing about Gravity Bone. To that extent, though, I would say that Gravity Bone is a subversion of the standard interaction between gameplay and narrative, and that Thirty Flights takes the idea to its logical conclusion: narrative as gameplay.)

          • Totally heterosexual says:

            Yes, thank you jorygriffis.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          I felt the same way about Gravity Bone

        • lokimotive says:

          I can understand the negativity towards this game, and, in fact, I’m fairly ambivalent towards it (though the developer’s commentary is quite interesting), but I do disagree with the idea that it wouldn’t lose anything if it was a flash animation. The interactivity is largely incidentally to the story, sure, but at least for me it added an element of immediacy to the proceedings. I really don’t think it would offer the same experience if it was just a straight animation as you wouldn’t have the pleasant option of, say, peeling oranges at the window. It may seems small, but I think it makes a rather substantial difference.

        • Shuck says:

          I guess that’s why, when I finished it, I thought it seemed really familiar (and therefore somewhat disappointing), as if I had had numerous identical experiences in games before. But it was probably because it felt more like watching a short film than playing a game – it was a familiar experience from film, rather than games.

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    Lambchops says:

    I didn’t really take to 30 Flights of Loving and felt that Gravity Bone told a better tale and was better executed.

    But I still love Blendo Games. Their output has been varied and inventive (Atom Zombie Smasher, Flotilla and Air Forte (which I haven’t played but is something different again) and I’m looking forward to that hacking style game that is upcoming.

    Plus I’d like to see more Gravity Bone/30 Flights of Loving style things, just because I didn’t enjoy this one as much doesn’t mean the next one isn’t going to be brilliant.

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. Thought Thirty Flights was rubbish, wasn’t that keen on Smasher but I’m still glad Blendo exists.

  6. GoliathBro says:

    This is my experience with it:

    1) Everywhere I look, people are masturbating themselves into a frenzy over how good it is
    2) I buy it, knowing it’ll be kind of short but expecting brilliance
    3) Feel scammed and ripped off after 0.3 hour of gameplay (with two crashes)

    One of the worst things that ever happened in my gaming career.

    • baby snot says:

      One of the worst things that ever happened in my gaming career.

      You get paid to play games?

    • bill says:

      I guess that’s usual internet comment hyperbole, but if that’s really the worst thing that’s happened to you in gaming then you’re doing pretty well. You could have played some WW2 shooters and been bored to death by walls.

      • GoliathBro says:

        No hyperbole, right at this second I cannot think of a ‘game’ that I hate more than TFOL.

        I’m sure my expectations were a factor (literally everyone that I heard mention that game was praising it) but that doesn’t change my experience with it.

        As far as I’m concerned, it’s an obscure story (that I don’t care about) wrapped in a shitty, boring gimmick (that movies have been using since…. Ever?) with a bit of surrealism sprinkled on top that ended abruptly and was overall produced cheaply. I would have hated it had I played it for free, but I bought the miserable thing.

      • StranaMente says:

        To be fair, sure it’s not THE worst thing that happened to me too, speaking of games, but it certainly comes really close.
        Hyperbole aside my experience has been really similar to the one of GoliathBro (including frequent ctd’s). I understood the game, but it felt really, really bad, and I felt “scammed” (yes, even the little I paid it’s way more than its value).

    • El_Emmental says:

      Would you have preferred it to be “almost that good”, then never getting around being good or fixed, as the developers never understand what’s missing to it to be a cult classic excellent game ?

      With TFOL, you expected a “good indie stuff, not perfectly wrapped but still okay”, and ended up with “aw come on, who ever thought it was worth releasing ?!”.

      Your hopes and expectations lasted for the first 10 minutes of the game (at best), then were swiftly destroyed.

      Now take a game you were waiting for years, following each little bit of information given to the press or leaked by accident. You pre-order the thing. Wait for release.

      Of course it is a bugged mess for the first week (or two) of release, but you bite the bullet and carry on. It will get better.

      After a month, the game is stable, and you’re enjoying it, somewhat. It’s just that there’s a little problem with, you know, this and that. A little tweaking that could greatly improve the game experience.

      But more patches are released, but that tweaking never come. Devs fix minors bugs/gameplay issues, and 6 months later the awful truth hits you in the face: they’ll never fix it.

      And now you’re left wandering, starring at a piece of a game, “unfinished”, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So close, yet so inaccessible.

      You can earn money. You can’t earn your naivety back. You’re forever left with a bitter taste whenever it comes to trusting a developer.

      Meanwhile, the hobo “TFOL” stole you a fiver.

  7. Xocrates says:

    I found Thirty Flights of Loving interesting mostly in the sense that you learn as much from where it fails as from where it succeeds.

    And quite frankly it fails about as often as it succeeds. I still wonder if the gaming scene is so starved for something new that they’ll cling to anything that even tries it.

    As a game and as a story, Gravity Bone was far more interesting. TFOL was an experience in storytelling with arguable success, nothing more.

  8. jhng says:

    Yes! Another brilliant … experience … on the Advent calendar. I haven’t a clue what Thirty Flights means so I chose to pretend I was in a David Lynch film — then it all will all have made much more sense.

    But I hope the Advent Calendar will soon surprise me — so far I’ve played everything apart from Walking Dead (I’m zombie intolerant, unfortunately). I want to hear about more brilliant games that I’ve missed!

    • GoliathBro says:

      You should try The Stanley Parable.

      It’s one of the best things that ever happened in my gaming career.

      • jhng says:

        Yes — I’ve heard about that vaguely but hadn’t checked it out. I should do so.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      A good Lynch film or a bad Lynch film? Are we talking Blue Velvet or Inland Empire?

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Blendo games are the only ones scratching this particular, peculiar itch i didn’t even know i had before gravity bone existed and for that, i’ll love them forever despite the slightly dog eared nature of using the Quake 2 engine in 2012.

  10. Maldomel says:

    All I saw of this game was a play through, and I found the whole thing incomprehensible. Maybe I missed the point by not playing it myself, but I don’t get how skipping stuff all the time adds anything. Making an ellipse here and there, or telling your story in a particular story can work, but doing all the time seems as gimmicky and repetitive as shooting dudes by the dozen or having bad mini games or QTEs to complete mundane tasks.

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      maninahat says:

      Movies do it (cuts) all the time. I’m astonished that we haven’t seen more games take advantage of them.

      Cuts are used so that a movie can efficiently convey the important details whilst leaving out the redundant or irrelevant parts which would only slow the story down. By cutting out the useless bits, you place more emphasis on the bits you keep. Games don’t ever do that, so inevitably, a poignant scene in which someone beats a libertarian to death with a golf club is given as much “screen time” as yet another rummage through a vending machine. Video games are often like a kid’s home movie footage: clumsy, long, and completely unedited.

      Cuts also let you surprise the viewer, or deprive them of enough details to create a degree of mystery. Cuts from the first person perspective – that is something barely ever done, and I think it has huge narrative potential. I’d like to know what the technological constraints are on doing smash cuts in AAA titles.

      • Xocrates says:

        The problem with cuts in games, and TFOL demonstrates this, is that the action stops after each cut because the player needs to reacquaint himself with the surroundings.

        Cuts work fine if you want to instill a sense of confusion, since that’s often not the case, cuts in games only serve to break the flow of the action. In an interactive medium it’s immersion breaking.
        Frankly, from a gameplay standpoint, I rather walk across an empty room than mysteriously teleport to the other side.

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          Sunjumper says:

          While I see how a cut can throw you out of the flow of a game I really enjoyed them in 30 Flights of Loving. A game that I liked but was not to impressed with at first, but which I am gradually starting to like a lot more.

          I did not notice the first cut in the airport on a conscious level, the second time it happened I pause for a second because there was something wrong. But when I realised that it was a ‘cut’ I instantly got on with the story and after that I enjoyed the speed and rhythm they introduced into the game.

          I believe that the main problem here is that we as players have been conditioned to follow the long unedited path. So when a cut is introduced it seems strange. Yet if it is used well I am sure that we’d become accustomed to it and not notice it at all.

          Reality has no cuts, so it should throw us out of a films narrative every time it happens, especially in contemporary works that will never show anything for longer than five seconds before changing perspective. This is completely unnatural but works really well for the audience.
          So I would guess that it can work in games too.

          Have you tried replaying 30 Flights and just go with its flow?

          • Xocrates says:

            The difference between games and movies, is that in movies the characters do not stop during a cut, maintaining flow, but due to the interactivity of games, the only way for the flow not to be broken is for the action after the cut not to be affected by the action prior to it.

            This means that cuts in games can work when transitioning into a cutscene (since it requires no input to maintain flow), and can be disguised if the action is simple enough that what you were doing prior to the cut can be maintained after it (not unlike TFOL where you essentially just press forward).

            You can “go with the flow” in TFOL, but the question is: why should you? And more importantly, in a game designed for ambient storytelling, how can you?

  11. ArthurBarnhouse says:

    Based on the vitriol with which it was mentioned, is it safe to assume that Mass Effect 3 won’t be on the advent calendar?

    • NathanH says:

      It ought to appear at some point. Jim liked it, and his opinion should be worth at least 3.4 times Alec’s.

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      Stellar Duck says:

      Even though I dislike it even more that I disliked ME2 I’d say it should be on here. For better or worse (and I’d argue worse) it was an important release this year.

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      Bluerps says:

      At least, in my opinion, it doesn’t really belong in that list (apart from it’s ending), unless one thinks that all talking in games is bad.

  12. 12kill4 says:

    Pretty damn good for a game that was side-funded by the Idle Thumbs Kickstarter, because they are buddies with Brendan Chung (who is Blendo Games) and wanted more Gravity Bone. It also bears mentioning the secret ‘oops-all-Goldblum’ mode for kickstarter backers; with the guy who did the voice work for Marty McFly in the Telltale’s Back to the Future lending his special talents to recreating Jeff Goldblum’s wonderfully incessant gibber-jabber. Chris Remo’s musical score was quite excellent also.

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    Bluerps says:

    I had a little difficulty with the game at first , because I expected something as straightforward as Gravity Bone. After the first playthrough I was just confused. But then I replayed it, and pieced together what happens in the game (or at least, what might happen), and began enjoying it very much.

  14. RagingLion says:

    I really loved Thirty Flights of Loving and it’s one of my favoruite gaming experiences from this year. I actually thought the stripping out of any game-y platforming or taking photos of things compared to Gravity Bone was a good thing since they were so superfluous and not meaningful anyway.

    The jump cuts really worked with keeping the momentum of the experience going and it was brilliant at creating a game of my mind working out what was going on and figuring out the plot while playing it. And the stlyishness is just so good. It drips with style and seems so much bigger that the few elements it has which is also partly because of the non-verbal/obvious narrative.

  15. edwardoka says:

    I really love the style of this, but I really don’t feel that it has any substance to it at all.

    Make an actual assassination / heist game with this style and without the short film pretension and I’d happily throw money at it, rather than the £0.50 a minute of “what’s going on oh it’s done what.” I got from this.

    As it is, I feel that Gravity Bone was superior in every way.