Alice & Pip’s Shut Up 2014 This Isn’t About You Awards

Nuh uh.

Pip: Alice, you know the thing I like the least about Game of The Year Awards?

Alice: Is it the itchy gowns? The gift bag of tat? Developers straining to wring out tears at the podium? Walking the red carpet in the rain?

Pip: Yeah – those are all pretty harrowing except the gown. The gown was fine this year but that might be because it’s actually a slanket with a belt round it. What I was ACTUALLY going to say though, was that I hate that you’re only supposed to talk about stuff from this year. I spent bloody ages working on my Steam backlog and I’m not letting that go to waste! We need to do a Games Of Whatever Year Awards so we can talk about the other things we liked this year and didn’t get a chance to bang on about because they were too old.

Alice: But surely old is bad, Pip? That’s why they keep making new games. Why, I bet you can’t even name me one good old game you’ve played this year! [This is great, I feel I’m reaching Oscar-level podium banter.]

Pip: 1. If your first point was true why would there be a whole website called Good Old Games?

Alice: They had to change it to GOG, ‘cos Trading Standards.

Pip: 1.b That is a lie. 2. I can name, like, more than one. Perhaps three!

Alice: 1.b obvs. 2. I bet you can’t come up with unlikely names for award categories you’d celebrate them in though.

Pip: That’s where you come in.

Alice: “That’s where you come in?” Are we running a Kickstarter? Hash tag podium bants.

Pip: What would our stretch goals even be? Dinner with us? You know how dinners with us end up.

Alice: Can we move along to the awards that everyone can see we intend to dole out? We didn’t even conceal them behind a velvet curtain. And I feel far too sober for the last afternoon of work, so let’s bang these out.

Ladies and gentlemen, you all know I enjoy talking in a calm, relaxed, slightly eerie, and deeply-irritating-to-Pip voice while playing video games. But which game started it all? Which game brought the Bestest Best Giving Alice A New Way To Rile Up Pip?

Pip: NNNNNGH

Alice: That’s right, Pip! It’s Dark Souls!

Bestest Best Giving Alice A New Way To Rile Up Pip

Pip: I hope you realise this applause is ONLY for Tom Hanks because of the great job he did handing you the award and not for anything else at all.

Fine. What did you like so much about it?

Alice: Dark Souls is as difficult as you are unfocused. I finally played Dark Souls early this year and got off to a really rough start, sliding down a spiral of dying then being annoyed then rushing then dying even harder then being more annoyed then… it wasn’t pretty. Then I discovered the secret to playing Dark Souls: stream it pretending you’re a chill graveyard shift radio DJ spinning soul, jazz, and funk greats through the night, taking everything in your stride.

Pip: Dark Souls Nites was pretty amazing, I must say. I’m sorry I couldn’t stand more of it but I think I have the opposite of ASMR and soothing voices stress me out beyond belief. Are there any videos on this here internet for people who want to know what it was like?

Alice: I’d butted my head against the Bell Gargoyle (and then the OTHER Bell Gargoyle) for hours before I started Dark Souls Nites, then it all came together with a little calm focus. I rolled on through the rest of the game, slipping deeper into character and staying mostly calm. Speaking quietly and slowly while throwing out cheerful motivational slogans made me play carefully. Then the persona got a bit out of control. I ended up offering overly-familiar and horribly patronising advice to some small mushroom people, if you can believe that.

Pip: I can believe that. Also, I’m not a mushroom person.

Alice: With that red-and-white Christmas hat you’re wearing lately…

Pip: Did you know Dark Souls would probably have made my list too but I’ve not finished it yet. My strategy for getting on with the game has been playing it with my friends Craig, Craig and Rory who are watching my stream on a slight time delay. It means they can’t backseat drive too much because they can’t see what I’m doing but we can chat and they can offer advice when otherwise I’d get frustrated and quit.

They also do things like not telling me about the Capra Demon, though.

Alice: It must make you realise the value of a true friend like me. I could be your Dark Souls mentor as well as your greatest chum, you know.

Pip: What’s that? The next category, you say? OF COURSE, Amy Pohler, we’ll move it along. Thanks for handing this one out, by the way – it’s the Bestest Best Game For Weeding Out People Who Don’t Understand How Stealth Works But Still Letting Them Complete It Anyway award.

Alice: I can’t read the winner. I did start drinking and have somehow already lost my glasses. Who is it?

Pip: It’s Dishonored. Lovely, lovely Dishonored.

Bestest Best Game For Weeding Out People Who Don't Understand How Stealth Works But Still Letting Them Complete It Anyway

Alice: Disaronno? No, rum.

Pip: I knew you shouldn’t have skipped the awards canapés earlier.

Alice: I was drawn to the shiny silver platters, then repulsed by the miniature hamburgers. So… Pop? Pap? Can’t read this. Anyway, you, tell me about this game with the hiding.

Pip: I didn’t really do any hiding. That was part of the problem. I’d heard such good things about Dishonored, though, and once I started playing I was really enjoying the story, as well as exploring the world. It can be very beautiful, especially the lighting as you’re getting Samuel to give you boatrides to mission destinations. Thing is, if you’re like me and you really really try hard for stealth and still cock it up, the game doesn’t stop you from progressing, it just reacts to your actions. You’ll encounter increased enemy defences later on, perhaps, or the rat plague gets

Alice: Ah! Found my glasses. They were under my cat. The autocue says “rattier”. “The rat plague gets rattier”. So I’m assuming your rat plague got rattier. As an accomplished sneak, I never saw that happen. What does happen? And what’s it like to have your failures quantified in rats?

Pip: I guess I don’t have much to compare it to because I only did one playthrough so far but the amount of rat action definitely increased as I got further through the game, and then there were all these electrified pylon defences I had to deactivate or rewire – stuff like that. I mean, I wasn’t trying to, but this is what happened when I attempted to stealth my way through the Golden Cat mission:

Alice: This year’s Tribute To Those Who Are No Longer With Us is brutal. Did you grow to enjoy callously murdering people who could’ve gone on to lead full and productive lives?

Pip: They knew the risks when Arkane hired them.

Alice: Monster. Moving on to our next category, which I’m hastily renaming Bestest Best Oh No The Envelope Is Open I Can See The Winner And I Have To Ask Why: Why Were You Playing Thief: The Dark Project When Even Dishonored’s Fluffy Stealth Vexes You So?

Bestest Best Oh No The Envelope Is Open I Can See The Winner And I Have To Ask Why: Why Were You Playing Thief: The Dark Project When Even Dishonored's Fluffy Stealth Vexes You So

Pip: I was trying to do that thing of playing all the previous games in a series when the new one came out. With Thief that’s been an odd one because the graphics make it feel like I’m sitting at my computer in a time warp. I mean, back when it was originally released I would probably have been nowhere near a PC – I’dve been on the floor in the living room gawping at Ocarina of Time. But I’ve thus far really enjoyed the actual missions, creeping about, listening to guards, trying to shoot water arrows at torches… It’s elderliness means the game seems creaky at times but generally I just pretend I’m controlling an episode of Knightmare or something.

Alice: Pip, sidestep to your left for this observation: even as someone who was hunched over a PC at the time, I get grumbly about people saying “Oh you HAVE to play Video Game! It’s a classic!” because no, you don’t. Half these games are only held in such high regard because they’re lounging atop a heap of nostalgia, but I’m glad to hear Thief held your interest.

Pip: It’s not the *best* experience, and clearly a lot of what made it great at the time will be lost on me – I won’t know if it was an amazing graphical experience, for example because it’s marooned out of context in the future. But the reason I thought I would include it here is that I’ve done that thing of going and trying games people rave about and this one still feels… lively in some way, you know?

Alice: Have you played Deus Ex, Pip? Oh you HAVE to play Deus Ex! It’s a classic!

Pip: I refuse. George Clooney looks like he might be up for the challenge though. He’d finished presenting this award so he’s got an entire evening to kill now!

Alice: Pip, I think you should introduce this next award, because I know how much it’ll pain you to express fondness for me in public.

Pip: Can’t I watch the Dark Souls Nites video instead?

Alice: Ladies and gentlemen, 2014 was a landmark year in… friendship.

Pip.

Pip. The autocue says this next bit is yours.

Pip: NNNNNNGH ThisistheBestestBestOnlyGamePipAndAliceManagedToPlayCo-operativelyAllYear – can I go now?

Alice: That’s right! It’s Dog of Dracula 2!

Bestest BestOnlyGamePipAndAliceManagedToPlayCo-operativelyAllYear

Pip: Did you know I only found it because I was installing random games from Game Jolt while I waited for you to turn up with the wine?

Alice: Then it is the perfect mascot for our friendship. Which one of us is the down-on-their-luck dog groomer and which is the megalomaniacal canine hacker in this grim cyberpunk future?

Pip: I think that largely depends on how you feel about the illegal condiment trade?

Alice: You know me, Pip: I whip out the akimbo middle fingers like I’m the master of suspense and show him what fighting the system looks like. That’s a quote from the game. I quoted it. I made a reference. Look, Pip, a reference.

Which, surprisingly for something overflowing with references to snack foods and anime and video games and all that, is a level of obnoxiousness Dog of Dracula 2 never reaches.

Pip: The story itself is pretty bleak but the energy with which it’s told makes it a really joyful experience.

Alice: It’s a super-serious hard-boiled/cyberpunk tone keeping silly elements in check, then magnifying them with the contrast. I want to embed a load of screenshots or quote half the lines. But my Have You Played already did that. So.

Pip: Did we miss anything not playing the original?

Alice: Only a whole load more fun, I suspect. We paused to reflect on the mediocrity of our life and have a cry. Several times. Over and over. Because we couldn’t believe how ridiculous and amazing that moment was as the story reached its climax. Cram your subtext.

Pip: Alice, I’ve just read ahead – there are two more bloody awards.

Alice: Even when I was sober this seemed like a whole lot of fuss. Oh look, Nicolas Cage was snubbed again, can we go home now?

Right, fine, let’s do this. The next award is Bestest Best I’m Sorta Secretly Glad This Is So Old I Can Only Play The First Act Before A Weird Error Makes It Crash Out And Maybe It’s Best I Can’t Play It All Because This Bit Is Great And The Rest Might Sully My Memories.

Pip: So Blade Runner, then?

Bestest Best I'm Sorta Secretly Glad This Is So Old I Can Only Play The First Act Before A Weird Error Makes It Crash Out And Maybe It's Best I Can't Play It All Because This Bit Is Great And The Rest Might Sully My Memories

Alice: We could use someone with your skills in Rep Detect.

Pip: I’ve never watched Blade Runner and I don’t know what Rep Detect is.

Alice: Don’t Watch Blade Runner, it’ll only make you disappointed when you notice how many games copy its look but can’t pull it off at all. Except Blade Runner, that is. Mostly. Ish. Sorta. Anyway. The Blade Runner of my memories is an awfully exciting game running parallel to my movies, not even acknowledging it at first but increasingly trying to show you every big character and location. This excited me a lot at the time, as a sprog dazzled by dirty cyberpunk futures, but I suspect it’d grate a lot now.

I started replaying it recently but, semi-thankfully, even with the best community patch it crashes after the first of five acts.

Pip: Lost in time like tears in rain.

Alice: Which is for the best, really. Is the running theme of all our end-of-year awards that I want everything to end and leave and go?

Pip: It’s a running theme of your conversations with everyone! More to the point, why do I know the bloods tears in rain monologue when I’ve never seen the movie? Stupid pop culture osmosis.

HEY. Alice?

Alice: Yes Pip?

Pip: Why is our last category the Bestest Best We Were Totally Going To Celebrate Games From Any Year But 2014 But What The Hell Is This award?

Alice: Because With Those We Love Alive came out this year but I really like it so when we decided to host our own awards I thought it might be funny to tell the story of how, having (as instructed) covered my arm in mystic symbols reflecting decisions I made in the game, I started dwelling on one particular choice that I know was a lie and not what I’d do in that horrible situation but a lie I find comforting to tell myself – and then cried a little staring at my arm during a boring art exhibition with you and was really concerned that someone watching might think I was crying over that boring art.

Bestest Best We Were Totally Going To Celebrate Games From Any Year But 2014 But What The Hell Is This

I guess that’s probably why.

Pip: I understand why you would want to use an awards ceremony to set the record straight.

Alice: No awards ceremony is complete without someone getting over-emotional on stage. “WHAT A MESS!” the tabloids might lead with tomorrow “TEARS BEFORE LEVELLING UP” or look I don’t follow gossip so I have no idea what sort of headline they write or their grasp of video games so I don’t know.

Pip: I reckon they’d go with “It’s only a game, love!” but really I think they would be focusing in on my trendsetting slanket idea. You’d be page 9 or something.

Alice: My flatmate gave me studded fingerless leather gloves for Christmas. We’ll see who’s self-parodying now!

Pip: THE END

Alice: STRONG ENDING

44 Comments

  1. Melody says:

    I’m so disappointed that WTWLA isn’t in the main calendar actually.

    The forum probably hates me because I’ve been repeating this so many times, but it’s almost unforgivable to not have a text-based game in the calendar when both WTWLA and Creatures Such as We came out this year.

    In other news, that was a lovely read :D

  2. Eight Rooks says:

    I approve of this “Go away, old games, you’re, like, so old” approach. Although

    I won’t know if it was an amazing graphical experience, for example because it’s marooned out of context in the future

    Trust me, it really wasn’t. The Dark Engine was always horribly, horribly angular, even compared against the games which were the style at the time. (If anyone tells you anything else it’s all a bunch of filthy lies.) But the worldbuilding, the level design, all the different systems and the audio – oh, the audio! – more than made up for it.

    • Pockets says:

      The lighting was great. The rest of it looked about a year out of date.

      It’s easy to fall into the trap of mistaking nostalgia for timeless quality, but I like old stuff being treated as still worthwhile. I bought a floppy disk version of X-Com in 2004 and everything held up but the interface. Being all “oh you must have read/seen/played/heard etc. this or you aren’t truly an enthusiast” is a bit bollocks, but they’re definitely worthwhile.

      The weird bit for me is journalists. I kinda expect them to have played a whole bunch of stuff for an informed viewpoint, but I wouldn’t expect them to have a really in-depth knowledge of old stuff, just major stuff that influenced more modern works – the same as I’d be surprised by a music critic who’d never listened to The Beatles, or whatever. Only, the stuff that I’d classify as “not that old” is now becoming “that old”. This terrifies me :(

    • piedpiper says:

      So fking wrong. First two Thieves are amazing even nowadays. I played them for the first time two years ago. Then played third and Dishonored. Dishonored is so casual and boring in terms of gameplay. And level design – never again we saw such believable spaces (ok, System Shock did it). Dishonored, Deus Ex HR, new Thief – they all too eager to please gamer and too gamey and linear to be believable. I know this sounds like bullshit, but in terms of cool leveldesign and belivability Gone Home is closest to Thief. Oh, and The City with pagans and Hammerites. Noone does such things nowadays.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Amazing graphical experience. Graphical. GRAPHICAL. I bought Thief: The Dark Project when it first came out. Graphically, there was nothing amazing about it, unless you include the cutscenes (amazing back then, not quite so much now).

  3. Premium User Badge

    SuddenSight says:

    This is fabulous. Excellent Oscar Podium Banter, Alice.

    Is this the part where I can add my own bits to the list?

    I want it noted that I played A ZELDA this year. One of them, the first one of them I have ever played. It was FUN.

    I also want to recognize puzzle script as allowing many of my favorite 20-minute diversions this year.

    And as part of my continuing effort to understand all the genres! I have have played and enjoyed Pixeljunk Shooter and Jamestown. They are great.

  4. PopeRatzo says:

    Retro gamers are dead.

  5. Horg says:

    Since you brought up Dark Souls, it’s worth mentioning for those who were using it, that the mouse fix mod can now be made to work with the steamworks patch. Search the site for the previous Dark Souls article to find my write up. It’s pretty glorious having the online features for the first time, shame the player base isn’t what it was at its peak. Still one of my favorite games of all time, despite the shitty port.

    Edit: Alice, you were pretty close to going full Shatner talking to those mushroom babies. probably for the best you calleit off when you did. Never go full Shatner.

    • Rizlar says:

      I almost couldn’t believe it went on for six minutes.

      • RARARA says:

        And I watched all six minutes of it.

        Totally worth it.

        Also, in the second video, Pip was wincing like a wounded animal.

      • dahools says:

        Yeah well at least there was running commentary with it even if a little weird.

        That last video has stolen 9min’s of my life I will never get back. Was something supposed to happen?

        • shinygerbil says:

          Nope. Just atmosphere.

          I’m finding it wonderful background noise while I’m at work.

      • Rizlar says:

        (in case it wasn’t obvious I loved every minute of it)

  6. njursten says:

    “Anyway… Shit. I can see how this was supposed to go.” Haha, had me laughing!

  7. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    The Bestest Best Awards!

  8. amateurviking says:

    I remember marvelling at Alice’s stoicism in the face of Artorias. I kinda thought you must have got hold of some beta blockers or allied substances, such was your unflappability.

  9. DrollRemark says:

    The ending to that Dishonored video is just wonderful.

  10. malkav11 says:

    I think it’s enormously important to preserve games – all of them, or at least as many as can possibly be managed – for posterity. And I think there are plenty of older games that still present an experience that hasn’t been replicated in modern gaming – the first two Thief games are a good example (although Dishonored comes closer than most). Deus Ex is another. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. System Shock and System Shock 2. Freedom Force & sequel. The late-but-not-quite-latest Ultimas. Etc. But I will confess that with the unending deluge of new awesomeness I find it tough to find time to go back and fill in gaps in my own personal gaming pantheon (such as the Ultimas). And there are some older games that get lauded to the high heavens but don’t, in my book, stand out in light of later gaming. Half-Life, for example. (I know tons of people on this site disagree with me. I’m not interested in having that argument again, thanks. It’s not convincing anyone.)

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      I dunno about that – it’s been a long time since I’ve been honestly gripped by an AAA game (I think it was Saints’ Row 2?) but small indie titles still grab me, and the only difference between a small indie title and a fifteen year old classic will often be in the UI.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with in what I said? I certainly didn’t say anything about older games being hard to go back to, in general. I just find I’m not doing that despite my best intentions.

        • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

          Oh, I thought you had meant you weren’t going back to them because the new deluge of AAA’s was luring you into them. Forgive my utter lack of reading comprehension!

    • Emeraude says:

      Been bothering me for a couple hours, cause I can’t find a way away to properly express it but here:

      I think those games you cite are interesting and still worth playing because they each represent a road no taken. Someone paved the way and no one cared – or managed – to follow.

      Half Life isn’t because, well, it won. It *is* the road that has been taken.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Excellent point. Truly successful games get replicated, iterated upon, refined and improved. I think as well everybody experiences a certain amount of “burnout” over their gaming life. I used to love RTS yet I find it very difficult to enjoy them now, they just don’t captivate me in the same way that they used to when I was playing Command and Conquer et al. Even more recent examples for me, when I first played LoL, it was something new, it interested me. Now I look at any MOBA and my reaction is pretty much, “ugh, more of this”. When everyone jumps on the bandwagon, it is impossible to make people feel that sense of fresh excitement again.

        Going back and playing an older game can give that feeling of uniqueness, something you haven’t seen before, especially when the games were lesser known that did something different, because it likely won’t have been copied.
        Also it seems like even bigger projects (call them AAA if you want), took more risks back in the day. You won’t find this nearly as much present day, AAA games mostly follow a stringent set of guidelines and finding any sort of innovation is difficult because they aren’t willing to take risks. This leaves indy games which while creatively impressive, don’t usually have the production values or scope you could find from some games back in the day.

        • kavika says:

          If you’ve only played LoL, I recommend you move on to DOTA 2 before considering yourself burnt out. It is so much more deep and nuanced, it’s a little crazy. Partly due to different design philosophies, partly also due to its age (since it is 100% a clone of Dota 1 with better graphics).

      • Vandelay says:

        You said it well. It is pretty much what I thought when I saw the comment too. Half Life was such a massive influence that I expect it is hard to go back to without the nostalgia. Games like Thief or System Shock are still unique to this day, so stand up much better.

        Having said that, I think many people have tried to emulate Half Life, but the vast majority don’t seem to get it.

      • plugmonkey says:

        I kind of see it as polish vs scope. Half-Life was a landmark in polish, but isn’t any more. Deus Ex was a landmark in scope, and pretty much still is.

        Polish became the road most travelled as it’s the less daunting way to develop and the more visible commodity in the final product.

      • Nasarius says:

        Precisely. It’s both disappointing and exciting to remember that there’s so much possibility in videogames which hasn’t been explored, certainly not by the narrow range of AAA designs. There’s been some cool stuff from smaller companies and indie developers in recent years, but…where’s the game that even remotely resembles Darklands?

        There are a thousand things you could do with the “open world RPG” concept that’s nothing like the usual formulas. Mount & Blade was something refreshingly new along those lines, but even that’s six years old now.

        • plugmonkey says:

          I was thinking of that when I was trying to think of recent scope rather than polish games.

          Six years old and I only played it in the last year, and it’s still bloody brilliant.

          Warband would be my game of the year, in fact. The scope is simply incredible. You start with a dozen men hunting bandits for peasants. Then one day you look up at your lords and barons squabbling over lands and titles while your kingdom fights a war on three fronts and you think to yourself “How did I get here? I was happy hunting bandits…”

  11. kissingtoast says:

    I really liked reading that.

    You two gonna do more of this type of thing?

  12. iainl says:

    One day I will see all that stuff in Dark Souls. But I have never successfully beaten the demon at the end of Undead Burg. Tried lots of times, but I just bounce off the game.

    • plugmonkey says:

      The minotaur? Gad about with your shield up until he goes for a big strike, dodge to the side, poke him and retreat to recover stamina.

      That’s how you kill him, and is Souls in a nutshell.

      Kill the two undead on the tower behind you before you trigger him or it’s a nightmare.

  13. Zekiel says:

    Well this was enjoyable. Also I heartily approve of celebrating games that didn’t come out this year but you played this year anyway. (This is about 90% of what I play.)

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Exactly, with Steam sales and the ever growing backlog the number of 2014 games I played isn’t much more than a handful so I have very little idea about most of the stuff that is getting awards at the moment.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Henke says:

    You guys need to start doing Let’s Play videos together. Do it! Do the videos! Ok thx.

  15. Jiskra says:

    Pip, watching your Dishonored video i think you should try Shadow Warrior. Its closer to your “playstyle”.