No Rock, Paper, Shot Take this week, as we thought we’d try out a multi-topic chat about the week in PC gaming instead. Discussed: how to bring back Duke Nukem without it being a horrible mess, whether the Warcraft movie looks any good, whether any game moves are any good and the terrifying lure of idle games.
Alec: What gaming shenanigans mattered most to you lot this week, then?
Adam: The things that have mattered most to me have already been covered in my big ol’ writeup of the SOMA preview build. Which is great and lovely and scary and interesting. BUT in terms of things that have happened, I heard the sound of a horse carcass being flogged down at the Develop conference. It was only that there Randy Pitchford talking about the possibility of a new Duke Nukem game.
Rather than chuckling about Duke Nukem Forever and the development cycle and all the rest of it, I started to have a proper think about the character and what might be done with him. Ages ago I wrote a few paragraphs about a Telltale style Duke game, which seemed like a perfect way to treat a character who is a relic from a previous time – make him an outsider in his own game, faced with inventory puzzles (not all that Telltale if it has puzzles ZING) and conversations, and all of that stuff. I can’t imagine being excited about an FPS Duke game at all but I wouldn’t be averse to something new that actually dealt with the idea of resurrecting the character.
And, yes, it’s 2015 and I’m thinking about Duke Nukem. I am the real punchline to my own life.
Alec: Would anyone want to see Duke Nukem game in which he was The Coolest Guy On The Planet again? Conversely, would Gearbox allow a game in which he wasn’t?
Graham: Duke would certainly work better as an Austin Powers-style fish-out-of-time-water self-parody, but I’m not sure I’d be any more keen to play that game. I think some relics are probably worth leaving alone and many of the tricks that might be used to give his sagging pecs new vitality have already been done by, say, Wolfenstein: The New Order with BJ Blazkowicz.
Adam: Now I’m imagining BJ’s sad eyes transposed onto Duke and I need to put my brain on a deep rinse wash.
Alec: What about you Pip? If you had to play a Duke Nukem game, would it be Duke’s Long Dark Night Of The Soul or Duke Is Still Awesome Forever And Ever OK?
Pip Is this the part where I tell you I’ve never played a Duke Nukem game?
Alec: But what might make you play a theoretical future one?
Pip: Something good? I don’t really know how Duke feels as a franchise so this is kind of like saying “imagine a good game”. I would play Duke Nukem Pokemon Snap. As a point of interest re: the Austin Powers point, there was a piece in the Guardian asking developers to theorise exactly as we are doing and Will Porter suggested an Austin Powers approach.
Adam: I hadn’t seen that but I did see Sam “Her Story” Barlow tweeting about accidentally describing the plot of The Wrestler to a Guardian writer. That’s what he was referring to, clearly, and that is amazing. I wish Duke was more Bruce Campbell Ash than actual macho hero. I’m also foolishly excited about Ash vs Evil Dead because he is old and that is funny to me.
Alec: That trailer was better than I’d reasonably expected. The action hero who is allowed to make a total pig’s ear of things and be mocked by those around him without actually being reduced to a sad sap is a formula I’ve missed. Graham, what was your hot topic this week?
Graham: My week was mostly about playing and thinking about Clicker Heroes [official site], an idle game in which you level a team of heroes by passively watching them murder a million helpless plants, spiders, snails and jellies. I’ve just written about this in a supporter post to be made public later, and so I’ll ask a question: how do you feel about idle games? Are they a relaxing balm, coating you with a satisfying and relentless sense of progress, or are they a soulless, mind-numbing skinner box designed to entrap you with gambling mechanics and drive you towards microtransactions?
Adam: They are the devil’s bumwash. Which is a problematic statement because I often play with them on my iPad in bed. I hate myself afterwards though. I definitely feel sad when I’m done and look at the book by my bedside and feel it judging me. But, in all seriousness, I watch baseball live in the middle of the night sometimes. My high horse of judgement about the things that people spend their time doing? that thing bolted a long time ago and I’m glad to have seen the back of it.
Alec: My guilty secret is that I have AdVenture Capitalist running in a window all day most days. I ping between totally embracing it as casual comfort and wanting to beat myself to death for giving any of the little free time I have to it instead of reading a book or learning how to breed seahorses. It’s fascinating how you do, while you’re in it, feel that you’re puttng some sort of strategic thinking into it, making meaningful choices, then as soon as you’re out you realise that no, you really weren’t. You were just waiting for those buttons to light up so you could press them.
Graham: I like the subreddit, which is full of people discussing build orders and trying to establish the most efficient way to progress and advance. I can’t help but think they’d be better off learning the stock market if they want to play a numbers game, but I admit that I’m tempted to keep the game running even now that I’ve written about it. Although I’m simultaneously somewhat frightened at the knowledge, shared by a commenter, that the game continues to progress even when not running. That means I literally cannot stop playing Clicker Heroes. It’ll always be out there somewhere, killing crabs and collecting money on my behalf.
Pip: I think Kim Kardashian has stopped speaking to me. Her game doesn’t play in my absence so I have to turn up and click on things. Except it’s boring as all hell (and I say this as a fan of casual games and of Kim Kardashian) so I try for a bit and then I stop and then she’s all over my iPhone notifications screen telling me to come back or whatever and then the silent treatment.
Alec: I bet Kanye gets much the same treatment from her. What was your Issue/Interest/Thinger O’The Week, Pip?
Pip: The moment that meant most to me this week was getting a godlike kill streak when I was playing Lich in the Dota 2 tournament I’m currently playing. I sometimes suffer from low gaming self-esteem when in multiplayer environments even though I know how to play those games and so when I’m actively doing well and the game tells people so ONSCREEN it always feels amazing. People were watching on Twitch too :) They also watched us lose a game but shh.
Adam: GODLIKE LICH trophy! Let’s make one. I have never been good enough at any game to take part in a tournament but I was the best person in my group of friends at Quake 1 deathmatch and that was a good feeling. I tend not to play competitive games very often but I’ve been enjoying Rocket League recently and that’s a neat game for me – it rewards skill and I sometimes feel like a good teammate, but it doesn’t highlight mistakes. Own goals don’t exist, for example – they’re credited to the last person on the scoring team to touch the ball rather than the defender who walloped it into his own net.
Graham: That’s awesome. Some of the most rewarding game experiences I’ve ever had were when I was in a Counter-Strike clan and we played in some leagues – although this was about 15 years ago, so there was no Twitch and we were never good for real tournaments and I was never good enough to stand out from the clan I was with. I miss those feelings, and fear I may never reach that level of investment with a single game again.
Alec: Another thing that happened in the general gaming milieu this week was the Warcraft movie. Did anyone see the leaked footage and/or the ‘inspired by’ flying gryphon interactive video? Does that point to a Warcraft film you want to watch?
Adam: I loved Moon, tolerated Source Code and don’t care about Warcraft lore. I wish Duncan Jones were doing something smaller because he got such a great performance(s) out of Sam Rockwell in a tight, compact sci-fi story the likes of which we rarely get to see. The footage I saw was low quality to the extent that I honestly thought it was all cgi. It looked far too serious. I don’t want to watch that film.
Alec: Most Blizzard games are split between a cartoonish, playful in-game art style/tone and these ultra-serious, visually dark cutscenes for lore maniacs who last smiled in 1974, and I was a little bummed the film seems to have gone full tilt for the latter. But do we want a comedy orc film?
Adam: Comedy orc film starring Adam Sandler and chums. Oh lord, no. I realise that within the space of a few paragraphs I’ve sort of argued for melancholy Duke Nukem and comedy orcs. Has anyone enjoyed a film adaptation of a game? I bloody loved Mortal Kombat when I was a teenager. I think I’ve probably decided that I was being ironic.
Pip: I really enjoyed Death Becomes Her, a movie which explores the idea of gaming lives and restarts. Goldie Hawn plays Mario. Actually, stop me from talking in case I accidentally ruin Death Becomes Her for myself.
Alec: I think you’ve got next week’s supporter post idea in the bag there.
I genuinely thought the Van Damme Street Fighter movie was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen when I was a teenager. I was not a clever teenager.
Adam: Are there any games you’d like to see adapted? I used to want a System Shock or Thief film but, likewise, I was not a clever teenager.
Graham: I’d quite like a film that wasn’t an adaptation of another medium’s greatest hits. [/burn] More seriously, I’m genuinely not sure there’s a single game with a story I think would be better off made linear and non-interactive.
Pip: Some of the eSports documentaries or shows out there have been cool in that regard because the game is there but it’s a catalyst or a setting for a human story rather than the specific focus. (That said, it might be that they’re promotional media for the game if it’s a documentary that’s made by a publisher or a developer so you factor that in.)
Alec: I want a live-action Dwarf Fortress mockumentary. Get Christopher Guest on it.