Thank you Ryan.

I've been sitting here at the computer for a couple of hours now spellbound at what we've all heard. So many of us didn't know him outside of what we see and hear every week but I know we all kind of feel like we did. That's a testament to a life well lived, I've laughed many times over many years both at and alongside Ryan as he riffed on this passion we all share. My own sadness is overshadowed by the great loss that those close to him must be still going through. Like the feeling we all share but magnified enormously. I don't pretend to have any idea what it must be like for his loved ones but for me, watching and listening to the fun and laughter coming out of Kirby's Epic Yarn; the thoughts and feelings I've been processing this morning have led me to one tiny positive outlook.

Ryan was a funny bastard. not just for those around him, he shared humour with all of us, several times a week for years and years. As though such a boisterous personality couldn't be contained he's recorded hours upon hours of moments, stories, jokes, discussion, wild ramblings, appreciation, warmth and the best kind of assholery that have been recorded for anyone to enjoy.

I couldn't wish for a better legacy; for myself to leave behind or to have left for me by one of my loved ones. So often a life disappears abruptly, only the memories of a select few that can never really be shared to their fullest remain to eulogise a whole person, not Ryan. From his years with Gamespot, through Whiskey Media all the way to the Bombcast back on June 26th. He, together with the rest of the crew have dedicated so much of their time just for us that I can't help but be grateful.

It's no consolation for missing out on what would have been years more of a great personality but to know that an episode of the Bombcast, a Quicklook, or hilarious episode of This Aint No Game is just one click away. . . All I can say is a huge, heartfelt,


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Holy shit I can't remember the ending.

This thread asks a pretty standard but great question and in thinking out my response (Metal Gear Solid if you're interested) I tried to think of all the game endings I can recall off the top of my head to make sure I wasn't overlooking anything. The result? well I remember The ending to The Walking Dead, which I finished just over a month ago, Kentucky Route Zero, which I finished this week and definitely Perspective which I finished yesterday. Then I tried to go back.

And that's the problem, Out of the dozens of games I have finished over the past couple of years, I can't recall the ending of any of them, not in detail. When I really think on it and look back over as many games as I can remember playing in my life, you know what I get? the Metal Gear series. The ending of every Metal Gear game..... And that's it. I have been greatly influenced by Metal Gear over the years, but to the exclusion of all else? That's Madness! I can remember moments, moments of gameplay from all my most important games but no details of the ends of their stories.

This is incredible to me, the first realisation from this is despite my championing of video games as a story telling medium, I personally am (clearly) more meaningfully affected by gameplay; that's big news for me. The next realisation is, "Holy shit I never actually finished insert game here." For instance here's a quick selection of some of my all time favourite games in no meaningful order:

Never finished 'em. Not a one. . . . How does that happen?! I guess it's as simple as being interested in too many games, I most likely move on to the next title I want to play before I'm really done with the last. The crazy thing about this though is up until I really thought about it today, I would have told you without hesitation that I had definitely finished FF IX and Tenchu 2. This doesn't sit well with me, I really enjoy games as a past time and I now realise I am missing out on a huge part of the ones I play.

What does this mean? Well two things; one: I get to go back and finish a bunch of great games I never got around to the first time and two: If I really want to give video game stories the best chance of staying with me, I need to document it somehow.

So there it is, this is a manifesto, I'm going to start a list, I will start with all the games I can recall recently and I'll either write a short review or my impressions of the overall story, then add titles as I either refresh my memory or go back to them. It will be the spoileriest list of them all (considering the subject) but it'll be for me more than anyone else.

Looks like I won't be buying any new games this year!


Perspective. Played through to the credits?

After Jeff and Patrick's recent Quick look I found myself far more interested in this little student experiment than I had otherwise been from the buzz and nominations that were floating around. So a quick download and play-through later, I can't recommend this enough. If you enjoy these sort of lateral thinking puzzles than you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to give it a try.

It has much better pacing than I was expecting, little changes at just the right moment should hold your interest the whole way through. It will likely take you less than an hour, probably less than thirty minutes if you are a decent puzzle solver.

And just my favourite credits roll in a long time. between this and Kentucky Route Zero that's two really elegant (in totally different ways) to finish a play-through.


Suspension of disbelief.

I am enamored of personal game projects.

In the same way my favourite pieces in any collection of concept art are the hastily sketched images drawn on napkins or receipts where an idea is it's most primordial. I enjoy exploring someones personal game project for the same reason, the feeling that an idea has had such an effect that the developer/artist/coder has just had to get it out, it seemingly has more life to it then a highly finished AAA title made by a team of dozens or more.

RPS' Live Free, Play Hard feature has brought several soulful games to my attention, but nothing like this before.


This is suspension of disbelief at it's most pivotal, it's the main mechanic. If you can't suspend your disbelief in even some tiny way, you can't even play this game as it was designed. No lives, no health bar, no breath counter, you can't even die. Yet if you let yourself play it the way it was designed it will have your heart beating like nothing else (Except maybe that sensory deprivation submarine game with the Gas Mask)

There are a lot of mega simple indie platformers out there, but as far as original ideas go, this is pretty damn novel.


When feel is more important than function

My previous post about Hotline Miami included the kind of things a man says about his new super amazing girlfriend after their first night together. In essence words fueled by passion, that's a damn good way to feel about anything even when it leads you to say things like "that having been said it has the best AI of any game I have ever played." Hyperbole indeed.

After clocking some 15 hours with Hotline and finishing it rather completely my feelings have changed somewhat, but not in the way I expected. Hotline Miami is still an absolute riot, I love how it plays, it's the most pleasingly dynamic game I have played this year (No I haven't played Dishonored yet, yes I know. I'm working on it.) But I am no longer in the passionate throes of a new relationship so I have tempered my thoughts on the AI.

Hotline Miami's AI is, to be blunt, stupid. I have seen it forget about being shot, I've seen it drop a full shotgun and pick up a lead pipe, get stuck on corners, empty a clip at point blank range into the wall next to me, knock it's buddies out with a door etc. Yet the enemies are still the most visceral, reflexive, dangerous and organic that I have had the pleasure of playing against for as long as I can remember.

It's all bout the feel. That sense of dread when you are about to open a door into three goons with shotguns when all you have in your pixely fingers is a golf club. I haven't felt that in an action game, or even a stealth game since the first time I played Metal Gear. When the mechanics were so new to me that I was genuinely immersed, really worried that I would put a foot wrong. Whereas nowadays, playing MGS4 or Assassins Creed or Mark of the Ninja I have seen behind the curtain so many times that I know exactly how the strings are being pulled. And although I may make a mistake every now and then, jumped when I should have ducked, shot when I should have aimed or grappled to the wrong ledge, I always feel that sense of "I could have done better" some times I will load a save or restart from the last checkpoint to try and do just that and as used to that as I am it still cuts into that sense of continuity, that flow that makes a perfect run so satisfying.

Which is where Hotline Miami stands so much apart, although I have died over a thousand times in 15 hours I never once fel t like it was because of something I hadn't done. Not once. I have played through the entire story twice and I never reloaded a single level. So what if Hotline Miami's AI is mechanically dumb, it feels like the best AI of any game I have ever played.

Somehow, to me that's more impressive.


The new faces of Ultra Violence

Hotline Miami is superb.

It's horrible actually, in the same way a robbery gone wrong is horrible, the same way a drug raid with 30 casualties is horrible. It's also amazing. It's very early in the morning and my steam account says I have been playing for 5 hours so I am undoubtedly biased at the moment, that having been said it has the best AI of any game I have ever played. I know, I know that sounds like hyperbole but if after I have finished the last 3 levels and collected all of the masks I still stand by that it will be due to one thing; Reaction time. The actual behaviour of the AI in Hotline Miami isn't vastly different from any action or stealth game you will have played before it's just designed more specifically, that is to say there is no consideration for you as a player. If you fire a gun every enemy on the map who hears will come after you, not slowly, not one by one but all together as fast as their 16 bit legs will carry them, and if they get the drop on you, you're on the ground in a pool of your own pixels before you even stop hitting the left mouse button. It's absurd, you die constantly and yet you always feel like the most powerful person in the building, even though you are in fact on a completely level playing field with every NPC you encounter.

I really think this visceral feeling of power is due to the reaction time, there is such an immediacy to the enemy attacks that it doesn't feel scripted, it sort of feels like you are playing against people. (Oh my god multiplayer Hotline Miami would be unbelievable) it's challenging but completely surmountable, you have to be tactical but loose, you must plan but rely on your reflexes. Nothing happens exactly the same way twice, there is a certain amount of variation built into the location of each enemy spawn and some difference in the weapons they carry, this with the simulation of physics makes it all feel much more organic then the retro graphics and feel would let on.

If you have $10 burning a hole in your pocket and you enjoy a little cathartic mass murder, I implore you to at least try it out, it feels like nothing else I have ever played.

It does control sort of weird, W,A,S,D for your movement but there is no sweeping toward the mouse direction, you move exactly up down left or right regardless of where your mouse is pointed, it took me maybe 15 minutes to get used to it and now it's barely even noticeable, just food for thought if you find that sort of thing a problem.


I'm coming to a finer understanding of what GiantBomb is

I used to almost exclusively read Gamespot for my electronic entertainment journalism, I'm not talking in the last year or so, or "for a while" but for like 11 years... For some reason this didn't strike me as odd or narrow viewed in fact it didn't strike me at all. The idea that there was other online sources of Game information that I should probably be keeping my eye on never occurred to me, which is peculiar because It is the only one of my interests that I didn't seek out every detail I could find to better my understanding. Maybe because I knew how much info there was out there, even when I first started reading Gamespot I probably instinctively knew that trying to follow every game I found interesting would have taken up all of my waking hours and likely every damn one of my sleeping hours too. So I got comfortable, and for 11 years (Maybe more I think I remember reading about Metal Gear Solid for Playstation on Gamespot) I blindly followed what Gamespot was up to, largely without criticism although I recall being sad to see Jeff gone in 2007 (?) and noticed the consequent changes in staff but as I do I kind of ignored the politics surrounding it and just kept reading those reviews and that news and being satisfied.

Then sometime last year I started reading Reddit, and one day looking through the comments, about to respond to someones vicious over reaction to something utterly trivial that I realised like an epiphany it was a complete waste of all my energy, like I had seen behind the curtain and it was just a bunch of angry people shouting at each other. After that, when visiting Gamespot, every article I read and it's accompanying comments felt almost repugnant to me, It's not as though there wasn't information there, on the contrary their columns are overflowing with text and the site is covered in features. I just didn't feel like it was worth looking at anymore, as though it was just there to take up space and to provide fuel for the arguments and biases of their readers, or at least those readers more interested in defending some view or another about video games than playing the ones they enjoy. It was like all of a sudden the Newspaper that you read every morning with your coffee no longer had the articles and information you were used to but instead had the same large format colour photo of a ball sack on every page. It was that Jarring. I unbookmarked it, unsubscribed from all their emails and began the search for somewhere all-inclusive for my Video game coverage again, I sat with Kotaku for a while, Too pulp. Looked at IGN, bland. Got into Rock Paper Shotgun, bit too focused on PC's but funny and laid back, a wee bit regional, though hailing from Australia I don't mind a bit of tea and biscuits with my games so I bookmarked it and continued the search. It was around this time I stumbled upon (figuratively, not with the plugin. I swear it seems like every turn of phrase in the English language will have an associated social network in due time.) The Quick Look for Trials Evolution, it didn't take long from there. I watched another 2 or 3 Quick Looks while cleaning the kitchen one afternoon, read a couple of news pieces and a review and promptly felt at home. Like meeting your friend's friends and instantly feeling like part of the group. I had found a bunch of people only really interested in the games, not catering to every title on every platform, not following trends, not providing tabloid quality headlines to rile up the militant supporters of Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft/Apple/Android/Whoever but just people that care about games and report on them with sincerity. Then I noticed they gave account holders blog space and I looked deeper into the wiki side of things, after that I bought a subscription, not because of the website or the features, hell not even because of the content, it's more because I support what the team is doing, and I cherish the sincerity with which they go about running a gaming news site.

I'm coming to a finer understanding of what GiantBomb is and I kind of love it.