Encyclopaedia Bombastica Design

I have been loving the Encyclopaedia Bombastica videos that Jeff is churning out at the moment so, as I'm too hungover to leave my house right now, I decided to throw together a Giant Bomb parody of the classic Encyclopaedia Britannica logo. I'm just going to leave it here, for you to look at with your eyes.

EDIT: I didn't realise that had not only thought up this idea but also visualised it way fucking better than me so, y'know.... shit.

Love ya' Buzzy!

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

28 Comments

The Blogosphere: A suggestion Blog

Y'know what I miss? Causing trouble.

Being a moderator is great, and I love working for one of the best websites on the internet, but at some point I stopped feeling comfortable about sharing my opinions regarding the site. It's understandable I guess, when you spend most of your time clearing up other people's arguments that you are increasingly hesitant to begin them yourself.

Remember back in the day when I made this blog? And then, not long afterwards, this happened? You're welcome.

I used to enjoy throwing crazy ideas at and then watching him sigh as he explained why they weren't practical. I understand why, in retrospect: A lot of our suggestions genuinely weren't practical. I didn't mind. It was just a nice feeling to be even slightly involved in the direction of the site that I love so much, that there were members of staff even slightly receptive to the suggestion of change. The problem is that stuff was happening back when the site was still young, there was still room to expand and experiment. The scope and direction of Giant Bomb has changed dramatically since then - again, understandable - but there should be still room to discuss what we like and what we don't.

Please do not misinterpret the intention of this blog; This is not an attack. This is not written in anger, or frustration. This is a reflection on the state of blogs on the site which I have used for many years and intend to continue using. As someone with the 3rd highest blog count here (on the entire damn site), I'm in a pretty unique position to do so. The fact that I'm a moderator doesn't even factor into it.

For a long time I was "The blog guy" or more specifically "That idiot hamburger who writes shit down" and even sometimes "What the fuck are you doing, stop touching my sister!". I still am, to some degree. Those 360+ blogs are still there, if you want to go read them. I wouldn't recommend it, though, for aforementioned idiocy. I used to badger Dave that the blog community on the site needed more publicity, that they needed to be featured more, that bloggers weren't getting enough recognition. That was a long time ago, years ago, before blogs could be linked to the forums. After the new system dropped, and I became a moderator, I kinda stopped whining. The new system works to a degree: You can write a blog, post it to the forums, and people will read it. Having used this system for over a year I will agree that it does allow fresh blogs a large amount of attention. Where it fails is that the entire community is now completely focused on one aspect of the site: The forums.

Our forums aren't too bad, I think.

We keep them fairly tidy. Anyone who thinks otherwise should go check out some alternatives for a bit of healthy perspective. All things considered, we have a nice bunch of people here and I am, for the most part, happy to be associated with them. However in merging the blog and forum communities, I feel like something was taken from the bloggers. The emphasis was clearly placed on the forums being the central hub for the site and, as a result, the blog scene was diluted. We have a lot of great writers here, a lot, and I think we would have even more if people felt that their effort would be appreciated - but with nothing to distinguish a personal, heartfelt blog from a standard forum post, the enthusiasm for extensive and articulate writing floundered. A blog should be something that you follow for context - for the opinions of someone you have familiarised yourself with and trust. That's why people come to Giant Bomb, right? For Jeff and Ryan, and all the other guys you know and love. How many people pick which forum threads they read based entirely on the OP (unless it's someone you dislike and deliberately want to laugh at or troll)? That sense of context doesn't exist on forums, and I truly believe that the quality of posts made on Giant Bomb has suffered as a result.

This is the bit where shit gets constructive:

If you want people to write good blogs you need to reward them for writing good blogs. You need a structured environment where people feel confident that their work will be seen and appreciated regardless of how many followers they have - a page on the site where new content is easy to find and distinguished from the rest of what I'm going to disparagingly refer to as "clutter" that is normally associated with the forums. You need a layout which not only displays the content well, but highlights the writer and gives the reader the opportunity to find more of their work. The Community Hub does this to some extent, but it's not enough. It's not enough to simply point to a single blog and say "This is a good blog" because that doesn't do anything to further the sense of community that the site needs. A lone blog solves nothing. That might sound cliquey or elitist but it's true.

Think of a page with 3 columns:

  • Popular Blogs - Blogs with most comments from the past 24 hours
  • Followed Blogs - A feed of blogs written be people you follow
  • Newest Blogs - A general feed of all blogs written on the site

Then at the top a section for a featured blog, selected by the mods and staff, that gets a banner at the top of the page similar to the articles on the frontpage. The potential for finding and reading new community content is instantly made so much easier. Much as I hate to admit it, this idea is stolen from IGN who have been doing this shit much better than us for years. That's fucking depressing. I have complete confidence that we can do it better.

I'm going to end by pointing out that I fully appreciate the timing of this seems slightly fucked. I know the Top Men have been working tirelessly on the imminent site redesign, and it's looking fucking incredible by the way, but as Lucille Ball once said:

"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."

Just like old times, eh, Dave?

Thanks For Reading,

Love Sweep

51 Comments

Kill everyone. And then...?

I shouldn't need to tell you how great Hotline Miami is. This blog post is not being written to inform, but rather to appreciate. Praise for the game seems unanimous in a way which I consider appropriate; Hotline Miami deserves both your time and money. It also deserves your house, your family, and your collective metaphysical and material wealth. But for now, your time and money will suffice. That seems fair.

It wasn't until today that I made the connection between Hotline Miami and Norrland.

Norrland is an entirely fucking insane "art" game made by Hotline Miami dev Cactus for an exhibition in Sweden. I played it months ago, after RockPaperShotgun wrote an article about it. It's a 2D hunting game in which you progress from left to right, each screen spawning increasingly crass and warped mini-games. One such game forces you to piss on a line of ants, another where you must tap arrow buttons to masturbate, and I vaguely remember another where you shoot a bear, then rape the corpse. All the while, you must desperately attempt to prevent the obnoxious music and strobing colours from dribbling your brain out through your nostrils; That is not part of the mini-game. That shit is a physical consequence that you, the player, must somehow internalise and conquer.

Yeah. It's that kind of game.

I take no responsibility for the inevitable mental scarring that will take place during your time with Norrland.

Hotline Miami is similar in it's ambiguity towards obscene brutality. However, the most interesting parts of the game are, arguably, those with an absence of violence. The game interjects your Miami massacre with everyday occurrences such as; going to a video store to rent a video, or picking up a pizza after work. The characters are polite, even friendly, creating a wonderful undertone of tension. Upon completing each mission the game immediately cuts all music, leaving you to stumble back to your car, meandering clumsily back through a trail of bloodshed and carnage. It emulates a sense of empathetic shock remarkably well, on a level which very few other games have been able to replicate successfully.

As the game continues, these brief periods of tranquillity become marred by your increasing mental instability. Eventually all sense of reality is lost, the core experience revealed as brutal and surreal. It is unapologetically fucked up in all the right ways.

It's perfect.

I'm not going to tell you to go and play Hotline Miami because you have already played it. The idea that you haven't is somehow troubling on a level that I find difficult to articulate.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

30 Comments

Well, that was depressing...

Like everyone else on Twitter, I have been playing a fair amount of FTL lately.

I'm really enjoying the game, the variety of each adventure and discussing the different strategies and builds online. Despite the somewhat randomness of your path, there seems to be enough room to wriggle your way out of even the most desperate situations, creating a satisfying balance between luck and skill.

I haven't been feeling too great lately (It's either the flu or AIDS. It's probably not the AIDS.) so I'm actually kinda pleased that it's been pissing rain for the past 12 hours. Otherwise I would have felt like even more of a useless sack of shit for sitting inside and playing videogames all day. In between deleting spambots and playing Dota (718 hours logged and counting) I decided to boot up FTL for a quick meander through the galaxy.

I tend to pick the starting ship, as I value being able to target manually - an option that is unavailable to the drone-based ship. I named her the SS PAX, with crewmembers Sweep, Matt and Waffle, because reasons. And so off we went.

The first jump was to a distress beacon.

A scientific vessel was having some kind of trouble so I sent my crew over to investigate. Turns out it was some kind of space zombie outbreak that not only immediately infected one of my crew, but as I tried to bring him back onto my ship he turned violent and attacked me, along with several other zombies from the science ship. It was Sweep. I had died after a single jump. Not only had I died, by my animated corpse was now trying to eat Matt and Waffle.

Go figure.

Having killed myself without much trouble and fixed up the minor damage to my ship, I set Matt at the controls, Waffle in the engine room, and we shot off into space. There were a couple of standard pirate/rebel encounters which I won easily, until I reached the exit of Sector 1. The rebels were still far behind and I needed a third crewmember so I decided to search around for a shop, having stacked up some decent scrap. I had previously met a merchant who requested an escort to a further star and, seeing as it was within reach, and that I was due some luck, I shot past the exit to complete the quest.

It was a trap. Waffle died.

So then there was just Matt, with a whole ship all to himself. That was pretty depressing. The one consolation was that I still had a decent stockpile of fuel and missiles, so I could still fight my way out of any trouble that I found. I would just need to be careful. Into Sector 2 I popped.

Into nothing. Two jumps. Three. The fourth through a nebula. Still nothing but eerie silence at every stop. I encountered several ships who requested my assistance but those which I answered would always cause more problems than they solved. My hull strength dropped to 5 or 6 bars, my fuel rapidly depleted. I became jaded, ignoring distress calls, using the last of my scrap to buy miniscule amounts of fuel when I eventually hit a store. On several occasions I would arrive at a store with only 1 fuel remaining, and only enough scrap to buy 2 or 3 to keep me afloat. On top of this, the rebel fleet continued to push me forward further into harsher and more dangerous territories, and without the scrap and equipment that I had failed to find in the first two sectors, I was completely fucked. I knew I was fucked. Even the game seemed to know I was fucked, the music compounding the sense of hopelessness. But what can you do except keep going? So I kept going, limping desperately through space.

Despite the aforementioned fucked situation I remained optimistic.

Something good would happen, the game would throw a couple of friendly encounters my way, or some aliens would take pity and join my crew. I used the last of my fuel to jump to a random star. Not a distress beacon, no store, just a single unassuming dot in the nothingness of space.

It was an asteroid field. A rebel fighter launched itself at me and, setting my weapons to autofire, I dashed around the ship desperately trying to stay on top of the damage caused by the passing rocks. It took a while, but I won. The rebel ship was destroyed. It was only once I had repaired my scanners that I realised that my ship was on fire. I quickly opened the airlocks but it was too late - my life support had been destroyed and the room was ablaze. It was hopeless. I had to put out the fire before I could repair the system, but there wasn't enough oxygen left to let me do so.

Matt died.

It hit me harder than it should have done. There was no malice to it, just complete indifference to the actions I had set into motion, and that was somehow worse. I quit the game and felt slightly hollow. I have played FTL plenty of times and I had never been so entirely screwed over on any of my other attempts. It was sobering to think that, despite my best intentions and supposed skill, I had failed so miserably. I was also vaguely nervous that this streak of bad luck would somehow follow me out of the game and corrupt everything I touched for the rest of the day.

So I did what any sane adult would do: I drank 2 bottles of cider and watched cartoons. You know, Sunday shit. My FTL adventure left a lasting impression though, and it might be a while before I feel like returning for another attempt.

If you haven't played it yet.... well. You should probably go and do that. That game is pretty great.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

39 Comments

Back To The Future of Videogames...

I'm pretty stoked about Big Picture, Valve's new plan to move PC's into the living room.

It's not something in which I will partake, having a pretty sweet PC setup in my room already, but I like the implications it has on the direction of videogames in general.

Microsoft, Sony and even to some extent Nintendo have made it pretty clear at the numerous industry events like E3 that they are attempting to combat the stigma of owning a "console" by replacing it with a "Multimedia hub". The ridiculous dashboard on the 360 is clear proof that Microsoft is attempting to cram as much junk into their console as possible, and for years these two publishers have been battling for social-network and media domination in their hardware.

I don't know about you guys, but I don't use any of it. I own a PS3 and a 360, and use them both frequently enough to justify owning them, but for solely videogames. I have a pretty sweet PC, and it's the PC which I use the most - because it already does everything that these consoles have for a long time been attempting to do, and it does so effortlessly and with a much greater degree of freedom and versatility.

This isn't a PC fanboy rant. I'm not suggesting that consoles are inferior in any way as videogame-playing machines. My favourite franchise in the world is Gears Of War, and I would much rather play that on my 360 than my PC. I bought my PS3 to play Uncharted and Journey and I have no regrets there, either. There are games that define consoles, that fit so perfectly you can't help but wonder if the hardware was structured around them. They are perfect examples of everything consoles do well.

The PC has the luxury of being able to sidestep the petty competitiveness of E3 dick-swinging by being completely open. And this is obviously what has made the platform so appealing to Valve, a studio with a reputation for not patronising their users with over-simplified menu screens or a lack of consumer involvement in the design process. Now Valve are actually putting their money where their collective mouths are, which is admirable and, honestly, pretty exciting.

In 5 years I expect everyone will be running a PC in their living room.

In 10 I expect Valve will be selling their own brand of high-end PC's that run on a linux-based OS of their own creation. People have made it pretty clear that they are willing to spend a lot of money on videogames, and that they care enough about the performance of their consoles to spend hours arguing about it on the internet. All they need is a way of selling the versatility of the PC without intimidating their customers with the underlying software tinkering. And I have the utmost faith that they will do so. Because Gaben.

The next 5 years are going to be interesting. Get hype.

Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep

22 Comments

IRC FLASHBACKS

You had to be there.

@MaSuTa @CyanageN - and of course a huge thankyou to for all these magical screenshots. There are so many people I can't even remember. Fuck... I'm sorry.

I love you guys. I miss you guys. We should go find Godhand and hang out some time.

xx

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The Joys Of Moderation

Somebody wrote this about the GB mods, specifically me I guess, and stuck it on the forums. I'm kind of impressed that I managed to piss someone off that they went to all this effort! If this is the sort of person we are banning then I guess this is vindication that I'm doing something right.

Anyway, enjoy:

After the success of Journey to Modship: MB Edition, I promise a lot of you a Sweep Edition of how he became a cunt like MB. Well here's the thing, I only have a few tid bits on Sweep, all I know that he kissed ass for modship despite trolling and spamming up the forums during his pre-mod days, but after speaking with Kush, I got everything I need to know.

Sweep was a happy-go-lucky boy who's inspired to be a homosexual lumberjack. One day when learning how to get double penetrated with dildos made out of sandpaper by a accomplished homosexual lumberjack (rumor has it that it's The Beast), he tells him that he got to where he's at due to a modship know as GiantBomb modship.

The next day Sweep went to the next best place to achieve the modship - a gay sex club. There he meets a former GiantBomb mod name Kush. Kush tells him about what he had to do to get it, and that's by kissing the mods/GiantBomb's ass. But Kush also warns Sweep about the aftermath of kissing ass for the modship. "It will descend you into madness!" says Kush. But the eager Sweep desperately replies: "It's my dream to be a homosexual lumberjack!"

After he learns the art of ass kissing from Kush. Sweep creates his account, and like any asshole user on GiantBomb, he trolls, spams, and ass kisses in the GiantBomb forums. The ass kissing he provided wasn't enough. Sweep grew weary, and sad the his dream wasn't going to come true, but he remained determined. Sweep knew that he has to have the right opportunity to prove his ass kissing-ness. So when GiantBomb unveiled the point system - a system that exploits every users as cattle to be milked off of for points - it angered a lot of the good users of GiantBomb. So Sweep's opportunity arrived, and posted a shameful blog about how amazing the points system is.

May not be an ass, but he's still kissing it.

Meanwhile at his bathroom tub,nude, covering himself with feces and taking photos of himself for his Facebook page, MB takes notice at Sweep's ass kissing:and says: "Wow! This guy is the biggest kiss ass since MattyFTM!" So MB looks through his past post, and like the other users that became a mod, MB ignores all the trolling and spamming that Sweeps has done and only focuses on the ass kissing. MB knew he was a perfect candidate so he gave him the mod status. It made Sweep very proud.

So Sweep is now a proud homosexual lumberjack getting fucked by many fellow lumberjacks before him. But what Kush warn him about was starting to get to Sweep. . . . . .

The end?

---

TWUUUUE WUUUUV~

I miss Kush. Whatever happened to that guy?

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Mr Brainwash

Sooooooo, I just got back from the Mr Brainwash exhibition in London. I wasn't planning on going because I knew it would just piss me off, but a bunch of people from work wanted to go so I sort of just tagged along. I left after about 20 minutes. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty angry.

For those who don't know, Mr Brainwash [Real name: Thierry Guetta] was a cameraman who tricked a lot of graffiti artists, including Banksy, into letting him follow them around and film them working for a supposed "Documentary" that he was making. In actual fact he was working on no such project. He wasn't even keeping track of what he was filming. Banksy once said:

"Uhmmm... You know... it was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry (Mr Brainwash) wasn't actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera."

If you haven't seen the film then I strongly recommend you seek out a copy, it's very funny, though probably not intentionally.

After Banksy found out that he wasn't actually making a film, he sent him away to make some of his own graffiti. The result was.... well.... bad.

"Yeah, I was faced with that terrible thing, when somebody shows you their work and everything about it is shit... so... you don't really know where to start." - Banksy

So yeah, I popped along to this exhibition of... well, shit.

It's a guy who rented out a warehouse, sprayed paint on a load of random junk and then announced it was art. And, while it made me really angry, I also kind of enjoy how fucked up that is.

The thing is, the work has no substance. There's nothing there. There's no message. There's no pleasing aesthetic, or mental stimulation. There's no plan. There's transparently no plan. It's almost patronising, with Union Jacks made out of empty spray cans. BECAUSE WE'RE IN ENGLAND, RIGHT?! It's like a graffiti ad campaign by the fucking Halifax. Mr Brainwash is essentially the Paris Hilton of contemporary art.

"Warhol repeated iconic images until they became meaningless, but there was still something iconic about them. Thierry really makes them meaningless." - Banksy

The big debate is over how self-aware this guy is.

Does he actually know what he's doing? Is he deliberately attempting to undermine the foundations of artistic integrity by deliberately being completely shit? Or is he just completely shit? Either way, the warehouse was full of punters who were obviously enjoying it, so he seems to be winning. Right? I don't know.

I kinda like not knowing. Because if it turns out that he really is an absolute moron who has shamelessly conned all these people into thinking he is an artist... well.... I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

"I think the joke is on... I don't know who the joke's on - really. I don't even know if there is a joke." - Steve Lazarides

One thing is for sure.

If Banksy was right and this guy actually might know what he's doing, then I just got trolled so fucking hard.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

21 Comments

Ethical Choices in Games: Beyond Good And Evil

I'm not sure I have used this blog title before.

I'm fairly certain I have, but after writing 358 blogs on this site over the course of 4 years, I can never be sure. If so, apologies. Do not panic; You are not stuck in some infinite internet loop. Calm yourselves.

Incidentally, this is not a blog about Beyond Good And Evil. Sorry :(

The whole Paragon vs Renegade thing is something that I have written about before, though not for a while. In summary: I do not like that process, at all. In my experience, to take advantage of these systems and the rewards that they bare, you must commit to a single path entirely. For example in Mass Effect, choosing the path of ethical ambiguity meant you were deprived of both the extreme Paragon and Renegade answers that would pop up occasionally and, arguably, would allow the conversation to escalate to it's most entertaining conclusion. They grey road is, in many cases, the least rewarding. Such game designs are also, to any experienced player, condescendingly transparent. One of these choices will give you a good ending, one will give you a bad ending - it is seldom difficult to figure out which is which. Bioshock, for example, made it fairly obvious throughout that saving the little sisters would pay off in the long run, but at what cost? By making the decisions so linear, the element of choice becomes redundant.

And then some games give you alternate endings which are neither good, nor bad, and the result is underwhelming for a whole different reason - because your moral decisions were apparently meaningless. I'm still looking at you, Mass Effect.

There are, of course, examples that contradict this. The Witcher (more specifically the sequel, which is the only Witcher I have spent any time with) managed to instil a wonderful sense of ethical uncertainty. Your decisions sent ripples flowering off into the fabric of the world, some of them trivial, others leaving deeper and more meaningful scars on the world around you.

So why bring this up Sweep, you bellend? We don't need to hear this shit from you again.

When I play games that facilitate any kind of moral spectrum, I tend to pick my ethical alignment at an early stage, for the reasons previously stated. Usually I pick being an Evil Dude, because kicking guys out of windows is much more entertaining than helping orphans and letting the rest of the game's inhabitants treat you like a little bitch. But then I started playing the Walking Dead and... fuck, I'm finding it hard. Telltale have managed to place me in a situation where I am forced to act with a genuine moral integrity instead of simply choosing the actions that I believe (And secretly hope) will cause the most chaos and destruction. The Walking Dead makes me feel... guilty.

That's a big deal for me. Guilt is not an emotion that I frequently entertain.

The choices that you make are not inherently good, nor evil, but they are tough. The one choice that still fucks me up was at the beginning of episode 2 when you are asked to share out 4 portions of food between 8 people. I didn't want to give any food to Duck (he's Kenny's son, and he's fucking irritating) but... I couldn't not give food to a starving child. That just seemed... wrong.

The best part about the Walking Dead is that it lacks any sense of predictable linearity. You make decisions and, as in the Witcher, you don't know what this means for you, nor your group. You are having to react to people and, despite their stereotypical character roles, they remain unpredictable. The cast remembers your decisions, even if you don't, and they come back to haunt you. Usually when you least expect it.

But the Walking Dead goes beyond that, even. The game forces you to act selflessly because you actually care about the other characters. There were moments in Episode 2 where I gave pause to reconsider my course of action. For a little girl who doesn't even exist.

This, I think, is what makes a great videogame. And this is why you should go play The Walking Dead.

Also, it has zombies in it!

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

30 Comments

Keeping It Simple #34

They say that times they are a changin'. Seems like some times can't change fast enough. Others won't change at all. Don't worry about those. Just... keep it simple...

YES

  • Batman

The Dark Knight Rises successfully managed to purvey a truly impressive sense of scale, which gave the film a fantastically epic quality. I walked out of the cinema exhausted. Wonderfully intense, if a little predictable at times.

  • The Walking Dead

The first series of games in a long while that have manipulated me into acting with emotional integrity instead of simply picking the actions that I hope will cause the most mayhem. The Walking Dead gives you tough choices that come back to fuck you, repeatedly, but without any sense of predictable linearity. Makes for brutally tense gameplay.

  • Magnets

Loving the new season of Breaking Bad. Mike especially is a character that has grown on me significantly over the past few seasons and it's great to see him taking a more central role. Looking forward to the inevitable cluster-fuck.

NO

  • Comic Books

I decided to stop buying comicbooks this month after I financially crippled myself in June. It took a couple of weeks to slow down, especially during the Avengers Vs Xmen event that's taking place at the moment, but the cost:entertainment ratio simply isn't high enough to justify the mindless purchase of these books every week. I will continue to read Uncanny X-Force, however, as that remains the one series that has managed to maintain both it's high quality narrative and artwork.

  • Cigarettes

You know how you tell people "I can quit smoking any time I want" and nobody believes you? Well I quit smoking exactly when I wanted, so fuck those guys. I was at the stage where I was smoking maybe 4 or 5 a day, but that would increase to maybe 15 or 16 per day at the weekend. When I ran out of money it seemed like an obvious expenditure to cut from the budget, and I haven't felt any sense of temptation since.

  • Steam Sales

Don't get me wrong, I love a good steam sale, but this summer I spent a trivial £3.99 on discounted games. I bought a copy of Alice, Madness Returns, which I enjoyed for about 30 minutes and then promptly ignored. While the style of the game is fantastic, I don't know if I can be bothered to trudge my way through it's repetitive gameplay to uncover it. As for the steam sales themselves, I imagine many of you are in a similar situation to me; If there's a game I want then I will buy it, regardless of price - which makes the entire process of discounting fairly obselete. Don't worry, we still love you, Gabe.

Never not Batman

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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