Stuck With the Shit Work

If you’re anything like me, and you’ve experimented with some survival horror in the last five years, then Alien: Isolation’s going to hit you with some déjà vu. In fact, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve engineered my way out of a Japanese named space station which happened to be under siege by an intergalactic scourge somewhere before. While I can’t say that I hated my time playing Alien: Isolation, it was certainly an endeavor to finish. Yes, the atmospheric tension was thick enough to slice through, and seeing the Alien made me hit the pause button so I could nope out for a few seconds before diving back in, but that’s not what really made me put the controller down for extended hiatuses. Somewhere between restoring a communication tower to signal for help, and luring the Alien away from a cargo bay, I realized that I was Sevastopol’s wrench slave. Reality was hitting a little to close to home.

Since blogging doesn’t really pay the bills, I work in IT support by trade. So like Amanda Ripley, I’m constantly fixing things around the office. In fact, I fix things I’m not supposed to even be fixing like drop down projector screens, and firecom alerting modules. You know it’s kind of a mundane existence when someone asks about the lights when you’re actually the computer guy. In short, engineers have the power to create, maintain, and destroy. As with most engineers in gaming, Amanda Ripley literally holds the fate of each person in Sevastopol in her capable hands. That communication beacon ain’t gonna calibrate itself after all. With so much power, why does anyone tell Ripley what to do? Sure, there’s that part in the end where each alpha male in the story eventually gets owned and Ripley takes control, but before that, she’s at the whim of this lame security boss directing her actions. In the end, he tries to jettison you off the station with the Alien, but not after running you ragged getting the whole damn operation up and running.

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See that guy? Yeah, fuck that guy. I ain’t doing shit till I get some benefits.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen to a good engineer. I’m constantly seeing my occupational kin get roped into ridiculous situations they know damn well would never work, but the people in charge had “other” plans. Isaac Clarke single-handily fixed the entire USG Ishimura, while everyone was chilling in the safe zone. At some point, they just needed to turn something off and on again, so they sent the single most important guy on the ship into a room full of hell creatures. Yeah, best idea ever. Even The Duct Tape Daredevil himself, Chuck Greene, spends his time between major events, taking ridiculous requests from survivors who don’t heed his words of wisdom. This man can make a Darth Maul staff out of two chainsaws that are so balanced it can be used as a weapon. Let me repeat this, HE CAN MAKE A DUAL CHAINSAW STAFF. Clearly this man is one of the most qualified people to survive a zombie apocalypse. Why would you not listen to him; he probably knows a thing or two about what’s going on.

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They don’t deserve your genius, Chuck.

I think the concept of engineering, or more specifically, the idea of crafting within videogames, is a gameplay avenue that hasn’t been fully explored yet. When given an opportunity to play an engineer in a video game, players given two flavors: An open world where you can create a whole bunch of stuff, but have no context to use them in, or a situational world where the things you can make are severely limited. My question is, why can’t we have both?

Part of the reason why I find The Dead Rising series so engaging is because the crafting system gives me the fantasy of using creativity to solve problems, even if it’s just finding the easiest way to dispatch a horde of zombies blocking an alleyway. It’s not perfect, but maybe that’s what we have to strive for. I didn’t user half the things Ripley was able to make in Alien: Isolation. Smoke bombs, flash grenades, noisemakers, I made three of each and just hoarded them.  I got by just fine with a bunch of flares and a few Molotovs.

Game developers, stop giving engineers the shit work. If we can build, we can thrive.

Blog / Library / General Updates

If you’re reading this, thanks. I always appreciate any feedback on the things that I write. Alien was a really long game, which clocked in at about 40 hours of solid gameplay. The length of it, made if difficult for me to capture the entire experience in gameplay video. At some point, I just wanted to get the game done. I’m just glad I can move on. While I’m still stuck on the games of yesteryear, others have been playing the ridiculous Civilization VI. My girlfriend in particular, fiends for one more turn. I can’t blame her though, world domination is always a fun thing to do. I don’t know what I’m going to play for my next game. I definitely don’t want to play another horror game, even though I picked a few up for the Halloween sale. I’m thinking XCOM…

COMPLETED

  • Alien: Isolation (finally)
  • Legend of Zelda: A link between worlds (Non-Steam, but I finished it ANYWAY)
  • Shovel Knight (See appended note above.)

AQUIRED

  • SUPERHOT
  • I Am Alive
  • Typing of the Dead: Overkill
  • Dishonored

I need to stop buying games, or I’ll never finish this list.

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Next time, on Play All the Games…

“… PaJamieez completes the entirety of Alan Wake and knocks another game off his list. But even as another weight is loosed from his shoulders, other worlds wait on the horizon. Before the he embarks on his next journey, PaJamieez contemplates his latest trial…”

You’d Love This Game, You’re a Writer

Friends have told me to play Alan Wake because I’m a writer. Joke’s on them; I’m only a writer when someone pays me for my work. So when I started playing Alan Wake, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to identify with this character, and I was mostly right. The New York apartment, the critical success, the blowing off of loved ones to get a written piece done- the life of Alan Wake is something I couldn’t identify with. No, Alan Wake the writer wasn’t as relatable as Alan Wake the man. His insecurities were my own, and when those insecurities manifested later in the game- let’s just say I’d be lying if a few of those one liners hit a little close to home.

Next Time on Alan Wake…

Never the less, Alan Wake’s character development is an engaging balance of failure through successes.  Sometimes, in between the running, puzzle solving, and fighting for your life, the player gets a glimpse into his relationship between his wife and his best friend. Alan’s always trying to do the right thing, but sometimes it comes at the expense of others. Alan Wake (the game) always knows that there’s time for drama, but it isn’t afraid to express its comedic moments along side its mysteries. Some would say that the game is actually a parody of prime time television shows like Twin Peaks. If the Night Springs collectible story items didn’t give it away, the game’s pacing surely makes that impression known.

The narrative moves like a television mini series. Each chapter begins with a “Last time, on Alan wake” montage, and ends with a different 90’s inspired band playing out the credits. Those end cards are a really great change of pace from all the nonstop action of games like Tomb Raider, as I felt there was never a good time to just take a break since the sense of urgency was constant. Alan Wake however, gives the player time to think about the last chapter. Truth be told, I welcomed it.

Night Springs and Things

The weird stuff really comes out in the DLC and expansion, both of which take place after Alan Wake (the game) ends. If you haven’t played Alan Wake by now. Spoiler Alert: Alan survives Bright Falls. The downloadable DLC covers this journey as two additional episodes and the game starts getting weird. I mean REALLY weird:

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It’s the new Final Fantasy Summon: Sputnik

The DLC offers a great back drop for the expansion and even cleans up some loose ends of the plot, while introducing newer plot lines, including the inevitable introduction of Mr. Scratch, the psychopathic manifestation of people’s public perception of Alan Wake, twisted into reality with by the power of Calderon Lake. In fact, American Nightmare is all about the hunt for Mr. Scratch, as you try to break out of his Groundhog’s Day like trap.

While American Nightmare’s story is certainly a protraction of the first game, it can certainly stand alone. The introduction gives enough context for it to exist in its own vacuum. The expansion offers a tightening up of the combat system, which was a bit clunky in the original, is now on par with Resident Evil 4. I know it’s a bold statement that is likely to draw ire,  but the combat was so satisfying, I didn’t mind diving into the arcade mode; a big deal when you’re trying to get to the next game. Each weapon feels weighty, and effective; even enemies that were designed to be bullet sponges took just enough effort to be satisfying. Dodging is tighter, the flash light doesn’t take long to recharge, and new types of enemy are thrown at you.

Overall, the experience of playing Alan Wake was pretty satisfying. It was my second, third-person-action-adventure game that I played within a month’s time, and was a good follow up from Tomb Raider. It definitely sets me up for the change in pace my next game is going to be.

Blog / Library / General Updates

Completion:

  • Alan Wake
  • Alan Wake DLC
  • Alan Wake: American Nightmare

Acquired:

  • Gigantic (beta)

Hey Guys! Thanks for following me along my Steam journey, I’ve been having a great time exploring the games in my Steam Library. (It gives me something to write home abouIt’s honestly a great change of pace since I got off my Guild Wars 2 addiction. t.) I basically get to play games and make stuff at the same time. Speaking of which, I started messing around with video capturing and editing software. I downloaded Lightworks over the weekend and recorded some Alan Wake game play. I’ll post it on youtube when I have edited to be as hilarious as possible.

The Steam Library didn’t get updated: (Thank goodness) but I did manage to get into the Gigantic beta. I don’t know what I can talk about regarding that game’s NDA, but I can probably tell you that the installation requires Microsoft/Xbox account. You should already have one if you’ve ever been on Xbox Live, but for those that don’t, you will have to add another password to  your key ring. I played the intro and man, it’s pretty neat. I’m still fighting with the controls though, since I usually play my PC games with one of these.

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If this stock image looks good, rest assured it looks like that in-game. (On PC, YMMV)

Over all, I think I’m hitting a groove. I still get my day to day activities done (Make dinner, clean the apartment, laundry.) and I’ve started going to the gym again. Though, my social life has taken a large hit. All for the sake of progress!

Next Week: Alien: Isolation