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    The Talos Principle (PC)    by   Light       (Feb 19th, 2017 at 21:38:35)

    I've reached a crossroads of sorts. I've become immersed enough in the game world of The Talos Principle that I now have to decide which approach I want to take to continuing to play it. Do I continue to attempt to do things "in the wrong order" (which I've played far enough that I do believe the designers have done a good job of making sure the system isn't abused by picking and choosing puzzles) or do I try to walk the completionist route that I usually tend towards? Decisions, decisions. My main concern being that I don't know if there are branching endings or whatever based on how far through the tower you progress, or based on whether you do everything except the tower, etc, etc. Right now I'm leaning towards continuing to try to "jump to the end" by focusing on the tower and only doing other puzzles as they're needed to ascend. But I haven't decided for certain.

    And gold stars are definitely a number one priority. Because I'm a sucker for extras and I really want to see where those lead. I have the one from A2, but that's it so far. Current puzzle solving status: All of A1 except the star, one puzzle from A2 plus star, and one puzzle from A6. Which is exactly enough to grant access to the A elevator that leads to B, C and the Tower.

    As for ethics/story/so forth, the various computer logs you find are fascinating to me. I absolute love this format of storytelling, where instead of progressing through a linear or branching narrative, you're exploring a space the contains the narrative within it. Gone Home did an excellent job of doing this in a way that made you explore linearly, but it looks like The Talos Principle opens up much more freedom. Not infinitely, of course, I will still have to do much of World A before I can look at B or C or the Tower, and so on, but as a storytelling format I do love it.

    As for what "the story" is so far? Still a little hard to tell. I'm now convinced the little graphical things I saw out of the corner of my eye were completely intentional now that I've had a few happen right in front of my face. Clearly the protagonist exists within a virtual space. That virtual space presumably being the product of IAN, and based on records said product possibly being in anticipation of the end of days. Perhaps humanity faced a crisis they couldn't get out of, so sought to digitize themselves to live forever. Or perhaps they were trying to create a virtual space smart enough to create a solution. Or perhaps they were simply trying to store all the knowledge they could before their extinction, in the hopes that life to come would find use of the knowledge and records. As for Elohim himself, based on what I've found he could either be HIM, an AI watching over everything, or a bug in the code that has persisted and grown and managed to take things over.

    Either way, it raises the question of "is he actually deity within the definitions of this virtual space?" The first thing he said was that he created the worlds and your person, but is this true? Is he the architect within this system, putting things together and creating sentient persons? Or is he a manipulator that swooped in to take control and credit? Either way, he clearly must have some form of motive, benign or otherwise.

    What is the motive of God?

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    Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)    by   UltraVioletLlama       (Feb 19th, 2017 at 20:42:58)

    Shadow of Mordor, PS4, February 19th, 2017, 4:39-5:41 (1 hour 2 minutes)
    It opens on a man, Talion, and he is teaching his son how to fight Sauronís army. His efforts against Sauron ends up destroying his family, and his sonís and wifeís throats are cut. Could his open fighting of this cause his family to be killed? Should he have fought for his family, or for his people and the reign of Sauron? His wife makes it clear that she is okay in dying for a cause like Sauron. The gameplay is also centered around killing Uruks, orc like creatures. They are combative, but you can move through the game without killing all of them. Are they worth as much as human life? Who is the actual good side? Why not attack the source, not the pawns? We ended up interrogating an uruk and killing him for information. If we have to kill these people to end Sauron, is using a game mechanic like this very ethical? A different gameplay mechanic is the use of grabbing them and dragging them around. Is this an inhumane way to fight someone? Another mission I went through was to hunt down Gollum. He was innocently walking along, and we had to hunt him down and stalk him. Eventually he was forced into helping us find Sauronís servants. They threatened him, even though he did nothing wrong. Are the means that Talion takes to stop Sauron justified by the end? Will he even succeed? If he doesnít succeed, his actions could be seen as unethical. If he does, by a Utilitarian perspective, he was acting ethically.

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    Borderlands 2 (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Feb 19th, 2017 at 09:50:47)

    I'm giving up on Borderlands 2 after 14 hours and at level 16. It's getting tedious and frustrating. I die a lot. I spend a long time running from place to place looking for mission objectives. I've shot hundreds, perhaps thousands, of enemies. I've picked up hundreds of pieces of loot. I've backtracked countless times through areas full of respawns to complete a new side mission. I have come to the conclusion that Borderlands is just not my cup of tea. If I recall, I had many of the same issues, just earlier, with the original game. Yep, I just read my GameLog for it and I could pretty much copy and paste it here! So uh, just go read that, and note differences below.

    I've enjoyed NPC interactions in Borderlands 2. I like the writing and find the characters funny. Slightly annoying, but charmingly, cutesy, amusingly funny. The early game with Claptrap had me laughing out loud. Tiny Tina is bizarre. The redneck auto guy had me chuckling along with the stereotype. The large woman (forget her name), the auto guys cousin or whatever, was a cool character. I liked her confidence and the fact that the auto guy was jealous of me talking to her (incest joke, make fun of Southerners, ha-ha). I would like to see where the story goes and continue meeting new and interesting characters. Perhaps the Telltale Borderlands game is the one for me! More talking, less shooting.

    The character classes in this one seem more varied and differentiated than the ones in the original. I played as a psycho, one of the insane bandits who charges you. Each class has one unique special ability (the psycho goes badass and his melee attacks refill his life completely). Then each of the three talent trees is unique. I just had to choose the one I did because it sounded so weird. That character build is predicated upon you setting yourself on fire. Yes. You self-immolate. When you manage to self-immolate, you do more damage, are more likely to apply elemental status effects to enemies, get more ammo, and numerous other perks. But of course you take damage because you are burning. Very unique way to play.

    But in the end, I found the game way too punishing solo. The enemy respawns were over the top, as was the backtracking, and ultimately, I just died a whole lot, lost a % of my money, had to trek back to where I was, fighting respawns along the way...it just stopped being much fun. I tried to go online, but I didn't enjoy playing with strangers any more than alone, and I still died a lot. Also, there is sooo much loot to pick up. I echo my previous GameLog in saying I spent a lot of time looking at the ground holding E to pick up ammo and money and guns. Then I had to sort through all the guns and sell them over and over and over.

    It's just repetitive, and it's pros don't make up for its cons enough to stick it out.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 19th, 2017 at 09:51:28.


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    Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons (PS4)    by   choli       (Feb 18th, 2017 at 15:23:05)

    Game Log 3
    Playtime: 45 minutes

    This is my second time playing this game through and there isnít anything that is very different. The gameís storyline is linear so I canít really change anything. The only things that Iím noticing on this playthrough that I didnít notice last time is the villager interactions and the older brother/younger brother interactions. In the beginning of the game there are more villagers that you can interact with that slowly disappear as the story goes on. Also they are more happy the closer they are to the starting point. As for the brother interactions there are very few interactions in which the older brother relies on the younger brother, most of them are things that the older brother has to help the younger brother do, like swim across rivers.

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    The Talos Principle (PC)    by   Light       (Feb 18th, 2017 at 06:25:28)

    Look at me, being all responsible and remembering to start my class Game Logs before the last minute this time. Gold star me. Speaking of gold stars, apparently there is one somewhere in the game? Based on the locked gate in the temple, and one of the achievements. Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. I get pretty verbose here, so if you're interested specifically on story/ethical thoughts skip to the fifth paragraph. I started The Talos Principle earlier because it's been on my to-play list for forever and HowLongToBeat estimates its play time at less than Deus Ex, which means I can bash it out fast on top of all my other current projects and then try to tackle Deus Ex for my last OPA. That's the plan, but we'll see what actually happens.

    Anyway, about the Talos Principle. I've been working recently on trying to train myself to play like a designer instead of just someone who enjoys games, so starting out I've been going through kind of slowly, because I'm spending lots of time looking at level design and trying to break the game. Other than finding one place where I could trap myself such that death/reset was the only option, the game has held up pretty well. No camera/player getting stuck or glitching, no other ways to trap myself in unsolvable places, and no success in trying to get to places I shouldn't be able to get to. I have had a couple of moments where I saw a background object instantiate when it probably should have already been there, and I've caught quick glimpses of small graphical glitches, but given the nature of this game I'm not entirely sure whether those were actual bugs or intentional events to hint that in-game the player and map may both be virtual.

    On the note of the player and map being virtual, I find it interesting that death is canonically impermanent. Many games have ways of explaining away the player's death before resetting, and the Talos Principle seems to be one of them. When you die your 'program' restarts, and on one of the first deaths Elohim tells you that you shouldn't hold it against the guardians if they kill you. So that in itself is something I find interesting, as the way a game handles death or a lose state shapes a large amount of the play experience.

    Up to this point, I have played all of Level/World/Door 1, one puzzle from door 6 (reading the signs, it was the furthest puzzle I could solve without going to other worlds to unlock the box and refractor) and I stumbled into an easter egg world that looks like it was an homage to the developers and playtesters. Again, I was looking specifically to find ways to "play the game wrong" to see what would happen from a design perspective. This gave me an interesting insight into what is coming up as I learned a few things. First, the easter egg place showcased some mechanics that I anticipate are upcoming (the refractor, for instance, which I had only seen the symbol do but now think I understand). Second, I was able to completely solve the one puzzle in 6 that wasn't marked as needing the refractor or box. This is interesting to me because, from a design perspective it raises the question of "why was this simple puzzle all the way in level 6?" Normally puzzle games build on the things before it and become progressively more difficult. The entry to level six is biblical Adam/Eve type narration, where "do not eat the fruit" is replaced with "do not enter the tower," so a forbidden location. Looking around within the solvable puzzle in 6, I'm pretty sure if I had the box (which I now realize is probably just a stepping stone) I'll be able to access a part of the map not connected to the puzzles. This would explain the sudden easy puzzle, as from a design perspective the point of that puzzle is not to be "a puzzle to be solved" but rather "an opportunity to get off the rails." Getting off the "correct" path here is clearly intentional in game, but probably a direct violation of Elohim's will. I'm excited to see how that plays out.

    Now, onto story/ethics. Given that this game was on the list of acceptable Analysis games in an Video Games Ethics class, I went into it expecting some degree of moral question or conflict. And I see the potential for that developing, both in and out of game. From the very first Narration provided by Elohim, the game clearly has Judaic/Christian influences as Elohim is the Hebrew for gods and is used as a proper noun in the Hebrew Bible. This face is cited within the first level on a computer terminal. In addition to just the name, much of Elohim's phrasing and attitude are deific, from his introduction as the creator of the world and the protagonist, to his granting of trials and choice and guidance. From a perspective outside of the game, I could see some zealous worshipers finding such reference specifically to the god of the Hebrew Bible blasphemous. I personally haven't seen anything in game that I think would merit such an offense, as so far nothing Elohim has done has struck me as an offensive portrayal or commentary on his namesake, but I still acknowledge the possibility of controversy being raised there. A quick google search of "The Talos Principle Controversy" doesn't seem to yield any results of that nature, though, which I am pleased to see.

    That out of game concern aside, the game definitely seems to touch on Phenomenology early on, with an option at the first accessed terminal being to ask "what am I?" The protagonist is aware that they exist, but doesn't know anything about themselves or the world around them beyond what they can glean from Elohim, the MLA, QR codes, and various local files pulled from terminals. This isn't a moral question, but a definite branch of philosophy that I hope the game continues to explore.

    And while I have only touched it by going to world 6 without visiting 2-5, I suspect the question of "do I obey the commands of god" is going to become a central point of the game. Elohim has forbidden the protagonist from going to the tower, saying that the protagonist will die if they do, so I would be very surprised if going to the tower was not a choice later on. And I will be very disappointed if going to the tower is mandatory, as I think based on the current setup of the game forcing the player to disobey Elohim would remove much of the meaning behind the potential exploration of the relationship between choice and god. I am definitely excited to see how things progress.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 18th, 2017 at 06:38:58.


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    Soul Calibur III (PS2)    by   Relinquisher KOS-MOS

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Friday 23 February, 2007
    I am usually pretty successful as Voldo in the one player mode of Soul Calibur III and today was no different. Again, Voldo's strength lies in his unpredictable and powerful abilities. My personal favorite of his many stances is the Mantis Crawl inwhich he stands on four limbs, face first, giving him optimal position for dodging attacks as well as executing them. However, aside from the stances, in this parituclar game experience I found the Manas and Ayus the weapons of choice for general play. In my opinion, they are that which the player is most balanced and most easily accustomed to. However,I did appreciate the Karma and Mara weaponry obtained in Chapter 8 Merak. With this option I had a much stronger defense (an increase much needed against opponents like gnisngs).Since I have played this game many times before the journey was fun and just challenging enough for gameplay to remain as such. I did however have slight trouble at the chapter versus Talim. It seemed as though during this battle, each attack on the opponent was met with a range of side steps which I will admit are a little difficult at times to respond to with Voldo as your player. Also, Talim utilized Voldo's lack on mid- range moves and at times sporatic blocking abilitiy to her advantage, making my job a little more difficult at this stage. However, the character was eventually defeated along with the journey in due time.

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