Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Grand Theft Auto Offline and Other Whimsy

I had a nice big post half-written about GTA:Online, only to have Blogger decide to swallow the whole thing and make it disappear. That bummed me out, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a perfect metaphor for my entire experience with this game. I put a lot of effort into it, my progress vanishes, and I'm left feeling profoundly skeptical of the supposed virtue of cloud computing.

So, yeah.... to briefly recap what I was spending way too many words on before, GTA:O is a very ambitious game with a lot of potential, but is profoundly frustrating to play. Now that the most glaring technical glitches have mostly been removed, it's easier to see that the underlying gameplay hasn't been thought through very well. It's a lot of fun to mess around in the open world with other friends, but all of the incentives built into the game discourage you from doing exactly that, and so most people either end up doing nothing but races or killing other players.

On to some completely unrelated topics:

The Comedy Bang! Bang! live tour premium podcasts are totally worth buying if you enjoy that show and/or Paul F Tompkins. It's $25 for the whole set, which sounds like a lot, but gets you well over 20 hours' worth of fantastic comedy. I enjoy the regular podcast, and the weakest shows on the tour are as good as the best standard shows. A huge part of that is due to PFT's presence and his terrific chemistry with Hot Saucerman. It's really fun to see the little running jokes for themselves that they inserted into the shows; even though Paul plays a very different character every night, there are these little threads of consistency that tie things together.

Pretty much all of PFT's characters appear at one time or another, most of them showing up twice throughout the tour. It was fun to hear some of them that I haven't heard from in a while, like Ice T and John C. Reilly, as well as perennial favorites like Werner Herzog and Andrew Lloyd Webber. He also includes some of his newest creations like Richard Harrow's Ghost (quickly becoming one of my favorite characters) and Alan Thicke (who has much more staying power than I initially thought). I think the only one to not make an entrance was Mr. Brainwash, which is fine - Mr. B is fun in small doses on the Pod F Tompkast, but it's hard to imagine him holding up an entire episode.

Anyways. The whole set is worth grabbing, but if you want a couple, my favorites were probably the Toronto show (which had the best opening guest), Philadelphia (a shocking encounter between ALW and Tom Leykis), both Boston shows (JCR in one, WH in the other), Chicago (another great JCR appearance), and Seattle (Richard Harrow's Ghost). It's all good, though.

Other news: On Halloween this year, I watched The Descent, one of the rare horror movies to have caught my attention. I've deliberately eschewed all spoilers for the past seven years, and so was happily unprepared for everything that went on in there. It was excellent, one of the best movies I've seen from a genre I dislike. It was back on my radar partly because Neil Marshall, who directed both that movie and the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones (possibly the best-directed television episode ever), will be returning to direct the ninth episode of the upcoming season. Having read the book, I have a pretty good hunch of what events that episode will cover, and can hardly wait to see it.

I recently jumped back into the Neverwinter franchise, finally rolling my PC for the original campaign of NWN2. I spent way too long just coming up with the concept. There's an incredible amount of customization available, including choices like playing as a Tiefling, Drow, Sun Elf, Shield Dwarf, etc. The actual skills and feats seem very similar to those in NWN, which is good. I eventually decided to create a fighter, which I think is a first for me, from any of my experiences in Baldur's Gate, NWN, or Dragon Age. I'm Chaotic Good again, but playing a much more brash and outspoken type than usual - Toman will tell people to their face when he disagrees with them, unlike my standard characters who cloak everything in subterfuge. So, that's going on too, and probably will be for a while. One more game until Mask of the Betrayer arrives on the scene!

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