This Marriage COULD Have Been Saved


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Spoilers for early in AC: Odyssey; vague summaries of earlier AC games that could be spoilery if you’ve never played one and don’t want to know anything about them


So yesterday I-


Wait wait wait.


I realize something. I used to think that I do the cold open here because I get to the computer a couple hours before you do, as I just wake up and there I am, and by “just wake up” I mean wake up and do all sorts of chaotic kid shit for an hour and there I am, whereas you have to get all the way to work.

But there’s another reason: I’m always behind you. I can say “I did xyz” and you say “Ah yes! That! I vaguely remember when I did that three months ago!”

But I’m….I’m…..

Ahead of you.


What did you do?

This can’t continue. The opens will be lame. Good thing tomorrow, once again, we go TRAVEL BLOGGING WITH BUTCH! You’ll catch up.


I was going to find the spear!– but I got distracted. Killed a bandit leader in a bandit camp and got some loot. Killed another alpha wolf in a cave and got some loot.

That’s… Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m still level two because I can’t get around to completing anything. It’s the curse of the magpie.


Ok, I think I get what the game meant early on there.

Remember when we had the choice of “guided” and “explorer” and explorer was “There will be less on the map, but this is how we want you to play it?”

Last night, I just put my head down and followed quests. I also noticed that the quests were marked differently. The main story, the character and the “world” quests all have different icons, much like, in RDR, there were yellow blobs, white blobs and white dots. Those will still be there on the map in the other mode, and the game wants us to focus on those.

Know how I know? I found your burned village. How? Cuz a quest sent me there. A very, very interesting, well done quest. When you do this quest, Kassandra will say a bunch of stuff that makes it apparent she’s never been there before, even though, in your game, she has. The game wanted and expected us to find that WHEN WE WERE SENT THERE. The game DIDN’T WANT US TO FIND THAT PLACE even though it had a question mark if you play in guided (right? that’s why you went there). It’s like RDR saying “Well, I GUESS you could find Rhodes cuz we’re open world yadda yadda, but we didn’t want you to, so we’ll pretend you didn’t.”

If we had been playing in explorer, you never would have gone there, found it, etc. You would have been sent there when I was, and the whole thing would’ve been as good for your as it was for me (and it was very good).

Right now, I think we’re playing this in a way that, if this were RDR, there would be no fog on the map, all the bones, cards, dreamcatchers, everything would be marked and we’d be all over the place. RDR didn’t want us to do that. Neither does this.

And I don’t think we noticed cuz this is an AC game. Of course there’s fragments and shanties and animals! But really, this ISN’T an AC game. The option we picked was for people who stubbornly refuse to play anything with AC in the title as anything OTHER than old school AC. But this isn’t old school AC, it’s more RDR. Moreso, as choices matter (holy Moses, do they matter. And soon).

I think the middle ground is viewpoints. I think the game wants us to be all “Look, no question marks, but if you climb up there I’ll show you where the caves and dreamcatchers and dinosaur bones are if you really, REALLY give a fuck, but really, stick to quests.

So turn it to the other mode. I think it’s a much better game that way. So do the developers. Cuz a “find the fragments and assassinate dudes” is not what this game is. I’ve already found more themes than in ALL of AC4. And more story. And more bloggage.


That’s good information. I will go back to settings next time I play.

But I’m not going to stop climbing tall things! I don’t care how many question marks I uncover.

Although I didn’t actually follow a question mark to get to the burned town, I was just wandering while trying to get to the statue (which I would have known was a vantage point even without an icon), so that could have happened anyway. Though as you say, it’s much less likely. They can’t STOP us from getting to Rhodes or St. Denis before we’re really supposed to be there, but they can at least avoid actively luring us in that direction.

I could have sworn I bowed to the game’s implicit judginess and selected “the way the game was meant to be played,” but maybe I only intended to. This whole ‘hover over the option and hold down the X” mechanic throws me off slightly. It’s in no way difficult, but it’s different.

Also, Mr. O’ reopened his game, because hey the disc was already loaded and he was done with Edith Finch, and I seriously came THIS CLOSE to accidentally saving over his (one) save last night. It’s not even funny.

I mean, it’s kind of funny, but only because I didn’t actually do it.

I need to check into that uploading situation. And he needs more saves, but I can’t control that. And if I try, like if I intend to go and load his game just to make an extra save for him?–I’ll undoubtedly delete it instead, because that is obviously the terrible curse that has befallen our marriage.

No, I need to make sure uploading is in place, and I need to never ever go near his save for any reason. I was just loading his game for him once I was done, you know, in a friendly fashion, but because I was in the save screen from saving my own game, I ALMOST hit ‘save’ again on his and overwrote my own on it.

Holy naked Zeus, can you even imagine the horror? I can’t. I won’t. I’m not loading his game ever.

We’d honestly be safer if he went back to RDR2, but living dangerously is what it’s about sometimes.


Yeah, I think, after yesterday, I’m going to switch. Should’ve trusted them when they say “this is how it’s meant to be played.” They did make the game and all.

But climbing, well, hell no! Gotta climb shit!

Right. The question marks do kinda say “Come here! Right away! It’s awesome!” Especially in an AC game! True, I only played one of them, but that game….lacked story. And REALLY lacked story that made any rational sense. The game was “Sail around, do cool stuff, find stuff, etc.” You play RDR for the story. You kinda play AC for the legendary fish and dinosaur bones. That is, until this one.

You’ve been too trained in the pointless ways of AC.

I know, right? Not difficult, but different interface… It has a mouse…a quick save…it’s….so nostalgic of the other times….

I think, too, what threw us was that the option we chose, that is, NOT the option they wanted us to choose, was the option that was highlighted FIRST. There was the cursor over the one we picked. Kinda urging us the wrong way, game.

Dudes. DUDES.

Look, Mr. O’s stubbornness is one of the reasons why we love him, but this one save shit’s gotta change. It just has to. I don’t expect either one of you to go to my extremes (I have five. Plus the auto. And the quick. But I overwrote one yesterday! Didn’t go to six! Yet.), but dudes. One? One is not acceptable. Your three makes me nervy.

You gotta have a chat, there.

DO NOT GO NEAR HIS DAMN SAVE!!!! DON’T!!!!! Just keep making new ones. Each time. Like I do.

Don’t live dangerously. Just make sure it’s uploading. Always, always uploading.

One damn save. Mr. O….dude.

I just can’t get over it. Back in the Commodore days, I would back up my damn 5 1/4 inch floppies. For real. Took forever. But that’s what you DO, man! THAT IS WHAT YOU DO!

Just make sure you always have more than one. Cuz Mr. O is both stubborn and vindictive.


Hey, man, don’t universally knock AC’s story. I agree that was a problem with Black Flag (largely because I didn’t care about Edward as a character, so what story there was, centered around him, was also of minimal interest), but earlier episodes had PLENTY of story.

Plenty of sprawling, weird, complicated story full of god-alien interference in history. You can say many things about AC, but assuming the entire series was nothing but a bunch of lightweight fetch-quest romps does it a great disservice.

Honestly, I kind of miss the sprawling, bizarre god-alien angle. I understand why they moved away from it, you just can’t sustain that level of weirdness forever, certainly not if you’re aiming for large markets, but…it was wacky good fun, man. The puzzles! The climbing! The climbing puzzles! AC2 and AC Brotherhood are still among my fondest game memories.

And you know I have many fond game memories. You know what I play, and what I like. So you can take it seriously when I tell you, those games were a blast to play. I mean, I don’t know if I’d still love them as much today, perhaps not, but I loved those games, and you know I don’t love everything. [Nostalgic sigh.]

I suppose I should also defend Mr. O’, now that I’m done defending AC, and note that he is stubborn, but not particularly vindictive. I can testify that he hasn’t sabotaged any of my game experiences or spent any time sighing dolefully in an ill-used way, or hinted at how to make it up to him I should probably let him play nonstop for the entire weekend while I amuse the children, or anything.

He might do all of those things if I did it again, though. Best not to risk it.


Fair enough. Perhaps I just got a story dud.

Fair. But you have become far pickier in your old age. We have too much practice tearing stuff to shreds. I’m the same way. I see plot holes everywhere. It’s why I have to distract myself with nudity and dress balls.

As for Mr. O’, I believe precisely one third of that.

Do not risk it. That last third, anyway.


I can’t risk it. There’s only so much strain one marriage can take. Even the “can this marriage be saved” column would give up.

“No. No it cannot,” they’d write. “We advise both these miserable wretches to marry someone else who doesn’t play games, or at the very least plays on a different platform.”


You’d try to save your marriage, then accidentally overwrite it.

Make back ups! Upload! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!


Ha! Nice.

“Can this marriage be saved? We tried, but accidentally saved another marriage on top of it, and this marriage didn’t have any backup saves, so…”

SOUND RELATIONSHIP ADVICE, everyone. Back up your marriage!


Hey, ya never know. Maybe the one that overwrites the one you got has more loot and better gear.


That is true! Hm…

But then, we might wind up with extra kids and an even bigger and more unwieldy house. Possibly in your town, with half-day Tuesday.

I can’t risk it.


Wise. Very, very wise.

Go make all the back ups you can.

And for the love of God, play, on explorer, and do quests.

But not too many, as I’m travel blogging tomorrow.

It shouldn’t take you that long to catch up, quest wise. I’m…two (?) main quests ahead of you (you freed the kid, right?), but, while in RDR that would be, like, three days, it’s very quick. My save thingy says I’ve been playing two and a half hours, total, so, you know. Not that far ahead of you.


I’ll do my best. We’re all sleeping badly lately–allergies, or something–so it’s been tough to find time and energy. Well, maybe it’s just me and Grigio sleeping badly.

But the good thing about this game being such quick little bites is that it is very easy to say “oh, I’ll just run around for 20 minutes and assassinate a few bandits, and at least I’ll have played.”

And also easy to then look up an hour later and realize it’s way past bedtime…but at least you’ve played!


The main quests aren’t any more involved. Nor are the “character” quests, which are worth doing. I’m still in the RDR mode of “Do I want to start that? Do I have time?” And then I say “Well…I guess I’ll try to get it done….” and then, five minutes later, “That’s it?”

It’s ALL very quick. If you have 20 minutes, you have two main quests. Seriously. Do not think all you can do is bandits.


And there’s the difference from RDR2! Where it wasn’t even worth it to sign in for short periods because you’d probably spend 20 minutes riding to a location where something was going to happen, and then have to sign out rather than risk getting stuck in a quest where you couldn’t save.

All right, playing for 10 minutes a night is going on the to-do list. Ha.


Yeah, dude. I think you’re signing in all “Well, I only have a little bit, better not touch the main quests or anything interesting,” but don’t worry. It’s all damn fast. The burned village thing was less than five minutes. For real.

And still blog worthy!


This will take a bit of getting used to, but I’m into it. I’m ready to embrace something fast-paced and snappy.

Even without a sprawling overstory about how god-aliens interfered in human history.


You know, on that…….

Remind me: How does the present day thingy work? Can anyone go back in time and be someone if they have, like, the old someone’s DNA or social security number or favorite cheese or whatever? Or does it have to be a descendant?

And what exactly the fuck is everyone looking for in the past? I forget. Actually, I never really knew. Or understood.


If I understand correctly–and I didn’t play the last couple of games, so I could be missing some recent development–it USED to be that you had to be a descendant, and could only access your own ancestor’s memories, but Abstergo has figured out a way to make it so anyone can access the memories of specific people, and they’re going to sell (or are selling) that experience like a video game for popular entertainment, as well as mining the past for useful information they can employ for their own business ends.

I believe that’s what the people in the modern-day story were doing with Edward in Black Flag…making the memories transferable (or recording them somehow) so that you don’t have to be descended from Edward to experience his adventures on the high seas and enjoy those sea chanteys (which, credit where it’s due, were truly awesome).

The fact that our spunky protagonist and her hipster tech associate mention finding DNA on the spear suggests that this is still what they’re doing.

In the earlier installments, the descendant provided the DNA himself, inherited from the relevant ancestor, and he alone could access the memories (although Abstergo agents were able to kind of see them over his shoulder as he relived them). It sounds as if what’s happening now is that if they can locate DNA, whoever has that (and the Abstergo technology) can just call the memories directly out of it.

As for what they were looking for in the past in previous games…long story short, a powerful McGuffin that in the wrong hands could destroy the world. Same old same old. But man, it was an entertainingly convoluted path getting there.

And last I knew, they had wrapped up the powerful McGuffin storyline of the first few games, and I think in Black Flag they were mostly looking for entertaining stories they could sell to the masses?

What they’re looking for in this game, we do not yet know. Something, for sure, since our plucky protagonist was all “we’re going to get it before those rotten Templars!” or whatever. But I think it’s probably not related to the McGuffin of earlier times, although again I haven’t played one of these in a while so who knows?


Oh. Well. Good thing they don’t have a complicated story in this one. Ha.

So wait….there’s this thingy that can destroy the world in the wrong hands and no one has found it in the 434598453978 games of the series?

Maybe they’re looking in the wrong place….


Oh no, they found it. And staved off the end of the world, through various complex endeavors. And then the Descendant died. Pretty much shut down that storyline. Alas, poor Desmond!

And then the series moved on to Edward, and the entertainment-focused model of the Animus, which as far as I know is where we are today.


She’s looking for something, that’s for sure.

Don’t look at me. I’m just looking for nudity.

T SHIRT!!!!!

But if it’s just entertainment, that doesn’t make sense.

Abstergo: We, the French Canadian templars, will make entertaining technology!
Assassin’s: Not if we stop you!!!!
Abstergo: Why would you want to do that?
Assassins: Uh….because….
Abstergo: You know this is a video game.
Assassins: Yeah….
Abstergo: A game that’s named after you, not us.
Assassins: Several games, actually. A franchise.
Abstergo: Yes, yes, you’re making our point.
Assassins: How so?
Abstergo: Video games are “entertaining technology.”
Assassins: Uh….
Abstergo: And that’s good, right?
Assassins: Well, when you put it that way…..
Abstergo: So why are you trying to stop us?
Assassins: Uh……cuz….uh…. WE HATE POUTINE! It shall be our creed that you use ketchup on your fucking fries or DIE!!!!!
Abstergo: Not much of a video game, that.
Assassins: Fuck you, Frenchie! Ketchup for life!

Dude, what about that temple? That alien? That dude who showed up in Montreal all pissed and tried to kill everyone?

Seriously. If all Abstergo is is, like, Ubisoft, what’s all this about?


Well, Abstergo is a giant corporation (automatically sinister) and it’s run by the Templars, whose motivating principle over hundreds of years has been that the most important thing for humanity is obedience. They want to control the world, and everyone in it, because they believe that this is what will fulfill human destiny or whatever.

The Assassins’ motivating principle is freedom and doubt (their motto: “nothing is true. everything is permitted”), and they have opposed the Templars for hundreds of years, and so they assume that the Templars want to use this technology to advance their sinister obedience agenda. I think they’re kind of just suspicious of it on principle, although also, inserting experiences directly into peoples’ heads IS a pretty good way to influence their perceptions, so I guess they’re not totally just grasping at threads here.

But basically, here’s your breakdown of the conflict:
Templars want people obedient
Assassins want to stop Templars

Anything the Templars want to do is assumed to be about making people more obedient, and the Assassins are therefore opposed to it. Rinse and repeat!

As for the aliens, they turned out to be rather irrelevant once that storyline wrapped up. They influenced early Templars and Assassins, I think, but don’t really matter now.

Unless they turn up again in this game!

Bring on naked Zeus, man.


Whatever. Played some. All I know is story has become irrelevant cuz I have new armor.

Midriff baring armor.

I can travel content.


And all’s right with the world!



Damn skippy.


Save Games! Thwart Justice!


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Some spoilers for early in AC: Odyssey


Today is the last day of school.  You know how they celebrate that? 
I love this town. 

Ren’s Insane Laugh Montage

That about sums it up.

Today’s gonna be about FITNESS and games and maybe cleaning. Cuz I deserve it. Not the cleaning. I don’t deserve that. But duty calls.


Oy. Like that, eh?

We have a half day too, but at least it’s only about the third one all year. But think of the public access television!

Well, I’ve got nothing because Grigio wouldn’t sleep. But Mr. O’ was playing Edith Finch when I went to bed! He liked the monster bit, with the tentacle-based movement. Also the interesting use of text.

He probably finished it last night, I don’t know.


Yes! The TV! I knew there was a reason!

Hey! Way to go Mr. O! Back to games!

Do NOT let him delete your save. Make saves. LOTS of saves.

Yes. Like. That.

But I have cleaned and did four miles. That’s an improvement.

I’ll play later. Gotta go do the out of the house chores.

It’s always something.


He can delete my Edith Finch saves. It’s fine.

Silly chores. Always interfering with the truly important things in life: video games.


No no, meant your AC:O saves. Cuz you never know.

Multiple. Saves. Femmy.


Oh, right. Yeah, those. He’s not playing that right now, but yeah, if he does…caution is key. Multiple saves.

I don’t do as many saves as you do, I’ll admit it. I usually keep about three going at a time. But the point is, there’s something to fall back on if someone accidentally happens to save over the top of the main one.


I am a tad extreme in terms of saving. I am. I own it.

But you gotta have more than one.

Yes, yes you do.

Also, make sure shit’s uploading. That might be good.


Yes…the upload thing was the final twist of the knife in that whole save deletion fiasco. Sigh.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure we did ever straighten that out. It might not be uploading even now!

Well, at least I have multiple save slots.


You should check, dude. You can’t let karma rebalance, here.


I just never have any reason to think about it except when someone’s save has been deleted! I don’t think I’ve looked at it since we determined it was no help last time.

But if there’s any justice in the world (which there isn’t), the next time that happens the save will be mine, so I should care. You’re right about that.


Yes! Prevent justice!

I better go play.


Go play now. Somebody has to.



Cleared out a religious cave of bandits, got loot.
Climbed naked Zeus. You weren’t kidding.
Killed an alpha animal in a cave. Got loot.

I now have nice armor.

Finding high ground and raining down arrows is pretty great.

Things I noticed the game has:

Yup. Leaves. Swan dive. Off Zeus. Just like old times.

A QUICK SAVE!!!!! HOLY SHIT!!!! Not since my ex have I seen a quick save!!!!! Just go into the map/inventory/quest bit, hit “up” on the directional thingy, and QUICK SAVE!!!!!

Best. Game. Ever.

But here’s what I noticed it does NOT have: A mini map. Am I missing something? Game has every fucking thing on earth in the HUD, and no mini map. I could kinda use a mini map.


You dived off naked Zeus? Dude! Into what!? I couldn’t see a pile of leaves that looked distinctive enough compared to all the other leaves that I felt I could trust it. I was playing in the daytime for a change…maybe there was glare on the screen that threw me off. But OK, at least I’m glad I can do it next time.

I noticed the quick save! Brilliant! I use it all the time! Uh…in the 47 minutes I’ve played so far, that is.

I also cleared out the cave of bandits, which was nice and sneaky like old times, and also killed the Alpha Wolf in a cave. I wouldn’t expect that hiding in the bushes and assassinating would necessarily work on a wolf?…but it did. So hey, I won’t complain.


It did? Shit. I didn’t think it would, so I wasted arrows.

You have a limited number of arrows.

Heh…I quick saved, then just kinda jumped. It’s called a leap of faith, right? Figured if I splatted, QUICK SAVE!!!!! I didn’t really see anything either, but, sure enough, it was all good.

Behold, the liberating power of QUICK SAVE!!!!!


It is a leap of faith, you’re right about that.

I guess my faith was lacking. Naked Zeus will probably smite me for my doubts, later when he gets around to it.

As for the mini-map, yeah, I haven’t seen one either. I guess we’re just supposed to be focusing on the question marks.


I would maybe, MAYBE, give up a quick save for a mini map. You get into the little villages, a lot of those icons are right on top of each other. Doesn’t do much good if the compass makes it so you can’t even see which is which.

By the way……

Kassandra is kinda awesome. Do we agree on that?

Even with the brown eyes.


I do like Kassandra. She’s pretty cool.


Little off on the coloring there….needs lighter eyes, darker hair….

But it’s cool. At least she has an accent.

What Kind of Leaves are in that Pile?


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Some spoilers for early in AC: Odyssey


This is going to take some getting used to.

This is not the game’s fault, that it’s going to take some getting used to.

We talked at length about how RDR2 was unusual in that it took its sweet time to do things (like END. Not where I was going, but couldn’t resist). Horse rides were slow. Fast travel was practically non existent. The game wanted you to do little bits and ponder. This is unusual in games. It is.

But I’ve been doing it so long that AC:O, being a normal game, feels overwhelming.

I see a question mark. I think “Oh, that must be, like, two three minutes away oh it’s right here. Next to that one wait, I didn’t mean to find that yet, what, I just found another one?”

I see a quest. “I’ll amble over to that and do it and what I just triggered another oh ok, and wait, what quest did I just complete and where am I?”

I see a quest that says level two. I think “I’ll never be level two! That’s, like, three playing sessions away!” Ten minutes later (seriously), I’m level THREE.

This shit moves QUICKLY.

I’m used to saying “I got nothing,” but man, I gotta adjust the speed at which I process shit or I’m gonna be all “I got too much!”

What did I do? Let’s see:

Found the girl on the beach. Learned to whistle. I missed whistling. Got the first cutscene where her dad is teaching her to fight. Nice, rich, happy family. Ok. Went to town. Got a request to find wolf pelts. Magpied. Jumped into a cave. Said “Shit, I’m going to get lost.” Got lost. Learned to swim cuz I had to. Fucking swimming. Found a spear that said “quest item.” Got out of the cave. Wolves found me, so completed that quest. Found the guy’s shop. Didn’t take his money, learned about the cyclops. Found a temple of Zeus. Priestess was all “Mumbo Jumbo Gods Wish I Had this Spear Mumbo Jumbo.” I said “This spear I found when I was magpieing, getting lost and swearing about swimming?” She said “Hey, yeah!” (That’s what got me level three). Engraved some stuff cuz I could. Got the second cutscene where young Kassandra is being chased, there’s a boat, she meets Markos (Anyone else think that a grown man finding a young girl and being all “I do something for you, you do something for me?” is a tad creepy?). Had a grumpy woman make me a bow. Called it a day.

This took me about forty five, fifty minutes of real time, or, about how long it took to ride from Strawberry to Rhodes.

I mean, where to start?


Yes, the pacing is a LOT different. It will take some getting used to. It’s going to be great if you don’t have a lot of time but just want to get a little game in.

“I played for 15 minutes and completed 5 quests!”

We’re also going to have to get used to not doing things in exactly the same order, because of magpie. I talked to the priestess about the spear, but I haven’t been to the caves yet. I picked up the quest about the wolf hides, got some wolf hides, and need to go back and deliver them. Then I talked to some people who want me to recover some treasure from the sunken Isle of Zeus, which is guarded by sharks.

I said, “oh, you mean the Isle of Zeus I briefly explored before I got killed by sharks? Huh. I’ll be sure to wander back sometime.”

I wandered around a creepy burned village. I think I’m still only level two. You’re ahead of me!

The levels will probably take longer once we get higher, although who knows.


Yes! Such a sense of accomplishment! Or it would be if I knew what the fuck it was I did!

Oh, shit. Sorry. Well, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Spoiler: The spear is where she said it was. Another spoiler: the wolf guy gives you money.

Sharks. Noted.

Whoa, missed that burned village!

So where are you in terms of flashbacks? You must’ve gotten at least one, cuz you freed the kid, right? I sorta assumed you were ahead of me main story wise, but then, I forgot that you can magpie for weeks on end without doing an actual main quest.

I guess I can, too…..this is going to take some adjustment.

Maybe there will be more time between levels as we go. I think you have to actually make sure you complete the quests. Go give that guy his pelts! That was, like, 300 XP!

It really was just “Here’s your pelts, here’s your spear and BOOM! Level 3.”

Did you free the kid? Cuz I want to mention something but it occurs you might not have….


I did free the kid, yeah. And then got halfway back to Morkos before I magpied over to the other side of the island. I think I’m close to the spear cave now, so I’ll get on that.

I had to climb a giant naked statue so I could sync a viewpoint and see more question marks on the map! Duty calls. Also nudity.

Nudity calls. (Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)

I got the first flashback, where she’s training and then holding baby Alexios. I wonder whether if you play as Alexios you’re holding baby Kassandra, or whether Alexios gets a flashback involving big sister Kassandra? Did they do the same story but with the main character’s gender reversed, or are there actually stories specific to each one? We shall never know, unless we look it up.


Oh, shit, sorry about the second cutscene. I’m not used to being ahead!!!!

Ok, so when you get that “bounty” on you (what’s it with games and bounties?) and it’s all “He’s level five” I was like “WHAT? I’m not going to be able to deal with that for WEEKS!” But now…I guess I’ll be fine. All good.

But, even with being able to deal with that….

This game has a lot going on, doesn’t it? Skills, gear, quests, side quests, other quests, mercenaries, bounties, horses….and we haven’t even gotten to sailing.

Maybe too much.

And yet, no mini map. Do you have a mini map? I could use a mini map.

Speak for yourself. I think “Nudity Calls” is a good T SHIRT!!!!

Oh, forgot about all that viewpoint stuff. Are there haystacks?

Ooops, again, sorry for the second cutscene reference. Catch up!

I won’t look it up, but I think whoever you’re playing is the big sibling and the other is the baby. After all, they sure had that baby bundled up good and tight! Couldn’t see its face!

Cuz you know how hard babies are to animate.


Babies! Impossible!

There is a lot going on, and they’re kind of introducing it all at once, which is a bit overwhelming. “OK, wait, bounty hunter after me, I should be upgrading my gear, quests, sidequests, horse-riding, question marks on every side…”

We’ll probably get the hang of it eventually.

So far I’ve just avoided the bounty hunter–it’s nice it tells you exactly how far away he in and in which direction–but he’s only level 5 so I’ll probably be hunting him in an hour or so. And I don’t know about the haystacks! I was able to hide some bodies in the bushes, which is nice, but when I climbed to the top of the naked statue I couldn’t see any haystack or pile of leaves or anything to leap down into. The Leap of Faith from high things is such an AC staple I can’t imagine they’d leave it out, but I thought “I’m not just going to hurl myself off here if I’m not sure I can survive the landing,” and climbed down like a normal person. Well, a normal superhuman person who can clamber around on bare rock like a gecko.

Maybe they’ll introduce the piles of leaves later.


Not only can she climb like a gecko, but she can do it in sandals!

There’s gotta be a jump down place. Having to climb down from each one of those things would be cumbersome as hell. What is this, RDR2?


Exactly my thoughts! This is a busy game and we’re busy people! We ain’t got time for that nonsense! There must be a way to jump.

But I wasn’t going to be the one looking like an idiot because I thought “it MUST be fine to just jump off here” and then wind up plummeting to the ground from the top of Zeus’ thunderbolt and desyncronizing abruptly and having to say “oops, my bad,” to my hipster assassin tech person, who’d be saying “you know what…let me just adjust these settings for you…let’s make it ‘easy.'”


You know, you can hard save in this game. You can always just save, jump, reload if you’re wrong.


Oh, I know. I looked into that. You’re not going to burn me again, bad save habits! But even if I just reload…I’LL know. And the hipster assassin tech person will know.

And I ask you, if my tech person doesn’t think I’m cool, what the hell is even the point of any of this?!

I can’t risk it.


Fair point. Lose your cool cred, then you won’t be able to get into all the good assassin whiskey bars, the ironic assassin vegan coffee bars…pretty soon you’ll be using off brand assassin blue tooth ear buds…it’s all downhill from there.


I can’t let that happen, man. I can’t play like that. I can’t. I won’t.

You do the test jump from a high place and let me know how it goes.


Just as soon as I find the nudity.


Just glance around. It’s hard to miss.

Well, the statue itself is hard to miss. The fact that it’s naked could be overlooked from a distance.


Things often don’t look naked from far away.

It’s early derailment-Friday.


That’s not quite a T SHIRT, but it’s certainly words of wisdom of some sort.

And given that it’s prematurely Friday, any sort of wisdom is more than we have any right to expect.


But the worst?

I was very proud of myself the other day, as I finally got into the brambles behind my house that are being destroyed by wild rose (bad, invasive, evil stuff). Cut a whole bunch of shit down. Improved my view.

Today I’m all itchy. I was kinda peeved because I thought the mosquito people who are supposed to be mosquito proofing my yard with stuff that totally isn’t going to give me cancer and lead to a bee holocaust that will stave us all let mosquitos through, but no. They did fine.

There’s more than wild rose back there.

There’s a shit ton of poison ivy.

Fan. Fucking. Tastic.


Ooooof course. Of course there was poison ivy.

It lacked only that.


I should’ve known. But I was so focused on the wild rose, which really is evil. This is how I noticed the poison ivy. I was out there admiring my handiwork, as chopping that shit down is hard, and noticed, on the ground, a vine…..

Nature, man. It’ll fuck you up.


Nature is not your friend. We all need to keep this in mind.


Back to the Game!


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Minor spoilers for the beginning of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey


What a great half-day Tuesday that was yesterday! The kids all behaved and left me alone and Mrs. McP came home and took all of them to this class where they learned how to identify wildflowers and weave baskets out of sea grass and so I got to play for, like 13 hours and wasn’t that naked dress ball awesome and


I’m installing it as soon as they are on the bus.


I started to get suspicious when you said the kids left you alone.

I should have been suspicious as soon as you said they all behaved, but I wanted to believe it! Because you deserve a great half-day Tuesday!

But no matter. Install the game immediately and let the dead past bury its dead. But first, loot those dead, because no point letting good loot go to waste.

I did start the game! Played an hour or so. It’s good fun so far. Beautiful scenery to run around it, bushes to skulk in while you wait to assassinate people, etc. Attractive question marks in all directions that I’m sure will lure me into endless magpie runs all over the map.

I’m into it.


I thought you’d doubt me at “great.”

We deserve a fun, scenic, summery romp of a game! 

Though, as we are a game blog, as I boot this up, I will throw out an observation and a question we shall return to during this game:

RDR2 did you many wrongs, but it did grant you a small mercy: it did not put every icon of every everything on the map. Had it littered the map as so many games do, you’d still be swearing and looking for bones cuz you can’t help yourself. At the very least, you’d be all “I WANTED to do that Dutch quest but bones, cards, you know…..” and you’d be pissed.

Now, here we are, back in the fold of AC, a franchise where, about an hour or two, you can barely see the damn map cuz it’s covered in icons.

I’m gonna be curious here as to whether you are going to be happy for a return to icon aided magpie or if you’re going to say that RDR had it right. It’ll be an interesting comparison, to be sure.


It will be an interesting comparison. Because that is indeed one thing I said for RDR2: it didn’t lure me into collectible-hunting by giving a lot of clues on the map. And I did, indeed, somewhat appreciate that it instead made its collectible-hunting difficult enough that I could ignore it, rather than just easy enough that I felt compelled to do it, while also time-consuming enough to be annoying.

I did appreciate that. On the other hand, we must remember that I partly appreciated it because I didn’t enjoy the game that much and didn’t want any reason to play it longer than I had to. When I’m enjoying a game, I don’t mind treasure-hunting as much because I don’t mind spending extra time in its world. I mocked myself (justifiably) for obsessing over those murals or whatever they were in DAI, and certainly the animus fragments in our previous Assassin’s Creed…but I didn’t actually hate what I was doing while I was doing it.

So it’s certainly possible I’ll miss RDR2’s sparse maps. There was something kind of nice about being able to remain comfortably ignorant of what might be over the next hill. Don’t want to ride over that hill and see? You never have to know! It worked for that game. Especially, maybe, for me in that game.

But it’s not as if I actively hate Fallout’s hundreds of question marks. It’s a different style, and we can definitely discuss it, but I’m not sure it’s a style I like more or less, necessarily.


Well, true. You enjoyed (we both enjoyed) the likes of DAI more. That said, the magpie (and the encouragement to magpie) resulted in more than just mutual mockery. It, at times, actively derailed narrative momentum. There have been many a game, good games, where we were all good blog wise, everything themey, all good, and then for, like, three or four days straight we’re all “I got nothing. Well, I have this flag, these fragments, and Miss April 1967.”

Which, yes, I get is partly my confusion as to why to litter a story heavy game with silly collectibles in the first place, but still. Encouraging people towards silly collectibles can derail narrative flow and, for all of its flaws, for all of the ways it sabotaged its own narrative flow, you can’t say that RDR2 sabotaged its narrative flow by encouraging us to go get silly collectibles.

I shall keep an eye on this.

But now, I’m gonna go install it.


That is very true. It did work very well in terms of narrative. Though, again, this was as much about the fact that neither of us CARED about the collectibles, as that the collectibles didn’t exist. We could easily have spent an extra 300 hours ignoring the narrative while we hunted for dinosaur bones and rock paintings and legendary fish, if we’d been so inclined.

But certainly the difference is that RDR2 kept those collectibles out of sight unless you actively cared enough to go look for them, whereas some other games (including, in the past, the AC franchise) have sprinkled icons for them all over the map, making it difficult to just ignore them. The way it was so very, very easy to ignore dinosaur bones when I had absolutely no clue where to look or what to look for. Man, that WAS pretty great.

And this did make it a lot easier for those of us were more interested in the story to just follow the story. Because magpie is a real affliction, damn it! I see question marks, I have to go check them out. Even when they are 99.9% certain to be nothing I care about. So yeah, props to RDR2 for that design choice. (Although it might have been somewhat frustrating for people who DID want to hunt everything, but didn’t necessarily want to spend the rest of their lives doing so.)

We’ve talked about this before, and maybe what we really want is a way to toggle those collectibles/sidequests/etc. icons on and off on the map. We’ve seen variations on this ability to customize maps in games before, so it’s not really a huge technological challenge. I think I remember TW3 giving me some choices about what I wanted to see on the map?


One should be able to toggle.


This game is taking forever to install…..Probably those lady animations.

You are playing as a woman, yes?


Ha! Undoubtedly it’s all those complicated female animations slowing you down. And yes, I am playing as Kassandra, rather than Alexios, and I’ll give them credit, once you get it installed, the female character IS actually able to move! I’m so impressed with what they’ve managed to achieve.

One day we’ll stop mocking them for that.


Kassandra. With a K. Because of kourse.

We shall never stop mocking, for we are the internet.


(We’ve fallen behind, T SHIRT wise.)

Ok! Played some games!

I’m already confused.

Let’s see….I, what….

Did the battle of 300 or something. Buttons were mashed. Didn’t die. Fought the next guy. He glowed sometimes. Buttons were mashed. Didn’t die. Not sure what I did. Already confused.

Met the two assassin hipsters who gave me game options I can change later. Am I supposed to know who they are?

Then got confused. Map is confusing. Eagle is confusing. HORSE is confusing.

Basically, I just got the horse and now they’ve taken the girl. Am I supposed to rush? Cuz so many question marks…..

The fuck is with the eagle?

And, as for horse, I think I already lost it. I picked one, then it was all “They have the kid!” and I said “SHIT, MAN! I’m comin’!” I got on the horse and…well…it handles a little differently than Roach did and pretty soon I was flying over cliffs into level five bandit camps and I died. I reloaded, and there were the three horses in the stables, couldn’t get one, already had the “find kid” quest, decided to walk. Probably bugged the game already.

I miss Roach.

What does the eagle do besides make things more confusing? Isn’t there just some good ol’ fashioned assassin’s sight or eagle vision or some shit?

So, on the idea of icons, did you play “guided” or “explorer?” Cuz I picked “guided,” and MAN there’s guided shit all over the place. Should I change?

(As an aside, Malaka is a pretty great swear.)


I lost the horse too! Went to find the girl, stopped to talk to a guy sitting by a cave, turned back around, and the horse was gone. I just walked the rest of the way, but it turns out you can whistle for your horse (I think by holding the up directional? but I might be misremembering, it could be a different directional) and it will show up, so try that. And the hint says “if your horse is badly injured he won’t come back for a while, but once he’s had a chance to rest, he’ll come when you whistle,” or something, so don’t worry about killing it.

Which horse did you pick? I picked Phobos, because he’s nimble. And also, apparently, scary.

I am still in the “pushed some buttons, not really sure what I’m doing, but didn’t die” stage myself. Just…hit some buttons. Eventually it will probably become more clear which buttons are actually useful to hit. That’s my plan. Pretty much right now I know R1 is good, that’s the basic attack, and square is dodge. I use those a lot. And the R1-L1 combo to parry, I like that. Everything else, I’ll worry about later.

I feel like the eagle will possibly become more useful later–did you get the bit where they tell you how to see through its eyes, so you can scout the territory ahead? I found that mostly just confusing, but I can imagine that it might actually be helpful if you wanted to see which side of the building had more guards on it, or whatever.

Basically, you’re doing great. I’m still a bit confused myself, but the scenery is pretty and we’ll figure it out.

As for the map, I also chose guided, which I think–in an uncanny reference back to our earlier conversation–is the choice that puts a lot of icons and question marks on your map, instead of just letting you roam around and find things or not. I guess that really wasn’t a spoiler, to mention that the game we’re playing kind of does exactly the thing we were talking about, but you hadn’t loaded it yet! I irrationally didn’t feel I could give away details!

So…I guess the main thing is, I went the lots-of-icons route, but maybe you could go the no-(or limited, perhaps)-icons route and we could compare.


Oh. Well. Ok. I was a little worried, though, as ALL THREE horses were still there in the stable when I reloaded.

I don’t care that much. No horse will replace Roach.

I picked…uh….the one on the right. I picked the one on the right. On the right. A warrior’s horse! Or something.

I miss Roach.

I did the “Hit L1 and X to bull rush!” bit when I was SPARTA!!!! but I guess I could only do that then (or when I get the skill someday). That was handy. Until I couldn’t do it any more. Then, less handy.

Well….I got close to the vineyard, and it was all “Your target is close! Hit up to call [whatever the fuck it’s called].” So I hit up and WHAMMO! BIRD! To which I said “The fuck? I’m a bird?” And it had some controls, and I could fly and look at shit, which led to more icons, and I was confused.

Then I got a little closer and it told me to do it again, and I was all “No way, game, that was some fucked up shit,” but I did it anyway and then it told me about the “golden circle” and all that and I found the guy.

I kinda knew where he was in the first place……but hey. Bird.

Scouting territory? Yeah…that’s gonna be something. I’m not that spatial, so trying to say “Ok, so….if that’s what the bird saw….then the guard must over there…” will likely be “I think that’s what the bird saw so…no..wait…so then the guards would be over oh, no, here they are, I’m dead.” At best. It’s likely going to be “Ok…so..if that’s what the bird saw…wait, I don’t think it’s…where am I? Why….shit, I’m going the wrong way…I…hang on…welcome to Lemoyne? That’s not even in the GAME!”

Hmm. I’ll stick with this a while. I think I’m just in shock cuz we went from RDR2 to full Ubisoft. Full Ubisoft is a shock.

Though it was telling that it said that “explorer” was “how it should be experienced.” Maybe I’ll switch.


Oh, wait…actually I think I picked ‘Explorer’ because I remember being swayed by the implicit judgment in “the way the game should be experienced.”

“I don’t want this game to look down on me!” I thought. “Especially since I already went with ‘normal’ difficulty instead of ‘hard’!”

Do you have question marks in your ‘radar’ when you look around? Or are they already icons? Maybe that’s what it’s about. Maybe I have question marks I’m supposed to ‘explore,’ and you have icons to indicate that you already know what’s there (assuming you could remember what the icons indicate, which I know I certainly can’t).

So much for my theory that maybe this game was giving us the option of a more RDR2 experience…maybe it’s only giving us the option of a more FO4 experience.

Unless I actually did choose guided despite the game’s judgy commentary, but that really rings a bell that makes me think “oh yeah, I did what it wanted me too” not “I rebelliously went my own way!”


Dude, thus far, I look like a question mark factory exploded in ancient Greece. There’s health icons, there’s quest info, there’s SO MUCH SHIT. But yes, they are on the radar.

I’ll fiddle with it. I did notice (as I go through EVERY OPTION before starting a game cuz of my ex) that you can pick and choose what parts of the UI are up there, and they all start “on,” so I guess you can shut up some of that on screen noise regardless of which mode you pick.

I don’t know. Whole thing is confusing.



But pretty! And we’re going to have fun sneaking around and assassinating people! And there were some roleplayish bits with conversation options that “may change the story”!

I let those two thugs who came to beat her up at the beginning go. Because I’m nice like that.


As did I. Once again, we won’t have many notes to compare.

Except on the romance. You’ll likely end up with someone different than I will. And hey! Look at all the armored dudes! A goodly portion have to be broody! You’re in paradise!


Yeah, the story variations are going to be all about who gets romanced.

Oh–I would be remiss if I did not salute this game for its nod towards male nudity, however.

Game: I salute you.



Malaka, for real?


Well…depends on what you mean by “for real.”

I take it you haven’t seen this nudity. It’s quite visible. You’ll get there.


Oh dear.

I was going to let the kids watch a little of it later on. Should I….not?


No, you’re fine. So far the game is very family friendly. In a murdery way. The nudity is just a statue. That’s why I was being all coy about whether or not it was “for real.”

I mean, it’s really in the game!–but it’s not actually a “real” character who’s naked.

It’s a very naked statue, though. You’ll see.

You probably already have, in fact…didn’t we get a swing-by of the statue’s butt during the opening eagle-flight sequence?


We did. That we did.

I rather liked that sequence. Cool opening.

And timely! We have a nesting pair of golden eagles nearby. They were both over the house eyeing the children the other day. Probably telling someone where the guards are. Good thing they’re so confusing.


“OK, the bird said the door was on the left, so…if that’s the bird’s left from the air, that means…wait, which direction were they going?”

“Let’s just go rob some other house. This one probably doesn’t even have any hidden tombs in the basement.”


Bird: Ok, the house we want is the one with the frazzled father and the crazy assed kids.
Assassin: Ok, put it on the mini map.
(935874298574543 question marks later)
Assassin: Shit.


And that’s why you live in your town! It all becomes clear. You tolerate half-day Tuesday because it throws off assassins!

Worth it.


No. No it is not. By about 245 I’d welcome the assassins.

Notably, I have not seen the eagles on half day Tuesday. Even strong, magnificent birds of prey are all “Oh HELL no” when it comes to that.


OK, so it’s not worth it, but I can see how you might have imagined it would be, before you got there.

You’re eyeing the house, checking out the neighborhood, thinking “yeah, this’ll confuse assassins, sounds good, what’s a little half-day Tuesday compared to protecting my family from an ancient order of trained killers?”

It was only later, at around 2:45 on that first Tuesday, that the horrible truth dawned on you.


More like 235……..

Christ, Tuesday.

And I’m out of smoked tequila.

Come for me eagles!


You have a week. You still have time to go out for some more tequila! Or to stand next to the biggest landmark you can find so even the eagles can’t confuse things.

“That thing. He’s right next to that thing.”

Of course, the assassins will probably get stuck in traffic on the way.

Subtly Unwelcoming Spaces for Summer


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No spoilers. Some good decorating tips, though!


I got nothing. No games. No soul. Nothing.

Had a kid concert last night– was good. Very peppy. Brothers didn’t ruin it, so there’s that.

They also got home late and didn’t go to bed, then did the “But he got to stay up later, so I get to stay up later, too!” thing that they do….

I had dinner at 940. That is not a typo. 940.

I’ll install it today. Really. Really I will.

For I must to stay sane.


I also got nothing.

Well, maybe a little soul, as I did not have to wrangle children at a concert last night, so there’s that. But no game. By the time everyone was in bed and the dishwasher loaded and the lunches made, it was almost 9:00. Or, in your world, about an hour before dinnertime.

Good lord, man, that’s nightmarish. That’s the time where you think “is it even worth it to eat dinner or shall I just fall facedown onto the bed and wait for a new day?”

I would probably have just crammed some toast into everyone’s mouths and collapsed. I salute you if you achieved anything more.

We’ll play today. Definitely. I mean, that’s not a plan, but it’s something we’ll get around to maybe.


Oh, dude, the KIDS had eaten. We eat when the kids are put away. Usually, that’s at some acceptable time (though, with Junior all getting older, that seems to be less acceptable every day). You know. Like nine. But the kids weren’t away until 940.

And BOY are they charming today.

I know you’re “supposed” eat with your kids, but I can’t. I just can’t. I’d NEVER talk to Mrs. McP if we did that. Dinner is us time, and, trust me, that’s the ONLY us time that isn’t interrupted every three words. Shit, if I want to have a conversation with her when the sun is up, I have to leave the state.

But, if you’re not gonna eat with the kids, you’re gonna eat late.

Very late.


Oh, I’m sure they’re just OVERFLOWING with charm and good humor.

Dude, feeding the children first and then having grown-up dinner is classic. Gives the grown-ups some time to talk. And lets the kids eat earlier so they don’t have to wait until the working parent is home, if that’s later on.

In my case, we all get home at pretty much the same time, so it doesn’t offer us any particular benefits, but I can see how it could totally work in other circumstances. Like, for instance, your circumstances. You do your thing that works, man.

Tell the kids they can eat with you when they can participate in adult conversation. You know, like when they’re home on break from college.


Oh, they can’t eat with us then, either. Might steal my booze. No way, man. No way.

But it’s a good set up. I get Mrs. McP time, I get to eat more adult food, that sort of thing. The drawback is, your way, you’re done with everything at a reasonable enough hour that you can play games. I’m done with, like, food at 945, 10. I’ve also likely had booze. Not conducive to game time.

Trade offs.


Trade offs indeed. Because yeah, I do (sometimes) have a nice post-kid-bedtime period where I can play games, instead of eating my own dinner.

On the other hand, you have a civilized adult meal on a regular basis.

So, as you say. Trade offs.


Trade offs.

Except these days, I’m not getting my end of the bargain. I miss game time, then I sit around waiting for Junior to shut up and go to bed, at which point Mrs. McP is too tired to do much of anything and just wants to chill playing iPad games, so I get neither.

Twelve is not a great age. Though he is getting somewhat more independent. That’s something.


I imagine 12 is awkward. Not falling asleep, but not having any conversational topics that engage a tired grown-up at the end of the day… Though independence is good.

Trade offs again, I suppose.


Yup. And still a need to be with mommy a lot. It’s weird.

I wouldn’t mind so much if they went someplace other than the damn sofa so I could play games or something.


I should go install AC:O, just to say I did.


Yeah, do that. Then we’ll be at the same place in the game! Installed!

Not leaving you alone to play games is really the issue. I mean, if he wants to stay up and read a book? Write a novel? Design robots? Whatever! Knock yourself out!

Somewhere that’s not on the sofa.

Maybe you just need to get a more uncomfortable sofa.


No no, it’s worse.

Mrs. McP comes home, he wants to talk to her, they both plop down on the sofa and start talking/complaining/fighting RIGHT THERE. Every night! No glare is too intense to make them move. So I usually just sigh and leave and get a drink and make salad.


Oh, dude. Definitely move the comfy couch. Put it in the basement, and put some hard, pokey chairs where it is right now. Then get yourself a secret cushion that you can put on one of the hard pokey chairs so you can play from it.

Your living room is too user-friendly! That only encourages people to use it. And we see where that’s gotten you.

Time to design a much less welcoming space. Call it rustic or something. Make it look pretty. And be very uncomfortable to sit in unless you have a special cushion.


That’s ingenious!

And unnecessary, as the downstairs has two, count ’em, two couches, both of which are very comfy, AND a loveseat! And very tasteful lamps that provide lovely mood light.

Go. There. Family.

But NOOOOOOOOOO. They gotta be up here.


Wow. This is a tough case.

OK, you’ll just have to remove all the seating from the upstairs entirely. They won’t sit down on the hard floor just to annoy you! Probably.

Oh, who am I kidding, of course they will.


That’s meatball’s favorite place to fall asleep.

Better get rid of the rug, too.


Get rid of the rug. Sprinkle the floor with D4s. Blare angry music. I don’t know what more you can try!


Nothing. It’s hopeless.

And I didn’t get it installed, either. Because shit came up.

I’m a terrible blogmate.


Well, I’m also terrible lately, so we can be terrible together. Don’t worry, we’ll get there. We always do.

Because the alternative is too terrible to imagine.


It so is.

Had Lewis Finch stayed put with his game console, none of that would’ve happened.

Man, I’m tired.

Though seeing my hockey buddy tomorrow, and he is known to make margaritas with this smoked tequila. Shit’s looking up.

News We Can Use to Amuse


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No spoilers


Well, it being Monday, I have not played. Let’s just skip to the E3 news shall we?

We usually give no shits about the Microsoft show, but we do now on two fronts:

The Outer Worlds, the thing in space from the dudes who did New Vegas, hits October 25. Right around Death Stranding.

But the big news…..

Drumroll please….

Cyberpunk hits April 16, 2020.

Perfect timing me thinks.

And we were worried we’d have nothing to play before the PS5 hit.

Looks like it’s perfect timing on Cyberpunk. We’ll just have finished up looking for black things with babies or something!

Gotta admit, I’m kinda stunned that Death Stranding and Cyberpunk are both out before the new consoles. So much for “We’ll be spinning our wheels cleaning out the backlog until Xmas, 2020.”



I just saw that Cyberpunk news as an update from Amazon regarding items in my cart! Because I pre-ordered it, apparently? Possibly as a dare?

Anyway, interesting stuff to be sure. And interesting, as you say, that they decided not to wait for the PS5. Maybe that has run into delays or something.

We’ll keep busy, then. And as a result, will perhaps manage to stay within the broadly defined boundaries of sanity.


I dunno, man. Sony has already sorta announced the PS5, and MS came right out and said that “project Scarlet,” which got no more details other than a sizzle reel of developers saying it was great, is out Holiday 2020. If it’s out Xmas, 2020, so’s the PS5. No way Sony drops that ball.

And cyberpunk is a multiplatform game anyway. It didn’t wait for “Scarlet.”

We must broadly define sanity. That we must. Especially as I stayed up until eleven, which I never, ever do, watching a sporting event. I am tired. 


Intriguing, then, if the next consoles are probably-definitely end of 2020, that big games are not waiting. Hm. Well…it might mean we don’t have to get the PS5 as soon as it comes out…if we’ve got plenty to play on the 4 for a while…



Oh who are you kidding? Think of the very quiet fan!


You’re right. Who am I kidding? I’d have pre-ordered it already if it was on Amazon, even if all it had was a blank page with a poor-quality scan of a hand-scribbled “coming soon” note.

Because fan, and if it’s backwards compatible, there’s no reason NOT to upgrade!

Now if it turns out not to be backwards compatible, all bets are off, because having two systems both set up at the same time while we finish our PS4 games would just be annoying.


They’ve already said full backwards compatibility to the 4 (the 3 is on its own) and you can even use USB or PS+ saves you import to pick up right where you left off.

They weren’t gonna make that mistake again.

And dude, you apparently had Cyberpunk already pre ordered! Even I didn’t have that pre ordered! You’re so getting a five.


I know! Apparently I did! I don’t remember doing it, but…I must have. Amazon wouldn’t (yet) pre-order things FOR me. Probably.

I think I vaguely recall after the last preview, months ago, half-jokingly saying “all right, fine, I’ll order it now,” and I must have actually done so. No reason not to–I could always cancel it. Although I probably won’t.


Nope. That one’s kinda a must play.

Better hope Hotmail doesn’t preorder things for you. You’ll end up with a Toyota and a case of Miller Lite.

Cleaned my dusty garage and I’m still coughing. Meatball asked if I have TB. Ah, games, teaching tools they are.

I’ll install AC:O today.


I got nothing either. Also because kids. I’m marginally ahead of you in that the game is already installed from when Mr. O’ started it, but in terms of actually playing it…no.

Soooo…insanity is on the horizon, is basically what we’re getting here.

We’ve got to start soon.


Maybe Just…Be Alive, Living People


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Large spoilers for the end of What Remains of Edith Finch


Well, that certainly was different.

I was wondering, as I did it, why the cemetery bit, which Meatball said did feel like endgame, was there, in the middle. I think it was because we shifted themes/metaphors at that point.

Food certainly took a back seat, as did the idea of “living life” or what makes life interesting. From here forward, it really became about people trying to find human connections and either failing or being failed by them.

Sam tries to use hunting to connect with his daughter (she doesn’t want to) and it kills him.
Gregory’s parents try to connect (the phone call) and it kills Gregory, and, eventually, their marriage.
Lewis tries to connect with some sort of better reality and a queen and all that, and it leads to his death/suicide.
The kite kid’s dad wants to marry another woman, which causes the distraction that killed kite kid. Who shall be nameless cuz I forget his name.
Edith tries to connect with her child and dies in childbirth? I think? Did she? What was that?
And Milton tries for something better and winds up a lonely king in a different game.

What’s that? Different game you say?

Yup. That shit’s canon.


First, using Milton for a weird crossover that makes no sense makes no sense. Milton’s disappearance is something they lead with, for crissakes, and the payoff is a tie in to another game that has very little to do with this one? I….don’t get it. Are they going to connect these in a sequel or is this the most precious, self aware bullshit in gaming history?

Second, did I miss something? Specifically, Dawn’s tale? I didn’t find Dawn’s story, and yet, there she was colored in on the family tree post credits. I miss something?

Third, as pissed off as I am about the Milton thing, this game did as good a job of using gameplay to affect mood and theme as anything I’ve ever played. Gregory playing in the tub when you know something awful will happen? Amazing. (If harrowing. Really game, a baby?) The Lewis thing? About as perfect as it gets. Did you keep doing the fish? I found myself doing the fish, almost automatically, to get them out of the way of the story, just like Lewis would have. I mean, shit. Talk about putting the player in the head of the character. Perfect stuff.

Fourth….I got questions. What did Dawn mean when she said “It’s because of your stories that my children are dead?” They didn’t all kill themselves cuz of the stories. What was that? Are we left thinking there’s some mystical shit? If there is some mystical shit that Dawn was afraid of, why’d she give Edith the key and send her back? This was not resolved. Or was it in the room I missed? And if it WAS Edie’s stories, why is Edie killing everyone, and why did Dawn stay with her that long if Dawn knew?

I will say that if there was some mystical shit tie in to the Unfinished Swan or some other canon universe, I’ll be kinda pissed. This game should’ve stood on its own.


Yeah, there was a shift in emphasis. And then that semi-positive ending, like “let’s just cherish the time we have and the amazing fact that we’re here at all…” that was her advice to her kid (and yeah, I think she died in childbirth), but how did she really get that from these stories? Unless she’s meant to have taken that lesson from the stories by using them as cautionary tales, like “don’t get caught up in fear of monsters or obsessed by imaginary worlds to the point that you forget to be grateful for the fact that you’re alive”?

Another thing I was kind of puzzled by was how open-ended the question was left regarding the house itself and whether it’s some sort of conscious entity. At the beginning, you definitely got that sense. “When I was little the house made me uneasy in a way I couldn’t put into words, but now that I’m 17, I can: I was afraid of the house.” (Which is actually not that hard to put into words.)

And regarding Milton, “It was as if the house had swallowed him up.” (Which, as it turns out, is apparently true.)

Or, “they had to add more rooms to the house, but it was used to that.”

There was this whole underlying suggestion that maybe the house was an integral part of the family curse–Odin brought it from Norway and it sank on the way, but they rebuilt it…so it both lurks offshore AND still surrounds them. Dawn certainly felt that way: you don’t seal off a bunch of rooms unless you think that they have some kind of power. And, as you say, she thought that the stories had killed her children.

And yet, there are perfectly logical explanations for most of these deaths, so maybe the stories are just stories. Except that there IS something mystical going on because as you say Milton went into the Unfinished Swan and we do not have a logical explanation for that. Unless it’s that we’re insane to believe that the Unfinished-Swan-verse is a real thing, and in fact the Unfinished Swan tie-in is just a much larger version of the fictional stories surrounding all the deaths, and the truth is that he wandered off and fell in the ocean or something. Like, instead of a comic book or some camera snapshots, Milton’s disappearance story involves an entirely separate game, that was not actually about him?

I did love the juxtaposition of Lewis’ imagined world with the fish. Like you, I just kept moving them along, because otherwise they piled up on the screen, and having that be the mechanic as you went through his story was kind of brilliant.

I think maybe we didn’t see Dawn’s death (or Edith’s) because they weren’t in the house or its surroundings when they died? They got away, kind of. Even though they obviously did both still die. But then, so do we all at some point.

Which maybe is another aspect of that final message: it’s all very well to look for meaning in the stories of peoples’ deaths, and to build a legend that says they all died because of a curse, but the truth is that everyone dies, period. Focusing on their deaths reduces everything else about them to clues pointing at a curse, when instead we could be remembering the things they did with the rest of their lives (though in the cases where they were children or babies, there is admittedly less to go on).

Maybe that’s what Edith–who is also dying very young–is trying to say. Stop obsessing over the stories of the deaths. Maybe she’s saying this even without being completely clear whether or not there is a curse. Even if we ARE cursed, she might be thinking, we can still focus on being glad to be alive as long as we can.



I’m….not entirely sure where she got that about being grateful. Maybe she saw past the “curse” in a sense by considering that, despite all of these rather grisly deaths, they all died doing something they loved? Maybe? I mean, if you go through, Molly: being an animal and having fun. Sam: Hunting. Lewis: In his royal fantasy. Gregory: Playing in the tub. Barbara: Being a scare queen star again. Flying a Kite. Finally seeing the sky. This idea that there was fleeting joy in each one. Maybe. But you’re right: it was a strange way to end it.

Yeah, that was kinda a dropped ball, the stories killing children. The house is even the damn load screen. Cuz you’re right: the house itself isn’t that scary. It’s weird, but you’d think that Edith really means “I was afraid of all the stories that the house contained,” which is not the same of being afraid of the house itself.

Even the rooms: You’re right, they didn’t really warrant sealing, and it’s unclear why Dawn decided to seal them all at once. They really were just there to be all “Here’s some background for the story you’re gonna play….look he liked astronauts! Look, she was a movie star!” There wasn’t even a “She sealed them to preserve the memory of the lost relatives” or anything.

Yeah, plot hole.

Milton…I….don’t know. I just don’t know. An entirely separate game in an entirely separate style. They even went out of the way to heighten that contrast. This whole game is colorful, vibrant, detailed, cluttered. Swan is not. So when you get to Milton’s place and it’s all black and white, that was striking. I even said “Waaaaaaiiiiiiit……really?” And not in an OMG REALLY THAT IS SO COOL! way. No, in an “They’re really gonna do this, huh?” way.

It seems pretentious as fuck. It was completely unnecessary and it jarred.

Especially for such a big plot point!

Lewis and the fish, though, totally brilliant. This game did have its flashes of brilliance. More than a lot of games do.

I can see that..just be glad of the time we have. It’s telling that the only story we see where someone has any real regret, any real “Man, I wasted so much time” is Walter, the one who wasn’t doing anything fun until the very end. Everyone else was really enjoying themselves (or trying to) until boom. Walter regretted not focusing on being alive.

Which is good stuff! That makes sense! But it’s undermined by the stupid Unfinished Swan thing. Once you know that there’s some magic paintbrush that can open doors to other weird dimensions, then all of a sudden finding meaning and metaphor from these human stories gets tricky, cuz maybe they aren’t just human stories? Had the game just said “These are just some weird human stories,” then fine. Better game.

Whole thing, though, doesn’t explain Edie. Why’d she live? How’d she avoid the curse? Is she evil? If you take Dawn at her word, she’s a mass murderer of her own family. Why? They left that alone.

Which means we have rather unsatisfying ends to both Milton’s story and Edie’s, and they were too important to leave like that.

Oh! Wait! Shit! On the magical shit!

It’s established in Swan that the paintbrush, the magic paintbrush, came from the King’s (Milton’s) mother! That would be Dawn. She, Dawn, who pained the titular Unfinished Swan. And that the hero of Swan is the king’s son, which means he’s a Finch.

Which means Dawn had a magic paintbrush this whole time? Like….

They shouldn’t have gone there. Them going there really fucked up a lot of stuff. It would have been so much better if we didn’t have to think about all this in THIS GAME.

Too fancy, game. Too fancy.

Oh, never mind. He didn’t get the brush from Dawn. Or did he? I don’t know. Google stuff. I’m confused.

And that pisses me off. I shouldn’t be googling the Unfinished Swan for lore. I should be discussing themes and shit in this game, which had them.


So…according to Wikipedia, Monroe (the boy in Unfinished Swan) got the paintbrush from his mother. And when he goes into that world chasing the swan, it does turn out that his mother was the queen there for a while, and he’s the king’s son.

So…if Milton was the king, then yes, Monroe would be a Finch. But it’s not clear whose paintbrush it was–not Dawn’s. Maybe Milton’s if Monroe’s mother took it from him when she left?

But I agree–why are we discussing all this when we’re trying to talk about the game we actually just finished?

It’s weirdly reminiscent of RDR2, where we wound up having to discuss RDR at the end. Stop referring to other games in unnecessary ways, games! You just confuse things.


GAH! You’re right!

But at least RDR was a sequel/prequel, in the same world, with the same characters, and the same gameplay. Shit, Swan wasn’t even a similar game to this in terms of gameplay, narrative style, nothing.

(Though did you notice that there was a telescope in this game where Edie would look at the old house every day, and in the Swan there was a telescope where you could look in and see the king just there and AIEE I’M DOING IT AGAIN!)

This is so different that it would be like finding out that Micah betrayed everyone because of The Pattern.

And shit, here we are all about food imagery and them dying doing what they loved and whether this was optimistic or pessimistic (I still can’t tell) and now we’re googling a different game.


And I did like it! There were moments that’ll stick with me, and moments of sheer gameplay brilliance! We like to talk on how games tell stories in ways that only games can, and this game had a BUNCH of those! The comic book, the baby in the tub (really game? A baby?), Lewis’ story (holy SHIT Lewis’ story)…. so much good. We should have spent the whole day on that, but they had to go and stumble.

All the same, certainly worth a download.


Absolutely worth a download.

And yeah, the baby. That was a low blow, we don’t like when babies get hurt. And yet, it…worked OK. Somehow they made a baby drowning in the bathtub…almost pleasant. The dancing toys, the music. And here (as with Gus and the kite), very interesting use of text, with the letters all jumbled up and then unfolding into legible words when you interacted with them correctly.

And the game mechanics there, where the way you played was just kind of flailing around and then things happened, and I felt like I KIND OF was doing it, but wasn’t sure exactly how to achieve the thing I wanted to achieve–that was very nicely evocative of what I imagine life might be like for a baby. So nicely done there.

But also, the baby drowned in the bathtub, and that’s horrible. Really horrible. And then you think how this story came is based on the letter written by the father, talking about how the baby was always laughing for no reason adults could tell, and saying “I wonder what he saw,” and you think “that whole scene was probably wishful thinking on the part of parents who wanted to imagine he died having fun with his toys instead of in a desperate struggle to keep his head above water.”

Damn it, game, that’s harsh.

Though on a lighter note, I kind of loved the ‘chores’ written on the blackboard: “Dawn: clean up room. Gus: do homework and rake leaves,” or whatever, and then “Greg: be a baby.”

Be a baby, Greg.

As to the question of “is anything supernatural going on,” there WAS that moment where the mom definitely turned off the water, and then the animated toy frog turned it back on. So (assuming that actually happened, because again, our access to this this story is based on the parent’s letter, not on the baby’s own telling) that was a thing.



Very harsh. Especially all the happy music when you know he’s gonna die, MAKING YOU BE THE ONE TO TURN ON THE WATER AGAIN (SERIOUSLY game, what did I do to you?) and then swimming DOWN THE DRAIN. I did not want to do those things.

Game. Dude.

And see, I assumed that was something from a child’s perspective, that really he was playing and turned the water on himself. Molly wasn’t really a monster, after all. It was pretend. In her head. All the kid ones were like that. Fanciful. The adult ones were the realistic ones.

I should say….

I assumed that UNTIL THE DAMN SUGGESTION of the supernatural! Greg’s scene made sense as the playing and pretend of a baby just fine on its own. We should not have to be all “Hey…..maybe it WAS the frog….” because of a stupid suggestion of the supernatural! It WORKED, it ALL worked, when we thought we were looking at the world from the person’s perspective, be that a baby, a hungry girl, an older, lonely man or someone with mental illness. It was good that way. It made sense that way. So putting all this swan stuff in just muddies it.


Oh, it’s totally true. We can explain the water turning on without assuming the frog actually did it. As you say, it’s really only the supernatural addition of the Unfinished Swan that made me even bring it up.

Because that makes us question everything! Maybe the house/family really is cursed! Maybe Molly really turned into a monster! Maybe crazed monster fans ate all of Barbara except for her ear!

I don’t know…maybe they did that on purpose because they WANT us to be left thinking “there’s probably a logical explanation for this but what if it’s wrong?”

Maybe they believe there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. It’s puzzling, all right.


Maybe that’s what they want, but, if they do, then they’re falling into a trap that all too many potentially great stories fall into these days (he said, given that Game of Thrones is everywhere): They mistake puzzling for thought provoking.

I call this “Lost syndrome,” after the TV show of the same name. Without getting too specific, the first few episodes promised a WHOLE lot of metaphor and character and things that one could ponder, but, very quickly, turned into something where, after the episode, the “What do you think that means?” question wasn’t answered by “I think that they’re talking about being lost around those closest to us, despite…blog blog blog” but “DUDE maybe that means that statue was built by the Others can you believe it if it was OMG.”

See Game of Thrones (which I don’t watch, but I watched season one). Should be boiling over with themes, right? Different houses, different styles, political metaphor…but all I hear about is OMG can you believe so and so banged/killed/both so and so? OMG do you think so and so is going to bang/kill/both so and so next week?

That is not thought provoking. That is not themeage.

Thought provoking is what we were doing before. But anything that ends with anything even close to “Was it REAL? Was it GHOSTS? Was it a DREAM? YOU figure it out!” isn’t thought provoking.

Don’t get me wrong: It may be fun. Lost stayed fun for a while, in its way. Maybe Game of Thrones is just fun and hey, that’s ok. But if you’re trying to be thought provoking and you wind up with “So…was it REAL?” then you’ve provoked the wrong thought. Yet, so many, too many, writers think that’s the thought they should provoke.

And this game was so close to getting it right! It was JUST that one inclusion that made you write:

Because that makes us question everything! Maybe the house/family really is cursed! Maybe Molly really turned into a monster! Maybe crazed monster fans ate all of Barbara except for her ear!

Which is Lost syndrome at its finest. Or worst.


Yeah…I think you’re right. It would have been better if there’d been a logical explanation for everything, and the final message came down to something like “maybe in our lives, let’s focus on the part where we’re alive.”

It was fun, though. And had a lot of good little bits. And very pretty, lots of cool different style and design choices.

Worth the download.


Very much so. Certainly solid bloggage for a game of its length.

I’ll load up AC:O today or tomorrow. I was too busy today cleaning the garage. Now I have to spend some time coughing up black gunk.

Why’d I buy a house? And forget to buy a dust mask?


All the E3 News That’s Fit to Notice!


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No spoilers



How’d I miss this? Oh, right. All there was today was the silly Google Stadia streaming nonsense.

But DURING said nonsense:

Baldur’s Gate 3 Confirmed From The Makers Of Divinity: Original Sin 2 –

They best bring it to PS. It took a year for each of the Divinitys to hit PS. I can wait.

Telling you now: If and when this hits, we’re on it.


Whoaaaaaa…all right, I’m in. When it comes to PS.


Stadia sure looks weird.


I guess they’re trying to get around consoles. You can play games from anything with Chrome, so long as you buy them, without any subscription (you do need a controller) or subscribe to a service that lets you stream all sorts of shit, as long as you have the service (you can buy games forever even if you subscribe).


The first one guarantees 1080p, the other you can get 4K.


I’m….I suppose if you have a smart TV it would make sense. But I want to play on my couch, not a laptop.

Still, not as weird as I thought. And, likely, the future.


Hm. I won’t be rushing out to get it tomorrow, I’m pretty satisfied with the system we have, but when the future gets here…I’m not NOT going to play games, so I’m sure we’ll adapt.


Oh, we’ll adapt. But it’s only a matter of time before discs and even downloadable games go the way of DVDs. Someday, it’ll all be streamed. Not with the PS5. That’s been made clear. But maybe the PS6 or whatever.

In other news, I can’t escape school. Tonight is the Parent Teacher Group FAMILY FUN NIGHT which really should be called “Kid fun night that parents dread.” DJs! Face painting (at 6 oclock right before bedtime!) and ice cream!

Right during gaming time!

I hate life.


And the worst of it is, after all these horrible school events, school will be OVER, and you’ll have to take them other places that are just as annoying! Your suffering will purchase no relief! And barely any ice cream, I bet.


Yes. Yes, Femmy, I know. Yes.

And it’s not really ice cream. It’s an ice cream truck that sells those weird not quite ice cream/not quite popsicle things that are supposed to look like spiderman.



I know the horrifying ice-cream-like items of which you speak! That truck, or another member of its unholy horde, visits my kid’s school as well.

They always want the weird character-themed treats, which always come out looking terrifyingly misshapen, with strange smears of color and those beady gumball eyes in odd places.



Gumball eyes! Yes! As if it wasn’t upsetting enough that batman looks like the baddies at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Meatball wants to CHEW HIS EYEBALLS!!!!

I can’t even.

Finch: A Nice Solid Norwegian Name


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Major spoilers for What Remains of Edith Finch


Ok, so did, what….last thing I did was Sam, the hunter where you had the camera the whole time. So did Barbara (the comic one, which was very well done), Calvin (the rather harrowing one where you had to swing), Walter (the fascinating one where you’re underground), did the viewfinder one where the house sinks, walked through the cemetery, found out Edith was pregnant (didn’t expect that).

Not bad.

This game has me pondering.

There IS food imagery everywhere! Calvin dies as his mother is calling him in for dinner. Walter dies as he is looking forward the most to the food. Barbara…what…dies? as monsters eat her. But the metaphor I haven’t figured out. Calvin dies because he doesn’t stop doing the fun, exciting thing to go do the rather mundane, scheduled task of eating what we can guess is boring food. Walter dies because his routine of boredom and predictable trains roaring by gets broken, and he dares to dream a bigger dream. Is the game saying “Dude, go in when your mother calls. Eat your damn apricots and be happy?” Seems rather dark.

What’s your spoiler free take?

Mechanically, I find it very interesting (and harrowing) that this game takes the usual way we play games and flips it. In most games, if you know, I mean KNOW, that doing something will get you killed, you do not do it. In this game, you know, you KNOW, that everything you’re doing is marching closer to getting killed. You know that Calvin is going to swing to high, and yet you swing. You know that, as soon as you see train tracks, what the monster is and that Walter is gonna die. Sam was an interesting twist because I didn’t know how he was gonna die, and was surprised when he did. All the same, every stick move is “Yeah, yeah, I know, here’s the part where we die….” and that’s an oddity in a game.

I’d even say this is different from RDR2, a game where you know Arthur is gonna die from the minute he coughs (brag brag brag). Sure, in a sense, every action there is towards Arthur’s death, but you still spend about twelve billion hours trying to keep Arthur alive. There’s plenty of fights and stuff where your play saves Arthur THEN. This game, there ain’t anything you can do but swing.

Which is weird. And certainly part of a metaphor.

It seems a depressing game.

What was your take on it up to now? NO SPOILERS!!!


Oh, see, I tried to look down at myself early in the game and couldn’t see my feet because there’s a round belly in the way, and I thought “is she pregnant?” And then the line “these passageways were meant for smaller hands and bellies” was another hint.

On the food imagery, I think it’s kind of that food is life. Chasing food, like Molly in her possibly-poisonous-berry-induced vision, is wanting to live (and sometimes, if we eat the wrong thing, it kills us).

Not wanting to go in to eat dinner is (metaphorically) not being interested in living. (“He always said he’d die before he’d eat another stewed mushroom,” or whatever.) These stories are full of death, and so they’re also full of the life that the characters are leaving/losing.

That’s my theory, anyway.

And yeah, I think the variation in the way the stories are presented is really cool. The comic book was both cheesy and creepy in a really interesting way. And seeing the passage of time by how Walter’s hands change as he opens his daily can of peaches was nicely done.

I did kind of wonder why we didn’t ever see any other mention of the fact that a train used to run pretty close to the house until, apparently…the tracks collapsed? Or something? After he died? Because when you walk out along the tracks (very carefully along the edge in my cases, just in case another train came), they end abruptly going out over the water. But I suppose the details of the Orcas Island train schedule weren’t important to the family’s stories, so why would it be in there?

It’s not as much about detail as it is about mood.


Whoa, berries? I missed that. I’ve been wondering what the hell killed Molly. We’ve been pretty clear in a lot of these things. That would explain a lot.

Oh right! “He’d die before he ate…” Nice pick up. But do you read that as not interested in living, but MORE interested? After all, we’ve talked on how the food in the house, the life the house is offering if we take your read (which I like), is boring as hell. Salmon forever. Maybe Chinese. The story starts with Edith in the kitchen talking about how boring the food was. That’s the first thing we get in the house. Let’s face it: Stewed mushrooms are nasty. Calvin was a dreamer: he wanted to be an astronaut, wanted to fly. That’s not someone who isn’t interested in living. That’s someone who wants more than canned salmon.

There was also a nice touch in Barbara’s: here we have a kid who was entertaining others, right? I found it interesting, in light of all the food stuff, that she started her story (at rock bottom), obviously working as a waitress at a diner. She was in her work uniform. So, Barbara, in her time of failure (or perceived failure), was someone who gave food to others. I’m still pondering that, too.

I still don’t see how Sam fits in, though. Can’t remember anything foody in his, and it was the last one I did so I was looking.

Very creative stuff here, though. I’ll add the camera to that, as well. (By the way, did you fail the first time Sam set the timer? I didn’t get up there in time, and he was all “Hold on, I have to reset the timer.” So you had to rush up to your death. Hmm.)

I think Walter’s story was one of the best little moments/mini stories I can remember in a game in a long, long time. That was damn near perfect. The details, the wondering what the monster was before you realize it was the train, the fact I couldn’t, at first, figure out how to leave and tried to go out the “window” and saying “Oh, right…fake….,” knowing, I mean KNOWING that he’s going to get hit by a train and having that foreboding set in at the same time his hope is rising (a time when that player/PC disconnect really, REALLY worked. That’s usually a bad thing, but not here), even realizing that he was the “mole man” that Edie gave an interview about. Great stuff.

HA! I did the same thing on the tracks, the “oh shit, is a train coming?” thing. Tried to do it as Walter, too. I wonder if they expected you to do that.

Yeah….don’t overthink it much. I mean, dude, the whole premise is the family’s original house SANK when they tried to bring it from Norway. Little suspension of disbelief.

Indeed, more about mood. Though, mood aside, I’d like to get some connection metaphorwise as to what the game is trying to say, or at least what the game is trying to make us think about. Is it saying “stay home, eat the salmon, do anything else you’ll likely die?” Or is it saying “Hey, good on Calvin and Walter for having the guts to get out there! You gotta try to eat the good stuff even if it kills you?” Or something? I don’t know yet.

But I’m not finished.

I’ll be disappointed if all this stays as disjointed as it currently is, theme wise.


That’s a good point, that food, which is life, is also seen as sometimes very dull. Death–something beyond life–is potentially more interesting. There’s something out there…if you swing up into space, or wander out onto the train tracks…something MORE than the dullness of canned salmon and canned peaches and stewed mushrooms and the same Chinese restaurant food over and over. (Or, even with home cooking, the same recipes from multiple copies of the same cookbooks, over and over.)

But Molly, yeah, one of the first things she ate, when she was still wandering around the room as herself, was the berries from the holly on the windowsill. Gerbil food, toothpaste, holly berries. And I thought “that can’t be good…”


Oh right, the holly berries. The toothpaste. That makes sense now. I guess we can assume that killed her then, right?

Now that I think on it (as I had forgotten the toothpaste), this kid was HUNGRY. I mean, think of how hungry you’d have to be to want to eat gerbil food and toothpaste. The kid was starving. This was a kid who wasn’t being fed enough dinner. This was also a kid who did not do what normal kids do when they wake up starving: this kid did not just go downstairs and get a cookie or bug their parents or something. Indeed, while playing it, I was thinking “This kid must have bad parents,” as she was displaying the actions of a neglected kid, right?

So here’s a kid that’s being deprived of food, of life, in this house. Again. It’s either boring food or no food at all.

Which doesn’t seem like much of an endorsement of nice, normal living.

Also, on this food is life bent….

That gives another twist to Molly’s “I will be delicious” ending. That, if you squint, becomes less of a fear and more of an aspiration. “I will be interesting.”



Ah, yes! I will be a rich, fascinating, interesting life. For the devouring monster, that is also me. Hm.


Right! It’s circular, but it’s also….maybe not hopeful, but certainly not scared. Indeed, one of the things that made that line scary (before it was clear that we’d be having some degree of food metaphor) was how UNscared she sounded. A kid not being scared of something scary is creepy. That’s a horror trope as old as horror. I just kinda thought that her delivery of that line was just to be creepy, but maybe not.

It wouldn’t be the only time in the game where the line between creepy and not was blurry, at best. Take the “mole man.” At first, you think “Pfft. Made up.” Then you realize “This game is weird…IS there a mole man?” Then “Ah, there is…but it’s just Walter.” Then you think “But isn’t THAT a little creepy?”

Take the “monster” by Walter. You think, at first, “What is that? Is it REALLY a monster?” Then “No, just a train.” Then “WAIT THAT TRAIN’S GONNA KILL HIM!”

Back and forth.

As you said, the comic was a great mix of creepy (there were some very creepy bits) and cheesy to the point of you being slightly embarrassed you found it creepy at all.

On this, last night, the kids were watching some of it, and, at the comic book part, a third of the way in or so, Junior says “I thought you said this wasn’t a horror game?” And I said “It’s not. Well, I didn’t think it was….no, it isn’t. I think.” Sums it up.

And I think they’re saying something with that, too, but I’m pondering what.


Good points, also, on how the game is about doing things you know are going to lead to your (or the player-character-in-that-moment’s) death at any moment. The precise opposite of what we usually do in games.

Whee, I’m going to keep swinging higher and higher even though I know I’m going to die! Yes, I’m going to walk along these tracks reflecting on how great it will be to have even one hour of life that’s different from the routine of the last 30 years, even though the train is obviously going to come hit me! I will certainly keep poking around this comic-book-horror-house, even though I know something will eventually kill me!

And I didn’t fail on that one, but it’s very interesting that if you miss the shot of Sam’s death, you have to go back and reset the timer. You have to get the timing right, on your own death. What a detail.


Right! A good detail, but also an important one for the gameplay. Unlike, say, I dunno, the “epilogue” in RDR2, you are not propelled ahead by the game here. In the “epilogue,” had you put down the controller during the peppy nailing up the house bit to go make a sandwich, that house was still going up. Here, you have to take action to move things ahead. It wasn’t just the photo. I took a while to get what the hell I had to do on the swing set, and the game patiently waited for me to figure it out so I could take the actions I knew would lead to a bad outcome. Had I put the controller down, Calvin would still be there. Had I put the controller down during Walter’s walk on the track, the train wouldn’t have come. Had I kept not getting the timing right for the photo, Sam would’ve made it.



Well…yes, in gameplay terms the way we’re used to thinking of games, they would have ‘made it’ if we hadn’t played them to their deaths.

But the game itself is so explicitly a series of stories being read/experienced by someone else that I think even in the game, the characters would no more have survived if we hadn’t played it, than Romeo and Juliet would have survived if we refused to finish reading the play. It’s framed as stories about things that already happened, that Edith is learning but that she has no power to alter.

Now, if we refused to finish playing the game, could we say that Edith never finished learning these stories? By game logic, yes. She depends on us to move forward. But I feel like the internal stories are meant to be experienced by Edith as past events: she can’t change them, and neither can we. All we can do bear witness, in a sense, to the weird, sad history of this family and the moments of wonder and horror in their lives.


True, but it is a very deliberate decision not to take control away from the player. We often beat witness, through cutscenes or through a false sense of participation (see Red Dead) in games, but not here. We don’t just bear witness, we have to do it.

Sure, Romeo and Juliet still die if you leave at intermission, but they don’t say “someone needs to stab now…can we have a volunteer from the audience? Yes you, long red hair, come on up.” This game is doing that.


Yeah…it’s more like in that Uncharted where Sam showed up, and we played through his whole prison escape sequence which was not only in the past, but later turned out to be a lie. But we still had to play it! THAT was an interesting twist.


Ooo! I had forgotten that!

Ps plus has come through again. Good bloggage here, and I doubt we would’ve played this left to our own devices.

That said, I’ll finish up ASAP. AC:O arrived.

How much longer I got?


Not long. Maybe an hour? There are only a few stories left. You’re at least half done, maybe a bit more.


Not surprising. When I was climbing out of the cemetery, Meatball goes, matter of factly, “this is the endgame.” I say, “what?” And, in that cheery know it all voice six year olds have, he says “when there’s moody music and you’re going up, that’s the endgame!”

He’s got a point.


Ha! Moody music and upward motion…check.

But yeah, there aren’t many rooms left. I think just Edith’s mom’s brothers, and Edith’s brothers, unless someone is slipping my mind. Which is entirely possible.

Oh, and back to the question of inevitability and having to play through things when we know the ending, etc., I wonder if maybe it’s kind of replicating Edith’s experience.

She wants to know how the story ends because she wants to know what happened to her family members, so she’s kind of the forward momentum for us in the mini-stories, even as we’re the forward momentum for her in progressing in the larger game. Maybe we-the-player could ‘save’ the character in the internal story by not playing through to the point where he or she died, but Edith doesn’t WANT us to do that, because she wants to know what happened. (And so do we, of course, but her family connection makes it more personal.)



Well, now that I look at AC:O, I figure I can take more time. No nudity.


I’m not surprised, since Assassin’s Creed has never really given us much of that. I think we saw Caterina Sforza in the bath or something in AC2, but that was a long time ago.

Take your time. The fully clothed Greek warriors with knives for everyone will be waiting.


So playing as the hot woman, though. You can choose! And, well, you know me.


Indeed. I will play as the woman too, just because I want to show appreciation for all the extra work that went into animating her.

It’s possible that someday we will stop needling Ubisoft for that comment. Possible.


Hey, that’s why I’m playing as the hot woman. The only reason.




Mmm…Gerbil Food…


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Spoilers for What Remains of Edith Finch


Well, we wanted something different after RDR2. This is certainly different.

Very certainly different.

In a good way! I’m into it! It certainly will lead to bloggage.

But, with the whole non linearness of it, we’ll have to be extra careful regarding spoilers. And by we I mean you, as you are likely way ahead of me, as, while I played, I didn’t play that much.

Specifically, I got to the house, explored the downstairs, explored the upstairs in terms of peering into peepholes, did NOT go up the stairs to the third floor, but did go into Molly’s room and did her story.

While I’m pretty certain you’ve done at least that, I’ll hold off for confirmation before discussing.

I will say that I have a feeling that I’ll be glad (well, more glad than usual, as blogging is fun) that I’m playing this with you, as there are going to be things I miss (and that you miss) and it’ll be interesting (and helpful) to fill in each other’s blanks. I already have a feeling that I’ve missed stuff, and I’m, what, 45 minutes in or so. I’m certainly curious if this is going to be one of those games where it’ll be a very different story if you find some things and not others. Remember in Gone Home when I found stuff that implied the old owner of the house was a terrible person and you didn’t? And how that changed the “exorcism” they were doing at the end?

This game feels like one of those deals, that if you find these things the story is/means something different than if you found those things.

We shall see.


Yes! Very much different! In a very interesting way. I quite enjoyed it. A lot of cool visuals and design choices.

I also went into Molly’s room. That was very interesting. I kind of loved the way the monster moved, that tentacle reaching out and then you could zip towards it: it gave a really effective sense of being something sort of squishy and gelatinous, poking around. And the Christmas music playing while you hunted the unsuspecting sailors, that was a faintly unsettling choice.

Being a variety of animals hunting for food was a different sort of take on the usual murder sequences. No combat, no treasure, no fancy goals, I’m just hungry!

I’m kind of surprised we never (visibly) ate the gerbil. Or was it a hamster? Anyway, we saw Molly eat its food, but I never saw the creature itself. I was almost certain we’d eat it once we came back to her room as the monster, but I couldn’t find it. (Which is an admission that I kind of looked. Maybe I secretly WANTED to eat the poor gerbil.)

Also, speaking of design, I thought the use of letters was pretty cool. It’s like…here are subtitles in case you missed what the voiceover was saying, or can’t listen for whatever reason, but also, we’re going to work the subtitles (and the voiceover) into the scene. The way that you trigger the words by going to certain parts of the room, and the way the words drift away when you go to move on–I thought that was a cool mechanic.

Interesting stuff here. Well worth the free download.


Wait wait wait….enjoyed? Past tense? As in you’re DONE?

Very odd. Whole thing. And a good deal of creepy. “And it will come for me….and I will be delicious…..” Especially since we know, like, everyone died young. Except grandma Edie, who was old.

I am very curious.

But, that said, I haven’t figured out any themes yet. I figure it’s gonna be an anthology, like, a story for each room or something, and it’s hard to figure a consistent thread from just one of those.

I am very curious.

Very cool use of text. It also messes with your sense of time. When the whole thing starts with her opening a book, and having the story already there (did you notice that the next paragraph in the book was the very next thing she said/thought/whatever in the game?

That also has me wondering if all of this is even real. Maybe the whole thing is something that that person on the boat (who may or may well not be Edith Finch, Edith Finch may just be the main character in her/his? book) wrote. We’re living in a novel. Maybe.

Well worth it so far. Are you fucking DONE?


Yes, I’m done, but dude–it was only about two and a half or three hours long. You’ll be done soon, too. Don’t fret. It’s kind of like an interactive movie: just set aside that kind of time, and you’re good.

And you’re right…is it even real? Edith’s voiceover even asks that about Molly’s story, when she says/writes “I’m not sure I believe that” or whatever. And if she’s not sure about Molly’s story, can we be sure about Edith’s story?

Is there even a truth here? Hm.


For real? Did you google to see if you missed, like, most of the game? You don’t go into every room or something? They raised a lot of questions….why are they all dying? Why did they all run away so fast they left all the dishes? Why do they have so much STUFF? Why seal the rooms? Do we get into every room? DO WE?

Google. I bet you missed half the damn game.

Don’t start AC:O without me. I haven’t even ordered it!

I’ll go order it.

And what’s with all the food imagery? The million cookbooks, the kitchen cluttered, the salmon (and being sick of the salmon), Molly’s whole thing…..


You missed half the damn game. Must’ve.


I don’t think so, man. says 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It’s just a short game.

Or else you’ll discover 15 hidden rooms neither I nor the howlongtobeat people ever saw, in which case, I’ll totally play it again. But yeah, I got into a room for all the people in the direct line of descent on her tree there in her journal.

They’re just not all super long stories, is all.

There certainly were a lot of cookbooks. A lot of the same cookbook over and over, and one wonders how much of that is not wanting to make up 300 unique titles, and how much is an intentional suggestion that maybe people didn’t actually do that much cooking? Maybe they liked the IDEA of cooking, and kept buying cookbooks, but never actually used them, and so they sometimes bought the same one over and over without noticing? Because as you say, the salmon, and then the mention that there was only one restaurant that delivered so they ate Chinese a lot.

That implies that they ate canned salmon or ordered out all the time instead of using any of those cookbooks.



Well then. At least it’ll pad out the “games I’ve played this year” list. Which is surprisingly short.

Have you started AC:O? I guess I should order that.

She explicitly says “After [so and so, I forget, the brother who died] got the job at the cannery, we all got sick of eating salmon” or something. So yeah, they didn’t cook much.

And the repetition, yes. But that’s not just the books, so I think it’s an intentional choice. There’s WAY too many chairs, sofas, plates, everything to have for the people that lived there. They keep having multiples of everything.

I’m gonna keep my eyes out for more food imagery. Too much already for it not to be a thing. Brother made food, mother was obsessed with cookbooks, Chinese menu was the first thing they found, there’s a dragon with his mouth open in the yard, the whole Molly thing was eating and being eaten (I will be delicious was creepy as fuck), and the last thing they did in the house was eat (she says that they left in such a hurry).

Speaking of outside the house, I didn’t go up to the front door, did you? I thought I was being all smart like “I’m gonna go around the side of the house before I go in to make sure I don’t miss anything,” and, next think I know, I’m inside and can’t go back out to go up the front steps so I missed shit. What did I miss?


If you go around the front, you can look down into the pond and see pieces of a sort of dragon-shaped water slide, and Edith says something like “Grandma Edie said her husband was killed by that dragon.”

Then you go up to the front door and try the key, and it doesn’t work, and she says something along the lines of “it was really too much to expect that the key she left me would actually open the front door”. Then I went around to the side and crawled through the door, like you. So not much. But I definitely get the fear of missing something. I took the path through the woods to get to the house, and then went back up and walked along the road too, just in case there was anything else there.

We know games. Gotta poke into every corner, all the time. You can’t fool us. Except when it turns out we spent 20 minutes poking into corners with nothing in them.


I did the same! Got the “Took both paths to the house” trophy.

Cuz ya gotta.

I did not get the “let the sailor finish his song” trophy (I looked at the trophies) so now I’m paranoid that he would’ve been all “Er-lie in the morn-in. And now let me explain what Micah was doing in RDR2…..”


I didn’t get that either. I didn’t get ANY other trophies until the very end, so I’m confident I failed to look at plenty of things, or failed to look at them for the right amount of time, or whatever. I could go back and play it again and try to get them all, since it’s no big time commitment, but…enh…I don’t know. I’m not really that interested in playing games just to trophy-hunt.

I have not started ACO yet, though, so…maybe.


I don’t even HAVE AC:O yet. That’s next, right? I should go buy that, like, now?

And I’m using the damn colon.

As an aside, as I sit here going through my mail:

Me: Hey, charity. Here’s some money so you can go work to save nature.
Charity: Thanks! Now let us cut down twelve rain forests trying to get you to give us more!
Me: I don’t think you’re saving nature correctly…….


All right, fine, colon. And yeah, I think that’s a logical next step. I mean, there’s nothing else we’re particularly excited about right now, and I do already own it. And it was supposed to be decent.

And you could own it in a matter of days with free Amazon shipping.

Ha! Yes. I have also had this thought about charities.

“Maybe you could just email me, and save a few trees? I mean, I don’t want to tell you your business…”

Probably they’re using recycled paper, at least. But still, they could save the energy needed to recycle that paper.

Although I do like the post office and want to support them, so maybe carrying charity pleas is what it takes.


On it! Knives for everyone!

And romance!

And better than decent! Straight up good!


Man, I really hope there are knives for everyone. And crossbows! Except I don’t think they actually had crossbows in ancient Greece. But knives, knives we can definitely do.


They also didn’t have aliens, secret societies, and female warriors with FANTASTIC hair who seem to be able to take far more whacks with swords than whole armies of people named Kevin.

We can hope for crossbows.

Today, the charity doubled down on their rather misguided environmental efforts by sending me a guilt gift (The, “Hey, look, we gave you stuff, can you please pay for it?” thing) that was…..

Wrapping paper.


Even more ironic than note pads.


All these things are true! We can hope for crossbows. And secret societies! And even aliens.

But definitely knives. I mean, I don’t specifically recall any from the couple of minutes I watched over Mr. O’s shoulder, but if there are NOT knives, I will be astounded.

Oh, the guilt gifts. I always take them (because they, they’re in my house now) and then don’t give them any money (because hey, I’ll give them money eventually if I was going to anyway–no need to go out of my way right this minute).


Oh I keep them. I could live to be 103, mail fifty seven letters a day the whole time, never move, and not run out of return address labels just based on what is in my junk drawer right now. And yet, I will keep the next batch, too.

Did Mr. O ever go back to AC:O?

Whoa, boom! 35 bucks off at amazon! Got it for a mere 25 bucks.

Lucky day. And one day shipping! Give me a day or three to finish Edith Finch, and back to open world mayhem.

In the meantime, I played the cute cooks game for the kids, and it’s fun in a “cute fun thing you play with kids” sort of way.


Boom! Nice! Now I feel like a sucker for paying full price 6 months ago.

Ah well.

Mr. O’ never did go back to it. He had a lot of work stuff going on for a while and said he would be better off not getting sucked into a giant game right then, and so, in an amazing display of control, he did not play anything. He hasn’t even started up RDR2 again, even now that I’m done and won’t delete his save (probably).

But this all goes to say even more that I definitely need to play it, so someone will get some value out of the disc I paid full price for like a sucker.

It’s on.


It is on! After I finish this game. Be patient.

Though this sounds like even I can get it done rather quickly.

Poor Mr. O. He keeps this up, he’s gonna forget how to play video games. I don’t know how he stays away. I mean, besides the fact that he has a job and other hobbies and doesn’t really need it to keep his sanity.


And yet he spends all day with high school kids. He SHOULD need a sanity break.

But he watches a lot of TV shows he can put on in the background while he works on image files or whatever. Maybe that helps.


Ah, yes. I often forget that some adults use the television to watch shows. I suppose there’s all sorts of stuff on the TV besides games, hockey and Let’s Go Luna.

But all of that shall remain a mystery to me.


To me as well, since all I use the television for is playing video games. I understand TV has some good shows! “Golden age of television” and all that!

I shall never know.


I’ve watched a couple of shows on the treadmill, and, mostly, I just find holes in the narrative and get pissed off. It’s no fun finding holes in narratives without being able to blog about it.

Plus, I have yet to find a TV show that doesn’t have shitty controls and inventory management.


It’s always terrible!

WHERE DO I STASH MY LOOT, television? You have got to make this easier.


Really, it makes perfect sense to avoid it.

But I don’t have the coordination to play games while on the treadmill, and you gotta do something.


See, I just play Pokemon Go while walking. There’s a slightly elevated risk of walking directly into a tree compared to the treadmill, but way more Pokemon.

And the inventory management is pretty straightforward, although I do regularly run out of room in my storage. Because this is my lot in life.


Which is odd because you are not really a collector of stuff in real life. Virtually? Yes. But shit, I bet I have more address labels than you do.


Oh, dude. I’ve got address labels. You probably have more, but only because you’ve lived at your address for longer than I’ve lived at mine. I SAVE the address labels. I have many lovely charitable options from which to choose each time I seal an envelope.

For a while I was using them whenever I wrote a check, because my checks had my old address and so I’d stick one on them, but then I ran out of checks with the old address. Not that I write very many checks anyway…there are no Amazon points involved, so it’s kind of a waste of reward potential.

But I have the address labels. And the little notepads. We stick them to the refrigerator and use them for grocery lists.

You’re right, though, aside from “any free junk” I don’t really collect much in real life. It’s because the virtual collecting is so much more compact! No dusting, no having to find shelf (or cage) space, no feeding a huge menagerie of weird animals, no worrying about the kids breaking one (or being eaten by one). Virtual collecting is the only way to go, man.


It is. It very much is.

I’ve been trying to explain this to Junior. This weekend, we tried to help him clean out/organize his room. Conversations such as this were had:

Me: C’mon, man, get this organized.
Him: It is.
Me: Dude, what’s all this in this file cabinet?
Him: That’s all my school stuff from before.
Me: What do you mean before?
Him: Like, third, fourth, fifth grade.
Me: Well can we get rid of all that, considering you are now in sixth grade?
Him: No. I want to keep it.
Me: Why on earth do you want to keep school work you did in third grade?
Him: I don’t know. I just do.

I’m sure, somewhere, he has a drawer filled with noting but oregano and wild carrots.


He does! Undoubtedly!

He’s just waiting for Roach to show up. Or for himself to get inspired to cook something that needs just the perfect seasoning.

If you find his cocaine gum, let me know. I could use a bit of an energy boost this afternoon.


I’ll let you know. But if I find his gin, I’m keeping it.

We can split up all the silver belt buckles.


Deal. I COULD really use a nice silver belt buckle. They never go out of style.


Here’s what you DON’T need:

An 18 inch table top prize wheel. It looks like wheel of fortune. And it’s my hotmail side ad, and I have no idea why.



Mine was just showing me a Monster ad for an engineering job in Leominister. Because…I don’t know why.

Ooh, but earlier today it was Miller High Life! Maybe it was hoping I’d buy some for you? Because it thinks you like it? Who the hell knows, man.


Well, at least we know that, if it is spying on us, it’s not very good at it.


This is a comforting truth. For now.