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Why So Few Violent Games?  
05:33pm 15/08/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

With as much time as game designers and critics think and write about the specifics of game interactions, it’s often useful to step back and look at the basics. Let’s ask a simple question: why are there so many video games dealing with social interaction and relationships, and so few that explore violence and action-oriented gameplay?

In some ways, it’s a historical aberration. If Gygax and Arneson had made some war-focused game instead of Counts and Courtship, or Will Crowther had decided to entertain his kids with his obscure caving hobby instead of an exploration of his childhood friendships, perhaps the focus of our games would be different. Doom wouldn’t have been an oddball niche title if there were a hundred other games at the time about shooting aliens with guns.

But I think there’s a more fundamental issue at work here: violence and action are really difficult to simulate, unlike simple relationships.

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The Non-Interactive Stanley Parable  
03:40pm 05/08/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

A screenshot of two identical doors from The Stanley ParableThe author of The Stanley Parable says that “it’s actually best if you don’t know anything about it before you play it.” And that’s probably true. So if you like, you can play it before continuing.

While we’re waiting, a bit of background: The Stanley Parable is a game by Davey Wreden made in the Source Engine. It requires some form of the Source 2007 engine to play, which you have if you own Half-Life 2.

The Stanley Parable, for all its exploration of interactivity and choice and video games, isn’t actually interactive at all when you get right down to it. Yes, it has six endings and branching and all that. But as with many games with multiple endings, as soon as you tell the player that they exist, she wants to view them all. And especially with Stanley‘s left-or-right, red-or-blue choice structure, trying out the choices exhaustively is trivial.

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TASOAE: 065  
12:00am 23/07/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

Some tests were just rough for everyone involved. There was also this weird phenomenon where tests would have typos noted on the board. Sometimes these were major issues!

tags: tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 64.5  
12:00am 16/07/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

This comic was done for our April Fools issue, the Thron. It was done by one of the humor writers. I have no comment.

tags: comics, tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 064  
12:00am 09/07/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

There’s a club fair at the beginning of each school year, of course, to recruit members for various campus organizations. Junior year, the SGA had a great idea: do a winter club fair too, to recruit people who discovered they had extra time or were looking to check out new groups. Unfortunately, they did a better job of informing the clubs than informing the students at large. As a result, despite free candy, no one really came. It was a sad room full of dejected people sitting around foamboard displays, like a science fair where the judges decided not to show.

Continuity error in panel 3.

tags: comics, tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 063  
12:00am 02/07/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

I think the winter snowball fight comics are my favorites.

Brynne doesn’t snowball-fight, I think. And Cassie’s never been good at telling when people would rather not have frozen water thrown at their face. Cthulhu can tell, of course; he just doesn’t care.

tags: comics, tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 62  
12:00am 25/06/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

Personal projects were common at Rose; I had a roommate that would build complex Lego robots that performed tasks that strained the bonding forces of the bricks themselves. Another roommate built his own server rack and coded up a service that provided a browser homepage full of quick links. I played around with game development and coded some interactive fiction. I’m a bit distrustful of a computer scientist or engineer who’s never worked on a side project.

tags: tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 61  
12:00am 18/06/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

I make an all-too-easy mistake in this comic. It doesn’t make any sense that Brynne is surprised by Cassie’s spider legs. Just because the reader can’t see them doesn’t mean Brynne can’t, and it’s hard to believe that she’d miss it. I should have put Cassie in the bathroom or behind a closed door or something.

tags: tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 060  
12:00am 11/06/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

Sam’s Club was a mainstay for many college students. By junior year, I’d already become familiar enough with Wal-Mart’s business and employee practices to choose not to shop at either of the corporation’s brands. Still, it was a very popular store, and resulted in students coming home with tubs of cheese puffs the size of a freshman.

In retrospect, it might have been funnier to have Brynne be the one who bought the pig’s blood.

tags: comics, tasoae
 
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TASOAE: 059  
12:00am 04/06/2011
 
 
Gregory Weir

Originally published at Ludus Novus. Please leave any comments there.

And two months in, the new cast finally meets the old cast. The junior-year transition was a bit of a Wizard of Id moment for the strip, when it became sort of divorced from its foundational concept. Id is named after its wizard, which became less of a focus of the strip over the years. In a similar way, The Absolute Sum of All Evil‘s title refers to Cthulhu, who is quite evil. Neither Brynne nor Cassie is really evil, despite Brynne’s growing desire for revenge. I think I figured out a decent balance of the two casts by the end of the strip.

It’s also worth noting that Cthulhu is evil, but not always malicious. His is a distant, uncaring evil, where given the option between helping you and hurting you he will choose harm, but doesn’t care enough about you to choose a particularly painful sort of harm. Human-type people are less fundamentally evil, but are capable of far more acute bouts of malice.

tags: comics, tasoae
 
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