👋 Hello. I am Vincent Leeuw and this is my blog about games and stuff. You can contact me on Mastodon.
This week on The Story Arc, we shall be making a Musou roster out of Marvel’s Spider-Man! In preparation for writing this article I decided I would become a complete expert on Spider-Man and read every single comic he has ever appeared in. This was 100% an unnecessary undertaking as that was over 4,000 comics but in doing so I feel I was able to make this roster the best I could!
A Spider-Man Dynasty Warriors? That's actually one of those odd-ball flavour combos that works when you stop and think about it. A nice trippy read into the Spider-Verse.
At its heart overall gameplay is, as the name suggests, a turn-based maze crawl in an eight-by-eight dungeon. The raised indentations between board spaces are for placing red "walls" as you run into them to build up the maze visually. The game tells you what's happening with twelve unique audio cues; since you have to know what they mean, the bottommost six keys on the left play them for you on demand (with the SWITCH key, they play the second bank of six). However, they're all fairly distinctive and suggest their meanings well, so I don't recall we had any trouble remembering them. The basic idea is to get the treasure and get back to your hideout before the other player gets it or the dragon gets you. A higher difficulty setting adds "doors" that randomly open and close, but this is annoying, and I'm pretty sure we played that mode exactly once. You could probably play a decent game in about ten or fifteen minutes.
Cameron Kaiser takes a look at a vintage Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game by Mattel and then proceeds to take it apart. It's kind of bizarre to think about these bespoke electronics being created for games back in the day. These days it's either a video game or a board game, but combining the two is seen as a waste of resources.
Oh my torch! They are making an actual sequel to the one point & click NES game I owned that was both extremely unfair and extremely illogical. And I'm all here for it.
I’ve been playing more Astalon: Tears of the Earth (PS4) in the past week. It is too comfortable for me to ignore especially considering it ticks so many boxes. Metroidvania, roguelite, and 8-bit sensibilities are catnip to me. It’s hard to ignore it. As such I’ve been ravaging my podcast playlist while exploring and occasionally grinding (the good kind) some of the older areas in the game.
In doing so, I've noticed that the game is even more densely packed than I initially thought. Returning to an area always gives you some new hint or activity to do. It’s actually better than some high-budget metroidvanias in making back-tracking feel like re-exploring the same area with different eyes, instead of just... well, walking back to open that one door.
So while the game already had an excellent base to build from, it’s pleasantly surprising to find the developer actually making use of it and building on top of that. I’ve unlocked some secondary abilities for the characters and as expected, it just conveniently slots into your arsenal while managing to give you goosebumps, even though some of them are simply based on a very tiny addition that is now possible.
Really, in case you didn’t get it already, you should get it. Both literally and figuratively. This is one of the most fun metroidvanias I’ve encountered in quite some time.
In 2021, Blizzard, a unit of Activision Blizzard Inc., implemented a process called stack ranking, in which employees are ranked on a bell curve and managers must give low ratings to a certain percentage of staff, according to people familiar with the change who asked not to be named discussing a private matter. Managers were expected to give a poor “developing” status to roughly 5% of employees on their teams, which would lower their profit-sharing bonus money and could hamper them from receiving raises or promotions in the near future at the Irvine, California-based company, known for games like Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
“When team leads asked why we had to do this, World of Warcraft directors explained that while they did not agree, the reasons given by executive leadership were that it was important to squeeze the bottom-most performers as a way to make sure everybody continues to grow,” Birmingham wrote in the email, which was reviewed by Bloomberg. “This sort of policy encourages competition between employees, sabotage of one another’s work, a desire for people to find low-performing teams that they can be the best-performing worker on, and ultimately erodes trust and destroys creativity.”
Every time I get the idea that Blizzard is just about managing to slowly crawl from the cesspit they've created for themselves, it seems to slide right back in. At this point it's becoming disruptive enough that together with Kotick's antics in general, it is a bit of a question why Microsoft would even bother at all with buying the lot.
Mobile presence & IP is the answer there of course, but blimey, with everything going on, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft disband the encompassing publishing company altogether and turn it into a handful of dedicated development studios, just to get rid of all the bad stuff. Both in the press and in practice.
- ↩️ Bloomberg
Somehow this is less comfortable to play than I expected.
Takami’s premise was well suited to video-game adaptation. The rules were clearly defined, the setting neatly contained, and competitive violence had been one of the medium’s primary currencies since the nineteen-sixties. Video-game technology, however, wasn’t quite up to par. In the early two-thousands, very few computers could simulate, in 3-D, the behavior of dozens of characters doing battle across an island, and very few Internet providers could calculate whether a banjo hurled by, say, Bob, in Kansas, would strike the head of Sven, in Stockholm.
Soon, though, such games would be more than possible: they would transform the industry. In 2020, Warzone, the Call of Duty series’ take on “Battle Royale,” attracted more than a hundred million active players, generating revenues of about three billion. The same year, Epic Games reported that Fortnite, its candy-colored, kid-friendly spin on “Battle Royale,” had three hundred and fifty million accounts—more than the population of the United States. (A recent lawsuit revealed that, when Fortnite was available on Apple devices, the game generated an estimated seven hundred million in App Store revenue.) Today, countless games, along with hit TV shows such as “Squid Game,” bear the stamp of “Battle Royale” ’s influence. Takami’s blueprint, drawn from a dream, has become one of the dominant paradigms in entertainment.
Battle Royale has been so dominant as a game mode in online games the past few years, that I almost forgot there were a film and a book before all the chicken dinners and stuff that followed. A short overview of how we got from A to Z in this genre from The New Yorker.