ON!VG! EPISODE 129: The Promise Of The Premise

Posted by Mat on 19th December, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
special boy

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

WATCH SNOWPIERCER

We talk about fighting game accessibility. For a really long time. And then later on the most accessible AAA game on the market.

Support the show on Patreon!

PLAY ATTENTION:

Danganronpa
Pokemon, but, like, just one pokemon specifically
Farcry 4
Captain Toad
Framed
no-one has to die
Monument Valley
Crossy Road
Jackbox Party Pack

RAD LINKS:

That PBS Idea channel video
Waluigi: The Reflection Of Two Reflections

ON!VG! EPISODE 128: Rest In Peace, Mate

Posted by Mat on 9th December, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
ONVGPOD

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

Laura returns! Josh isn’t around! It’s the perfect ON!VG! line-up!

Our new show art is by Wicked-Draws! We talk about Contextual Maps! Amiibos! We do our most unsettling Patreon Advertisement yet!

Closing out the episode is the track Werewolf on the Dance Floor by The Robot Knights! We briefly talked about the Jetta Rae interview with Christine Love and Maddy Myers. The Robot Knights is a band that Myers is in! They’re rad, it turns out!

Support the show on Patreon!

PLAY ATTENTION:

Starcraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm
Game Of The Year: 420BLAZEIT
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Alien: Isolation
Seventh Hero / Android: Infiltration
Smash BrosAmiibos
Endless Legend
Tales From The Borderlands (and other recent telltale stuff)

RAD LINKS:

When Cheese Fails Episode 8
Please Let Me Get What I Want
That Maddy Myers/Christine Love Interview

Ice Analyser Episode 6: Put a Flake In It

Posted by Martin Falder on 8th December, 2014 | There is one comment on this article.
n64600

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

Join Mat and Martin on an adventure in disrespecting Kraft Foods, blowing up a beach, and confusing your relatives. Jam twenty data packs into your Nintendo 64 at once and let’s play some freakin’ Netrunner.

15 Million Merits

Posted by Mat on 2nd December, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
mirror

Charlie Brooker’s macabre one-shot episodes in series Black Mirror made its way to US Netflix today. That’s enough of a kick-up-the-arse to finally get something written about one of the more important things on (and about) our screens. Spoilers, obviously.

Every single moment of Black Mirror’s sophomore episode displays an oppressive social system working exactly as intended. An overly specific and heavy-handed way of looking at our own society as it currently functions, but it’s perfectly encapsulated problems with widespread political and personal apathy, their causes and their results. It’s my favourite of the 6 hour long standalone episodes, with strong competition from White Bear, Be Right Back and The National Anthem (in that order, the remaining two don’t even make the list).

For the majority of the world in 15 Million Merits, their nights are spent confined to a smartscreen-paneled box that provides entertainment at a pittance-cost but little actual purpose, a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach to emptying their wallets of digital currency, with willing participants ready to assuage feelings of boredom and monotony. Your days are spent riding a stationary bike for your spending money until you’re incapable, then becoming yellow-garbed cleaning staff for the facility (“going lemon”). The only hope of escape is to win big on a televised talent show, accepting the immediate offer of a Simon Cowell-type and his panel of sycophants.

Standing in for John Hurt, Daniel Kaluuya plays Bing Madson. He’s carrying around a sizeable inheritance from his late brother. He’s reached an advanced stage of ennui with his surroundings. He’s unhappy, but he’s not looking for an active change. He is of average importance. He’s acting out routine. He is every other human alive. He meets Jessica Brown Findlay’s Abi Khan while she’s singing to herself. Seeing this performance as a moment of genuine beauty, falling instantly in love, he convinces her to use his inheritance as entry fee to get on stage and try to win her way off The Bike.

Then: well.

Here are some important observations about the world that are never called to attention but are worth thinking about on a repeat viewing:

  • There are no old people. The oldest people shown on-screen are part of the Panel.
  • The bikes are never actually shown powering anything.
  • No one is ever shown trying to escape.
  • There’s very little security, none of it armed.

Modern Day England struggles with mass unemployment for our youth. A common trend in politics is a noted resentment for anyone with a work-related disability and for immigrants. Our culture, such as it is, affords us in the working class few other luxuries than a crate of some shitty lager, some shitty licence fee-funded talent shows, some shitty video games. Those of us without the possibility of work aren’t even permitted these pleasures, being forced to attend the Job Centre daily at self expense or perform a job as a means of access to the basic costs of living, but far below the minimum wage as a prescribed means of earning a right to eat, but more accurately having your time maximise the profit of corporate interests that can use you as free labour in place of a fully paid worker. Our existing public structures are being torn apart in the aim of profit for few already profit-laden waistbands. But, with a strong method of PR management from the government, our news sources and even our entertainment, the vast majority of our population doesn’t really give a shit enough.

A lot of criticism of the episode sees it as highlighting our obsession with microtransactions and smartphones, where piecemeal content without much actual value offers a small pricepoint and distracts us. More accurately, the net is wider. It’s also decrying our obsession with the meaningless busywork that funds our purchases, the shitty distractions and even though we’ve some conscious awareness, we’re overwhelmingly accepting that this is the way of the world in the vain hope that we’ll someday benefit from these systems as we progress past their oppression without then trying to dismantle it.

15 Million Merits displays a world where real food can be effectively grown in a petri dish, but yet there’s still a mass incentive that every single person alive be kept busy by spending money on things they don’t need and physically exhausted through hours of labour. This is not the prison of pleasure that Huxley imagined, nor the manipulative surveillance state of 1984, this is control through a culture of work.

It would not entirely surprise me, given that we’re never shown the bikes actually hooked up to anything, that the world portrayed in this scant hour has also created a secret source of limitless energy. A dynamo attached to a bike, even as efficient as it could be, might not regain the energy expended by the facility. Brooker and Huq have made a world that has truly completely automated the means of production yet still sees necessity in a vestigial capitalism.

The “lemons” are a great analogy for modern UKs treatment of anyone out of work, either through disability or economic downturn beyond their control. A group that does not actively participate in sustaining the culture of economy despite their presence enriching the environment around them. There are video games dedicated to shooting them. A television show about covering them with a viscous gel fired from a water cannon. They are Othered, constantly insulted. As a member of this society you daren’t allow yourself to ever dream of escaping from The Bike because you become one of them. Not having to peddle any more should be seen as the dream goal achieved through hard work and perseverance, not by suddenly being unable.

Abi’s performance on-stage ends with her being forced into a lifetime of starring in pornography. In a vacuum this is a purposeful removal of her agency, her authored way of showing her escape from The Bike comes at a cost. In a greater cultural context this is a pretty paternalistic view of sex work. And really her agency is lost not just for the sake of the narrative, but for the in favour of becoming motivation for Bing to try and affect change. It’s my least favourite part.

Bing suffers through months of overwork and self-starvation, attempting to raise enough Merits to enter the talent show himself and give an impassioned speech, without really expecting what kind of impact it will have. Holding himself at the point of a broken shard of glass he shouts down the structures, the willing participants, the culture of Shit. Simon Cowalmost responds to this with an offer, that he keep saying exactly the same thing, twice a week, televised, packaged itself as a form of entertainment for the masses that continues to keep them apathetic.

I mentioned the relative lack of security before. Yeah. Obviously. Why would they need any?

Ice Analyser Episode 5: We’ve Fixed Netrunner, Alright?

Posted by Martin Falder on 8th November, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
illuminati

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

Just two pals, exploding with glee over bits of cardboard they got to see a month earlier than they were supposed to; it’s Ice Analyser. We also shoot the breeze about Martin’s terrible poker face, hand bloat mechanics, and murdering nerds in a dank basement.

ON!VG! Episode 127: Wonky Donkey

Posted by Mat on 7th November, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
Friends

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

The Game City episode! We have some things to say about space! And SMTV live!

PLAY ATTENTION:

A Bunch Of Stuff From Game City!
Civ:BE
Elite: Dangerous / Spore
Bernband
Shadow Of Mordor

RAD LINKS:

The Trailer For Chappie
Steven Universe
That Cara Piece On Graffiti In Alien
Pachinko Man
Run The Jewels 2
A Measured Response

ON!VG! Episode 126: Respect The Children

Posted by Mat on 27th October, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
claw

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

Did you guess the right Word Of The Week? Who is Tinchy Stryder? Who will be my Nate Dogg?

PLAY ATTENTION:

Civ:BE
Grimrock 2
Shadowrun Returns
TNG TWSTRS / Realistic Kissing Simulator
12$
Speed Chess
Dota 2
Hexic Helix

RAD LINKS:

The Tinchy Stryder Song With The Chuckle Brothers In It
Boss Fight Books

That Trailer For Hatred

Posted by Mat on 17th October, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
hatred

The reception to Kinji Fukasaku’s filmic adaptation of Battle Royale was exceedingly critical from members of the Japanese parliament who publicly decried the work as unnecessarily crass and viewed the subject matter as inappropriate, the film detailing the struggles of a high school class forced by government initiative to murder each other so that one survivor might earn their freedom from a remote island. It was probably politically difficult for any of them to put it on their Top 5 list for that year.

It was only in 2012 (over a decade after its initial release) that Battle Royale was able to find a distributor in North America, entirely due to its inability to receive an age rating. It has been banned outright in Germany. Though it’s always been available in the UK I saw it for my first time as a compressed-to-shit .avi that a friend had downloaded after hearing of its noted depravity. I would have never been able to rent it at the video store. My mum’s a nice lady and is pretty relaxed about this sort of thing, but something tells me I might have had a hard sell.

Battle Royale is a fantastic film. It is one of the Capital ‘G’ Great films. It is a shocking piece of work that utterly justifies every graphic depiction of violence in its roughly two hour run-time. It is a deeply satirical text which uses its abundant bloodshed and death as an attempt to admonish violence. It does not revel in any of its content, despite deriving gallows humour from some of it. Violent acts are committed out of a forced necessity spurred by a power that is larger than any of the people involved.

Its reading specifically as a political allegory is all the more relevant now, with current government programs set about with little forethought result in meaningless and ongoing suffering, forcing others to do undue harm to others.

The trailer for Destructive Creations’ “Hatred” was released today to a mixture of dismay, outcry and some yawns. Hatred purportedly places the player in control of a spree-killer gunning down innocents. It starts with a Jackie Estacado-type monologuing and continues to an isometric view of gameplay followed by Skyrim-like Kill-cam shots and closing on a stylised logo, later some release-date information.

Before any of the killing starts I’m already calling it hackneyed. I’m confused by the premise with just a few words from the lead.

The protagonist, rattling off a manifesto as VO to him tooling up by placing too many items into his seemingly bottomless and sideless left jacket pocket, admits to two separate and disparate forms of motivation. His actions are described as being brought on by both an angry nihilism and also as a form of “vengeance”. That’s impossible. I’ve gone over it 20 times since. You can’t take “Vengeance” when no one has done anything.

If pushed, I can try and work around the language there. He’s angry at everyone and wants to kill them and then die himself, but labeling that as revenge isn’t really in keeping with his other words. He never admits to a cause for his anger nor actively blames the people he’s choosing to hurt who’ve done nothing at all. By his own admission, he’s always wanted to die violently. He’s wanted to die violently before anyone could have possibly done anything to make him want that. In what way is he enacting revenge?

I’ve been thinking about that turn of phrase for just a few hours and I didn’t even write it. Did the actual scribe have some uncomfortable time pressure for completion or was it just getting close to lunch?

Is that the killer’s house, by the way? Like, does he live there or has he broken in? I ask because there are neatly stacked beer bottles still in their cardboard carriers dotted around the environment. It’s to show that he’s a drinker, clearly. It’s part of his Edge that he drinks to numb the pain of the world around him. There’s a lit cigarette smoking away on the table for the same reason (Why didn’t he finish his cigarette before he started tooling up? Is it for show? Who is he showing off for?). If he’s shown to be a drinker, he’s the neatest drinker in earth’s history. Finishing bottles and putting them right back into the things he carried them home in. Either that or he hasn’t gotten around to slamming them into his tum-tum yet. Why not? Your plan is to die during this escapade. Drink the booze you’ve bought before then. Is the rampage taking place a day early or something? Could it not wait until the weekend?

Why is this happening at, judging by the clock, either around 3:45 or 8:20? It’s night time, so it’s either early evening or before the sun’s up. Why so late? Does that mean he went to work that day and is starting the rampage afterward? He has to have a job to afford all the guns, right? Why not take a sick day and start the rampage in the afternoon? There’s better visibility, dude! You’re not intending to deal with the consequences of an unauthorised absence.

I’m not intending to be petty, I’m trying to make a point that Hatred seems thoughtless and trite, it seems like a po-faced and ridiculous attempt to garner controversy. It looks fucking terrible. It looks like a teenager might have bragged about it to a friend as their game design plan for when they finally got that job at Nintendo, but made all the more ridiculous knowing it’s the product of fully grown men. I’ve seen the photo of the team. All of them are settling into their 30s or are readily approaching it. And I’m sad about that. I’m sad about all the doors that these men have shut in their life in order to get to this point. And perhaps without even knowing it.

There’s your criticism instead of at all discussing the game’s violence. I’m sorry if you thought I was going to. I can’t be bothered. What I’ll say is I can appreciate a piece of art using difficult theme with meaningful intent. I think Hatred looks terrible, and I say that not as a criticism of its graphic content, I say that in a really formalist way where art’s only really successful if the content works as deliberate attempt to convey a message. And what I gather from the trailer itself and some notes from the team’s website, the only real aim is to make an isometric shooter where you kill innocent people.

That’s an okay goal, I guess? It already seems like Mission Complete. It seems like you start burning the .exe onto CDs and start handing them out from your trunk after some Grindcore gigs. This team wants to make a game where you shoot people and the mechanics they’ve put in place allow the player to do that with little issue. 10/10.

But without any larger statement, without any mid-game turn-around where suddenly there’s some statement about our willingness to enjoy a game despite its devoid morals, without it turning out to be Frog Fractions 2, it’s a pretty straightforward attempt to do something that’s been done before. That’s bad art. That’s the sort of art that people with monocles and degrees look at and call juvenile. Derivative, even.

I don’t think Hatred seems like shit because it’s overly violent. I think it seems like shit because I’ve seen it done better already.

Ice Analyser Episode 4: Buffy Versus The X-Men

Posted by Martin Falder on 16th October, 2014 | There is one comment on this article.
magic-beans

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

Mat and Martin get together to discuss magic beans, high school hackers, throwing everything in the trash, and why Lukas Litzsinger hates Martin so much.

ON!VG! Episode 125: He’s In A Memory Coma

Posted by Mat on 9th October, 2014 | There are no comments on this article.
phone

Download Here
Subscribe on iTunes Here
Subscribe on RSS Here

We have a long conversation about Guards in stealth games and Mint Condition Gamecube Controllers

PLAY ATTENTION:

Heat Signature
Volume vs The Marvelous Miss Take
How To Be A Tree
Envirogolf
kooltool
Life Is Strange
Remember Me
King Of Dragon Pass

RAD LINKS:

Tim Skew’s Remember Me Review In A Twine Game

Recent Podcasts!