I’m sitting quietly in my office listening to Guy Clark, contemplating the wasted years and unanswered questions of a life mis-lived. I sip Earl Gray Tea from a cup with the words ” Domestically Disabled” emblazoned across the painting of a pretty socialite. Then I shake it off to realize that I write about video games…and that I’m getting old. Life is about living, and to me, it’s about spring baseball, games and some other random things.
Anyhow, I’m putting together a list of things that I find interesting, or repulsive, or just odd. I’m trying to represent a demographic of men and ladies that prehaps have some nerdy interests and are in their 30s plus, and don’t have the time or inclination to find this stuff. So, here is the said stuff. Smile a silly smile today and do something awesome. Where have you gone Hunter? Where have you gone?
I’m sure everyone and their mother is raving about this show by now. I’m not such an elitist that I won’t comment or like things just because they’re mainstream, which this show definitely is not. For the uninitiated, the show is griping, powerful and dark, just like the T-Bone Burnett crafted music and theme song performed by ‘The Handsome Family‘. It is southern gothic goodness. The quirky and slightly off-kilter song jangles along like it isn’t supposed to be there, and images once reserved for a Nine Inch Nails concert flash across the screen.
The show revolves around an expertly designed time shift following two detectives played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew Mcconaughey. Both do an incredible job, and their relationship and interplay together is the best acting I’ve seen. This is no buddy cop nonsense. Both of these characters are profoundly flawed but have redeeming qualities. Those good qualities often take a back seat to the neuroses and psychological issues these men have. The pursuit of what may be a serial killer provides a stage for these to men to act out their search for deeper meaning in life. Bleak, troubling and self loathing at times, True Detectives is soon to be a recognized gem of Americana. I won’t drone on anymore, I’m sure there are much better observations out there to be found. Besides, I have cold coffee and warm bourbon waiting to sip as I bore you with other things.
I Wish I hadn’t seen that?
Fiber optic A@# Sex. Now with more fiber!
So, um, yeah. This is really a thing. I’m not sure whether to cringe or, cringe. Genuinely one of those feelings where you don’t know if you should share this or not. That kind of feeling you get when you see a cousin looking more sexy than they should to you. Or, if you’re of the male heterosexual persuasian, you see a thin silhouette of a long haired beauty, only to find out he’s the lead singer of a heavy metal band named Dirk.
Upon Further Review: State of Decay
I’m hoping this section will be a regular part of my ramblings. Many of us don’t have the time and money to go out and get the newest games, and some games go through phases of unplayable buggyness. Sometimes these bugs get worked out, sometimes they don’t and sometimes DLC and some time can give you clarity about a game. The game I’m talking about this week is ‘State of Decay’ by ‘Undead Labs.’ The game company ‘Undead Labs’ is a small game company based in Seattle. Their game ‘State of Decay’ is the epitome of indie cred and workmanship, though they’ve signed on with Microsoft Studio. More of that later though.
‘State of Decay’ is the game I’ve been waiting for since I picked up a controller. I’m a fan of good horror movies like most of what George Romero put out, the ‘Army of Darkness’ franchise as well as ‘ Shawn of the Dead’ and some others. So, this game speaks to me. The game tasks you with building and maintaining a community of survivors, scavenging to get by and definately destroying the undead. The game is story-light, but what’s there is actually pretty good. The game throws out multiple scenario possibilities for the cause of the apocolypse, but doesn’t get its hands dirty with reasons. This game is more about the little morsels you retrieve about how life was before and what real people will need to worry about. It’s about the distressed American dream and the remainder of it’s unkempt carcass. The day to day, one day at a time philosophy takes hold here as you must maintain not only food, ammo building supplies and gasoline, but also the dynamics of the survivors you choose to let into your community.
Although the game starts you off as a character named Marcus with a nearly inept and nerdy friend Ed, the purpose of the game is to play as the community. You’re able to switch from one survivor to another that you’ve befriended, and the light RPG elements allow you to customize and power up multiple attributes to build a strong community. Some of the survivors you encounter will have certain drawbacks, such as a drinking or smoking habit that will slow down their progression. Having someone that is a lush and also “drank a lot” with the “skill” of beer pong is a funny device, but also adds even more depth. The main game starts days after the fall of humanity, or the disease that has taken hold in at least the general area, and you’re tasked with finding a community, securing that communities safety and then finding a way to escape Trumball Valley.
The first addition to the game is the downloadable content “Breakdown.” This mode is like groundhog day meets the living dead. In short, the mode is all about finding a home, sacking the valley of everything that it has, building a group of powerful and useful survivors and then “escaping.” Escape happens in the form of finding an RV and moving to a new place. That new place turns out to be more of the same place you just left. You essentially hit the restart button, this time starting from scratch with no home, stranded and this time with higher difficulty. Resources become more and more scarce and the hoardes that walk the streets and fields become faster, more aware and harder to deal with in general. This is offset by unlocking special characters called “heros” when you meet certain challenges like killing 50 zombies with a rifle etc. Although ‘Breakdown’ is less about story, I found it more compelling because there was an invisible progression. It seemed like there was a chance to save my ragtag group of smokers, drinkers and jerks. Even if it is an illusion, it seemed like there was hope. You play a part in making that fight for hope one worth fighting.
‘State of Decay’ certainly has its share of bugs. There is nothing more frustrating than sneaking silently around a hoard of flesh eaters, making your way past a zombie that is a towering hulk of a hillbilly to make it into a shed, and then have a zombie phase through the wall to chomp on your tasty head parts. Draw distance and images taking forever to render are a pain as well. There are vehicles in the game you can drive, and sometimes you’ll be chugging along doing 90 mph on the way back to your ranch, when suddenly a vehicle appears in your path, crashing up your sweet grill and bumper. Although the game has its moments of intense frustration, if you can look past the games limitations and see what a small team was able to do with small resources, brains and incredible amounts of creativity, you’ll find a remarkable experience. ‘Undead Labs’ was working with a tiny budget and took a ton of chances and risks. Talk about pulling a Macguyver. This team took duct tape and toggle switches and made a detonator for a nuke.
I have to acknowledge the studios online forums at undeadlabs.com as well. It’s one of the most helpful and interactive I’ve seen. I’ve been lurking there since the game came out, and the staff like Undead Brant, Undead Sanya and Undead Nicole are constantly involved with the community. The forum page ‘guns’ is the most active, and the team gleans information from the community to add guns and other weapons to the game. The gun selection is absurdly extensive, especially considering that the game only costs 20 bones and is an arcade game on Xbox Live. Speaking of Xbox, the ‘Undead Labs’ team just signed some sort of super-secret mega deal to develop more games for the media and computer titan. Things are hush hush, but it looks like the team will be able to finally make their much anticpated game ‘Class-4’ that is said to be an MMO based in the same universe. Things are fluid, so don’t quote me on that last part. That brings me to an item of contention and a ton of disappointment on my part-the game is single player only. This game screams and begs for co-op, but allas, it was too much to do.
cost: 20 dollars on Xbox Live and PC
DLC: yes, 6 dollars.
Suggested for old guys and gals? For sure. Especially if you have some time to invest. The game has a permadeath feature and actually simulates when you’re not around. Look into it for more information. Seriously. Now where are my fiber optic manties?