Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nobody's Fool

In defiance of the calendar, today's post will be 100 percent earnest and truthful. Sorry! I'm not a very funny guy (not intentionally, at least), and it's good to know your limits.

I wondered how the fine folks at Doofy Crap would handle today's occasion (their first, to my reckoning). They deal in the droll on a daily basis, after all. When your MO is tomfoolery, what do you do on the day when everyone else gets stupid? Do they cancel each other out, like a double negative? I wasn't disappointed in the Doofy response.

On a more serious and work-related note, Jeremy Dunham over at IGN was kind enough to invite me onto their GameSages podcast yesterday, along with Official Xbox Magazine senior editor Dan Amrich, and current TeamXbox contributing editor and games press elder statesman Andy Eddy. (I was a big fan of Andy's first magazine Video Games & Computer Entertainment -- one of the first intelligent console-game magazines, and one of the first game magazines I avidly read -- so it was a real gas to get to share a podcast table with him.) The topic was the games press: the ins and outs of writing about games, how to break into the industry, misconceptions about the job, the standards of games criticism, that sort of thing. Haven't heard the final product yet, but I think we had a really good discussion, and we managed to exceed GarageBand's maximum track length before we finished. Give it a listen, and feel free to bitch about my boring monotone; it wouldn't be a podcast without it.

Finally started playing some games again last night by jumping into a Company of Heroes skirmish match against AI with my buddy Mark from the east coast. And then another, and then another... By the time we quit I'd missed dinner and he'd stayed up late enough to (presumably) raise his wife's ire. Can't remember the last time I've been so enthralled by a strategy game (probably Starcraft), nor so humbled by a strat game's AI opponents. Still learning the tech tree and abilities, in my defense, but we only won one out of at least four matches against two AI players at the 'normal' level, which behaved in surprisingly dynamic and competitive ways. We got worked, basically.

I love the way COH handles resource nodes: they're small, strategically valuable points spread diffusely all over the map that you capture the same way you'd capture a control point in a Battlefield game. It makes your defense absolutely crucial; you have to figure out the right kind of defenses for the terrain and buildings surrounding every point, not to mention choke points all over the map where the enemy will be sending armor and infantry through. It was very tempting to play the game like Starcraft at first -- you know, build up a giant goddamn army and assign the whole thing to the 1 key, then roam around the map obliterating the other guy's expansions. But you so can't play COH that way. It's all about splitting up your troops into specialized teams, using the map features to your advantage, flanking the enemy position. It feels more like real warfare than most RTS games I've played; by way of analogy, COH is to RTS as the original Ghost Recon games were to Quake (but unlike Ghost Recon, COH doesn't make me want to punch myself repeatedly in the temples).

Company of Heroes and its standalone expansion Opposing Fronts are both on Steam as a combo pack for $40, and so far I can say it's worth every damn penny. I was waiting for Starcraft II to revitalize my interest in real-time strategy games (and still I can't wait to play it, especially now), but COH has really beaten it to the punch.


Anonymous said...

I'm all about having MGs and snipers next up in the inevitable big building conveniently located near most victory points. When I played Americans.

Your posts of late have gotten me back into COH as well, and a brutal refresher on how fucking crazy the Panzer Elite are.

Also, don't sell your bass rumblings that double as your voice short! Boring monotone my ass!

Jeff said...

I would just like to say that "boring monotone my ass" sounds like a really weird invitation. In my head, I envision someone sitting on a speaker.

Dante Kleinberg said...

Glad to see more folks on the anti-April Fool's day bandwagon!

Sincerity rules!!

Milkman519 said...

I'll be sure to give GameSages a listen. And yeah, Company of Heroes is one of best RTS-es I've ever played.

Dorian said...

The blog is great Brad but when are we going to hear that sexy voice again.

Dorian said...

Ok, so maybe I'm slow, will be sure to check out Gamesages.

Anonymous said...

hey brad
good work over at game sages
and you are right about company of heros
its a great but i was always sucky at the game but that never stopped me from havin fun

Logan said...

I was very pleasantly surprised to hear you introduced on 1up Yours yesterday! You're everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Sweet! I love that podcast!

Anonymous said...


heres the proof


heres the petition

spread the word

tell your family and friends tell everyone

Anonymous said...

Wow, Andy Eddy. I haven't heard that name in over a decade. I loved VG&CE, I remember back when the Genesis was unveiled (on a marble pedestal no less) for a cover twenty years ago. Or the crazy guy-in-a-Robocop-costume wielding a Zapper piece they did for the Robocop game. Not just a cut and paste, but a dude in full costume the got from who knows where.

They just don't do magazines like that any more.

Mike said...

Wow... I just found out about all these guys leaving GS and I have to admit I'm not entirely surprised. I kind of lost interest in video games after Jeff left, although the two aren't entirely related.

If you're out of work, why not set up your own website? With your following, you could some pretty decent money with Adsense. In case you don't know, Google allows webmasters to sell their advertisements and pays them for every visitor that clicks the add. While they don't disclose their rates, it adds up.

Even without your inherent popularity, you're an excellent writer. Why not try it? I invested $40 in a Sitemaker (moonfruit.com) account and $90 in submitting my site to search engines. In two weeks I attracted 2000 unique visitors.


ThalesA7X said...

Glad to hear that sexy voice on IGN and 1UP. MORE PLEASE! lol