Thinking With Portals and Talking to the Crab

I question the veracity of the cake:

Yeah, I live under a rock. It took me this long to finally play Portal. Go ahead and laugh.

Now you're thinking with portalsIt came out during my hiatus from gaming, so I largely missed the hype during its release. Didn’t learn much about it until Portal 2 came around, and even then, it honestly didn’t seem that interesting to me, despite all its popularity.

But both Portal games recently went on sale on Steam for less than they’d normally be individually, so I figured I had little to lose. Growing bored with Diablo and not yet ready to return to Warcraft full time, I installed it yesterday.

There’s no point in giving a full review since everyone’s familiar with the game by now, but there are a few thoughts I’d like to share.

Portal is obviously a brilliant game in a lot of ways. I actually found it frustrating as much as fun, but from the perspective of someone with an interest in game design, it was quite an amazing experience. I’ve never played anything quite like it.

I’m not even sure what genre to classify it as. The best I can come up with is “first person head-scratcher” or perhaps “first person Escher.”

Whatever you call it, it’s utterly unique, and that alone makes it a game I’d strongly recommend — you know, to other people who live under a rock and haven’t played it yet.

That said, I don’t think it quite lived up to all the hype. There were some puzzles that mostly just had me pulling my hair out in frustration, and it sometimes gave me painful flashbacks to the jumping puzzles in Drakan: Order of the Flame and other adventure games of my youth. One of my guiding beliefs in life is that humanity has evolved beyond the need for jumping puzzles.

And then there’s the fact that I finished the entire game in roughly four hours.

Four hours. I’ve played demos longer than that. I’ve had Deadmines runs longer than that. I counted Dungeon Siege III as a short game, and it still took me about a week to finish.

A screenshot from PortalStill, as I said, it was worthwhile as an exercise in inventive game design if nothing else. I count myself lucky to have seen some of the earliest days of PC gaming and watched the birth of entire genres, but it seemed those days were past — a depressing thought. Portal, though, is every bit as groundbreaking as the early strategy games and first person shooters of my childhood.

Portal gives me hope for the future of the gaming industry. It shows there’s still new ground to be broken.

Onward to Portal 2!

Talking to the crab:

The flames of rogue anger on Blizzard’s forum have died down to a few flickering embers of nerdrage over the past few days, but there’s still a bit of interesting discussion going on, and Ghostcrawler is still favouring us with the occasional post.

Notably, he answered another of my questions. I’d wanted to know if the changes to combat potency related to weapon speed meant that combat rogues were intended to viably dual wield 2.6 speed weapons (IE non-daggers) in Mists of Pandaria.

My rogue surveys her domainThis is something that I and many other combat rogues have long wanted. The spec hasn’t felt quite the same since they stopped making swords that are viable for offhand use. I miss my “fury rogue” look from Wrath, and having a dagger in one hand and a big sword or axe in the other just looks goofy and awkward.

GC’s answer boils down to, “Hopefully.” The way the beta’s gone so far for rogues doesn’t encourage me to optimism, but I will be overjoyed if I can be a fury rogue again in MoP. This is definitely the best rogue news to come out of the beta so far, if you ask me. Except maybe bandit’s guile stacking on the rogue.

New article:

You know how I said the last Weird Worm article was the final one I did for them? And how I said the same for the one before it? Well, 10 Female Video Game Characters Who Are More Than Just Eye Candy is really the last one. Serious this time.

Fan art of Sylvanas WindrunnerFunny story behind this one, actually. I originally wrote it many months ago for a different “list” site (which shall remain nameless), along with two other articles, but the site turned out to be run by lying, thieving, scum-sucking bastards who didn’t pay me for any of the articles.

The first two were already posted, and they ignored my request to remove them, but I was able to retract this one before they posted it. I then sold it to Weird Worm to recoup some of my losses.

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