Video Games

Seven Examples of Gunpoint’s Great Design Choices (That Have Nothing to do With Gameplay)

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If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that when I get bent out of shape about a video game, it’s usually over something minor. Bioshock Infinite, for example, doesn’t allow players to manually save their games, which I groused about at length (well, at a length of 140 characters, at least). Far Cry 3 cluttered my screen with huge reminders to stay on-mission, despite being an open-world game where missions are the last thing I wanted to be doing. (They later patched this out due to gamer complaints.)

It’s not that these little details are game-ruiners, but when something minor is overlooked it makes me wonder if game developers actually ever play games. Like, did it not occur to the makers of Bioshock Infinite that I might want to save my game and quit, rather than run around for five or ten minutes trying to trigger the autosave function?

That’s why it’s so exciting when I realize that a game’s developer has actually thought about their game from the viewpoint of someone playing it. Dishonored’s comprehensive user interface settings is a great example: you can toggle and adjust just about everything on your screen, from quest markers to health bars to mission notifications. This sort of attention to the finer details says: “Hey, we make games, but we’re gamers too.”

Gunpoint is a new 2-D stealth puzzle game created by writer Tom Francis. In it, you infiltrate secure facilities, elude (or leap, tackle and punch) guards, and rewire electrical systems to help you navigate through buildings. Full disclosure here: I’ve never personally met Tom but I consider him a friend, I’m a huge fan of his writing, and he was integral in getting me started freelancing for PC Gamer. I’m not reviewing the game itself here, (though I think it’s excellent: fun, funny, and highly replayable, with charming art and music:  you should check out the game’s launch trailer to see what’s in store for you).

Instead, I want to point out a few examples of some design choices Tom made, and how they show he genuinely kept gamers in mind while creating his game.

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1) Try Before You Buy (In the Game)

As you complete jobs and earn money in Gunpoint, you can spend your virtual cash on new gadgets to help with your heists. This is nothing new in games, except for two distinct differences. You can try the gadgets out on a mini-level before you buy them, which is great. It sucks when you buy an upgrade in a game and wind up hating it, or worse, finding out that it doesn’t suit your playstyle, and you end up wishing you hadn’t bought it. Gunpoint gives you a chance to put your new gadgets through the paces to see if it’s something you want before you spend your precious heistbux on it.

What’s more, you can return your gadget to the in-game store for a refund. What’s even more: it’s a full refund. Whoever the unseen gadget vendor is in Gunpoint, he’s better than any other vendor in video games EVER. Vendors in video games are notorious for buying back your gear at far less than you paid. Not Gunpoint. Dude gives you a full refund. He is my hero. I think I’ll call him Clark. I love you, Clark.

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2) Try Before You Buy (In Real Life)

There’s a demo version of Gunpoint, so you can try out a handful of levels and see what the game is all about (you should do this now). Most game demos let you play for a while and then end with a splash screen, listing a bunch of features about the game, or maybe a link to where you can buy it, almost as an afterthought: “We’ve given you a taste of the game, and here’s a static list of features for you to stare at for ten seconds while you hammer on the Escape key. We’re done here.”

Tom actually created an interactive conversation between two of the game’s characters to let you know the demo is complete and suggest that you now buy the full game. It’s witty, it’s meta, it’s clever, and, hilariously, it lets you actually participate in Tom’s efforts to convince you to buy the game. I’ve never really seen anyone do something quite like that before. Most of all, it shows he didn’t just slice off a chunk of the game, stuff it into an executable, and theatrically dust off his hands. He gave this demo some custom content and personal attention.

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3) Failure Is an Option

In the spirit of games like Spelunky or Trials, screwing up in Gunpoint is usually funny and isn’t always a huge setback: the simple tap of a key gets you right back into the game. Gunpoint does this especially well by giving you some choices on reloading your game, as shown above. Do you want to erase the most recent stupid move you made? Maybe the last two? Or three? You can restart from scratch, load your last manual save, or rewind by several steps. The point is, you have options, where in many games, you don’t. ATTENTION EVERY OTHER GAME: DO THIS THING.

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4) You’re Not Slow, You’re Just “Thoughtful”

Like many games, Gunpoint tracks how much time you’re spending in a level. Games are notorious for pointing our your shortcomings, but when you’ve spent perhaps too much time solving a puzzle, Gunpoint gives you a speed rating of “Thoughtful.” This is nice. I mean, I know I suck, but Gunpoint is at least being considerate of my feelings. I appreciate it.

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5) Music Volume

This is totally minor, but I still noticed it. In any game with a constant soundtrack, I’m going to reach a point where I have to go into the options and turn the music down. This is especially true in puzzle games, where I need to concentrate. Even if it’s good music (and Gunpoint’s music is good), I just can’t think properly if the music is too loud. (I have the same problem while driving and trying to find an address: I have to turn my radio off). By default, Gunpoint’s soundtrack is set to 40% volume by default, saving me the trouble. The trouble, by the way, consists of me having to open a menu and move a slider, which is not even remotely trouble. But the idea that Tom knew players might need to do it is the point I’m trying to make.

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6) Story? What story?

Tom’s a writer, so I’m not surprised to find some great, snappy dialogue in Gunpoint. Of course, no matter how well a game is written, it’s unlikely you’re going to want to have to experience the story in full every single time you play. Once you’ve had enough of the story you can skip past the dialogue and just get right into the puzzles. I think Tom even knows you might not want to read everything on your first time through the game: as you can see above, even the character we’re playing doesn’t seem truly interested in the finer details. He just wants to break into some buildings and slap guards around.

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7) Commentary & Prototype Versions

If you buy the Special or Exclusive Edition of Gunpoint, you gain access to extras like developer commentary and prototype versions from earlier stages of development. MORE GAMES NEED THIS. Some of Valve’s games have commentary, one of the Riddick games does too, I think, and maybe a handful of others. Not nearly enough, though, and I think it’s something gamers would like to see more of.

The commentary mode plants little figures of Tom and his development team in the maps so you can listen to their thoughts on the game while you play. I did try to tackle and punch Tom (in the game), but it doesn’t work, sadly (I only wanted to do so because his avatar suggested there were eight different ways to solve a certain puzzle, and I had only come up with two).

At any rate, a lot of gamers are interested in how games are made, and there’s really something great about playing a game while listening to developers talk to you about how they made it. The prototype levels are neat, too, because you can play with the game at its earliest stages, and see firsthand how it has developed and changed over the years.

ANYWAY. GOOD JOB, TOM. Gunpoint is available on Steam (as is its demo) and you can find more details here at the Gunpoint site.

Movies | Summer Movie Fantasy League

Summer Movie Fantasy League 3: This Time It’s Personal

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It’s summer! There are movies! My wife and I are bored! That means it must be time for the Third Annual Livingston Summer Movie Fantasy League! Each summer, Kris and I each choose the ten summer movies we think will have the best domestic opening weekend earnings, and see who combines for the highest total. We also each pick three films we think will combine for the lowest Rotten Tomatoes review score.

I never posted the results from last year’s SMFL, because after that psychopath killed twelve people at The Dark Knight Rises premiere in Aurora, Colorado, writing about box office totals just seemed completely inappropriate (particularly since we have family in Aurora). Still, you can see the final totals here, as well as the RT score.

Anyway, we’re back for a third go-round! We started with Memorial Day weekend this year, meaning we missed out on Iron Man 3 and the new Star Trek, but here’s a look at our 2013 picks, in release date order:

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I think my biggest mistake was picking After Earth (which is getting horrible reviews) in the third round, which left the door open for Kris to grab Pacific Rim. I also somehow let Kris snag the two kids movies that will be both good and make money (Monsters University and Despicable Me 2) while I wound up with four that open later in the summer and will probably all stink. So, I’m not too hopeful at my chances of a three-peat this year, though Fast and Furious 6′s big opening weekend gave me a great start.

Anyway, I’ll post some updates at the summer progresses, and Kris is going to be writing about it this year too:

Kris here: I’ve lost two years out of two. Not spectacular. Last year, I passed on the Avengers and went with the Dark Knight as my first pick. Many of the people I love live in Aurora (or A-town as my brother calls it), and my niece’s husband is a huge Batman fan. I checked with my brother, and was very relieved to hear that my family was okay.  After the shootings, we didn’t really have much fun with the league. The trash talking didn’t feel right.

This year will be different. A few days before our draft, I was stuck in the jury duty waiting room. I had eight hours to do my homework thanks to the free wifi. I mapped out the possibilities, and think I did pretty well this time. I picked a lot of late summer movies again. Not sure how that keeps happening. At the moment, I’ve got two more weeks before I can even get a single dollar on the board. Some thoughts on my picks (in order):

“Man of Steel” – Most of the trailers have been pretty dull for this one. Plus, another superhero movie to start didn’t seem like the way to go. That is, until I finally saw an awesome trailer for this movie the night before the draft that made picking it seem like a no-brainer. Michael Shannon as General Zod in a voice-over, demanding Superman to come forward. They never show that one. Why do they never show that one? Seriously, they need to get on that.

“Despicable Me 2″ – To be honest, I never saw part one. I don’t even know what those little yellow things are, but they seem irritating. Learning from the past: what is irritating to me, is box office gold. Plus, it’s due out over the 4th of July weekend.

“Monsters University” – I saw a bit of the first movie, and it was a cute and sentimental. I like cute and sentimental, plus Disney/Pixar will surely market the heck out of this one. Try to avoid this one! I dare you!

“Pacific Rim” – I was on the fence on this one. I wanted to go with “Fast and Furious 6″ – I really did. It hadn’t been picked as yet, and I knew people were going to go see the hell out of it. However, Pacific Rim has giant robots, it’s coming out in IMAX, will involve cities getting smashed up, has that “WHOOOOOMP” noise in the trailer that everyone loves, is directed by Guillermo del Toro, and did I mention GIANT ROBOTS?

“The Heat” – Had to toss in an “R” rated movie, because adults see movies too. Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig are back together, and Sandra Bullock is back on screen. I’m rooting for this one.

“Elysium” – I loved, loved, loved “District 9″, and this one seems like that movie on steroids. Plus, Matt Damon is part machine. I recently watched “Behind the Candelabra”, and if Mr. Damon plays this one half as earnestly as he played Scott Thorson, we’re all in for a treat. I’m thinking he won’t be wearing any glittery speedos in this one, but he’ll likely smash a guy through a wall while wearing high-tech body armor. I’m in!

“World’s End” – Likely that this one won’t make too much money. However, my favorite movie of all time is “Shaun of the Dead” and I had to show it some faith and love. It’s really the only movie I’m excited to see this summer. Hopefully, I’m not alone in that.

“Lone Ranger” – At this point in the draft, the pickings were getting slim. I really don’t know about this one. It kept showing up on the Summer duds list, and it’s a western. I’m not nuts about westerns, myself. Think I may have thrown a wild pitch here, kids.

“2 Guns” – Sometimes, when you start throwing wild… you can’t stop. However, ladies (and quite a few dudes) seem to love Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, and dudes (and quite a few ladies) seem to love guns. Let’s hope these hold true. It’s not due out until August. Perhaps it will be very hot out in August, and people will want to sit in an air conditioned movie theater?

“This is the End” – Pretty much ended the game with a balk. I know it, you know it.

For worst Rotten Tomatoes score, I went with “R.I.P.D”, “The Purge” and “Syrup”. All based on trailers alone. Couldn’t even get through the trailer for the Syrup movie.

Site Blather

Test a Poll For Me!

Please take a quick second to answer these polls. I don’t care about the actual results (so pick one even if you hate both options), just testing functionality for something I’m working on. Any problems, let me know in the comments. Thanks!

 

Stream Cuisine

Stuff I’ve Watched on Netflix Lately

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Quick roundup of some stuff I’ve watched recently on Netflix Instant.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography: I expect everyone knows Tony Hawk these days, but if you rode a skateboard in the 1980s you also knew (and worshipped) Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, and Rodney Mullen, the core of the goofball skating collective known as The Bones Brigade. This documentary by Stacy Peralta, who founded the group, catches up with the team, many of whom are either still skating professionally or have their own skate companies. This is a decent documentary and a nice trip down memory lane for former skaters like myself. Plus, you can see who turned out the weirdest — and shockingly, it’s not Lance Mountain.

Bellflower: Low-budget award-winning indie darling about two chums who fantasize about ruling the post-apocalypse with their flame-throwing car. Problem is, the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet. Other problem is, this movie is a long, slow, sluggish turd so intensely boring and horribly acted that even its gratuitous violence fails to shock. It’s a lovely looking film directed by Evan Glodell, but the writing (by Evan Glodell) and especially the acting (by Evan Glodell and everyone else) is downright terrible. Also, pick an ending, dude. Bleah.

The Loneliest Planet: Two adorable young hippies, super-duper in love, go for a hike in the Georgian wilderness with a mumbling guide. For half the film, the couple hikes and make goo-goo eyes at each other, and nothing much happens. Then, something definitely happens. It’s an event that takes up maybe two or three seconds of screen time but completely upends their relationship. This is a long, leisurely movie where not much goes on except for hiking and a few words of conversation, but the moment, a real Oh Shit That Did Not Just Happen moment, is mostly worth the trip. Based on a short story by Tom Bissell.

All Good Things: Starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. I was keenly interested to see this because it’s based on the life story of Robert Durst, a wealthy real estate mogul whose family and acquaintances have a habit of disappearing, getting shot in the head, or getting cut up and put into trash bags. Despite a wealth of bizarre source material, this film makes Durst and his life seem utterly dull. A concise Wikipedia page should not be more interesting than a two-hour movie, but it is.

The Antics Roadshow: This documentary directed by Banksy features public pranks, activism, and general mischief. There’s very little examination of the reasons behind most of these stunts: a few are politically motivated, but most of the perpetrators just seem unhinged or maybe bored, like the guy who broke into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom to have a chat, or the guy who dresses up in animal costumes and annoys policemen and golfers. It’s entertaining enough, and has lots of great footage of people doing bizarre things in public, but it’s not a terribly deep documentary (Banksy has said he thought of the title first and worked backwards).

Magicians: If you like Robert Webb and David Mitchell of Peep Show and That Mitchell & Webb Look, you’ll like this movie where they play stage magicians who were once partners but are now rivals. Mitchell is awkward and earnest, Webb is stupid and, well, stupid, and Jessica Hynes (who I know mainly from Spaced) is as lovable as always. This isn’t a fantastic movie by any means, but the boys are just as enjoyable as they always are in everything.

Sim-plicity

Sim-plicity on PC Gamer!

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I’ve been terrible about posting on my site when I’ve got new columns up on PC Gamer, so let me remedy that right now. I’ve been writing weekly Sim-plicity columns (where I play non-heroic video games), and here are the links to all of them. (You can also just visit my article archive link.)

I’ll try to start keeping this page updated.

Internet

Apollo Robbins Picks All Of The Pockets

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Something I’ve always been a bit dubious of in the movies is pickpocketing. We’ve all seen it: a scene where a guy bumps into someone and steals their wallet or keys while the person is distracted by being bumped. It’s just a little hard to accept that a simple jostle would be enough of a distraction to not notice someone reaching into your pocket and removing something.

After reading this fascinating profile of Apollo Robbins in the New Yorker, and watching videos of his work on YouTube, it’s a lot easier to accept. Granted, Robbins is a performer and magician, allowing him to engage in far more complicated distractions than simply bumping into someone on the street, but it’s still pretty jaw-dropping to see him work. Or to try to see him work. He removes people’s watches and puts them on his own wrist without them noticing. He lifts wallets and removes or adds things to them. In just a few seconds of work he can pilfer phones, keys, scarves, even, in one case, taking one woman’s eyeglasses off her face without her noticing.

Here’s some videos. It’s neat that even once he’s explained some of his tricks, and you can see them happening, it’s still extremely hard to see everything that’s happening.

On the Today Show, he gives items to Matt Lauer, Ryan Seacrest, and whoever the third guy is, then steals them back, while performing a magic trick with a $100 bill.

Starting about a minute in to this next video, Robbins performs some neat coin tricks while simultaneously stealing watches from a group of women.

Here he is demonstrating and explaining his talents on the author of the New Yorker piece.

And below is portion from a National Geographic show Test Your Brain (called Brain Games in the U.S.) where Robbins pilfers a number of items from one hapless participant, with some explanation on how and why your brain allows him to so mercilessly strip you of your belongings. Here’s the full episode of the U.S. version (includes a glimpse of him stealing glasses off a woman’s face.)

 

KNIGHT RIDER

Just My Bill

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Knight Rider: Season 1, Episode 6: “Just My Bill”

The thing about the early 1980′s is that they were still, essentially, the late 1970′s. So, when Michael Knight shows up to perform bodyguard duty for a United States senator, it’s completely appropriate for his shirt to be unbuttoned almost down to his navel.

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Hey, his EYES are UP THERE, ladies.

The senator in question is a friend of Devon’s, Maggie Flynn, who has been receiving death threats and has already had one attempt made on her life. Maggie is brash, opinionated, smart, capable, and friendly, but her most notable attribute, when you consider Knight Rider’s traditions, is that she’s friggin’ old. Her oldness is extremely confusing and upsetting to me, because this is Knight Rider and every episode must revolve in some way around a young, attractive woman for Michael to romance. I mean, what the hell? Is Michael going to travel back in time to hit on Maggie when she was young and sexy?

Wait! False alarm. Maggie has a young, attractive secretary named Jane.

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Whew. My Knight Rider worldview remains intact.

After an assassin tries to run Maggie over with a car, Maggie decides to attend a conference out of town, and Michael, being an excellent bodyguard, decides not to accompany her, because it’s easier to guard someone if they’re in another part of the state. Plus, he now has plenty of time to spend with young Jane.

Some detective work reveals there’s a bill in the senate over the construction of a power plant, and predictably, all the old white men in the senate want it to pass because they have a financial stake in the plant’s construction. Having briefly tried to discourage Maggie from voting against it, they’ve moved to stage two of every plot on this show: straight-up murder.

The evil government goons reschedule the vote to take place while Maggie is out of town, and armed thugs surround the remote retreat where Maggie’s conference is taking place to prevent her from leaving. Michael races to the retreat to collect Maggie, turbo-boosting over the goons’ cars, and already we suspect that the show’s budget might be under strain because KITT’s front end flops around and almost falls off during the jump.

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No ramps here. Just an innocent bush. Move along.

A helicopter is dispatched to destroy KITT with a grenade launcher, and after evading several blasts, Michael pops the sunroof and climbs onto the chopper. He pulls one goon out, and then punches and judo-chops the pilot in that part of the back where you can totally chop a guy to knock him out. You know the spot. Despite being unconscious from such powerful, expertly delivered blows, the pilot is nice enough to scoot over enough so Michel can “throw” him out of the chopper. I’ve uploaded this amazingly choreographed scene for you to be dazzled by:

Michael gets Maggie to the vote on time, and the evil power plant bill is defeated successfully, and the bad guys are all arrested, and everyone goes to dinner.

This is pretty dull episode, honestly, but it’s effective at highlighting what was so special about the 1980′s. It was a time when hairy chests could be exposed with pride, when halfhearted judo-chops were still an effective way to render someone unconscious, and when the senate actually functioned properly from time to time.

And, of course, it was a time when TV shows could end with everyone laughing at something, followed by a freeze-frame. Good times!

MICHAEL’S INCOMPETENCE: MEDIUM
Allows car-driving assassin to out-drive him, lets Maggie’s body leave town when he’s supposed to be guarding it.

MICHAEL’S ROMANCE: LOW
Michael has breakfast with Jane, but it’s just breakfast, not, you know… “breakfast.”

KITT’S POWERS:
Surveillance mode to detect movement, onscreen display of people being pursued, which looks like this:

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CASTING NOTES: Maggie is played by Carole Cook, who I remember from Sixteen Candles as the grandmother who felt up Molly Ringwald.

Stream Cuisine

Stuff I’ve Streamed on Netflix Lately

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Just some quick reviews for stuff I’ve recently watched on Netflix Streaming.

Sleepwalk With Me: Autobiographical film written, directed, and starring Mike Birbiglia, based on his stand-up comedy career, personal life, and his REM sleep behavior disorder, a dangerous and terrifying condition which makes him act out the dreams he’s having. If you follow Birbiglia’s comedy and writing, none of this material is new to you (especially some of the same jokes he’s been telling for, like, eight years now) but it’s still an enjoyable, funny, sad, and interesting film. If you don’t know Mike Birbiglia, this is an excellent place to start.

The Queen of Versailles: An excellent documentary about the ultra-rich Siegel family, owner of Westgate Resorts and proud builders of the largest home in America, an unfinished 85,000 square-foot monstrosity which cost $100 million dollars. An interesting and personal examination of how the U.S. economy tanking hit the wealthiest of Americans, though it’s hard to feel completely sorry for someone complaining about financial troubles while they’re in the midst of building a home with 30 bathrooms.

Headhunters: Norwegian thriller. I was reading the description and accidentally hit the play button and was like, Eh, guess I’ll watch it, otherwise I’ll have to press another button. Anyway, it starts out as the promising tale of a clever art thief living above his means until he goes for that one big heist that winds up being a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I was into this for a bit, but about halfway through it just descends into absurdity. Stars one of those guys who I think is in Game of Thrones. Yeah, I’m a good film reviewer!

Fire With Fire: 2012 action film starring Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Josh Duhamel, and right about now you’re thinking “Why the hell did I not hear of this?” and the answer is because it went straight to DVD, because it’s a very, very bad film. Josh Duhamel is a firefighter who goes all vigilante on some gangsters after they try to kill him to prevent him from testifying against them. I’m pretty sure Bruce Willis was just doing someone a favor, and I’m pretty sure they only had him for one day because all of his scenes are of him talking while walking down the same hallway a bunch of times.

The Next Three Days: Russel Crowe’s wife goes to prison for a murder she may not have committed, and Russel Crowe comes up with a plan to spring her, and you will not be spared a single minute of his extensive, laborious, endless careful planning. This isn’t a terrible movie by any means, it’s just slow, and not particularly interesting. I don’t know. It was okay.

After Porn Ends: Former pornography performers are interviewed about how their careers began and how they adjusted to life after leaving the porn industry. An interesting subject, and as you might guess, fairly depressing in a number of instances, though at least a couple of the actors seem to have survived and remained well-adjusted. Mostly not, though. This will bum you out and make you not want to watch porn again for, like, almost a whole day.

Heckler: Jamie Kennedy’s documentary about people who heckle stand-up comedians starts well, probing the heckler’s motivations (sometimes– mindbogglingly– they actually think they are helping the comic). However, the film quickly turns into a counter-attack on what Kennedy seems to feel are the real hecklers: film critics. He has a fair point: critics and bloggers can be overly harsh and brutal in their reviews (I know I have been, probably on this page), but then again, he doesn’t seem to mind using positive blurbs from critics to cover the poster for Heckler. So, maybe you have take the bad with the good?

Television

Justified Returns!

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Justified returns tonight on FX to begin its fourth season, and to this I say: Hoo. Ray. TV critics can fight one another all year long to prove who loves Breaking Bad or Homeland more, but for me, Justified is the best-written and most enjoyable show on TV. There’s a number of reasons why Justified is so great: the casting is top notch, the performances are routinely excellent, both the season-long arcs and the case-of-the-week stories are interesting, fun, and surprising, but most of all, the writing is just thoroughly fantastic.

Here’s one example of a single scene that, to me, sums up what is so special about the way Justified is written.

In a Season Three episode, Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) had paid a visit to a recurring bad guy, Wynn Duffy (played by the enjoyable Jere Burns). They’d clashed before, and Raylan had run him out of town with a warning to never come back. At this latest meeting, Raylan knocked Duffy down, ejected a bullet from his gun, and dropped it on Duffy’s chest. As a threat, Raylan said: “The next one’s coming faster.”

Now, that’s a cool thing to do and say, but doing a cool thing and saying a cool thing is hardly groundbreaking for a hero cop on TV. The creators of Justified, however, don’t just leave it at that.

Several episodes later, Wynn Duffy and his boss, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) try to frame Raylan by leaving the shell casing from Raylan’s bullet, with his fingerprints on it, at the scene of a murder. A homicide detective, an FBI agent, and Raylan’s boss, Art (Tom Searcy) question Raylan about this shell casing and how it wound up with his fingerprints on it. Let’s watch!

In case that video has been removed by FOX or Vimeo, here’s a transcript of the scene:

FBI Agent: “You’re in the motor coach, with Robert Quarles and Winn Duffy, there’s a bodyguard out front, but that still doesn’t explain to me how you got your fingerprints on a bullet casing.”

Raylan: “I threw a bullet at him.”

Homicide Detective: “You threw a bullet at him.”

Raylan: “Yeah.”

FBI Agent: “Wait. You… threw a bullet at him?”

Raylan: “No-no, I, like… dropped it.”

FBI Agent: “On the floor?”

Raylan: “On Duffy.”

FBI Agent: “So, Duffy was on the floor.”

Raylan: “Yes.”

Homicide Detective: “You failed to mention that, Deputy.”

Raylan: “Well, I’m… mentioning it now.”

Homicide Detective: “How’d he get on the floor, I wonder?”

Raylan: “Look, you wanted to know how my prints got on the casing, now you know. Okay?”

FBI Agent: “Wait, why-why did you throw a bullet at him?”

Raylan: “I was trying to make a point.”

Homicide Detective: “Which was?”

Raylan: “Get the hell out of Kentucky, and don’t come back.”

FBI Agent: “How was throwing a bullet at him going to accomplish that?”

Raylan: “Told him the next one might be coming a little faster.”

FBI Agent: *Long pause* “Deputy. That might just be the coolest thing I’ve ever laid ears on.” *Laughs*

Art: “Did you come up with that all on your own?”

Raylan: “Heard it on the Johnny Carson show once. He was telling some old gangster story, I always thought it was kinda cool.”

FBI Agent: “Well, that just gets better and better, huh?”

Homicide Detective: “It’d be a lot better and a lot cooler if it had actually worked.”

FBI Agent: *Laughs* “But still!” *Pauses* “It’s a shame we have to lock you up.”

To me, that’s just brilliance. There’s no shortage of cop shows on TV, and no shortage of cops doing and saying cool things. But now we have a cop doing something cool and saying something cool, and then later having to explain it, step-by-step, almost deflating the coolness of the act for the audience, who witnessed it the first time. Then, another cop sits back and admits how cool he thinks it is. Which is rare: again, people are always saying and doing cool things on TV, but how often does anyone actually point out how cool the cool things are? And finally, Raylan somewhat sheepishly has to admit that he’s not cool enough to have thought up the cool thing by himself, but that he heard it on an old episode of Carson.

Coolness. Deconstruction of coolness. Acknowledgement of coolness. Admitting coolness isn’t quite as cool as it seemed. I love it. To me, that scene is the best bit of writing to come out of TV last year, and that kind of writing is what makes Justified the best show on TV.

Video Games

2012 Text Adventures on PC Gamer

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All this week on PC Gamer, I’m imagining an alternate universe where graphics where never invented, but the games of 2012 were still published… as text adventures.

Monday: Dishonored: The Text Adventure!

Tuesday: Mass Effect 3: The Text Adventure!

Wednesday: Assassin’s Creed III: The Text Adventure!

Thursday: Far Cry 3: The Text Adventure!

Friday: Hotline Miami: The Text Adventure!