Tuesday, November 22, 2011

new tables

I'm not sure if I should avoid the consumer narrative that led me to the actions which I would like to describe. I've been playing a lot of simulated pinball on the Xbox 360 for about a year now. The tables come in packs of 4 and many are sold singly. I finally bought the older table pack today when it went on sale. I've played their trial versions for a while now, but I'm such a pinball fan at this point that I had to jump on the opportunity even though I'll have to borrow the $5 from December's gaming budget.
The tables I've played since January are a new breed. Zen studios has drawn their lines as to what physical qualities of the tables should be emulated, and what should be innovated upon due to the abilities of a videogame simulation. The tables are far too expensive to make in real life and feature animated toys, but for the most part, the game's mechanics are all based on what can be done to a steel ball on a wooden playfield. The difference in economic models from physical tables also has affected game design. These digital simulations of pinball don't become popular by quickly robbing your coins with casino-house advantages. The design intent seems to be to reward new players quickly with significant events that are obviously triggered by the player. The games are meant to be more empowering.
This older pack, however, contains most of the artifacts from the physical-inspirations. Thirsty outlanes, subtle game modes, and difficult targets dominate the experience. These are the things I have been able to notice from my 1 minute demo-versions. It wasn't until I purchased the tables and committed to learning them that I found their idiosyncratic pleasures.
Initially stubborn, Xtreme seems like a shallow playfield due to its obtusely divided playfield. Most shots seem to bump dud spots unsatisfactorily. This was really off-putting to me, especially because it felt that there wasn't much else to do but enter the upper playfield for brief moments of not nearing the drain. But when I was able to give it time in the full version I found that most of those seemingly useless targets initiate a trigger in a lower hole that begins the main mission type.
Xtreme is themed as a skater-culture table. A hip-hop synthesizer plays a track as dudes rap on it. The table is covered in a colorful graffitti theme and toys men take slack postures on the playfield which doubles as a doll-house skatepark. You as the player are an enthusiast of the skateboard and are testing your abilities in competitions. The main mode is initiated by shooting 7 basic, unsatisfying targets that spell "airwalk" Once you have "proven yourself" by nailing these basic shots, you can begin a competition my shooting the ball into an "entry ticket" hole. In a way, it feels that those initial target shots are a way to qualify for the competition. Once you have entered the competition, you are presented with a few lit ramps and are instructed to do the mandatory "tricks" in a limited amount of time, but to then embellish with a few additional shots of your choosing immediately afterword. This task seems so reflective of what I imagine a skate-competition would be like. I love the way Zen Studios expresses their chosen themes by painting the targets in context and then requiring a protocol of shots that seem to mimic the process which it represents. It's a neat perspective on both the them and on pinball itself.
The Zen tables are full of these kinds of inspired representations. It's so neat to me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

fuck yeah bitches

I consider myself an anti-social person. I like people as distant statistics. Not distant in the (not willing to get in depth with) sense, but distant as in "I prefer to remain or achieve geographic distance from others because mother-fuckers are crazy. I'm like that character who is the know-it-all safari auteur who has to deal with the stranded tourists and their manicure needs in the wilderness. Don't read too much into that People-I-KNow, because I'm talking generalities here. I'm super egocentric and I am incredibly fascinated with my own doings unless I'm going through some bi-weekly depression in which I need the value which is interaction with others; the validity of a crew.
"Hey did you see that, Holy shit!"
"What" you say.
"That incredible thing I just witnessed!"
"I remain unaware." says you.
That shit sucks. You know? Cause sometimes I need to share in order to experience a sense of worth.
I'm currently concerned that you ( who is reading this, yes you, not specifically, but your current occupation does insist upon some intrinsic associations by the writer {myself}.) are thinking poorly of me due to my self-admitted self-centerednesses so i will relieve the unreasonable portion of said paranoia by providing a alternate hypothetical dialogue.
//I sure do enjoy the medium of written word.
"Hey there pilgrom."
"Wassup." //if only there were lower-case question marks//
"Hey I saw something cool the other day." is what you say.
"My clairvoyance assures me that it is not cool."
"NO, no, I insist that my account will blow your mind."
"As one who subsists upon novel occurrences AND a person who minds the additional value embedded within the context of 'I know a person who:', I implore you to divulge." damn, I sound smart.
"It was amazing."
"I guess I had to be there." my penis remains limp.
Wow. Those were some pretty entertaining demonstrations of the isolation inherent within or ability to witness without each other. I've nearly forgotten what my initial intent to wrote this was.
Fuck. I have lost the insight which the former would have provided context for. Writing is a process ya'll. I have no need to apologize.