Waypointhttps://waypoint.vice.com/en_usRSS feed for https://waypoint.vice.comenFri, 18 Jan 2019 00:28:01 +0000<![CDATA[Let's Tidy-Up Some Misunderstandings of Marie Kondo's New Show]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/yw8mnm/lets-tidy-up-some-misunderstandings-of-marie-kondos-new-showFri, 18 Jan 2019 00:28:01 +0000We need to get organized on this episode Waypoints, which means it's time to get advice from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and learn all about both the KonMari method, and issues people have taken with the organization expert and her new reality show. Does she really hate books and mementos, or is that just a misunderstanding of what Kondo is trying to get people to do? Then, Rob has been reading an eye-opening article about the forces that have been preying upon and devastating rural communities for the last 30 years. It's a useful corrective to a lot of simplified narratives of rural stagnation that have been used to excuse bad actors and official indifference.

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<![CDATA['Unbreakable' Was a Strange Movie in 2000. It's Even Stranger in 2019.]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/xwbqa3/unbreakable-was-a-strange-movie-in-2000-its-even-stranger-in-2019Thu, 17 Jan 2019 23:34:58 +0000We live in an age of endless comic book movies, but it didn’t always used to be that way. M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, released in 2000, came long before popular culture decided Thor was cool, actually. This slow and plodding origin story about a flawed man discovering he’s something more was a revelation in 2000, but sits even weirder in 2019. With Shyamalan having a chance to revisit the Unbreakable universe with his new movie, Glass, Austin, Rob, Patrick, and Natalie decided it was a perfect time to watch Unbreakable.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.]]>
xwbqa3Patrick KlepekAustin WalkerglassPodcastsUnbreakableListenM. Night Shyamalan
<![CDATA[Slicing, Dicing, and Revisiting the Complex World of 'Mark of the Ninja']]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mbymy4/mark-of-the-ninja-waypoint-podcastWed, 16 Jan 2019 20:27:23 +0000In our latest Waypoint 101, Austin, Rob, Patrick and myself dissect the design ethos and over-the-top Ninjitsu stylings of Klei Entertainment's 2012 stealth platformer Mark of the Ninja. We talk about its strengths—particularly it's very parseable design and complex puzzle-room approach to stealth—its weaknesses, and its story and style. Then we dip into the question bucket to consider whether this Mark has aged particularly well, or is showing up a little long in the tooth or slow on the draw.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to gaming@vice.com with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint’s forums to share them!

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mbymy4Danielle RiendeauAustin WalkerPodcastsListenKlei EntertainmentWaypoint 101Mark of the ninja
<![CDATA[How 'Slime Rancher' Made a Ton of Money And Stuck to 40-Hour Workweeks]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/d3ba3m/how-slime-rancher-made-a-ton-of-money-and-stuck-to-40-hour-workweeksTue, 15 Jan 2019 19:25:56 +0000 Noted Joe Rogan fan and exceptionally bad Twitter user Elon Musk recently said “there are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week,” a response to ongoing criticism of the exploitative labor conditions at Musk’s companies, especially the vehicle-focused Tesla. Musk’s comment garnered all manner of response, including one from Nick Popovich, the game director behind 2017’s Slime Rancher, a wildly successful game about collecting, raising, and breeding enormously cute slimes creatures.

“We made Slime Rancher working 40 hrs a week,” said Popovich at the time. “It has been played by over 5 million people, created an amazing company of talented people, and currently has a 98% positive score on Steam. There is always another way.”

“There is always another way.” Such a suggestion is a relatively recent phenomenon in an industry that’s happily and religiously exploited workers, hiding behind terms like “passion,” as it grinds through another generation of 20-somethings who inevitably leave games behind. The awful labor conditions in video games are both inhuman and a talent drain.

One of Waypoint’s missions over the last several years has been to go beyond evaluating how a game plays and to make the way they’re made central the way we think about them. Games are made by people, and no game, no matter now good, is worth destroying lives in the process. In 2019, rather than exclusively focusing on where things have gone wrong, we’ll be investigating and profiling places where things are changing, studios and individuals making labor conditions a priority.

“The more players think games are worth devs being miserable in order to deliver them on time, the more we’re dehumanized,” said Popovich in a recent interview with me.

As part of reporting this story, I spoke with several employees who do (or did) work under Popovich. Everyone was given an opportunity to speak off the record about their experiences, but all vouched for his claims about what it’s been like to make Slime Rancher, describing a studio where crunch was exceedingly rare and people are told to go home.

“Nick is definitely genuine about what he believes in,” said former artist Victoria Joh. “You can take his word as sincerely honest, this is coming from an employee who actually just recently left Monomi Park. Casually-official work hours was about 10a~7p. The conditions were on general far better than most game companies are stereotyped for—crunch was a rarity.”

“Can confirm that he has told me to go home and to stop working and to relax on numerous occasions,” said communications manager Kara Holmes. “It’s hard to break bad habits.”

The 40-hour workweek is not written in stone (or in contract) at Monomi Park, the 12-person studio behind Slime Rancher, but part of a larger philosophy Popovich has on development.

“The more players think games are worth devs being miserable in order to deliver them on time, the more we’re dehumanized."

“There are plenty of people out there with good intentions,” he said. “You see this all the time in the Bay Area. I think plenty of studios start with that as a goal, but they say ‘But, of course, in order to get started, to get our foot in the door, we're all going to have to crunch, we're all going to have to extend overextend ourselves.’”

Slime Rancher started development in Popovich’s apartment. He was an artist and designer that didn’t know how to program, so he was downloading other people’s code, fucking with it, and cobbling a prototype for Slime Rancher. (For a while, the slimes were using someone else’s scripting for a homing missile, causing them to fly around in the air.) He eventually brought in technical director Mike Thomas, who actually knew what he was doing, to help.

Every weekday for roughly a year and a half, Thomas would head to Popovich’s apartment at around 10:00 am. They’d drink coffee, work on the game, and Thomas left at 6:00 pm. (Popovich admits Thomas was ready to leave for a job at Google at any sign Slime Rancher wasn’t going to work out, likely a contributor to his strict hours.) Popovich’s wife would come home maybe an hour later. The two would have dinner. Tick tock. This is how things went.

Popovich credits a limited scope for what the game would be for their ability to stay on track and keep a schedule that, even in the early days, didn’t push into endless, numbing crunch.

His wife was a big help, too.

“She would come in,” he said, “and just ask me occasionally ‘Is this the fun stuff or the hard stuff?’ I would say it's the fun stuff, and she'd go ‘OK.’ Whenever it was the hard stuff, she was like ‘Dial it back.’ I got it. I understood. Mike will be here tomorrow. We'll figure it out then.”

Popovich claimed these “fun stuff” moments never went into the wee hours of the morning, but still, the entire notion is a huge grey area. Just because there’s a beer in your hand doesn’t mean you aren’t still working. No job, even one making labor a priority, is going to be perfect, and there will be occasions where you put in extra time, asked to or unprompted. The slippery slope is when there aren’t clear lines in the sand, and you don’t have people constantly assessing whether “fun stuff” slowly became “all stuff” because it’s convenient.

Popovich told me the game’s principal artist, Ian McConville, is an insomniac who will sometimes find themselves up in the middle of the night, desperate for a way to fill the time. McConville has sometimes used those waking hours to work on “fun stuff” for the game.

“It's always bonus stuff,” he said, “it's the fun stuff.”

We’ve even had these problems at Waypoint. In Waypoint’s first year, we also had a startup mentality, and people were putting in long, unchecked hours day after day, week after week. I was lucky enough to avoid this because my life is dominated more by my child’s schedule than anything else, but Waypoint hadn’t made it a priority to call out people overworking themselves. At a team meeting a little more than a year this whole experiment, we had long conversations about Waypoint’s own hypocrisy. How can we call out bad labor practices if we aren’t able to abide them ourselves? Since then, we’ve made strides in making sure people are routinely justifying any extended hours, taking time off when they do happen, and making sure we’re keeping one another accountable and calling out when it’s appropriate.

It’s not perfect, but avoiding the normalizing of bad habits is important.

Popovich, an artist-turned-designer who originally went to college pre-med before his parents started wondering why he kept coming home with detailed anatomy drawings, worked at two studios prior to working on Slime Rancher. First, there was Castaway Entertainment, one of the many spin-offs after Diablo developer Blizzard North shut down in 2005. Later, Three Rings Design, best known for the early free-to-play hit Puzzle Pirates.

He described his experiences at both as formative when it came to the 40-hour workweek and other responsibilities. When a major publisher pulled funding from Castaway, the studio seemed done. Despite the bleak outlook, Popovich continued to get paid for a full year. (He did admit “not everyone was happy there” but claimed it had more to do with mismanaged projects than long work hours. Still, experiences can widely vary for each person on a team, as evidenced by Jason Schreier’s reporting on the creation of Red Dead Redemption 2.)

1547571410636-ss_7dde72f87afe373d4624f49bf81575f8aa2a80fd1920x1080

He was lucky; that’s not often how this goes down. At Telltale Games last year, when the money dried up, everyone was unanimously laid off from the company. No more paychecks, no more health insurance.Because game developers are not unionized, they have no rights. They are at the mercy and morals of the people in power, with access to the bank accounts. Popovich said Monomi Park has a “war chest” that would give the company a long runway to come up with a new project—or at the least, pay people—if Slime Rancher finally peaked.

During Popovich’s time at Castaway, EA Spouse happened.

At Three Rings Design, he was asked to work hard, but the studio respected his free time.

Based on my years of reporting, Popovich’s experience is rare. It’s not often that you meet a developer without a horror story about the process of making games—he’s basically a unicorn. It’s so ingrained as to be expected, which is a huge part of the problem.

“Even in college,” he said. “I was aware of the brutal working conditions in the industry. When you're in college, it was called The Cave Lab, where you're making digital art in the dark with a bunch of other people who want to get into video games. You're spending all night working on things because you want to be the best and have the portfolio and everything. It's almost grooming you for that lifestyle.”

But, again, intentions are one thing. It can be difficult to hold onto those principles in the face of shipping a game, a genuinely daunting task that often draw the worst habits from anyone, especially if the waters get choppy. That’s arguably one of the reasons Monomi Park has been able to keep a healthy balance; the game was a financial success almost immediately, and has continued to sell well. For example, it sold more in December 2018 than December 2017.

Popovich bristled at that notion, though. During our conversation, my line of questions must have suggested I attributed some of Monomi’s ability to avoid perpetual crunch was money.

“I really don’t want to give everyone the impression that the only reason Monomi Park provides a healthy environment for its staff is because we got lucky with a big hit,” he said. “I feel strongly that we have a big hit because we have a healthy work/life balance. To be honest, if the article ends up reading as it was just a matter of luck and we’re an exception, I’d rather not publish it at all because it’s sending the wrong message to the industry and not pushing this industry towards healthier practices.”

Popovich tried to drive that home by explaining how the studio grapples with—and embraces—delays. Slime Rancher itself was meant to enter Early Access in a year, but it took six months longer. (Part of the reason they could do that early was because Popovich had saved a lot of money.) Monomi Park pushes back updates to Slime Rancher all the time, with its most recent summer update shifting dates three times. If the only difference between releasing one week and releasing another week is the sheer act of having to announce a delay, Monomi Park errs on the side of a delay. If it’s the difference between hitting a Steam sale and not hitting a Steam sale, the calculation might be different, but that’s a rare case.

“I really don’t want to give everyone the impression that the only reason Monomi Park provides a healthy environment for its staff is because we got lucky with a big hit. I feel strongly that we have a big hit because we have a healthy work/life balance."

“Also, I re-read my Elon response humble brag tweet as I didn’t recall exactly what he said on the call,” added Popovich, “and I definitely strongly disagree with his assessment that no one ever changed the world on 40 hrs a week. That’s the same kind of bullshit our industry perpetuates amongst students: gearing them up to be overworked to serve a publisher. Elon is no different here. I’d love to know how much overtime he pays.”

(Telsa does pay overtime, but has been sued over its practices.)

One of the barometers for quality of life Popovich uses at Monomi Park is what a union might ask for. He supports the unionization of game developers, even if he doesn’t expect it to come anytime soon, but if unionization happened—and it should!—he’d be disappointed if the benefits offered didn’t immediately stack up to what people already had at the studio.

“I'm not trying to get away with as much as we can before those pesky unions show up!” he said. “I would just hopefully have a company that, at the time that any of that was to come online, it would be equal to what we have going on here, if that makes sense.”

There are far worse ways to judge how people should be treated at your company.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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d3ba3mPatrick KlepekAustin WalkerpoliticslaborExploitationcrunchTeslagame developmentMonomi Park
<![CDATA[We Talk Old Games and New Recording Studios in Today's Waypoint Radio]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/yw7amv/we-talk-old-games-and-new-recording-studios-in-todays-waypoint-radioTue, 15 Jan 2019 00:14:45 +0000With Lobby 1 in the rearview mirror, team Waypoint heads to a brand new space to podcast: the control room! That's right, friends, we now podcast with a dizzying variety of screens and buttons around us to dazzle the mind and stimulate the imagination. This week, Patrick is playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Natalie and Danielle are into a very cute adventure-platformer with... deep state conspiracy theories... Pikuniku, and a bunch of us have fun AGDQ stories. Natalie also has a bunch of Kingdom Hearts opinions to share, and there is a nice, deep dive into the question bucket focused on how to break into games journalism if you only have access to older games.

Discussed: New Super Mario bros U. Deluxe, Pikuniku, Prey: Mooncrash, Bloodborne, Kaizo Mario, AGDQ, Kingdom Hearts

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

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<![CDATA[What a Failed Puzzle Says About the Future of Destiny]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/gy74a7/what-a-failed-puzzle-says-about-the-future-of-destinyMon, 14 Jan 2019 18:20:25 +0000Over 24 hours after the Tuesday reset, Destiny 2’s player base still hadn’t figured out the Niobe Labs puzzle. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. In the ensuing week, not only would Bungie admit to an increasingly frustrated community that they had made a critical error in constructing their elaborate puzzle, but they would also announce that they were ending their relationship with Activision. From the way the two stories overlapped, you could be forgiven for thinking that somehow the Niobe Labs puzzle was some kind of last straw in the unhappy marriage between Bungie and their publisher. In fact, if you look at the kind of puzzle Bungie built, and the connections and deductions it asked of its players, it does seem to typify the tension between Bungie's blue-sky vision for Destiny and the kind of mass-market consumer commodities that Activision is the business of selling.

Destiny 2: Black Armory came out in December, and along with it a series of hidden puzzles that energized and mystified the game’s niche sub-community of puzzle obsessives. The new “Forge” areas released in the DLC were covered in hidden symbols, visible only through the scopes of certain special weapons.

A long, dark corridor in a prison within Destiny 2

But the reward for solving level six was level seven, with an even more obscure clue (which turned out to be missing some information due to a bug, a fact revealed when Bungie just dropped the missing clue into a forum thread). On Wednesday, Bungie unlocked the new forge and published the missing hint on their website. The puzzle was finally laid to rest. But the air had been sucked out of the challenge: now it was a secret activity to unlock some cosmetic items, and not a race to be the first to unlock something for the whole playerbase.

Niobe Labs turned out to be a failed experiment. It’s a fascinating failure, one that picks at the scab of the tension at the heart of Destiny 2: Is this a money-making AAA shooter loot treadmill, or is it something more? The Activision-Bungie split, another fault line in this question, was announced on the same week the Niobe puzzle came out.

I want Bungie to keep trying things like this. Destiny 2 is at its best when it’s going places a conventional shooter wouldn’t touch. Whether that’s the weird fiction influences of the lore, the puzzles and secrets added with each expansion, or even the Don’t Talk and Nobody Explodes-esque communication game at the heart of the new Scourge of the Past raid.

The nagging question, though, is whether enough players share my love for this stuff; something tells me Activision didn’t think so, and I can’t fault them. The one thing I know for certain is that when the next part of Destiny 2’s Annual Pass drops, I’ll be scouring the walls for clues.

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gy74a7Bruno DiasRobert ZacnyDestinyBungieActivisionPuzzlesDestiny 2Black ArmoryNiobe Labs
<![CDATA[What Even Is an Open World Game Anymore?]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/pa5jmb/what-even-is-an-open-world-game-anymoreFri, 11 Jan 2019 21:36:20 +0000What does open world mean, anyway? Austin, Rob, and Patrick use Patty's recent story about Red Dead Redemption 2's world and systems feeling largely meaningless as a launching pad to work out their larger feelings on open world games, from what we ask and demand of them to where they should go in the future.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

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<![CDATA[The Millennial Burnout Conversation Also Applies to Gamers]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mby89y/millennial-burnout-gamersFri, 11 Jan 2019 21:21:45 +0000 Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.

I first learned the word “burnout” as a noun. It’s a word for someone who blew their own mind a few too many times in the 1960s or smoked too much meth while the Iraq War was spinning up, a kind of identifier that’s used to point to someone who took maybe slightly too many drugs at some point over their lives and now they’re living in the wake of it. That understanding of the term appears to be a little bit different than our more common contemporary use of the term, which is back in the cultural conversation this week due to Anne Helen Peterson’s diagnosis of what she calls “Millennial burnout.”

These two uses of the term are different, sure, but they’re not all that different. They’re about having too much and being punished for it, of being put through the ringer by your social context and being unable to come out the other end unscathed. And I empathize with both kinds because I, like so many other people in and around video games, feel burned out.

I have a lot of sympathy for Peterson’s piece and how she weaves in economic crashes, social changes over the past couple decades, and her own story of her graduate career that ran into the rocky shores of a crashed job market. Our stories are similar in some ways, and so I have some sympathy for the big scaffolding she puts up to explain the experience of burnout, but I also have a nagging feeling that I’d still feel as if I’m being ripped to shreds by electricity 30% of my day even if I didn’t. And I think it might be that the particular burnout that I feel is closer to that noun, that person who had too much, than it is with whatever specific set of economic expectations Peterson is describing.

Gamer burnout. It’s worth giving it a name if we’re going to treat it as unique in some way, and I think it is. There are a lot of games, and there’s only so much time to play them, and the reward for completing them or even making a solid effort seems to diminish year after year. I keep hammering them into my mind and body, looking for the game that’s really going to make me feel something exciting and not like I’ve been running on a treadmill for the past few years. And when I can’t find it, I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams.

Dark Souls 3

Most of this has to do with the job. As someone who writes about games, I have to play them. I think about them, I sample other games in the same genre, and I try to create the best mental map of the little genre or mechanical fiefdom that I can before I write out my column or review or what have you. This means that my time is pressed. The tension among completion, comprehension, and the complexity of the game and the ecosystem around it means that something is always going to fall through the cracks.

That’s the winnowing tool of aesthetic experience. The value of the perspective of a writer is that everyone catches different things. What doesn’t fall through the cracks for you is what gives you an identity. And I know that.

Yet the work of getting there, all of that time squeezed out of the finite number of hours of a day, takes a toll. There’s a lot of stuff to experience. There are amazing games coming out all the time, and obviously you need to play them to speak with expertise. And you need to play the games that you don’t really have any interest in so that you can talk about why the ones you enjoy are more interesting or getting at some feeling better than the ones you don’t care for. And if you want to write about independent games (that don’t have millions of dollars to drop on renting an apartment in everyone’s head via marketing), then you do need to play those advertised games so that you can paint a picture of why someone who likes the big games might also like the small ones.

I enjoy playing games. I like the vast majority of games that I play. I like what games do as aesthetic experiences, and if I’m really enjoying a game I’d definitely take it over any book or film in the running. But my specific form of gamer burnout—which I think I share with a lot of people who stay up-to-date with games for their job or simply because they feel obligated to as fans—emanates from the sheer amount of hours and kinds of experiences I am jamming into my life so that I can think holistically about games to the best of my ability.

I have to say that this all locked into perspective for me while listening to a recent episode of the Mega64 podcast in which Derrick Acosta speaks at length about having trouble finishing, and even enjoying, games. He begins by saying that he’s got a huge problem in his life because he can’t finish anything (an interesting echo of Millennial burnout), and a little into the discussion he says this:

“I just feel like I’m getting bored. I’m just losing new experiences. Like, I’m buying new games, but I’m feeling like it’s just too familiar. There’s nothing for me to learn here, I just feel like this is a new skin on a game I’ve already played.”

This is something that I feel, but I don’t think the problem is located where Acosta claims it is. I don’t think that it’s a lack of novelty or that games are somehow getting worse. I think that the firehose pace of interesting games, and the ecology of games that you need to be familiar with to talk about that firehose in a compelling way, creates a condition where most things just kind of come out looking like grey, undifferentiated mass. In playing so many games, and trying to map similarities or differences across them, you become burned out on the joy of play.

Of course, there’s no easy way out.

Too much of a pleasurable thing, ripped apart by the thing you enjoy. That’s the derogatory noun usage of burnout, the insult, and yet that’s the best way to describe the way I feel blown through when I think about games specifically. Sure, I experience all the Millennial symptoms that Peterson points to, but I also have something much more acute and specific that has to do with a hobby I love and a series of writing jobs that I feel incredibly lucky to have.

Of course, there’s no easy way out. One way might be to commit myself to a genre like fighting games or a single MOBA, to become responsible for one tiny corner of the big universe of games. Another might be to simply give it all up for a year, recharge, and then come back renewed. Frankly, neither of those options are economically in reach for me.

And worse, even if they were, I don’t know why I would stop. It’s good stuff, and I want to experience more, and so I keep on hammering on the buttons to find out what else is in store. There’s only so much time to play. I’ll have time to be burned out later.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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mby89yCameron KunzelmanDanielle RiendeauOpen World GamesBurnoutPostscriptindie gamemillennial burnout
<![CDATA['Mutant Year Zero' Is the Rare Tactics Game Where Scouting Is Actually Fun]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/j5zw8b/mutant-year-zero-is-the-rare-tactics-game-where-scouting-is-actually-funFri, 11 Jan 2019 15:58:27 +0000The characters of Mutant Year Zero are scouts and scavengers, not soldiers, and the game tries to reinforce this at every turn. It teaches you that if you open fire on the first enemy you see, you’ll bite off way more than you can chew. You’ll simply be overwhelmed as more enemies hear the fighting and come swarm your position. So the name of the game is reconnaissance.

Scouting and recon are important in a lot of tactics games, but here is the crucial difference: In Mutant Year Zero, it’s actually fun.

Until you’re in a stand-up fight, Mutant Year Zero plays a lot more like Shadow Tactics than it does XCOM. Enemy sentries and scouts patrol around their camps, casting a detection radius around themselves that you can avoid. It’s an easygoing system, one that mostly exists to let you set up neat little ambushes of isolated enemies, taking them down with a volley of silenced weapon shots. But the important point is that it is fast and seamless until you either take your shot or you get caught sneaking. Do it right, and you’ll slowly whittle the enemy down to nothing before you engage their main force.

The scouts of Mutant Year Zero find an abandoned body in the post apocalyptic wastes.

This doesn’t ruin Mutant Year Zero, far from it. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing when a game encourages you to abuse the save feature, and the time was when most games basically required that. Most of the time, Mutant Year Zero is serving up pretty enjoyable battles that are just thorny enough that you’ll feel like a combat genius for having solved them.

It’s more that the intersection of scouting, stealth, and combat is an enormously complicated one that poses more challenges than there seem to be clear solutions. When all these things work together well, the flow from reconnaissance to preparation to full combat is enormously satisfying. But making them work well together when there are so many variables about when that transition from stealth to combat is going to happen remains a stumbling point in a game that otherwise came up with a novel solution to a pacing problem.

Mutant Year Zero gives recon and preparation their due and is a better game for it, but in solving the first part of the puzzle it has emphasized the gap that can open up between how things are “supposed” to go when you play, and how things often do. Ideally, that gap is where a lot of fun chaos can happen. Right now, that gap is where I find out whether I got a passing grade on my stealth tactics. I still hope there’s a better way.

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j5zw8bRob ZacnyRobert ZacnyStrategy GamesXCOMGame DesignstealthFuncomtactics gamesPhantom DoctrineMutant Year Zerothe bearded ladies
<![CDATA[We Couldn't Stop Watching 'Nailed It' and 'Homecoming']]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7xynae/we-couldnt-stop-watching-nailed-it-and-homecomingThu, 10 Jan 2019 20:15:36 +0000It's Thursday, which means it's time for the first Waypoints recording of 2019! Austin and Rob haven't slept, because Rob decided to clean his apartment at midnight Austin stayed up watching the entirety of Amazon's new series from Sam Esmail: Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts. What does this postmodern corporate horror story have to say about life and work, and how does it differ from Esmail's celebrated USA show, Mr. Robot? Does it suffer from using the "War on Terror" as a backdrop without interrogating it? Meanwhile, the gang has also been watching Nailed It on Netflix, which features plenty of horror shows of its own. Watching amateur bakers come to grips with complicated recipes, Patrick is reminded of his own culinary journey so far.

Useful Links

IndieWire had a good breakdown of some of the more interesting stylistic elements of Homecoming.

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