Bad Games Played Badly Report – CSI Fatal Conspiracy

I have a weird relationship with adventure games. I should like them. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I believe that video games can tell compelling stories. And, for the most part, the best (or at least best-regarded) stories in games have been told in adventure games. The Longest Journey. The Walking Dead. Grim Fandango. And so on.

There’s only one problem: many adventure games are incredibly unpleasant to actually play. Because games are supposed to have gameplay of some sort, adventure games are saddled with the idea that they have to be challenging. Instead of just allowing the player to experience the story, these games throw up tedious minigames or, worse, unintuitive puzzles.

Recently I played through the remastered version of Grim Fandango and found myself aghast at the game’s bizarre expectations. Everything else about Grim Fandango–the writing, the art, the voice acting–is fantastic. But it’s shackled to a series of incredibly arbitrary gameplay sections. I hesitate to even call them puzzles. You run around the environment, collecting items and then using those items in a specific order in specific parts of the environment. Some of these make a certain amount of sense, like luring birds with bread and then scaring them when they pop a balloon underneath. But others, like the bizarre shit with betting stubs at the cat racing track, is even more difficult to describe than it is to figure out. I played through the entire game with a guide and, while it made me feel a bit like a loser, I think I enjoyed my time with it way more than if I went in legit.

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MLB The Show: World War K – Three Blights in August

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: Can’t Get Fooled Again

Winning is hard, but apparently losing is even harder.  Pat Burrell and the Royals had set out to accomplish something far more difficult than sealing the deal on a solid division: blowing it in dramatic fashion.  In the past, the Kansas City Royals had made losing games look simple, but in 2014 they were a team of destiny.  Not only did they have the general momentum of the 2014-prime timeline on their side, but the improvements made by Pat Burrell and Strike-O-Matic gave them an extra push that was hard to undo.  Trading the closer and wrecking the up-the-middle defense by giving starting jobs to Brad Miller, Miguel Sano, and Jesus Montero should have been enough…  But was it?

embraceausterity

The problem with relying on a poor defense to sink the Royals should have been clear: the team’s three best pitchers were strikeout specialists. Strike-O-Matic, Carlos Martinez, and Kyle Zimmer all had K/9 rates over 8.00, which limited the amount of damage the terrible up-the-middle combination could do to them.  Even Jesus Montero was capable of catching a fastball, and Sano/Miller simply didn’t get enough chances to let fieldable balls get away.  On the offensive side, they were even barely a step down from the players they were replacing.  Miller played about as well as Escobar had, and while Sal Perez was a much better hitter than Jesus Montero, his 2014 numbers simply hadn’t borne that out.  And as for Miguel Sano, who should have been completely overmatched in MLB?  Well…

Sano

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MLB The Show – World War K: You Can’t Get Fooled Again

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: Trust The Plot Twist

At the end of July 2014, emergency repairs initiated by Strike-O-Matic’s internal systems revealed the terrible truth of his mission from the future.  He had not been sent back in time to help the Kansas City Royals get to the World Series.  In fact, he had been sent back to prevent Kansas City from taking the pennant.  This compelled Pat Burrell into taking desperate measures, making dramatic changes to the roster.  They wanted the team to collapse in 2014, but without ruining the team’s public image or hopes for future seasons.

With this in mind, Burrell attempted to recruit the services of blogger Dave Cameron, but accidentally ended up retaining the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron. It was a mistake anyone could make, but particularly likely when the person put in charge of the deal was Eric Hosmer.

eliphosmer

With David Cameron’s help, Pat Burrell retooled the team, trading a number of significant pieces from the ML roster.  But more importantly, the team would be handicapped by some rather lineup decisions suggested by PM David Cameron after reading the work of blogger Dave Cameron.  The team now looked something like this:

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MLB The Show – World War K: Trust The Plot Twist

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: All Stars and aWARs

As July came to a close, everything was going according to plan for the alt-2014 Royals.  Following the all-star break, the team went on a dramatic winning streak, pulling well ahead of the AL Central.  The core of the offense–Hosmer, Burrell, Holliday, and Gordon–were finally firing on all cylinders.  Meanwhile, Strike-O-Matic, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Zimmer, and Bartolo Colon routinely provided quality starts and saved the shaky bullpen from overexposure.  It was starting to look like the Royals wouldn’t have any problem cruising to the playoffs.

standings

It seemed as though Strike-O-Matic and Pat Burrell didn’t have much to worry about as the trade deadline approached.  But then one morning, shortly before a press conference to honor him for yet another MLB Rookie of the Week award, Strike-O-Matic injured himself by trying to iron his shirt while he was wearing it.  Of course, he was a machine, so this wasn’t really a problem.  He just needed to repair the damage to his artificial skin and reboot.  But in the process of restarting his internal computer, Strike-O-Matic regained all of the memories he had lost during the time travel process.

After all, Strike-O-Matic had been sent back from the post-apocalyptic future of 2099 to work with Mike Trout and the Angels to save baseball.  He had only recruited Pat Burrell and joined the Royals after a memory malfunction. No one assumed this was a problem, since it shouldn’t have mattered which team Strike-O-Matic helped to win, as long as it both changed history and stopped the robot masters.  But when Strike-O-Matic’s internal computer rebooted, he remembered a terrible truth.

beepbeeptheyactuallywin
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MLB The Show – World War K: All Stars and aWARs

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: Halfway There

A Post on the Future of World War K (and my possible psychic powers)

There was once a time, before MLB.tv and interleague play, when the All-Star Game really meant something.  Most fans didn’t have a chance to see players in the other league unless their team made the World Series.  Seeing the most popular players in the other league, even for a single exhibition game, was a fun novelty in the middle of a much-needed break in the regular season.  But as teams in both league became more accessible to fans across the country, interest in the All Star Game waned and MLB went to great lengths to revitalize it.

First, MLB implemented “This Time It Counts”, awarding home field advantage to the winning league in the WS.  When that failed to bring in the ratings MLB desired, in 2024, the stakes were raised with “No, Really, This Time It Definitely Counts” in which the teams in the winning league were awarded an extra roster spot for the remainder of the season.  People thought that was rightfully stupid, so MLB petitioned the U.S. Congress to pass the “It Counts More Than Ever Act of 2037”, in which Federal highway funds were awarded to cities in the league winning the All-Star Game.  When even that wasn’t enough to get people interested in 2045, the United Nations issued its controversial UN Declaration of Making It Count, which denied human rights protections from fans of teams in the losing league.

Back in alt-2014, most of this was in the future.  The All Star Game was a glamorous spectacle about honoring fan favorites and stupidly determining home field advantage.  And the two starting pitchers for the American League and National League were no surprise.

Allstar showdown

Indeed, the ASG would be a rematch between the deranged mind of Mike Mussina inside of a robot body and the time traveling pitching machine chosen by Mike Trout to save baseball. But they weren’t the only machines chosen to represent their respective leagues in the exhibition game.  In fact, all three position player Robot Masters were in the lineup, with Dixie Dirtbag holding down shortstop in the NL, Preacher Cobra at C and Flash Money at RF in the AL.

Allstar Lineup

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MLB The Show – World War K: Halfway There (June Recap)

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: More Like Chief Blah-Hoo

In the far-flung future, June 30 will be remembered as one of the turning points of the Base Wars.  On June 29, 2081, US President Emma Jeter ordered an overnight attack on a server farm in silicon valley.  This battle was known as the Net Offensive, Brought to You by State Farm.  (Corporate sponsorships of major military actions had become the norm in the 2040s, starting with the Mountain Dew-mascus Assault in 2042, and by 2081 no one was even moderately shocked by the idea.)

The Net Offensive Brought to You by State Farm began with the firebombing of Paolo Alto, which was made exceedingly difficult by the fact that the pilots could not use computers for targeting or navigation.  Dozens of jets took to the air over central California, dropping tons of explosives on everything that looked remotely like a server farm.  By the June 30, they actually started to hit meaningful targets.  President Jeter spent the morning deep in her secure bunker, watching a live feed of the attacks.  Every time the headquarters of an early 2000s  tech startup went up in flames, she would pound her chest and mutter “yeah jeets”.  Despite the fact that the Net Offensive Brought to You by State Farm was ultimately successful, this fact would be brought up multiple times during her impeachment hearings the next year.

But in the innocent days before the Base Wars, June 30 was not known for a violent battle.  At best it was known as Chan Ho Park’s birthday.  Or the midway point of the baseball season.

Why didn't I come out of retirement for this season?

Why didn’t I come out of retirement for this season like Ray King and Kei Igawa?

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MLB The Show – World War K: More Like Chief Blah-Hoo

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: Money Also Walks

After a disappointing 1-3 series against the New York Yankees, the Kansas City Royals were slated for a quick two game set against the Cleveland Indians.  After flagging over the last week themselves, the Indians had a two game lead in the AL Central, so the Royals could pull even with them and take first place for the first time since near the beginning of the season.  They were so close to first that they could almost taste it.

catfood

It was awful forward-thinking to believe that a two game series in the middle of June was critical to the pennant race, but Pat Burrell didn’t want to give up any ground to the Indians.  Something had to change.  Something had to motivate the Royals to move forward and rebound from their loss to the mediocre Yankees squad.

Burrell considered making another trade, but he realized that he could only rely upon transactional drama to carry the day so many times.  He was willing to go back to the trading market, but he’d wait until the July deadline.  After all, there are only so many parts of this story that can be about making trades, and certainly another one is to come.  Today, change would have to come from within.

There was one clear way that the team could be improved without a trade: something had to be done about the manager.  If only for a couple, critical games…

Yuniholdonelipsishey

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