What We've Been Up To – 22nd January 2018
Originally posted 22nd January 2018 Written by: Mark & Avery
We've been as busy as ever at Mostly Kobolds HQ. And by 'busy as ever' we mostly mean sitting around playing games and watching things on internet streaming sites. Here's a quick look at what we've been up to over the last week or so.
The Toys That Made Us
“It's an 8-part documentary series about the toys that we all know” this pop documentary crows in the introduction to each of its four released episodes. And therein lies the show's weakness; we already know plenty about these toys. Whilst it's nice to learn new tidbits about the creation of He-Man or the secret salacious origin of Barbie's design, nearly everything revealed in the interviews with creators and marketers is surface-level and removed from the context of the industry as a whole. It's an entertaining watch, but an opportunity to chronicle the evolution of the American toy market told through some of its biggest lines has been missed in the production of this fluffy and unquestioning documentary that often feels as plastic as its subject matter.
Keeping the nostalgia theme running, Avery took it upon themselves to spend some good quality time re-watching the well loved machinima series “Freeman's Mind”. The show, which began all the way back in 2007 and finally ended in 2014, put an interesting twist on the Let's Play formula. Instead of having commentary from the third person, Freeman's Mind puts it back into first, asking the question of “What if Gordon Freeman wasn't a silent protagonist?” And it works surprisingly well! Ross Scott, creator of the show, is well learned about various science-y gubbins and provides an excellent stressed-out sounding voice for one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. We just wish he had cut down on the ableist slurs...
Star Trek Discovery
The best Star Trek since DS9  continues unabated, and with the second half of the series taking place in the infamous Mirror Universe (that's the alternate dimension where humans are evil and Spock has a goatee) both the tension and the camp have ramped up significantly. Seeing familiar faces strut around in golden breastplates playing comically larger than life (and yet incredibly sinister) villains is fun enough, but with the show's many threads finally coming together, everything looks like it's building to a huge dramatic finale in just a few weeks time.
Due to a lot of messing about trying to revive an old netbook, Avery has been in need of some good binge-worthy content to have on in the background. While Freeman's Mind has certainly filled in that need quite well, there's definitely points in which one could definitely do without a stressed out and angry sounding American man shouting down one's ears. And that's where Techmoan comes into it. Mat is a pleasant chap hailing from somewhere in the UK, and his content consists primarily of going into extensive detail and history about various technological stuff, such as outdated and obscure audio formats, various audio/visual equipment and the like. Chances are you've probably heard of this guy by now, but if you haven't be sure to check him out, because he's absolutely fantastic.
It's no secret that Dropmix is struggling. Between a pricey £110 base unit, difficult to find card packs, and lacklustre advertising and messaging nothing seems to have gone right for the game's launch. Which is a pity, because it's one of the best new board games around. Dropmix uses NFC chips inside cards to combine a simple tactical card game with an on-the-fly music remixing engine and the results is a marvellously fun game you can play at parties that effectively doubles as an earworm generator. It's an absolute blast to be jamming out to a sweet mashup of Carly Rae Jepsen, Duck Sauce And LMFAO only to then drop Disturbed's Down With The Sickness and hear everything suddenly slow to an awe-inspiring crawl. If you've got a half decent smartphone and are looking for something fun to play with friends you can do a lot worse than to pick this one up, especially if you see it at a hefty discount.
When Argos were turfing out cheap HOTAS 4 flight sticks on eBay the other week, Mark fully expected to use his for PSVR flight simulations. Instead he's been delivering cargo and information from star system to star system whilst avoiding pirates, local security and the kind of pilot errors that would see him crashing directly into a nearby sun. Elite Dangerous isn't the most populated or detailed game, but it's got a huge universe, a feeling of freedom, and the same kind of gameplay loop as the one that made Euro Truck Simulator 2 so moreish. And with a third year of content updates planned out it looks like the game is only going to continue to evolve in interesting ways.
Working too much
You know how retail work basically doubles over the holidays? It doesn't settle down until well after January. Between the people sensible enough to have scheduled themselves a post-Christmas break and those who desperately need to offload their contracted time off before the end of the fiscal year there's a heck of a lot of overtime going around and for some reason Mark ended up being the one to fill it. We managed to get a couple of Dic Geeks in the can in a frenzied, over-tired recording session but there's not been much time to get things back on track otherwise – not to mention Avery slowly getting back into the groove of editing. Sorry about that!
Twine development & writing retrospectives
Between their usual habits of stressing out about how bad technology is and obsessing over cute things online, Avery seems to have started working on some sort of Twine-based text adventure. Twine is a superbly simple development tool for creating interactive stories and, having sampled some of the weirdness that comes from their mind in more constrained games creation tools, Mark is rather looking forward to reading through their particular flavour of stream-of-consciousness oddities. Aside from that, they recently took an extended look back at their aforementioned older games and created little writeups for all of them, remarking on interesting things or helpful tips in case anyone is out of their mind enough to play them at this point. I dont know about you, dear reader, but I can smell an article right there.