The Cub Report – Big Guns Go Boom

Over the last few weeks a new class of games have entered the Cub life; first person shooters.

He’s already familiar with the concept of PvP. He does quite a bit of it with friends online in Minecraft server minigames.

Heck, I’ll be honest. At this point he’s probably played more PvP battles in videogames in his life than I have. PvP online with faceless opponents have never been my thing. Now, kicking a friend’s ass… that there is priceless pleasure, but my generation mostly did that on a console sitting together on a couch face to face (or butt cheek to butt cheek).

You know, close enough to throw down the controller, stand up and accuse your friend of being the cheap-ass Chun Li using bitch that he is, right to his face.

Not all that long ago I turned over my old tigerlordgm Steam account to him and created my own as Thebigbearbutt. That means anything I had on there is now his, and I can get him his own games as well.

Steam is very cool. I was able to link his account to mine as a family, so if he’s not playing games on Steam I actually have access to his complete game collection and can play any of them on my PC.

It also means that any games I buy on my account we can play in multiplayer. Sitting side by side in the same office on our own computers, close enough to, well, okay we don’t scream about Cheap Li. But in some ways, it’s nearly as bad.

The first game we played together on Steam is Terraria. We played a LOT of multiplayer Terraria. That fad has since died away, but before it did he had fully mastered summoning bosses and dominating everything currently in the game, thanks to some coaching through Youtube videos about Terraria that clued him in on the stuff in there and how to unlock it.

He does so love knowing more about a game than I do, and teaching me along the way. 🙂 It must feel very empowering when normally you don’t know stuff because, hello, young, and other people have to coach you. The opportunity to turn the tables around and be the teacher is clearly good for his confidence.

The next game we moved on to was Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, a first person shooter. Transformers is a game that is simply beautiful to play, it has amazing graphics. He played through the very complete campaign modes, loved it very much, but the multiplayer matchmaking on there is dead. It’s been out too long for people to be camping in the matchmaking servers.

To get the multiplayer going I got it on a Steam sale, so he could fight me in there as well, and holy crap he took to it like a bear to honey. We figured out how to select mechs and change styles, and while he started out trying the big monster Dinobot skinned tyrannosaur mech against me, he quickly found that if he chose a flyer in an outdoor map he was going to dominate and own my sorry slow mech ass.

Cheap chirping pterrodactyl death from above swooping punk. grrr.

Side affect is, when a friend of his comes over they can play multiplayer as well, whether on Steam games or on Minecraft servers and be in the same room… but that means I’m kicked off my own computer. It’s hell, I tell you.

Lots of fun, oh my yes, but limited. You can’t do campaign multiplayer in Transformers, no coop, just the PvP matches or ‘two vs swarm’ mode against bots, and that got old super quick. Without other players besides the two of us, well, it really limits how much replay there is.

We moved on from there to Portal 2 multiplayer. No bang bang guns, instead cooperative portal puzzle solving. So far, I think that’s been our favorite. So wonderful.

The Portal 2 cooperative multiplayer has been extremely well done. Tons of personality in the characters and environment, a continuation of the main campaign (sorta), more GladOS goodness, more exploring of the environment in cool ways. And hard puzzles.

If anything we limit ourselves on doing those missions because we both realize once they’re done, they’re done. They are so good, we’re rationing them out.

So we’ve added a second game to the mix. When we’re not playing Portal 2 together… we’re playing Borderlands 2.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, we’re cheating like a mofo in that game.

I bought it along with the Mechromancer DLC for my Tigerlordgm account before I created my own Steam account, so he had that extra character class available to him. The idea of playing as Gaige with his own giant pet robot was a winner, so that’s what he’s been doing.

Me, I’d originally been playing as the Mechromancer too, because duh giant pet robots, but once he chose that I abandoned it to level up a Zer0 assassin to play with him.

We started it up straight, but yeah, it didn’t take long for me to ask myself, ‘Are we playing for a challenge, or to have fun blowing stuff up?’

Shortly thereafter I downloaded and installed what is called the ‘gibbed’ Borderlands 2 save game editor, and used it to add some special weapons into our inventories. Weapons that normally aren’t available until much later in end game… and synced to match our much lower level. Legendary weapons.

So I was able, for example, to put a pistol called the Vengeful Infinity into his inventory, synced to match his level 8 in power, but retaining the special characteristics of extremely stupid rate of fire, and infinite ammo.

Or to drop an epic rocket launcher into his backpack that, when fired, spawns smaller mini-missiles at the distant target. Does he ever hit anything with it? No, he generally shoots it into the sky for fireworks. But he still loves it.

The point is, we’re cheating by giving ourselves fun weapons in the early game and playing together. We haven’t used it to increase our levels, because if you’re not taking damage and risking dying, it eliminates all the fun out of it. As it is, we still die every once in a while, especially when overwhelmed by bad guys and unable to revive the other one in time. Also, grenades. Grr! But racing around in a jeep, my driving because he bogarts the turret, is a heckuva good time. And charging into the guns of the nomads is great.

It’s been interesting.

He’s very good at the game, and he loves the sense of humor of Handsome Jack. Butt Stallion did get quite a giggle out of him. But I’m finding out that the draw isn’t the shooting, which is what most people seem to think of as what kids want.

I really don’t think he’d enjoy a more realistic FPS, like Call of Duty.

He likes the more outrageous weapons. I think in an earlier age, he’d understand the amazing joy of a BFG in Doom.

But the main point here is, sure he’s playing Borderlands 2 with me in cooperative multiplayer because we’re playing together and it’s fun to do that. But if given a choice, he’d much rather play Portal 3 with me on a very long coop campaign than play a shooter.

Creating portals, figuring out puzzles and dodging tricky scenarios is more engaging than the boom boom for him. Heck, it is for me too.

A game that we have on PS3 that was similar in concept to Portal, Quantum Conundrum, also engaged his imagination and tickled his funny bone.

The problem with that game was that rather than rely mostly on interesting puzzles involving heavy and light and other mechanics, they added in tricky moving and jumping puzzles on conveyors over lava kinda stuff that too. With the shitty control scheme of the game, it made later parts suck compared to the beginning. The Cub felt it was not nearly as fun and certainly NOT original. Almost as though they had a great idea for a portal style game, but ran out of imagination on creating the puzzles about halfway through and had to insert the jumping stuff to stretch it out. So he got that far in and lost interest. Such a shame, too. Quantum Conundrum had a charming setting and a great theme song.

But it is an example of where he would like to go, based on what games are out there. If given a choice, he doesn’t want to shoot stuff or blow stuff up. Okay, I lie, he loves to blow stuff up. But he’s not looking to get scared in a Doom style horror shooter, and he doesn’t have a craving to pop caps into the backs of peoples’ skulls in alleyways.

His preference is a game with a fun setting, meaning one with lots of humor and personality, jokes and sillyness. A game that let’s him have an avatar that runs around and jumps and can drive vehicles and explore and basically interact with the world in as many ways as he can think up. And a game that has puzzles that are challenging to think through and have lots of movement, that he can solve using his imagination and figuring things out.

He has another ‘game’ on Steam that he specifically requested, and that he spends a LOT of time in, based on the Youtube videos he’s watched. It’s called Gary’s Mod, and it’s hard for me to call it a game. It doesn’t have a story, or a campaign, or anything like that. It’s a giant sandbox. it’s like a big FPS, but everything in it you create from scratch. or download from the Steam community of players that upload their creations.

He’s happy spending lots of time trying to create a gadget or new construction using other people’s gadgets and tools, and then play with them on this big featureless plain.

Make a jeep putting together chassis parts, wheels, etc. Program a control scheme mapped to keyboard keys. Then climb aboard and drive it around. That kind of thing. Being able to use your own imagination to create something and then try it out on puzzles to come up with your own solution.

Another game he plays on Steam? Scribblenauts Unlimited. A game where he can use words to describe an item to create it, and then use it to get through puzzles and overcome obstacles.

Do you begin to see a trend here? The use of the imagination within the bounds of the game programming… and a desire to be able to have more options and less boundaries to restrict his imagination.

Why look… almost as though he is ripe for beginning to try pen and paper old school role playing games, where there is no imposed programming limitation on using your imagination. In fact, the only real limitation is how hard it is to get your idea across to a dim-witted gamemaster.

Soon.

Soon, my friends, and his transition to the dark side will be complete.

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7 thoughts on “The Cub Report – Big Guns Go Boom

  1. Yay!!! Glad you folks are having fun. 🙂 I can’t wait until he gets to try RPGs. Perhaps something flexible like Toon or Teenagers from Outer Space? Or we used to start with Hero system, and build normal agentish types with maybe one or two powers. It was nice to be special, but also made it more challenging.

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  2. You might want to look into Transformers: War for Cybertron the next time there is a transformers Steam sale. That one does have a co-op campaign. My brother and I had a ton of fun playing through it together.

    The LEGO games are on sale this weekend as well. They’re really fun in co-op too, but you have to play on the same computer so you’ll need a controller to play together. I would highly recommend the Marvel one, my brother and I just played through it this week and it was great.

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    • He has war for Cybertron, but I don’t. I’ll have to watch for steam sales. 😄

      So the Lego games you can’t play multiplayer coop on two different computers? Dang it I just got that humble bundle warning about the sales when your comment came through.

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  3. Hey Bear, I’d highly recommend Besiege on Steam. I don’t even really want to give too much away, but it’s got elements of Minecraft mixed with like, the old Mousetrap or Incredible Machine games. It’s also physics-based so there’s a lot of trial-and-error learning, too. Sadly it’s not multiplayer, but once you take a look I think you’ll see why I’m recommending it!

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