Episode One Hundred and Thirty Four: 17.5; Other Newsletters Are Available; SNOWPIERCER WALKTHROUGH V12.03

by danhon

0.0 Station Ident

I was unlucky enough to have the kind of gorgeous, relaxing two-hour massage yesterday that meant I woke up incredibly tired and achey this morning, but all that was tempered by lunch with nice people. And having drunk All The Coffee yesterday probably didn’t help, I’ll bet.

Today was difficult: not quite knowing what to write about, but in the end, I was able to squeeze the words out. As they say, you just have to keep hitting the keyboard until your fingers bleed.

1.0 17.5

From my son’s point of view, my being laid off and going freelance has been one of the best things to happen to him. He’s about 17 and a half months now – we’re still measuring in months, not years yet, and my wife and I worked out this morning that the way that he says “no” to everything right now (even when, unequivocally, he actually means yes) is actually just a significantly younger, less voice-dropped version of the way that I say no. Which is simultaneously hilarious and just a little bit creepy.

So this is what I have now: I have a greater degree of flexibility. My wife went on Music Together teacher training last week, so I spent three days looking after him. This isn’t, of course, a big deal: dads look after kids all the time, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s still not *normal* for dads to look after kids all the time. In our circle of mainly white middle class Portland-dwelling friends, I’m definitely in the minority (if not the only male) when I take our son to Music Together classes. I am literally surrounded by mums and nannies, and it’s something that now, only about eighteen months in, I’m starting to become comfortable and not feel weird about, the whole idea of being a dad and looking after my son during the day.

It’s strange: I don’t remember seeing my dad as much when I was growing up – one thing I do remember is that he used to travel a lot for academic conferences. My parents tell stories about how my younger would point to planes and say that’s where daddy was; I would make up a fake Hong Kong Hotel and check him in when he’d get home from a long trip. We’re not yet at the stage where it feels like he misses me *terribly* – he still misses his mother more than he misses me, but I’m reliably informed that he calls out to me when I’m not around. So whilst I do travel more frequently than when I did when I was working at Wieden – the last eight weeks or so have involved flying somewhere pretty much every week – the pattern of time and attention that I’m able to devote to him has changed. I suppose you could say that we’re able to spend more quality time together, despite the fact that I’m away for a day or so at a time.

I mean, it’s the case that the one time I see another guy with a babycarrier in Portland, we exchange looks and do that dude “hi” thing, and recognise our mutual man-looking-after-child thing. All the rest of the time, it’s women-and-children in supermarkets, malls, everywhere.

But anyway. When he runs up to me and says: “daddy!” it feels like the best thing in the world.

2.0 Other Newsletters Are Available

So, I’ve got about 1,500 subscribers to this newsletter now, and the open rate for each email is nearing 1k. I actually make a point of not really trying to look at the stats (particularly the open rates – I do admit to keeping an eye on the subscriber numbers) because as soon as I start looking at something like an open rate, I worry that I’ll be writing things for other people, and not writing things for me. If you’re new, perhaps the useful context here is that I started this newsletter as an exercise in writing practice: just the discipline of writing something, anything, every single weekday, was useful to me and only accidentally useful to any of my readers. It’s a happy coincidence that people appear to be interested in the stuff that spews out of my fingertips.

Anyway. There are other interesting newsletters out there. I even read some of them. Here are some you might not have heard of, that might be worth a try:

– Laura Hall writes Things I Love and Things I Fear which is far more eclectic and, well, culture-ful than what I write. To get a taste of the kind of stuff Laura’s interested in, and how she writes about it, check out this piece she did for The Atlantic, on the abandonment of online places.

– John V. Willshire is just about to start the Smithery List, explained here  which, if you like the advertising/brand/marketing stuff that I write about, ought to be up your street.

– Matthew Ogle writes Pome, which is a delightful poem each day.

And it’s not really a newsletter, but if your head gets suitably prodded and poked by the kind of stuff I write about here, then you might be interested in going to dConstruct  in Brighton this September. I’m trying to figure out a way of writing this that doesn’t sound like an ad, and I protest that it’s not, so I’ll simply say this: I’ve spoken at it before, and the lineup this year looks super good. I’m lucky to know at least three of the speakers this year at least on some sort of would-be-able-to-buy-them-a-coffee basis, and would go just to listen to one of them.

3.0 SNOWPIERCER WALKTHROUGH V12.03

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S N O W P I E R C E R   W A L K T H R O U G H

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SNOWPIERCER is the latest videogame from South Korean studio BARKING DOGS, released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC in February 2014. This is a walkthrough for the first-person action adventure game, NOT a walkthrough or strategy guide for the iPhone/Android game TINY SNOWPIERCER by Nimblebit studios.

SNOWPIERCER follows in the line of action adventure narrative immersive games like Half-Life 2, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Bioshock and Gone Home by incorporating rich, life-like 3D environments, impressive scripted interaction, gunplay, inventory management, a science-fiction universe and angst-ridden teenagers with diaries.

The game uses the latest version of BARKING DOGS’ proprietary 3D engine, AGENT BLUE, the successor to the previous AGENT YELLOW engine. Interviews have shown that the studio has optimised AGENT BLUE for next-generation consoles and high-spec PC gaming machines.

*** OBJECTIVE ***

You mainly spend the game as protagonist CURTIS EVERETT, although at various times during the game in cut-scenes, flashbacks and flashfowards, you play other characters from the narrative. The majority of the game’s action takes place on board the train after which the game is named, traveling through a post-apocalyptic world, and Curtis’ goal is to successfully lead a revolution, taking over leadership of the train.

*** BREAK OUT ***

SNOWPIERCER opens with a narrative cutscene where you can look around, but not control the movement of Curtis, the player character. You start in a train car where armed guards are performing a headcount and the game is designed so you have to look around and over the heads of the other passengers around you. You learn that the headcount is done before protein bars are handed out, your main source of food (health) in the game. When the cutscene has finished, explore the train car thoroughly and pick up as many protein bars as you can to replenish your health, and then put the rest in your inventory (depress the right analogue stick to access your inventory wheel).

Once you have picked up enough protein bars, you need to make your way back through the train to talk to find Edgar and then to talk to Wilbur. Take the time to talk to each NPC as you pass them, as the number of NPCs you talk to increases your chances of succeeding in the breakout quicktime event that occurs later.

As you travel back through the train you will see a ball, make sure you pick it up. After the ball, you will trigger a scripted sequence where a young boy runs in front of you: he is Timmy and you will need him to co-operate with you later. Talk to his mother, and then when Timmy asks for the ball in exchange for the protein block, give him the ball that you have in your inventory.

Keep going further back through the train, and take the protein block that Timmy gave you and give it to Gilliam. He will open it and give you a name – note this name down, because you will need it in the Prison Car section to open the right morgue drawer.

It’s happening from both directions, I think: (some) movies are becoming like videogames and (lots of) videogames are becoming more like movies. In a way, the change has been relatively easy to accomplish from both directions, too. In a lot of cases, it hasn’t been *that* hard to improve videogame storytelling from the relatively low baseline scripted narrative that videogames have exhibited (and, one would argue: why would they have to be that good in the first place, if they have interactivity as a crutch?). But it’s interesting to watch movies, the more established artform, start to riff off and emulate the tropes and narrative devices of videogames in a sort of symbiotic relationship. This makes sense: movies are going after young audiences, and young audiences more than ever before are literate in the tropes and mechanisms of videogames. So movies like Snowpiercer, like Pacific Rim, like Battle: Los Angeles all appear to exhibit that same kind of onboarding sequence, the empty avatar within which the audience places themselves, and the plot elements assemble out of a sort of expected structure: here’s our objective, here’s our plot-twist, here’s our fetch-quest, here’s our reveal, here’s the set-piece. But the plot pieces now appear to be combined with specific visual direction: here’s the bit where our hero has to *do this thing* and the thing just *feels* like something that you’ve done before in a game. Everyone remembers the bit where they’ve pointed the laser designator at the target in Call of Duty. Everyone remembers the bit in Half-Life or so many other games when you suddenly lose all of your powerups, when you go back to zero, wake up with nothing, half way through the game.

This is going to happen more. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think it’s an exceedingly interesting thing.

I am thinking of a Disney/Marvel-ified Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, something like a reboot book. In case of civilizational collapse, here’s an interactive text that will teach and bootstrap our children, help them jump over thousands of years of history, teach them principles and lessons inside a fictional universe that can be applied to where they are. A sort of branded SHIELD (*hail Hydra*) field manual or Nick Fury’s Anarchist’s Cookbook, only distributed with the combined weight of the Mouse House and instantly taken up by kids onto their borrowed Android and iOS devices because of the Brand Recognition. A massive piece of entertainment disguised as something subversive, or the other way around.

It’s Friday, it’s 9pm and it’s the weekend, even for those of us who freelance.

Send me notes, and have a good one.

Best,

Dan