How We Spent the Last Month Examining ‘The Thing’

Most retrospectives involve playing a video game you already know is excellent, or revisiting a piece of nostalgia to work through its context in the present. That has represented most of the games that have been part of our ongoing Waypoint 101 project, but with The Thing, I wanted an opportunity to visit, for the first time, a game I’d been hearing about for decades.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pkgem9/how-we-spent-the-last-month-examining-the-thing
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Finally listened to this episode, and to answer the question at the end about Antarctica, I’m gonna do Robb here. I’m bringing down Gibbon, Marx, City of God, all these classics. Always meant to read the Bible end to end.

And then probably I’d end up binging cooking videos the entire time too.

I was excited when Patrick pitched this game because it occupied the same space in my mind as in his. Back then I’d read previews of it in PC Gamer and thought it sounded fascinating. Shame it didn’t come out quite that good, but kudos for trying.

If the next 101 does turn into The Last Express though … dang. I’ve had a few attempts at it over the years but never quite made it through. Would very much play along for that.

I feel like making a compelling Thing game with actual, honest procedural gameplay and systems would be a god damned nightmare. I don’t know if it’s apocryphal or not, but I remember stories of Far Cry 2 development where they had their fire system and it was so good and so pervasive that people would start a fire, walk away, and kill a boss unintentionally 30 minutes later by sheer chance of wildfire. The logistics behind making an enemy that can inhabit any of your companions at will the moment your back is turned but NOT making it overwhelm the entire NPC population behind the scenes every single time feels like a nigh impossible task.

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Yeah, it definitely sounds difficult, as we’ve seen with the difficulty of making “immersive sims” work well. An easier solution might be to work with an AI director as in the Left 4 Dead series, going for dramatic tension rather than naturalism. But the full simulation (perhaps with some restraints) approach could be more scary in the end, especially if coupled with limited saves as the crew touched on in the pod.

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