Friday, February 14, 2014

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Play This Weekend: Jazzpunk, A Game of Cyberpunk Spies So Stylish It May Make You Sick -- Literally

Jazzpunk bench
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Games like Jazzpunk remind me that it's not a bad idea to buy games the same way you might buy shoes. You can buy a game because you need one, because you've worn out all the others you have, but there's no harm in buying a game every now and them purely for style, purely because you appreciate what it's doing, and how it's doing it. Even if it's not the most practical, even if it won't last you more than a season, sometimes you deserve a stylish (and fun) little indulgence.

Comedy-focussed indie release Jazzpunk is my indulgence of choice at the moment... Even when it has me reaching for a bottle of Gravol... But I'll get to that part shortly. Let's start at the beginning:

Jazzpunk office

In stark contrast with its colorful, cartoonish retro look, Jazzpunk draws its inspiration from a wealth of cyberpunk and spy fiction -- think James Bond meets Johnny Mnemonic meets Catch Me If You Can meets Futurama meets... Well, let's just say it's a pretty unique experience, in spite of the various things that may have influenced it along the way.

A unique but also not even remotely serious experience. Cyborg geishas will drop technology puns, cardboard boxes lament their lot in life, a photocopy of your backside will get you through sophisticated facial recognition technology, and a wedding cake tucked out of site will transport you into an arena deathmatch minigame dubbed "Wedding Qake". Jazzpunk's world is much more open than its adventure game trappings might lead you to believe, and at just about every turn you'll find it struggling to keep a straight face.

Jazzpunk kimono

And really, there's not too much more to it than that. But here's the problem...

As much as I'm enjoying Jazzpunk, there is a pretty common problem I've had to push through. It seems that a lot of players are getting motion sick from playing, even those who don't have a history of gaming-related motion sickness. While this is far from my first encounter with motion sickness while playing a game, it's easily one of the worst I've ever experienced. It's no surprise that just today the game's developers have patched in a few fixes with waves of nauseated players in mind, adding a reticle and control over mouse smoothing. In addition to the existing control over mouse sensitivity, this patch should hopefully settle quite a few stomachs. Others will have to hope for Field of View adjustments to come in the future, since FOV is one of the most common culprits when it comes to motion sickness in gaming

Jazzpunk map

All said, I'm still looking forward to finishing Jazzpunk, my silly and stylish little gaming indulgence... Even if it will take me a handful of pills and a few airsickness bags to do it.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Damien Fate

That looks very fun!

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