Kotaku

How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was OverI like to say that the couple that games together, stays together. I'm not alone in that sentiment, either. I'm sure there are tons of couples who integrate gaming into their day-to-day interactions and manage to get along just fine.


But just because I like to say it... well, that doesn't make the statement true. Unfortunately, I only know this through first-hand experience.


My husband and I met online, like a lot of people do these days, and he liked to say that he fell in love with me on that very first date.


I have a habit of hiding behind a gaming handheld when I'm really nervous with someone new. It wasn't long into that first meeting when I dug into my purse. I pulled out my Nintendo DS, and just kind of fell into it for a couple of minutes before closing it and going back to him. He swears that that moment, right there, was the moment he fell in love with me.


I still don't know what he saw in me at that moment. Was my nervousness merely indicative of the sort of unshaped person he was looking for? Did it make me look more submissive, perhaps? Maybe he just wanted someone who played more games than he did. I haven't really gotten an answer, and that's okay. I'm not looking for answers these days.


***

This year, we separated, and the divorce process has yet to really get underway, despite the fact that we're both pretty happy with other people at this point. What I realized most recently about our separation is that the way we played together this year said a lot about where we were in our relationship.


Two games managed to show me it was all over. There wouldn't be any turning back. No rolling a new character for a fresh start, no "maybe I'd be a lot happier in this marriage on ‘Very Easy.'" These games, which were very different from one another, weren't the problem, but they were certainly illustrative.


I wasn't an idiot. I knew when the snowball started rolling down the hill. After one of our (increasingly common) serious talks that left me bawling, I told my husband that we needed some time to ourselves. We needed a couple of hours away from the distractions (read: other people) just to see if there was anything to salvage. I wanted to make it a weekly thing, even.


I wanted counseling. He said no. So, us being us (or perhaps me just being me), we picked a recent downloadable PlayStation 3 release to play together.

Okay, so I wasn't an idiot then, but I sure was stupid to think that a couple of hours was going to do a lot for us. Maybe hope kills brain cells.


I wanted counseling. He said no. So, us being us (or perhaps me just being me), we picked a recent downloadable PlayStation 3 release to play together—The Simpsons Arcade. He'd played it a lot as a kid, since he could visit an arcade on a semi-regular basis. I hadn't ever managed to play it before, but the show, as well as the game's genre, are among my favorites. The best part (to me, for this occasion) was that it was all co-op. No fighting each other allowed, only working together.


In a sense, going back to this kind of game was the perfect thing to do. We were going back to basics, trying to figure out the essence of "us," whether that was particularly painful or not.


Here, the pain was minimal. We actually finished the game in about half the time that was allotted in our schedules, but we didn't want to go back and do it again so soon, so we perused the menus and that was really just... it.


I don't think playing something together really "worked," but then again, I don't know what I expected. We came, we played, we went back to our (increasingly separate) lives. Honestly, we never even spoke about the nothing that happened again.


And playing together weekly never happened, either. That time would be the next-to-last.


How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was Over


The absolute last time we played a game together was the Diablo III launch. He'd been waiting the better part of a decade for this game and I'd only been waiting the better part of a year. The way he talked of high school LAN parties made its predecessor sound like the ultimate in companionship gaming. Bonds were forged, and loot was had. I wanted in on this.


I got my chance during the game's press preview for the beta. I could finally get a real sense of what the game was like (and find out just how well it would run on my MacBook Pro). I installed the game and started playing while my husband watched, and man, it's like something was just weird in that room all of a sudden.


I didn't deserve to play, he said. Mostly because of the fact that I'd never touched a Diablo game in my life. Does that really compute? I'm not sure. I offered him my computer and told him about that last open beta push before the game's release, but I don't know if he ever went for it.


I didn't deserve to play, he said. Mostly because of the fact that I'd never touched a Diablo game in my life.

In any case, we finally made it to release night, and after his late-night gym excursion, which could bring him home well after midnight most nights at the time, we booted up, avoided error messages (perhaps due to blessings from Deckard Cain himself), and went for it.


I made my gal a Demon Hunter named Ariadne (named after my similarly-classed WoW toon), he got started with a Barbarian, and off we went.


Since I'd already done all of this before, I was directing things pretty well, but trying not to be too overbearing about it. It was, in my opinion, so, so cute to see my husband so excited about exploring New Tristram. We went on for about an hour, and then it happened.


He let me die.


In co-op, enemies scale with you and the size of your group. When I'd played before, there wasn't much of a problem (with the exception of that damn Skeleton King) because my enemies were scaled for a single-player game.


So, here we are, fighting our way through the very beginning of Act I and we separate and all of a sudden I manage to aggro everything in a pretty large radius and I don't know how that happened and they're attacking and oh my god sweetie I don't wanna die hey can you help me they're killing me um seriously can you help because I can't get range and I'm mostly good for range attacks and... dead.


He let me die. In a room where we would often simultaneously play our respective MMOs with chairs sitting literally next to one another and desks that were touching, he let me die.


With me verbally asking for help, he still let me die.


Yes, it's just a game. Yes, I could come right back to life and keep going (and I did). But I still cried that night before I went to bed because he. Let. Me. Die.


While Ariadne came back again, prepared to handle the onslaught alone, part of me didn't. We were over.

Yes, he was wearing headphones, but he heard me. I confirmed as much later, when we were done for the night. Oh, "it's just how you play," he said. Oh, so it was normal to ignore your partner. It's just "normal" to not even deviate from your loot-grabbing activities to save your wife from monsters. I gotcha. (Except everyone I've ever told this story to who has any Diablo experience is always as shocked as I was.)


I guess it's too much to expect "‘til death do you part" to extend to the virtual world, to avatars that aren't even programmed to express the sentiments behind such vows.


While Ariadne came back again, prepared to handle the onslaught alone, part of me didn't. We were over. Really over, and nothing could save us. It wasn't until after this moment, though, that I really accepted that as fact. It wasn't just that He Let Me Die, it's that he was so nonchalant about it, even while tears ran down my face.


I left our home the next week. I've spent the majority of this year in the kind of depression that you really only seem to get after someone very close to you dies and there's nothing left to take its place. Once I left, things got better, but I've really only been replacing one kind of sad with another.


***

There is a spark in my life, thankfully. If there wasn't, I probably wouldn't have made it to today, to be honest. I have a boyfriend now (and I've had him for over a year now, so you do that math—I'm a cheating cheater (my husband had been, too), and while that isn't the only thing that made us fall to pieces, it certainly is among the reasons).


I'm not like Patricia Hernandez, who wrote not too long ago that she just plain doesn't list gaming as a thing she's into on her OkCupid profile anymore. It's there, it's something I'm open to talking about, but if you're creepy as hell about it, I'm just going to ignore you. My guy... he's not a gamer. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. He's pretty "meh" about most games these days, despite still fitting in the occasional Age of Empires game (and this is the very first version of the game). He has a Wii, but who doesn't? The thing's ubiquitous.


So, okay. He doesn't play a lot of games. That's fine. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. But when we first started getting a little more serious, or at least as serious as an online long-distance relationship can get while you're still married, he did mention having a copy of Portal 2. This, by the way, was the best thing ever.


I'm a Portal maniac. I love GLaDOS' acerbic humor more than almost any game character as a whole. She may be what amounts to a sentient operating system, but still, my point stands. Best character. Oh, and the part of Portal where you play with portals is pretty good, too.


So I knew Portal 2 pretty well by this point. Hell, after my town was flattened by a tornado and I used the game as a bit of a way to return normalcy to my life, I wrote to the game's co-writer, Erik Wolpaw, to thank him. (His response was to say thank you, "but you didn't actually say the game was any good." For the record, sir, it's excellent.) I had been through the co-op campaign with someone else, but I didn't know it like the back of my hand yet.


So it was only natural that I bugged him to play it with me. After a lot of IMs, he finally installed the game and it was on. Part of the beauty of online play is that despite having about 1,300 miles between us at the time, it only felt like mere inches.


How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was Over


We stumbled, together, through it again. What struck me most was the fact that this time, it felt truly cooperative. My first partner, to whom I'd lost my co-op virginity (gasp!) was smart enough and well-versed in game design, so if we were stuck, he almost always figured it out. When I tried to play with my husband, it fizzled out after about a half-hour, because the portal mechanic just isn't his thing. I get that. (Sort of.) Also, I don't think he liked taking too many directions from me. (It's possible that this theme may have existed for a while.)


You know, he and I hadn't even met in person yet. But here we were, handing off edgeless cubes and hitting buttons and being willing to try things even if they don't work. I was able to actually teach him some things about the game—no, you can't carry things through the emancipation grids—and, as a bonus, the game did feature voice chat. So it was a fantastic Skype replacement, too.


Here we were, handing off edgeless cubes and hitting buttons and being willing to try things even if they don't work... Playing with him just felt right.

Playing with him just felt right. I don't know how else to explain it. Maybe I should just say it was like having the knowledge that there's someone out there in the universe who just understands you. Maybe this means more to me as a woman, but if things weren't clear, he would wait for me to explain them and ask questions until he completely understood whatever task was at hand. Like, oh my god. Dream guy.


It wasn't long after that first play session before he decided to ask me something. This something was prefaced as a "weird" something, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.


He wanted to know if I would have his children.


And perhaps this sounds stupid, or like an uninformed product of lust and at-the-time completely unfulfilled sexual tension, but I... uh, I said yes.


I said yes not just because I love him, but because while we were playing, I literally had the thought, "Huh, this feels like real teamwork. I honestly think I could have kids with this guy if this is how well we interact."


It'll be quite a while before I have to live up to any of that, sure. That is, if both us as a couple and the plans for everything that happens before kids shake out. But over time, I've felt like a game—a silly game about screwing with physics—is really a better litmus test for relationships, having children with someone, and other serious endeavors than anything else I've encountered (you know, aside from actually doing any of these things). It's puzzling, challenging, and occasionally you just want to throw up your hands and give up. All of that sounds like parenthood to me. Except for the part of parenthood where you don't get to sleep. I hear that's a thing.


Ultimately, I think we can learn something about ourselves and our relationships with others when we take the time to play with other people instead of against them. Maybe you don't always like what you see, sure, but it's worth the effort. How's that competitive personality going to work out with another person? Are you the sort who gives up control too easily on a shared screen? Does that translate to you giving up control in your life? It's something to examine, for sure.


As for me, well... I'm ready to learn some more about the people I love. Just as long as it doesn't involve Diablo III. That one still hurts a little.


Tiffany Claiborne is the former news editor at GamingAngels.com. You can reach her on Twitter at @kweenie, or by email at tiffanydaniellec@gmail.com.


Product Update - Valve
- All Test Courses are always available in Offline Splitscreen.
- Fixed the Calibration Course sometimes not being selectable from the in-game pause menu.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

Clearly, he is acting in the spirit of Mechsgiving. Whatever that actually means.

I don’t think it’s possible to have any misgivings over an update officially titled “Mechsgiving.” As for Portalmas, well, that one’s a bit more up for debate, seeing as it’s just a word I made up. But generosity’s officially in the air, and both Piranha and Valve are doling out fairly significant updates to their breadwinners, MechWarrior Online and Portal 2. Unfortunately, neither involves gigantic mechanized turkeys, but I suppose beggars in the midst of celebrating a decadent holiday of feasting and lethargy can’t be choosers. Still though, that’s far from a reason to mope. So let’s look under the ol’ turkey tree and see what we got.

(more…)

Product Update - Valve
Portal 2 Big Picture Support
- Fixed wearables not appearing on P-body in splitscreen.
- Fixed not being able to skip the intro cards with the controller.
- Added convars to remap which player each controller controls. To play splitscreen with a single controller, set controller #1 to control player #2 with this command: joy_remap_player_for_controller1 2
PC Gamer
portal 2 coop splitscreen


Caring, sharing types rejoice: Valve have released a patch which enables two-controller splitscreen play for Portal 2, making it all the easier to give your co-op buddy a purple nurple when they "accidentally" mis-time the placement of an Excursion Funnel. Again.

And you aren't restricted to squinting at a fraction of your desktop monitor, either: the update adds support for Big Picture mode, allowing you to bicker over who gets to hold the Discouragement Redirection Cube in the comfort of your own living room.

All you have to do to activate splitscreen is to press X on the second controller inside the first co-op menu, and then a whole new world of same-screen squabbling is available. We recommend you fuel your newfound fractious fellowship with our recent guide to the top 10 Portal 2 co-op maps.

The patch also fixes a couple of controller support glitches: previously the ‘quick ping’ button caused the player’s movement to stop and it was impossible to exit Robot Enrichment or Create Test Chambers menus using the controller alone. No longer!
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Now that Steam's all couch-friendly thanks to Big Picture mode, it'd be nice if more games were reconfigured for slouching. Oh, what luck! Just after I write that sentence apropos of nothing, I notice that Valve has released a Portal 2 patch enabling split-screen co-op in its puzzle 'em up.

Portal 2's console edition came with split-screen co-op options but it was never officially supported on PC. Cunning fans had managed to tweak and cajole the game into supporting split-screen, but poking around in config files is not for everyone. Now, all you need to do is play with two controllers in Big Picture mode, which is easy enough.

The patch notes have a little more information, and details two fixes too.

Product Update - Valve
Big Picture Support
- Added 2 controller splitscreen support for Standard Co-Op. Press X on the second controller inside the first Co-op menu to activate it.
- Fixed controller's ‘quick ping’ button causing the player’s movement to stop.
- Fixed not being able to exit Robot Enrichment or Create Test Chambers menus with the controller.
Kotaku

Well, file this USB Portal turret under "Things you can get me for Christmas that I'll only use once but will still totally love."


You can buy one for the Portal fan in your life (or for yourself) for $40 at Thinkgeek.


(Via John Davison)


Kotaku

Buy Your Own Floating Portal Core (That Actually Floats)Now that the world has moved on from making giant sharks float around by the magic of fancy air, we can move onto more interesting things like Portal personality cores.


Thinkgeek are selling two variants of the item you see above, Wheatley or Space, for $20 each. Sadly, they're not remote-controlled. They're basically glorified balloons. But they're glorified Portal balloons.


Portal 2 Inflatable Personality Core [Thinkgeek, via Copiously Geeky]


PC Gamer
portal 2 coop


We recently gave you our selection of the best Portal 2 single player maps and campaigns available on the Steam Workshop. There's some great feats of level design in that list, but if you really want to see mapmakers skills stretched to the limit, you have to turn to co-op.

With two brains and four portals available, the levels must be exponentially more complicated. They need to emphasise teamwork, provide an inventive challenge and be tightly crafted so as to stop players exploiting their way through. With that in mind, I enlisted the help of my Perpetual Testing Partner to dig out the ten best co-operative maps around. As always, if you've a favourite that's not listed, let us know about it.


1. Six Extra Seconds of Trust



The title refers to this Cave Johnson sales pitch for co-operating robots. It's apt: Six Extra Seconds of Trust takes place in a room full of buttons and switches, with each player on either side of a glass wall, trying to figure out how to help the other. The work gone into creating such a labyrinthian series of connections is truly impressive. Download Six Extra Seconds of Trust here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I've got it! Just take that cube to... wait... no. That won't work for all sorts of reasons"


2. Buttons, Elevators and Goo



...And funnels, lasers, jumping puzzles, blind leaps of faith and those damn emancipation grids. B,E&G contains a large room full of corridors and side-chambers, each concealing a cube needed to complete a collection of buttons. Each area contains or requires a different puzzle element, and its the variety of challenges and their enjoyable solutions that make this a great map. Download Buttons, Elevators and Goo here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "NOOoooooo..! *splash* Balls."


3. Camtasia



A clever little chamber comprised of two rooms, one on top of the other. While neither player can reach the other directly, laser guarded holes in the ground allow you to share the limited resources back and forth, and buttons allow you to deactivate obstacles in your partners way. There's not much portalling to be done, but co-ordination and teamwork are still key. Download Camtasia here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I'm stuck in this hole again. :("


4. Fortunate Buttons



A super-contained single room challenge with plenty of black walls blocking your progress. Fortunate Buttons is an order of sequence puzzle in which every step seemingly throws in more complications and leaps of logic as you move towards your solution. It always feels like you're on the edge between completion and completely messing it all up as you attempt to stretch a limited number of cubes further than seems possible. Download Fortunate Buttons here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Just go and- NO, NOT THE FAITH PLATE! Idiot."


5. There's No I in Team, 01



Part of a series of co-op maps made by mapmaker LPChip. Part one starts with a tricky excursion funnel challenge that requires you to really think through the positioning of each player before you make a move. But it's the finale, in which you share a sphere back and forth between each other, that really exemplifies the "accidental" comic slapstick at the heart of the the best Portal 2 co-op maps. Download There's No I in Team here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I know how to do this! I have to die!"

Hit the next page for more vents, ramps and tactical suicides.



6. Co-op Vents



It's pretty easy to complete, but there's a lot to like about Co-op Vents. You and your partner split off into two separate corridors (or vents, I guess), which intersect at rooms designed to put one player's life in the hands of the other. The difficulty lies less in the puzzles themselves and more in resisting the urge to blow up your friend. Download Co-op Vents here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "What is it about lasers that turns you into a homicidal maniac?."


7. Rampage



Rampage heavily explores the possibilities of hard light bridge based puzzling. The three rooms use a mixture of ramps, bridges and emancipation grids to create interesting and unique challenges that require some seriously involved portal co-ordination. Also smart: It allows respawned players to easily make their way back to where they died. It's a problem in some maps, thanks to a level editor that doesn't allow checkpoint placement. Download Rampage here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Wait, STOP! Not yet! *splash* DAMN IT!"


8. Quest for the Edgeless Safety Cubes



In which you must find three spheres to unlock the exit, each hiding behind some difficult puzzles in sub-chambers that themselves can be hard to access. The main puzzle room is full of buttons and laser-activated switches, and just deciphering what controls what is a challenge. Despite that, the level has some well crafted puzzles that require inventive portal work to complete. Download Quest for the Edgeless Safety Cubes here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I meant to die there. It was tactical."


9. Mazed



Mazed casts you as lab rats, working through corridors looking out onto a large, unreachable cube. Each player must help the other to progress through their respective routes. What at first starts out as simple switch activation soon becomes an involved series of timing challenges and backtracking in order to make a small bit of progress. It's a strangely claustrophobic experience. Download Mazed here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I should have picked your route. There's less pissing about with turrets."


10. Super Happy Fun Time



Finally, a one room puzzle that features lots of thinking through the use of an excursion funnel as it pushes and pulls cubes and players through four portals and a variety of improbable obstacles. The division of labour is a bit off balance, with one player required to do little more than push buttons at the right time, but the central problem requires plenty of discussion to overcome. Download Super Happy Fun Time here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Sure, the bit with the funnel was fun. But super happy fun?"


Bonus: Geolocity Stage 2



As with the single player maps, some creators prefer to use Hammer, the Source engine's level editor, to create more detailed works. Hammer's co-op selection is less focused on custom campaigns than the solo stuff, but its use still enables handy additions like visual variation and player checkpointing.

It can also be used to reimagine Portal 2 as something else entirely. Something like a racing game. Geolocity Stage 2 abandons puzzles for a track covered in orange speed goo. You have to run, jump and portal your way through the course, avoiding plenty of obstacles and thinking on-the-fly to get through some tricky sections as quickly as possible. While the first Geolocity is also a lot of fun, Stage 2 adds in the ability to screw over your opponent with targets that, when activated by the ping tool, can reverse excursion funnels, create barriers or activate crushers. Download Geolocity Stage 2 here.
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