Friday, September 18, 2009

Comic 637: Scribbles

scribble scribble
shiiiiiiiit i am like 5 hours late with this. I got so caught up in the xkcd book / xkcdsucks book drama that I forgot there were comics to critique. On that: I've come around to the idea that the best idea would be to write the book, of course, but it would be more fun to not give it to him. Surely if Randall hasn't been tipped off by now to our plan, some xkcd fan in attendance will have, and we can just pull a wacky non-rickroll type thing and just let him anticipate something that doesn't happen. THAT IS MY OFFICIAL STANCE even though it goes directly against what i wrote in my introduction to the book. i changed my mind. THE END.

ANYWAY comic 637, scribblewhatever. Obviously, I had no idea what was going on. Neither did you. That's because the nintendo DS game "scribblenauts" only came out the day this comic did. So I don't know who was supposed to get this joke. So I was confused and was like, "well i guess I will have to go to the forums on this one, better take some anti-douchebag spray so i don't get an allergic reaction like last time."

But anyway, then I actually, against all odds, played the game Scribblenauts in between then and now, so now I know exactly what is happening in this comic.

And it sucks. Surprise!

The idea, if you haven't learned it by now, is that the game is based off of this magic notepad, and you can type in most any common noun and then that object will appear there, and you can use it to solve the various puzzles the game presents. Most of the joy of the game - which I had a lot of fun with - is in coming up with crazy nouns and seeing if they are in the game's programming. Cthulu is there, for example, and Godzilla, though lolcat was not. "lol wut" apparently makes your character's head really big. Anyway, that's the point of the game.

So what's happening in this comic is that the girl is playing, she's being amused by what's in the game (as one would be in real life) and then the other guy is like "whatever" and then apparently the game already has "asshole" in there and it looks like him! ha ha. Except, we don't know that the "pretentious asshole" looks like him because we don't actually see what pops up, we are just assured that it must be him. We also get the awkwardness of seeing the girl twice in one panel. There's really no good reason for that. I know that a comic doesn't have to have one panel correspond to one image, one moment in time in a story, but that's at least how xkcd does it basically all the time. So that's weird.

Also is it really that pretentious to say the game is OK for a kid's game? I mean, there's a hell of a lot more pretentious thing you can say about a game. Maybe he just didn't like it. There isn't much in the way of tone that we can figure out from this guy - some comics might feature facial expressions for such a thing, but not xkcd. So that's a little jarring, I guess, to suddenly be told that finding something nice to say about a game - which is a kid's game, ok, just cause it's fun doesn't make that not the case, I mean Toy Story was a kid's movie but we all like it anyway - is assholeish.

Anyway. Making a comic about a game like that, one that just came out and who knows how popular it will get, if at all, or when, if ever, is just like the Ender's Game comic the other day - way too much of a niche, even for a comic that's already in the "nerd" niche.

OK - now, back to the drama over the book!

88 comments:

  1. Ha! Now that other comments thread will -never- get to 300.

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  2. Also we could totally blow randall's mind with this. Imagine: he expects to receive the XKCD Sucks book, but he also suspects that we might non-rickroll him by not giving it to him, when we could also subvert -that- by giving him an "XKCD is awesome!" book ("From XKCD Sucks with love!"), and then we could subvert -that- idea by giving him a totally unrelated book like "Breadmaking 101" and leaving him to wonder what the hell it all means.

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  3. Super Soakers/ball pits are awesome, and anyone who says they're for kids is a dick!

    This is certainly a fresh theme.

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  4. All I ever see when he does comics like this is LOL THIS IS SOMETHING I LIKE I'M SUCH A COOL HIPSTER FOR LIKING IT, RIGHT, AUDIENCE?

    I'M SO RADICAL FOR PLAYING MY DS GAME, EVEN THOUGH IT'S THE MOST WIDELY USED SYSTEM EVER. FUCK THE SYSTEM GUYS, SCRIBBLENAUTS IS SO LOLRANDOM BUT IN A GOOD WAY JUST. LIKE. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.


    It feels like an excuse to mention Scribblenauts before anyone else does. The joke? Just shoehorned in there.

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  5. from xkcdsucks with love, i fly to you

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  6. The critical flaw in this plan is that it is based on an unfunny xkcd comic, and it wouldn't work IRL. It's really not about surprise. I'm sure even he knows his comics are not up to par. And the act of presenting the xkcdsucks book at his own book signing would spell out what many of his fans are subconsciously thinking. It's about putting things in perspective. And it's about getting some sort of reaction out of Randall and his fans. You can't really imagine him saying after the party: "Oh boy, no one gave me xkcdsucks book today, what a relief!". You can't imagine xkcd fans tweeting: "Hurray! NO ONE gave xkcdsucks book to Randall today. These xkcdsucks guys are really cool, check them out!". There will be nothing. And that's not really what we want.

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  7. There were reviews, you know.

    The last panel, yeah. It's an interesting technique, but as you say it doesn't work, it just makes it look like she's there twice. Maybe he could have added some speedlines in? To show her turning her head? You know, like you get comics where someone's head is in two different places in one panel cos they've turned it really quickly.

    And my flag, my beautiful flag!

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  8. Ah, it's okay, Carl, at least this time you did a decent post...

    Also, Timofei's got the word. Rickrolling him would only work if we get the rumor to him... maybe we could use... a double-agent?

    And today's comic: seems decent to me. I feel some effort there, not having stickman/megan for a change feels good, and the joke is even a little subtle...

    ...The alt-text sucks, though.

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  9. I don't know what to think of today's. I mean, it's not funny, nor is it insightful. It's just an observation I think most of us have made at some point played out as an analogy. Hey, at least he didn't screw up the layout, and it's clever enough to not be banal and pretentious like most of his comics, so while it's not a winner it's not terrible either. Moderately okay work Randall keep it up!

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  10. Is it just me, or should someone who says their comic "may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors" on the front page of his site not be calling other people pretentious assholes?

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  11. I thought that too Dave!

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  12. The game didn't come out until yesterday, but anyone who's over the age of 15 and under the age of 40 has a DS flashcard so he's probably just played the ROM for the last week or so. Everyone I know who cares about Scribblenauts played it days ago, although that might just be because all of my DS-playing friends are either poor college students or internet buddies.

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  13. I was confused because when she summoned pretentious asshole another version of her popped up in real life, so I thought it was saying she was the pretentious asshole, but that didn't really make sense.

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  14. This site is run by fucking children. You get a stupid idea to write a book, run with it, and then someone who thinks things through more than one step into the future comes along and explains why is a bad idea. Then you retreat. If you wanna give thoughtful reviews of xkcd and change Randall's mind(a stated goal in the faq), perhaps you actually be, ya know, thoughtful.

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  15. @Dave

    You know I always thought "liberal-arts majors" was a funny reference to stuff like "Sociology" and "Media Studies" but then someone told me it meant English, History, & Philosophy. You know, the Humanities.

    So basically I'ma take this opportunity to say Randall if is all "hurr durr SCIENCE more important than PUNY HUMANS." then he is a douche.

    (As an aside if he doesn't think English is an important subject no wonder he write not good)

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  16. Wait, it's a sign of immaturity to change your mind when people present reasonable arguments? God, what the fuck, everybody is retarded.

    LOOK WHATEVER I JUST THOUGHT SO HARD AND I REALIZED THAT RANDALL IS SO FAR ABOVE THIS MORTAL PLANE OF COMPREHENSIBLE WRITING, EMOTIONAL MATURITY, AND BASIC STANDARDS OF HUMOR THAT AS LONG AS HE SAYS SOMETHING I DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND I WILL DUTIFULLY "LOL" LOL

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  17. Hey Mal what if I consider such arguments thoroughly and decide that my original idea is for the best. Does that make me mature or immature?

    (Guize this means that if votes are anything I am still for the book. I understand the objections to it and even agree with some of them but I have not changed my mind.)

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  18. Dudes, Carl *totally* made that decision based on my post. Here's proof! http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2009/09/help-write-xkcdsucks-book.html?showComment=1253211359762#c7108729429029757426

    Now I feel guilty, because I was joking, and I think it's way, way better to give the book to him.

    (ok, look, I'm joking -- I didn't get the idea first, it was Adam's idea. I just built on it)

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  19. Next week on xkcd, Jedi Obama battles Sith Joe Wilson. I'll put money on it.

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  20. Y'all missed it. A person didn't appear in the game, the "pretentious asshole" was right in front of her (she looked up and poof there he was!) This is a pretty common form of sarcasm, not that funny really, but better than how Carl read it.

    The only workaround I can think of for having two of the same girl in one frame would have been to split the frame up. However, then it would have either had a relatively empty frame, or he would have made stilted dialogue to try and fill it more, and probably a response from the guy after the punchline.

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  21. Regarding today's comic: WHY, WHY, WHY THE FUCK does Randall need to explain the joke in the caption?? I mean, who is he writing comics for: 12-year-olds who think they're geeky and smart... ... ... oh... yes, indeed.

    I mean, ANY half-decent, actually good webcomic would ditch that caption completely, and the joke wouldn't be hurt at all. On the contrary: it would be improved.

    And that's a shame, because the strip would have been pretty good without that caption. And I don't mean "awful, but good considering xkcd's standards" -- I mean "pretty good" indeed.

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  22. Fernie, I was going to disagree with you, but on rereading you're right -- Randy worked enough information into the dialogue that you should know exactly what's going on before rereading it.

    Also, why is it that whenever there's a moderately okay XKCD, the alt-text is horribly unfunny? (Like, more so than usual, even.) Even in older comics this is the case.

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  23. The alt-text ruined it. Even the funniest thing in existence would've been spoiled by the massive pile of steaming shit that is the alt-text.

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  24. You know, giving him that book would have pushed you from everyday villainy into cartoonish supervillainy.

    Do it. :l

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  25. You can't see it, but right now I am spinning my oversized mustache.

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  26. Well this comic looked a bit like it was an add.
    But I kind of like Randal for making this one, as it can certainly raise the awareness of this generally well done game.

    Seriously would you have played that game if you would not have heard about it in the comic?

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  27. Seriously would you have played that game if you would not have heard about it in the comic?

    Yes. It's received vast, vast wodges of publicity and acclaim. Pretty much anyone who is remotely aware of contemporary video games knows about Scribblenauts.

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  28. I saw it on reddit, where it got several stories on the front page, and then somebody posted an emulator of it when it was released, so I was playing it before xkcd mentioned it.

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  29. Also wasn't it in Penny Arcade a while back?

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  30. Hey, come to think of it, doesn't this disprove the "Randall's got a huge queue of comics" theory? (I mean, we all knew that wasn't the case, but someone on Reddit seemed to think otherwise.)

    I own Scribblenauts. The LHC scenario actually works as described. The comic is still confusing and not funny.

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  31. Anon at 6:30, you're just being stupidly smuggy. Carl didn't come up with the idea and, as far as I know, the book will still be delivered, though that depends on Aloria. Also, what Aloria said. I'm still of opinion he deserves getting that book delivered, and now even more with that "liberal arts" quote on the page. Damn, Randal...

    And, no, Adam, I don't think so. We all knew Scribblenauts would be released by September 15th, he just had to make a comic and upload it to that time.

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  32. @Fernie
    SMBC does a pretty good job of extra punchline alt-text type thing, but that's because it's exactly that. An EXTRA punchline. Not "Oh yeah, HERE'S THE JOKE/EXPLANATION/SITUATION-CLARITY".

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  33. The ants comic: "Here's something I read about on Discovery.com! Oops, I forgot to tell a joke!"

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  34. Mole: Maybe, but then he'd have to have found out about the LHC thing some other way.

    Not that that's impossible or anything, but it's not the type of thing your average player is interested in, so he'd have had to demo it himself.

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  35. I was confused because when she summoned pretentious asshole another version of her popped up in real life, so I thought it was saying she was the pretentious asshole, but that didn't really make sense.
    That's what my first impression was, too. I actually liked the comic more when I thought that was the intention, because it almost seemed like a healthy dose of self-awareness. Guess not, though.

    But overall, I think this week's comics have been slightly better than the usual crap - not good, but not particularly rage-inducing either. Meh.

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  36. Lots of stuff about the game on this sense leaked, Adam. People knew ahead of time that stuff like "Longcat" and "Rick Roll" were available, so I'm pretty sure "LHC" was also advertised as to show how this game is so cool because you can create practically everything. I'm pretty sure I read about it long ago, in fact...

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  37. In the last panel, I actually thought that she was summoning herself into real life; I had no idea until I read this post that it was supposed to be her summoning the guy in game.

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  38. Willy Monty Hughes We Need Your Submission For The Book

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  39. I feel like we are missing out on a deliriously unproductive piracy debate. To get the ball rolling:

    Why is it whenever a game with the sort of style or imagination that would appeal to a 'Net-based fanbase gets justifiably hyped up (World of Goo, Scribblenauts), that audience's reaction seems to be "like hell I'm gonna pay for THAT!" and it gets pirated out the wazoo?

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  40. thomas,

    I think the main reason Scribblenauts has been pirated out the wazoo is that it's only been available for purchase for several days but it's been available for download the better part of a week.

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  41. I don't think he'll freak out reverse-rickroll-comic style. He won't go "AAH WHERE'S THE XKCD SUCKS BOOK!!?" and run through a wall.

    He will think you are too afraid to give him the book after all. You're all talk when it comes to being anonymous behind a screen, but when it's real life, when you can go right up to his face and try to make a difference, you're too scared.

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  42. Man, I don't think I'm going to get my submission for the book done in time. Not unless I think up something less ambitious in the next 3 hours.

    Sorry ya'll, hope you have a decent amount of pages regardless. I WILL send it to Randall eventually, I just want it to be good enough.

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  43. Hm, I actually thought this one was funny and more like his older stuff (somewhat).

    And it really isn't that hard to tell what happened in the last panel, but maybe my brain's just wired the same as Randall's.

    ...Which is actually a terrifying thought.

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  44. If you don't know what Scribblenauts is, you don't deserve to exist.

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  45. The game has been big news for ages now. Penny Arcade covered it like three months ago.

    I am so non-Nintendo-DS that I've never even _seen_ that console live (I swear!) and even I have heard of Scribblenauts. It's been that big news, justified or not.

    I guess when Penny Arcade or any other comic has an episode about something that's interesting to the authors (vidya game) but goes under xkcdsucks's radar, that's fine, because you know, they are writing about stuff that matters to them and it's perfectly okay that people who are following the same kind of news will make sense of it, and people who don't care for new console games won't. It's not "too niche, even for a nerd comic".

    But when xkcd does that, it's "Randall is making obscure references again" and "Randall thinks he's being cool by playing a DS game".

    God forbid that he would ever make a math joke again, because we know nobody in the world gives a shit about math.

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  46. I think it's less ridiculous that Carl hasn't heard of the game than how many XKCD forumites haven't.

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  47. Jesus christ guys, can you read? Carl played the game scribblenauts before posting the review. You can't complain about him not knowing what it is.

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  48. Jesus christ Kirk, Carl is clearly saying he only found out what the game was between reading the comic and writing the review. He's outright complaining that the comic is based on something obscure, and I'm saying it's not really that obscure at all.

    It's okay to not know about the game. Carl probably doesn't care for gaming news and I guess a lot of the forumites don't either.

    But it's weird to assume that because *you* haven't heard of the game it must be something obscure or niche. Especially if you don't follow gaming news anyway.

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  49. No offense guys, but if you give him the book, you'll just end up looking like Yellow Hat Guy. And everybody hates Yellow Hat Guy.

    Link for those of you who missed it: http://superfunadventuretime.com/2009/08/09/avengers-avenged/

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  50. To me, the pretentious statements about video games are the ones about how Final Fantasy VII and Xenosaga are superior to classic film and literature.

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  51. Carl's complaint was that he published the comic on release day, at which point no one had played the game.

    At least it's better than Randall's usual MO of putting out comics that would have been current years ago.

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  52. *marks off yellow hat guy on bingo chart*

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  53. Scribbles better edition still sucks.
    http://i33.tinypic.com/n2h8o5.png

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  54. I disliked this comic because it's essentially a product placement (while still managing to recycle one of his endlessly reused joke premises- see 'ballpit' and 'super soakers'), but I have to say I actually liked the way he did the last panel. Considering all Randall does is stick figures, it's always nice to see him try something new artistically (but no more graphic anatomy please!). I had no trouble figuring out what was going on and overall I think it provided a nice change in pace to a comic that's otherwise utterly bland.
    OTOH, I think I've seen that effect before somewhere, so it's probably less jarring to me than it might be for others.

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  55. Saw this on Twitter and thought it was interesting:

    "[...] going to dress up as a character from the comic for the xkcd party Saturday night."

    I wonder if she will dress up as "girl with hair" or "girl with hair in different hairstyle"?

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  56. I swear I didn't get what was going on in the last frame the first time around. Matter of fact, I don't even think that's too much of a problem. The biggest problem is that the joke is awful -- IF you can call that a joke.

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  57. ... ok, dress up as an xkcd character? NOW I'm baffled.
    Now one scary thought just occurred to me: Aloria, what are the odds of you bumping into people wearing xkcd ties? That's a sufficiently horrifying thought to me to make me praise your courage.

    Wheeee, I have a little nifty robot picture next to my name!

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  58. Dressing up as an xkcd character... boy, this blog once again made my day. XD

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  59. Hey, that's not fair, Sam! xkcd has lots of female characters. Like Megan. Or...uhm...Summer Glau.

    I'm not sure I want to know how she would plan to dress up for either of the above.

    Regarding this comic: I'm pretty certain, both when I first saw it and after reading the comments here, that what the girl does is type the command, then go "Oh look, you're sitting right in front of me, the game's so accurate it summons things into real life!" as opposed to the guy appearing in the game (which I think is the stance most people here are coming away with?) Which means it makes a bit more sense, but is still rather dull. On the other hand I had no problem with the final panel in terms of its time-share technique.

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  60. Dressing up a an XKCD character = wearing a hat.

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  61. >>XKCD || ENDLESS LOLZ

    Is he saying "xkcd OR endless lolz"?

    Well, that's logically equivalent to "a lack of endless lolz implies xkcd"

    I think he's on to something

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  62. well it just means that if xkcd is false, he has to check for endless lolz

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  63. Just goin' through the motions now, huh?

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  64. OK guys I will sum up our conversation. Aloria is so cool.

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  65. Guys, I need your help. Where is the xkcd#78 parody? Can you guys link me to it?

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  66. So... Did it go down yet?

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  67. "Also is it really that pretentious to say the game is OK for a kid's game? I mean, there's a hell of a lot more pretentious thing you can say about a game."

    Saying "It's okay for a kid's game" IS a pretentious asshole thing to say, Carl.

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  68. I guess you have a lower threshold for pretension than us. Then again, I spend a lot of time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn-- hipster capital of the world-- so I may have been numbed to the ways of the douchebag.

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  69. So what about the Randallathon?

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  70. I wonder if saying *anything* other than "OMG Scribblenauts RULES because ALL THE COOL GEEKS say it rules therefore it RULES" qualifies you as "pretentious".

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  71. "It's okay for a kids game" is an Orwellian thing to say.

    Also, Sribblenauts was mentioned by a lot of gaming media as one of the best things at E3, a large expo where the game could be played so I don't see why having the comic on release date means anything.

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  72. No, actually he wrote "It's okay for a DS kids game."

    DS sounds better after kids. meh.

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  73. Generally speaking, people often make the mistake of assuming that since they know about an event, the event in question must be well known. Because of the diversification of news, it is very easy for people to have completely different ideas of what is going around the world. I mean, there is a reason why you feel like MSNBC and Fox News are reporting about two different parallel dimensions, and they are reporting on the same subject matter!

    I knew about Scribblenauts because I follow Kotaku.com, if I didn't follow Kotaku, then I would have no idea what Scribblenauts is.

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  74. Kirk - agreed.

    But xkcd has had a long history, since the good old days (#5, #9, #12...) of featuring stuff that Randall cares about without any regard to whether other people care about it. The idea was probably that he wrote for people who care about the same things he does, so if we don't care about them then we won't care for the comic either, and that's fine. And most webcomics do the same.

    He does go overboard now and then. Beer commercial parody comic, I'm looking at you.

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  75. All you idiots do realize that Scribblenauts has been hyped in the gaming press for well over two months now, right?

    Also, the posted comic critique misinterpreted the joke entirely. Way to fail at failing, xkcdsucks.

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  76. Right, because the joke was so complicated.

    Way to succeed at failing, Anonymous 9:39

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  77. "Except, we don't know that the "pretentious asshole" looks like him because we don't actually see what pops up, we are just assured that it must be him. We also get the awkwardness of seeing the girl twice in one panel. There's really no good reason for that. I know that a comic doesn't have to have one panel correspond to one image, one moment in time in a story, but that's at least how xkcd does it basically all the time. So that's weird."

    *Really*?

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  78. The joke is that the game summoned him IN REAL LIFE, not that the game knows what he looks like.

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  79. Yeah, like anonymous said, the joke was she types in pretentious asshole and looks up and the guy is still there, thus it worked.

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  80. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Why is she in the same panel twice? Can you tell me that?

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  81. Wait, it's not obvious at all. That joke makes no sense. Is this supposed to be some magical game of scribblenauts that affects the players' lives? Of course not. She's saying that (or pretending that) the game made a dude like the guy in front of her appear - in the game - when she typed in "pretentious asshole". the end.

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  82. plus the idea is just stupid. like the dude is already presumably a pretentious asshole. whatever the fuck she types in, he's still going to be there, and he's still gonna be a pretentious asshole.

    basically this comic was dumb and not done well

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  83. Sorry Carl, you didn't get this comic. It's not that the pretentious asshole is programmed in the game, but rather that she's making fun of the man, by saying that when she typed it in, he appeared in front of her. Why else would she say "Oh hi,"?

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  84. how are we supposed to know that? We don't see what is there. She doesn't say "OK, I am typing in 'pretentious asshole now' " or anything like that. Picture it from his point of view - he says the game is OK, she pauses for a second, and then says "Oh hi! it worked!" How is he supposed to think that it's making fun of him?

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  85. anyway he didn't "appear." he was already there to begin with, and he was, according to her, already being a pretentious asshole.

    look i get what randy was trying to do i am just saying he did a sucky job of getting it across

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