Me and my cacodemon

This week: Robocop, fake news, and real smol monsters.

Me and my cacodemon

Due to the unfortunate, we’re only doing a short (and late) send this week. We’ll be back to our normal format next time.

1. Hide your drugs: RoboCop is back

The hills are alive with the sounds of RoboCop blasting creeps in a faithfully rendered ‘80s pre-dystopia. A surprisingly large demo for the upcoming game RoboCop: Rogue City has been the talk of the town thanks in part to its scale — it contains fairly deep detective gameplay, side quests, and RPG mechanics — and also the incredibly satisfying way it evokes its source material. Huge squibs of blood splatter out of perps across dingy corporate hallways and unglamorous commercial districts. Dialogue trees grant RoboCop — voiced by original actor Peter Weller — choices like “Stay in school,” “You lack discipline,” or “Think of your future.” Bullet-time mechanics play out as green night-vision squares dialing in on targets.

The game doesn’t quite match Paul Verhoeven’s scathing satire, but then, neither did any of the movie’s sequels. It’s still subversive, in its way, though, drawing a stark contrast to the do-everything dazzle of many current big-budget games. It seems polished but narrow, evoking the sort of mid-tier shooters more common during the Xbox 360 era, which people are looking at increasingly fondly as game studios continue to consolidate and focus-test in search of the next GTA. It’s also fun to root for the upstart team at Polish studio Teyon, who churned out 90+ games (representative title: Robot Rescue 3D, 2013) before landing a Terminator game in 2019 that was also met with surprised delight. If Rogue City is as good as it seems, we may have to stop being surprised by Teyon’s output.

2. Roblox Karen strikes again

By YouTube Shorts standards, there’s nothing that unusual about the video “GREEDY KAREN Picked GUCCI Over GIRLS LIFE In Adopt Me Roblox,” which hit YouTube’s Gaming Trending page on Wednesday, as most assembly-line videos from creator Avocado Playz do. It’s a Dhar Mann-style morality tale with no moral staged with Roblox avatars, emotes, and the “breh” sound effect. But viewed outside the bubble of Shorts, it’s plainly deranged. The video begins with a voice seemingly mispronouncing the words “spoke” and “manager” on purpose in order to neg some language center in your brain. It ends with a nonsensical lift from mobile game ads: green “punish” text and red “Karen” text appear on the screen, but there are no buttons to press. What does it all mean? Forget it, Jake; it’s Shortstown.

3. The Doom community asks “Can you pet the cacodemon?”

Thanks to MyHouse.wad, Doom content exploded on YouTube in May of this year. However, dedicated Doom creators have been chugging along for years, with channels like IcarusLives grinding through the enormous backlog of levels and megawads made for Doom over the decades. But there’s one thing that stands out about the Doom community on the platform: their enduring affection for the cacodemon, the series’ floating tomato demon.

The most widely parodied lines ever written about Doom are probably the ancient Edge review that wished “you could talk to the monsters.” (As Ed Smith pointed out, it wasn’t that crazy a thought.) But the Doom community now seems mostly to agree. “Pet the cacodemonvideos and mods date back to 2016. In recent years, animated cacodemons have been enhanced with pogface capabilities and used them to lip sync “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Sweet Victory,” and “We Built This City”. Pain Elementals (the cooked meatball demons from Doom II) danced to tunes from Kirby’s Dream Land 3. The “cute cacodemon” subgenre probably reached its height in 2022 with “Me and my cacodemon.”

Maybe this is just a case of the “can you pet” phenomenon and the smol-ification curse spreading to yet another franchise. But players on DoomWorld cited many reasons for embracing the tomato in a 2021 thread. The Doom wiki suggests its “comical but frightening” look, which was apparently swiped from a D&D illustration. Some players appreciate them as a potential cause of monster infighting. Some like their strange death noise. And others just think they’re neat!

4. Fake news from an older world

While other video AI fads have burned bright and flamed out on YouTube, fake news reports seem to have legs. The video above is a news report from the world of Hearts of Iron IV alt-history mod The New Order made by the creator Epentibi and his Discord community using voice and video AI tools. It’s a frankly ridiculous fan effort to emulate the texture of an old broadcast with matching visuals, voice, and animations. While actual “fake news” operations are often low-effort or fully automated (see this clip found by NewsGuard), these snippets of game lore are the result of extensive labor.

It’s worth mentioning that while The New Order is a fairly canonical HoI4 mod recommendation, it’s also from the “what if the Nazis won” school of alt-history. If HoI in general has a fanbase with an elevated Nazi encounter rate, TNO is like stepping into a dungeon where that rate doubles. A Reddit graphic from January broke down the mod’s fanbase in the style of the game’s own faction overviews.

YouTube Thumbnail of the Week

Coaching FaZe Jev in Rainbow Six Siege” by Jynxzi. Jynxzi is a motormouth Siege streamer known for his trash talk in 1v1 matches — he has made a surprising number of videos about taking on “my BIGGEST hater.”

Chum Box

  • Here’s a tweet that redeems Death Stranding.
  • Paul Schrader, director of First Reformed and writer of Taxi Driver, is known for his idiosyncratic and blunt Facebook posts, which were reposted on Twitter for years. A rediscovered classic may shake up the canon of Schrader posts.
  • NTS’s otaku channel has been hit or miss, but this mix of music from the fan sequel to Yume Nikki is a great spooky-season soundtrack, and a better way to sink into that game’s feel-bad vibes than any of the similar YouTube compilations.
  • Another ridiculously modded-out Skyrim video has hit the timeline, showcasing many after-market physics, lighting, weather, and combat additions. We never really got “a new Crysis” to serve as a universal GPU maxer; in its absence, modders have bolted enough new systems onto Skyrim to humble the mightiest rigs.
  • Tragic-looking digital background actors are worming their way into Disney shows.
  • Steam recently published a video explaining exactly how their recommendation algorithms work. You can read a TL;DR on GameDiscoverCo.

That’s it for this week. Next week EX will be getting on Xbox Live to duel our BIGGEST hater.