Monday, 31 December 2007

top ten indie games of 2007

Yeah, yeah, Portal's great and all, but for a bunch of awards for games you might not have heard of, because they don't have massive budgets and million-dollar ad campaigns, visit GameTunnel for the end-of-year indie awards.

a game I'd never heard of

Braindead 13, apparently of the Dragon's Lair genre of interactive cartoons where you die every three seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUd6znEIXVI

Just videos of someone playing it, not a link to the game. Unfortuantely it's a bit hard to hear the voices clearly.

... you mean we won? is that supposed to happen?

After one player spent a few nights playing the game solitaire (and having astaroth repeatedly destroy the world) and reading up on strategy, we tackled the game again, this time both knowing HOW to win and having a couple of fake player-characters who we used to farm items. More players does mean more monsters, but carefully choosing party skills to maximise getting all the cool loot early in the game meant that we could generally handle the monsters. This time, we won without too much trouble, and it took less than three hours.

I feel like we cheated, somehow. Other player says, "It's not cheating to go straight to where the items that make you win the game are and get the items that make you win the game, that's more appropriately called 'playing'."

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Sunday, 30 December 2007

friendliness

There are the beginnings of quiet sulking that I have already invested more time in playing my new Zelda than in messing with Odin Sphere.

Dear reader, please recall that I actually *own* a DS. I chose it for myself. I have multiple games. I am quite fond of the thing. Among its many merits, it is well designed for a busy computer user, who may be waiting through a long boring upload or compile or server-is-down or any number of other things that leave me bored for very short periods of time. The DS is easy to pick up and play a little and then close if I suddenly need to do something else.

I do not own a PS2. There is one in the house, but it's not mine. Using it requires leaving my stuff and going and setting myself up somewhere else, where I can do nothing but play the PS2. It may require plugging and unplugging things, depending on who's been fooling around with the house equipment. And, of course, everyone can watch me play. It is not as conducive to spur-of-the-moment gaming desire.

Both these devices will quickly leave me with sore hands. One just feels a little more welcoming in the process.

... There are times when I'd *like* to be able to beam the DS image onto the TV for everyone to watch, of course...

Maybe I just have too short an attention span?

Saturday, 29 December 2007

ia! ia!

so, tonight we pulled out the shiny new Arkham Horror boardgame for the first time and tried to give it a go.

First, don't do this if you don't have at least four hours to kill. It's not like any of us were going anywhere, but I wasn't expecting a game to run as long as it did... I don't even KNOW how long we were playing, except that by the end of it I walked away from the table to get some food and some aspirin (headache) and refused to come back.

The game is MASSIVELY complicated. There are fifty zillion different pieces, some of which are completely unnecessary, all of which make it take ages just to set the game up. If you've never played a hardcore boardgame you seriously have no concept of how many pieces we're talking. This isn't Monopoly. I think there are over twenty different types of card deck to draw from, and hundreds of different tokens and doodads... The rules are tangled up enough that we were constantly discovering new things we were supposed to have done in the past and having to carefully walk through what order events occur in, over and over again. And most importantly, we had no idea how to actually win the game. That is, we had some vague concept of a few victory conditions but didn't have any idea how to achieve them. We spent HOURS at this game heading for our inexorable demise and made absolutely no progress towards winning. We were doing something that seemed reasonable, but actually wasn't.

Dying horribly until we all learned the strategies for success would be reasonable if the game didn't take so long. Also, the magic system doesn't really work for me... I would have been happier with more items that would definitely work but only work once, so that there would have been reasonable strategy in "Use it or save it?" instead of needing a degree in statistics:

If I roll 2d6 and at least one of them is 5 or 6 then I will be able to roll 5d6 and if at least two of them are 5 or 6 then I will survive. If I roll 2d6 and neither of them is 5 or 6 then I will have to roll 3d6 and if at least two of them are 5 or 6 then I will survive. What are my chances of surviving? I'm sure SOMEONE reading this journal can do that in their head easily. I look at it and just say "I'm doomed, aren't I?" Which, while it may be right, doesn't help when trying to weigh up multiple options and all of them equate in my mind to "... this is never going to work."

Anyway, now that we've read reviews and have some idea of what a successful strategy is, we'll try it again and maybe it will work better.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

follow the brightly painted signs!

New christmas present - Legend of Zelda - The Phantom Hourglass

Haven't played much yet but so far it's fun, except for the little detail of rather over-the-top handholding. Both in the form of 'Stop trying to be a clever little explorer! Go to the next plot point and nowhere else!' and in the form of endlessly repeating completely obvious information. "This is a KEY! You can use it to open a DOOR! Click on the DOOR to open it!" might have been useful to a moron the first time. The fourth time, I THINK I KNOW WHAT A KEY IS DAMMIT.

Also, the recognition of the circular motions is sometimes a little dodgy. It can take multiple tries to pull off a somersault or a spin attack. Which is extra annoying when the tutorial berates you for multiple screens for not following directions.

Naturally, there are chickens to chase. It wouldn't be Zelda without chickens.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

wrapping up the christmas games

Now that the season is OVER, most of the holiday games will probably fade and die. So long, Santa's Super Friends! Buh-bye, Linkit - A Christmas Carol! Will anyone still want to play you after the weekend?

.... of course, when it comes to Elf Bowling, which I'm intentionally not linking, I'm not sure why people want to play them during the holiday season either. Hopefully the end of the season means that those elves will disappear completely for a good long time.


But people who are looking for slightly more risque holiday entertainment may still be interested in Kissing Under The Mistletoe (warning - while the page I'm linking to is not particularly naughty, it IS talking about a game in which people get naked, so if you're likely to be offended by that, don't go there.)

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

merry christmas

I have been given a copy of Odin Sphere

Upside - It always did look cool.
Downside - I, er, don't know how to use a PS2. The controllers are so big! Controllers should never have gotten bigger than the SNES! You don't need all these controls! :)

first comments:

I really am out of practise gripping big game controllers. Fighting to the first boss I found (unicorn knight?) and taking a couple of attempts to kill him left me with ouchiness inside my elbows and sore thumbs.

It's very pretty, and fun in the old-school way (although the idea of having to level up instead of pumping in more quarters is still slightly strange.... yes, I played through the whole X-Men six-player beat-em-up in the arcades. And the TMNT one except I ran out of quarters at the end boss and had to leave, VERY sulkily.) but I'm still a bit baffled by bits of it. And having trouble getting the hang of the controller. I find the symbol-buttons on the playstation less memorable than the letters of the Nintendo games and I keep forgetting what's what. (Also, sometimes, a button press doesn't seem to do what I expect... maybe because I can't check my items while I'm reeling from an attack?)

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

you say tomato i say

So, the latest Zero Punctuation gives the impression that Mass Effect is too deep and wordy for someone who just wants to shoot things.

Obviously, I *should* get the game!

(Also, the Adventure Game people say that all their designers should go play the game and revel in its dialog system.)

Of course, I don't have a whatever-console-it-is-that-the-game-is-on but there will be a PC version eventually. The question is, will it be any more compelling than Jade Empire, which I *still* haven't gotten back to playing?

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

dancing dollies

I love my DS. I like rhthym games. I like dollies, and I'm even familiar with the dolls this title is based on.

I'm still dubious about Kira Kira Pop Princess.

I don't exactly have a gaggle of giggling girlfriends to show off the outfits I unlock and dress the girl in, and I don't really like the graphics for the character, the way they show up in the screenshots at least (It's some strange kind of cel-shaded 3d, I guess, but it doesn't quite work for me.)

If it's a GOOD rhythm game and comes with good songs, maybe the boys of the house will be willing to get pink with me?

... i might be more excited if it came with a free doll. yes, i know, shaddap.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

spy game

So here's an idea. I've mumbled somewhere about cutscenes and how problematic they are - the player hates standing still listening to idiots ramble especially when it's obvious they should be shooting in the speaker's face, and the designer has to nail the player's feet down to STOP them from shooting in the speaker's face especially when the speaker is supposed to be on the player's side...

What about a game where interrupting cutscenes is actually a major gameplay element?

Say you're some sort of thief or assassin character. You trail your target off to his secret lair and he, not aware of your presence, starts opening a safe that only he knows the combination to.

Do you:

1. Kill him immediately, thus forfeiting the big pile of jewels inside the safe that you can't open once he's dead?
2. Let him open the safe before attacking, risking him having hidden a nice big gun in there which will make it easier for him to fight you?

Of course, if you've been doing your stalking properly ahead of time you should KNOW what he's got in that safe so that you know which option to pick.

But just - LOTS of stuff like that. Eavesdropping on conversations to get information. Pretending to be helpless to let the villain drone on about his Evil Plan before you attack him. Or being in a boss fight and stabbing the guy and have him actually start talking to try and stop you from finishing him.... he can start to tell you secrets and draw out the fight (but maybe he's stalling for time so his minions can arrive!)

This gives up two problems - what do you do if the player just slaughters everything and therefore doesn't get any of the information vital to the plot? and also, what do you do if the player just slaughters everything but reads a walkthrough and tries to continue with the plot anyway?

You'd need to design the game so that a player who missed all the clues was still channeled towards some kind of (bad) ending... For the second problem, to some extent you'd probably have to allow it, in order to let the world be somewhat open and not forced from quest-point to quest-point, but you might have some randomly generated things where if you didn't listen and get the clue (which would be recorded for you in some kind of quest journal) you can't get the reward?

Friday, 14 December 2007

let me get this straight

apparently the only way to enjoy the gameplay that I bought the game for without suffering through the tutorials on a newly-started profile is to PLAY THE FREE ONLINE VERSION. how ridiculous.

and, of course, the free online version has nice handy 'skip' buttons if you don't want to listen to the story yakking. I don't believe the paid one does. grr. argh.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

cute little game

a sweet little point-and-click Flash adventure game, very children's storybook:

http://www.freewebarcade.com/game/anikas-odyssey/

And if you need hints for the puzzles there is a walkthrough at http://jayisgames.com/archives/2007/11/anikas_odyssey.php

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

bookworm adventure arena

Arena mode is hard, especially when I'm having a Brain Fail. I don't enjoy it nearly as much as the adventure mode. But annoyingly, I can't go back and play any of those levels without starting over, and if I start over I have to go through the stupid tutorial stuff again! ARGH!

Why did they choose this? Why can't I just play some nice untimed battles?

Monday, 10 December 2007

final aquaria demo thoughts

I dig the game, but trying to play the full version at this point will probably be too frustrating. When it's been out for a while and there are more complete guides available, then maybe.

(Some of the things the walkthrough said needed doing would have been fairly unlikely for me to come up with myself, I think. So, clearly, I need to wait for better walkthroughs.)

If you ended up here because you have the demo and are trying to find the walkthrough, go to your start menu entry for Aquaria and pick the "Readme". Scroll down to where it says "Stuck in the first part of the game?" and there's a walkthrough link there. It came with the demo.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

more aquaria thinking

I think part of what's making me nervous about the game is a lack of sense of stable-progress.

Thinking about Mario, in the earliest games there was no way to preserve your progress. You ran on and on and on and maybe you won the game and maybe you didn't. There were warps to make it easier, but you couldn't really see an overview of things. Mario 3 / Super Mario World changed that a lot. There was a World Map. You could see the levels stretched out in front of you. You could easily back up to revisit places you'd been before. You could make choices about which direction to go and clearly see what difference it would make.

Not that there's anything wrong with wandering around exploring a mysterious landscape!

But with limited save points and a minimap that is not always all that helpful...

You don't know where the next save point will be. You're not sure how easily you can reorient yourself if you restore a saved game later. Will you be able to tell where you were and where you were going? There are multiple save slots - why? Will you ever need to restore an older game to fix a mistake you made in your newer game? What sort of mistakes can you make? When I tried to zone dragging a mysterious object and it didn't zone with me, what happened to it? Is it lost forever? Will I have to start over?

I don't have a sense of *stability* yet. I don't know whether I will have to slowly backtrack through dozens of levels to get back to where I was. And I don't know how far it will be to the next save point. All of this adds extra nervousness and uncertainty to my wandering around in the water... it makes it tempting to just stay curled up in my nice pretty cave. (You know, I would happily play Underwater Harvest Moon in this environment, planting and sowing and tending pets...)

Also, it's fun to explore but I'm nervous about the prospect of boss-battling like this... My only attempt at fighting was met with *total* confusion and instant death, even with the walkthrough. Oh well.

edit: After discovering that the walkthrough was not very clear and the place I was supposed to be was THAT WAY, I managed to fight something properly. Okay, that's better. Still, this would work fine as a wandering adventure game without death really...

Also, sometimes I have real trouble picking up objects, because they fall near me - too near for me to MOVE if I click, but not near enough to touch.

whine about demos

Okay, so Aquaria is out now.

Of course, at least when I tried, the top two links on that page didn't work. (Having your OWN version of the demo be down? Huh?)

Also, the demo wails at me in anguish when I quit. Which doesn't really encourage me to launch it again, especially since I don't feel up to buying it at the moment.

And console-style save slots? Argh!

It's very pretty. And neat. And interesting. It just has many little details that make me whine. Like, maybe it's just that I'm not very awake at the moment, so my eyes aren't 100%, but I'm having trouble telling some of the colors apart. This means a lot of awkward fumbling around with the singing, trying to guess what color I'm supposed to be using.

It's pretty. I'm sure people will like it. I don't have time to own it right now.

Also, I think I may have broken it by trying to drag an item across room borders, making it disappear...




Also, to Parhedros - I want to try out your RPG and find out why it is flying under the radar. WHY ARE YOU INSISTING ON INSTALLING TO MY C DRIVE? My C drive does not have ROOM for a big 3d game. Now I have to write the makers and complain before I can even manage to install the demo... IF they'll make another one.

OTOH the screenshots don't look that great and they're in 3d, so... maybe it's for the best?

Friday, 7 December 2007

my work here is done?

Today I introduced someone to Diablo.

And after explaining my experiences on first being dragged into the game and grumbling and getting caught by the swear filter and therefore naming my fighter 'Blowsgoats', I convinced him to name his 'Assgoblin'.


(Don't ask how someone can have never played Diablo by this day and age. He was mostly too busy with Nethack to look for anything else?)

Thursday, 6 December 2007

games as they once were and are now

http://www.remakes.org/comp2006/screenshots.php?page=1

Just wandering through to see how many of these games I knew in their original incarnations.

Frogger I played - didn't everyone? I may have played some ripoff version rather than the original, it was harder to tell back then. No deep fondness for it, though.

Kirby - I like the real Kirby and have no interest in a 3d version. Kirby on the DS where you trace a line is great, btw. Go Kirby!

Choplifter - This looks familiar and I think I remember SEEING it, but not PLAYING it.

A lot of these I can't even figure out what they're supposed to be...

I heard the ghostbusters game was great but I never played it.

Asteroids was hard to avoid but I was never really into it.

Dig Dug I played in the arcades, I think. I preferred Mr Do.

That 3d version of Donkey Kong looks CREEEEEPY. Yes, I did play the original.

Donkey Kong jr! I had that on my coleco. Ditto for Ladybug, although my mom liked that more t han I did. She actually woke me up once to show me she'd gotten to a new level. Me, a little kid. How often did YOUR parents wake you up to show you videogames?

Tetris is hardly worth mentioning - hasn't everyone played it, and many versions since?

Twilight Treasures - Looks vaguely familiar but I don't think I ever played that treasure diving thing.

I fail to see the point in making a bad Mario knockoff. Hrmph.


Hrm... not that much then.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sunday, 2 December 2007

a list of cool freeware games

made by somebody else.

http://www.midnightsynergy.com/topten2007/

This is posted partly to remind me to go look at them, because I haven't played a Grow game in a while, and they're cool.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

ooh shiny

Yes, I can be shallow too. My reaction to the soon-to-be-released Aquaria does have a lot to do with graphics.



Well, that and "... That voice is familiar. Who IS that?" Although apparently she isn't actually anyone I've heard before, she just sounds like somebody else.

Well. As previously mentioned, I can be a hardsell on $30 games. Expect that I will try the demo, comment on it here, and then EVEN IF I LIKE IT, fail to buy it any time soon. I know, I suck. I'm that bad with physical purchases too... you'll very rarely catch me paying full price. I haunt ebay and discount bins.

Some indie game sellers get very cranky about discounts. But really - downloadable games are stingy! They rarely fall in price (except when some game producers decide to make their old games free) and that makes them unattractive to insane penny-pinchers...

puzzle quest followup

The person I gave it to as a present is now downright obsessed with it and keeps playing it until the DS battery flickers and fails and he has to come whining to me to plug it back into the charger.

So. I guess it hits its target market, its target market just isn't me.

I am not hardcore enough for this match-3. That's sort of mindboggling. :)

Friday, 30 November 2007

bookworm adventures, take two

... arena mode is *vicious*.

I wish there were a non-timed arena mode so that I could play the other gamestyle again without having to create a new profile for it...

I tend to get to a point where my mind goes blank and I can't think of any words and just stand there and get pummeled. :) (Can't remember how far in I've gotten... Past the dread pirate, anyway.)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

puzzle quest

Apparently I am too stupid for this game, as I was thoroughly and beyond-all-comprehension slaughtered by the very first opponent in the tutorial.

(Of the sort where I've taken 52 damage and he's taken about 5. That sort of slaughtered.)

Since tutorials are supposed to be easy and work you in gently, I can only conclude that I'm totally stupid and that I will never be able to play this game, ever.

I am not a bejeweled expert. I can play - I can look at the board and eventually figure out what can be swapped to make 3-in-a-row. Planning ahead for chain reactions is something I have trouble with, and am always pleasantly surprised when one actually goes off in that sort of game. "I did that? Wow."

So playing a game where I meekly swap to collect 3 and the computer opponent immediately picks up four-in-a-row, extra turn, chain-reaction-with-skulls... Did the developers fail to consider that some people aren't good at this? Should they have perhaps included some helpful hints beyond 'match 3'? Or am I just too stupid to live?

the geography game

Try to click where the stated places are.

http://www.travelpod.com/traveler-iq/

On a first try I got stuck at level 6 - as always, it's south america and africa that really trip me up.

bookworm adventures

Compared to the amount of time it took to get through Peggle, Bookworm Adventures seems *awfully* short. Especially with the higher pricetag. I had been warned about that, though. And I haven't touched the Arena mode yet.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

a forwarded whine

Apparently Rock Band is short on songs by female vocalists. Bugger.

... not that I have Rock Band or anything. I like to sing but nobody else around me does, so getting a Karaoke game would be a waste. Singing while someone else played instruments could be fun. But, apparently, not an option...

Friday, 23 November 2007

i'm allowed to say i cried

http://kotaku.com/gaming/gamecube/life-death-and-animal-crossing-324674.php

Eschalon, book 1

which can be found here, if yer lookin'.

Ah, RPGs, the land of wandering into people's houses and nonchalantly stealing their stuff, which they don't seem to mind. And even selling it back to them. It's hard NOT to, when there's such an easy source of Free Money there...

At one point the game mentioned a character hearing me committing a crime (failing to pick a lock) but nothing seemed to come of it. Perhaps he couldn't find me because it was dark. Inside his own house. Anyway, I can't yet tell if being a bastard has any effect at all, it's not terribly clear.

Am I entertained? Yes. The writing is good enough, the interface isn't too bad, the turn-based movement allows you to ensure you always get the first shot at any monsters...

Am I entertained enough to pay $30 for it? Um... Not at the moment. Hey, I'm cheap. If it were $20 I'd seriously consider it. $30 is going to take more convincing. I still have yet to buy Bookworm Adventures, which I like enough to have done the trial multiple times, just because that $30 made me look askance.

... although now that I think of it, I really should buy that. Bookworm Adventures, that is :)

EDIT: Of course, searching this blog for further Eschalon references will show that I did get it eventually...

uninstalling plant tycoon

So I wake up in the morning and everything's dead.

Now, I do understand the concept. The plants grow in 'real time' which can be set to much faster than real time and therefore you are supposed to adjust the time before sleeping. However -

Who is going to go to that kind of trouble for a game they're just trying out for a demo?

Who is going to be in any way entertained or pleased by finding all their plants dead the next day?

With Creatures, as mentioned, it was actually *interesting* to leave the computer running for long periods of time on its own. The ecology would carry on without you, if not as well. You'd want to come back later and see what had happened. Would a new, stronger breed have developed that could deal with these challenges on its own? Which bloodlines would continue and which would fail?

'All Dead' is not fun in any way.

Why do they do that? If when you left the game for a long period of time you logged back in to find all your plants *very sickly* so that you had to spend a bunch of time nursing them, that would be fine. This would still teach you that leaving your plants made your plants suffer, and it would involve you in the recovery process, rather than leaving you with nothing to do but start over.

If I were given this game as a present, I'd probably get into it. I could relax and enjoy the atmosphere. I could stare for hours at my nursery screen, waiting to see if someone would buy my plants. I could zone out looking at flowers and bugs. I could have the game running a lot and therefore remember to adjust the time when not playing it.

But as an upsell demo, it's an immensely lacking experience. Things either don't seem to happen or happen in an unwanted way. It doesn't lend itself to a trial period.

this is totally cool

http://www.dinowaurs.com/

makes me pine for gunbound. except gunbound was full of jerks who swore at you all the time for missing. which is why I hate online games.

Plant Tycoon

So, I download demos for an RPG and a casual game. And for some reason, I load the casual game. I guess I'm just a little too frazzled lately.

Plant Tycoon is meant to be a slow, relaxing game. Which is good for frazzled, but not so good for having only an hour to try it out, especially with plants that are supposed to grow in real-time. So I ran the brief tutorial and I now have the game closed. If it works correctly, perhaps some plants will have sprouted the next time I launch it. I can tend them quickly and log out again. This will let me keep as much time as possible available to try the demo... but it might damage the relaxingness of it...

It's sort of a pointless game, afaict. But at the same time, there *is* something charming about planting and watering and looking at pretty flowers and bugs. I used to be really fond of Creatures, which is also sort of pointless... if a little more active, and more likely to have done something interesting if you leave it running. Not VERY interesting, though. I think I went on vacation once and left my computer on, running Creatures, to see what happened. Not much.

I've never had real pets. Just the computer.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

jade empire

You may notice I posted about this all of once, then fell suspiciously silent.

Partly this was because I was having technical issues at the time and have since been very, very busy.

More, though, this was because the intro to the game completely failed to make me, in any way, give a shit.

Generic Bioware RPG Villages and Training Sequences galore! I am the Chosen One! I will follow this careful railroad in which nothing interesting can possibly happen because I have to be given enough false freedom to let me make a few choices of my own, none of which matter in any way!

I am having trouble putting my finger on the precise lack of atmosphere - but there was something about it that just felt SO generic, SO I've-done-this-before, that I had exactly zero interest in the story. (Or the gameplay, but that's another matter.) And therefore, I have yet to bother to run it again.

piracy sucks

Well, everybody knows that. Right?

Of course, it's not quite that simple. (What is?) Like almost any controversial issue, people on both 'sides' of the debate are spending a good part of their time lying and exaggerating. I don't want to talk about what idiots anyone else is, so let's boil this down to something really simple.

Did you LIKE the game?

Would you like to see MORE games like that game?

Then BUY the bloody thing.

Tons of great games go unnoticed. Companies rise and fall. Whoever made that game may be struggling to keep their head above water. Unless you've done a lot of research, you probably don't know. (You may not even know who did make the game - it's not always the name on the box!)

Like a company? Think their games are cool? Want to see them make more games? BUY THE GAMES.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

whining about the wii

so, reading through http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7094069.stm

... some of these commenters want a little too much to believe in conspiracy theories. (Thank you, Sony, for making these conspiracy theories sound reasonable, by pretending that the PS3 was in shorter supply than it was.)

But look at, say, that last comment:

I ordered a Wii mid October for my son. The retailer now cannot guarantee delivery for Xmas. I have had to explain to my son that he may not get the Wii he has been desperate for, for months. I checked out the prices on Amazon and seven retailers have stock but prices for the console and Wii sports start at £369. I am disgusted at those who are cashing in on the shortage and angry that Nintendo have failed to plan for Xmas demand. I also wonder if Nintendo have done this on purpose to push up prices as the difference between their console and the new PS3 is quite significant. Rather than pay inflated prices, I'll wait until after Xmas to buy.

Why does she think that Nintendo would intentionally fail to make enough consoles to cover the Christmas demand? Surely they WANT to sell as many consoles as they can? The jacked-up prices are, indeed, people trying to take advantage of the situation... but the extra money doesn't go to Nintendo, it goes to people who managed to get their hands on one of the consoles and are then reselling it for a higher profit. If you buy a console straight from nintendo for $50 and then sell it to someone else for $500, *you* pocket the extra profit - Nintendo only gets the original $50 you paid.

On the other hand, waiting until after Christmas is perfectly reasonable. :)

i don't even know what to categorise this as

A dating sim about disabled anime girls. In development (and has been for a while, and who knows if they'll ever finish)

http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/

video game marching band performance

This is quite neat, even if I can't always tell what picture they're trying to represent. I started giggling when Tetris started.

http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/79608/detail/

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Girls for Games and Games for Girls

This is partly for my own interest, to scrounge around and see what games out there had a female lead designer - and what kind of games. I don't care who made a game if it's fun, but it's interesting to see, isn't it?

So, first, the obvious links:

Hanako Games
Amaranth Games
Tale of Tales (You may know them from 'The Endless Forest')

Some of you will definitely remember names like Roberta Williams (King's Quest) and Lori Cole (Hero's Quest/Quest for Glory) from the old Sierra days.

In "games specifically intended for girls" there's Brenda Laurel, from Purple Moon (possibly others there as well). And Her Interactive, which makes the Nancy Drew games.

WAY WAY BACK in ancient Atari History, we had Dona Bailey and Carol Shaw (Centipede, 3d Tic Tac Toe, River Raid). Slightly more recent than that, Amy Briggs wrote 'Plundered Hearts' in the text adventure age (was also specifically targeted at women). Digging around, I can also find a Nicky Robinson, who worked on several games but is credited as a major designer/developer on "Mail Order Monsters", which I've never heard of.

In freeware, "Emily Short" (apparently not her real name, perhaps to avoid conflict with the day job?) is considered one of the top figures of modern Interactive Fiction.

I can find a few people who worked as designers on some MMORPGs, notably Shadowbane, but those teams are so huge I don't think that counts. There are many more women who work IN the games industry, but I'm particularly interested in games primarily created/directed by women. Throw me some links, people?

make games!

Apparently, Bioware's hiring writers again.

... There was a time when I cared.

http://www.bioware.com/bioware_info/jobs/positions/austin_writer.html

Sunday, 11 November 2007

test your vocabulary

while donating rice to the hungry

www.freerice.com

It's tough - my vocab is generally good but getting over 45 is taking a lot of work.

Whine - the site used to dump non-US visitors, so I couldn't look at it earlier when people I knew were doing so.

Friday, 9 November 2007

flash interactive drama thing

http://www.zapdramatic.com/mod1.htm

I like the idea, and the voice acting is pretty good even if the visuals aren't so great (even for Flash).

The credits sequence is a little dull - we put up with this in movies partly because we're settling into a theater in the dark with our popcorn. You can't run that long at the front with nothing happening in a game without making people jumpy.

The design is frustrating (it's not convenient to go back and make another choice) and sometimes the storyline doesn't make any sense - characters don't display conviction with the paths of action you've supposedly just talked them into, and the story continues just the same.

princess maker 4 translation update

see Princess Maker 4 Translation Patch for the background information to explain what is and isn't translated, and how to use it.

then you can download the actual doodad at
http://deekoo.net/technocracy/pm4_english/

(there are also details on the preliminary princess maker refine patch!)

If you're looking for English games like Princess Maker, you should look here instead.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

cave days

I haven't actually played this, but just looking at the pictures and hearing the concept amuses me. Makes me miss Trog. I really dug Trog. The arcade game, not the movie. I've never seen the movie.

Trog... They had a machine at this pizza place my family used to go to. Now, we didn't go there because their pizza was great. Their pizza was kinda crap, actually. But the place had a lot of coupons and was always giving out free plastic cups (my family had an impressive collection of fast food cups) and it was right across the street from a bookstore, so going for books and pizza was an exciting family outing. Yes, I'm serious. I'm a bookworm!

Anyway. Pizza. Pizza places have often had arcade games. I'd say it's because pizza takes a while to make so you have time to stand around playing, but plenty of restaurants take a while to bring you your food and don't give you games to play in the meantime...

There were many games I played at that spot, and Trog was probably among the last. It was a late invention. I don't think I was all that good at it either - we didn't go to this place THAT often, nor did I often have much in the way of money to spend on games. And the joystick on the machine was sometimes a little sticky (motion, not texture) and needed a lot of force to control. But it was cute. And it had a female dino option!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

the pricing debate

It probably won't surprise you that I'm not on Valve's side regarding this whole "disabling Thai copies". (Although forcing you to play a Thai copy IN THAI instead of in English might be fair.)

Different prices in different countries are something that we all live with. But y'know? I can order clothes from Canada and have them shipped here. I have to pay import duties, but I am allowed to do that. Nobody sets my clothes on fire because I bought them in a different region.

I can go to Vermont and come back bringing maple syrup that was a lot cheaper than it is here. I can go to India and bring back spices. I will have to clear customs with these goods and possibly pay some tax. That's why customs EXISTS. Because importing stuff is LEGAL.

Watch the news - with currency fluctuating people happily take big Shopping Vacations to different countries and load up on goods that are cheaper there than at home!

So why is it fair to apply different standards to software? It isn't, obviously. It's just that they CAN (until/unless someone sues otherwise) and therefore WILL. That's capitalism - if you CAN make an extra buck, you're an idiot not to.

And this, friends, is why I do not buy games that I know can be remotely enabled/disabled by a distant company if they choose to try and extort me.

Do I think Valve are evil? No. I think they think it makes perfect sense, and that people should buy the local copies, and they feel hurt that you're trying to 'screw' them by buying the cheaper ones. They're just not realising that the world doesn't revolve around them.

fun with adventure games

http://www.arcadetown.com/covertfront/game.asp

It's been a while since I've played one of these - the Flash sort, quick and simple and cool but always leaving you hanging and wanting more. Still, in a way, they can be more fun than the full-on commercial adventure games. They get going quickly, and don't require you to wander forever through an ugly, boring 3d landscape...

Friday, 26 October 2007

blast from the past - Codename Iceman

Inspired by seeing a review for it at http://www.adventuregamers.com/article/id,775

I somewhat liked this game. Except I didn't actually play most of it.

As the review explains, much of this game plays out like an elaborate exercise in copy-protection. You have to have the manual to get anywhere.

Do you think this actually stopped people from copying the game?

Back in the day when my parents bought me games, they also had contacts in the early BBS scene... and yes, software pirating was going on even then. So when a new game came out, someone might hand it to me to see if I liked it. (I will point out that I did own MOST Sierra adventures legitimately.)

So. I was given a copy of Iceman to try out. And this copy came with SAVED GAMES. The last saved game being one which was a good long ways into the game, past all of the submarine-simulation nonsense, perhaps past everything you'd need a manual for. This also meant that I was starting the game in a great deal of confusion.... "Why am I in the middle of the ocean CARRYING A BOMB?" But at the same time, that confusion was interesting.

I'm pretty sure that I completed the game and found the endgame mildly enjoyable. Unfortunately I don't really remember it. I do remember trying to load some of the earlier saves that were shipped along with it and being baffled by the submarine stuff - not just because I obviously couldn't do it, not having the manual, but also not seeing how it was supposed to be any fun.

What stands out to me most strongly? Navigating underwater with the aid of my Tech Gadgets to get to a place to leave a bomb, having no idea why, and then trying to get AWAY from the bomb before it went off. That's memorable. Maybe more adventure games should start that way.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

rolling rolling rolling

http://www.binarysun.co.uk/online-games/roll/

Click the mouse to shoot your marbles. You can keep clicking frantically (you don't have to wait for yours to stop) but you may lose control of it that way. Make the red ones disappear (either popped or down holes) while NOT making the yellow one disappear.

Fun but gets REALLY FRUSTRATING after a while.

princess maker 4 update

Still haven't gotten Demon Princess.

Did manage to get the boss of the (mortal) underworld, which was really tough and required buying a million mirrors to get my pride up.

OTOH, the Delinquent Daughter is cute.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Pretty much done with the patch, but I haven't gotten a standalone version of the patcher made to distribute yet.

Friday, 19 October 2007

endings now reached

first try = The complete loser ending.
second attempt, with directions = Shoujo-ai knights.

Third attempt, aiming for artist - normal marriage.
Fourth attempt, from same base root as the last one, still aiming for artist - minister of state. Well, it's nice that I finally got a 'good' ending without a walkthrough, but considering how very close that ending was to the boring normal marriage one, I still think they're a little harsh on picking endings here.
Same base root but suddenly switching to Sin and Magic in the last year of her upbringing, while bringing her morals way down - fortune teller. That one makes more sense.
Same point, switching to go heavy on refinement, aiming for "Marrying the Earl" ending from directions, reached it.
Same point, STILL trying to reach artist, this time frantically bringing my charm down to try and avoid getting married - and I ended up with Marie's ending, in which she likes to use me as a model and make me wear cute or sexy clothes she's designed.
Switching to go REALLY heavy on magic and specific plot events, reached Karen's ending. (This was with directions - apparently you need the stats for one of the Magician endings and to have followed Karen's plotline. Then the two of you open a magic shop together. And regularly blow things up.)


Trying to reach the Demon Princess ending but even though I have all the stats and he gave me a dress, I still just get 'running off to live in demonland'. Working on it.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

what am I doing again?

Edited the post about the Princess Maker translation patch to show that this really is working, it will be done shortly. Should you wish to buy all the Princess Maker games, you can do so here - that may sound expensive but considering that Japanese PC games are usually something like $90 each it's really not so bad.

Still haven't beaten the level with the Text Message Ninja on Cheer Girls level, but I haven't been playing much lately.

Someone's working on a new simple program for making those visual novel games....

There's a nice article about Shiny Shiny 2D games on the PS2 for those of you like me who growl at 3d. I am now tempted to acquire a copy of Phantom Brave

a public service announcement

I have never played half-life. Any of them. I have seen bits over the shoulder of someone else and thought they were kind of cool, but I do not play FPSes. I am not that sort of person. (My brain has trouble with first-person 3d.)

Therefore, while also thinking Portal sounds nifty, I am highly unlikely to ever play it.

But since some people wouldn't SHUT UP about quoting it, I have seen the ending song.

I am that sort of person. The kind that doesn't like not getting the joke.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Princess Maker 4 Translation Patch

Yes, I really am this stubborn. Yes, this really is an in-game screenshot.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

It's not done yet, and this is only for GUI, not for text. You'll still need Anime Game Text Hooker for that.

Basically, this replaces things like the skill names, the map location highlights, the controls on the options menu, etc - things that are done in game with images rather than actual text, and therefore not picked up by the hook. And it is hugely helpful to be able to see exactly which skills are going up and down during a class/job, and where you're going in the town. With the text hook and a guide and this patch, you should be able to follow the storyline and go after particular endings without feeling too frustrated.

At the moment we haven't had any luck cracking the *text* - and even if we did, we don't really have the time and resources to completely translate the scenarios. We'd like to crack the shop-item descriptions, because they're currently a little bit of a pain to deal with in the game - they didn't use specific graphics for each item so you can't easily look at a shop's contents and figure out what to buy.

In the meantime, if you're looking for English anime games like this, go here and check out Cute Knight.

Monday, 15 October 2007

hidden treasures and old boots

Still unpacking from a recent move, I turned up an old 'game' someone gave me, which is still in its shrinkwrap (shows how excited I was). I say 'game' because it's a compilation pack - JoWood's 'RPG Compilation', and I can't find a link for this as a three-pack, but I can find links for the individual games on it -

Arx Fatalis - It's first-person perspective, a strike against it in my book. It has demons. It was M-rated (for what? I don't know.) Reviews suggest the violence is a little icky and that you have to eat far too often.


Archangel
- Part RPG, part shooter? Um... again, this sounds like it's going to return a response of "Hate 3d" from me.

Gorasul Legacy Of The Dragon - Amazon has basically no information except for a blurb about a hero raised by a dragon, now reincarnated. The tiny screenshot on the back of my box looks vaguely Infinity-engine ish, but again, it's hard to tell with such a small picture. Hunting for reviews, they say 'Baldur's Gate if it were half-broken and badly translated from German."

... I still don't feel particularly motivated to break the plastic seal on this box.

Friday, 12 October 2007

seek and find?

Suddenly I am getting a bunch of search engine hits for hidden object games. Which seems bizarre, since this is obviously a journal, not a storefront, and I'm WAY down the results list. Like 200 or something. Who are these people searching through twenty pages of results to finally click on one tiny hidden link?

IT'S LIKE THEY'RE PLAYING SOME KIND OF GAME!

... Er. :)

Well, if you're going to insist on looking here, don't let me stop you... go play.




Agatha Christie - Death on the Nile


In the meantime, I'll be off playing some games that I find much more interesting. :)

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

always a bridesmaid, never a bride

Princess Maker 4, unlike the earlier versions (but like Cute Knight) has little plotlines. You will see the same characters multiple times as the game progresses and have different events happen with them. Marie, for instance, has some insane guy fall for her and declare he's going to marry her, and there are several different events to see in this storyline before she gets rid of him. At least, I assume she gets rid of him, I'm not sure I ever saw the end of that story. It's hard to tell, especially when I can't quite read the language.

There's also the story of the character's true identity - YOU know she's part demon but SHE doesn't, and it depends on your choices whether she ever finds out and starts hanging out with demons and finds her blood father. Stay away from bad places and the demonic influence will have no effect on your game at all.

Of course, without a guide or a LOT of retrying, you'll have great difficulty finding all the events. Some are amazingly specific - you must be in this place at this time with these stats or you will miss this event forever and all the storylines that go with it. Other times, it can look like you're doing well, and then fail for no obvious reason. My first attempt, my daughter was always hanging out with Prince Charles, and when he asked her to dance at her debut ball, I thought this was a sign that they were going somewhere - but apparently not, I ended that game with no job or husband at all! No clue what I missed out on. Maybe I just wasn't famous enough.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Independent Games Festival

Whoa, that's a lotta games.

I'm not a judge and I know only what they say about them, so I'll just mention things that catch my eye.

Ancient Galaxy - this looked way cooler in the screenshot than when I actually look at it. But it's 3d and involves shooting things, so I'm sure some people will like it.

Ad Astra - That's a cool concept but I suspect the game can't possibly live up to it... space will probably be mostly empty. which is realistic but not all that fun. Looking at the screenshots there are some structures and some landscapes but not really a bustling intergalactic *culture*, which would excite me. Playing it would probably leave me thinking that I preferred EVE Online.

Artisan - Interesting concept but the webpage doesn't work and the screenshot doesn't look all that exciting. Would have to see that in play.

Birth of Shadows - I wish I could be excited about this but I get skeptical right away when they say "Advance your character without the usual tedium associated with role-playing games." Makes me feel like they hate RPGs, so why should I play theirs? And I don't know what they think the usual tedium is... for all I know they mean "You never get to pick where your skills go, you just automatically get stronger!" Which is BORING. Art direction is lacking, not that it's a huge deal for a low budget game, but...

Brain Sanity - They write better copy than games. At least, the text was more interesting than the eventual graphics.

Bubbins - This looks like fun, except I suck at navigating in 3d and would probably be unable to play it.

Carte Blanche - What, no screenshot? I think this is an adventure game (I think I've heard of it).

Crayon Physics Deluxe - This could be fun - for five minutes. Not sure it'd last.


Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! - I've had an eye on that title for a long while, it interests me.


Esenthel - Good points, RPG! Bad points, seems more interested in plugging their weather/physics in their game listing than story. Also, 3d. Hate 3d. (Some of the elements of the screenshots are kinda cool in their own way but mostly icky blah 3d.)

Free The Floopians: Level Mania- Silly title draws my eye, horrible ugly 3d in screenshot makes me wince.

Get a Life Show - I'm not really sure how this will work, but the idea is intriguing. The website is too much fancy flash and not enough getting to the point.


Hammerfall - Maybe it would be interesting, but how can I tell? No website, no company, no detail even on what kind of game it is!

Iron Dukes - Attention immediately grabbed by the setting. Badly designed website, though, it won't let me scroll.

OokiBloks - This sounds like it could be fun if it lives up to the design.

Yes, I start getting tired as I get further through the list...

Slumbers - That's certainly an interesting backstory. Is this some sort of Lemmings/Gobliins game? Not enough information present.

Something Amiss - I'm intrigued, until I find out it's a browser game.

Space Trader ... guys, just play EVE already. :)

Survival of the Fittest - Some people will love this concept. I'm only interested if it's actually fun to play and I can't tell with the info on offer.


The Night Journey - How can I not be intrigued?

Wanderlust: Rebirth - I think I heard about this game AGES ago...

Monday, 8 October 2007

tada!

peggle grandmaster at last! (But not the extreme version. I'm not even going to try for that. Really.)

stopped my stupid dependence on the owl and tried using things appropriate to the levels. and got lucky (triple score) and got lucky (last-minute crucial rebound). FINALLY.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Princess Maker 4

Okay, here's the basics. Despite that screenshot, this really isn't an RPG like PM2 or Cute Knight. The combat tournament happens only once a year and is completely optional and you have to have raised *non* combat skills to win it.

In this game, you have been given an adorable blond moppet to raise. Only she's half demon or something, and doesn't know it. She's not your real daughter, but she might be the daughter of your old love interest Isabelle (I'm not sure).

Like the other games, you send her to jobs and to classes, while changing her clothes and setting her diet. There's also a LOT of walking around town running into people, so this game will drive you nuts if you haven't got translation tools. Around town she will meet people who will unlock new jobs and classes for you, as well as hang out with her friends. There are three (four I guess but the fourth isn't part of the gang) other girls her age - Risa, who wants to be a knight and dresses in a military uniform all the time except when the other girls held her down and made her wear a dress (she was very grumpy). Christina who is a sheltered rich girl with That Laugh (you know, certain female anime characters with the snobby o-ho-ho) and fancy dresses, and Marie who is a shopkeeper's daughter with glasses - she's a bookworm and sort of religious but seems to have a sneaky sense of humor too, if I understand right. There's also Karin, who's the girl with the pumpkin from that last screenshot, and is a little weird, and I don't know much about her yet.

All the girls, including the daughter, are voiced. So there is much SQUEEING and much of your little angel running up to tug at you, "Papa, papa! Look what I did!" If you go for cute you will be babbling in high-pitched Japanese despite not even knowing how to speak the language.

I have not reached an ending yet. I think you can actually get girl/girl endings with your best friend if you try hard enough... I haven't actually met any boys yet, all the competitors in the tournament are girls! But my baby's only 15ish so she's just about ready to start finding dates, I'm sure the prince is hiding around here somewhere...

Saturday, 6 October 2007

look out for the cute ones

Having finally wrestled with translation programs to the point that I can understand conversations in Princess Maker 4, I played a little today...

... only to get my ass TOTALLY kicked by a little girl with a jack-o-lantern.

jade empire

Have launched the game. It works on my video card (yes, I'm STILL using that old thing) although it doesn't look great. Created a character (female, the speed type I think) and managed a few minutes of play. Set the difficulty to easy and STILL don't really understand what I'm doing, I find the controls a little awkward, especially moving around during a fight.

Naturally, it crashed (after the ship blew up - not immediatley after, but when I was zoning after that, I think). I'm not sure that's the game's fault, though, my computer is tetchy lately.

So, not much to report so far, other than that I suck at trying to figure out fighting controls in 3d with a mouse+keyboard.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Hidden Object Games

They're all the rage, but I've not been a big fan.

I played one once - I think it was one of the Mystery Case Files games. The idea pulled me in - I'm an old adventure gamer, solving riddles and pixel-hunting is familiar! But after a few levels I felt sort of let down.

As far as I know, in all these games, the objects you're asked to find are random. They have nothing to do with the plot, if there is a plot. They're THEMED to go with the plot, but you're not actually finding CLUES. You don't DO anything with the objects you find. They don't MEAN anything.

(It's possible I'm wrong. Feel free to tell me.)

I remember long ago I had some sort of mystery jigsaw puzzles. You were supposed to read the story, assemble the jigsaw, and then stare at the picture until you saw the clues in the image that would allow you to solve the mystery. I also read lots of mystery case books when I was a little girl, one of which was themed around somebody having a 'photographic memory' and therefore would also show you a picture in which you'd have to find the clue that solved the mystery.

(Aha, now that I look it up - the books are probably the Cam Jansen series. Cam for camera, see, it's a joke?)

Wouldn't these hidden object games be more interesting if you had to figure out what the objects you found MEANT? If you really did solve a mystery with them?

I'd be more likely to play. :)

---

EDIT - The following games have been recommended to me as examples of hidden object games with more plot. I have not personally played them.

Azada

Agatha Christie - Death on the Nile

Mortimer Beckett and the Secret of Spooky Manor

Saturday, 29 September 2007

coming up

I bought the PC edition of Jade Empire (again, cheap off ebay, since I think it's going to be far more action-oriented than my real taste in games). I haven't had time to play it yet. But sometime in the near future you will probably see initial impressions showing up here.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

hang that on your peggle

Okay, so, after complaining about it, I finally pulled off the trick required to win the 750,000 challenge (I knew how, it just took a lot of tries to do it) and then while I was complaining that the versus-computer challenges were impossible, someone over my shoulder got very lucky and beat the second-hardest duel by a mere 700 points.

So. Only one trophy to go. It still doesn't seem likely.

Friday, 21 September 2007

challenge vs frustration

Obviously this is a tough one to call. If your game is too easy, it's boring. If your game is too hard, it's annoying. In both cases, people won't want to play.

The thing I'm going to whine about at the moment is 'easy' games with special hardcore challenges... some of which seem far, far harder than others.

Take Fizzball. This is a fun simple game with an extra-easy Kid-mode, with enough difficulty in the basic gameplay not to make you feel condescended to, but not very hard at all. Of course, it adds all sorts of extra goals to shoot for - win the level faster, win 5 levels without ever losing a ball, etc, to win trophies. Some of these you'll get automatically as you play, some you'll have to do some extra work for, and some seem downright impossible. 'Win a level without ever bumping a tree'. Well, first, in MOST levels there are animals IN trees and you have to bump the tree to get the animal out, so you can't even attempt this. On ALL levels there are quite a lot of trees scattered about, and trying to win the level without touching a tree is insanely difficult. And even if you find a level that looks like once in a rare while it MIGHT be theoretically possible to win - you'll bang a tree by mistake, and there's no 'restart level' button to try again, so you have to quit the level and select it again from the map, and feel more and more annoyed.

Would it be less annoying if it were a mystery trophy and we didn't know what ridiculously hard thing we had to do in order to win it? Not sure. Maybe this just requires reciting 'It's just a game... It's just a game..." until we calm down a bit more.

Worse offender on this is Peggle. Playing versus the computer on anything other than incredibly-easy difficulty is a NIGHTMARE, so vastly beyond the difficulty of playing the normal game that it hurts to think about. And sitting there watching the computer effortlessly score another 100,000 points ahead of you just makes me want to scream 'You're CHEATING!' My chances of unlocking the last remaining challenges for super mastery points seem slim. (What I've got left - the two 'score a ridiculously high score' challenges and the 'beat the computer at non-easy difficulty' duels.) Scoring a million points sounds a lot more likely than winning the duel.

So - do trophies for incredible achievements reward those who can reach them, or taunt those who can't?

ouendan 2

aha! I knew there had to be a level on the christmas tree eventually!

on first loading the level...

okay, there's a guy on his cellphone. There's a santa. Cellphone guy drops the phone into the sewer after banging into santa and is very upset.

Then a... guy in funny makeup waving a love letter jumps out of the phone and is washed down the sewer? WTF?

... partway through the level I *think* he's the signal trying to deliver the text message that was being sent when the phone was dropped? Maybe?

Thursday, 13 September 2007

FINALLY managed to save the earth on hard level, can now progress to OMG CHEER GIRLS AHHH. (At least, considering the general advanced difficulty of Oeundan 2, I expect the cheergirls will hurt.)

The lack of lustre

Maybe I'm just too picky in my old age. But if there's one thing that's most commonly known for putting me off a game purchase - without even trying the demo - it's seeing a bunch of reviews refer to the plot, writing, or dialog as lackluster. "Okay game, but mediocre writing... fun combat but really lame story..."

This is a particular problem in adventure games, which are now something of a niche, produced mostly by just-above-amateur enthusiasts or by developers from foreign lands whose English is a bit shaky. A lot of them focus on puzzles. And a lot of adventure players want puzzles. But I want story, and so every time a review for a new adventure comes out and mentions that the story and the characters are pretty weak, I sigh and write another game off my list of things to try.

Same for budget RPGs. The plot tends to be the LAST thing they consider important.

Now, this doesn't really mean I'll never play them. You've seen me going through Titan Quest and not even bothering to read the dialog blocks half the time. But what it does mean is that I tend not to buy these games at full price. I bought Titan Quest off ebay cheap. I'm considering getting one of those game subscription services, which will contain a lot of adventures and RPGs that I wouldn't have bought new because they were kind of lame, but don't mind playing cheap.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

and i have a dent in my hand

Still haven't unlocked the cheer girls in Ouendan 2. Getting closer though.

Friday, 7 September 2007

i am more erudite than you

http://grandtextauto.gatech.edu/2007/08/31/when-musicians-play-interactive-fiction/

This is funny. If you played a lot of text adventures.

That's, what, three of you out there?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

in which I continue lifting content from other blogs

Hey, I'm busy right now. But http://www.maragos.org/?p=98 sounds like it's bound to be cool, for fans of the OLD games. :)

Love your SNES? Go and see.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Free Game!

Seen on Tales of the Rampant Coyote
- apparently EA is now offering up the original Command and Conquer for free. I'm sure someone out there will appreciate this more than me. (RTS, not my thing really.)

Friday, 24 August 2007

bioshock - no sale

You may have noticed I'm a little slow about my games. I'm often playing things that are months or years old. I don't tend to jump at the latest and greatest. I do keep up with what's new, though, I just don't have time and money to get it when it's first released. I like to wait and see the initial reaction before I invest.

So, I wasn't going to buy Bioshock the instant it was released anyway. But I pity the people that did. Looking over their news page we see:

1. Just because you bought that game doesn't mean you can play it whenever you want, you have to have your installation activated online, and you're only allowed a few of them. The numbers have gone up by now, which is nice, but apparently when you first bought it you were told you could install it twice and that's it.

2. The activation servers crashed, preventing anyone from completing their installs.

3. The support phone numbers in the manual were printed wrong.

... so, you rushed out and eagerly bought this new game and then discovered that it wouldn't install (activation server down) and because of this failure worried that it might NEVER install (limited number of installs, and I'm sure someone thought that the install failure counted whether it did or not) and when you tried to call support for help THE PHONE NUMBER WAS WRONG!!!

Geniuses.

What sort of moron thought this was a great way to go about managing a game launch?

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

titan quest - brick wall

Remember a long time ago I mentioned that the Cyclops early in the game seemed to quickly trigger a heat-shutdown on my slightly overburdened graphics card?

... guess what the final level is full of.

So yeah, I've reached Mount Olympus, but I'm not sure I'm ever going to see the final boss, much less beat it. Card went ticky-boom.

Friday, 10 August 2007

titan quest - still slogging

level 29, stated dps around 350, somewhere in the mountains of china. i really need to lay off playing, though, the stress is bad for my elderly joints. :P

My Little Girl

So, I purchased the Princess Maker Memorial Box which contains all 5 games, in Japanese. Of those five, one of them can be hex-edited into English if you are bloody-minded enough, one of them had an English beta that can be found online, and the last two are accessible through a 'hook' program that extracts the japanese text, allowing you to run it through babelfish or other translation tools you might have. None of this is easy, but they can all be done.

If you're counting, you realise that leaves one more. Princess Maker 3, the one in the middle, is encrypted so that it can't be directly edited and uses an engine that doesn't play nicely with hook programs. There is, as far as I can tell, no way to make any sense out of it.

Playing through (just once so far) was enough to get me to start picking up some katakana, but... I suspect this game may not get much play out of me. There's too many long conversations between characters where I have no idea what's happening, or times where I'm asked to make a decision and don't know what my options are. The sim part of it is easily faked - you can see stats going up and down even if you can't always remember exactly what they are. Conversations are a bigger problem.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Ouendan 2

I love my DS. I love quirky cute games. While I do not own the game about touching schoolgirls in inappropriate ways I do have Ouendan 1 and 2, as well as the more English-familiar Elite Beat Agents

I haven't completed Ouendan 2 yet, and am still quite confused about what's going on in some of the storylines. What's with the old man and the animals and the oni? What exactly is the relationship between the two choirgirls? Are they lesbians? Or was the rose just because sempai is overly melodramatic? Was she threatening to jump off the balcony in the beginning because choir was being canceled? Or what?

This is the problem with not being able to read Japanese.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Heroes and Villains

So, this was a free reactivation weekend for past CoH players. Not that they bothered to tell me (if there was an email, I missed it - or maybe I unsubscribed sometime) but I heard through a friend - a while after it had started. It's a bit of a pain trying to obtain several gig of game only to be able to log in for a few hours, though.

The game is still there, still fun, still not that much different from what it was. There are wings now, but my characters are only 12-month rated, not 18, so I don't get them. The crafting is new but I didn't have time to do more than the tutorial for it. My ninja squad serves loyally, but my lame guild/clan/base/group whatever they're called has gone defunct while I've been away. Not a surprise. I didn't join them because they were well organised or any good at the game (from what I could tell they were pretty lame) but just because they were the first group with a cool ninja name that ASKED me. I just wanted the title. :)

Yes, my highest level character is a lvl30 Ninja Mastermind. despite playing CoH for quite a while before CoV. I don't think any of my heroes are anywhere near that level, maybe not even any over 20. I'm not much for grinding. Or for grouping. I prefer playing solo and not having to deal with stupid people. Masterminds can do this and not be lonely. :)

However, the game does seem to have bloated a bit while I was away. Maybe it's the latest patch, but it's lagging my machine a lot harder than it used to when I played regularly. Not a huge deal for a solo Mastermind - my ninjas can carry on with me lagged out for a few seconds. Still, I'm too busy at the moment to renew my subscription. Maybe sometime...

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

free web game

seen on Tales of the Rampant Coyote:

I'm sure someone out there is just dying for a game all about slapping girls.

Don't worry, it's okay! You're a *girl* slapping girls!

... still not really my thing.

Ninja SLAP!!!



Saturday, 28 July 2007

the ongoing titan quest saga

So, I've taken to running the game in small doses and only when the room is cool, and haven't had any more trouble. Small doses is good anyway, since the game is click-heavy... ESPECIALLY for my hit-and-run assassin. My hand gets tired.

Trying the game on a computer with a vastly superior graphics card? Led to the graphics card going into a panic attack about lack of power and throttling the owner.

Clearly, my antiquated methods are superior.

I'm level 20-something at the moment, in Egypt, with a damage-per-second of around 180-190. I don't know if that's good or not. Of course, considering all the random chances and damage-over-times I have on the character I don't know if that's accurate or not, either. All I can say is that most things die pretty fast.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

i spoke too soon

Fighting a cyclops, combined with summer and the room being slightly warmer, led me back to shutdown land.

When I described my character as an assassin, I hadn't yet realised that that *is* the official class title for a Rogue/Warfare cross. I just thought it seemed an appropriate word for what I was doing. Apparently the game designers agree with me. So, there are titles for every combination? I think I'll just look them up rather than play them all out...

trying this again

After taking out my video card and giving it a good thumping (and some technical details having to do with making sure the fan was seated properly) Titan Quest is now running without making my machine divebomb.

Take that, all you bleeding-edge proponents. MY ANCIENT CARD WORKS JUST FINE.

Okay, so, back to the game. My first character build is, so far, a Rogue/Warfare assassin type - warfare taken so that I can hike my attack speed and get dual-wielding. I want to pounce on people and cut them to ribbons. I also grab the attention of individuals at a distance by throwing knives at them. A lot of them bleed to death before they can mange to reach me. Undead don't bleed. I don't like undead.

Targeting, UNLIKE Lionheart, is smooth and forgiving. I click roughly near a monster, I go kill it. Picking up items is slightly more fiddly, especially since the ground is littered with broken items you don't want to pick up, but that's okay. Slaughter first, then take time to loot.

Positioning and paying attention to it matters. A long-distance magic attack coming towards you can easily be dodged if you're looking. And opening big likely-to-be-trapped chests? Click to open it, then GET OUT OF THE WAY while the opening animation runs and you'll be fine. I don't know if that delay is intended or not, but it works for my sneaky playstyle. I poke things with sticks, then back off.

I have only died once so far, from being jumped on by too many undead to kill at once. Usually I am not in any danger from normal monsters, and am capable of fleeing from bosses. Difference from Diablo - there is a cooldown period on most activities, preventing you from doing them again immediately. THIS INCLUDES DRINKING POTIONS. You cannot just slam ten potions while fighting a big tough thing. You can drink ONE. (Potions also seem weirdly strong, and while I do pick up different sizes of potions, they all stack into one undifferentiated slot.) But again, this really isn't a problem, because my / this character's playstyle is to jump in and out of trouble.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Titan Quest review

I like this game, it's fun. Yet another blatant diablo-steal of course (I guess it's just a genre now) but the little 3d touches are cool without overwhelming me with confusion. Waving grass! Majestic landscapes! Bodies flying in the air when I wallop them!

Unfortunately, those little 3d touches are overwhelming my graphics card, and my computer has developed the tendency to overheat and shutdown after 30 minutes of playtime.

It is summer and not exactly cold in this room, but it's the game, not the computer. I'm not sure whether I should look for more fans or give up and replace my trusty old ti4200. Yes, it's an old card. But the game *looks* fine, the card can render the graphics... it just can't take the heat.

Friday, 13 July 2007

giant pile of games to download

Top 100 Independent Games

If that doesn't keep you busy for a while you have way too much free time on your hands.

A lot of them are not to my taste but even I don't have the time to whine about all 100 at the moment.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Sword of the New World

I really wanted to like this game.

Really. It's got lovely graphics - where else can I dress characters in such huge skirts or so much lace? Boys and girls alike, everybody gets to be pretty. Some people complain that you can't customise those pretty pretty looks very well, or that the combat is too much like an RTS and not enough like a typical MMORPG... but personally I'm fine with just saying 'go kill those things' to my characters and letting them get on with it.

No, what wrecked the experience for me was the camera controls.

Maybe some people find it natural to right-click and drag with the mouse to see where they're going at the same time that they're trying to left-click somewhere else to actually go there. Personally, I find it mind-boggling.

Why can't I rotate the camera with WASD, or the arrow keys, or anything else? How am I supposed to left click somewhere and also right click and drag at the same time? (Well, for people who are better able to handle spinning the world around, you adjust the camera first. I'm awkward with the camera and don't want to have to freely and manually position it every single minute. If I can get it to a good angle, I'd like to leave it there and just rotate it for a while. But no can do.)

Or maybe I just need two mice. I wonder if that would work? ... nah.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

but doesn't everyone like to play with cars?

First noticed on Rampant Games, the news that Auto Assault is shutting down.

Makes me a little sad, but then - I wasn't paying for membership either.

I'm not sure why, really. I played trials once or twice. I had a fairly good time. I drove around making vrooming noises and banging into stuff and knocking it over. A friend of mine and I tore around the racetrack quest and he won even though my car was much faster, because he was sticking to the course carefully and I was taking all the jumps and wandering around recklessly, so I was never getting that far ahead, and then near the end of the run I banged into something and by the time I could get myself back in line and pointed at the goal again, he'd already won.

It was fun. But I guess it wasn't *compelling* fun. Everybody likes having toy cars and pushing them around the floor and banging them into dominoes and knocking stuff over... but nobody buys a subscription to it.

Also, the sound of tires grinding can really give me a headache after a while.

However, to some extent this is part of what puts me off online games. My ability to play the game is totally subject to someone else's whim. The company goes under? They decide to shut down the game? Sucks to be me. Like all those poor bastards who paid for Uru: Ages Beyond Myst only to have the online part shut down before it really got off the ground. (Although I think they reopened it again later, or let the fans host it, or something. I forget.)

If I pay for a game, I like having ownership. I don't like the idea of the game developers being able to rewrite the code and functions of something I already have and enjoy. And I certainly don't like them being able to take it away.

This doesn't mean I never play MMORPGs - I'll talk about the one that I did pay for later. But I buy a lot more offline games than online. Because I DON'T TRUST PEOPLE.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

why have a job when you can play one instead?

I do not understand the so-called time management games. They are incredibly popular. They are incredibly pointless.

Basically, they are games in which you portray a lovely young lady who has a New Job! A new boring job that involves taking care of lots of demanding customers, who will stalk off in a huff and leave you penniless if not constantly satisfied! So if, say, you're playing Lisa The Librarian, then people will walk in and wait for you to click on them to find out what book they want, then click on a shelf to find it, then click on them again to give them the book, while occasionally clicking on children to prevent them from knocking over the bookshelves.

This is not fun. Although it's probably slightly more fun than actually having a job.

This is not really a game either. There's not a lot of skill there - you just click in the right place at the right time. You can't click in a really clever way and do a pirouette while carrying your stack of books. You just fetch and carry, rinse and repeat. (Hrm, I wonder if there's a hairdresser game yet? Yes. Yes there is.)

I've played through one of these games all the way to the end in the hopes that at least the storyline might reward me for all my effort, but no. Just about half a second of 'Oh gee, this job has really made me feel happy about myself!' as a reward for winning. And it was absolutely never difficult. There were no decisions to make. There was no struggle to remember who wanted what. Just click here, get this, take it there.

So WHY are these games so popular?

Anyway, if you want to pretend that you have a job baking cakes, changing diapers, flipping burgers, or mixing smoothies, go ahead. I'd rather play a game.

dungeon runners

Is crap. Not even gonna link to it.

The biggest problem for me is that the visuals were so murky I couldn't tell the monsters from the trees. I walked past monsters and did not see them. (If you've played Diablo 2, you know that section with the tiny blowgun dudes? Same problem.)

To even run it you had to download an extra NCsoft client of some sort and I'm not sure what the point of that was except probably to try to sell you more stuff. Especially since Dungeon Runners is 'free' (but has constant rainbow sparkles yelling 'PAY FOR ME!' all the time)

Also, it thought it was funny. It was not. Almost anyone who claims to be witty and tongue-in-cheek about parodying the cliches of the genre is full of fail, it's almost always heavy-handed and crass, and rubbing our nose in 'Hey, this is that stupid thing all games like this do!' makes it more noticeable and more annoying, not less.

Anyway, if you want a proper review of the thing, try here instead - I uninstalled it already.

If you want to play a fun light-hearted dungeon romp in the Diablo vein, play Fate instead. It's still dumb but it'll keep you happy longer. At least, it did for me.

also known as

Why do people feel the need to rename games in different territories, other than just to confuse anyone trying to have a conversation about them online?

In America, it's Kirby Canvas Curse - in Europe it's Kirby's Power Paintbrush. Both perfectly good titles, both have something to do with painting, neither one resembles the original Japanese title of Touch Kirby - so WHY are there two different titles?

In America, it's Fatal Frame which is a good title since it's about fighting with a camera (frame, get it?) and the phrase 'fatal frame' is even used in the game itself as part of the fighting mechanic. Also, it's a nice searchable phrase that is almost always going to mean this game. What did they call it in Europe? Project Zero, which doesn't mean anything at all, since that sounds like the title of some sort of science-fiction experiment, which this isn't. Okay, this happened because someone tried to translate the Japanese title while failing to understand that the whole point of the Japanese title was the way that Japanese words can have extra meanings...

In America, it's Indigo Prophecy - elsewhere it's Fahrenheit. In this case the title change probably makes sense - for one thing the 'Indigo' phenomenon actually does come up in the game, for another websearching for 'Fahrenheit' is obviously going to get you a bunch of unrelated hits and not do your web marketing any good. Why was it called that in the first place?

Friday, 29 June 2007

who saw this one coming?

Apparently Bioware, company involved in things I've both enjoyed and whined about, are now making a new RPG.

A new RPG about Sonic the Hedgehog.

For the Nintendo DS.

This is bizarre on so many levels. First, while I know that Sega has crashed and burned in that regard, I am old-school enough to feel weird about Sonic whizzing around on a Nintendo system. Sonic belongs on my Genesis. For one thing, he sucked pretty much everywhere else. Sonic cartoon? I can't take this seriously. Pointless 3d Sonic games because 3d is the hip thing nowadays? Tanked. Sonic is not about 3d. Sonic is about running REALLY REALLY FAST on a 2d platformer and whirring around loops and flying through the air not being entirely sure where you're going and getting there anyway. Because it's not that hard to charge blindly forward, in 2d. You're starting on the Left Side Of The Level. You want to get to the Right Side Of The Level. Those sides don't generally move around. In a complicated level you'll have to go left in order to go right, sometimes, but you know where you're headed in the end. You can't get lost. So you can GO GO GO! SUPER SONIC SPEED! And that just doesn't work in 3d.

So now we're going to have an RPG? Which may involve trying to take the plot involving a wisecracking hedgehog seriously (a tough call - although I suppose they could be trying to build a My First RPG for kidlets who think the cartoon is cool) and going really really slow, because whoever heard of a blazingly fast RPG?

This does not bode well.

On the other hand, if they did manage some divine synergy of game design and created an RPG in which you ricocheted through levelups so fast you could barely tell what skills you were gaining and yet came out triumphant in the end... that could be fun, I suppose.