Saturday, 29 October 2011

IGF, take four

The Depths To Which I Sink - A game that requires 3d glasses. Points for weird, but I won't be playing it.

The Dustjacket - It's supposed to be about books. Is there any point to it other than waving around a bunch of 3d objects of printed material?

The Floor Is Jelly - The trailer here makes me giggle. BOUNCY! Everything's bouncy and wobbly.

The Iconoclasts - Really cool-looking pixel adventure platformer. Comes from a respectable pedigree too (although my fingers hurt too much to finish some ofhis previous work!)

The Snowfield - An entry in the 'art movie' style of gaming, it seems.

The Swapper - Atmospheric space platformer about leaving piles of dead clones?

Tiny Heroes - A dungeon defense sort of thing. Stop those adventurers!

Toren - Well, it's slightly more accessible than an art movie... I think... but trying to figure out what this is other than "trying to be pretty and poetic" is difficult.

Towerclimb - I have some fondness for procedurally generated gameplay as a concept (although I tend to find it lacking in Meaning as a player)

Ultimate Newcomer - A very unusual-looking RPG.

Vision - Some sort of arty visual novel/platformer?

Warco - Notable for subject matter - it's about being a war correspondent, and the role of an observer in a conflict. The demo video is gripping, although our protagonist seems more resistant to bullets than a real one...

Way - Closing on a more cheerful note, a game about establishing communication with strangers via gesture? Sadly I fear too many random online gamers are derp, but I like the idea.

And that about wraps it up! Note: I'm avoiding mention of lots of games that I've heard of before (or talked about before) because they don't need the signal boost...

Friday, 28 October 2011

IGF take three

Prom Week - A complicated social simulation of the sort that interests me (Reminds me vaguely of something P and I took notes on designing long ago but gave up on.) Would like to play when it's done.

Red Rogue - A roguelike platformer. I don't entirely understand how it works but the general idea has interest.

Relics and Raiders - The idea of a different sort of co-op multiplayer dungeon raiding is potentially of interest, however the listing is VERY light on detail and I am perturbed that it shows a selection of different avatars, yet they are ALL white and male?

Rigonauts - Build wacky devices. Pit them against enemies. Looks fun.

Sr Mitsu - Draw a path to guide a man around obstacles to pick up olives. I hate olives! It's vaguely cute, I guess. If I had an iphone. Which I don't.

Story Universe - I don't understand what this is, but I'm curious.

IGF take two

So, continuing to wander through the list! I should note that I'm skipping over some things that look cool if there's limited information, no videos/playable, and/or the gameplay itself doesn't sound that interesting. This shouldn't be just a pretty pictures contest!

Gunpoint is a sort of spy/stealth/puzzle/heist thingy. I've always thought this sort of idea was fun, although I'm not sure I've actually played one. I remember first reading about a Spy vs Spy game sooooo many years ago back in my ancient gaming magazines...

Hidden in Plain Sight - While this sounds too thin to really be a full game yet, I like the concept it's playing with, of different sorts of multiplayer and (sort of) blending larp with computer games. Playing at being a computer-controlled character and trying to look like something you're not, while interacting with lots of other real people who have their own goals, interests me.

Ittle Dew
- Very clearly inspired by old 2d Zelda "adventure-rpg" games, but looks absolutely adorable and fun. Slight worry in that they plan to release the game in episodes, and that tends to go badly...

Kale in Dinoland - This is interesting partly because it appears to be a protest entry afaik, protesting against the fact that the iphone market doesn't stop people from releasing complete blatant clones of other games. Also, the game they're "porting" looks fairly cute. Not sure what to think of this but it's worth noticing at least. It is full of delicious troll.

Lone Survivor - Pixel survival horror. Sort of cool but I worry it could be too dark (visually) to play enjoyably.

Macguffin's Curse - Oops, the magic amulet is cursed and now you're a werewolf! The art style is really sort of messed up, but it's selling itself on its writing, which is nice to see. Don't know if it actually lives up to its pedigree there, but could be worth checking out.

Match Match Battle - Not really my sort of thing but I haven't seen anyone try to combine Memory and battles before.

Nightmare Cove - A Facebook CYOA? If I weren't afraid to play Facebook games....

Parallax - This is the kind of experimental platforming that is bound to get a lot pfople talking about it, so I don't have to.

Pattern - It's a game about crocheting. Sounds strange enough that I'd try it if I could (but no xbox so)

PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPew - A game controlled by making noises! I am amused.

Dear Customers: PLEASE do research first!

According to a news story, the game 'Darkspore' has been offline for players for over a week due to problems with the DRM, and the company's response is pretty much just 'The EULA says it won't always be available.'

PLEASE don't buy games with insane DRM systems. PLEASE don't assume that all games are like this - they are not!


Of course, on the flip side, I have thousands upon thousands of pirates playing my games, and whining that I'm a horrible evil person for not letting them update their stolen copies to have the latest patches, and that this makes me SO MEAN that they don't want to buy things from me. News flash: You already weren't buying stuff from me. Buy the game and the updater works just fine!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


... there are waaaaaaaay too many IGF entries, that's why I didn't. (Also, they don't like girly things, or text-based things, or VN-things.)

Just poking through the first third of the entries list, some titles that jump out at me as somewhat interesting...

Ancient Astronut - A stealth game about being an alien. I am amused by the concept.

Beat Buddy - Nice screenshot, but apparently written by people who are either liars or willfully blind. I despise marketing bullshit, especially really obviously false marketing bullshit. "First" music action game? For goodness sake, there are like ten or more in the IGF every single year! (Of course, they're German, and maybe they're doing something different than usual and are just incapable of explaining what they meant. Still, bad first impression.)

Dark Scavenger - This still looks very rough around the edges, but it appears to be trying to create a gamebook feeling in a CRPG... that is, lots and lots of CHOICES and FLAVOR TEXT instead of just clicking your sword icon on the bad guy... at least until halfway through the video where it gives up and goes back into a rather dull-looking combat sequence. Needs a lot of work to be really smooth and fun but there's a nice concept here.

Don't Run With A Plasma Sword - It's one of those endless-rush platformers, but this one has aliens and tentacles, and I'm easy that way.

Drip Drip - I like the sound of this. It's something a little bit Different but still a straightforward concept, casually accessible, about trying to catch and stop drips in big leaky houses. Only a screenshot and an idea are publicly available but I can see this being fun someday.

Eyez - This will likely pick up some attention, as it's a platformer with a weird new mechanic, exactly the sort of thing some people think indie games are all about. The twist in this one is that while you move around a huge level, you can at any point change the way the edges of the screen behave. You can make them solid, so that you can walljump off the sides of your current screen, or form an invisible floor inside a hole. You can also turn them into wraparound mode, so that walking off one side of whatever current screen you framed yourself in will send you walking in from the opposite side. This means you can easily get into areas that are totally sealed off by blocks, by lining the screen up right so that the sealed area leaves an opening against an edge that you can exploit.

Gamestar Mechanic - Apparently, this is only partly a game; it's also a simple drag-and-drop game maker plus online "community" for sharing your levels, intended as an educational tool. So, it's like GameMaker if the tutorial were a GAME instead of a document to read and work your way through. I find myself slightly disappointed by this, though... for something actively aiming at a wide range of kids and showing diverse players in their video footage, it would have been kinda nice if you weren't stuck with Default White Guy Protagonist for your learning game. Yes, it would take a lot more art to be able to choose a protagonist, I KNOW THAT. But if you're wanting to give this to lots of kids to spark their joy of game-making, this is not the time to reinforce the message of 'game making is for non-minority men' which is already too widespread.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sparkle Princess Destiny

Something I've wanted to do for a while is a Princess Maker game in which the main character is *already* a princess... the game is about polishing her until her coronation, at which point the fate of the kingdom depends on what sort of ruler you have created.

It may worry you to know that I'm looking at a Madoka page while musing about this.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

when battle becomes comedy

So I was in a plot-relevant battle and things were going... badly. Every time I stepped anywhere NEAR the main badguy, I instantly took large amounts of damage. Enough that if I stood there for more than a moment I would die. Yet nothing I did seemed to scratch him in the slightest.

Finally I backed off... and realised he was now hemmed in by NPCs who were technically on my side (that is, they were blue and attacking him) but not COMPLETELY on my side (not green, not controllable). And he was apparently not scripted to attack them. He couldn't move to follow me, so I could back off and get a breather.

And time passed. And time passed. Round after round of endless whiffing on the part of all the NPCs, and zero response on the part of the baddie. It became clear that nothing could harm the baddie except a critical hit. Every now and then, one of the NPCs would roll a 20 and therefore actually be able to do a point or two of damage. This... wasn't really going to achieve much any time soon.

I was slightly curious if something weird would happen if they actually managed to kill him, but it was FAIRLY obvious that the game had gone wrong somewhere and I didn't really have the patience to sit for an hour while a supposed-to-be-unkillable boss was popped by pins, so I reloaded until I could get his teleport-away trigger to fire properly.

Monday, 17 October 2011

tales from the depths

So in Baldur's Gate, there's a (very optional) tough demon fight with multiple nasty surprises in it which I won't spoil at the moment. Getting through it at all took a LOT of tries and a lot of buffs (but hey, that's what all those potions and scrolls and the like I've been toting around are for!) and when I finally achieved something resembling a 'success' I had ended up with half my party dead - all the fighter-types, actually. It was the wimpy little mages who lived (Well, I *had* been trying to keep them out of harm's way.)


To resurrect a character I need to take several days journey to reach a temple.

Dead characters drop all their equipment on the floor where they died.

If you walk off for several days journey and come back, all loot left on the floor disappears forever.

This can be worked around by hauling all the loot to the nearest container (in this case, a bookshelf) and stashing it there. Don't ask me why loot on the floor is eaten by rats but loot shoved into a bookshelf is not. Maybe rats can't climb. Also don't ask me how you fit several suits of armor onto a bookshelf.

Oh yeah. Armor. Did I mention it was the big strong fighters with their heavy full-plate-armor who were dead, and my helpful little strength-9 mages who were still alive?

(Not as bad as it sounds, since as a total packrat, one of the deaders had gauntlets of ogre power equipped, and that easily let me haul all the stuff. I also had one or two potions of strength floating around, although I mostly throw those out as I usually don't consider them sufficiently useful...)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ghost Trick

Something I picked up recently for the DS. It's an adventure game, although its particular gimmick avoids the need to pixel-hunt... it's more that you know exactly what items you can use, the issue is when and in what order. It's also especially notable for the lovely fluid character animations that add a strong sense of personality and fun (helpful when you're dealing with a murder mystery, which could otherwise get depressing!)

As I blogged earlier, it has a free flash demo online.

Most memorable character of those I've encountered so far? Probably the dog. It's a fluffy, yippy little Pomeranian who appears to have a set of kitsune tails and really wants to help, but isn't terribly bright... well, what do you expect? *pets fluffball*

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Never 7

As part of a promotion for the release of the newest game in the "Infinity" series, Never 7 is available for free download until October 10th.

There is a translation project involved with this game and they've made good progress, so while an English version of this game isn't *currently* available, it seems safe to say that if you grab the download and hang onto it, you'll get a patch for it next year.

Monday, 3 October 2011


We did actually come by a copy of Infinite Space - because they are much easier to find in England, and since the REAL DS doesn't have this region-locking crap, I can buy my completely legal game and play it without worrying about which system is which.

Yes, I am still pissy about the 3DS being crap and still have no practical way of making my point to the idiot suits.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Thinking about ways to replace the 'alignment' types from old D&D with something more sensible but still clear and workable for mechanical roleplay... that is, something that makes sense in a computer game, and allows you to see the personality 'stats' of your character and adjust them through choices. If your choices have meaning within a CRPG it is often useful to the player to have stats for them. Sure, it's not completely realistic, but neither is knowing that you have 17 of 21 hit points remaining.

I was reminded of the old nature-and-demeanor system from White Wolf, mostly becuase the phrase 'Bon Vivant' kept popping into my head while thinking about my current BG character and her romance with Coran, and also of the dragon age voice system. So... how about a personality wheel, then? Something with far more options than the three from DA, enough options to cover NPCs, maybe 9 to go along with the alignment feel, maybe not.

You choose a personality type when designing your character. As you play, in dialog, you get response options which correspond with your personality type and the neighboring types. If you consistently choose options other than 'your' option, your personality type slides over to a new setting. You can also have occasional special options available only for your current type, and other characters will react to you based on your current type.

This also means you can have your personality adjusted by magic and have all your dialog options automatically shift to reflect that you're now a Gloomy Gus instead of a Valiant Hero.

Problem: This means every player-respondable line of dialog requires A ZILLION OPTIONS.

ai abuse

I tend to feel pleasedly smug when I push the limits of the game rules a bit. Like avoiding a hard fight by lining up three magic users with wands of fireball JUST out of the vision of the monsters and repeatedly burning the entire room (It takes multiple shots. But they can't see us, so they can't fight back) or invading a stronghold by paralysing the character walking towards me before he can initiate dialog and then call for the guards (Twice. Once on the way in, once on the way out.) therefore allowing me to reach the upstairs captive and drag his semi-conscious body out without having to fight more than the doppleganger in his room.


Yes, it's just a miniature golf game and there are plenty of those, but the graphics and hole design of this one is really darling.

Try and see