Monday, 30 January 2012

you stand at a crossroads

Okay, so. As you may know, Long Live The Queen is nearing completion. I don't expect it on sale until next month and there are many things still to be done, but the bulk of my work on it is going to be finished soon.

That means figuring out what I do next.

Obviously, there's a lot I'd like to be doing with Magical Diary, but I can't do anything with it at the moment until the artist is available again. Similarly, I posted a long time ago about a visual novel I was starting, but the artist has more or less dropped out on me. I am currently disinclined to start the whole thing over from scratch.

(Secretly, one reason I work with some off-the-shelf assets? Because I can guarantee that they'll actually be DONE.)

So, what will I be doing? I have ideas, of course, I always have far too many ideas. The problem is figuring out which ones are practical. At the moment the top concepts bouncing around in my brain are a VN about a reality TV show gone horribly wrong, or a rock-and-roll themed RPG. Do you know, I can't find any rock-and-roll CRPGs anywhere? There are music games, obviously, and some tabletop RPG systems (usually along the lines of "IN THE DISTANT FUTURE, FIGHT THE POWER OF CONFORMITY WITH ROCK", although I found one that was a tiny indie game about running your own depressing goth band and trying to get the most attention for your angst before everyone gives up in despair), but no rock CPRGs. Probably the closest is The World Ends With You, which has the right kind of attitude, but the characters aren't actually playing music.

Downside is that while Spiky and I both love Science Girls with geeky delight, it was not a sales success. There are many reasons for that, some of which we know how to fix, but it's possible that we just don't have enough of an RPG audience.

Will probably be prototyping some RPG gameplay to see if the ideas are fun before making any decisions.

extra creepy

I haven't personally played either the original PC version of Majesty or the new phone edition.

Apparently I'm missing a lovely boatload of misogyny.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The app market is still full of thieves

Apparently someone tried to grab a flash dating sim off deviantart which wasn't even complete yet and put it for sale under their name on Android. Yikes! However, the actual author found it and got it taken down reasonably swiftly.

(I just stumbled across this by vague websearch, I know none of the people involved.)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

but I want to be a dungeon queen!

Slick-looking click-and-bash fest due to release shortly. I can't tell if 'barbarian' is your only character option or not, but I'm guessing this isn't exactly meant to be a deep role-playing experience.

Friday, 27 January 2012

summing up

So yeah, at some point I moved from SoA to ToB. This has the slight side effect that both the mods I was playing with, which were making my characters quite talkative, don't seem to cover the expansion. Which means first that everyone's shut up a lot, and second, that the tiefling who was passionately declaring his love for me before the final battle in the main game is now flirting with my 'sister'.

If I were anyone other than *me*, that might be more annoying. Considering I had her romance mod on last time as well (although we never got very far), I'm just going "... Threesome?"

Now, him being slightly flirty with Aerie makes me want to protest a bit more. On the other hand, I like to think that one of my party's main goals in life is to corrupt Aerie so that her powerful magical skills can be used for bad. (I am evil after all.) I spent the first game carefully managing her and Korgan in the same party (if you're not careful you'll lose one of them) - now that we're into ToB I kicked out Minsc for Sarevok, and Aerie seems to have finally learned to swear (and Korgan's loving the harassment he gets from all three girls).

Sunday, 22 January 2012

are you listening to yourselves?

I am saddened, but not surprised, that the VAST majority of the reactions to the news that other filehost sites are tightening access, shutting down affiliate programs, and nervously deleting obvious warez is "WHERE AM I GOING TO DOWNLOAD MY PIRATE STUFF FROM NOW???"

... I mean, guys, if you actually want to argue against these tactics, maybe you shouldn't be providing such clear evidence for the other side?

(Obviously there are legit users of such sites who are also upset, but they either just aren't visiting that particular thread or are way, way, way, way outnumbered.)

Arcanum Knights

This looks like it might be fun to play, if not for the small problem of, y'know, being in Japanese.

(I am finally taking a little bit of my time to push through some simple Japanese learning materials, but only a little of my time, and it's going to be a long while before I'm up to reading in the wild.)

Also, "False English Gentlemen Fellowship" is an awesome name for a circle. Really. :)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

I'm going to commit heresy

I never liked the way the plot resolves in Baldur's Gate 2.

(Spoilers for a very old game obviously)

I don't mean the *very* end bit, with the soul-hell-struggle and all. I mean the part that comes before it, in the elven city.

I always felt... both surprised and disappointed to discover that the puffed up overdramatic dude with the ridiculous name (Who thought "JON IRENICUS" sounded cool? It sounds about as cool as LORD VOLDEMORT, and gives the same impression of childishness on the part of its creator. If he'd only been called Irenicus that's a perfectly good fantasy villain name. Sticking John in front makes him sound like someone's pet self-insert.) was, in fact, an elf. Ex-elf. And pissy about it.

There's a lot of potential in that idea. He's so unlike what we *expect* from an elf, it could open the door for discussion about fantastic racism, elf stereotypes, and what happens when you're an elf who doesn't love dancing around trees all day. Instead it's just thrown in there. "Oh yeah, him and Bodhi, they were elves once. Isn't that awful?"

The biggest problem with this is that all of a sudden, as we near the climax, it depersonalises the story. All throughout, we've had Our Nemesis who did horrible things to us and Imoen, who was really fixated on us, who captured and tortured our friends and killed several of them before the game even started, all in favor of his mad scheme to get our power. Now all of a sudden it seems like this was totally unimportant - he was an elf, he tried some elfy magic thing to become a god and couldn't pull it off, he was banished, he found us and ate our soul for... reasons that suddenly make a lot less sense because he immediately went back to his original plan of trying to do this elfy magic thing and we have to stop him.

That's not a terrible element for drama either - reminding the villain that you ARE actually important so SCREW YOU is a perfectly good thing to play with. But it feels like the game suddenly wants to focus on "OH JON HOW COULD YOU BETRAY YOUR PEOPLE AND OUR LOVE???" (the bit that I really, really hate because it seems so completely out of the blue and makes the elf queen look like a total idiot) ... playing up this drama between elven characters that we don't know and don't care about.

I'm sorry. I find the whole elf section lame.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What's an RPG?

Sure, this subject has been covered a couple of times - look here and here for starters. But there's often a magical 'look and feel' element that leads people to decide that one game is an RPG and another game isn't.

So. Is Long Live The Queen an RPG?

My initial reaction was to say no. After all, while Princess Maker 2 is generally considered "part RPG", the later games in the PM series are classed as pure raising sims.

But by almost any sufficiently general description of RPGs, a raising sim is going to fall quite close to being accepted. After all, you are guiding the development of a character. You are making consequential choices. Your success in the game is determined by the character's stats, not the player's twitch skills. There's even that little element of dice-rolling in most of them, where you MIGHT succeed in raising your stats or you might fail (usually based on stress). The only spot where it falls out is that in a classic raising sim you are not supposed to identify with the avatar so much as to be 'guiding' it. Your daughter in Princess Maker can decide to be a brat and run off and do things without your input. She's not "you", she's your CHILD.

And that's the element that I'm always throwing out and going straight for "you are the character".

Another suspicious wait-maybe-this-is-an-RPG-after-all moment: If the ongoing plot of LLTQ were written in gamebook format, you would need a character sheet to play it. Your character skills are absolutely crucial at all times to what text you see, what options you have, how your choices turn out. You even have, to some extent, an inventory of items that boost your stats. And if you're playing through an adventure with a character sheet and inventory, it becomes harder to argue that this isn't, in fact, some kind of RPG.

Why did I initially say it wasn't? Or at least, that it doesn't fall into the standard CRPG genre? Because there's no blow-by-blow combat. There is combat, under some circumstances. You have skills in weapons and magic, and they will get used. But it happens in a narrative way, quickly resolved, without dice-rolling. (There is no randomness at any point in LLTQ. Skills are compared as flat values. Under some definitions this may disqualify it as an RPG.)

I suspect people who are looking for CRPGs probably have certain things in their mind that are important, and I expect that lack of crunchy combat to be a big turnoff for them. Therefore, I don't want to advertise the game as an RPG - even though it may be - because I don't want to deal with that conflict of expectations.

On the other hand if I decided to IGF this at the end of the year, I think I could describe it as "experimental RPG" and make a decent argument... What do you think?

simple pleasures

I do so love casting sunray in a room full of vampires. Fight? What fight?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Magical Diary - A Victory for Evil?

So, at the end of Magical Diary, players have the option to upload their character to the Online Yearbook to display to others.

This also means we have a record of play distribution. Obviously this won't cover ALL players, only those who choose to upload their characters, and therefore, the statistics may be off. But it's still interesting to look at. We have five romanceable characters, and four of those have two ending possibilities, Romance or Friendship. It's also possible to end up alone, either through not starting a path or through screwing one up midway through.

Of the ~900 current uploads:

14% ended alone.

5% were Virginia Romance.
2% were Virginia Friendship.

9% were Ellen Romance.
3% were Ellen Friendship.

16% were Grabiner Romance.
2% were Grabiner Friendship.

20% were Donald Romance.
3% were Donald Friendship.

and finally...

24% were Damien Romance.

While it's slightly tricky to be sure from the records, I expect quite a lot of the 'end alone' were people on Damien's path, too.

So there you have it, mathematical proof that people still prefer the bad boys. :) (To be fair, the game does sort of steer you in his direction for your first playthrough.)

(as for the missing 2%, blame rounding.)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

i'm not even wearing pants!

According to some silly gender analyser tool, this blog is 'probably written by a man'. Just makes me wonder what it is that they're looking at.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Congratulations to all the finalists!

On the 'inside' (slightly) I have to say that I feel much better about the way the system works now than the way it did when I was previously involved. (But I still want a writing category. And there were a lot of games that could have used one.)

My personal favorite entry only managed an honorable mention, but that's okay.

Now, is there going to be a howl of outrage at the lack of recognition for the 'pirate kart'?

Monday, 9 January 2012

yes but at MY party we had SAPPHO

A thread about a "LOOK! BOOBS!" advertisement for Yet Another Evony Clone led to some musing about what an actual casual game about holding Roman orgies could be like - trying to balance your resources and reputation to throw the biggest parties with the most guests.

What I was specifically thinking of when I mentioned it was an old Xena fanfic called Seven Days In Pompeii. Now, it's been ages since I read it, but as I recall one of the main plotlines (before the inevitable volcano) has to do with the competition among the nobles to arrange the most impressive party for the Festival of Ceres in order to be marked as the Official Celebratory Site for worship services and receive divine favor. (The divine favor, of course, means everyone at the official party gets to have magically enhanced sex with their goddess-chosen partner.)

And Sappho was there. Naturally.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Ubisoft are still chuckleheads

Clueless fools who were naive enough to give them money are unable to play the games they paid for. AGAIN.

Complaints about their broken DRM are being systematically deleted from the company's Facebook page.

All of you should know better.

Don't waste your money on systems that are designed to control you! Buy from developers who aren't evil! We do exist!

kinks only a fanfic writer would anticipate

For all the effort the mod writer put into this - which is really quite impressive - e never imagined I would schedule my character's first sexual encounter with Haer'Dalis to take place while we are both disguised as drow.

Surely I can't be the only one who thought those lust chambers ought to be put to use?

Friday, 6 January 2012

the downside of services

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone reading, but yes, sometimes, if you have a credit card or the like attached to an account for 'easy' purchases, if that account gets hacked, you're in trouble.

Apparently there's an ongoing problem with Xbox Live accounts being hacked and the crooks ordering huge amounts of Microsoft 'points' to send to other accounts, then running off laughing. You'd think Microsoft would be pretty well able to track these transactions happening in their own systems, wouldn't you?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

if a book is unread, was it ever really written?

Most of the 'top 100 adventure games' list is quite familiar (I have been around a while!) but I did spot at least one potentially-interesting newcomer I'd never heard of: The Book of Unwritten Tales.

Considering my huge backlog, though, any Big Game is going to have to fight for a chance of me coming near playing it.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

starlaxis - in quest of an audience

Here's something I found by accident, a game which I suspect is struggling in the market due to being released in totally the wrong place.

Starlaxis is a modern little space game. It has animeish characters (with blinking eyes and moving mouths!), shiny metal panels, nice looking 3d spaceships, big explosions, it recognises my widescreen monitor, and at least for me it runs smoothly.

It's also a casual game, with a (at least to start with) fairly simple matching mechanic to drive it. So simple, in fact, that many people don't understand it at first because it involves 3D.

See, there's a grid and cubes fall into it. If you line up three cubes with matching symbols, they disappear. Simple, right? Wrong. If you do that, you'll be stuck in the tutorial for hours, making zero progress, and thinking that this is the stupidest game ever imagined. What you actually have to do is right-click to rotate the cubes. Not to change their shapes, this isn't tetris, but to change which symbol is showing. Because that's the ONLY way to get them to display the symbols you need to make progress. The tutorial sort of forgets to actually tell you that.

So what you really need to do is flip cubes around to assemble command sequences so that you can move your spaceship around on the grid. Matching exists only to get junk cubes out of the way.

The problem is, we have here a casualish game with a new mechanic that's extremely poorly explained, a space theme, and a male protagonist, being released solely on casual portals. Without fanfare. Hidden between other releases. And probably with higher technical requirements than many casual gamers have on their computers, based on the bug reports.

Also, BFG listed it as a match-3 game, which as I've said it very much isn't, rather than an arcade/shooter game. So even the tiny few fans of such games that visit their site can't find it.

I'm pretty sure it sank without a trace.

But if it were brought to the hands of the right audience, it's a perfectly shiny-looking game! It just desperately needs to be sold somewhere else!