Friday, 29 February 2008

What is this?

It is some sort of flash adventure thing, I think... but I can't really figure out what's going on or what I'm supposed to do. It's cool looking though?

Don't be fooled by a pretty face

First off, the highly anticipated action match-3 game DragonStone is finally available on the maker's website. You'll notice I'm not linking to it. That's because they're another of those JERKS who think it's appropriate to charge $30 instead of $20 to me just because of where I live. So instead of getting my $20, you will get the $6 or whatever that a portal gives you as your cut of a sale, all because you were greedy and thought you could squeeze an extra $10. If I buy the game at all (see my Jojo's Fashion Show adventure for another story of how this sort of nonsense around turned a sale into no-sale. Although that may be changing!)

Beyond that, though, the game did some nasty things to my computer. When I tried to launch it, at first, nothing seemed to happen. After waiting quite a while and thinking that maybe I'd failed to actually double-click it, I tried again. A few moments later I get an error message telling me that I can't run two copies of the game at once. Okay... So after closing that, finally my resolution twists and changes, indicating the game is trying to launch. A few moments after THAT, the screen finally blanks out and the game splash screens start loading.

Sort of. See, they're very flickery. Bits of other programs areshowing through. And there's no sound. It turns out I'm not properly tabbed into the running program (because of the two copies thing, I expect) but it's controlling my display drivers anyway! So everything is a flickery mess. I keep trying to alt-tab so that I can get to the game to shut it down, but I can't see the alt-tab dialog because the game overwrites it as soon as it appears. I can't even see the task manager.

FINALLY, with much frustration, I get switched into the game. And it is a nice-looking game. It's very very pretty, and has a cool fantasy overlay around its match-3 elements. It is much more my kind of thing than Puzzle Quest was.

Except that because of the business practices of the sellers, I can't buy it. So there's not much point in playing more than the five minutes necessary to figure out what the game's about.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

stories are easy. endings are hard.

Is it supposed to dump me completely out of game after a brief screen telling me vaguely what happened (which my character would have been pissed about)?

fortress of evil!

Okay, I was wrong, that ash wasn't actually needed in order to continue in the game even if I hadn't use the other method. (and I found some eventually anyway) At 18.6 hours, I am entering the goblin citadel.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

how to kill a game

After spending an hour pointlessly reloading and getting progressively more annoyed, I checked a walkthrough for an alternate method past this deadlock and hopped a portal across the map. However, I was so pissed off by this point that I could not find any enthusiasm for more pointless clicky fighting. Especially with irritating acid slugs that have random chances of destroying your equipment. HORDES of slugs. I can just outrun them, but it's a bad sign for a game when I get to the point where I am walking around grumbling, being trailed by hordes of monsters that can never catch up with me but will never stop following either. Breaks immersion.

Hate everything right now. Maybe my mood will improve later.

edit: Stumbling over a random outpost to explore did make me feel a bit better.

Monday, 25 February 2008

rolling a fail on puzzle design

I now apparently have no choice but to play save-reload for several days waiting for the one random component necessary to unlock something to spawn.

When these things are keyed to specific items, it would be nice if you ensured that these items existed!

These items are totally randomly generated, so there is NOWHERE that I can go and actually get it. All I can do is reload, reload, reload, reload...

Sunday, 24 February 2008

where did I put that doom?

After discovering a map of the continent, I mused "Hrm, what's that named thing in an area I don't remember much being?" Wandered that way. "Oh right, that tower with the eye monsters in it. Um... Probably best to keep doing what I'm supposed to be doing." (very shortly after) "Oh. Now I guess I *have* to go to that tower with the eyes..."

Twelve hours in.

eschalon bug

At the moment, starting up the game and loading any save takes me to a screen of total darkness, with my character hued blue and no map. Attempting to do anything crashes to desktop.

I can hope that my computer is simply tired and this will be better after a reboot.

Still, this is worrying...

EDIT: It does work after reboot.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

eschalon (minor spoiler)

Okay, I guess that wasn't a bug, I guess that was a different amulet.

OTOH, it would be nice if the Shadow Repository didn't still drop you in the death pit if you choose dialog again after having already shown your passkey. Not very good memories, these guys...

current time - 7.8 hours, current level - 8

Friday, 22 February 2008

a message to NPCs

Don't try to send the nefarious berserker on an extra quest just for the hell of it rather than answering his questions. Especially when your only method of self-defense is punching with your little girly hands.

Maybe the next witch will be wiser.

... Downside is, I now have two amulets instead of one, since I suspect that doing this the "right" way involves her taking the un-IDed amulet and replacing it with the IDed one.

someone to watch over you

While watching an episode of a TV show the other day, it occurred to me that the plot setup could be potentially useful for adventure game design.

One character was infiltrating some sort of organisation, while her friends were monitoring her from a distance and trying to give her help. For handwaving reasons they could only communicate with her by text which would be displayed on her contact lenses so she would see it floating in front of her... I say handwaving, but at the same time it's somewhat reasonable that you wouldn't want to use audio signal for an infiltrator, it could noticeably distract them if you suddenly speak to them while someone's watching them (and if they're talking to someone in the organisation they may not be able to hear you).

So I envisioned an adventure game in which your Distant Helpers are watching you via camera link and will try to give you hints, since they can research things and you can't. There would probably need to be some sort of Stealth/Suspicion mechanic to compensate for the reduced difficulty provided by having people giving you hints - since they're actually trying to HELP instead of trying to challenge you in some bizarre experiment, they should and will actually give you the answer to things once they figure the answer out. So there would need to be some kind of tension to make you not want to just hang around waiting until they come up with the solution... if you're infiltrating something, the more you hang around near puzzles the more suspicious you may look and eventually they'll be onto you...

Of course, your distant friends don't know everything. If you're searching a room for a hidden key they may suggest places to look that you haven't tried yet, but unless they have some reason to know the answer, they're just guessing. And they may make mistakes, or intentionally mislead you for plot reasons...

grow better

New GROW puzzle game out, this one pretty easy, because the creator has been sick, so... Help the Grow guy get well!

this way to DOOM

I have found some floating eye monsters. They are way over my current level.

Thursday, 21 February 2008


So far, I have retrieved my amulet from the crypt and gone through the ridiculous wine cellar. I am level 4 and playing kiting games with the bandits on the south coast. (If I circle around trees properly, only one bandit at a time can hit me, and I can win!)

Playing an evil bastard also means that I don't feel like clicking on many of the quest options - I don't want to be helpful, I want to be rich and powerful!

Minor quirks: Badguys won't zone following you, but will remain in position for days on end waiting for you to come back? Seems a little silly with human bandits. Also, nearly killing a human bandit and then letting a salamander bite him to death gets no XP? Hrmph.

Resting INSIDE A HOUSE with the door CLOSED should not allow monsters to spawn inside the closed house, surely.

Clicking on a town sign to enable quick travel may or may not work depending on where you were standing, even if it showed the text of the sign and gave no indication you needed to be closer.

the power of CUTE compels you

Spotted on an Australian girl gaming blog, apparently the Hello Kitty MMORPG is going into full beta (in general? or has it been out for a while and just the english version is beta'ing now?) Since the site proclaims beta is full, go home, I haven't really looked into the details.

If it's anything like Fairyland, another super-cute asian MMORPG that I played for a while, it may be worth poking at briefly as long as it's free-to-play and adorable (these asian mogs tend to be free to play, pay for gold and customisation and stuff) but ultimately it will become endless grind with no point. Cute gets dull when you're standing in one place for hours picking cotton.


Hello again, little RPG world! You apparently burn enough memory that you make my computer sluggish for a bit when I close you, which I expect from much bigger games... You are still annoying about that whole vaguely describing an object rather than letting me interact because I'm standing in the wrong place (and not moving me to the right place, which would be helpful). And why can't I smash up sealed barrels?

I have decided to play a bastard this time, who is Nefarious and Fightery and likes to hit things with swords. This will probably make life easier than it did as a rogue. Of course, now I pout at the locked doors and chests I can't open.

edit: Oh hey, now that I look at the manual, apparently there is a way to bash stuff.

edit: all that for a wine cellar? oh hey it's 5:30 am, I guess I should stop now

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Well, the CD copy of Eschalon still hasn't turned up, but I have at least been given a download now. :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

professor layton

Nope, I don't have it (although I might wish I had it instead of Rune Factory) but 4theGirlGamer has a review, so hey, I'll just link there for the moment.

My whine? I know somebody sent me a game for my birthday and it is apparently lost in transit and I feel like it's rude to ask WHAT game they got, so I can't buy any of the games I indicated that I wanted until this is sorted out.

In Peggle, I have the first six stages 100% clear.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

the trouble with buying games

I live in England, so SOME people want to charge me twice as much for the same product. This is unacceptable. I understand it with retail products because you have to go through licensing rigamarole and sometimes produce new versions and documentation in all European languages and it does cost extra, but for a downloadable game that you are selling the exact same version of to someone else based on their IP? No. Unacceptable.

SOME game-selling sites want to tie you up in download-managers and separate programs to monitor everything you do and try to advertise new games at you all the time. No. If you want to put extra crap on my computer, you can pay ME for it.

SOME game-selling sites want to tie all your games to a separate control program and make your games stop working if the control program is turned off or removed. Absolutely no. I do not want to be held to ransom over things I've already paid for, should you decide later to ask for more money or claim that I have done something wrong.

SOME game-selling sites have so many protections on the payment they'll accept (no free email addresses, tricky details with credit card address matching which is a problem for me personally because the foreign address tends not to parse right in the different verification systems, various tricky session/hardware matching because they want detailed stats on their customers or have trouble linking paypal payments to accounts) that you can't get them to take your money!

Dammit, people, stop making piracy such an attractive option. I just want to give you my money and get a game in exchange. WHY SO DIFFICULT?

edit - Well, I found someone who wouldn't overcharge me or require a game manager, but they also happily say upfront that their registration codes are only good for 3 uses, no replacements. That's also a no-thanks. Also, their ordering system seems to want to draw from my bank account rather than my paypal balance, which is creepy. WILL SOMEONE JUST SELL ME THE GAME ALREADY?

second edit - By the time I figured out where I should be shopping from in order to not suffer from EVIL, I had been through enough free trials that I'd sort of lost interest in the game. If I do decide I want to play more of it, I think I know who to buy it from now. But the long and the short of it is that if the initial gameseller hadn't tried to squeeze extra money out of me for being British, they would have made a sale at the beginning of this rant, instead of, currently, no sale. And even if I do buy in the end, I'll have to buy through a portal and they'll get a much smaller cut.

Color Me Surprised

There's a bunch of fashion-related games on the casual market at the moment. Most of them seem to be of the dreaded 'time management' category, which as I've already commented, if I wanted a boring low-end job, I'd get one, not pay to pretend.

So when I downloaded Jojo's Fashion Show in order to find out if there was a gay character in it, I wasn't expecting much.

Surprisingly, it's actually fun. Even for someone like me with the fashion sense of a turnip. At least, if you have any interest in playing dressup or find dollmakers at all entertaining. I don't always 'get' why one outfit scores so much higher than another (they do tell you the scoring rules, but there are too many to memorise, you really have to go with visuals and instinct) but I can at least figure out some winning combinations, and there are enough hints to help the fashion-challenged along. And there is a lot of sparkly. And there are enough different styles that someone who hates boring normal clothes need not feel left out.

One of the boys in the house wandered by and scoffed that the models were all too skinny, but really, what do you expect from runway models?

The game is also available free with adware, and I think I may pick that up to see how it works (I haven't tried an adware-supported game yet. I don't yet know if it'll be too evil or annoying to deal with.)

EDIT: unfortunately, iwin's adware system uses IE internally. Since I am not a security-hole idiot, I have a lot of things in IE disabled or set to only-when-prompted. (Also, certain activeX controls annoy the hell out of me, secure or not.) Therefore, if I try to play their ad-supported version, I get dumped out of the game before AND after each level by an IE security popup. I don't even actually SEE the ads, but my gameplay experience is trashed. Therefore, I'd have to recommend sticking with BFG and the try/buy system, not the free-with-ads one, if you have any custom browser tinkery.

rune factory

Music quality doesn't seem to interact with DS speakers well.

Occasional bits of voiced dialog seem really weird, perhaps because my subconscious knows that they should be speaking Japanese.

It's sort of baffling in general - there's a big field and a ton of options and I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to do beyond plant one handful of seeds, water them, and look confused.

The text does not fit in the dialog boxes properly - it wraps at only about halfway across the screen. Weird.

Dear game designers - When creating feedback for 'You have no water in your watering can', you might want to consider a little popup with a water-drop and an X, or a generic bzzzt of you-can't-do-that. Instead of playing a sound that sounds rather like water and showing an animation of watering. Which, when you are brand new to the game and don't know any better, makes you think you are watering things when you are not. Apparently I stood in the wrong place when I tried to fill my watering can, so it didn't work. Argh.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Skin and Bones

PC retro platformer in development. The concept reminds me a bit of Head Over Heels, in that you control two characters with different abilities that have to help each other out, but the gameplay is quite different - they're both onscreen in a big platform-jumpy mario world and it looks like you can switch freely between which one you're controlling, but you'll probably need to be careful that you've left the fragile one in a safe place in order to maneuver the tougher one...

Thursday, 14 February 2008


No sign of any indie-game presents yet, but I have wound up with a copy of Rune Factory for the DS.

... and it's played with BUTTONS! Who writes DS games to use buttons? That's what the stylus is for! Seriously, I don't think any of the games I own have relied on buttons...

edit: Lack of touchscreen really hampers this for me because fiddling around with movement trying to get the right square of land selected is oddly annoying. WHY WHY WHY didn't they design this game to use the stylus? So far I've only looked at the beginning and wandered around picking things up, feeling useless.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

all the pretty boys

So people were over at our place, and a very non-girly girl (rides a motorcycle, among other things) wandered in and found me playing this game.

And sat on my floor and STAYED offering commentary on what was going on and which boys I should pursue. Even though I'm playing in Japanese with only rudimentary translation tools.

Or perhaps the bad translation is why... figuring out what's going on makes it more of a social exercise? :)

Saturday, 9 February 2008

english is as she wrote

From Magic Farm:

"Help a young lady to save her parents from the hands of cruel aborigines. Make exciting voyages with your new pirates and vegetarian cannibals friends."


The game itself seems to be a vague clone of Grimm's Hatchery, with prettier graphics but much worse writing. And I didn't like Grimm's myself (too much clicking, not enough result?) so even with a free copy from Game Giveaway I can't see myself playing this.

UPDATE: Possibly more than a clone. We'll see what becomes of this...

It's not just the writing, although that really doesn't help - bits of interface (the hand cursor especially) are also a little bit off. I can occasionally look past Engrish. Emerald Tale is a cute and relaxing little puzzle game even if the text is often pointless and occasionally somewhat boggling.

I suppose that's why Magic Farm's intro story sequence is a comic with no words...

I don't know if it's just the games that they pick aren't to my taste or whether I have automatically lower expectations because I'm getting the game free, but with a lot of Game Giveaways I find I lose interest almost before reading the tutorial. Perhaps because I already 'have' the game, so there's no motivation to evaluate and possibly obtain it?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

slightly creepy

And you thought Princess Maker's diet-settings were odd? How about a whole game devoted to losing weight so that boys will stop laughing at you?

found via

You play Hitomi, a 16-year-old who used to be cute enough to win kid pageants, but whose appetite for sweets and lack of exercise has led to a hefty weight of 100kg - that's 220lbs for us in imperial land. Going into your second year of high school, you and your older brother Takashi move into a small new apartment building that's owned by your father, and who do you think are your new neighbours? Of course, several handsome guys, including the top 5 most popular guys in your high school. You're excited until you meet them, and their reaction is less than flattering. Only one of the guys, the #1 ranked cold, perfect type, actually insults you, but the others' responses also make you realize that you're overweight. You decide that you're going to lose weight and show those guys how cute you can be!

Your stats are: Weight, Face, Arms, Legs, Muscle Tone, General Studying, Language, Science/Math, Phys Ed, Persistence, and Diet Knowledge.

Ew. I mean, I guess it makes for strategic gameplay to try and focus on all these elements without starving to death and while trying to make friends as well, but it still sounds a little disturbing. NOT a game that I will be picking up, thanks.

Only in Japanese, of course, so you don't have to worry about little girls with their DSes around you wailing "WAAAH! My character's BUTT is STILL TOO BIG!"

Saturday, 2 February 2008


I have a (scary) birthday coming up. I have indicated to some people who asked that certain games which have been mentioned here and not yet purchased because they sell for over $20 would make acceptable presents. (Unfortunately, the way Bookworm Adventures turned out has only solidified my crankiness about paying $30 for anything other than a self-indulgent special occasion.)

If such games are in fact delivered, you can look forward to plenty of whining about them. :)

Friday, 1 February 2008


Plumeboom is a perfect example of a casual game - it's cute and colorful and sort of fun and not very challenging (at least at first) and kind of mindless and you can just sit staring at the lights and clicking for long stretches of time without realising that you're doing it.

The ephemeral value of 'polish' is really hard to define here. The graphics are certainly shiny and colorful, but at the same time I find the potions sort of ugly. There's a definite attempt at working in a storyline, with heroes to cheer and villains to boo-hiss, but at the same time it's all utterly nonsensical. I'm a peacock with some sort of giant magic gun and I'm shooting potions onto a conveyor belt in order to stop robo-birds? Huh? And the gun also makes the game physics confusing... if these things are on a belt coming towards me, shouldn't I only be able to shoot the ones on the ends closest to me? (Yes, I'm overthinking.) Why does my peacock have a wardrobe? Does it matter if I use it? Does it matter if I never use the bonus lab? (It's easy enough to overlook it...) What are these badges I'm getting for? Why didn't I get some sort of special reward for clearing the entire level in one shot?

The world may never know.

Anyway, this falls into the category of things I'd play but I'd feel sort of bad about paying for because they're numbing my brain... shiny... click shiny... click shiny...

It may get harder as you go along, I'm not sure. It's been pretty easy so far. I'm not sure I'm going to play any more.