Monday, 30 November 2009

drama queens?

Something I'd never heard of but stumbled across via an artist:

Witch Girls Adventures

Looks like a roleplaying game aimed at tween girls. Only they call it "drama diaries".... because roleplaying is weird and geeky? DUnno.

The website looks a little like it's trying too hard to convince parents that it won't bite, but this review suggests it's a decent book.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

free for a day

If you're not absolutely swamped in games, there's a Beholder-style RPG being given away free today. I suspect it was written for mobile phones so don't expect an epic though.


This wasn't really high on my list of interesting titles, but this trailer is both long and reasonably intriguing.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

i warned you about stairs bro!

While I don't have an Iphone, Stair Dismount does seem like a good fit for it.

(Also, an excuse for an MS Paint Adventures joke)

très amusant

Found a French forum talking about CKK and some of them were commenting that the game was clearly not designed for 'geeks'... because the party dress is actually a dress and not just a few scraps of frilly lingerie. Some people's expectations!

Friday, 27 November 2009

just throw it all in and stir

A full guide to Cute Knight Kingdom's cooking and crafting recipes (as well as general directions for the endings) can be found at Gamezebo.

Although you might have more fun trying to puzzle out solutions yourself with the help of the forum.

black friday

For fans of quirky Japanese games (in English), Rhythm Heaven is half-price on Amazon today.

None of the other DS deals catch my eye, they're either for games I would never play or they're such a small discount it's not important.

PC-wise, Dragon Age: Origins is $15 off, and that's probably a Christmas gift for me.

GameStop has some big deal on used games which might matter if I were in the US but I'm not. Also Phantom Hourglass on sale but... if you're into Zelda, how can you not have played that yet? :)

BestBuy apparently has Assassin's Creed and Bioshock for the PC for $5 each, which again might tempt me if I were actually in the US.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

talent or effort

from slashdot, an article that talks about what causes people to feel that they've achieved something, and whether RPGs might be bad for you.

Of course, it's more complicated. Plenty of people play both, and plenty of people are unsatisfied by RPGs where they can simply grind their way to inevitable victory.

quake in flash?

I so do not care about Quake. But someone might, so.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

nostalgic confusion

One of these screenshots looks an awful lot like a game I used to have on the ColecoVision.

Only I'm very sure that game didn't have GIANT MONSTERS in it!

(ah, okay, wikipedia clears it up - this was the sequel to that game.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

beyond the horizon

Just released an update for Cute Knight Kingdom that adds some speed boosts for players who are highly impatient or have been grinding for days trying to get those last few endings. When flipped, the switch raises walk speed and allows you to skip through jobs and classes by button mashing.

Since that game has only just wrapped up, you can expect it will be a long while before there's a sequel. I have plenty of other ideas I want to pursue. Still, no harm in speculating. A long time back I joked that each entry in the series should expand the size of the gameworld, so therefore after Kingdom would come Empire, then World, then Galaxy...

What would be involved in Cute Knight Empire? I'm thinking that the empire is made up of several different states, each with strongly different national flavors. The Empress is old and has no heir. A number of young people are chosen from the various corners of the empire to be raised as potential heirs, then set loose to see what they can make of themselves. So there's this group of other people in your age range who are both your friends and your rivals, and none of you knows exactly what you're supposed to do to achieve your goal. You explore the Empire, probably with a lot of sea travel and pirates, raising your skills, gathering treasure, and so on, while occasionally crossing paths with the rest of your classmates who are doing the same thing.

Probably not going to do walkaround-style again. Been there, done that, time for something new. No, more likely each city will be more like PM4- a map with locations to click on. And when you go to a location, a background image and larger size characters on the screen like in a VN.

That means dungeons might go back to first-person perspective.

Of course, this is all complete speculation, I have no intention of even starting this for at least a year!

which way to the wins?

More interesting data on gamebooks: this site has posted flowcharts for a number of books including the Fighting Fantasy ones.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I am avoiding comments on the IGF for reasons of fairness. No hype goes in or out of this blog plz. :) However, the game list is published and you can probably find the website and look for yourself if you are interested.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Shadow in the Cathedral

New commercial text adventure available.

This review suggests it's reasonably cool.

I so do not have time to look at it right now.

what you haven't been waiting for

Hey, look! Somebody found a copy of that Heaven game to review!


Sandlot is giving away the original Westward free for a week.

The first game is the only one that is 2D and therefore the best in my opinion. :) Definitely recommended to bored strategy fans. (Obviously, this is somewhat a promotion of Westward 4 which just came out. But it's 3d so ignore it.)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Saturday, 14 November 2009

passing the time

So, at a particular point in our current project the characters decide to pass an evening with one of those old standbys, the drinking game "I Never". Except without the drinking, because at least one character doesn't drink.

This is entertaining from a writing/character development perspective, since not only does it mean working out who has and hasn't done what in order to answer the questions, there's also the matter of things like: who already knows about what other characters have done? Who will intentionally ask things they already know the answer to in order to score points? Who will ask what they really want to know? And who will carefully avoid asking about things they don't want to know or don't want to make public?

Of course, in a hentai game, which this isn't, the questions would probably get a lot more explicit.

Friday, 13 November 2009

choose your own adventure

This has been making the rounds lately - some interesting data on branching and multiple endings from the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels.

When I was young, I loved CYOAs. Not surprisingly, I wanted to write them, too. However, I found the process painfully confusing. I couldn't think of a good way to keep track of all the branches as I went along, and I had no idea at all how I was supposed to go about assigning numbers to the different bits when I hadn't written them yet and didn't know how they would go together!

But my school computer lab, even on the basic Apple 2 whatevers they had at the time, had turned up software for producing branching path stories. Not to be produced as books, but as simple games. And it was so much easier. They even had features for player-determined-choice and random-choice (Which VN writers will tell you is probably a bad idea, but the point is, it was something you couldn't easily do in a book.)

and see what's on the slab

Apparently someone has released a fullsize Japanese bishoujo game (minus the H) for the iphone. (Japanese and English versions both available)

As I don't have an iphone, this doesn't mean much. Still considering how RIDICULOUSLY MUCH those games cost in Japan, it's interesting to see one pushed down to a piddly $9.99 for the iphone market.

Would be curious to see how the sales turn out.

Of course, there have already been a number of cellphone games in Japan on things other than the iphone.

get it while it's hot

But hopefully not on fire.

Cute Knight Kingdom is now available to the general public.

As there is, as yet, no sign of Princess Maker 6, this will have to do you for now. :)

clap your hands if you believe

IGN has a review up of the new Disney Fairies game. Not one I'm intending to play, but I like to cheer them for reviewing things that many gaming sites won't touch.

I'm also of two minds about the reviewer's complaint that you can't make a boy character. It's true, and having more options is good, and recognising that a boy might play a cutesy game or a girl might enjoy being a boy is good, but at the same time, the snark in me wonders if the reviewer would complain if you could only create boy characters... (He might. You never know.)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

on the edge

Copyright/trademark/IP can get a bit silly these days, can't it?

Your Friend Just Did This! Join The Fun!

An article on some developments within the facebook 'game' business...


Ridiculous fanservice is fine in a comedy that's clearly about ridiculous fanservice. Or a hentai game, where that's why you're playing.

It's slightly tacky to take what is, as far as I know, a 'normal' RPG and implement a mechanic where your female characters level up by taking off their clothes.

(I haven't actually played any games in this series, maybe I'm misjudging the targeting? A gamespot review of the first game suggests it was always a little confusing with innuendo that didn't go anywhere.)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

the sound of tiny violins

A pirate is 'gutted' about being kicked off Xbox for being a blatant pirate, and completely unrepentant for what he's done.

No mention is made of things like borrowing or renting games if you can't afford to buy them, or buying cheaper used games.

musical ripples

Apparently Aquaria is putting out an official soundtrack.

The music is cool - but we want a sequel! Alas...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

bug hunt

Cute Knight Kingdom is in a state best described as preorder-beta. Loyal forum members can purchase the game at a nice discount, with the knowledge that it's not entirely stable yet, and that there is no demo. Updates are coming in rapidly, so it should be stomped on well enough by the end of the week.

Bugs that have been uncovered so far:

A duplicated number causing an error to popup when a baby spits up on you
Quantum cakes that exist only as long as you have no other cakes
A missing parenthesis allowing you to marry someone who should refuse you for being TOO SINFUL
The default name of the main character (Sorami) accidentally showing up in one of the ending stories even if you were using another name
Looking at your picture in the gallery after ending the game could sometimes throw you back into the gameworld after it ended... which, if you'd ended by turning 21, would then mean the game ended all over again
Popup error if you started to save the story-record available at the end of the game and then canceled

So far, nothing that actually crashes the game or really screws up progress.

dragon age

I've been burned by Bioware's generic plots so many times.

I have a ton of other things to play.

But I hear there's no DRM.

... Christmas is coming up.

... I will probably end up with this game.

in the distant future of hello kitty there is only war

Something Awful did a take on Warhammer 40K. Being Something Awful, it is going to be a bit rude. But it's still funny, especially if you know just enough about the blasted game to get the references but not to actually care.

Monday, 9 November 2009

dear casual game developers

Please stop ending your games with absolutely no plot resolution and a big 'To Be Continued' sign.

Yes, I know you want to sell a million sequels and keep churning in the money.

It's really not that hard to give SOME resolution to your story and then add a HOOK for an ending.

But many games these days will, say, be about walking down a staircase, and then at the end of the game you step off the staircase and get a black screen with 'To find out what happens next, buy the sequel!' Which makes it clear there was no point to playing this game in the first place. All you did was walk down a staircase, and you knew about the staircase the second you started. You learned nothing.

some is worse than none?

I saw a comment (about Torchlight) where someone was annoyed that the only female player option was "white, long-legged, and busty", and faced with a character which would always be scantily clad, felt sufficiently unwanted as a player to leave.

I haven't played it myself but I get the impression that there may be more than one male player option - if so, that makes it much more obvious that the female is just an afterthought. At least, it would to me, and I'm guessing it did to that commenter as well.

The latest casual game *I've* been playing is something in the civ/strategy genre called Gemini Lost. It's cute, if clearly heavily derived from Virtual Villagers. One thing that's noticeable is that there's a fairly low number of human models, and the engine doesn't seem to include palette variations, so ALL characters of model X will be identical brunettes in purple dresses.

The weird thing is, there seems to be only one non-white model... a black male. Maybe two if there's another clothing option for him, I'm not sure. But there's very certainly no black female character, or anything else. Also, while the game forces you to pair up your characters to marry them off and breed them to produce a new generation of workers, the actual parentage of children doesn't seem to be tracked or matter for anything, including appearance... which is particularly noticeable when you've just started the game, you have only one black character, you've just married together two white characters, and they promptly produce a black boy baby.

If you're thinking enough about diversity to stick in one black character, why only one? It's not like they're actual characters where you'd need to do work to carefully develop the backstory of them, they're just Generic Villagers who're going to live and die at your command.

due to foreseen schedule disruption

... I've pretty much totally missed the IF Comp this year. I have no intention of trying to do any last-minute judging. Although it does remind me of a couple of ideas for text adventures I vaguely wanted to make, a long time ago.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

are you pondering what I'm pondering?

This blog has generally been me whining about games that I play, or think about playing, or at least heard about someone else playing. I occasionally talk about the games business in general, but I have been trying to stick to an outside perspective.

As many of you know, I am a game developer. I may want to actually talk about things I'm making as well, or at least babble cryptic progress reports. However, not everyone cares about that. Also, it might be nice to have a fancier-sounding blog name than WHIIIIIIINE for talking about my work.

Therefore, I pose this question to the three of you actually reading this. :) Should I make another blog for dev talk? If I do, should I crosspost the "games business" posts to it? Or should I just post that stuff here?

still catching up around here

So I have briefly checked out the Three Musketeers game I mentioned earlier.

It's pretty cool so far. It's enough like a console/JRPG to feel familiar, but everything is completely new... the art, the way combat works, and so forth, so it's NOT just another RPG Maker thing.

It's based on the classic novel and uses a lot of text from it, so the writing is quite good. (Although probably VERY familiar if you've read the book recently! I never read it myself, I admit. I've seen bits and pieces of the story in movies.)

One interesting feature is the 'footprints' that guide you to your next objective. Because of this, you can never get lost like you are in some games, floundering around on huge maps. On the downside this can make the game feel very linear, if you're just being dragged from point to point... HOWEVER, you don't actually have to follow the footprints all the time. You can wander off on your own to find treasure and new sidequests, and get back to the footprints later. The game will even encourage you to do this eventually. (The built-in hints are very helpful, and give you little bits of information at a time so that it's not overwhelming while always leaving you feeling like you know what you're doing.)

Demo is available here, if you're interested... that's the PC link, there is one for Macs here as well.

Friday, 6 November 2009

the festering sinkhole of licensed games

What possesses people to put out licensed products for TV shows that cannot possibly be interesting in game form? 'Deal or No Deal' was an obvious problem... the show is all about the psychological pressure of maybe winning - or losing - big money. Well, since the DS doesn't allow real world gambling, that's simply not going to happen in a game version, and it becomes nothing but Boring Random Guessing. Might as well play *bingo*, that's not a game either.

So now they're selling a licensed game of "The Biggest Loser"?

Good grief.

First off, I should state that I have serious ideological differences with the original TV show. Rapid competitive weight loss is not healthy, many people have told behind the scenes stories of just how sick they became doing this. Unless there was a clear fixable problem causing the weight gain (which sometimes there is), massive weight loss is almost never sustainable. It comes back, and the huge strain on the system of the loss/gain has nasty long-term consequences.

Top that off with a show title that is clearly mocking its competitors while 'cheering' them along to do something dangerous and unhealthy, and... well, I'm not a fan.

Now, how the heck are you going to make this into a fun 'game'?

Right. You're not.

Okay, that Japanese game I talked about long ago shows that you can make a fun game about losing weight, but I didn't think they were going to go there, and they didn't. OTOH portable collections of nutritional and recipe information can be handy... but if it only provides calorie information and not nutritional information, that's pretty useless again. ROCKS may be low calorie, that doesn't make them a healthy diet. :)

gloomy gorgeous

So, now that I'm finally on a computer that can *play* the big-budget BFG adventure, I must say I'm quite fond of it. Animation! Beautiful gloom!

Sure, the hint system means it's not very difficult but I'm the sort who plays adventures with a walkthrough anyway, because I want to see the story.

However, the basic plot leaves something to be desired ("Save princess in tower!" A girl who, despite her supposed cool powers and importance, literally spends the whole game STANDING there WAITING for you) and the ending stinks.