Monday, 31 January 2011

ow thumbs

Still haven't managed to beat the bosses that have to be beaten in mini-mode to unlock worlds. Bah.

Edit: After whining, I FINALLY reach World 4.

yes, he is seriously calling himself "Team Rape"

(Editing to clarify: The 'he' in the post title is not Gabe. I know that, the post title is a side comment on the person whose username is captured in the screenshot below.)

It's so tempting for people to try and have it both ways, but it tends to end up just pissing everyone off instead of only some people. Seriously, Penny Arcade, what good does it do to 'acknowledge' that something upsets people and state that you'll be removing it from sale, as follows:

We want PAX to be a place were everyone feels welcome and we’ve worked really hard to make that happen. From not allowing booth babes to making sure we have panels that represent all our attendees. When I heard from a few people that the shirt would make them uncomfortable at PAX, that gave me pause. Now whether I think that’s a fair or warranted reaction doesn’t really matter. These were not rants on blogs but personal mails to me from people being very reasonable. It’s how they feel and according to them at least, removing the shirt would make them feel better about attending the show. For me that’s an easy fix to the problem. I really don’t want to have this fight and if not having it is as simple as not selling a shirt then I’ll do it. Contrary to what they might think I’m not a complete asshole.

... and then to proudly state that you intend to wear and display it yourself?

Yes, obviously, I am aware that many people interested in this stupid t-shirt are doing so in what they consider to be an Ironic Fashion and are not, in fact, in favor of rape.

But ironic or no, it's also obvious that walking around proclaiming yourself to be part of Team Rape is going to upset some people very badly. You coolkids may not care if people less ironic than yourself are made upset. But you can't very believably pretend to care and then wear the damn shirt yourself.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


There's an awesome review of Date Warp up at GameSetWatch, and a preview of Magical Diary at Gamezebo (although if you read this blog, you already know everything in that preview, so there's no need to look).

We're currently working on putting in a quickbar for spellcasting in the dungeons, so that you can save a bit of clicking when your preferred strategy involves casting Truesight on every nook and cranny just in case there's an invisible pink unicorn there. Actually, we have a bar sort-of working already, it's just not pretty enough for screenshots yet.

Magical Diary alpha-test updates are now hitting a big dead zone, partly because see-below, partly because things have been meandering along being fun and chummy up until Christmas break, but now as things become more serious I need to write events over a larger period that won't make sense released in bits and bites along the way. Don't know if I'm going to try and write all the paths simultaneously or one-at-a-time... one-at-a-time is easier on me but it will confuse testers more, unless I ONLY allow people to proceed if they're on a path that's being actively developed.

And with that, I'm disappearing for a week, because I'm off to a gaming convention to do tabletop and LARP stuff. I will be red-shirting for a starship simulator and tittering my way through a Victorian murder mystery, while trying not to freeze or fall off a cliff. (The location is an erosion zone. No gamers that I know of have gone off a cliff, but the cliffs grow ever closer.) There will almost certainly be Cthulhu at some point.

this is just wrong

Why does a game about fishing need a Halloween-style sexed-up girl in its advertising??

I mean, if she'd just been in a bikini, that would potentially make sense for the setting. I don't know if people fish in bikinis, but they at least go near the water that way. The game could have been entirely about people in swimsuits. BUT NO. Fully-dressed (and bizarrely proportioned) man. Woman in wacky "Sexy Boat Captain!" costume. WHYYYYY?

no one is surprised

Facebook games now to require only Facebook money with Facebook's cut of the Facebook profits.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

fun with hacking

if people didn't mod their games, we wouldn't have nonsense like this?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

because it worked so well on PCs

Rumor has it that Sony is going to start using serial keys on console games. Which sounds like a great way to annoy the happy sheep who just buy games and play them and never thought about hacking their system, until they start having trouble playing the games they already paid for on it...

How many PS3s come with an interface device that will make typing in serial codes practical? (I honestly don't know, as I don't care about those consoles.)

ow my poor delicate thumbs

I keep spending star coins to buy toad houses just so I can save the game because I can only play a level or two at a time.

Friday, 21 January 2011

a resounding 'enh'

I feel like I ought to mention this Magicka game because I stumbled across it and it's coming out soon, but I feel profoundly unimpressed by the trailers they've made available.

They're obviously going for a humorous tone, but I dunno, something about the humor makes me feel outside the joke rather than inside, even though I'm a massive geek.

There's a bit of "Look, I'm a man and I'm wearing a dress, HA-ha!" coming through in it that doesn't really help.

But it's co-op and stuff blows up a lot so it might be more fun than it feels?


What's the point of calling your game 'Dino Rpg' when you're still just raising/battling MONS and not DINOSAURS?

Is it so hard to make a proper dinosaur battle, hmm? :)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

when is a facebook game just a game

I still don't really mess around with these facebook things, but this description of Dungeon Overlord sounds vaguely playable.

GarageGames presses 'continue'

I never actually got into Torque, but probably happy news for people who use these tools.

Welcome Back GarageGames!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

the past is a foreign country

An addendum to my earlier posts on the subject...

While reading through reviews of trashy romance novels (I love them! The reviews, I mean. I don't read the actual books, the reviews are far more entertaining!) I stumbled into a review of a "bisexual" romance novel, something I didn't even know existed (There's a romance category for stories in which the hero has both a boyfriend and a girlfriend? Heh.) and from there, to a discussion the author was having over people being puzzled by her treatment of the homosexual side of the love affair in a historical romance.

Reading the actual journal link will tell you what book I am spoiling the plot of, and I won't say it here, but basically the book includes at some point a same-sex marriage ceremony. In Olde Englande. Shokku! But, as the author points out, they actually happened. Sure, it wasn't exactly legal and being caught being gay got you hanged, but they still existed and held wedding ceremonies, that's not a modern invention.

Doesn't mean this sort of thing has to be included in every story, but it's not "fake" to include it!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A bit of a ramble

Very few people make their greatest masterpiece on their first try. It's not impossible, but it's not likely. Many creative people loathe their past work, or even their current work that they're stuck in the middle of, because they're well aware that they're so much better now than they were when they started, and the next thing they make is really going to be something.

(... Not like I've recently hidden the existence of a bunch of older games from my site or anything ...)

What's sometimes overlooked in the endless grumbling about quality is that trying tends to lead to getting better, and not trying tends to accomplish nothing. That's always been one of the stated reasons for certain friendly communities to encourage people to finish a game, any game, even if it's crap. Because solely by going through that process, you learn things. Not enough! But you learn.

Trying to discourage people might lower the number of terrible games in existence, but it won't do anything to raise the number of non-terrible games.

And if a game comes out and it's crap, and it causes someone to look at it and think "I can do better than that!" Then it might help stimulate some competitive growth. How many indie game developers have started down this path by seeing a mainstream video game and thinking they had a better idea?

Dungeons of Dredmor

Can't say much about a game that isn't actually out yet, but this looks cool.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

not for me

as I don't own any iDevices nor am I exactly the target market, but I am still amused that this exists.

Mini Gay Boyfriend

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

And speaking of...

Sony Could Disable Jailbroken PS3s

Even if you've never signed up for a PSN account, your console will communicate with Sony servers every time it boots up. That initial load process is used to upload error logs, download updates to the "What's New" module, and a list of recently-run applications, including any unauthorized backup manager software.

Sony has yet to ban any consoles for taking advantage of the jailbreak, but the terms and conditions of the PlayStation Network make it clear that Sony has the authority to carry them out. Thanks to the system's constant self-reporting feature, "the company even has the means to irrevocably disable your console should it so wish," rendering affected PS3 consoles unusable, online and off.

Now, I never use the PS3, and the person who does use it has no interest in homebrew or hacking or anything, so it's not a concern... that is, it's not a concern that anything will happen because of anything we've actually done wrong. But it is a concern that someone will simply screw up and poof, there goes your stuff.

Report: 3DS will not be purchased by me

Not like I needed much help to make that decision, what with my own visual difficulties with 3d making me extremely unenthused by the "exciting" new effects (which I may not be even able to perceive!) and the focus on gameplay of sorts that I don't like, and my memories of the Virtual Boy, and the health warnings reporting that the stupid thing is dangerous to use...

But no, they had to decide to add region-locking TO A HANDHELD. You know, a console used by PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL.

Why do companies keep actively refusing to take my money?

Oh well, at least I'll hopefully be able to clean up on all the games I haven't played yet when stupid trendy people decide to 'move on' to a system that refuses to let them play games on it. There's tons of DS stuff I haven't had time for yet. I'm set for a long time.

Monday, 10 January 2011

PN 03

Okay, I'd never heard of this game, but apparently it was by the same people who did Bayonetta. Which is NOT AT ALL a surprise when you see this:

(Warning - Weirdly sexed-up video game heroine cotained within. I expect I would find that pretty annoying if I were actually playing the game, but out of context and in a music video, it's so ridiculous it's funny. To me. :) )

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Technical Difficulties

So, a while back, I thought about how long it was taking me to complete Magical Diary and how much the huge sea of possibilities needs to be tested, and decided to open an alpha/preorder option for people who were willing to buy into an unfinished product at a discount and help move it along.

The problem is, of course, that it's in development. Really heavily in development. Things are being added all the time. So my usual practice of giving everyone fullbuilds and manually issuing them new downloads when new versions come out just wasn't going to cut it, it would be far too much work.

My original plan was to sell people passwords and drop builds into a locked directory somewhere and let them download the latest build when they felt like it. But no, Spiky Caterpillar wanted to try something different. AN UPDATER.

In an ideal world this means people can push a button and magically connect to the patch server, have it determine what files they need to bring their game up to speed, and have those files be supplied so that they can smoothly carry on playing. In an ideal world. Of course that's a lot easier said than done, because of the need to make all sorts of entirely different GUI for anything customer-facing (like PROGRESS INDICATORS. Downloading 40MB with no sign that you're doing anything at all sucks.) And other things. You can't replace files in the game while it's running and have it actually recognise them, that's not a surprise, it does have to restart after putting new files in. That part works pretty well. WinXP was a little picky at first about certain files being replaced while they were 'open' but we got around that and it seemed like it was working.

Of course as soon as it was handed to any users it has run into access errors again. So SOME people can patch, but not all, yet. When the game is finally finished it won't really matter, because updates shouldn't happen often, so if someone can't patch I can just give them a new installer. But I really hope we can make it work for preorder folk. It'll end up giving a bit of a 'serial' feeling to the game, if you keep getting a little bit more story every week or so... :)

Speaking of which, if we can make the updater work for enough people, I have ideas of actually doing a free serial kinetic novel that way. Tune in next week for the latest chapter! Don't know if it'll actually happen because I am terribly busy, but it's an interesting idea. BUT we have to get this thing working robustly first.

At least the traceback uploader appears to be working out so far. But even if that confused players, it will still have been worth it, because it made it so much easier for ME to send tb's to Spiky while doing development!

Anyway with all the fooling around needed to get an updater running and enough GUI in place to give a build to testers, I haven't done much writing in the past week and need to get back on schedule... Surely there's only another 50K or so to go, right?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Love For Sail

So, I got bored enough waiting for the caterpillar to wake up and work on our patcher problems to dig out the CD for a Leisure Suit Larry (classic) game that I never played back in the day. I found this floating around a junk shop for... a dollar or less, I can't remember. And somebody has a website with installer modifications to make it run on XP.

It's *weird* looking at this from a modern perspective, though. All this cartoony art that desperately wants to be vector but we hadn't gotten to that point yet so it's got junky pixel edges...

Dear Stan Woo

Just because some guy on a blog somewhere ranted that Dragon Age was too fluffy because people weren't as oppressed as they were in the Witcher is no reason to start your OWN complaint that Bioware could not possibly put dark-skinned humans in the sequel without ushering in a creative apocalypse.

As some other people discussing the subject have pointed out, his public (and pseudo-official, since he posts as a known Bioware employee) dismissal of the issue seems at odds with what was presumed to be company policy - one person who played Awakening (I didn't) commented that there was much more variation in skin-color among the NPCs in that expansion than Origins, and the whole thing about your family in the upcoming DA2 having flexible designs to match the coloring of the player-designed PC, all of this seemed to suggest Bioware was trying to address the perceived shortcomings of Origins when it came to inclusiveness. Maybe he didn't get the memo?

Ah, the dangers of engaging with the player community.


So, someone was talking about 'social games' not being either games or social.

It's true that many facebook gamethings, especally in the past, didn't quite qualify under traditional definitions of game. As I understand it, there are more gamey games turning up in facebook nowadays, as well as hybrids with some gamey elements and some pay-money elements and some spread-this-meme elements and so on. But not being a game doesn't mean things can't be entertaining, toys and 'play' aren't games but people still enjoy them. So. Discounting that.

Are social games actually social? I don't really know because I don't play them. Do people ever interact within the games other than just clicking on something to send points to someone else? If your friends can come into your garden and plant special flowers in their own unique chosen pattern so that you can get 'Rex Was Here' spelled out in roses, that is interaction, but I have no idea if it happens. Do cool, unique-to-you things ever happen in these games that you might want to talk about with others? Do any of the games allow for sufficient player creativity that your results might be interesting to share and compare with other players for reasons other than to get more virtual credits?

On Terrible Copy Protection

Not being British, I missed out on some "great ideas" like this: the Lenslok.

The two most irritating copy-protection schemes I encountered back in the old days (both from Sierra games)had different flaws. One had the flaw of completely interrupting your game. As I recall it, in QFG4, there was a puzzle that required you to reply to randomly coded questions. The codes were stored on the game disks, and given computer limitations at the time, required me to write down the question, quit the game, load up the code info, look up the answer, write that down, and then start up the game again in order to enter it. More than once. Urgh. (My memory may be failing slightly, but that's how I remember it - the file was on the CD because they couldn't bother printing a manual. Admittedly, this meant you couldn't LOSE it, see below)

The other was a good idea poorly executed. It was a mystery game and the copy protection required identifying a fingerprint, which you could look at on a codesheet with a special red-filter magnifying glass. Unfortunately, both the sheet and the 'magnifying glass' were as flimy as possible, and very soon LOST, making the game rather problematic to play. If they'd made decent feelies out of the copy protection it would have worked a lot better IMO.

Monday, 3 January 2011