Thursday, 31 March 2011

small world

I can't play the ipad version because I don't have one, but I have played Small World and find it a lot of fun. Somehow, it manages to be sufficiently fast, light, and random that I (as someone who is not a big fan of war/strategy) don't feel overwhelmed or bored, and yet still entertains my more wargamey friends.

... of course, if I'd known there was a "Look! Tits!" expansion, I might have raised more eyebrows. That never came near our table. And what's the point? You have a cute little wargame that (based on our small sample size) is reasonably girl-friendly - was this a misguided attempt at attracting more female players, or a reassurance to macho players that the game wasn't "for kids"? Sure, it's silly, I'm sure the game is just as much fun with these races on it, but that cover art is not an accident. What were they trying to achieve there?

It looks like they might have been races designed by (male) players as part of a contest...

shady dealings

As I have repeatedly stated, I refuse to buy a 3DS anyway because of my objection to Nintendo's new business practices. I have no interest in owning a console that I would have to crack just to be able to play things I purchased on it. What's the point?

So the idea that stores are sneakily trying to backstab each other over the launch copies doesn't affect me personally.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

today in fun with dialog flags

Magical Diary script writing is now reaching Valentine's Day.

That means you might have sent valentines to people and they might have sent valentines to you.

The type of valentines on offer can vary, depending on whether or not you're playing Class Treasurer and have decided to alter the default settings.

Each type of valentine can be addressed with multiple tones - romantic, friendly, or humorous.

You can send valentines to people even if you're not on their path. Even if they hate you.

So there has to be a slew of possible reactions depending on what sort of valentine you sent, what tone you wrote it in, and how the person you sent it to feels about you... and then there's all of THEIR valentines for YOU to receive as well...

All of this comes down to only a line or two for each possibilities. But there are a lot of possibilities.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


I've been playing Academagia slightly obsessively lately, catching up with the latest content, and wondering if I should make use of illegal mind-control magic to try and get the two nerdy girls to stop fighting so I can keep them both in my clique and RULE THE WORLD.

... well, not actual illegal mind-control magic, not on this particular character who hasn't managed to learn it. But she has got amazingly good powers of (wait for it) calligraphy. So good, that there is a slim chance she can write people instructions that look so polished and professional that they will reflexively obey.

See, there are two very nerdy girls with similar special powers, and perhaps to prevent you from powergaming too much, they can't stand each other. I had them both in my clique early on, but then they started fighting and ever since if I try to befriend them both, my entire clique immediately implodes and they BOTH stomp off. I no longer need their special powers this late in the game, I simply have a vague desire to find out if it's possible to get them patched up. Many ridiculous things are possible! But there are a lot more skills in the game to make people hate each other than to make them like each other - you can make them like YOU but that doesn't help with this situation. However, if I used mind control (or, um, calligraphy) to seize control of one of them, MAYBE I could then make them be friendly to each other...

EDIT: Apparently not, sadly - I can seize control of one and tell her to be friendly in general, but I STILL can't seem to make her be friendly with who I want her to be friendly with. Even with mind-control powers! Alas.


Strange things found on the Internet today - a "cute" game about trying to shoot through the nooses of hanged schoolgirls in short skirts before they die of strangulation, without 'accidentally' shooting the girls. People are WEIRD.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

some correlation between whining and victory

Again, once I complain about being stuck I manage to unstick myself - using the exact same strategy, only this time it worked. There's enough tiny little random steps along the way that the same battleplan might go completely differently if the dominoes line up. I am now past Belberith and therefore ALMOST DONE.

... with a first ending. out of i don't know how many.

... Although there is a NewGamePlus mode so it should be easier to go through on play two at least. How eager I am to try out other endings will probably depend on how interesting this one is.

insert quarter try again

Dear game - You know who you are. You're begging for my attention. You are desperately trying to interest games journalists with how edgy and offensive you are, while swearing that you're not deliberately trying to shock. Sorry. I'm not even going to mention you by name or respond to your shenanigans with anything more than an eyeroll and an "Oh, please."

Saturday, 19 March 2011

truly stuck this time?

Lack of updates in Devil Survivor because I've reached Beelzebub (well, they spell it differently) and there's nothing I can do, I can't even grind at this point because they've stopped providing monsters that give more than 10 XP for that purpose. It has more range than I do, it's tough to all forms of damage, and it has a special attack that can not only kill my characters BEFORE they get a turn in order to use the antidote, but turns them into more monsters. Also it can't be blocked by, like, anything.

I don't see how that's possible to fight, really. The best I can do so far is stay out of range and kill off the minor minions, but that doesn't really help when I insta-die if I come near the big boss.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

other people I hate

So, apparently it's BAFTA game awards time, and sadly, some people are paying attention as if it were an actual contest.

My bitterness, it knows no bounds.

It's like that sad day when you discover that there is no Easter Bunny, and you wonder why people have been lying to you all your life. (Which didn't actually happen to me, but I've heard for some, this is traumatic.)

Or like that disturbing day when you realise that legal adulthood doesn't magically grant you an understanding of the world or any idea of what to do next.

Or like that terrifying day when you realise that nobody else knows either and that the fate of the world is in their hands.

... I guess maybe compared to that last, the existential angst of realising that most 'awards' come from a place of deep bias affected by money and don't convey any actual meaning seems pretty small. But it still sucks.

not morbid really

You know, past the joke, I can actually see this as a worthwhile feature in an RPG.

Particularly one of the ones where you are supposed to break into some noble's enormous house to steal something, and it's packed full of human guards that you get to slaughter without repercussions, but you COULD use stealth if you felt like it, it's just that nobody bothers...

Chaos Stream

A shmup someone's working on that uses the most retro of retro graphics... ascii.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

minecraft magnets

Build the world - on your refrigerator

today on missing the point theatre

The Escapist is running an article on the 'Princess Problem' that seems a little bit lost.

Princesses are also embarrassingly weak. In an age when we are accustomed to seeing sassy and resilient heroines with actual depth, the image of a timid young woman desperately yearning for a knight to whisk her away is so pathetic it's uncomfortable. There's a tendency to think this weakness stems from an outdated gender stereotype - that because these stories were written so long ago, they cast women in roles both passive and powerless. You only have to look at the wicked witches and the domineering stepmothers, however, to realize that this is not the case at all. These characters hold plenty of power, and they wield it with a calculating intellect. So princesses aren't weak because they're women; they're weak because they're princesses.

Evil women are strong. Good women are weak. [sarcasm]There's no gender stereotype problem at all there![/sarcasm]

They're not weak because they're princesses, they're weak because they've been written as goal-objects rather than characters. THere are hordes of video games with the exact same null position held by a female character who is NOT a princess. Usually, it's the main character's girlfriend, although it might be his boss's daughter or something.

That meme is so persistent that it even turns up in games about robots which have no need for gender or useless girlfriends.

Of course it's a stupid threadbare excuse plot. Of course it's bad writing. But it's something that people fall back on time and time again if they don't have any better ideas. And why they fall back on 'save the girl' as a goal rather than 'save the guy' is more about gender and culture than just about princesses. :)

It's not like there aren't any active, outgoing princesses in fiction, or even in video games. Especially nowadays, where there's a tendency to slap 'princess' onto any female character in the hopes of attracting a princess-loving audience.


I know how irresistible it can be to weigh in on user ratings of your product and try to counteract the negative reviews of idiots who probably haven't even played the thing.

But when you generate a fluff account to post a fake review about how great your product is, try not to use one linked to your real name, it's a bit easy to catch. :)

(seen also at Dragon Age 2 Conspiracy)

Honestly, I've seen a LOT of dodgy reviews on the internet. I was looking at some guy's books on amazon, and the books looked AWFUL, the worst kind of vanity press, and the reviews were half one-star and half five-star. All the five-star reviews, if you checked, the reviewers had ONLY ever voted reviews on that guy's books. That's obviously suspicious, and if the author himself is making fake accounts and voting his books up, that's unethical. But what if those reviewers are friends of his? Real people who either share his tastes in writing and actually think his books don't suck, or who like their pal enough to claim they do? The reviews are just as meaningless, but are they actually unethical? I don't know. I'm largely content that Amazon makes it possible to track the reviewer's other reviews so that I can identify and ignore such data.

I tend to think it's tacky to beg my fans to go vote for me but I see people doing it all the time and I'm not sure there's anything actually unethical about it.

Someone claiming to have been the guy who originally discovered the connection says he was immediately banned from the Bioware forums for bringing it up. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering the OTHER recent big story of getting banned for criticising Bioware...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

past belial

Character strength really moves in huge leaps and bounds - it's easy to go from 'completely, absolutely outclassed' to 'kicking ass and taking names' unexpectedly, making it hard to figure out when I really AM stuck. :) Well, that, and losing a few times helps you learn what the AI is going to do so you can come loaded for bear.

In this case, victory was largely achieved through Yuzu+team having craploads of offensive ice powers and damage bonuses, plus distance attack and two Attack modes per turn. Everybody else was just blocking paths to keep her covered while she shattered Belial.

we get signal

Apparently there's a sort-of-VN/sim-type-game on the iphone about Kennedy and Cuba.

Apparently, it's sort of terrible.


I'm now at a battle with Belial that is making me take back my kind thoughts about the game earlier. The only free battle available for grinding is very short and very easy, I can blast through it without being touched. I can't come anywhere near surviving the Belial battle, though, and I'm limited in what things I can do to attempt it. Not to mention being forced to play through a long cutscene full of choices every time I start said battle.

Not Happy.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Man With Invisible Trousers

I mentioned it on twitter but it's worth saying again, I am enjoying the style of this game. Noir detective platformer with weird physics (you can walk up walls as long as there's a curve, and gravity is wherever you are oriented) an apparently dynamic plot to keep things interesting, and invisible legs to keep you on your unseen toes while figuring out jumps.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

damned with faint praise

Despite them giving it an 8 and calling it still pretty good, this review has solidly put the lid on ANY desire on my part to play DA2.

Previously it was "maybe in a few months when I'm less busy". If that review is accurate, it's just dropped to "Maybe when it costs $10, because $20 would be better spent on an indie game"

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Adventurers

'Indiana Jones In A Box'

(Note - I haven't played this game myself. I hadn't even heard of it.)

another bit about consoles

ESPECIALLY for a game like Devil Survivor that has multiple paths and tons of choices and all kinds of ways to screw yourself out of objectives, it is really annoying having only ONE save file.

I decided to do a playthrough without following guides to see what happens, but I'm not sure I'm going to have the energy to start from scratch again to get different outcomes. (I'm on day 5 or 6 at the moment, I forget which. One of the days where you're at 0.)

quoting out of context

from a review for DA2 which of course I have not played and will not for quite a while

Your mannerisms and choices will affect how your companions feel about you, but instead of only rewarding the player for placating, say, your friend Anders' desire for all mages to be free from the Circle, you also gain benefits from a contentious relationship. Get far along enough on either end of the spectrum from Friend to Rival and your companion will receive strong (and distinct) bonuses to combat.

I love this system, because it encourages you to make solid roleplaying decisions early. If you waffle and try to make nice when you actually can't stand Anders and his heavy-handed "Mages rock!" political stance, then you get no benefit at all. If I've learned anything from a lifetime of RPGs, mechanics that support storytelling and vice versa are the goal of all good game design and Dragon Age II manages this perfectly.

Gosh, yes, because pushing players to be ALL ONE WAY or ALL THE OTHER WAY is such a huge advancement in roleplaying. Balance and nuance is obviously a weak roleplaying decision, don'tchaknow?

Did I mention that lack of a third option was one of the things I really really hated about KOTOR? Especially given the complicated backstory of the protagonist of the first game, there were possibilities for several quite meaningful plotlines as we moved towards the endgame which were all cut out in favor of Good Or Bad, Take Your Pick.

For a series for which grey areas were a theme ingredient in the first entry, this is not an appetising advertisement. Of course, this is more a whine at the reviewer than a whine at the game, as it's possible (I don't know yet) that making choices that keep me in middle ground with a character will still lead to a satisfying roleplay experience for me.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I saw screens and trailers of this and was confused. All the marketing talked about was the story, all the trailer mostly showed was animation, but I was pretty sure nobody was releasing a VN onto the PS3 in English. So what _was_ this? An RPG? A platformer? Something else?

According to wikipedia, it's an "action adventure puzzle platformer". I'm... not sure that actually narrows it down much. :)

As best I can tell, though, it's a game soaked entirely in the mythology of being a guy who is incredibly crap at dealing with women (AND men but in different ways) and yet gets tangled up with multiple crazy gorgeous girls and proceeds to hang out in a bar, get drunk, waffle about fear of commitment, and suck at everything. It's hard for me to be excited about putting myself in those shoes. (Of course, as a console game I can't play it anyway. I wonder if anyone will produce a cutscene-only version of it?)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

on the other hand

... this game DOES play pretty fair, you always have the option of grinding for levels and cash, and while my character levels were fine I hadn't been keeping my monsters up to snuff and desperately needed higher-level pets. with them in place the fight was not hard.

edit: And then the game crashed again. Argh.

why I hate console RPGs

I can't even vaguely imagine how I'm supposed to win the Beldr battle on Day 3, and I can't cheat because it's a console game. If I don't think of something I'm just stuck. I can't even reach Beldr, my entire party is dead long before being able to cross the battlefield.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

just another saturday night

Magical Diary Testers may notice that the game hasn't advanced much lately. Or rather, I've been doing a lot of writing, but the day-counter hasn't been moving at all. There's a reason for that.

On this particular Saturday, you might have a date scheduled with one of three different characters. The day before, a fourth character may show up and suddenly beg you to go out with him instead. You can reject him in favor of your original plan, reject your original plan in favor of him, or desperately try to juggle two dates on the same day. And when the actual Saturday rolls around, a fifth character might show up and supercede the entire plan.

So there's sort of a lot of options going on there, with not just all the romantic encounters, but everyone else's potential reactions to the encounters you schedule and which ones you do or don't manage to keep. Not to mention the romantic disaster going on behind the scenes with a couple of NPCs, whose problems have only been vaguely hinted at so far but are slowly going to become more relevant.

It's a very busy weekend.

Naturally, on any individual playthrough, you're only going to see a fraction of what's written for that weekend...


you know what's more annoying than long turn-based battles you can't surrender in the middle of?

long turn-based battles that CRASH.

Crashes are pretty rare on the DS but that doesn't make them less irritating when they finally occur.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

devil survivor again

Currently kinda stuck on a battle involving protecting Keisuke and Midori, because there are just too many possible lose conditions and it's a pain trying to get into position fast enough without being slaughtered in the process.

edit: naturally, after whining, I finally get through. gave up completely on speed and went for reach instead, plus some manipulation of monster AI.