Friday, 31 August 2012

the future of ownership

So, apparently City of Heroes is shutting down. I have the sads.

It's pretty much the only MMORPG I ever really played. Sure, I've been bullied into free trials of things here and there, and I spent a brief period of time in World of Warcraft before having my account hacked and deciding it wasn't worth the hassle. In ALL of these cases someone pretty much had to buy the game for me and tell me to play it because there's no way I'll waste money on these things.

And this is why. Now the game will be gone. The game that we spent quite a lot of money on over the years... a handful of monthly fees for me, a lot more plus the box copies and then all the weird DLC crap my husband bought after it went f2p. The game that was pretty entertaining to load up just to play witht he character creator even if you didn't feel like playing. Gone.

Of course, it should also be obvious that I haven't touched the thing in who knows how long. I'm far too busy and MMORPGs don't play well with my distracted gaming style and occasional net interruptions. But as usual it is still highly irritating that the game I played (primarily as a single-player experience because I'm not social, but occasionally with my husband) will be taken away and there's not much I can do about it (other than hunt for legally dubious fan servers which probably exist somewhere, I don't know).

Insert my usual rant about DRM and MMORPGs and all that nonsense, I'm honestly getting tired of saying it. I'm tired of being asked to pay for things that will be taken away from me. I'm tired of knowing that this is apparently a better business model than actually selling stuff like I do. Sigh.


Another interesting item spotted through someone's greenlight thread:

This isn't quite a complete game yet though, it's due out this fall. I think. But it looks adorable and the sort of thing I'm into.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Scheherazade is hard to spell!

Here's an interesting project from the makers of Academagia:

(Click through to see video properly)

And like Academagia or Long Live The Queen, it looks like there are a lot of skills and you'll be able to make use of them to shape the way your character handles her adventures. I don't know yet if it will be as VICIOUS as LLTQ though :)

The main game's webpage is here. It's not done yet.

Project can also be found on Greenlight... as, for that matter, can several other games, such as Science Girls and Date Warp. So if you want to see this sort of thing on Steam, get in there. Otherwise, stay tuned for more info when this title is complete.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

corporate takeover from hell

Plot bunny I'm not likely to pursue - a story set in a game design company. Your bosses have just completely screwed you over, selling the company to a new owner and forcing you to lose your benefits and take a massive paycut. There's office politics and romance going on, and everyone's very edgy and whispering behind your back. But at you go along you realise that there are worse things at work than your project being turned into an adware vehicle... because this is actually a lovecraftian horror story and your new owner has PLANS.

RPG meandering

So, in our large stack of game plans we may never finish, I've had Spiky looking at the feasibility of trying to do something like an old Baldur's Gate style RPG. Don't get your hopes up, it may never happen.

This game would have a defined set of characters available in your party although you would have some options to tweak them as you leveled up. For various reasons I don't want a mage class. There will be magic, but I'm currently envisioning it as ITEM based and something that everyone can use. This may be a bad idea, as it's making it harder to figure out my character types. Concepts being played with so far:

The Hunter - Ranged-weapon specialist with a mechanical bent. Starts with a rifle (this setting is punky enough for guns, but not handguns) May choose to use bows later because they're more quiet. Can track, pick locks, set and remove traps. Cannot move with stealth, but can hide in position and wait for something to walk up and BOOM headshot.

The Gymnast - This is the one who can sneak and scout without being detected. Can jump over small obstacles, or the heads of enemies, giving her terrain-covering powers no one else has. Is a melee fighter who prefers small, light weapons and speed attacks. Knowledge of anatomy gives her special attacks to temporarily disable enemies as well as damage (trip, hamstring). Can also enter dodge mode and make herself harder to hit.

The Amazon - The strength-based melee fighter with a little bit of beserker. Uses heavier weapons. Can charge at enemies and knock them back. Also has a range of special powers I can't describe because spoilers, but just assume this is your power hitter.

The Cheerleader - This is one of the character types I'm not so clear on. Intent is to be a leader/buffer type character who can boost the powers of her teammates. If this is turn-based, she can pass her action points to others, which is a big deal. If it's not turn-based it's a little more confusing how to make her sufficiently useful. Not sure what her own personal combat powers should look like either. A search suggests there is a cheerleader class in one of the Disgaea games, maybe I should look there.

The Oracle - This was not an original party member, but I was looking at Sinister Design's comments on tactical combat which claimed that four just isn't enough for a party. So this is a 'maybe' character who I'm still having trouble with the usefulness of. It's NOT a wizard, but a Psionics/Divination class. She can Detect stuff. Find traps, spot invisible/stealthy monsters, locate nearest X (monster, rest point, exit?), determine remaining health of enemies, etc. Has a special attack along the lines of True Strike to allow her to do massive damage. Can tag an individual monster and get a bonus against it because she's sensing what it will do next. Can enter Counterattack mode and get a free hit against anything that hits her (predicting the openings they'll leave).

Are these sufficiently differentiated and understandable?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

ef - the first tale

There's a trial version out now for ef - the first tale (Link goes to site with NSFW stuff on it, although I doubt the trial itself contains any such.)

While I currently suspect the game is a little too slow-life-stuff for my personal tastes*, it is worth taking a look at for the way they try to break up the static views of typical VN conversations. It requires more art than most of us indies can pull off, but hey, technique is technique.

If you don't want to download the trial, you can also get a look at the style through this handy video of the first half hour or so of the game.

(Linked here in small size because of the blog layout, but you probably want to go through and have a better look at proper res.)

* - which would be why I bought Kara no Shoujo instead. Also, I'm having a tough time finding a decent review of just the first tale in order to figure out whether I'd really want to play all the way through.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Old School Dungeoning

There's a contest over on The Secret DM for people to win cool prizes by designing and submitting old-school dungeons in honor of Gary Gygax. So get out your graph paper!

Follow the link above for all the details on exactly what to make, where to send it, and what cool prizes you can receive.

scenic anchorhead, guided tour

So, shuffling Spiky through the game, so far things we had to consult Help for:

obtaining the key to the attic door, because the puzzle is SO old and SO hoary that it's fallen completely out of favor by now and I'd forgotten that used to be a thing

obtaining the small copper key, because the particular mode of pushing someone into telling us things didn't quite occur to us, even though we had the relevant information and had puzzled at it

My memory of the game as a whole is shaky enough that I'm not capable of providing too many spoilers and can mostly help with puzzles honestly. I remember the ending (too well) and bits and pieces of the upcoming dangers but not enough to matter.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


Check out this indie RPG project!

I haven't had time to play the demo yet, but from the video it looks like... ah, heck, why waste my time summing up when I can just cut and paste?


Underrail is an old school turn-based isometric indie role playing game that focuses on exploration and combat. It's inspired by western RPG classics such as Fallout, Arcanum, Neverwinter Nights and System Shock 2.


The game is set in a distant future, when the life on the Earth’s surface has long since been made impossible and the remnants of humanity now dwell in the Underrail, a vast system of metro station-states that, it seems, are the last bastions of a fading race.

The player takes control of one of the denizens of such a station-state whose life is about to become all that much more interesting and dangerous, as our protagonist is caught amidst the conflicting factions of the Underrail as they secretly but violently struggle for the Humanity’s last gem of hope.


Great character customization possibilities through stats, skills, feats, items and more that allows for many different play-styles

Tactical turn based combat that utilizes weapons, energy shields, grenades, psi abilities and more

Vast underground world to explore: city states, abandoned building complexes, natural caverns, secret areas and more

Elaborate item crafting system

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Kara No Shojo

Two girls with the same name. No voice acting. See, if there were side images, this would be easier! :)

Friday, 24 August 2012


So I realised that Spiky had never played Anchorhead. And as I love story-based games and he digs Lovecraft, I had to bully him into playing RIGHT NOW.

Admittedly we did not download the new fancy deluxe version of the game. And maybe the linux interpreter he's using is fiddlier than some. But we seem to be having a lot more parser trouble than I expected, with a lot of need to frustratingly rephrase things in order to get commands to be accepted (I don't mean wrong verb, I mean disambiguation problems.)

And while it was partly his fault for wrestling with an object that clearly wasn't meant to be used that way, he seems to have managed to make a useful object actually disappear from the game. He took a box containing Stuff and tried to put it inside another box, which failed, but the Stuff went silently poof at this point. No indication given, so it took a very long time to realise that the Stuff was gone...

But don't let this dissuade you. If you haven't played it, you still ought to. Just don't try to cram boxes inside smaller boxes!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

late night thoughts

I wonder how much "dumbing down" of games comes out of the deep frustration of writers/developers watching players/reviewers insistently miss the point over and over again.

Not just games, though. I've seen reviews of authors whose works got much more Anvilicious as they went along. Part of me is wondering if that comes out of the little voices in their heads screaming "FOR GOODNESS SAKE I AM TRYING TO SAY THAT MISOGYNY IS BAD!" to people who Just Don't Get It.

Unspeakably Epic

While I have somewhat fallen out of the old IF scene, I do occasionally manage to read a game or two, and I have very fond memories of games experienced only through reading reviews.

This review is worth whole new kinds of gold stars. Warning, though, the game in question involves adult content, and the review itself contains some language that will set off a few Safe For Work filters.

Monday, 20 August 2012

signal boost

Reposting from the Let's Play thread:

Dangan Ronpa is now available on iOS. A free download from the Japanese appstore gets you the first chapter of the game, with the rest available as in-app purchase. The whole game costs 2000 yen, which is about $25. Considering it probably costs about three times as much to import the game, I'd say it's a good price to pay.

The app is universal, customised for both the iPhone and the iPad (iPhone 4 or 4S required). It features retina graphics that look better than PSP in the appstore screenshots. An Android version is also supposed to come out, but the news I've read only mentioned iOS for now.

Getting a Japanese account to download the free chapter is easy and guides are readily available elsewhere. Once downloaded, you can switch back to your original iTunes account and still play the game. If you want to buy the game without a Japanese credit card, there are several places online that sell Japanese iTunes gift cards you can use to charge the account with.

Here's the iTunes link. If you like this game and LP, I'd like nothing more than if you give some money back to the creators. Now there's a fairly easy way to do so. Who knows, maybe if they see a bunch of downloads from non-Japanese IP addresses they might think again about an official localisation.

In case you've missed my earlier comments, this is an awesome semi-VN (There are choices, but the plot doesn't actually branch, and there are a lot of minigames) involving murder mysteries and bizarre characters, currently Japanese only and being Let's Played on Something Awful.

As I do not have an iphone or ipad this is still not much use to me, and I have no idea how many people are willing to jump through these hoops for a game they still can't really read, but one can always hope. I'd certainly love to see these games brought over into English. 999 did okay, right?

... however, if anyone knows where I can lay hands on a monobear hoodie, DO WANT.

Friday, 17 August 2012

just your friendly reminder

While Steam is a DRM that most people like, it still is one. Your games still work at their sufferance. And they can hold those games hostage whenever they want.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


And then on the other side, you have (old) games like this thing which clearly had A plot... but what on earth was it?

(Apparently there's a wiki and it makes sense to somebody but...)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Remember Me

No, not the dating sim. This:

I have really confused mixed reactions to this. I often hear people complaining about games turning too much into movies. This is the first time I've noticed seeing a game *really* advertised as if it were a movie... and looking at that, I think I'm going to be disappointed that it isn't one.

Because whatever it is, I can't actually play it... I'm shit at big fancy 3d consoles. So any curiosity I have about the plot will never be answered.

Maybe they'll make an anime of it! (Yeah right.)

(Also unsurprisingly youtube commenters continue to be subhuman trolls and at least one is commenting that they don't want to play any game where they have to play as a female because that's gay.)

Monday, 13 August 2012

oh THAT's what the fuss was about on twitter

Some people assume we all read the same sources and make cryptic references without context!

So, okay, this happened:

A developer of Borderlands 2 has infuriated many gamers after describing a new, easier version of the shooter as "girlfriend mode".

John Hemingway, lead designer at Gearbox Software, made the comments to Eurogamer while on a studio tour.

The 'mode' in question takes the form of a fifth character class, where one early skill called "close enough" lets players with poor aim progress through the game. Designed to help new gamers, and those who "suck at first-person shooters", Hemingway said the "girlfriend mode" essentially makes it impossible to miss a target.

"I want to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree," Hemingway told Eurogamer. "This is, I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone but they suck at first-person shooters."

What it is, is a perfectly reasonable feature to add... described by an idiot who makes sex-based assumptions and thinks they're no big deal.

And no surprise, the president of the company jumps onto the internet not to apologise for poor communication/sensitivity skills, but to defend his team and insist that "There is no universe where Hemmingway is a sexist - all the women at Gearbox would beat his and anyone else's ass."

Yeah, you know? That doesn't actually make someone not sexist. (For that matter, getting your ass kicked "by a girl" makes some people more resentful.)

I don't know either of these dudes, obviously. With no further context, it doesn't sound like the guy is a woman-hating kind of sexist. I certainly wouldn't assume that he has ever or would ever hurt anyone. That would be a ludicrous leap to make.

But does he make sexist assumptions? DUH. YES. RIGHT THERE.

Is this a rare thing? No. Heck, even I make those assumptions at times because we're so used to hearing these stereotypes over and over again that we tend to believe them even if we ought to know better. I'll assume that certain games and certain hangouts are "a guy thing" and that anyone present is probably male. But when pointed out that I'm being an idiot? I can say "Oops, sorry."

Friday, 10 August 2012

it is a puzzlement

Why would you bother putting complicated gameplay in your game if it was going to take multiple hours of straight reading in order to get there? Surely anyone who would be pulled into the game by the promise of the battles rather than the reading would have tried to strangle you to death long before then.

And sure, I've had some sulks from a few players about Magical Diary's RPG side being smaller than they hoped it would be, but at least it didn't take you five hours to find a dungeon. Princess Waltz also sort of underuses its mechanic, but again, I don't remember it being *too* ridiculous about getting to your first fight, and it wasn't really billed as an RPG anyway.

Been a while since I played it, though. Perhaps I forget.

Anyway, I suppose I should update my promotion of Aselia the Eternal to warn that it's not a good idea for someone who is looking for an RPG but doesn't dig visual novels.