Monthly Archives: February 2012

Double Fine uses Kickstarter to fund a new point-and-click adventure game

When I went to bed last night, I had no idea that Double Fine’s Tim Schafer had announced a new Kickstarter project, one asking for donations totaling $400,000 to fund and film the process of making a new “old school” graphic adventure game. When I got to work this morning and started clicking around the Interwebz while my emails downloaded I saw that this lofty goal–well, $400,000 is a lot of money in my mind–had already been met. Geez. Take that, rollercoasters that go from zero to sixty mph in three seconds. Without warning, two conflicting feelings hit me at once: rejoice and disappointment. Let me explain.

First, the rejoice. Good for them! Way to go, Double Fine! Way to go, adventure game fans everywhere! It’s always exhilarating to see a Kickstarter goal met so quickly, with passion and desire fueling every contribution. In his Kickstarter commercial, Schafer points out that if he were to go to a traditional publisher with the idea of putting out a new adventure game, he’d just get laughed at. And that’s probably true. The genre is certainly not dead, but it’s not as mainstream as first-person shooters or big budget epic RPG romps. By using Kickstarter, Double Fine can create a game for fans, funded by fans. That sounds pretty fantastic.

Second, the disappointment. I kind of feel like I went to bed and, unknowingly, in the next room over, a great ol’ happening party was happening. There was cake and spiked punch and board games and laughter and Queen’s greatest hits were playing in a constant loop and everyone was excited and so happy to be there. It was the type of party that would be talked about for days after. I missed all the action though. The party was a success, and I played no part in it. I could have and would have, but I was sleeping. I guess I’m just bummed that I didn’t get to be a part of making it happen, and am rather left to simply contribute a little more to the pile. I’m sure that sounds really stupid, but it’s how I feel.

There’s 33 days left to go for the Kickstarter, with extra funds being put towards making the game and documentary as strong as possible, as well as for porting it to other platforms, such as Mac and iOS. I might still donate for the $15 amount, likening it as a pre-order now that it’s clear that it will all come to fruition–or I might not. The game will get made, and Double Fine is tentatively shooting for an October 2012 release, wherein I could just wait and pick it up on Steam then if it looks like a grand time. Which it probably will, seeing who is behind it. I mean, I think people liked Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, and I know for certain that I enjoyed Costume Quest, as well as the core game ideas behind Brutal Legend and Stacking.

A lot of Kickstarters that I’m aware of are more for indie projects, so it was a little odd to see a known company like Double Fine using it to help get a game made. But to each their own, I guess. We are living in the future, after all. 2012 and flying cars and meals in pills. That said, where are the Kickstarters for Suikoden VI? Or Primal II? Or Jak 4? Well?

I now have two versions of the same named game

Last night, after some extensive Googling and checking of system specs, I purchased The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…for the second time. See, I already own a copy for the Xbox 360–even waited in line at my local GameStop for its midnight release back on that magical 11/11/11–but the Internet was all abuzz about the Creation Kit, which is the PC version’s modding toolset, and Steam was even going so far to knock the price down for the full game version from $60 to $40. Well, it seemed like my ASUS laptop could handle the beast, maybe not at its greatest settings, and so I plunked down my e-cash and drew some comics while I waited for the epic file to download.

And it works. And it works with an Xbox 360 controller plugged into the USB slot. And I can read ALL of the text. I’ve been playing Skyrim for so long as an illiterate Dovahkiin, and now I can actually enjoy those numerous books and bits of flavor text via quest progression. Let them shout it from the mountain. Plus, with the Creation Kit being tied to Steam, it seems like installing mods will be easy peasy. I haven’t tried anything just yet, but I will. There’s an arrowsmithing one that looks kinda neat; one could always use more glass arrows.

Let me just state that this is far from my usual routine. Generally, I have only one version of a videogame. Thinking on this, I can’t come up with many doubles in my collection. Between Tara and I, we have some Mario SNES carts and then them doubled on the Wii red box collection thingy. Two copies of Chrono Cross. From buying a few indie game bundles, I have duplicates ready for downloading. Other than that, um…nope. Just Skyrim. Go big or go home. But the promise of mods and the fulfillment of being able to read text has made getting a second copy of Skyrim worth it. Looking forward to diving back in…on medium or low settings. I have to wonder if there’s a way to bring my saves/character from the Xbox 360 over to Steam?

Playing the Ludum Dare 22 Winners, #4 – Final Trip Soccer

Like many, I was forced into competitive sports during my younger years, and I was never very good at any of them. I knew that then, and I know that now. In baseball, I mostly daydreamed in the outfield or sat on the bench, teaching myself how to juggle while other kids around me got mad and raged over things like striking out or missing an easy catch. For basketball, I did my best to stay out of everyone’s way and always passed the ball away a fraction of a second after it got deposited into my pale, weak hands. For soccer…actually, I had some good moments in soccer. Generally, I played defense, either as a sweeper or a dude that hung out near the goalie, kicking the ball away with a mighty foot; I do remember, however, taking an offensive role in one game, going so far as to even score once. Or maybe I just dreamed all that. Surely I was never any good at any kind of athletic activity…

That said, soccer in Final Trip Soccer, the number four spot from Ludum Dare 22‘s top 50 star-grabbers, is no stroll down a playing field. It’s actually your only weapon, your very chance for survival; better make sure your cleats are on nice and tight. Okay, let’s start at the start. A big soccer match gets interrupted when a UFO comes swooping in, eradicating everyone but you. Think your name is Nathan. It’s just you, a soccer ball, and an empty stadium. Here, you learn how to kick the soccer ball, which goes like so:

  • Move around: Use left, right, up, and down
  • Focus your kick power: Hold the Space bar down
  • Shoot the soccer ball: Release the Space bar
  • Control the soccer ball: Tap the Space bar when near the soccer ball

Those controls sound kind of simple, but they can be extremely frustrating. Controlling the soccer ball, which again I will mention is vital to Nathan’s survival, is a clumsy affair. If you get too close to the ball, you end up kicking it away, and generally, you are just trying to get close enough to charge up your focus power. Why? Oh, did I not mention that you have to kick the soccer ball at attacking alien blobs? Yup. Only a charged kick is strong enough to kill ’em. And with each successful screen, the number of enemies increases.

The premise and look of Final Trip Soccer are fantastic. It’s got this retro style, and the sound of charging you up your kick power will remind you fondly of Super Metroid and Mega Man X. Well, it did for me. Gameplay is a little slow, often requiring Nathan to constantly circle enemies or walk to the other end of the screen after a missed kick. I made it to the third screen, but a green-colored alien blob was too quick for me, and I was never able to get a focused kick against it. When you die, you just respawn on your current screen. I gave up after a few tries.

Final Trip Soccer is available to play via the Internet; give it a kick. And don’t let that jarring music on the start screen scare you away. And if you get farther than I did, please, tell me what happened.

Super Meat Boy is the beefiest platformer out there

Quick, look over there! It’s another Indie Impression, and this one’s based on Super Meat Boy.

As you’ll soon read, I was able to beat all the levels in the first world save for the final boss. I gave up after too many fruitless attempts to slide down a vanishing wall into a hole before a sawblade turned Meat Boy into bits for a shish kebob party. But it was still a good time, and I can see why many love the beefy platformer, but I just can’t see myself going on, especially if I was getting stuck so early on. But yeah, great controls, great style, great boy made of meat. Eat it up, you masochistic fanatics.

Resident Evil: Revelations is portable horror and so not for me

I’m attracted to horror games from a distance. Truly, I am. I just don’t enjoy playing them, and this is pretty evident with the fact that Silent Hill 2 still remains unfinished despite Tara keeping me company through all the fog and static-laden radio noises and creepy monsters that want to spray me with their evil juices. I love the atmosphere and story and crazy enemy designs in horror games, but I just can’t handle the packed-in stress, the long stretches that build between scare A and scare B, the way tiny sounds like turning a doorknob are deafening and that general feeling of utter helplessness.

Also, a quick gander at my backlog confirms a solid lack of horror videogames. Yes, there’s BioShock, which I played and completed, but struggled with for awhile, often just standing still for long periods of time thanks to a “turn invisible when not moving” Plasmid and listening to my surroundings. I’ve dipped my toes into the terrifying pools called Penumbra: Overture and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but have no desire to go swimming. And in my younger years, yes, I played a few Resident Evil games, but those were social affairs, adventures that my best friend and I would go on together, with chips and drinks and puppy dogs at our sides to make the real world as safe as possible in lieu of the dangerous digital version; the vivid memory of a licker bursting threw a one-sided mirror still makes me tense up.

That said, after a busy day of drawing journal comics every hour on the hour, I downloaded the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations on my 3DS–yes, the system now supports demos; praise be to the Maker, it must be the year 2012–and give it a whirl. To clarify, the last Resident Evil game I played with passion and purpose was probably Resident Evil 2 though I did try a demo for Resident Evil 5, which was lame.

Firstly, this is a gorgeous-looking game. The graphics definitely show off what the 3DS can handle, and the 3D slider flicked slightly up creates a fantastic look, really drawing me in, as if I’m walking right behind Jill as she badly shoots zombies on a haunted cruiser ship. Well, no. Not zombies. Scary, mutated monsters. Secondly, without that crazy Circle Pro Pad attachment, this game controls horribly, especially during the moments when quick, precise turning is needed. You know, like when a monster is trying to eat your face off. See, without a second circle analog pad, you both move Jill and move the camera at the same time with the one circle pad you got. It’s horrible; I’d switch over to first-person shooting mode to pop a monster in the middle of its temple only to have my aim swirling around out of control. Thirdly–and lastly–this game can manage scares just fine. You’d think, being on a brightly teal-colored handheld device, which has a number of lights on at any given time, it wouldn’t be able to create such an atmosphere, but it does. One monster jumped down from the ceiling, and I emitted a sound. I will not describe it.

And then I ran out of ammo. And then I died in a foggy room filled with scary things. I exited out of the demo and saw that I now have 29 more chances to get scared. No thanks. But I can see why many would like Resident Evil: Revelations: high production values, quality scares, beautiful graphics, and an actual story to follow. Alas, this type of game is still not for me even when playing safely under the blankets with warmth, cats, and a wife to keep me safe. Oh well. Good thing for demos.

Achievements of the Week – The Krogan Takes Up Arms and Says Tank You Very Much Edition

How is it Friday already again? Wasn’t it just Friday this last Friday? Y’know, one Friday ago? Ugh. These weeks are blurring by, and it’s probably because I have so much to do. And I’m not referencing videogames here. I have real life stuff, car stuff, and preparations for MegaCon piling up. So I’m keeping this update here real short.

Let’s begin.

From Saints Row: The Third…


Tank You Very Much (20G): Completed all instances of Tank Mayhem.

Just completed another activity in Saints Row: The Third, which involved spamming the “shoot missiles” button and driving forward, and you can see which ones were my favorite right over here.

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…


Take Up Arms (10G): Join the Companions

Got bored doing the ol’ back and forth stuff for the Thieves Guild so I decided it was high time I joined a new guild and became the best of the best there. Getting into the Companions is relatively tame; you speak to their leader, who has you duel with a subordinate–the fight was over with one swipe of my Nightingale Blade–and then that guy gives you a sword to take to a smith at the Skyforge. Return back and poof, you’re in. Now what?

From Mass Effect 2…


Technician (15G): Obtain 10 technology upgrades


The Krogan (10G): Successfully recruit the krogan

I popped Mass Effect 2 back in last night and couldn’t remember what exactly I was suppose to do. I was inside the Citadel, but that was it. I walked around for a bit, chatting with locals, doing an endorsement for a weapons shop, eventually making my way to a meeting with the Council. After that, I skipped around the galaxy map, landing on the first planet I came across that had the “land” option. Turns out, this place was where I’d be able to recruit a new member for my team. Sah-weet. Good times, even if my Shephard did a not-so-nice thing to a krogan back in Mass Effect.

Okay, that’s it. My goal this weekend is to do a ton of comics work and not watch the Super Bowl as I just don’t care, so there might not be much gaming. Eh, I always say that, and there’s always some gaming. Especially now that I want to go on my next recruiting mission in Mass Effect 2 even though I have no idea who to go after next. Must ponder some more.

How have y’all been doing Achievements-wise? Speak up in the comments below. Go ahead. It doesn’t cost a dime.

 

Daggerdale, quest progression, and respawning barrels

I couldn’t really think of a zippy title for today’s post so instead I just listed what I was specifically going to talk about in relation to Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale: quest progression and respawning barrels. One’s more of a problem than the other, but both stick out enough that they get me all grumbly inside, and thus, I’m writing these words in the early hours of the morning.

To start, I’m still on the first main chapter of Daggerdale, where the quest “Rift in the Ruins” asks that my hero, the ever stoic halfling wizard Wiltirn Soldshort (see the 7:45 PM comic for a real zinger from Tara), goes out deeper into the cavern-like dungeon and destroy eight goblin mine shafts. Not a terribly challenging task, but the snag I kept running into was that I would play Daggerdale on my lunch-break, get two or three mine shafts destroyed, and have to stop due to being needed back at work. Naturally, I saved my progress and shut the game off. Upon reloading my save slot later, I had to start the entire quest over from the very beginning. Grrr. Yet, seemingly, everything else saved, such as my character’s level experience, new equipment, gold, skill upgrades, and so on. Just not whatever you’ve done in the current quest. This has happened twice now. So yesterday I made sure to schedule enough time to complete the quest fully so I wouldn’t have to mindlessly murder oodles of goblins yet again.

Moving on…barrels. Daggerdale has them in droves, and they are just asking for you to smash them into bits. Sometimes they contain a healing potion, and sometimes they contain nothing at all. Most of the time they drop a pinch of gold. That’s all well and good until you discover that those numerous barrels you destroyed in the entirety of the underground dwarven city-state of Mumblehall all respawn whenever there’s a cutscene or loading screen or any kind of smallish transition. And, having videogame OCD, I then have to go back around, slashing and stabbing, until all barrels everywhere have spilled their literal guts. It’s sickening and funny and I guess a means to filling up my pouch with gold, but it really doesn’t make that much sense.

It’s an okay hack-and-slash dungeon crawler. The loot is good, but not as interesting as it was in Torchlight, and the action is less chaotic. Maybe that’s a good thing. Going solo as a halfling wizard was probably not the best idea, as my dude gets pounded on constantly when he can’t keep swarms at bay, but whatever. I am a stubborn hobbit in real life, and so it is. I’ll keep going at it for a little longer, especially now that I know a quest needs to be fully completed before I save and shut down for the night. That part was a total mindmess as I kept second-guessing myself, believing that I wasn’t using the save button properly. Nope. That was just Daggerdale, missing its saving throw.

::cymbal hit::

Thank you, thank you!

Dungeons of Dredmor hides its death behind doors

A new type of article is slowly going to be popping up over at The First Hour, and it’s called Indie Impression. I’m sleepy and still need way more coffee in me, so instead of describing it in my own words, I’ll just use Greg Noe’s:

Welcome to Indie Impression, a brand new type of article for 2012. As the name implies, these articles will be impressions on some of the numerous indie games that have been rapidly appearing recently. We here have built ourselves very large collections through cheap package deals via Steam, Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, and more. Some have amazing production values, some don’t. Some are incredibly fun, some aren’t. But without question, these indie games generally offer creativity vastly beyond anything you’ll find in mainstream gaming and will likely be the main driver behind industry innovation for a long time.

And as our indie backlogs have grown exponentially, we’ve decided to start sorting through our games and trying them out to get a good impression of each. To add credibility to our impressions, we will try to have at least two people play each game until they feel they have a solid, concrete opinion for writing. Impressions may be from ten minutes of gaming to ten hours, but in this case, we feel like it’s important enough to have multiple strong opinions on each game. With that out of the way, let’s continue to our very first candidate, Dungeons of Dredmor.

Basically, all those countless indie games we’ve been acquiring over the years are going to get some coverage, but not simply first hour reviews. Quicker coverage. A lump sum of impressions and thoughts. Fine by me, as I’ve struggled lately to sit down and take notes for an hour as I play new games. This was more off-the-cuff writing, which is to my liking.

However, I was saddened to discover that, upon the purchase of the indie bundle that contained Dungeons of Dredmor, I was unable to play it on my flailing Macbook. I recently blew my Christmas bonus (keep it clean, kids) on a new Windows-based laptop, and can now run a ton of games I once could not. It’s exhilarating and also kind of funny to watch me get excited over the fact that I now have a computer that can run Diablo II at a decent clip. Yeah. Which is good, because if I’m going to play a dungeon-crawler, I’m probably gonna play one that doesn’t kill me immediately after I go through a door.

Just read my impressions on Dungeons of Dredmor.

It’s been suggested that I give the tutorial a spin, which I might…but not in the near future. I can see why many like this type of masochistic RPGing, but it’s not clicking with me.