Craft the World, Dwarven Shenanigans

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Dwarfs have always been the fantasy race I love the most.  Long friends, strong hearts and a love of drink and mead!  And this title is full of all the best parts.  Battle bad guys, collect gold, dig mines and build to your heart’s content.  This cartoony game will keep you crafting to the last!  Another title in early access, yes, but it is a good time!

I’ve already placed time into previous plays in this game, but with its recent updates I feel it’s nearing a completed state and deserving of discussion.  The first couple times I played it, I was quickly diced to ribbons, so I recommend restarting until you have a little bit of an elevated platform above your surroundings.  Trust me, when night falls you will be glad you did!  Upon start up, you have one dwarf that warps in through a portal, proving they are descendants of an alien race.  You cannot move your stockpile nor your portal, hence the restart need to relocate your spawn.  Once you have a suitable location, you just follow prompts and missions.  These missions give you exp points, which help you to work toward levels.  At each level, your holdfast gets another citizen, but be careful to keep them alive.

Your dwarfs do everything from mining and building to fighting and fishing.  They gather resources, too, but you have to deliver all their orders yourself, making this a fairly active title.  As you gather resources, you’ll get missions to start crafting things, and making new items is always a good idea.  That’s how you’ll get armor and weapons!  You also level up to get a smithy for advanced projects, furniture and building pieces.  With these you can make some nifty living quarters for your dwarfs.  One of your early missions also grants you with this bearded totem-face.  That is what tells you how good their standard of living is, which is bullshit since the bastards are demanding as fuck!  They need all stone walls and secured doors, hand-carven beds and the finest food cooked in the finest kitchen.  But they build it all themselves (albeit under your strict direction), so I guess they deserve the satisfaction.

Creepy wall face watches you sleep.

Creepy wall face watches you sleep.

As you can see, you won’t be starting off with five-star accommodations, but you work up to it.  This fancy hole-in-the-ground establishment took a good hour in real life, a couple days in game, to create.  But you really don’t get much time to wallow in the luxury of mud-lain floors.  Soo enough you get to deal with all kinds of assholes.  Actually, every night a parade of skeletons and zombies come walking toward you, since dwarf is apparently a pungent and delicious dish, and bust your door down!  Not to mention ghosts start swarming all over your stockpile, and if you leave the stuff out too long, it get stolen by goblins.  Yup!  Little green shits, too!  At some point after the third or fourth day, you’ll have a tribe of goblins spring up nearby, and where the skeletons use their shields to boost each other over terrain, goblins build ugly little stick platforms.  So, it is in your best interest to build weapons and armor as quickly as you can.

In order to get all the materials necessary to move away from beating your enemies with logs while wearing lumber-plated chest armor, you need metal.  Sure, you might have to buy some materials from the Ogre Store to grease the wheels at the start, but coin is not easy to come by, so it’s not the best long-term strategy.  Dig deep and you’ll find nice-sized deposits of iron, gold, silver and even mithril!  If that gives you a bearded little chubby, then you’re playing the right game.  This one is all about getting materials and making shit with ’em.  Of course, it’s not all gold, gems and berry sprinkles.  Leave a mineshaft abandoned without lighting, you’ll find it over grown with snapping plant-life.  Or maybe you’ll unwittingly spawn on top of a colony of psychotic fire-ants with a taste for leathery dwarf-flesh!

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No, seriously, that shit happened to me!

You may also have noticed the skeleton timer up there, too.  When that timer runs out after a good 45 minutes, all hell breaks loose.  Alongside whatever other nocturnal terrors you cope with regularly, hell sends a warming party to drag you down into the pits of fire with them.  Often a boss will come through, too.  And walling off that side of your home won’t do shit, either.  They’ll knock down doors, tear apart your ground-hatch; shit, they’ll dig through a stone wall to get at your sweet sweet dwarf meat.  So the only recourse is to forge your way to victory.  The above images, by the way.  Those are from the first world in the campaign mode, and it’s on an easy difficulty.  I have yet to get past it, but I am sure the next realm isn’t exactly a picnic in happy-land.

Along the bottom of your screen is the hotbar.  You’ll be placing furniture, door, torches etc. out of this tray.  Equip is how you get your dwarfs to wear their armor (as if the marching onslaught of demons wasn’t all too inspiring) and craft is where you craft.  The crafting menu is pretty minecraft-esque, and you drop materials into various coordinations to assemble pickaxes, maces and everything else you can’t dig out of the ground.  Of course, you just have to click on items in your stockpile to learn how to make them.  Of course, blueprints of new items will appear in there depending on how far through the crafting tree you progress.  Technological advances are separated into various types, typically designated by the primary material used to make the items.  Moving up through the tree lets you go from sleeping on a bed of leaves to lodgings fit for a king.  Not to mention increasing dwarf inventory size with back packs, making better foods to keep them fueled longer and healing them faster when they go to sleep.  Aside from just the inventory size, each dwarf can learn different skills related to dwarf tasks.  cooking, logging, climbing, swimming, hunting; you name it, there is probably a book about it.  If there were female dwarfs, I might be scared what other books might get dropped.  Good thing each dwarf is cloned by our alien gods.

Of course this is a developer manor, but I don't have all the time in the world to dig stone.  That shit is heavy!

Of course this is a developer manor, but I don’t have all the time in the world to dig stone. That shit is heavy!

Good for a return game after you get bored with a title you’ve been waiting to play for a year and a half, this one is always a good time.  It gets a little frustrating at times, but the message is always the same: this is all about a good time and freedom.  And after you build as far as you can?  Just move on to the next world.  Face greater challenges, fry bigger fish, make bigger castles.  Whatever your cup ‘o’ tea, just make sure you defend the little dwarfs, cause as stinky as I imagine they are (you sure as fuck can’t build a bathtub) listening to their shrieks and watching their ghosts drift away is a little heart-breaking.  Especially after you spend all that time and randomly-dropped occupation books to customize each dwarf.  And for only 15$ on Steam, you can have your very own dwarf colony.

Many things bring forth my ire, and in this the little shit gets annoying.  The dwarfs are like the ones from Lord of the Rings with a touch of Snow White’s infamous seven.  These guys can make some bitchin’ armor and weapons, but as cool as they look, they sound like adorable, dirty, stinky teddy bears.  Seriously.  They say ‘ow’ when they fall down from climbing trees.  They grumble and bumble and talk in Sims-style chat bubbles.  But that’s ok.  Just wait until it’s night and they’re asleep.  They’ll learn why Maxis won’t let me play the Sims anymore.  Just wall off the exits and put tapestries over the firepits and voila!  Instant dwarf roast!  Of course, even if fire mechanics in this game were advanced enough to do that, they would be the ones placing all the tapestries and walling themselves in like kool-aide sipping cultists complicit with the totem-god in their own mass suicide.  O, well.  You can’t torture all helpless little creatures under your command.

Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville, Post-Apocalypse Mayorship

RebuildlogoEver wondered what it would be like to take the place of Rick Grimes or the Governor?  How would you run things differently? What policies would your band of survivors have to get accustomed to?  Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is a series that allows you to decide just that.  Lead your rag-tag band of survivors to take back the city from the dead.  Fight the ravenous hordes, train your people in various skills and work to bring back the world of the living amidst the hordes of undead.

Developed across two previous titles by Northway Games, Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is a title that I have been following for a couple years now.  This latest incarnation is by far the cleanest version of the game, but because it is an early-access title, it is not without its issues. So don’t say you weren’t warned.  Where previous games, available in browser or on iOS platforms, drove for a more serious tone with a soundtrack out of a horror movie, Gangs feels more like a video game.  Rather than the realistic portrayals of survivors featured in Rebuild and Rebuild 2, Gangs uses vector graphics to portray its heroes.  Personally, this makes it a lot easier to detach myself from them.  If Rico Simms goes out for food and comes back holding his intestines, I will be more likely to just bury a hatchet in his head.  No worries.  That guy was annoying anyway.  Though the characters are now a little more toony, this has allowed the developers to make the town itself look altogether better.  Where before you had some simple doodles, now you have a more detailed and gritty map.  Granted, sometimes the map feels more like a page out of “Where’s Waldo?” but that makes it fun and slightly nostalgic to pan the view and looks at your surroundings.  One more major add-in for the city itself in Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville were rivers and coastlines.  This way you can reimagine that famous trailer for another run-of-the-mill zombie-smashing RPG at E3 2014.  Did you like this map? Good.  Save the seed and you can regenerate it every time you play or take a random seed for endlessly replayable apocalypse action.

From dismal winter to decrepit post-apocalypse, the styles really inspire the creeping depression of being the last people on Earth.

From dismal winter to decrepit post-apocalypse, the styles really inspire the creeping depression of being the last people on Earth.

Gangs of Deadsville also features other players.  In Rebuild 2 you had the possibility of running into a gang called The Last Judgement Gang.  They would frequently harass the colony, attack, steal food and generally provide villains for the player.  As your colony grows, it eventually becomes evident that you have to deal with them, and this culminates in a final showdown of epic proportions.  In Gangs, you get to deal with other factions.  As of yet, the only interaction I’ve had was with this russian guy named Gustav.  He always comes by and tries to get my people to gamble away precious resources, buy hookers and accept food loans.  That guy is more of an annoyance, really, but if you piss them off enough, their faction comes crashing in guns-blazing.  This isn’t the only other faction, but it is the only one I have met so far.  You can also run into enemy NPC colonies that basically end up battling you for dominance.  Instead of having a typical cut-and-dried enemy, now you have a real us vs. them feeling with a battle for survival with a group of people you might have been best buddies with in another life.

When I started Gangs of Deadsville, I was given the standard options: make a character, pick a profession set town parameters.  As I clicked through the random name generator, I noticed a few fun monikers I might take on.  Among them were Johnny Dangerously, Arma Geddon and James Tyberius  Kirk.  Clearly the character I was concocting was a man of honor.  As if that didn’t make it obvious enough, the selection of former occupations is spectacular: politician, Police Officer and Doctor are fairly well coveted in the real world, but more realistically, you can choose to play as a Retiree or a Shop Clerk.  Each occupation starts your leader off with an item and a bonus quality, which makes them unique.  Being clever and dashing, I chose the Shop Clerk occupation, which made scavenging easier and got me better deals when bartering and trading.  And of course, started me off with the tool most favored by shop clerks worldwide: a crowbar.  I would have pick a backpack or a flashlight, but shop clerk comes with a crowbar.  I mean, I am not disputing the realism of a game where you spend your time fighting zombies, but every self-respecting gamer knows that the crowbar is default weapon of the scientist.  Jeez.

Reminds me of where my in-laws live minus the mindless, brain-eating hordes.. but then again, they do live in Jersey...

Reminds me of where my in-laws live minus the mindless, brain-eating hordes.. but then again, they do live in Jersey…

Each survivor has their own story involving things ranging from baking and homelessness to gardening and shoulder-lizards.  As your people level you will choose news perks for them, skill enhancements, equipment etc.  Equipment becomes important, too.  While your main source of food should start off angled toward farming, you will still need to avidly scavenge for weapons, tools, ammo, fuel, building materials and an array of other goods that are hard to come by and expensive to purchase.  And with other factions and colonies searching for the same goods, you need to move fast.

But dedicating your people to one set of tasks constantly will leave other areas of your colony neglected.  There are 5 classifications that survivors fall into: defender (red), leader(blue), builder(green), scavenger(yellow) and engineers (purple).  Each of them play an integral role in the sustenance, expansion and strength of your colony.  Sure, everyone likes to kill zombies, but not all your survivors are good at it.  Send a builder out with a hammer to kill zombies, and he can get small groups, but as the numbers of walking dead rise, they will only be able to support the real fighters.  Likewise, an engineer might be able to lend a hand with manpower when expanding the colony into new sectors of the environs, but he is much better suited in a laboratory.  This is where the leader of the town comes in handy.  Sure, you might be a shop clerk, but you are a special shop clerk.  You are able to use your leader for any task and level him up in all skills, while your other survivors only level in their specific skills.  Of course, that makes it so that you are the only non-drone in a colony of ants, but as long as you address them with titles and call them specialists, they shouldn’t rise up in revolt.  I mean, doesn’t “Rage Specialist” sound so much better than “instrument of my own vengeance and violent will”?  Yea, I know, has a sort of ‘I respect your autonomy and special snowflake-ness despite the fact I control your every action’ feel to it.  Just what you need in a leader of men and women.

Cause you also need to keep those fuckers in high spirits, too.  Now the aforementioned hiring of hookers is a good way but costs food and the dignity of many people involved.  A better option is to renovate a nearby bar or church and let your people spend time there.  They can also do ‘time off’ missions in their quarters, but hanging out in a run-down apartment complex is only fun to a point.  There is more to life than seeing how many birds you can hit with your spit from above. Trust me.  Another neat feature of this game are the random events.  People show up at your gates, animals might attack, someone might find a fucking raccoon in the goddamn shed.  Whatever, the odd-ball and.. uh.. RANDOM fucking nature of these events adds a tangential factor to the game, making it feel like it takes place in a real and changing world.

Now, there are zombies in this game.  Did I mention that? Ok, good. Pay the fuck attention.  Now, when the game starts you have a few straggling zed-heads, which are easily dispatched by your survivors, builders, scientists, defenders alike.  But as you progress, your people, who presumably haven’t showered since the fall of modern civilization and can be smelled in the next state over, attract zombies like North Koreans to a bulgogi buffet.  Thus, the zombies start to shamble toward you in ever-growing numbers like the rotting parade of stank-sniffing gut-munchers they are.  This means you need to seriously amp up your game if you don’t want to end up as fertilizer.  Zombies aren’t the only way to die, though.  Go ahead, rely on scavenging as your main food source.  Your people will die THE DAY AFTER YOUR FOOD RUNS OUT!  And your people might die on a mission, get caught up in a random event or just catch a mother fucking fever.  Still more neat mechanics exist, like the ability to switch between real-time and turn-based strategy.  Seriously, the problem is choice!  So reach out, expand your reach and get that technology research moving!  Did I miss that too?

So as you expand you will encounter labs and drive-in movie theatres and other neat shit.  Now, you could ignore the messages and subtle hints, but as you move your game along, you can even get technology up and going again.  Like, refrigeration, movies, PORN!  Christ’s sake PORN man!  Is there a more noble cause to reach back into the annals of knowledge left by the ancients?!  O, yea, there is also the ability farm more efficiently, build better walls, kill zombies more effectively, but shit, man, who doesn’t like to watch other people fuck on film?  It’s purely for research.. and morale.. and stress relief.. or something..

All-in-all, this game allows you to live the fantasy of leading people to salvation through a gurgling masses of horrifying flesh-suckers, and Sarah, the developer, has done everything to make this a title worth your time and money.  The best part is that the game is still coming out with more content.  I mean, that is good news to me!  It means that if the game’s state bothers you, come back to it in a few weeks and there should be another update to explore.

"You, there!  Peasant!  Throw yourself in front of those zedheads so I can escape." You'll miss the days of just 'tripping the fat guy'

It says “kill 5.651153016444607 massed zombies”.  Documentation of the last fucking time I ever let the engineering team go on defensive maneuvers.

Above you will see an excessively accurate detail of how many massed zombies those guys were fighting.  Evidence of the only thing that truly angers me about this game.  Bugs.  Of course, this is a PRE-RELEASE title available on Steam through the combined auspices of Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter.  But that does not make it any less fucking frustrating when you have a memory error appear on your screen after about an hour and a half of non-stop gameplay.  I mean I can’t even fucking binge-playon my favorite goddamn game!  If I want to waste HOURS of my fucking time murdering zombies and micro-managing my people’s lives, I want it to be uninterrupted by binge-halting errors.  The base game is $14.99, but fuck that.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You WILL love this title.  Just spring for the extra 10$ and get the deluxe edition.  You can even download that AFTER you decide whether you like the base game or not as it is listed as DLC!  This DLC will bring you some neat art and such later, but will also grant purchasers 5 extra professions, each with their own unique item.  So, you’ll be cursed with more fucking choices!  And if you’re into that whole ‘instant-gratification’ thing, the DLC ‘deluxe’ version will also give you Rebuild 1 and Rebuild 2 in all their formerly browser-embedded glory.  That way you can formulate your strategies on the earlier (but by no means easier) games.  So go on Steam, and throw 24.99$ at getting this title moving.  Its end state will be a title to make Sid Meier jealous.  I mean, seriously, that guy is probably like making a title called Sid Meier’s Zombies! Too late, ya bastard! Too fucking late!

You can find more from Northway Games here, follow the development of the Rebuild Series here and check out another title by this development family here.

Why I went to IndiE3

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Please read all of this if you start reading or close the webpage now.  So, for those of you following the IndiE3 event, you probably noticed a lot of shit hitting the fan over the last 36 hours.  If you go to the IndiE3 tumblr, you will see a public apology providing a vague explanation and a public apology.

 

Panels started on Tuesday. On Monday, there was a bad incident in the streams that completely flew past me. I won’t go into more detail, because we don’t want to bring issues for the people involved. I will say though, that it was a combination of our own failues that caused it.

– Zolani Stewart (@Fengxii via Twitter) Assistant Organizer via the IndiE3 Tumblr, June 11th 2014

 

At this point it is rather obvious that some serious shit went down and caused a wide backlash.  Many people were offended by said incident, even to the point where Indie Haven withdrew their support for the event.  They discuss their reasons for their withdraw here, which are fully understandable.  Their statement did, however, go a little further into explaining the crux of the incident.

 

We will keep details here brief, but an unnamed video game streamer this evening had a very disappointing experience on the main IndiE3 stream. To keep things brief her gender was called into question in an increasingly aggressive and unwelcoming chat box, with numerous fast flowing comments and not nearly an adequate number of moderators to handle the situation. While this was not the fault of the organisers, the short term organisation meant it was near impossible to handle. (…)

(…) As a site with an unusually high number of non binary, gay and transgender writing staff this is an issue of great personal importance to us and, in the light of a growing number of issues regarding the event, we felt the only way to make things right to the streamer and anyone else effected by these issues was to withdraw our support as a site. We don’t like anyone being made to feel uncomfortable because of misgendering and questions of gender, regardless of if they are Trans, Cisgender or neither.

-Laura Kate, Content Editor for Indie Haven, June 11th 2014

 

As an individual with a number of friends and family members within the LGBT community, I am upset, though not shocked, that this incident occurred.  While the Indie Gaming Community has members coming from all walks of life, this is an event that was hastily cobbled together from hashtags and duct tape on the internet.  Squeaky B mentioned on Tumblr that this event had no planning, was done as a reaction to E3, and  its marketing strategy was one of subversiveness.  But, Squeaky also goes on to mention some disagreement over a suggested panel idea that was shoehorned in; so, some of this seems directed at that particular point of divergence.

Referenced in Squeaky B’s post was Parlock, an individual directly influenced by this incident.  Reading Parlock’s post about his experience (his contribution is tucked in at the bottom), there is a lot more anger, but it is relevant and worth noting.  Parlock is also significantly less optimistic than anyone else about how IndiE3 will proceed.  Specifically, he feels it will not and that this marks its failure and ultimate destruction.

 

This entire thing was a shitshow, and I hate to say it but I’m glad it failed. It wasn’t a constructive or helpful thing, it harboured a lot of bad blood between content creators like myself and indie devs, and has really damaged the indie community because this was, despite what they say, meant to challenge E3. It fell flat on it’s face, a lot of controversy happened and the organisers are now pulling out from the event.

– Parlock via Tumblr, June 11th 2014

 

Now, first things first.  From what I read via the above channels, which admittedly is only a brief summary of what happened, a direct attack was made on someone through the chat stream and there were precious feww moderators appointed to handle the situation.  The reason I say I am not shocked, is because it occurred on the internet.  Earth is full of assholes, and even though they are not anonymous, people will still post whatever they feel like when they feel they are in the safety of their own homes.  Often without a second thought to the consequences of their actions.  It is a fact of life in the cyber-world that I find frustrating and despicable, but no less omnipresent.  IndiE3’s organizers should have seen something like this coming, but given the hasty nature of its inception, they were too ill-staffed to work all the angles.  As a result, multiple someones have had to walk away form the event.

Squeaky’s words were not completely misplaced, but there were a few points I have separate opinions on.  IndiE3 was not done as a reaction to E3.  It just wasn’t.  Inspired by, yes, but not as a reaction.  If it truly was done as a reaction, organizers would have gone out of their way to harass as many of E3’s supporters and websites as humanly possible.  Now I am not privy to all information about this event, but as I understand, the organizers disclaimed such actions by their supporters.  Another statement about its leaders being more interested in appearing subversive than actually leading was thrown in there.  Honestly, there is nothing wrong with using a strategy of subversiveness.  If I had organized, or a million other people organized IndiE3, the result and Modus Operandi would have been the same: fuck major AAA E3, yay for indie games.

I offer a few ideas for future incarnations of IndiE3.  First, take time to plan out the event.  I know I would have gladly been a moderator for their channels, had I been off from work.  If they would have pushed the schedule over a week, they could have added me to their list.  Sure, I would not have stopped everything from happening, but I would have done more than slap people on the wrist.  I would have gladly set their ass on fire for poking fun at someone’s gender.  That is their goddamn business, let it remain so.  Second, why does it have to fall on the week of E3?  Could it not be just as easily presented as an after party and not necessarily just a counter-culture version of E3?

I have no personal vested interest in TJ Thomas, Solon, Zolani or any of the organizer’s reputations.  I am concerned solely with the reputation of IndiE3.  Regardless of who was hurt by what, who all is angry about what was said, or what organization was shit, or who was responsible, consider this: if this IndiE3 fails and collapses like “a sumo wrestler with osteogenesis imperfecta”, as stated by Squeaky B, will we ever get another fucking chance to have an event that showcases the work, time, blood and life that Indie Developers pour into their games, often with no real return on investment?  And, yes, this is my fanboy coming out, and yes, this is my personal statement and no one else’s.  And yes, this is part of the point of my blog.  I came to IndiE3 to hear about some fantastic new Indie Games and, hell, I even directed as many Indie Developers that I could reach in time so they might have a chance at getting their games exposed.  Not because I like TJ or any of those other guys.  By all rights, I could really give a golden shit about the organizers, but the fact remains the same.  Because this event is occurring now, and because this is the only chance we get to have it, we should all be doing what we can to make sure it doesn’t just collapse into dust.

If it dies now, it dies forever.  A reputation is not easily mended and no one will go near it.  The only option at that point would be hoping a major organizer takes up the mantle, but that would significantly diminish the point.  This is an event that should be done by players for players so someone else can’t close it to the public in another ten years, too.  Reputation takes a lifetime to build and only seconds to destroy.  That quote comes from Robert Dinero in Stardust, and it is 100% true.  The reputation of this event is still growing and something like this has the potential to kill it in its infancy.  Do not allow this to happen.

IndiE3 is still going on and plenty of great games an discussions are still being showcased.  Squeaky and Parlock are entitled to everything they feel and express, but they are two voices that do not speak for everyone and on the health of IndiE3, they couldn’t be more wrong.  Indie Haven was right to withdraw their support and walk away, but they never said it was over for a reason.  Don’t fucking kill IndiE3, damn you.  Keep watching, keep enjoying and keep paying attention, because in the future we want people to say “Yes, Indie3 is still recoverable and doable” not “the IndiE3 concept is too toxic and its audience to immature for something like that to occur ever again”.  Don’t just think about the emotions felt and friendships lost today, when what is at stake really is SO MUCH MORE than any of the people involved.  Those feelings and friendships may be rent and bleeding now, but that can be healed with time and care.  IndiE3 is a unique channel whereby Independent Developers are allowed to connect on a personal level with their players, fans and supporters.  Period.  Nothing and no one connected to this event matters more.  That is why I came to IndiE3.

Hoard, Blazing Fun

hoardlogoHoard is a game that features fire, gold and glory!  With an original concept and fun, fast-paced gameplay, this title makes me want to replay for hours and hours.  It would also be excellent for LAN parties, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In Hoard you play none other than a real fire-breathing bastard (no not Bill O’Reilly): a dragon.  You are a force of nature, indiscriminate destruction and robbery are your forte.  When I started I made it a simple 1v1.  You always play against a competitor, which gives Hoard a sort of real-time board game feel.  The game is really simple, too.  Destroy everything and everyone you see and take their money. </end article>.. ok maybe it’s not that simple, but still, that is how it plays.

You start of with a distinct advantage, however.  You always start in the center of the map.  That makes it all the easier to venture to other regions and bring your booty back as fast as can be expected.  Once the game starts up, there isn’t much going on.  You have to burn some windmills and crop fields to get a start, but you build up fast.  You cannot be everywhere at once, though, even if there are 4 dragons in play, and a society quickly builds up around you.  Once a windmill has a few fields around it, carts start to wheel toward the cities, which can be burned and robbed.  The carts won’t fill your inventory up and a dragon has a golden lust of immeasurable breadth, so a few carts and maybe a mill will fill you up.  Get that booty back to your lair, too!  Other Dragons are just as hungry for treasure, and will attack you for yours.  Which is a good way to slow them.

Snow? Fuck that! My internal temperature melts titanium, mother fucker!

Snow? Fuck that! My internal temperature melts titanium, mother fucker!

You are an UNSTOPPABLE MENACE! At least until someone stops you.  And fuck me do they try.  At first it’s like, “awwww, so cute, they think they can win!”  Then it’s “O, fuck me, they are winning!”  Once you are defeated (usually by another fucking dragon) you have to fly back to your hoard to recharge.  This is an unfortunate necessity, but use it to your advantage.  Attack your enemies and send them back to their hoard, you can usually get a full trip done before they recharge fully.  Once you get the gold back to your lair, you drop it off, a little slower than I image you should, too.  I was left wondering if the dragon ate the loot and regurgitated it back up in his hoard.  Or maybe he just sits on the loot chest and picks it up with his sphincter muscles.  Heh heh, I heard a hundred people groan at that one!  Either way, the more gold you get the higher your level.  Yup, you level up, and you use those levels for one of four stats. Speed, Carry, Armor and Firebreath.  All pretty self-explanatory.  There is no perfect formula, there is just what matches your technique.  Like fights? Get armor and firebreath. A little extra speed to help with those close escapes, too.  Want to loot everything in the kingdom? Get more Carry, you’ll carry everything you can hold in your.. uh.. kangaroo pouch ; ).   But that isn’t everything! Shit man!

So, as you loot and pillage and burn, the timer, which I forgot to mention, is ticking down.  The further along things get, the more loot carriers level up.  First they are wagons, then full on carts then there are the royal carriages!  Now this is where things really start getting good.  You burn the carriages, they give you loot AND your very own little princess to take back to your lair to terrorize.  Yet, it gets better!  They send knights after you to capture the princess back!  Every single one drops a respectable sum, too, and when her timer runs out, she is ransomed off!  I swear these people must shit gold.

Gives new meaning to a butt-load of loot! Ha ha!

Gives new meaning to a butt-load of loot! Ha ha!

Level up, grab as much gold as you can and when the timer runs out, the scores are tallied to see who was the biggest fire-breathing badass in all the land.  Does it matter that you can burn trees down with your fire? NO! FUCK no!  But as a dragon, isn’t burning trees going to be your first go-to on list of things to test out?  I know it was mine!  Psh, burn that leafy little bitch.  Now, you see in the right side of the picture just up there that little Stonehenge-looking thing?  Yea, that is your new best friend and worst enemy in this game.  Every so often it belches out little powerups that spin in the air like little, sexy pinwheels.  Grab that and you might move faster, spit fireballs, breathe ice or some other cool shit!  But if your enemy gets it? FUCK!  Get that shit, don’t let that miserly prick get it. Just don’t.

What did I miss? Castles, villages, windmills, crops, knights, archers: in this the Joker was right. EVERYTHING burns. O! DLC.  You don’t think all this is enough? Dynamite Roll! was the first DLC featuring bomb carts, which you light and they explode to kill things nearby.  That includes you so, mind the gap.  Sometimes cash crops will appear that give extra cash. And bell-towers in towns provide heal power-ups, and that is useful as fuuuck!  More achievements and more maps in this baby, too.  Then there is the Flame-Broiled SANDwich DLC which takes things to a whole new level, or rather, landscape.  In this one the game flies over to the mystical sands of a desert continent.  Everything looks all cool and middle-eastern, and generally speaking, it looks fucking awesome.  Buildings, castles, enemies.  Fuck, I need to buy this DLC as soon as I get some cash. And with the total package of everything being $11.49 on Steam, you best believe it is worth the dough!

With all the flying and burning, there has to be something about this game that burns my biscuits.  Well, there fucking is!  Each playthrough takes only ten minutes, so naturally, this is a game you could play once before work to get a game fix in, right? DO NOT UNDER ANY FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES PLAY THIS SHIT BEFORE GOING SOMEWHERE IMPORTANT!  You will play through hours in this game before you realize just how much life you missed! Seriously! Don’t believe me? Play it!  Each match is just such an exhilarating whirl that you will play another, and another, then you’re 35 and still in your parents basement! Agh! Luckily, I only got to 27, so I still have some good years left, but FUCK that was close! Also, those pricks on the Meta-Critic gave this a fucking 65. A SIXTY FUCKING FIVE! This is fun, graphics are respectable and it does its job.  It’s like they focused on the one thing that this game lacks, which would be any fucking story.  But you’re a goddamned dragon! What story do you need?!  Fuck those assholes. They deserve to fester in a dragon’s asshole for a bit! Give them an idea of what shit really looks like!

 

4 the King, Mobile Panic

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I have an Ipad, it’s true.  Despite the fact that Apple’s image grooming rankles my very soul, there are some titles that come out on the IOS that I find worth a playthrough.  4 the King makes that list, and though it isn’t much more than a game I would play on a train or bus ride, it satisfies my game itch well.  Considering its indie status, I pointed developer Hypnic toward IndiE3.  4 the King was released Friday, June 6th.

4 the King is, at its heart, a Tower Defense game.  You have a lonely little castle in the kingdom of Sahana and for some reason witchcraft of unexplained origin has brought your vegetables to life.  Evil pumpkins, fly-traps and corn-launchers storm your castle gates!  Yea, it’s a little silly, but the lead in mobile games is one where you launch suicidal birds at pigs to knock over their houses for eating your children.  Just hire a mercenary, or better yet, entreat the UN on behalf of your people.  The pigs will eventually get sanctioned.  So, all things considered, this game is fine by me.

Initially you will feel some boredom since the early stages are easy. Like every other fucking game in history, but it ramps up pretty quickly.  By the end of the first realm I was scrambling.  And though I didn’t die until the first boss, there were enough close-calls to make me think I was lucky not to bite it.

And the first boss is a prick, too.  Big as fuck and walks all over your battlements.

And the first boss is a prick, too. Big as fuck and walks all over your battlements.

In your divine wisdom as a king, you tell your people to huddle up in the city and fire everything you can find at the fuckers.  You start with arrows, which fire quickly for lower damage at multiple targets, and quickly add a wizard to your arsenal that fires slowly for higher damage at a single target.  You build defenses on the regions of this giant dartboard by killing monsters and getting money or taxing a village that is sometimes on the board with you.  You build up cash and put out things like spear-walls, magical fire traps, entangling vines and other fun stuff.  At one point I freed a tiger and got the ability to summon it.  No idea how, but fuck it, I got it.

You’ll also get magical enhancements that enable the enchanting of your weapons with ice or fire.  During boss battles, against mini-bosses and the middle of sheer bloody fucking panic, you will find these useful as they increase the damage each shot deals.  If you have a spell or defensive item you bought and that you want to bring out, you click the shield or… purple.. magic… button.. to open a menu and select the item you desire.

Between missions, you will have the opportunity to buy upgrades for your weapons, spells, defensive items and other things.  The money you get from missions will buy you upgrades,  Not the kill or taxation funds, but you get some cash for beating each mission.  And you can replay each mission as well, gaining you more gold to spend on upgrades.

Honestly, I am not into tower defense mods and games, but this one was caught my attention.  Sometimes you can get a natural barrier aiding you, like rocks.  When this happens, enemies that spawn behind them take the long way around, buying you time to react.  It’s not exceedingly tough, but again it has a sharply increasing curve.  You won’t beat it right away and you’ll get some satisfaction out of it, which is good for a game bought for play in-transit or during waits.

 

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A new realm, stronger weapons and diverse enemies feature in this screenie. Relevant if you want to see how things will change one realm to the next.

So what about this game wore on my nerves? Mostly the fucking tutorial.  The tutorial in this game frustrated me a bit. Tutorials in most games are annoyingly necessary rites of passage that you have to pass through in order for the game to let you be and have fun.  The first realm in 4 the King is filled with brief tutorials and explanations.  Not to mention, the tutorial has you touch the weapons to fire.  I thought this meant I had to fire tap the weapon to fire.  Granted, if you leaving shit alone for more than 5 seconds, you’ll soon learn to just let them fire, but it got me to curse at my screen a second. But for $1.99 on the app store, this game is worth picking up!

Want to try 4 the King yourself before buying just to see if I am full of shit?  Play a free demo on Newgrounds or Kongregate, ya jerk!

TerraTech, Constructive Preview

TTLogo

 

TerraTech is a game full of potential, which will be appearing at E3 2014, and I am hoping at IndE3 as well!  It is a solid concept built from the dirt up in Unity3D, and, of course, this game is an Alpha Demo, so please leave the screenies alone.  They were on the highest possible graphics setting.

TerraTech is like a combination of lego and erector sets where you start with a few simple pieces.  You gain more pieces by roving the surface of the alien world mercilessly destroying the cockpits of other vehicles.  In the beginning you have your cockpit, a body piece, a machinegun and some wheels.  The pieces are dropped on you like, fuck, here, whatever.  I laughed.  So I am driving around and I see some asshole with a couple wheels and a drill.  So, I naturally did the first thing you do when meeting other people: level your machinegun and prepare for battle.  After nuking his cockpit and leaving their corpses exposed to the extra-terrestrial atmosphere, I took their drill, which I affixed with a blue building beam (Psh, I ain’t fucking going out there!).  And I went off to drill some rocks.  After some drilling and a few battles, I realized that a tractor beam piece was used to pick up raw materials and parts.  Now I am that guy driving around with a whirling ball of resources and parts just chillin’ there, not in any kind of use.  Then I killed an automaton and found an AI interface.  Pretty useful.  That let me make an AI that would drive into trees and turn a little bit when fired at.  Eventually I saw this big asshole that had some neat yellow parts I wanted, so I killed him and took his pieces.  I am now the lord of the big alien world.  That is until some dick drives up out of nowhere and levels me, scattering my parts everywhere.

That's the smug son of a bitch driving through my pieces.

That’s the smug son of a bitch driving through my scattered pieces

I was not unreasonably frustrated, so I went on to see what else this little demo had in store.  Turns out there are some other really nifty modes for this game.  The first I saw was Rocket Mode.  That sounded badass as hell, so I clicked it.  I was greeted by an orange desert and what looked like a two year old overturning a giant bucket of legos.  My eyes instantly lit up like fireworks and I went to town, baby!  When I was a kid, my parents wouldn’t allow us to have legos for two reasons.  I have 4 brothers and that shit is fucking EXPENSIVE.  Not to mention we scattered toys with impunity, and my mom did not want to fall victim to the natural predator of bare feet – lego blocks.

This mode is a ton of fun.  They dump out a ton of blocks and say “have fun!” like a dismissive parent that just wants to watch football in peace.  I am happy to let him go, cause I have some wings, there are repulsors, some wheels ( those are remarkably important for a flying vehicle I find ) rockets and rockets and rockets and fuel tanks and rockets.  Now, they give you some advice.  Don’t put too many fuel tanks on or it will be too heavy to fly.  I nodded absently and started throwing things on like a kid on Christmas.  After about twenty minutes of sorting through the disheveled heap I cobbled together what I thought seemed a craft fit for flight.

To the moon!  Won't be tough since we start on Mars, methinks.  Mars has less atmosphere so.. ah fuck it..

To the moon! Won’t be tough since we start on Mars, methinks. Mars has less atmosphere so.. ah fuck it..

I know right?  Badass!  Upon finishing I hit shift and let it rip!  And it flew like a broken-legged seagull that ate a rock.  It was funny as hell though!  It dragged through the sand, did a backflip.  I imagine the little engineer inside must have gone to Space Camp as a kid, gone to Space College and even manned the centrifuge only to end upside down in the orange sand like “This is what I’ve become”.  LoL!  This was a difficult task, though.  I tried a few times and still could not get it right.  This is why I am not a goddamn engineer.

After my aeronautical failure I turned to Checkpoint Mode.  Again I was greeted by the joy-inspiring avalanche of blocks.  This time I noticed two GIANT sets of wheels.  This opportunity would not go unaddressed.  I immediately set to work placing my cockpit atop a massive yellow block with giant wheels and covered it with as many fuel tanks as I could get.  I would need them.  For propulsion I covered the backend of this baby in as much fuck rocket engines as baby-Jesus could pour from the heavens, and thus did I rock most righteously.  Immediately I flipped on the CD player, popped in some Hendrix, closed the blast shield on my helmet and engaged.

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky!

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky!

I threw the wings on there because fuck you it looks awesome. Ha ha ha!  I enjoyed the hell out of this mode.  Granted, steering this beast was like trying to turn the Titanic by paddling with Q-tip, but I didn’t have to worry about trees!  I just hit the nitro and flattened the fuckers!  Rocks, on the other hand, still provided a challenge, and as you can see Ethan, Reece and Stephen did not feel threatened.  That’s ok, though.  My rig would probably blow right through whatever dainty little maneuvering craft they made.  I bet they used the tiny baby wheels, too. Heh heh.

So what about this game pisses me off? I’ll tell you!  The rockets!  I need more fucking rockets!  Seriously!  I could have gotten at least thirty more megatons of propulsive force on the back of that baby!  The opportunities I missed!  Ah, well.  This is an alpha mode, so I bet the Devs are preparing a mode for me where I have to attach as many rockets as possible to the back of a cockpit with wheels.  Then I can launch it into the horizon!

Solar 2, Voyage in the Cosmos

solar

 

It seems Neil deGrasse Tyson was a GameDev before hosting Cosmos because this is the kind of game I imagine him sitting in his underwear, playing between shoots in his dressing room.  Solar 2 was so much fun I bought it on Steam and later on my Xbox 360. Yea, still have that thing.  But Solar 2 is a brand new take on a video games altogether as you play a well-organized collection of sometimes intelligent matter rather than a brainless lump of meat swinging a sword.

Saying that you play a solar system in this title would be like saying you play the strongest warrior in all the land in Skyrim; you eventually get there but there is quite a bit you have to do on the way.  When you start the game, a quote from Carl Sagan appears “if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you’d have to restart the universe” followed by what is supposed to be the big bang.  When the screen fades in, you control a cold lump of dead rock floating in space.  You are an asteroid.  Your goal?  Fly through space like potato with a deathwish and crash into everything else.  Eventually you get enough mass and become a planet.  And your planet can cultivate life!  My little inhabitants built a massive world barrier to protect me and followed me around, blasting asteroids.  That was cute at first, but I found myself outpacing them so I could absorb more asteroids and become a star.  From there I started drawing planets into my orbit and cultivating a whole system of life!  Fuck yea!

And then some other asshole system with a fucking BINARY GODDAMN STAR bumbles along and is like, “O, were you using this?” and smashes my planets to smithereens.  As a system, you take up a good bit of space and larger systems might not be visible onscreen until its too late.  I was naming those planets, too!  Coming up with stories about its people and civilizations etc.  And then some asshole bumbles along and just blow them up by accident!  And to add insult to injury that system’s life, colored red at this point, started attacking the life on my only remaining planet.  I got a good distance, but the fuckers decimated the planet, blowing it up altogether.  I was lucky to escape with most of my protons intact.

O, hi. Nice to meet you. Fuck yourself and die!

O, hi. Nice to meet you. Fuck yourself and die!

So I said fuck it, I will become the biggest fucker out there.  I spent hours building a massive binary star system with nearly twenty planets and all kinds of other life etc.  I went and found what looked similar to the earlier system ( I doubt it was, space is fucking huge ) and ripped him apart.  And afterward I avenged my fallen inhabitants by chasing down the retreating solo star ( I raped it so hard its other star blew up ) and turned it into space dust.  I was so pleased with this that I fist pumped… and accidentally hit the ctrl key, absorbing all my celestial bodies and going supernova.  I was a black hole.  Fuck. Yes.  The most powerful and terrifying force in the galaxy, mother fucker!  On Cosmos they said that my mass is so great that my gravity warps time.  Bad. Ass.

Don’t want to be a goober and absorb the entire galaxy? Fine.  There’s missions.  In the tutorial, some face that looks like the above version of a god Giorgio Tsoukalos might worship pops up to guide you.  He tells you how to move, absorb matter, grow and that you can do his missions.  He’ll reward you at the end.  So you go do missions, like destroying rogue ships, luring them into enemies or playing “don’t die when I spawn missles on either side of you”.  Fucker.  And these are just the asteroid missions.  There are also missions to play as a planet and star.  I can only assume that there are missions for each major form as well, as I have not gotten to the end of this game.  But with how hard and long it is, I might as well run to the end of the fucking universe.

While playing the music is an ambient flow of particles through the void that soothes and hypnotizes you.  Then once you become a star with planets and such, you star to feel more and more drawn in as you watch them swing around in their orbits like a divine clockwork.  The visuals are nice, but nothing too spectacular.  Background is space punctuated by stars and nebulas.  Overall it is cool and fun, but once the charm of being a system wears off, the game can get a little boring.  And then you might fall asleep.

So what pisses me off about this game? God.  That guys is a fucking prick in this game! I mean who wants to play “don’t die when I spawn missiles on either side of you” with a fucking asteroid?  Seriously?!  And he is smiling widely as he says it.  At least that is what it looks like.  He could be shitting. Smug fucker.

missiles

IndieDevs and IndiE3, Hope for Gaming Future

Art by @hellomavw (via Twitter)

Art by @hellomavw (via Twitter)

Never heard of IndiE3? I don’t blame you.  24 hours ago it was an itch that creator TJ Thomas (  ) finally located and scratched like a furious demon with poison ivy on his balls.  Yesterday it was nothing.  As of typing this sentence,  it has gained 593 followers on Twitter and attracted the imaginations of Indie Gamers and Indie Developers alike.  The feed is buzzing with contributions from artists ( as seen above ), writers and statements from its creator.  But why does anyone care?  Why should any single fucks be given?  Here’s why. On an article written yesterday on Kotaku, Jason Schreier set out to explain why being a Game Developer sucks worse than you might think.  Imagine working a job for a major company in its field, and suddenly, you’re not getting paid.  A month later the company NO LONGER FUCKING EXISTS.  As Jason describes, this was all too real for developers of 38 Studios.  He then lists dozens of companies that have had layoffs, some in the thousands.  It’s too easy to look at this and run into the streets naked proclaiming the death of gaming altogether.  Granted, it shows the volatility of the industry, but there is a measure of security in being a developer for a major company.  I mean, all things considered, it must be worth it if the game is making millions of dollars American, no?  But if your game tanks or is delayed, you’ll likely be fired.  And if your tanked game is the sole hope upon which the company is depending for its next big break, that whole company is fucked. The article tells us that Over-Saturation, the over-hiring of staff to hit strenuous dead-lines, and corporate financial strategizing are often to blame.  It blatantly says “Priority number one for [major publishers] is keeping shareholders happy, which means showing big numbers on their earnings reports every quarter” in the article.  They’ll fire people just to save fucking money.  As you might have guessed, major companies like EA and Activision put the priority of returns WAY over any value in personnel, or even their fucking customers.  As long as their games are bought, they couldn’t give a single flying apeshit about anyone but their shareholders.  If they saw this they’d panic for their bottom lines and run to the presses to denounce me (or promote me as strategies permit would best suit the situation) and apologize to everyone.  They would lament for the travesties they lay on developers and maybe even send them a fruitbasket.  But in the end, we can generally assume that is just to serve the benefit of profits. And the bastards go ahead and try to make it look like they give a crap about the little people by featuring a small handful of Indie Developers at E3 2014 and act like they’ve broken through some vestigial preconception established by a cruel and uncaring society.  A society that they happily feed into with their hype and PR etc.  And why the fuck not? It makes them hundreds of millions, even billions to maintain the status quo.  It’s like they think Indie Game Developers are a social group experiencing discrimination.  What they don’t realize is that Indie Developers are rising and becoming their own factor.  Valve already took the first steps in making Indie Gaming a movement when they released Steam Greenlight back in August 2012. While it is not perfect (and I mean really not perfect), it’s still miles better than anything anyone else is trying. Like Apple. For most developers being on Itunes is like buying a damned lottery ticket.  Greenlight even makes me feel warm and fuzzy toward Valve.  Many developers, like Lorne Lanning of the Oddworld series, seem to agree that contracting syphilis would be preferable  to working for major game developers and going indie is the cure.  I mean, Lanning was quoted thusly in an interview with VG247 regarding the release of his new indie title, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and his feeling of releasing games retailside :

“Fuck that business. I don’t want to play with that business, because it was a losing business,” he lamented. “I just don’t want to go back and play the old [publisher] game. I’d rather not make games than go fucking be a slave for public companies who care more about their shareholders than they do about their customers.  “Why did Battlefield 4 ship? You know that team was crying. You know that team knew that game wasn’t ready to go. You know that team fucking spent a lot of sleepless nights building that shit out to look as good and play as good, when it was able to be experienced, being played as they were intending it to be played. Someone made a decision that the shareholders are more important than the customer. And we see a lot of that. How do you blow that? How do you take that fucking jewel and ship it with dirt all over it?”

                                                                                                                                      – Lorne Lanning with VG247, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – “it’s not a fucking HD remake”

Divesting the major game development scene for the indie scene is not a move everyone makes.  There is a section in the Kotaku piece where a guy doing QA for a porn company talks about how he hates his job now, but losing development jobs again and again was still not a better option for him.  He has a life and a family, you know?

Arinn Dembo, developer for Sword of the Stars with Kerberos Productions ( @Erinys via Twitter ), replied to a request for input from a major developer gone rogue and was able to corroborate some of what others were saying, specifically about the volatility of the industry.  She spoke from experience, having worked for Sierra in her early days as a dev.

“Sometimes it’s not just that the industry is volatile. It’s outright toxic.” For Arinn, the license to freedom was just too attractive to pass up.  Her motivations to move on to Indie Development were clear. “I had two reasons. One: I wanted to stick with my team. They were and are the best human beings I have known.  Two: I couldn’t resist the unprecedented, unrestricted Creative License to Kill that I’d have in the SotS verse.”  Her thoughts left a lot to think about, and sure enough she left with one classy line that I think describes the overall Indification of Gaming succinctly…

Erinys

Kerberos currently has Kaiju-a-Gogo (yes, the Pacific Rim Kaiju) listed on kickstarter! Support them NOW!

With all that in mind, Indie Game development is no picnic in the park.  It’s a picnic in a desert where you have to trudge for miles before finding a nice, shady spot to sit down.  It’s full of pitfalls, pain and anguish that can only be braved by the truly dedicated.  And Indie Developer, Clay Hayes (@RNassassin via Twitter), agreed to describe the life of an Indie Game Developer for me.  Under the name Bloodshot Games, Clay is the sole developer working on the Third-person Shooter/Stealth game, Redneck Assassin.  He tweeted a message for Indie Developers, which I thought described Indie GameDev life with vibrant emotion.

rnassassin In an e-mail correspondence, Clay revealed to me some of the strains that Indie Game Development is placing on his marriage, considering he has been on development of Redneck Assassin since May 2013, Mrs. Hayes must be a saint. “My wife is always upset with me cause I’m never home for the dinner she cooks.  My diet consists of Red Bull and SoBe green tea.  Occasionally MacDonalds  and Top Ramen.” I ate more than that in college.  But Clay also faces  mounting occupational difficulties. “The title has been pushed back several times now.  I’m shooting for January 2015, after the Christmas game rush.  It’s most challenging doing EVERYTHING.  Art, code, design, animation, pr and administration; I’m seeing teams of Indie [Developers] literally pass me by on development progress.  It’s not hard to keep up, it’s impossible.  So, if you are a solo Indie[Dev], DON’T compare yourself to teams.  It’s an ice-skating uphill battle.” And Redneck Assassin faces further challenges in the industry. “Apparently Redneck Assassin is an offensive title and Apple will not allow me to have the term ‘redneck’ in my game.” So after all that, Indie Developers get to face rejection on the basis of a term that refers to a group of people synonymous with Confederate flags on raised pick-up trucks.  Apple can suck a dry, dirty dick.  Clay is looking into featuring Redneck Assassin, in all its man-hunting glory, on IndiE3 with a possible demo version.  Clean of any of Apple’s clutches as “Apple is bitches about sharing works-in-progress.” But despite being a hard path fraught with difficulty, I fully believe that Indie Gaming is developing into a counter-culture that has the potential to become greater than mainstream gaming.  First, Indie Games are able to experiment in ways that major game companies simply cannot.  Looking at games like A Clumsy Adventure by Excamedia, which fuses elements of retro games with modern games, or Concursion by  Puuba Games, which fuses platformer, shooter, hack-n-slash, jetpack and maze racer/puzzler games into one.  Major game companies simply couldn’t market games like these to wide audiences, mostly because they wouldn’t know what to fucking do with it.  There are so many more games like this, that it boggles the mind, but they are out there. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is where major gaming companies go to touch each other in front of the media, unveil new ideas and the future of gaming, and generally drum up as much hype as they can in a few days.  It’s like the World’s Fair for gaming.  Originally, anyone who could afford the ticket prices could enter, but in 2007 E3 closed to the public, reverting to its original “industry-only” format.  Well, as stated earlier, they invited a few Indie Developers and decided to call that fair.  Honestly, the number of Indie Developers is staggering, so how do we keep track of all them?  Wikipedia’s List of Indie Game Developers compiles many, but not all of them.  How can we hear about the newest in gaming innovation on the Indie side?  Well, the man wants you to think E3 has that too now, but Indie Gaming is so much more. Which brings me back to IndiE3.  Basically, this site was nothing as of June 5th, but literally overnight it began to establish a formidable following that continues to grow.  While I was writing this article, which honestly took me all night, it grew to 611 followers on twitter.  IndiE3 represents more than just a place to go, it is OUR place to go.  The Cyber-event will take place June 9th – June 16th with various “channels” that you’ll be able to watch as the event proceeds.  Opening day will include live panels (they’ve received support from Indie Haven and The Spawn Point ), ranging from indie game coverage, design manifestos, to round-table discussions and lightning talks submitted to IndiE3 and seen live only at hitbox.tv.  June 10-14th will feature the official IndiE3 Game Jam, hosted by Game Jolt! You create the games at #IndiE3.  They’ll also encourage developers to sell their IndiE3 games as well.  June 15th, they’ll collect the Game Jam games and show them off all day. Numerous streams and game tournaments will run throughout the whole event and Warp Door will have their own channel/booth to show off various unique little games. I hope this event plays out to be as much fun as it seems like it will be.  Although they are billing themselves as E3’s rebellious little brother, this event seems best attended with E3 playing (possibly on mute) on your television in the background.  I will leave you with TJ Thomas’s very own words on IndiE3.  There are more intriguing thoughts and motivating words on the IndiE3 Project’s Twitter feed.  Check it out for yourself. Thanks to @ttl_anderson for the use of his small logo for the tweet link.Tj1 TJ3 TJ2TJ4

Hard Rest: Blood, Fire, Twisted Metal

HRlogo

 

This is not something that should be stated lightly, so I understand to what I am committing myself.  This is the best game ever made.  It is at least the best game I have played since Half-Life 2, and almost certainly before it.  People need to know about it, and moreover, why I feel I can say that.

Take Bladerunner, add Half-Life 2, toss in a dash of Mass Effect and drop of Bioshock, and you are only part of the way there.  First, the game takes place in the cyberpunk city of Bezoar where the people live in fear of robots lurking just outside their walls.  These robots are sentient AIs that have a profound disdain for anything squishy and full of blood.  The only other people you see in this game, aside from a diabolical villains, are civilians getting ripped apart and thrown through the air.  When the machines invade the city, your character is sitting at a nondescript, roadside drinking stand sucking down some strong drinks.  It rains all the time in Bezoar, which is in Germany, and the streets are filled with explosive objects and devices.  Bezoar is apparently in Germany, but I thought the climate there was more akin to Pennsylvania’s.  You work for ‘THE’ corporation, though they never really say which one.  Seems as important as the name of the numerous slaughtered civilians, though.  You are a CLN Officer and you exist to protect the people of Bezoar, but mostly to destroy anything threatening them.  Now, I might add here that there is some seriously fucking dark snippets of humor to be had if you look for it.  There are sales consoles that try to sell you things and plead like a jilted ex-girlfriend about ‘how good you could have had it’ when you walk away.  They vend things like clones that will work for you until you want to go back to your job.  Then they will have the clone eradicated for you when you come back.  I feel bad for the cl0ne right before bursting into laughter at the thought of a being created to work for me, whose sole existence is filled with droll work that I don’t want to do and is then released of its duty only in its own summary execution.  Dark. Terrible. Unethical. Hilarious.

Now, the fun doesn’t even start there, technically.  The fun starts with the weaponry.  Imagine you are a GameDev and you want to put in an ass-load of weapons to use. Your team creates an array of cool guns, but you can only get, maybe, 10 of them in there. Not to mention, there is the frustration of having to switch between all those fucking things.  What did they do for the weapons? They took them and sorted them into two groups: matter weapons and energy weapons. As a result, you technically only carry two “guns”, but each gun morphs into five separate fire modes.  Watching the guns warp from rifle to shotgun to grenade launcher to RPG is a lot of fun, too.  Honestly, the graphics are very pretty, so you won’t be at a lack of eye candy.  So, you only have to worry about collecting 2 ammo types: blue and red. Blue for energy, red for mass.  Now, that’s not all, folks.  Getting bored with all the bassline weapons?  Go to an Upgrade Terminal and Spec those babies out! With some money system called NANO you are able to upgrade, no clue what it stands for other than making my shit cooler. You can get guidance mode for the RPG, x-ray view for the Railgun (which shoots through cover), make your rilfe fire more ammo etc.  There are 3 upgrades per weapon.  I loved the gravity field for the Grenade Launcher.  Sometimes you can suck two guys together and they smash into one another and explode.  AH! Fucking fun.

plasma

Yo, dog. I heard you liked lasers..

Ok, so, something that bears noting.  See the GUI? Yea, that circular thing in the lower left-hand screen.  That is it.  No unnecessary visual clutter through the screen.  Just that sleek little reticule down there.  Occasionally, a face might appear telling you something about where to go or who to kill, and they’ll appear as holographic chat boxes. But it’s mostly just this.  The rest of the screen is used for watching your many enemies swarm at you by the thousands. And boy do they swarm!

The enemies come at you hard and fast.  The little fuckers have sawblades on the front of them or little helicopter bots and look like something a preschooler cobbled together.  Either that or they are exploding little balls.  They come at you in goddamn droves of whirring, clinking jumping metallic rage.  And they dodge your shots, too!  And even from the get-go they are pouring out of ventilation shafts.  Hitting these suckers with the shotgun induces an intoxicating bloodlust, too, where you storm around blasting through enemies with force.  But the bigger guys take serious firepower, and the mortar and the grenade launcher are your bestfriends for quite a while here.  The upgrade for the mortar makes a field surround anything caught in it, so you can launch electrifying shock ammo and singe their shoddy paint-jobs right off.  Or hit them with the aforementioned gravity shot and the large charging enemies are held in place as you launch round after round at them.  Later on you fight cops in flying cars that look almost spot on for Deckard’s squad car.  They can be a bitch to fight as they also come in swarms, but they are SO MUCH FUN to blow up.  There is even an achievement for blowing them up. There are many other types of bots to battle and they explode themselves sending scrap and screws ricocheting off of surface.  My best moment was when I launched a rocket (just after getting the RPG) into a crowd of the little guys down a narrow catwalk.  The whole group exploded and one came sliding out and stopped at my feet, dilapidated, then proceeded to explode.  I was in love.  Bosses in this are beastly, too, typically towering over you and reaching for you like a tiny, sociopathic CLN doll.

He followed me home, mom! Can I keep it?

He followed me home, mom! Can I keep it?

Also, explosions.  You will blow up more enemies than you will ever realize and bathe in the shower of their remains.  Cars, tanks, electronic fistures, lights, signs, cameras.. I mean, even things that shouldn’t be blown up were automated so you could blow them up.  Typically, enemies near explosions fucking die ( duh ) so there is usually never a short supply of shit to destroy. After periods of explosive dry spells, however, they typically make it up by filling a room with explosive objects and filling it with tiny, murderous robots.  These Devs must be spectacular lovers, cause they know how to give you just what you were thinking you wanted.  After the original game itself there are also MORE types of explosives added to give you a little diversity, too!

Now, the main character talks, so if you were expecting a silent-hero that you could fantasize about being, wake the fuck up, assholes!  Wake up and smell the cinders.  I love his dialogue because it reminds me of my all-time favorite character, Garrett from the ORIGINAL Thief series, not that watered-down Stephen-Russell-wannabe cocksucker they put in that monstrous pile of horseshit that came out a couple months or whatever ago.  I mean the crotchety, dry, sarcastic, antisocial prick that avoids the Keepers and all responsibility as best as humanly fucking possible. A guy just trying to pay his rent.  Well, Major Fletcher is a guy just trying to get back to his hard liquor.  The artistic cut scenes portray this well, too.  Each loading screen plays out across an animated comic strip that tells what is going on. Sure, the story is pretty piecemeal and at times a little uncertain, but Half-Life 2 made you have to read tiny scraps of paper on a board in a cluttered lab in order to ascertain a fucking inkling of what Gordon’s motivation for the wholesale slaughter of asthmatic aliens actually was.  For all we know, they might have actually been trying to save us from a polluted atmosphere and unlivable conditions. Either way, this main character talks during the game and gets you thinking that maybe you are just another voice in his head, which is a possibility since he straight up downloads people to his brain.  No big deal.

All told, this game is an adrenaline thrill ride that had me shouting, panting and wiping the sweat from my eyes.  I have never screamed fuck as much as when I was playing this game, but it drew me in. Deep.  It places a gun in your hand and points you at a seemingly endless stream of mechanical monstrosities.  Granted, you do kill flying cop cars at some points, but you never see the cops leading you to assume that they could just be symbols of authority with mechanized voices.  The lack of flesh in the rubble supports this theory.  At the start menu I found myself debating whether or not I should play since this game startles the fuck out of you and makes you feel the effort of blasting through a horde of terror-bots.  And at the conclusion of each playthrough, you stand victorious over the demolished remains of your foes, wiping a gritty mixture of their grease and your blood from your unshaven face.  Metacritic on Steam gave this game a 73 out of 100 for this title. I bought it thinking it would be some ‘ok’ level meh-coaster I would eventually wade through.  You assholes on the Metacritic are bastards who want all fucking FPS’s to be Call of Cuty or Halo.  You can all eat shit and die in a gutter.

There is always the one fucking thing that chaps my ass about a game, and this piece of gaming greatness is no exception. So what made it that much easier to mash robots into silly putty? Fletcher. Major Fucking Fletcher.  Whose goddamn idea was it to name this guy after Jim Carrey in Liar Liar?!  All I could think about was that guy with an RPG each time the corporate nanny-lady shouted at me.  I know, Fletcher is the last name, Fletcher Reed was the character in the movie. Well it all ends up being about the fucking same Mr. Logical Shitstain!  You’re running around with some big-brother-esque nanny lady in your ear screaming Fletcher stop talking to yourself!  Fletcher go kill the mad scientist!  Fletcher go order us take out! I mean, the least satisfying thing about this is that I don’t get to put my boot down her throat, but I fucking suppose they had to slide this one past some level of societal decency.  Unlike good ole’ Sin back in the day. I’ll just chuckle to myself psychotically now. Heh heh heh…

Personally, I preferred the red gun. More explosives.

Personally, I preferred the red gun. More explosives.

Beat Hazzard, Aural Mayhem

beat-hazard logo

 

So this game isn’t new, but it is still a ton of fun… as long as you are not prone to seizures of any kind.  Then don’t fucking play this.  You will die.  Beat Hazard is a game that lets the player shape their experience in a unique and interactive way.  It’s mot new, either.  It’s been available on Steam since 2010, but no matter.  It just got a new DLC in April, which I have yet to purchase.  But since this game is never the same and it’s been such a rush, i will have to get the DLC and play some more.

Beat Hazard is a game with a new spin on ancient retro games such as Asteroids.  In fact, the concept of the game is pretty much Asteroids. But the twist is that you pick the soundtrack, and each level is as long as the track you pick.  So, if you pick something long like Stairway to Heaven, prepare for a long session.  So you are this little spaceship and you fly around the screen zapping enemies.  Usually a level starts with you dodging or shooting asteroids, and until you get some good perks, you’ll be starting with nothing but a peashooter.  But start killin’ dudes and you swiftly power up your weapon.

Getting modifiers makes the ending score bigger by the number of the multiplier. Duh..  And there is a cash powerup that can be used to buy perks.  The important ones are the VOL and POW power ups.  Then there are the mega bombs and your all important “extra lives”.

Now, the reason the VOL and POW items are so important is because they tell you how many dudes you can zap at once.  With both low, you can’t really do much.  Get your volume up and the music is loud and your gun starts shooting kaleidoscope plasma.  Get your power up and you get a wider spread.  Honestly, I got it all the way up and “Beat Hazard” flashes on the screen, and that is when shit goes down.  At one point, my weapon launched scintillating rays of plasma half the width if my goddamn screen!  It was a glorious spray of destruction that looked like Super Duper Saiyan Goku firing Kamehameha at Kao Ken times 10,000.  And it is just as much fun.  Dudes explode as soon as they come up on screen.  The screen edges, which wrap around, so flying projectiles could zoom around the screen until you nuke ’em.  Then there are the Superbombs.  Click your left mouse button to fire, but press your right mouse button and unleash a payload that decimates everything onscreen.  It even does significant damage to bosses, but that would be a waste. Why?

Well, it all has to do with your music.  I have found that the most dangerous music to play in this game is soft music like soft rock from the 90s and dubstep.  Yes, I have tried, like, everything.  Also anything with acoustic guitar solos where the guitar is the only thing you hear.  Generally, anything without a beat.  While the enemies will take spawn cues from some mystical element of the music, which makes their spawns similar from one song play to the next, the low-key nature of the music leaves you sputtering out a minuscule stream like you’re nervous at a pee test.  I have never been as white-knuckle twitchy as when I put Total Eclipse of the Heart through this game. I mean fucking seriously!  So, since the game is called BEAT Hazard, the better the beat, the harder you’ll fight.  And Dubstep? Shit, Skrillex fucked me up with those beat drops cause I would be going strong and then sudden beat drop, no ammo.  FUCK!

Also noteworthy, the bosses are HUGE!  They take numerous superbombs, but if you need those to beat a boss, you might be listening to Bonnie Tyler again.  There is this klaxon that sounds and then this massive fucking enemy lumbers onto the screen and you are all “OH SHIT!” and have to scramble to kill it.  And be quick about it because those other guys don’t just wait until you kill it.  They give you a 20 second grace period ( about ) and then shit goes full force.

beathazsnake

This boss gave me flashbacks to my childhood nightmares about the Junglebook.

The DLC’s allow you to add perks that do any number of things from starting with full beat hazard, more cash etc.  There is also a DLC that makes your game compatible with .m4a files and iTunes, but I felt like that should have been in there from the start.  The most recent DLC for this game came out in April and allows players to get mutiple ship that they can customize and some other neat stuff, too.  Overall, this game is a ton of fun and will have you playing your favorite music and experimenting with your favorite songs in new ways.  I have 12 hours clocked on this game and most music I listen to is 2 – 5 minutes long.  If you like your music collection and just want to waste some time, this is a great title to get.  And for $17 on steam you can get the game and all its DLC’s.  So go fucking play it.

So what about this game drives me up a wall? OMFG the goddamn visuals.  I have 12 hours clocked on this bitch, but no more than an hour in a row.  Even if you don’t have Photosensitive Seizures this game might give you a headache you won’t soon forget.  It reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons where they watch that japanese robot cartoon.  You could easily rename this Super Seizures Song Spaceships and no one would notice.  Or care.  Still a ton of fucking fun, but I almost want to wear a damn welder’s mask.  Sheesh.