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1:37 PM on 03.06.2012

Google rebrands Android Market as Google Play Store; Has Sale to Celebrate

First, Google decided to consolidate their privacy policies. Now, Google is making sure everyone understands that they own Android. Google recently decided to rebrand the Android Market as "Google Play", which only makes sense, since 3 out of 4 of the things found in the Market can be used on non-Android devices. (Music is obvious, Videos is just YouTube rentals rebranded, and Books are on certain e-readers.) Not sure if I like the name, but it'll grow on me.

In celebration of their new name, Google has thrown sales up across the market... err, Play Store. Among the great games on sale for $.49 include half of the last Humble Android Bundle (Osmos and World of Goo), Dead Space, Need for Speed, and an old Kairosoft game. If you prefer something that isn't a game, SwiftKey is a terrific keyboard that doesn't go by the name of "Swype" and I've heard good things about Endomondo from people that make exercise a regular part of their life.   read

7:47 AM on 01.19.2012

Mobility: Kairosoft is my Addiction

Kairosoft. Probably a name you've heard of before. At the bare minimum, you recognize the screenshot above as being from Game Dev Story, a game of theirs that made the rounds for iPhone and Android two years ago. While the Android version showed a few signs of being an obvious iPhone port ("What do you mean, my finger accidentally hitting back closes out the game without a prompt or autosave?"), I still thoroughly enjoyed it. While I was never a big fan of games where you play God on any scale, moving the whole simulation to my phone allowed me to watch my little worker toil away at whatever project I had for them at my leisure. Re-heating a pizza? Time to make a new edition of "Yo Dawg!" (Take a guess at the genre.) Long car ride? Hey, maybe you can tighten up the graphics on level 2 there. Hell, sometimes I'd make excuses to play.

Regrettably, the game only let you play for 20 years in-game. Perfectly understandable, though. The game in question loved to lampoon the history of the games industry. Hell, at one point, you're given the option of buying a "Virtual Kid" dev kit. Obviously, that is a bad investment. When the game came out, though, we knew nothing of the Wii U or if there was going to be a PS4 (Sony says no) or XBox 720 (still in the dark there). So, 20 years seemed perfectly fair. Maybe in another 10 years, someone will make a spiritual sequel that adds the next 10 years of gaming history to the formula.

Kairosoft kept releasing games for the iPhone and Android, though. The first follow-up I heard of was based on making a Japanese spa, and when I read about it, it was apparently going to be a Japan-only game since it's... well, based on a very Japanese concept. And yet, I can find it perfectly well on the Android Market (under the name "Hot Spring Story"... for some reason, it won't let me link to the market). So, what happened? My guess is that people in the US actually bought the Japanese-language version (at the time, there were no region-lock controls on the Android Market). It'd certainly explain his/her/their next couple of games actually having a timed exclusivity on Android.

I don't know how I stumbled upon Grand Prix Story, which was their next game out. Probably was bored in class. All I know is that I downloaded the demo, tried it, and enjoyed what I saw. It took Game Dev Story's formula for addictive sim games and applied a veneer of auto sports to it. So instead of making games to sell, you were making cars to race. And the racing is what hooked me in, in spite of it being as automated as everything else in the game. It's always fun to root for your team, even if you're the guy in charge and telling them what parts to install into their vehicles or what vehicles to use. And thankfully, the races are quick (as in, one or two laps).

My only gripe is that they slapped on that 15-year time limit. It made sense in Game Dev Story. Here? I didn't get it. Why am I done? I still haven't finished the final Grand Prix! Yeah, I can keep playing, but now you've taken all the wind out of my sails by saying that it won't contribute to a ranking of some sort. And do you know how long it took for me to get a good build of that Super Car? Seriously, that was the biggest let-down I ever had in a game since the ending of Sonic Chronicles. (On the plus side, you at least get a pop-up dialog box asking if you want to quit when you hit back.)

One of their most recent games has the word salad title of "Epic Astro Story" (to be called EAS from here on in). And while I haven't hit the game's time limit yet (and they're at least considerate enough to tell you of the time limit ahead of time), I've been enjoying EAS so far. Tired of focusing on one static layout, the dev decided to take on Sim City (or more accurately, Sim Town)... and set it IN SPACE. The space setting allowed the dev to make some interesting choices. For instance, you start out with only a small area of land and have to send your residents to explore new lands to find places to build. Frequently, on your explorations, you'll find monsters that you'll have to battle. Tourism comes in the form of other races, who seem to find their home planets ravaged by pirates all too frequently and are all too willing to spend 30,000 space-bucks on a TV while visiting.

Wait, did I mention battles? Yes, I did. Somewhere along the line, the devs (who hail from Japan) realized that all that number crunching that was in their sims seemed to overlap with the RPGs of their youth. So, each of your settlers have a Health stat (for HP) and an ability stat (supposed to modify how a particular weapon boosts attack). You can research new weapons and armor for your gang to bring into battle. Each settler has their own unique skill which can be leveled up or even exchanged for a new skill. And while both sides essentially just auto-attack, using their skills as the skill dictates, you do get to set up formations before battle begins. It adds a fun dynamic, and also functions as a roadblock to prevent you from expanding out too far too soon.

Weirdly enough, though, I don't see them getting much press anymore, like they did when Game Dev Story came out. I had to find out about EAS on my own, just searching their games in the market. It's like the gaming press (and come to think of it, most big corporations when they consider developing an app) just treats Android as a second-class citizen, which is weird considering the latest Neilsen report shows that it still holds the title of most prolific smartphone OS out there. And it's a little sad that just because Kairosoft has started doing Android versions first, they get shunned. They don't deserve that, since I've yet to see these guys do anything wrong.   read

2:20 AM on 12.06.2011

Xenophilia: They Might Be Pigmasks

Alot has been said about Mother 3 because... well, there's alot to say. It's a shame that it never got an official release outside of Japan, because it's clear that alot of care went into it. And an equal amount of care went into the fan translation. And I'm sure when Chad Concelmo wrote those two Memory Cards about the game, he probably took more care writing them than I did writing this. The point is, people love this game.

It's probably the first game to ever make me cry, and I'm honestly not afraid to admit that. What I am weirdly afraid of admitting is how that came to be. But here I am. I guess I'll start from the start. ...Well, I'll skip past the downloading of the not-ROM and applying the translation patch and throwing it on my Droid.

Literally, my experiences with the game began right when you name your happy family. For some bizarre reason, I kept Lucas and Claus as the default names, changed Flint to Chuck (mostly residual memories of all the Flint/Chuck Norris memes when people first started playing the game), changed Boney to Mickee (let's not retread that conversation), and then came Hinawa. Well, one of my favorite bands is They Might Be Giants, and I couldn't think of a decent name to fit with Chuck, so let's just name her after one of their songs. And thus, the happy marriage between Chuck and Ana Ng was born.

According to TVTropes, the reason you can actually name Hinawa is so that you'd name her after your own mother. That way, when she is inevitably killed off, it's supposed to be more impactful. (Note: as of the time I wrote this, that line had disappeared. I'm going off memory here. Ahh, wikis...) Weirdly enough, I must've missed the memo, not that it would've changed that scene. I was surprisingly unphased, if I recall correctly. In fact, if I hadn't finished the game (and thus lose the right to call myself an "Earthbound fan"), I'd probably be saying that the game was more likely to cause tears of frustration due to parts of the game being nearly impossible if I was too underleveled. Thankfully, I did stick it out.

The final fight with The Masked Man was what pushed me over the edge, and it honestly probably had more to do with the stars aligning than anything else. Here I am, radio on, hunkering down against this guy, unable to attack. Then, out of nowhere, the station I tuned into decides to play "Birdhouse in Your Soul". This station never played TMBG before, as far back as I can remember. By some bizarre series of coincidences, the game suddenly started to go all Dark Side of the Rainbow on me. To this day, I do not understand it. Claus dying at the feet of his brother, meanwhile the line "I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend" starts having a meaning that I know now it shouldn't have.

I'm actually unsure, in retrospect, if it was just the scene alone that got tears going, or if it was the weird synchronicity that seemed to come out of nowhere. But for whatever reason, I can no longer think about that scene without They Might Be Giants playing in my head. I'm sure most of you are going "Cool story, bro", but I don't mind. That was just my experience with the game.   read

2:05 PM on 06.30.2011

[Shortblog] Sign the Petition to Keep Streaming Legal!

So, we all saw the post Jim put up of Bill S.978, right? The one that'd outlaw streaming? Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but I put up some videos that would fall into the range of what that law would mark as a felony. Yes, Let's Plays would be considered a felony by this law, if what I've read is correct.

Anyway, if you want to do something about it, there's an online petition going about. I know what you're saying... "Those TOTALLY work, right?[/sarcasm]" But I figure I might as well give it a shot. I mean, I'm not cut out for prison.   read

9:02 PM on 05.27.2011

You probably didn't see my newest Let's Play inside that failpost I made...

So, I just removed the offending failpost and extracted the playlist embed. Although, commiting c-blog failure and then shamelessly promoting videos you've made probably isn't much better. And I'm probably burning through all my "I miss my dog" sympathy.

But yeah... did a Let's Play of a FPS from 2003 called XIII (as in the Roman numeral) with a visual style that I wish more shooters used. Picked the game up off of GOG. Almost done. Kinda creative for a shooter. Wish I saw more like it. I also get a Half-Life 2 vibe from it, even though Half-Life 2 wasn't out yet when this game hit.   read

7:26 AM on 05.21.2011

I just finished Okamiden, and now I miss my dog. *spoilers within*

That is my dog, Mickee. Well... was my dog Mickee. She died earlier this month. At least, if my memory is correct, that was when she died. It was a very sad moment for my family, and I tried to block out the details because I wasn't going to be able to get through my day if I kept remember that sweet dog that we brought home from the shelter (after the other two dogs I had since childhood passed on... but at least they lived full, healthy lives) was now no longer of this world. The worst part was that she was ill for a good part of the time we had her, and we did all we could to treat it. But, when she didn't have the strength to walk, well...

Some time before she died, I bought Okamiden. I loved the original Okami, and my dad had just gotten a Best Buy gift card from one of the customers at his shop. With my current gaming budget constrained due to perpetual unemployment, I took it as a sign and looked up what games had recently come out. Among the top choices, I ended up settling on Okamiden. I jumped between it and Dragon Quest 9 (which I had picked up when it came out but didn't play until this year), with mostly a focus on Dragon Quest. I enjoyed both, but at the time had already made a significant time investment in Dragon Quest. (That, and making those Let's Play videos really eats up time... it isn't just record and post, at least that's not how I do it.)

I finished up Dragon Quest, and then sometime after that, Mickee passed away. I found myself alot more invested in Okamiden all of a sudden. Akuro, the final boss (who, by the way, has much better build-up than Yami, who was a fricken Giant Space Flea from Nowhere), makes a point that the whole game is driven by Kuni (Susano's adopted son). He is, after all, Chibiterasu's first partner (as mandated by Sakuya), and Chibi does get pretty close with him prodding the cowardly boy to arms. And hell, the motivation that Chibi has to explore the game's second dungeon was to rescue Kuni, and pretty much the rest of the game is spent searching for the boy while complete strangers come up to Chibi (none of which bother to learn his real name, because seriously: Chibiterasu? What the fuck kind of name is that?) and decide to make Chibi their personal chauffeur. Not to say he doesn't eventually befriend them, because what kind of benevolent Child of the Sun God would he be if he didn't try to see the good in people? (Although Kagu tries his patience for a good bit, stage diva that girl is... still saves her when it counts.)

While after Mickee's death, there were several cute moments in Okamiden that made me go, "I miss my dog," nothing hammered it home more than the final hours of the game. Akuro travels back in time to when Nagi first slayed Orochi (by the way, why do you still have to do the QTE brush strokes for those bits? Both times, Amaterasu should be there doing just that...) and bathes in its blood, which along with a vessel will unleash his full power. After darkness-bombing pretty much the whole world in that time period (sans Kamiki Village, which Shiranui sacrifices her life to protect), he calls out Chibi and tells him that they'll fight at the Moon Cave. It's there that Akuro reveals his vessel: Kuni! Chibi pretty much refuses to fight against Akuro in this form, hoping that Kuni will snap out of it. After an interesting final dungeon wherein you refight all the old bosses (with the help of your other old partners, pulled into place by one of Issun's ancestors literally tearing the space-time continuum a new one), the final fights commence, with Chibi insisting he fight them alone. First up was one of your other partners who for some reason has sided with Akruo, the Waka-lookalike Kurow, who he spares after winning. (Notice something in the name there?) Following that was... well, Akuro. But again, Chibi refuses to fight him while he's in Kuni's body, hoping he'll snap to his senses. At first, he does, and you only fight Akuro's demon form. But then, Akuro takes back his vessel, makes a dark clone of Chibi (who uses powers that Ammy might have had, but Chibi can never learn... cheater...), and mounts up. And while winning that fight forces Akuro out of Kuni's body, that still isn't enough. Only then is it that Kurow reveals his true purpose: that if he were posessed by Akuro and then killed, Akuro would be no more. But the thought of even killing a friend that he had for what seemed to me be a greater part of his journey just puts Chibi in tears. The young pup just doesn't want to do it. He does, eventually, pull himself together, and with the help of the now free Kuni, kill Akuro.

It doesn't stop there. The following cutscene shows all of Chibi's partners and Chibi himself standing over Kurow's body, who is fading (though still alive after being power-slashed vertically along his whole body). Suddenly, images appear out of nowhere of his time with Chibi. At first, he hated the discovery he made that he was, in fact, a Waka-clone made to seal away Akuro. But then, after seeing all the good time, he's able to rest in peace. What really hit it home for me was the music fading out, punctuated with Chibi howling over Kurow's corpse.

It made me think of my time with Mickee. When we first brought her home, she wouldn't bat an eye at me. And that was because I was, in fact, not at the shelter when my father and grandmother brought her home. Because of that, she would follow those two to the ends of the earth, but would mostly ignore me. (This was evident whenever I played fetch with Mickee when my dad was around... she'd always bring the ball to him instead of to me.) I still loved her all the same, though. As time moved on, though, we became close. It didn't happen immediately, and I had to dog-sit a couple of weekends to get her to notice me (one of which she spend a good chunk of time on her bed nussled up with one of my father's slippers), but eventually, we became chummy. And just when we were at our closest, she disappeared.

RIP, Mickee. Say "Hi" to Ammy on the Celestial Plain for me.   read

1:52 PM on 03.23.2011

I haven't whored out my newest LP, have I?

Well, that just seems wrong. Especially with me being in the home stretch (as far as videos uploaded... the actual taping and editing has been long done). And especially after I wrote a bit in my C-Blog about what doing it has taught me. Well, then... let's rectify that. Here's my Let's Play of Beyond Good & Evil. Check back daily. I'm uploading an episode a day, excluding the final 2 which will be put up as a pair. I won't be making a new post for each episode, to be nice and not clutter up the C-Blogs with my spam. Just the one post, with the whole playlist, which you can watch nonstop. Or not... whatever. I made some mistakes uploading in the first few episodes, but things pick up after that.

...So, enjoy!   read

3:07 PM on 03.20.2011

What I have learned from making Let's Plays...

So, as of late, I've been making Let's Plays and putting them on YouTube. I was quick to promote the one I did for VVVVVV on my C-Blog, but I haven't said much beyond that. Well, I've been doing one for Beyond Good & Evil. All the episodes are "in the can", I believe the saying is, but I'm only uploading one at a time. That said, this whole thing is quite the little learning experience for me, and while my next planned LP is one that's likely highly overdone, I'll be bringing in at least a little bit of experience. While that's probably not enough to say I know everything, I do know where I screwed up making the two series that I did. So, I guess I'll try to give a little lesson that can be taken from my failures:

Know What You Want To Show Off

This was a pretty blatant problem I had with Beyond Good & Evil. I played through the game once, thoroughly enjoyed it, and then let it rot in my Steam collection. Then, I decided to put together an LP in honor of the BG&E HD rerelease. "I'll just play through, show some interesting stuff... can't be that hard, right?" Well... yes, and no. For one thing, my lack of memory meant that I didn't remember the solutions to half the puzzles and how to fight some of the bosses. This led to me having to edit out me derping around alot more than I would've liked. If I actually had some decent memory as far as how to proceed through the different parts, there'd be alot less work on my part.

Dying once is funny. Dying alot is boring.

Obviously, the above doesn't apply as hard if the game you decided to do is a brutally hard platformer (IWBTG, Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV), but you should still be considerate of not leaving people with you dying on the same stage for many minutes. This is something that seems kind of obvious, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget. I would sometimes look at a video, saw that I still was able to get the length of the video under 15 minutes, and just shrugged and called the end product "acceptable" when it probably wasn't.

Pretend your recording software is working, but be paranoid about if it is working.

No one likes to hear the behind-the-scenes stuff. I mean, it can be fun, but mostly it's either boring or it's being used as an excuse for your screw-ups. Either way, most people don't like it. Cut that crap out. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Shrug and move on.

That said, do obsessively check to make sure that everything is working smoothly, especially before you start. Alot of what's on YouTube is crap, after all. I doubt anything I've put out is too much better than said crap, but damnit, I try. I try to make sure that everything's in place before I start. I try to make sure that, if I'm using FRAPS to record a game and live commentary at the same time, that FRAPS is recording from my mic and NOT STEREO MIX! (I still can't believe I did that... that was stupid.)

Live commentary isn't the only commentary

So, my next LP that I have planned, like I said, is going to be a game that's probably been LPed to death. It's also an old style RPG. Alot of editing will be involved. For that reason, it just made more sense to me to record the commentary after the fact. Meanwhile, I look at some of the videos I did and keep thinking of other things I'd have liked to say, but didn't because I didn't think of it at the time I was recording. I look at those videos and think that it probably couldn't have hurt me too much to have done the commentary and the play-through at separate times. Yes, that might end up being more work, but it'd allow me to clean up my stammering, stuttering, and nasal breathing.

Rehearsal can help.

So, I had a video where I kicked it off by sneaking through the Alpha Sections' base... and failing repeatedly. Since it was only the start of the video, I thought I could get away with scrapping all that footage, reloading my save, and starting again. The end video was alot more fun for me to record and alot more enjoyable to watch. (That episode hasn't actually gone up yet, though... just my opinion.) It might behoove me to practice a bit for my next series.

Speaking of fun videos, I think I should get to my last point:

If you're not having fun, your audience won't either.

I see making LP videos as a hobby. I'm not doing it in an attempt to be internet famous, or make YouTube partner and make money. It's just a way to give me an excuse to replay games I know I enjoyed while at the same time show people why I enjoyed them. Hell, video games are in part about having fun, and if you hate what you're doing, your audience will likely hate you. So have fun. Even if you're not planning on recording yourself playing games any time soon, have fun playing games anyway. Taking games too seriously means people just look at you funny.   read

9:03 PM on 02.21.2011

The whole playlist for my VVVVVV Let's Play (because it's less spammy that way)


So, apparently, I forgot to make public the posts I made where I put up my last two episodes! Whoops! My mistake! Rather than spam up the C-Blogs with multiple posts for each episode, I figured I'd post just the playlist for the whole series and end it. So, check back here often. I'll likely be adding on to it very soon. Hell, I just put up episode V. (Yes, the Roman Numerals are intentional...) And I'm about to go to work on episode VI.   read

1:57 PM on 02.15.2011

I think it's kinda sad that I'm mainly using my C-Blog for self-whoring...


So, I thought I'd keep going with my VVVVVV Let's Play. It's probably not the best thing ever, but it's good practice, if anything. Anyway, here's part 2. Feel free to critique. Hell, throw critiques at me by the barrel. It's the only way I can improve.   read

5:28 AM on 01.31.2011

So, I'm thinking of doing my own Let's Plays, and I want some feedback...

Yeah... doing a Let's Play has been an itch I've been meaning to scratch lately. I don't know where, how, or why I decided to do this, but it's been on my mind. Yesterday, I had an hour free after clearing my plate of all my school work. I booted up VVVVVV, fired up CamStudio and Audacity, recorded for 15 minutes, and then raged when Wax wouldn't let me preview while I was editing and found myself using Windows Live Movie Maker.

The following is the results of that free hour:

So... yeah, that's what I've been doing lately. Thoughts? Feedback? Really, that's the main thing I'm fishing for right about now. I want to see how I can do this better, and maybe I'll find myself with a new hobby.   read

6:11 AM on 09.21.2010

[QuickBlog] So I got to be a guest host on Goozex's podcast recently...

Yeah, I really don't know what else to say about that. I mean, I'm sure most of you know what Goozex is, what podcasts are, etc. etc...

Alright, enough snark. A while back, the hosts of the GoozCast put out a call on the Goozex forums for special guests from the community. Even DToid's own Nick Chester joined in on the fun (can't seem to find that episode, but I vaguely remember an interview). Anyway, always one for fame and glory, I humbly requested to join. 12 episodes later, and they get back to me. "Hey, we have a free slot open. You still interested?" Yes, I say, and while I tried to change the roundtable topic from what I suggested 3 months ago, it was still alot of fun. They even expressed interest in having me rejoin the show.

So, yeah, give it a listen. I believe this was the direct download link they gave me (edit: here's an actually working direct download link), and this is their normal iTunes link they tweet out everytime a new episode hits. (Link to their show notes will come when they post them on their forums... muttermutter) I give DToid a couple of subtle nods, blabber on and on about games, and pretty much extend the whole podcast to nearly two hours. I promise good times to be had by all, and if not, then oh, well!   read

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