Just a guy who enjoys Video Games, TV and Movie animation, story writing/telling, and other similar things. I own a PC, PS2 and PS3, PSP, 3DS, Wii, and I enjoy them all. My RPG Maker XP project is on indefinite hold due to lack of graphic/sound skills to make original material for the program.
So I got bored about two hours ago, and decided to make my own cover for "The GAF Collection." I'm no artist, but in 2 hours time I came up with something. I should have noticed the TOS first on the "no free email" for signing up on NeoGaf (a stupid thing I think but it's not my call.) So instead of posting it there, I'm going to post it here in my blog. Before seeing it (and yes I made it a printable size) note three things:
I used Paint.net, so there aren't any real fancy tricks here.
The images and even the font were found with a google search, so aside from the layout and that kind of thing, the pictures, the font, even the template don't belong to me.
I am NOT an artist by any means in the form of visual art. My artistic nature seems to come through stories and such (as seen by my in progress RPG MAKER XP project.)
Enjoy Destructoid community, my 2 hour creation, if you want me to upload the full printable version of the DVD case cover, ask in the comments.
So about a week ago I found a game on amazon.com that made me turn my head. For a while now I've been trying to find a modern day take on the open world space game, similar in style to games like Privateer, and I had heard good things about this game, so I picked it up. The game is X3: Gold Edition, and even though I haven't, and will probably never touch X3: Reunion (I payed the extra 3 bucks for the soundtrack disc), X3: Terran Conflict has quickly become a newfound joy for me to play, despite it's complexity (the manual being 112 pages of fairly small print English), and after finding a mod to fix the lack of cockpits for all the ships, I found a guilty pleasure in flying around this universe the game set me in, despite running basically on no ideas on what to do. The game got me thinking though...
What features would be in my dream space game? After some thought, I came up with the following things, they are not numbered by any kind of importance, they are just numbered for organization's sake.
1: A large game space that feels connected. Freelancer did this the best so far, having each system have a few points of interest to the player, and having those connected via the trade lanes. Switching systems through the warp gates, even with the 2 second load time of white screen, really felt like you were heading to a new area. I'd like to see that kind of experience in more space games. X3: Terran Conflict gets close, but it's not quite to the degree of connectivity that Freelancer has.
2: A user friendly interface that has enough depth to please most if not all space sim junkies. I understand this is really hard to do, having an interface that is streamlined and easy to access, yet having all the commands of like building a space station to your specifics, or setting up a legion of traders under your command, but it can be done. It would allow new players to feel like they aren't being overwhelmed by the amount of interface options, but can also learn now to send those three wings of fighters to escort your trading ships to the planet Oculous VII. This is X3: Terran Conflict's biggest issue with me (and Reunion even more so), there is a lot that must be learned with just the UI before you can hope to really get anywhere.
3: Open ended mission variety. X3 has this in spades, not all missions need to be hunt this person, destroy these ships. Maybe I want to smuggle contraband to other planets and get payed by the employer to do it. While I have yet to know if X3 does stuff like that, I know there are plenty of mission choices beyond killing.
4: The circle of factions and their radius of power. Freelancer was somewhat on the right track with this. Space is stupidly large, and you can bet that in a game where there is a huge area to explore that not only where there be factions like the military or pirates, but that there will be branches off those those factions, and other third party factions. I'd like to see the radius of power of these factions shift depending on actions taken by the player, like if a player decides to do a mission for pirates, but near the end sends a communication to the military to launch an attack on the pirates to attempt to seize that sector of space, that if the pirates then lose the coming fight, their radius of power shrinks, and they would have to launch a new offensive to take it back. This of course would work the other way too.
5: Let me customize my ship, from weapon load-outs to shields, enhancements and for goodness sakes let me customize the paint job. I want my ship to have hot rod flames for a short time, I don't think custom paint jobs would be hard to put in, would it?
6: Show the current situation on the trade routes. Show me what's the safest or more risky routes at the time, and show me what planets are currently doing good rates on what product, I know this kinda falls into number 2, but I felt it should have it's own thing.
7: When in cockpit view, make me feel like I'm in the cockpit. This is more of a little polish touch thing, but if I'm in a cockpit, and the sun glares on my viewing glass, let there actually be a little graphic touch, like a bit of reflection of the cockpit onto the glass, Evochron Legends does this, and it really adds to the immersion. Also, have it sound like it, let the hum of the instruments sound, the beeps, the various systems check themselves. When the ship is close to going boom, let warning sirens go off, let me hear my mighty (or puny) engine whirr and rumble.
8: I want to see the surface of the planet myself, let me fly into the atmosphere and fly above the surface of the planet, scan some foliage, and maybe find some rare collectibles to be placed in a display room on my HQ space station that I can view at anytime I'm docked there. Evochron Legends did the part of being able to fly yourself down to the surface, but didn't seem to do anything with that.
9: So let me get this straight, in all these space games, we have the technology to self sustain ourselves in space, in a small craft for who knows how long, reaching the farthest stars in a matter of minutes, and have the weapon technology to blow other star ships up... yet we don't have a built in music player in the ships...why? I mean really, this is something that always got me, the tech is so advanced yet in very few if not none of the space games, we can't use our own music selectable from the ship's computer interface. Maybe I WANT to be blasting space pirates to the sound of "Livin' on a Prayer."
So there you have it, 9 features I'd like to see in a space game, of course there's a lot more to it than that, like controls and such, but most space games now have basically the same layout for things like that. If you think of a feature you'd like to see in an open world space game, go ahead and post in the comments.
As for X3: Terran Conflict, if you have a rig that can run it on high settings, and like space games, definitely check it out, it has my seal of approval.
Have you ever had the feeling of losing a good friend? Or a feeling of something you enjoyed, that was always there to enjoy, then one day you learn it isnít going to be around anymore in a few days? You know that if it ends up somewhere else, it will still be around, but wonít be the same? Thatís exactly how I feel after reading the recent post on the home page of the free to play MMORPG ďEarth Eternal.Ē
ďDear players of Earth Eternal,
Thereís no way to disguise what Iím about to tell you as good news, so I wonít try. Unfortunately, Sparkplay has hit hard times and is not going to survive. I had to lay off all of our staff except for two people (one of which is me) on Friday, and itís likely that by this time next week neither of us will be with Sparkplay any more either. The simple fact is that weíve run out of money. Iíve been out trying to sell Sparkplay or get further investment for it for the last 2 months without success, and our last hope crumbled this weekend.
What does this mean for Earth Eternal? The answer is that itís hard to tell. Weíre putting it up for auction today and are reasonably confident that someone will buy it and keep it running. There is, however, the chance that nobody will want to take on the cost of running it. If that happens, Earth Eternal will go down when our internet and hosting provider pulls the plug for non-payment. Itís hard to tell when that could happen, but itíll certainly be here at least another week, at minimum.
I know this comes as a crushing blow to many of you, and believe me, I and the rest of the former Sparkplay staff share those feelings, times ten. Some of us have been working on Earth Eternal for over four and a half years and have poured our hearts and souls into it and Sparkplay. We worked our asses off and through the long hours, frustrating bugs, and occasional problems so bad we had to laugh, we became a very tight team as well as good friends. It is incredibly disappointing to everyone that itís come to this.
Iím sorry. Iíve failed you despite my best efforts. Iíve never worked harder in my life, but it wasnít enough. Things that we planned on happening didnít, and things we didnít plan on happening did. I donít want to go into a lot of detail and I donít want to try to shift responsibility to anyone but myself. Thereís really nothing I can say other than I am very very sorry to have let you down.
Iíve turned off the ability to buy credits now or earn them via offers/surveys. Iím also going to set all non-permanent items in the credit shop to cost nothing so that everyone can have some fun, though wonít be doing that for a few hours.
I will keep you updated as to what is going to happen with Earth Eternal, but in all likelihood we wonít know until late on Friday whether someone is going to buy EE and keep it running or not. Letís hope for the best!
Until then, enjoy yourselves and help yourselves to the forthcoming free credit shop items.
Matt Mihaly, CEO (not for much longer) Sparkplay MediaĒ
For the people who didnít know, Earth Eternal was a fully 3d mmorpg that could be played by client or in browser. The game featured 22 player races, none of which were human, elf, dwarf or orc. It had a lore back-story that was available in pdf format, and it was over 120 pages in length. The game had 4 classes, with a second tier of skills for each that all characters could learn. A couple unique features that were in the game was the armor re-fashioner, where you could keep your armorís appearance, but get the stats of later armor sets, and the groves, player homes that were instances that could be sculpted by the player, so someone could have a waterfall in a forest clearing with a small building on it. The feature will never see the light of day though, since it wasnít completed before this awful news.
Iíve been with EE since closed beta, Iíve got the gear from the events they held during that time. So seeing this game go is painful, but I am sure the poor folks at the now dying Sparkplay are even more so sad. After all, they spent 4 1/2 years developing this game, it had tons of potential, and now all of that is for naught. I know this is the the fate of many games, but this one really had potential, and it showed. What other game do you know that has a broken moon, with all the pieces in rings surrounding it?
To the folks of former Sparkplay Media, thank you for the experience I was given on this game. Hold your heads high, and donít look at this as a failure, look at it as a learning experience, and something to be very proud of. Despite the end of the project, this game made a name for itself, it has ground breaking technology for an mmo in it (browser play for a full 3d mmo), unconventional races, and a fascinating lore. You people have earned my respect in every way possible, and I hope your lives stay bright.
Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is an enhanced remake of Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland. The game features new crops, new characters, a larger area to explore, and some new activities. But how is it compared to other harvest Moon games as well as the original game it's based on?
Design: Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley has a very simple design. It is basically the best that Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland had to offer, as well as adding other traits from the ohter Harvest Moon titles to it. The game has you start on empty farm, with no animals, a few bags of seeds, and some basic tools in which you must use to bring the farm to its former glory. As well as this, you must create relationships with the townsfolk so that hopefully you can keep the Funland Corporation from tearing down the town in two years.
Gameplay: You control your character using the analog nub, the L shoulder button is used to call either your dog or your horse, the R button is used to go through your rucksack. The camera controls are mapped to the left and right directional pad. It seems clunky at first but you will eventually be used to it. There are many activities to do in the valley you can go mining, fishing, do a part time job for bob on his ranch, cut down trees, attend various festivals and horse races, or just make up your own fun scavenging the land. Overall the game seems to play very nicely and loading screens while a bit on the seemingly lengthy side of around 5 seconds did not gain the way of this slow paced game.
Graphics: This game is easily not only one of the best looking PSP games, but also one of the best looking Harvest Moon games. Most of the textures are amazingly sharp and almost seem to have a sketch artistic style to them. The models are nice, the animations are decent, and the 2D character portraits have variety in their emotions and are high quality drawings. One of the better things about this title is, unlike a lot of its counterparts including some of the console variations, that the camera is a full 3D rotatable camera instead of a fixed, lightly moving camera. The only real flaw is occasionally you can see seams/tears in the land geometry. Itís nothing to really gripe about, but it is noteworthy.
Sound: The sound effects in the game do their job nicely, although some seem slightly out of place like the harvesting sound. It's nothing game breaking, just an odd choice that you get used to after a short while. The other odd choice is the lack of a sound effect for rain or any body of water, again this is nothing game breaking but it just seems odd that they're not there.
The music however, makes up for the few faults in the sound effect department. Based on this first impressions, the music is some of the best in the series history. Everything from the title screen, to the spring theme (which sounds similar to Zelda's lullaby, but is in fact its own song) has a nice relaxed tone and pace. I cannot wait to hear what other musical choices were made for the leader seasons.
Final thoughts: if the game stays as good as it has been, Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley, could take the throne of best "Harvest Moon Title" from Harvest Moon: Back to Nature/Friends of Mineral Town. Everything from the setting, to the characters, to the activities, to the presentation are some of the best I've seen in my many years of being a fan of this series. And the fact you can take this wonderful game anywhere you go is a big bonus. For anyone on the fence for this title, do not hesitate to pick up Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley.
A full review will come in the future.
UPDATE: I have played farther, and have seen some new things I would like to share. The first is the horse races. They start at 2PM and run until 4PM, but you can show up early (to register your horse of course). There are three races you can bet on (I don't know about actual racing with your horse, I don't have one yet), the short race, the long race and the steeple chase. Also if if like your dog or chicken gets sick, the first time a friend will heal it for you, and yes you have to feed your dog every day, this is like save the homeland, so just use those very berries.
Also there is no shipping bin, you sell your goods to the shops, there a plethora of house upgrades (one in perticular you can't get apparently until AFTER the storyline is done, which will allow you to wear different colored clothes), you have an ocarina that you can use to train your dog, with 4 playable notes on the d-pad, you can catch bugs, though I've only found that you can give them to Tim. And the fishing is enhanced, and a lot better than in previous games, though I won't spoil all there is with fishing. ;)
I also forgot to mention the HUD, you have a stamina bar (although you won't collaspe and lose a day if it drains, you just can't work anymore) a "wellness" meter (if this circle around your portrait gets too red, you will be sick the next day, I found out the hard way) there's a clock and a minimap that shows what way you are facing and other characters in that area.
One important note to those of you who aren't used to the console series from.. around magical melody maybe? You can only save when you go to bed for the night, no mid day saves, however this isn't that much of a problem because of the system's sleep mode, as well as minutes pass at slightly faster than one minute a second, I'd say it's like 1.3 minutes in game equals 1 second real time. So you have all the time you need to get your work done for the day.
And saving is almost instant, It's been a while since I've seen a harvest moon game save as fast as this one.
The tv has 4 channels, and they are thus:
Channel 1 (Up on the D-pad): News - tells you of the upcoming festival/event
Channel 2 (Left on the D-pad): Weather - Shows what tomorrow's weather will be (no percentages this time)
Channel 3 (Right on the D-pad): Variety - A different show everyday, from a ninja story, to a cooking show... to ads of shows on channel 4...
Channel 4 (Down on the D-pad): ???? - I don't know, the tv you start with doesn't get this channel.
So there you go, some new updates on my experiences, this game continues to impress me, and I'll keep updating until I hit the end of the story and marriage, which I will then compile my impressions blog and write my final review.
Title: Cave Story
Developer/Publisher: Studio Pixel/Nicalis
Price: 1200 Points
Release Date: March 22, 2010
Cave Story is an enhanced port of the free-ware PC game created by Daisuke Amaya, who goes by ďPixelĒ for his art name. The game on PC took him five years to make, and did all by himself. Nicalis took it to port this incredible experience to Wii. Is the 1200 Wii Points a worthy price for admission on the better graphics and new goodies? Continue reading to find out.
Cave Story contains multiple modes, most new to the game and exclusive on WiiWare. The original mode ďStory ModeĒ now has three difficulty settings, easy (placing the main character in a yellow outfit), original (retaining the red getup) and hard (wears a blue outfit). Other modes include a Sanctuary Time Attack mode with challenges the player to complete a hellish section of the game that is used in Story Mode to lead to the best ending (fair warning players, this section is HARD, it WILL kick your ass). Also included in the release is a boss rush mode, allowing you to fight all the bosses in the game one after another, and the option to play the story mode with a different character, though little is different, itís a nice add-on that will warrant another play-through to see what has changed.
Cave Story is a 2-d side-scrolling adventure-shooter. The game has 3 levels for all of its weapons, with EXP gained from fallen crystals dropped by foes. Take note however, the levels donít last forever, as being damaged by anything takes away some EXP. Most weapons (only 3 donít) have unlimited ammo, so you are free to blast away. At points in the game you can trade one of your weapons (The one called Polar Star) for different weapons, each has a plus and a negative, and these points are strewn across the story, itís a nice touch that adds tactical thought into the game-play.
Cave Story puts the player in the shoes of a amnesiac character (named Quote in the PC release) who has no idea where he is or what is going on. After exploring a bit Quote runs into some colorful characters, mainly a crew of bunny-like creatures called Mimigas, and slowly begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the whole affair. The story may be a bit short (an normal play-through usually takes around 6 1/2 hours to complete for the normal ending) but it is engaging with well written characters, and great little hidden secrets (one example, folks, sleep in the bed of the purple Mimiga when you first get there, I wonít spoil anything, but you get a useless item that is just amusing because of itís existence.) Overall the story has great moments throughout and shows that both Pixel, and Nicalis took great care in making sure the translation was a good effort.
Cave Story can be played via two ways, the Classic Controller or the Wii-mote turned sideways (NES Style). Both forms work very well as the controls are tight and responsive. Quote does have a bit of a floaty jump, but once you are used to it jumping, shooting and running in the game become second nature and are not a problem. This isnít to say the game isnít difficult, far from it. Cave Story is a decent challenge on the normal difficulty setting. An example of this, without spoiling anything, is the section for the normal ending, in which the player is tasked with fighting four bosses, with no saves, and a very minute amount of healing in between (the healing is remedied if you managed to save a very specific item), and even then the healing occurs between bosses 3 and 4. Health capsules are scattered through the world that increase your max health of course, but all of them are in fact optional, and some are hidden. No matter how much health you have though, the stage leading to the best ending will beat you into submission. Instant death traps are everywhere, and it will take serious skill to beat, we are talking Mega Man 2 + difficulty here folks.
All in all, the game feels right at home on Nintendoís console, as if the PC release was just a test to see how well the game would be received before being released on itís native console.
While the added modes bring substance to an already stellar game, the presentation got a major overhaul. All of the spites were redrawn by Pixel himself to have more detail and resolution. The backdrops and effects got the higher resolution and detail love too, and the game looks much better than the PC version, without losing any of the charm expressed. Plus it all runs at 60 frames per second, unlike the PC versionís 50.
Not all of the presentation change in the game is flawless however, some sound effects have been altered or changed, whether itís intentional or a glitch is unknown, but it is easy to notice these changes, and although not game breaking in anyway, just seems a bit strange. Music fairs the same, the remixed tunes are great in their own right, but not all of the songs (albeit most in fact do) meet the great soundtrack from the original version.
Luckily, the original graphics and music are in fact in the package as an option from the title screen. However I noticed a strange flaw in the original music, aside from being lowered in sound quality (most likely to conform to Nintendoís stupid size restriction of 48 megs), in at least one case (could be more, I didnít play with the original tunes that long) the song didnít loop correctly, instead stopping about 3 seconds short of the end and starting the whole song over. There is also a half second pause in the music when switching rooms. Again most of this isnít game breaking, but they are legit bugs.
This is the definitive version of Cave Story, the new graphics, most of the new music, and the new modes prove this, adding in the 60 frames per second and the game is golden. This is quite possibly the best WiiWare release yet. It definitely has the most longevity of any other game on WiiWare.
I wanted my first blog to be special, unfortunately this is as special as I could come up with. Anyway..
There is a game that floats around the internet, around seven years now, this shooter has been quite popular in all that time, and with a sequel coming out later this year I thought I would look back at the original game, back in it's golden days. This look back will be in two sections, Service/Modes and Community.
Before I begin the more in detail bit however, I would like to point out that I am not far in it after all these years, so some of the things listed here may still be true. Now then, it's time to take a look back at:
GunZ: The Duel
GunZ is a third person shooter that combines light bits of RPG elements, matrix style wall running and jumping, with gunfights and sword fighting. The game is almost entirely PVP based with at least one mode for a team against cpu creatures. The game is currently hosted on ijji, where the game is in it's most complete form, however this wasn't always the case...
Section One: Service/Modes
Before Ijji, GunZ ran on the "GunZ International" service during it's beta and for a short time after that. During that time only four game modes were available, which will be listed below.
Deathmatch: Use all your weapons to gain the most EXP in the match. The match ends when someone reaches the kill limit or time runs out.
Team Deathmatch: Two teams fight a specific number of rounds to see who can win more rounds. A round is completed when all members on one team are defeated.
Gladiator: Same basic rules as Deathmatch, except players are restricted to blade weapons.
Team Gladiator: Same basic rules as Team Deathmatch, except players are restricted to blade weapons.
Each of these modes had its ups and downs, with stages that both were/weren't good for either mode (Island stage, I'm looking at you, cheap death city) that were fun anyway.
GunZ had a great swordplay system, by default left mouse button was attack, holding it down charged the blade. Right mouse button would do basically a throw move, but more on that nightmare later, and shift would block. If a player blocked an attack, for a split second their blade would get the charge attack. I'm not sure about knives but swords could block gunfire aimed at the torso. There were 3 types of blades, Katana, Kodachi, and Daggers, with the latter being the cheap weapon.
Daggers had a nasty problem of playing the stabbing animation when rapidly using it, and a lot of the time there was no recoil from a block, plus, unlike the katana/kodachi throw, this one simply knocked the player down, which was harder to recover from, and left you totally open to be shot and killed (you can't do jack squat when thrown without recovering until you get up, though usually it's too late for that).
The nightmare of throws with the katana/kodachi throws is when near a pit, the arena and island stages are the two most notorious of the bunch for this, but if you were thrown over a pit, even if you recover you couldn't do anything and would fall to your death. The reason behind not being able to move or attack or save yourself (a blade with a hold of a right click in air would stab your sword into the wall you are near, allowing you to climb back out) when recovering from a throw until you touch ground isn't known to me even today, but aside from these issues, the game is still my favorite free online shooter.
Section Two: Community
I miss the community from the pre-ijji days of GunZ. Aside from the K-stylers (Players who use animation cancels/weapon switching/blocks to basically fly along walls while pulling off shots at you) have always been there, and some who use the overly cheap knock-down/shoot combo too much, there was a player respect back then.
In many matches it wasn't anything out of the ordinary to see two players, fresh on health and armor stare at each other, bow (using the /bow emote) and proceed in a 1 on 1 duel, this was more-so true in gladiator modes, and other players wouldn't interfere with the duel. Oh sure on occasion there was a prick who would, but for the most part these duels would just happen, some games even making it the core rule of the match. Every fight would begin with a bow from both sides, the fight would ensue, and the victor would bow to the corpse of the fallen, usually followed by a chat post of "good fight" or something similar.
I am not far into my go at it again on ijji, but so far, I haven't come across this, all I see are double/triple teams, clutter-fights and at least one person calling everyone who killed him noob before talking in another language. It's much less mature than in the old days. Maybe in the higher level channels that respect is still there and such duels exist, I hope so. The game is much more fun when the fight's victor wins by skill, and not from a third fighter. Of course the duels (unless specifically mentioned in chat before the round) are off in team games.
Anyway, those are my musings on a game I used to play all the time with a few friends. If you spent all this time and actually read through my thoughts, I wish to give you a thank you.
As my final statement: I cannot wait for the sequel, GunZ: The Second Duel.