I'm Tim and I have a deep passion for games. Always have and always will. These days I'm pretty much a PC gamer exclusively and Steam is the black hole in my bank account.
I love FPS and RPG's the most, but I'm also interested in the wide world of indie games, art games, and pretty much anything that is different and weird. Some of my all-time favorite games include Half Life 2, Diablo 2, Team Fortress 2, Tetris, Borderlands, Torchlight and Bioshock.
I'm a 21 year old Canadian guy who loves writing/blogging, gaming, animation, drawing, curling, bacon and coffee-- all drenched in maple syrup.
I hope you enjoy what I write, and I would one day like to end up as a professional in the field of games journalism or working as a creative in the advertising/entertainment industry.
You can also follow me on Twitter @twgrant where I tweet about neat stuff to cool people, like you!
By means of apology for being late on my first post of this series (as well as probably being tardy on the next- I've got a lot of cool stuff in the works!), I've decided to do an extra little spotlight on a weird but interesting indie sci-fi roguelike, known as Zaga-33.
Created by Michael Brough as a 7-Day Roguelike challenge, Zaga-33 takes the roguelike formula, strips it down to it's very core and runs with it's simplicity in a new direction. While most dungeon crawlers are about clearing each and every room of enemies for sweet, sweet loot, Zaga-33 encourages players to evade enemies rather than directly engage with them. Armed with a handful of quite smart and rather useful upgrades, randomized during each playthrough (similar in idea to the pills in The Binding Of Isaac), the player must navigate through each maze to reach the exit while avoiding or combating the collection of alien foes patrolling the map. The player must complete 25 levels and defeat the final boss in order to win.
This game is really addicting. The controls are simple, where everything can be done with the direction and number keys, and the gameplay is surprisingly deep. With the focus being on evasion and stealth, this game forces the player to try to outmaneuver or trick the AI into bypassing the player so they can proceed towards the goal. Often you may find yourself "juggling" the enemies by going around in circles in a safe area until an opportunity arises, or you can use special items to clear a path to the exit. Again, direct combat is not recommended. The game is turn-based, so it provides the player time to think about their actions and plot out the best path to success, but one wrong step could lead to a spot of bother, so control and planning are key. The outlandish visual style and ominous music really help drive the sci-fi feel of the game, a presentation that makes this unique title stand out from the rest of its kin.
I must say this is one of the most impressive and accessible roguelikes I've ever played, and direction it takes provides a fun and fresh experience that's absolutely worth trying out. It's available on PC and Mac for free on Brough's Blog, and it recently released on iOS for $0.99. It's great for coffee breaks and bus rides, so do yourself a favor and check it out.
The "Roguelike" style of RPG has been arguably the definitive mode of game design for dungeon crawlers since the release of Rogue, back in 1980. Since it's roots as an ASCII-based fantasy RPG, the game has influenced countless titles and remakes in it's 30 year history, and it's effects have been felt in many great games since then. Titles such as The Binding of Isaac, Dungeons of Dredmor, Dwarf Fortress, and even Diablo borrow a aspects of the original and innovate them further, all the while many games are still being made with the core Rogue experience in mind.
A recent example of this is the game Hack, Slash, Loot, by indie developer David Williamson. It's a graphic-based roguelike full of charming sprite art reminiscent of Realm of the Mad God (Which, in fact, Williamson licensed these sprites out to Wild Shadow Studios to make their game). The game is turn-based, which really helps to make it feel like a pen and paper RPG, although sometimes playing with loaded dice. The game features everything a roguelike needs: permanent character death, randomized dungeon layout and equipment, and a host of different enemies and items to create a fresh and interesting experience each time you play. There is also a large cast of unlockable heroes to choose from, as well as collection of unique quests, each with their own story and setting, with the added touch of your own imagination of course.
The gameplay is simple and addicting. Everything is condensed into point-and-click controls, so that the whole game can be played with the mouse alone, although there are keyboard controls if one so wishes to play that way. Moving your character around feels just like a character on a board, and the combat is fun but becomes a little flimsy at times. Often fights will descend into a swatting match of missed blows while other enemies in the room (or anywhere in the dungeon for that matter) will close in on you and surround your character while he is still flailing away at the first goon. Squishy characters such as the Wizard or Archer often meet their demise in such a way, but placement and maneuverability are key assets in surviving this game. The game can be a little unfair at times, and maybe with a little tweaking in favor of the player might help make it play better, but it is by no means ever fully unenjoyable. Besides, when have Roguelikes ever been nice to their players anyways?
The game has a robust graphical interface that provides all the information the player needs, and the retro artstyle is magnificent. The sprites themselves are adorable as they are effective, and the game is always pleasing to look at. One of the best features about this game is it's smart map system. While performing it's basic function as a display of key information and the dungeon's layout, it also acts as a fantastic navigation tool in that the player can simply click on any part of the map and your character will automatically go to that spot. This swiftly alleviates the annoyance of backtracking and allows for rapid transportation to unexplored areas.
If you've never played a roguelike, Hack, Slash, Loot is an excellent place to start. It's quick to grasp and difficult to master, fulfilling its role both as a coffee break simple time-killer, and a deep dungeon crawler with infinite replayability. It's available on PC, Mac and Linux on Williamson's site here, or you can find it on Desura and Steam.
...Okay, so it's still a month away, but it's a heck of a lot closer than ever before- and it's finally coming! I'm a huge fan of the Diablo series, and dungeon crawlers in general so I'm pretty stoked for a chance to finally play it. How I did not get into the Beta I don't know, but then again I've purposely kept myself in the dark about a lot of the game's particulars to keep everything as awesome as possible.
But this post isn't about my love of Diablo, rather an introduction to a small series I wish to write in anticipation for Diablo 3's imminent release. Each week I am going to blog about my experiences with four different games that have the dungeon crawl design in mind, and by the time they are finished I'll be straight into Diablo 3!
So why do I love dungeon crawlers? I don't care much for other conventional RPG's but dungeon crawlers in particular I have a certain soft spot for. Possibly because I spent so much time playing Diablo 2 that the style just scratches the itch that other games don't satisfy, but I think with my recent playtime with these sorts of games have led me to understand and appreciate their design much more than I could have when I was 12 (and what is this). The element I find most fascinating about these sorts of games is the completely randomized elements, from the dungeon layout to weapons and enemies, each time one plays it it's completely fresh and new. A new adventure each and every time, with new stories and scenarios imagined as the characters I created and recreated come to life (and often meet their death) in these labyrinths.
So If you're a fan of Diablo or other Roguelikes and RPG's please check in for more! I plan on posting these each week, starting on April 14th (Saturday), and if I keep my schedule then they should be all finished by May 14th, the day before Diablo 3 comes out.
I literally just wrote down my two favorite things, and I'm absolutely giddy that there may be a correlation between the two. According to one tiny detail on Tarantino's IMDB Bio the quirky director has a deep love for Valve's revered series, Half-Life, and has considered making a film adaption of the game. Let me state again, that the following is pure speculation. As much as I would love this to happen, there is no confirmation that it will, but I want to think how exactly it could be done.
I am a huge fan of both the Half-Life Series and Quentin Tarantino's films. I carry my Bad Mother Fucker wallet with pride and have played each of the games numerous times, digging for details and finding new things each playthrough. As much as I would love this fission of ideas to come together, I can't help but be apprehensive about it to a degree. I'm mostly concerned about the two different tones presented. The spirit of revolution and near-future sci-fi are for the most part quite serious, whereas Tarantino is at his best when he takes violent subject matter and gives it a cartooney twist; like he did with Kill Bill (or what could have been done with Inglorious Basterds). I do trust Tarantino to take the subject matter appropriately, but I know his efforts are best spent dealing with the absurd. Another thing is that Gordon Freeman is a character that must never speak. He is the shell for the player to inhabit and act out as the hero of mankind's revolt against our alien oppressors. So how could Tarantino go about a Half-Life film without Gordon Freeman and a completely different tone? Simple: new location.
Humanity doesn't surrender unconditionally to alien forces in one place while the rest of the world carries on with their lives as normal. Earth surrendered entirely after the 7 Hour War. Now in control, the Combine displaced citizens all around the world, which explains why Half Life 2 takes somewhere in Eastern Europe. That single detail there is enough to allow for almost anything to happen, and I know exactly where it should.- Neo-Tokyo. Okay, maybe not exactly Tokyo, but some sort of post-futurist Asian city. Perhaps some sort of blend between Blade Runner and The Animatrix. This backdrop would provide Tarantino ground he is very comfortable working in, as well as provide an interesting take on the aesthetics of the Half Life universe.
As for characters, one could use nearly anyone to fill the cast thanks to the theme of displacement. Did all the Black Mesa scientists end up in the former Soviet Union, or were they divided even more? Are there other heroes of people leading revolutions elsewhere? What atrocities are the Combine doing to humanity elsewhere? Personally I'd like to see Tarantino take another stab at the Guerrilla insurgents idea but this time focusing more on the revolutionaries rather than the girl who runs the tea shop next door. Perhaps they too got wind of Freeman's exploits across the world and took up crowbars as a symbol of the revolution. This could also allow for a delve into the depth of the revolution in general. How far spread is it? Is the lambda a global symbol now? What other heroes were there in this revolt? Speculating speculation!
These ideas would allow Tarantino to run wild and make an incredibly stylized, violent film set in one of the coolest video game locations conceived. Would it be a single narrative? A collection of short films? Animated sequences, or perhaps entirely animated? The possibilities are quite endless with a man of his mind. Needless to say this would be a project I would love to see come to a reality one day.
Until then, we'll just have to make do with the incredibly high quality fan films being made today. If you haven't seen them, I highly recommend you do so. Beyond Black Mesa is by far one of the most ambitious projects I have seen in quite some time, and Half Life: Origins is well worth a viewing as well.
Remember when you were a kid driving down the road, picturing a little man running along side the car jumping over obstacles and taking great leaps over intersecting roads? I did it, and I'm sure as heck you did too. Sadly, for years that hero has been locked to the confines of my head... until I picked up Canabalt.
Created by Adam Atomic (Gravity Hook, Press Any Key), this autoscrolling parkour-platformer is addictive as it is intriguing. Simplicty is at the core of the experience, where the player simply jumps from rooftop to rooftop while avoiding barrels and falling debris. The player picks up speed as they run, so an uninterrupted run can lead to a fast paced and frantic experience. The path is randomly generated each time, which makes each run is different. While this may not allow for practice with some of the more tricky jumps such as a low hanging glass pane, it keeps the experience fresh and interesting each time. Occasionally you will run into an impossible solution and be killed instantly, such instances are rare. The final score is determined based on how far you get and there are online leaderboards to submit your high scores to.
The presentation of the game is absolutely astounding. An interesting colour scheme (despite being various shades of gray) and fluid 8-bit graphics give this game a slick and modern style. Beyond the enthralling gameplay lies the incredible musical score. Created by none other than the brilliant Danny Baranowsky, it really sets the mood of the game. While only having three or so tracks, each loop perfectly and provide three distinct moods. The graphics and the music both work together to create the narrative of the game, with a little imagination of course.
Needless to say this game is pretty fantastic. It's quick, simple and addictive; all excellent features to have in a browser or mobile game. You can find Canabalt iOS, Android, PSN, as part of the current Humble Bundle, or play in your browser for free right here.
If you liked the original, you should check out the Passage mash-up spoof, Passagebalt.
Hey everyone, this'll just be a quick post, but I just want to talk about something that I discovered today. Recently I picked up the insanely popular Minecraft and have been trying to make the most out of the modding community around it, trying out texture packs and whatnot. While most texture packs simply change too much of the game for my liking (not just the blocks, but the tools, items, and even the loading screen and menus!), I decided to take a gander at what skins are available and I was quite surprised at the sheer amount of skins that are being made each and every day.
I discovered the website Minecraft Skins aka "The Skindex", which houses an online model editor and I was again surprised at how easy it was to create original skins. I saw the editor tab and thought there would be a convoluted method with bizarre file types and unforgiving programs, but the online editor and upload/download processes are both clean and efficient. The model is easy to manipulate, limbs can be removed for painting nooks and crannies, and limbs automatically apply changes symmetrically to save time. There is a neat grid as well helps keep everything clean and exactly how you want it. It's a fun little thing to do if you have some free time and a bit of creativity!
I think it's brilliant that there are simple tools like this that allow anyone to create content that can be easily integrated into the game and uploaded for the global community to have for their own. While not paying attention in class I made the destructoid community a little gift, a Mr. Destructoid skin! so if you have Minecraft, give it a download and slap a pig as everyone's favorite suited robot.
Just be sure to remember which way is forward... otherwise you'll end up like Blue Dude below...