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12:34 AM on 11.13.2014  

MASSIVE CHALICE is really good.

The MASSIVE CHALICE itself.

Guys this isn't a very good blog post I've written, but dang it, i've got to tell you, MASSIVE CHALICE is really good.

Yes its Double Fine. Yes its early access now. Yes its a Kickstartered game. No they haven't finished the game yet.

Yes  its really good.

From what i hear, the game is end to end playable, start to end game./fail states.  I've onl played about 4 hours, straight, but wow. The fact that they're putting more work into this game through to April 2015 is impressive, because it pretty much feels complete.  Its got a really rewarding gameplay loop, between managing the kingdom and getting into battles.  Its got the overworld game onlock much like new X-COM, but with a much more engaging timeline.

Even without completion, balancin, polishing or whatever else they're adding, it feels good, and feels like a completed thought.  I hope there's more for me to say once I get several more generations in.  If you have a tolerance for beta games, even just a little, I really have to recommend it.  I'm pleased and surprised and happy.

And I really wanted to share that.


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11:23 PM on 09.16.2014  

Are VIdeo Games Sexist: What the heck is going on here?

Guys, I saw this and had to come back home, to try and figure things out.

And this isn't to say there's actual sides to be had, or rigth stances or wrong stances... but huh?  Is gaming actually transcending an ideological line right now in agenda propaganda?  Certainly convservative types play games (I know plenty, from here!) but it always felt like there was a gamer island, that didn't even band to all that, in the name of games being cool, and sharing that. Does that even exist?  Did it?

Years ago, this video couldn't have existed.  Certainly, being a conservative outlet, the focus of any game piece would be on the negatives touched on to start, and on how games were a blight to society.  Now, legitamized and defended, its like a pendulum swung in the full other direction.  Lets defend these games, and protect them for all their bloody, arguably sexist glory, because its a boys club, amirite?

Jack Thompson, I could process.  But this...are... are we winning?

Is there even a we anymore?

Hello?


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11:08 PM on 02.24.2013  

A Father's Fight: Asura's Wrath is Awesome


BURST!

The right trigger glyph flashes on the screen as Asura's blazing anger reaches yet another limit break, flames licking the chrome on the thin and understated health/rage meters. I slam my index finger against the button with more force than even necessary. Asura's Wrath has got me invested in action of play. I'm not just tapping to a rhythm or plainly meeting a quick time requirement. CyberConnect2 has managed to make me care about this angry character and his ever growing struggle against righteousness gone wrong. Good fiction asks you to care a little. Great fiction manages to make you care.

I was surprised by how effective this game is at creating that investment. The core gimmick is pretty transparent, with the game giving you a prompt that you simply have to match. Its an easy and age old mechanic the rules the overall flow of the game. However, there's a hearty plate of content built around those basic play elements. There's a third person 3D shmup in Asura's Wrath. There's a well rounded brawler in Asura's Wrath. There's even a basic Test-Your-Strength button masher in Asura's Wrath. And draped over all of this, there's a serial fiction narrative in 4 parts holding it all together.

Smart people shouldn't fall for this, right? Surely, a mature gamer with a mature gaming palette should get one good bite of this and realize she's done this and she's far above it from an emotional and gameplay dexterity consideration.



As it turns out no. No, not at all. In the same way adults end up liking tart juices and maintain an unhealthy sweet tooth, so too does a raw sweet treat like Asura's Wrath splash against my old-enough-to-be-your-dad's game-buds and trigger all the senses necessary for an appreciation filled “MMMM!” to slip my lips.

No one part of Asura's Wrath makes the experience. The shooter sections benefit from the very active background and enemy elements. The brawler sections have the player managing a simple palette of moves against two overdrive meters. The animation-like artstyle comes alive through excellently on point sound design. However, the story content made a big impact on me mostly for the beats that hit me as a new father.

To take nothing away from the execution of the story, the main theme of the game is Asura's battle for the safety of his family, and the happiness of his daughter. As Asura grows 4 arms and punches the infinite square in the jaw, I relate to the anger just a little bit more than I would have 4 months ago. I get the frustration against things that can't be controlled and understand the release of rage that Asura seeks. The story feels personal and real, impossible physics and meta-physics aside. Everything matters just a little bit more.

Asura's Wrath may not look like the most engaging game, and it may look excessively simple with an extreme anime flare. What Asura's Wrath actually delivers is a finely crafted, digestible burst of gamecraft that I wish I had played sooner, though I'm glad to have had the extra bit of context to really enjoy.

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12:04 AM on 12.15.2012  

Play My Game: Article Of Loathing



For about 20 years now, I've wanted to make games. Up until about a year ago, I hadn't made much more than a simple ascii game in PASCAL and a hand full of levels in a handful of level editor enabled games. For the past few years, I've been actively trying to make my own games, from my own vision, of my own creation.

The results are not so romantic as the sentiment implies.

Using GameMaker Studio, I managed to make something last year that resembled an original idea and at least some parts that you've find in a game. I got great feedback by sharing that here, so I'm bringing something else to the table for digestion. At the very least, this new thing stands as a more complete package.

I give you Article of Loathing.



First off, I'll be the very first to say its not really all that good. Its ok. Have at it. Frankly, I just needed to finish this thing so I could move on in peace and not look back. But let me start at the beginning.

Post Partum Discussion

The idea for Article came about as just a really simple thing I could make and throw onto the GDC Pirate Kart for 2012. Play as an internet blogger that has to manage internet rage and channel their anger into their writing. What you see basically the game I envisioned it to be. The graphics are quick and ugly, the controls are a little grimey and play is shallow enough to pick up, play, and maybe just forget about so you can move on to the next thing. Its an idea that I figured I could finish in about a week, maybe two.

So 7ish months later here it is! The process of making Article was not a straight line, and I dropped and picked up the game many times while tinkering with other things. But that was the thing: I was doing more tinkering than finishing. As great as game jams are for flexing creative muscle and shaking out new idea, I had participated in about 2 or 3 Ludum Dares and managed to finish nothing at all. On top of having other game making projects mulling around, I was fast becoming a father for most of this year, and have been a father for the last few months. I really enjoy working on my own personal game ideas, but if I'm not going to finish anything, what's the point? Especially with my freetime as a new super premium, I've got to teach myself to wrap a bow on these things and give people something to actually play!

So as of the last month or two, I've been thinking of ways to close out Article of Loathing. Where was the UI? What's the end game? What's it like to play this thing? I did a few very good things that I'll probably hold onto going into the next leg of my game designing life.


Build the UI. Just do that.

Pretty straight statement. I'd run Article in debug as just a critical path to the gameplay mechanics, I'd yet to build out how UI even really would work in Game Maker. Just in the last month, I created the title screen, drafted up the How To Play and that snazzy Game Over screen. Once that was in, it really seemed like I was making some sort of product rather than just messing around.

Keep it Simple

The scoring system as it is is kind of ridiculous, but you should have seen it before. I was calculating Respect which was separate from Skill which was a factor in deciding Quailty of an article.

What the what?

The scoring was far too complicated to be appreciable (and it may still be, tbh). I did what needed to be done and in the last months here, I broke and remade the scoring system into a more simple Heat x Followers = some addition to your score. For what this game actually is, I feel like that says more than enough.

Communicate to the user ALL THE TIME!

Something I learned in the last year about game design is that games are as much about communication as they are about presenting fun play scenario. If you want a player to know something, its got to be stated. Certainly not everything should be spelled out completely. But I've got to tell you at least vaguely what needs to be known. Sound design, Article Score display and the coloring of the stats all say something worth being absorbed. While I can't necessarily get the user to grok all the ideas, I've got to at least say something, which I wasn't doing until I told myself I was ending this project.



If you've played the game, I would not be surprised to hear it wasn't even worth these paragraphs of very brief introspection. But Article represents something that I've so rarely actually done in most any project I've started in my lifetime: a finished work. The feeling of being Done can't be underestimated and I'm glad to have it out there.

I have more ideas coming up and I've got a pretty cool series of games in mind that should turn out honestly special. But for now, please check out this game and let me know what you think. I love and trust Dtoid as a straight up, honest community, so please have at it! I leave you with a handful of random facts about Article of Loathing.

*** The player character used to be a white guy, pretty much as an arbitrary asset grab from another project. Based on twitter conversations about black women in games I decided months ago to make a black woman the player character. The original “Drew” sprite is now the guy with the redshirt
*** Jim Sterling was the main source for the basic scenario. While watching him deal with a raging "fanbase" for his writing on a regular schedule, It dawned on me that the ratings of reviews didn't matter, so much as how strong his assertions were. Having a strong opinion is the thing, not the quality of the subject.
*** The game is technically endless, as the only way to get a “game over” is to get caught by a troll. However, its written in such a way that they will be simply impossible to avoid. I'd love to know your high score! I generally topped out somewhere in 6 digits.
*** Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken and Anna Anthropy's Rise of the Video Game Zinesters have been inspirational in both wanting to make games and wanting to increase my output, though this game arguably misses the point of both books. Highly recommended reading!

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10:21 PM on 04.03.2012  

10 more things you maybe didn't know about Tubatic



Hi, you probably don't know me... you know, aside from what you knew 3 years ago. Lets catch up, eh?

10. I came to DToid because of Jack Thompson- Or at least because of Robot Leader's dedicated hard journalisms. A guy crazy enough to jump into his car and drive right over to the court house where Jack Thompson was planning to get a judge to play the entirety of Bully? I was impressed and I've been somewhere around here ever since.

9. I was somewhere in the top 100 of DToid's leaderboards- Did you even know that Destructoid had leaderboards? True story. Destructoid used to have community leaderboards based on comments made, c-blog popularity and forum presence. Before the system was scrapped, I was just slightly in the upper teir with the editors and super users like Mxlyzptlx.

8. My favorite interview question is "How can I tell when you're stressed."- I work in QA for mobile device game/app software, and I used to play an active role in my company's earlier hiring pushes. Besides the "what games do you play" question, my absolute favorite to ask was for the candidate to tell me how I can tell they were stressed. Its a great question that stumped me many years ago. My favorite answer culminated in "... well I wouldn't punch anybody." He never did, which was awesome.

7. I'm still technically reading that one book by Yukio Mishima- Its a running vacation joke at this point. I even carried it with me to work for a bit. No progress.

6. I lost my dang mind over Way of the Samurai 3- Like very much so The punchline: I've only played to about 3 of the 15 some possible endings.



5. I don't use credit cards anymore- I'm glad to say Me and Mrs. Tubatic operate our daily lives with 0 use of consumer credit, and we effing love it. I don't go around getting all preachy Dave Ramsey-style about it, but if you ask me, I'd tell you one of the best things you can do for yourself financially is to not owe anyone any debt. Car notes, credit cards, will not stand, my friend. Buy used cars, and save your money, all the time.

4. I considered becoming a religious community leader- I've never had religion pressed upon me, but there was a point in my young life that I considered becoming a man of the cloth. Felt like the natural thing to do for the paragon life I was trying to lead. I never ended up finishing my front to back read of the bible, though. Between that and my own personal misgivings about churches and church communities, it probably all turned out for the best.

3. I used to hang with the hardcore/straightedge/emocore/screamo scene- In so far as I used to spin that stuff in college as an on-air DJ, and helped put on a few shows in Baltimore. Cipher, Codeseven, Shai Hulud, Boy Sets Fire, Hatebreed, Visions of Disorder, Agnostic Front and Frodus are names I remember from that time, but only know as ghosts now. Good, strange times, remembered fondly.

2. I've appeared on the Today Show, like twice- Both as a tuba player, ever so breifly. University of Maryland Baltimore County, my alma mater, doesn't have any major championship sports teams, but happens to have had one of the best collegiate chess teams in America. Thusly, the rolled out the UMBC Pep Band for the chess team's national morning appearances. Fun Fact: controversy later hit the chess team as they were found, at least once year, to have brought in ringers that were not enrolled.

1. I'm gonna be a father, y'all- Yup! Mrs. Tubatic is probably dividing cells as you read this. I'm pretty much freaking out, but I'm very excited about this whole thing, of course! Of all the things I've tried to create in my life, shaping this life will be the greatest challenge, and most likely the most rewarding.

Also, we've been keeping it under wraps. If you know me on facebook: shhhh! :D

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12:03 AM on 01.04.2012  

Gaming Podcasts in 2011: Worth a Listen, Worth a Loathe



As life has dealt my hand, I have been the traveler of 45 minute commute to and from work for the past 7 years. In that time, I've found a lot of time to enjoy revile several gaming podcasts. As we start to forget 2011, I wanted to say a few words about my loved and loved/hated podcasts from the past year. Podcasts that grew on me, and podcasts I turned off nearly entirely (save for bored desperation). in awkward list form, here's what I've been listening to in gaming podcasts over the last year. (iTunes links provided for my easy recommends.)

Touch Arcade Show + Bonus Content

I've got to lead with the best. Brad Nicholson, ex-Dtoid contributor and helms man of the Electric Hydra, has really outdone himself with this podcast series. While he's not necessarily the high octane, Quick Hit tiger that dazzled long time Podtoid listeners, he' s managed to fit his crafted muscle humor into a truly grand catalog of podcast content. Covering iOS and Android with the staff of toucharcade.com, this show oscilates very regularly between the regular format show and interview sessions with (mostly) indie iOS devs. The combination of the two is hands down some of the best content that's being done in games “journalism” in podcast format.

Frog Pants Studios podcasts, including The Final Score and The Instance

Where Brad Nicholson and Touch Arcade bring a certain level of reverence and sometimes humble respect to the table, Frog Pants Studio Network, lead by artist and podcast marathon man Scott Johnson, brings a slapdash irreverence to every show he's involved with. While this results in an honest and enjoyably goofy response to the world of game and tech at large, this also ends in some of the most groan-worthy informational gafs. Casually mixing up Jamestown and Zeno Clash completely grinded my gears this year, and really turned me off for quite a few months, especially regarding how definitively dismissive Scott and the team can be. They're titans of podcasting and pump lots of content, but don't ask too much of their accuracy in giving props where due.



8-4 Play

The newest thing I've been tuning into. While plenty of shows I listen to take an unashamed anti-Japan tact to their commentary, 8-4 (helmed by a handful of localization pros based in Japan) presents a refreshingly Pro-Japan / culture-agnostic viewpoint to the table. There's a good bit of joy in these folks, somewhat akin to the bubbly RetroForceGo team from back in the day. A must for Japanophile gamers.

Gamers With Jobs Conference Call

This is kind of a favorite, but its got an art-snob streak that sometimes brings the proceedings to a wine sniffing bog. The crew at GWJ has a knack for zeroing in on some really clever and nerd-high-brow commentary. The unfortunate result is a heavy/creepy affinity for Bioshock and Ken Levine and a yum-yucking disdain for japanese auteurship. Though not always on the bleeding edge of any given topic, they manage a good, mature-but-fun spin on any given 'cast. Also, these guys love board games, and the esoteric board game indulgence is a nice break from video game drama.

Weekend Confirmed

This is a nice way to end a week. Except for the occasional sour guest and the occasional drunken cast, this show keeps it fun, funny and not overly snarky for snark's sake. They have mostly reasonable discussion and I really appreciate them for it. They're more or less inoffensive, but I hesitate to saddle them as such: there's nothing negative about being rock solid and consistently on your a game like this crew is.



Rebel FM

This is has become on of my least favorite podcasts, primarily for the efforts of show regular Arthur Geiss. My goodness. While I hadn't noticed it until someone pointed it out to me, Arthur is no doubt the most miserable person doing podcasts about games right now. Between a cloying devotion to watchdogging offensive content and controversy, he maintains a disappointed opinion about any topic, with the exception of anything to do with Gears of War, which I think is just the only game that he likes. While I've enjoyed the rest of the team enough, Arthur Geiss is the dark spot on any podcast that I happen across.

Giant Bombcast

Long story short, you'll do well to listen to these guys every week, and their Game of the Year deliberations are the greatest end of year podcasts every, single, year. If you don't know, you need to.

Zero Cool Podcast

These guys are the New Mutants of Destructiod podcasts. Darren Nakamura, Kauz, Ben Perlee, and WalkYourPath have put together the best podcast that only one, maybe two people listen to. I won a copy of Frozen Synapse from these guys and, aside from that, they really put out some good discussion and game coverage.



Podtoid

Man. Shoot. I dunno. Its like... uuuh. I mean...

OK. You know how when X-Force changed from an off the record group of Rob Leifeld level beefy badasses and suddenly became a group of always dying, excessively self asborbed superstars the just kind of took the name X-Force? Its kind of like that. Except this new X-Force isn't completely awful.

Its not so much a podcast about video games now, as it is a podcast about the meaning and nature of Dtoid itself. Compared to the rest of this list, its mathematically unlistenable and awful. However, contrasted against the rest of this list, its a grand palette cleanser. In that, its about the same as it ever was, and on some weird level, I have to love that, at least a little.

----

But what are you guys listening to? Is there anything else out there worth a listening, or worth avoiding? Shout it out, Dtoid!

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10:41 PM on 01.02.2012  

I Played Your Guy or You are not Cole Phelps



NOTE! I get a little spoilery, though I showed some restraint. Read at your own risky. Game has great performances regardless of knowing the plot points anyway...

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One of my favorite games from last year was L.A. Noire. While the gameplay had its problems with jank and excessive handholding, the narrative flow and character performances made the experience something special. Having a big appreciation of police procedurals TV shows and films, I was drawn into this thick series of crime vignettes and period specific spacial and character settings. What really struck a chord with me, though, was how dedicated L.A. Noire is to keeping the player from identifying and connecting with the main protagonist of the game.

At the start of L.A. Noire, we find Cole Phelps at the bottom rung of the LAPD career ladder, with a wartime past that seems to hang on him in this not-so-proud way. As the start to a narrative, it seems well enough that we're in for a hero's story, as Cole ascends the ranks as a detective and eventually rules the roost, presumably, toward the greatest victory. We expect to find Cole vindicated and victorious by the end, but the Detective Phelps we have at the end of L.A. Noire's narrative is less than a white knight. Only the most forgiving or open minded player will easily accept the character as he's presented by the final act.



And that in particular is what makes the whole trip especially captivating. What Team Bondi gave the player is not the begrudging yet strangely willing hero of John Marston or the sad but morally malleable Niko Bellic. Nor is it the nihilistic via aggressive apathy tough of Johnny Kibitz from GTAIV Lost and Damned. With paper thin regard for who the player would want Phelps to be, the Cole that you have to play is a character that takes none of his overall disposition or destiny from the player's decisions. By the time the user hits that last act and the gameplay twist runs its course, it feels that you haven't even been playing Cole himself. Its more like you've been playing Cole's will to redeem his arrogant and regretted past.

What drove this home for me was the level of interaction with Cole that the player has. Very specifically, you don't control his home life. You don't control what he eats, and you barely control what he wears. But in the context of your protagonist's profession in police work, you are the driving catalyst for the ascension and motiviation of this crappy sap to which you're given the reigns. It not that you're pushing Cole to respond to suspects aggressively: you're indicating when Cole's professional line should be agreeable or distrustingly pressing. You never manage Cole's personal life or his relationship to his family, but you are the intangible dedication to job and duty that keeps him working well into the evening. In an era where the open world has presented players with the customizable, lived-in character, here's this guy. While the world around him appears to be this fully functioning world, the only context we can even begin to touch him in is professional.


Image found here

In this way, the turn in characterization that the game takes for the final act makes a lot of sense. What can a player do with Phelps when he is completely neutered in terms of his career and skill? Nothing. As our crushed protagonist passes his work onto the avatar of the final act, we're presented a certain scenario. The first mission of that final stretch is one all about sparking interest and getting our last man to care about continuing Cole Phelp's work. When the final splashes of the game's narrative plays out, the content is all about the will to set things right, from Cole's outro to the wrap-around flashback stinger, its undeniable, to me, that we've run a full tragic arc through this rollercoaster ride.

Its unfortunate that several people gave up on L.A. Noire about half way through. The gameplay and the intentional samey-ness of the homicide worked in active deterrent to players that had not been successfully hooked by the story content. What the game lacks in character movement in the first half, it makes up for in the back 9 with, in my opinion, one of the best falls a video game character has ever been allowed to have.

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1:41 AM on 10.20.2011  

From a Bowl of Rice: Assassin's Creed and its Brotherhood


"I'm prepared to scour the Earth for that motherf*ck*r. If Butch goes to Indochina, I want a (dude) waiting in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his *ss."
-Marcellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction

Looking past the way he says it, Marcellus Wallace expresses a poignant value of being the big man in charge. As a person in a position of power and leadership, Mr. Wallace can both request and expect the near impossible to happen at his very whim. While the concept of a man popping out of a rice bowl to exact revenge is farfetched and comical, the intent is serious and clear. By his command, Butch is not intended to get far, and Marcellus has the network and resources in place to facilitate the end of Butch, without laying a hand on him.

At the beginning of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, we find Ezio Auditore on the cusp of knowing this same level of power and control. After spending much of his life fighting his own battles and gaining the respect of several certain powerful people in his world, the older and wiser Auditore sets about to execute both a personal and honor bound plan against the controlling faction in the city of Rome. To this end, Ezio revives the Assassin's Order, with himself as the leader. As he recruits and fills in the Order, we the players come to experience the fruit that preparedness and organization can bring, without ever having to consider the logistics of food based stakeouts.



Ezio can call in death on any target he chooses with just the bare minimum of preparation, simply by raising his fist. Wether near a river dock, the congested city, or the open fields, Ezio's assassin recruits will appear as if the strike had been planned for days. His agents of death will jump in over fences, ride in on horseback, or even emerge from blind corners that the couldn't have possibly know to hide in on such short notice. By whatever means available, the order will get it done. The sensation of it is pure satisfaction, and no less a power trip than stabbing the group of targets on your own.

What cements the feeling is the investment that the player puts into this team of death artisans. The game has you recruiting each member individually, saving them from the ruling Borgia family's aggression. From there, the player decides how each assassin improves, and even picks their initiate costume color. This is your team you're calling in, and they're as effective as you train them to be.



Mr. Wallace would approve of the training regimen here. The focus in the meta game of assassin order management is on sending out disciples to various locations around Europe and Western Asia to complete contract work, ranging from infiltrating Lavish parties to extracting friends of the order in dire need. Large missions describe far less covert battles against the Templar threat. You never see these events play out, but you're given Marcellus Wallace's point of view on the matter: I want this done, tell me you've done it. As each mission succeeds or fails, your charges earn the valuable XP needed to rise in rank, all the way up to a full fledged Leap of Faith taking induction ceremony as a capital "A" Assassino.

And with that full corp of deadly, trusted Assassins, your rule as "The Man" in Rome becomes absolute. From a gameplay perspective, there were few things that I enjoyed more last year than making the call and having a righteous "plan" come together. I'm hoping there's more of this in Assassin's Creed Revelations, but if not, I highly recommend giving Brotherhood a run to experience this unique gaming sensation.

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11:23 PM on 08.11.2011  

Digital Depth: Jim Sterling is onto Something



For the past few weeks, Jim Sterling has taken on the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade entry for the week, and each has come in disappointing in his opinion. This has come as a surprise, as many of the games show an overwhelming amount of promise and skill in some area. Bastion with its unique approach to narrative, From Dust with it's manipulation of physical elements and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet with it's gorgeous artstyle: these little download games are presenting players with some of the absolutely highest quality components that are sorely lacking in some games that are made by teams of people for many hundreds of thousands of dollars. At any sectional slice, you would be forgiven for thinking you're having a go at a highly crafted work of AAA gamecraft.

But as Jim sums up, something has mackered the final project into palpable dissatisfaction. For all of Bastion's narrative prowess, a shallowness was evident and unpalatable for Sterling. As deft and lush as the element manipulation and physics may be, the game turns out to have little in the way of god-game depth. Even the down right beautiful ITSP tops off as a merely adequate rum through a not very developed tunnel of straight forward adventure gameplay. All amazing and promising games, all suffering from a similar malady: a general lack of full-on depth and substance. It's to be expected that not every game will be awesome. But, how is it that these three games in particular are weighing in as ornate jugs half full of delicious libation?



An easy solution would be to blame Jim Sterling for being tired of his work or some other ridiculous accusation. He's an easy target, because he's so fat. Fat with the presence he maintains on Destructoid, not only as a reviewer, but as a regular news and feature writer on the site. Couple that with the love these games are getting from several other outlets, and one might think he's just having a sad faced go at Microsoft's summer push. However, a look at those other outlets will reveal that the flaws Jim points out are echoed, but overall downplayed. They are there, but discounted in favor of praise and the will to endure the faults to enjoy these games.

So look then to the developers. What's creating this viscious strain of substandard games wrapped in wondrous coating? Theories are numerous, but I think the realities of these games' creation and existence are the ultimate culprit: a small scope game can excel in brilliant ideas, but its in danger of simply not having the key resources (time, people, money to sustain the project) to create the well tempered game that satisfies that deep gamer-thirst for long-lasting game sustenance. This is going to be the defining trait of this era of indie gamecraft at the dawn of digital distribution platforms and services: great ideas, truncated scope.



Greg Kasavin of Bastion's SuperGiantGames, has said that his studio simply wouldn't exist if not for digital distribution slashing the cost of delivering a game to the masses. They can't afford to put Bastion in a box and put it on store shelves. However, Bastion exists in a world where the game can be downloaded to a gameplayer. Similarly, I'm sure, From Dust as it exists today would never be a big enough idea or experience for Ubisoft to greenlight mass production, let alone greenlight the resources for developing the idea from the basic game it is now into a boxed product. These ideas and games thrive off of their smaller scope and are meeting with success and life outside of their creator's minds. This is great.

What isn't great is the loss of well developed, deeply explored games. The digital indie space thrives on the short experience. Indie game ideas bloom at the lower $0.99 to $15.99 price range, but you're not going to find the exhaustive and awe inspiring depth of SimCity, The Sims or Civ. A proper edition of those franchises, mind you: their iOS counterparts lack the depth and gusto of their originals without much room for argument.



Not to say depth can't be achieved in the indie space. Super Meat Boy is a thorough and shining study in pure run and jump. And even now, Jim is working on a review for E.Y.E, an apparently super detailed mash of an indie title built on top of the Source Engine. Hack anything, play how you want, and experience a world of details. Glaring issues aside, it sounds like its providing him with some level of real joy and contentment. But this depth is the exception in the digital indie space.

I've gone on about this whole thing about depth before, but its an item that rarely comes up as a solid point in the "Casual/Hardcore" or "Indie/Corporate" argument space. What do you think Destructoid? Are we losing depth in our games in this digital indie age? What sort of deep and detailed experiences are you finding on digital platforms? Or am I just barking up a dead horse? What's your take on this?

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12:26 AM on 08.07.2011  

Play My Game! Rubber Duck Zerocraft sees the light of day


Hello Destructoid, it feels like we haven't hung out in forever. You look well. Have you lost weight?

Part of the reason I haven't been musing out like a bandit on the c-blogs lately is that I've been tinkering with the idea of maybe designing and making my own games for the past few months. I don't actually have much to show for it, except this game right here!

Rubber Duck Zerocraft, First Version for Other People!

Fair Warning: It *should* be just as easy as unzipping the .exe and running the .exe. It shouldn't cause any problems. If it does, I'm sorry: I've no idea where to even begin troubleshooting it, and honestly, it may not be worth the effort to. You probably have much better games to get running on PC than this prototype.

I highly recommend playing this with a controller. Grab JoyToKey (its free) and give yourself a button for Shift and a button for Space.



There isn't too much to it, really. I wanted to get a good grip on how GameMaker works, so I more or less built this game out of the tutorial for 2D shmups on the GameMaker Tutorial page. I mainly wanted to try creating a shmup without projectile attacks. The focus is on defense and avoidance. My main concession is that I can't do art especially well. If you pretend, in that regard, that I am 5 years old, this may be acceptable. I'll eventually pick up the full version of GameMaker and add some sweet particle effects, but for now, that's what's up.

It doesn't necessarily need more priming than that, so I'd love for you to give it a shot and give me your opinions on it Any of it. I want to call my self effectively done with this incarnation of the game, so any feedback will help me improve my gamecraft and possibly make a better, more involved version 2/ sequel in the future. I've got a few other neat ideas I want to scratch out, which I hope to produce much more efficiently than this one!

Have fun and let me know what you think!

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9:00 PM on 07.04.2011  

Spew out of 10: Score Scroller Serenity and a Strange Love of Words



As someone that dabbles in writing about games, I have a great respect for reviewers and feature writers. Further still, as someone that dabbles as an artist, I would want nothing more than for every piece of work ever, to get its full scrutiny and appreciation as something that's been crafted for perusal. Even further under that, I'm an aspiring game maker and I hope that what ever work I do that merits a review will get its fair shake from what ever reviewing entity decides to stamp their opinion onto my wares.

Even with all that under consideration, the first thing I look for in a review is a score. Plain and simple.

I could blame Game Spot for being so about the score, at least 10 years ago when I was really into them for reviews. Maybe even blame GamePro and EGM, for assigning scores to game reviews in the first place. But for whatever reason, honestly and truthfully, the score is the first and biggest indicator of what a publication or writer thinks about a game, and its a value that I allow to have a lot of sway on how I perceive a game and its place in the social mindscape.



But who really cares about all that? Apparently a bunch of people, considering how much of a funk was mustered up about not only Jim Sterling's reviews in general, but about reviewer responsibility. Maybe its my old manitude coming through, but seeing so much time spent on the rhetoric of reviews, from ethics to fairness to how many negative descriptors per paragraph Jim Sterling used in a string of tweets about a review he was thinking about writing after a bad breakfast... Are we really spending so much time worrying about how video games reviews are affecting the world of a righteously diggable hobby like video games? What is going on?!

In caution of becoming hypocritical, I think there isn't much more I can reasonably write on the topic that hasn't been said. Find your preferred voice and method, whether as a writer or consumer of that writing, and apply your own filters. History will sort out a thing's place in history. If not, then it probably wasn't worthy of history. But consumers or games writers calling for official and non-official opinions, or watchdogging a writer for questionable content: Well as ManaSteel88 has writ well Its ridiculous for you to do so. As evidenced by the low accuracy of even the most celebrated of games industry analysts, nobody really knows anything about how the games industry works.

Make your mark, and let that be the thing.

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11:12 PM on 06.05.2011  

E3 Approaches: Hoping for a Way of the Samurai 4 Announcement



E3 means a lot of things to a lot of people. For most people its the announcements of new games, confirmation of rumors and reveal of details on games sure to arrive in the next two years. And for some, its a chance to wade chest deep into the stuff game fandom and fanaticism is made of. Days of sizzle reels, hands on demos and behind closed door exhibitions. For fewer still, it's a time to show off your wares and seed the hype that could make or break a company's financial and qualitative future.

But for fewer still, E3 is the time of year to scour the conduits of gaming news for a modest piece of data. It could be as short as a headline, or perhaps part of a greater wall of text. You may even catch it these days as a tweet or scribbled digitally across a chat window. One simple company line, without pretense or poetry, can bring fiero undulation to those fevered few that seek it. Or, in it's absence, lead that small cult of quirk to question the soul of the industry, as if they were children that had found irrefutable proof that Santa Claus is not real.

E3 approaches, and I'm looking for confirmation that Way of the Samurai 4 is being localized.


Seriously, Google Images can barely find images for the first game...

My excitement, fandom and general support for this series started when the original title was showcased around or during E3 at least ten years ago. I remember seeing the game pop up during GameSpot and IGN's coverage, which back then consisted mostly of screenshots and articles dropping a few details about nearly every game that got some floor space. At that point, all I could gather was that the game would have a branching narrative which, for the early 2000's, was pretty unique. The samurai action base of the game, which I hadn't really had a taste of since Bushido Blade 2 a few years prior, was also a major selling point.

Samurai was interesting, but ultimately wasn't a big deal in the landscape of E3 coverage. Getting games localized from Japan was still a very common arrangement, and I feel most gamers were pretty used to hearing about a game once and not getting much else about it until years later. Looking now, I can't even confirm the original IGN or GameSpot articles. I filed it away on my personal list of games to keep an eye out for, and managed not to hear much more about it until March 2002, where it was set for a June-ish release by BAM! Entertainment.

I picked up Way of the Samurai during the summer of 2002 while working as a conference assistant on campus. After only a few days, I had completed the game once, and immediately began again to try out the other narrative choices and endings. A fan and evangelist was forged. By that time, though, there weren't many game playing friends left around after graduation to wax philosophical about the game. GameFAQs become my hub for Samurai hype and by the time Way of the Samurai 2 was released by Capcom in 2004, a modest but healthy number of forumites were already abuzz with hype and interest in the series.



Unfortunately, the series fell fairly quickly into gamer obscurity. Way of the Samurai 2 managed a pure “Average” on Metacritic with a score of 59, which for many gamers is a “No Deal” on score alone. Common criticism found a distaste for the game's lack of open world in a post-GTA gaming landscape, while others took fair objection to the game's arcadey and old world take on game flow, combat and mission based gameplay. The next five years of the series' history are typified by a handful of screenshots for Way of the Samurai 3, tucked away in a few IGN articles about the game's Japanese development. This was literally the only bit of coverage the series was afforded for much of the time between 2005's Samurai Western (an off-shoot of Way-proper, published by Atlus) and May of 2009.

This is how I found out that Way of the Samurai 3 was coming to The States in Fall of 2009. I had joked somewhere earlier that week that several other games were seeing localization confirmations around E3, and that Way of the Samurai 3 was sure to be next. I had no idea that just a few days later official word of Agetec and UFO Interactive bringing the series in localized format would be a reality! What followed was an epic, frightening and perhaps sad campaign in the c-blogs of Destructoid to garner attention for this long forgotten franchise. Upon release, I marathoned through the game over a weekend and spouted a punch drunk review that only a fan could write with a straight face. As much as I love the game, you'll find my Trophy collection on PSN wanting for several achievements, including the multiple ending ones.

Its admittedly hard to blame publishers for not jumping at the chance to bring the series back to the states. Way of the Samurai 3 clocked in at a Metacritic of 58, as reasonable people have little patience for early console life jank coupled with good old fashioned Japanese quirk. If the sales stats from vgchartz.com are to be believed, sales were modest, to put it politely. While there's no doubt some profit to be made in this localization, its not a sure fire hit by any stretch of the imagination.

***Warning: Attached Trailer Gets a Little Too Kinky for Work for a Couple Seconds!***


That said, consider this my formal pledge: If Way of the Samurai 4 gets localized in the North America, I'll be the first in line! This release is currently PS3 exclusive with no word of even a Japanese 360 port in sight. But surely some company out there is willing to take the plunge on this niche legacy. The gaming landscape may be less keen on the localization of Japan's games, but I've still got room in my gaming wishlist for a little E3 miracle.

Do let me know if you hear anything!

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