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"In what top scientists speculate is a miracle."
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djvlive
10:58 AM on 01.31.2013

67 Minutes. That's how long my Steam library has said I've played Proteus.

I can say it was a very interesting and engaging 67 minutes; however it was over much too quickly.



Proteus, the indie exploration game by Ed Key and David Kanaga, was released today on Steam and via the Humble Bundle store.

Proteus takes place on a coastal island where the mysterious protagonist can wander freely with no goals, objectives, or incentives. Proteus is a game mainly for the eyes and ears. It features a very visually pleasing 8 bit meets Minecraft look and a sound environment that changes as you interact with objects around you.



The soundtrack (composed by David Kanaga) is excellent. The objects you can interact with produce sounds that fit in perfectly with the backing track in a sort of tonal avant-garde arrangement. There are 4 in-game seasons, each with a day/night cycle, as well as different sound arrangements based on where you are standing (ie: on mountain top, near a circle of trees, etc).

And that's it really. Simultaneously it's greatest strength and failure lays in it's music structure.

Strength because it's so good. Failure because it's too short.

Proteus is really more of an interactive ambient album then a game.



While the island is randomly generated each time the game starts, all landmarks are the same- only differing in their locations to each other. There are a handful of interactive objects: frogs, birds, bees, storms, snow, rocks; but these only serve as quaint markings on an overall barren landscape.

Discovering how to navigate the seasons is relatively simple and after about 20-25 minutes or so, you've heard and seen most of everything the island offers.



That isn't to say it's not without a few great moments. I personally greatly enjoyed the fall night theme; and even had a frighteningly surreal moment when a circle of statues created a nightmarish clone of myself who ran off into the night.



In 67 minutes I played through the island 3 times, experiencing several days in all four seasons. I'm sure I haven't heard everything yet but I did see just about everything.

A few genius exploration moments here sprinkled with the listening of a great ambient recording there. A solid purchase, if you like that sort of thing. The only thing I really have against the game is the lack of included soundtrack.

I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Worth buying just for the experience, even if it's only a short one.
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I thought I'd drift through the saloons this weekend; the arid west Texas wind had me parched somethin' awful. I was even contemplatin' makin' my way south of the border for a spell till I came across a familiar name on the Steam "Top Sellers" list.

Natural Selection 2.

I heard of it. I remember back in my young days hearin' tale about a HL mod with both RTS and FPS elements. Didn't think much of it; was too busy starin' at a post modem spectator view in CS 1.6.

This weekend my wallet felt a little too heavy so I thought I'd give NS2 and the folks at Unknown Worlds an opportunity to lighten the load. Let's punch this bovine a bit an be done with it.

The Good

NS2 is a retelling of the traditional western American legend- Aliens VS Marines. You have your marines on one side and the aliens on the other. Don't ask any questions about who or why though, they ain't payin' you for that.

As fer the good; the game looks amazin'. The engine is pretty like a red headed doe just after you been sprung from a confederate work camp.

Playin' as the marines can feel a bit sluggish but weapons feel right and once you get some nice gadgets workin' everything sails smooth. The aliens handle something sweet. Smooth transitions runnin' from floors to ceilings and seein' in the dark don't get more butter then this.



Best thing is that feelin' you get. That immersive feeling you have when you're hanging on the ceiling about to pounce on some poor shlub or when a few of your marine brahs are hanging right next to you barreling down an unknown corridor with only your manhood and a flashlight leadin' the way. Can't say I've really felt that way with any game nowadays.



It's got a few other real nuggets of gold here an' there; the map design is some of the best I've seen in 15 years of ridin'.

The Bad

This game is like a spigot on a mule- it just don't work the way you want it to.

Balance issues are like the hot texas sun when your canteen's run empty. Most competitive multiplayer games suffer from some typa' balance issues; it's hard to tell exactly if this game works fine or is totally broken. As long as you're winnin' everything seems good, right?

Well that's just it. It's hard to tell if you're winnin' or losin' 'cause it really comes down to the team who rolls as a posse and has the most aware commander (controllin' the RTS parts).

Tell ya what though, after a handful of games playin', it seems like the Aliens got the short end of the stick. I recollect in the classic western tale, the marines are always pushed against the fence. In this, it's the aliens who have to bite and claw just to keep the horse above water.

It's kinda' fitting in a frontier justice sorta' way 'cause the aliens are a few heavy saddlebags more fun to play then the marines.



Heard speak some folk can't get the game workin' right on their systems. Somethin' 'bout poor frame rate and hang-ups but this cowboy didn't have any problems so I can't talk to that.

The Ugly

Talkin' bout balance issues doesn't even go into it. The real truth is that this type of game just doesn't work. It's like a Remington that always backfires.

There are lotsa' crossover games these days but not yet have I seen a good FPS mixed with RTS in a way that makes everyone happy. Either it's too much RTS or it's too much RTS.

People like playin' FPS because they want to run around and shoot stuff. Other people play RTS because they want to micromanage and dominate. So everyone gearin' to run around but they can't shoot, or play, or win unless someone who was good at micromanagin' happened to be playing on their team (and was better then the other team's micromanager).



Because of the necessary map awareness and RTS mechanic knowledge needed to play efficiently, new players are left standing in a dust storm; only help to be received is curses and belligerence rants from teammates talkin' bout how green they are.

The community claims the more people get to playin', the more coordinated the game will be. I can't help thinkin' the more the knowing people keep knowin', the harder it's gonna be for young pups to step up.

I suppose only time will tell who will still be standing at the 12th stroke of noon, but I can remember a few similar games came out not more then 14 months ago now completely off the map.

Last words:

The Good:

Pretty lookin' game if you got the rig to enjoy it. Real life understandin' of the alien VS marine struggle.

The Bad:

Aliens are a bit hard to get a hold of; marines are a bit rote, boring.

The Ugly:

Enjoy staring at the "waiting to spawn" screen after your team didn't do something you didn't know you were supposed to do cause of that whole RTS bit. If you do win, you won't be able to figure out exactly why... but maybe that's the fun of it.

Bounty:

With no persistence or progression and saddle sore mechanics, I'd say this bounty ain't worth more then $500 [out of a possible $1000]. Wait for a free weekend or a good sale.







djvlive
4:29 PM on 10.29.2012



The protagonist of Home awakes in a darkly lit mansion during a thunderstorm. Not sure how or why he got there, he decides to poke around and immediately comes across a gruesome, recently deceased body.

Trying to understand how the pieces of his life took a turn for the surreal, he manages to escape the mansion by means of an underground tunnel and sewer system. Following the trail of someone who had recently passed through, he eventually makes it through the sewers into a forest, abandoned auto parts factory, general store, and finally- his own home. All along the way finding more bodies and a trail of strangely notable evidence.

At the beginning of the game, the game stresses the importance of putting an hour or so into your experience without stopping. However, I finished my play-through in about 40 minutes.

The game has no direct antagonist, save for it's claustrophobic environments. The story is very compelling and initially seems to be open for exploration but I found early on as you move forward you are unable to backtrack. Even though I don't feel that I looked at every area in the game, I've understood from the conclusion that I didn't miss anything paramount.

Ultimately, Home is a short game.

Regarding the conclusion (without giving spoilers), it seemed that the author deliberately left the story open ended so that the player could decide for themselves what really happened. This is both smart and lazy; smart because it gives players another way to interact with the game but lazy because the plot holes were too simply large.



Where Home really excels is in it's atmosphere and narrative.

As I mentioned before, something about this game made me claustrophobic in a way I've never felt before. Set pieces and unique uses of items, environments, and well written text made me feel chilled. I constantly felt lurking fear that I was chasing an encounter which would end badly once I found it.

Altogether, Home is very slick in it's execution. There are a few different possible outcomes, but they all have more or less the same consequences. Some people have complained that the endings are a bit unsatisfying and I can agree it seems the author wanted to do more but maybe didn't have the time.

Short but sweet, Home is a nice little evening jaunt during this Halloween season and at less then $5, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed it.

I'd give it a 7/10.
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East vs West?

America sells loyalty. Japan sells functionality. Korea sells instant gratification.



In America we subscribe to one school of thought. That's just how we do. Democrat or Republican, Global Warming or nothing, Domestic cars or Foreign, etc. There are plenty of people who stay in the middle but most people's decisions are usually guided one way or another.

Companies know this and try to play into that. When it comes to video games (and video game companies) brand loyalty is a major factor in development and marketing. Are you a Sony fanboy or an Xbot? Nintendo hardcore or PC elitist?

Even though many people have multiple platforms nowadays, it was always (and still is) a war between brands. Its part of American culture. Pepsi or Coke?



Japan sells you on functionality. Companies try to tell you why you can't live without this product and what this product will do to deserve your hard earned cash.

Nintendo's entire console claim to fame has been functionality. This console has more colors, or has half a dozen screens, or motion controls, or 6D or some other piece of arbitrary electronic designed to make it harder to enjoy being lazy. Sony opted for the same thing this generation with a console that plays BD, acts as a home theater device, has a billion GB HD, 80 processor cores and what.



When you add brand loyalty into that you get a console war. Which console does more for me? Which company do I trust more? This is the same problem facing the Smartphone market as well.

Game developers are forced to play favorites based on sales figures, ease of development, fan backlash, console exclusivity agreements... it all herds consumers into buying along one track and bickering about which platform is better. Then developers get unnecessary flack for choosing the best financial path and accused of abandoning their "true fans". Or even more unfortunate for those people who just want to play the dang games and have to purchase all platforms. In a lot of ways- everyone loses.

Korea plays a different game altogether.

*Soju* is a millet/grain alcohol that's brewed locally throughout Korea. It can be anywhere between 18-45% alcohol per volume but the general idea is that it gets you hammered before you even drink it. Something about the way its brewed will absolutely destroy your mind and any hope of mobility moments after 2 or 3 of your Korean colleagues force multiple shot glasses full of the stuff down your gullet.

Oddly enough, they have some crazy recycling system where the bars and gin joints that serve it keep the empty bottles and the (local) manufacturers clean and re-use them. It keeps costs to an outright minimum and a small bottle of quality stuff will only set you back $1-3 dollars.

Its basically a micro-transaction system of alcoholism. It works rather well though. Only buy what you want and only little money is required to get buzzed right away.

Herein lies the secret (and the genius) of Korean gaming culture.

In my last trip to Seoul I did a lot of electronics shopping and research. I encountered kilometer after kilometer of PC shops trying to sell me on the latest RAM, CPUs, and GPUs. In all my time there I only found one store selling current Xbox/PS equipment and games.

The ironic thing about that particular store was its location directly adjacent to an arcade. After thinking about it I realized the truth. Why would I want to spend $300+ dollars to take a console home when I can spend $3-4 dollars at the arcade right now? Just to reference- arcade games in Korea only cost 10c per credit instead of 25c.

Korea, being a group minded and social culture, prefers playing games next to other people instead of sitting around your living room in your undies eating a sandwich and saying things your mom would be embarrassed to hear at the top of your lungs.

Of course, as I mentioned, you could find all your PC needs if you wanted to do that but then comes the PC Bang (pronounced BAHng, literally translated as "room").



More common then Starbucks are these interesting dens of gaming gluttony. For as little as $1 or $2 an hour you can play (or do) anything on a high end PC preloaded with all the hottest games and software. If you don't have a lot of space at home or have a bunch of friends who want to game together its your best option hands down.

These rooms are so influential to the gaming scene in Korea that Blizzard opted for a licensing program specifically for PC bangs in which you can play Starcraft 2 by the hour (about $1) or by the month (about $10).

It completely flips the game industry and our "western" concepts on its ear. Gone are 3-10 year development cycles resulting in the singular sale of one $60 disc. Now there is endless development (balancing, server updating, modding, additional content) on games that are continually profitable.

A game isn't considered a success if it sells- its considered a success if people play it, resulting in a higher quality experience directly controlled by developers and ultimately- consumers.

Have you ever noticed there aren't many Korean developed games for Xbox or PS? That's because they're not interested in picking sides when they could be getting games to customers and making money.



I'm not an MMORPG guy but the few Korean MMOFPS games I've played have been of higher quality, are more balanced, easier to play, and have more content then some of the biggest of the big budget western shooters. I'm sure there are bad ones but having spent $60 on more then a few disappointing titles this year it seems no different to me.

The best part is there is no brand loyalty or limitations. Everyone plays on PC and the content goes direct from the developers/publishers to the people. With the PC bangs, you aren't even limited on your tech- you don't need an expensive computer to play the newest of the new games.

Western developers have taken notice like Japanese women like Korean dramas. Its no coincidence more and more games are going "free to play". I anticipate we'll see more of that in the years to come.

I suppose this blog was supposed to talk more about specific genres of game development but I think Western AND Japanese developers have to take notice of what works and companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft will ultimately be left behind if they don't. Having said that- there is lots of evidence that both Sony and MS are playing around with free to play models but both still require purchase of the console.

Then there's always Farmville...
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yup another steam sale. goooood times.

free copy of alien.....yeah you can read the title.

not that im not enthused to get this game cheap its just...

well i have memories ya know?

the arcade game (pictured above) was an absolute staple of my childhood gaming experience.

1) while other chode children were lusting over X-Men, Final Fight, or even The Simpsons beat-em-up at the local arcades me and my weird group of friends would blow an entire $10 bill of tokens on this Capcom treasure.

2) being "lucky" to have a dad who owned the best retail video game chain in MI (Babbages was the only other thing at the time) i was the only kid i knew to even know what a Jaguar was, let alone play one. I TRIED TO PLAY AvP on Jaguar because of my love for the franchise. unfortunately that love only lasted about 5 mins. i mean it was only scary because it was so cumbersome to play.



3) 6th mother effin grade i was into everything AvP. at that time most likely YOU had NO IDEA what the hell i was talking about and promptly made fun of me because of it. books, comics, collectible card game, everything. I was into that ish before it was cool and before Fox Pictures destroyed it with terrible movies. ...it probably helped that daddy's store was above a comic shop... jes sayin...



4) even before i had seen the first predator movie i was balls deep in love with Aliens. good ol crazy daddy had the FIRST RELEASE of Aliens Special Edition ON LASERDISC BITCH. effin 4 DISCS. i wasnt even old enough to see R-Rated movies but i saw the hallway/turret scene before anyone else even knew what that ish was. "maybe we got em demoralized" (WTF HOW COULD THEY CUT THAT FROM THE ORIGINAL RELEASE? BEST HUDSON LINE EVER)

5) me and my friends may or may not have actually creamed our pants over purchasing a numbered movie replica of the M41A Pulse rifle. the order form came in the back of the manual for the CCQ but at 14 $300 was a lot of monies.



yup. i got the love. funny thing was the first time i ever saw this pc game was at a lan party. it was cool and all when i saw a friend play it then but at the time CS and TFC blew it away. consequently it never got my full attention.

so post something interesting in the comments and ill select someone to get a copy.

fyi tho- im not so much into giving out a copy as adding people to my friends list. ive already bought a copy for everyone on my current list (including the winner of the plain sight contest). so more so then getting a $2 game you get to be on list and quite possibly receive more digital swag in the future. if you play tf2 as well thats a + cause im looking for more chums
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djvlive
1:16 PM on 04.06.2010



I bought a 4-Pack of Plain Sight on Steam yesterday for launch.

The game is amazing. Simple yet surprisingly deep. Its a lot of fun.

There are only 2 things I can see wrong with it at this point:

1) There are not enough Objective game mode servers. Most of the servers are DM (FFA) which is stinky because there are 5 different modes and all of them are actually pretty sweet (CTF is hella unique in level design/mechanics)

and

2) The game has a tendency to crash when your having a lot of fun. They are working on it (it updated already today which fixed my bug problem but one of my friends copy still crashes occasionally). Its obvious they ARE patching it to make sure it works right.

The bad news is... I only have 2 friends on steam. Each of us receiving a copy, it still leaves one thats unspoken for.



So im giving it away. Its too fun and i hate having it sit and do nothing.

By the way, I hate those "leave a comment" giveaways.

Sooooo uhhhh... do something unique or interesting and the person who strikes me the most will get a copy. At least that way I wont have a ton of people posting comments just because they want a free game but I might actually have people who want this particular game enough to draw a picture or shop something or come up with an interesting comment.

Or if your just getting off the ground on steam and dont have hardly any games, post a picture of your games list. If its interesting enough...
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