I suppose since one of my stories has been promoted, I'm on the spot to get off my lazy ass and describe myself. I'm a 3D modeler working on Flight Simulators by day, a doodlin nerd by night. I try to remain without system biases but let's face it, no one can do that. I do want to apologize for some of my terrible grammar. I'm hoping to correct this issue as time goes on. I want to get better.
As to which games games I'm into, which ones am I not into is a more apt question. I'm a collector with a fairly massive collection. And, maybe as time rolls on, I'll fill more of this out.
A couple weeks ago, I received my copy of Hatsune Miku Project Diva 7 for the Playstation Vita. For the most part, I've been supremely happy with my Vita experience and likewise, I do enjoy me some rhythm gaming. I have to explain this because, with a hefty import price tag, the assumption I've heard has been that I am either attempting to validate my Vita purchase or I'm a crazy weirdo. I deny the first assumption and lack the proper perspective to deny the second. Regardless, these are my impressions on Hatsune Miku Project Diva 7.
Oh Japan, so polite in your loading screens...
With 7 in the title and my craze for rhythm games, you would think I have crossed paths with the franchise in the past. Nothing could be further from the truth. You see, the early craze of Vocaloids were too synthetic and felt "off" to my sound lobes. So while the rest of the world was going apeshit over Miku, I remained detached. My curiousity was piqued only when I started seeing the videos online of this version so I took a plunge.
One of the first reactions to this game was "Geez, was this made in South Korea?" Keep in mind, this is a compliment. You see, while Konami made DDR, it had a small selection of seemingly random backgrounds and felt lazy. Andamira had Pump It Up which had fully animated backgrounds and a better feeling dance pad. Beatmania had a small vertical space of usually random animations and loops. DJ Max had fully engaging backgrounds that were often humorous or fun for other people to watch. That South Korean Polish to many rhythm games and other genres feels really good when you benefit from it and this game feels like it has that extra step of polish.
Sega reenforces Virtual Japanese Pop Diva Stereotypes.... the racist fucks...
The game features 36 songs (I've only unlocked 32) each with their own unique "music" videos and even alternative endings. While that roster may sound small by other rhythm game standards, keep in mind that this is content that's been made exclusively for this game (except for 2 old songs). That's 34 exclusive "music videos" and "extended cut" variations. That's a tremendous amount of content, if that was all.
I do good?
On top of this, you have custom stepchart creation and play. In other words, think you can choreograph the song better? Give it a try. You also get AR functionality, which is limited but still kinda cool. Miku also has a dollhouse in which you buy new outfits, furniture, toys, etc, and she wanders around doing various tasks. This mode, of all of them, feels slightly creepy if for no other reason than the game constantly switches between "she's a feel girl" to "she's a digital diva" moods throughout. If there is a complaint, it's that whatever they are wanting to do with the vocaloids clashes from one use to the next.
There is also, believe it or not, a fully interactive video director. You pick the Vocaloid, the song, the moves, the backgrounds, the camera angles and pans, and you seriously get to make your own custom video with the impressive array of tools. Whether or not you can make something as elaborate as the ones packed in... highly doubtful. But for those will to fumble around with the tools, having this feature in there is great.
The game itself is the usual assortment of tapping. Somewhere on the screen, a prompt appears with a timer as it's matching symbol flies towards it. Pressing the command in sync awards a "Cool" prompt with rankings below going from Fine, Safe, Sad, and finally, Worst. Learning to disconnect the flying symbols from the ultimate destination is a skill needed to survive later stages as Sega becomes quite the prick of "flying" these symbols through other destinations. There are also technical zones which, when completed, grant bonus points but grey out should you falter. Finally, there is the Style sections where the symbols are trailed by raindows. Fill a meter in these sections and you'll unlock the alternative/extended cut to a song. These extra ~30 seconds are often just the chance you need to boost your ranking on the song.
I do bad....
In layman's terms, Japan totally gets fucked on the pricing of media so if they could access our movie service, why would they ever buy from the Japanese PSN? This is why P4 Arena is the only region locked PS3 game and why Nintendo region locked DSi and 3DS. The price gulf to us spoiled Americans vs the world is MASSIVE as any Australian can tell you. Because of this, the online portions of Project Diva are locked unless you have a Japanese Account. In fact, you'll be prompted that Network Features are Disabled when you launch the game. The other bummer is just how much menu experimentation there is on this game if you're not a native Japanese reader. Unlike DJ Max, Project Diva is a tad Import Unfriendly with how many of their menus are in Japanese. After about an hour, you'll know how to get around the game but it's just that initial frustration of being lost.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva 7 is the kind of game you want domestically. It's fun, exceedingly well produced, a great conversation piece (Why the hell are two girls dancing on your video game?), and ultimately shows off the Vita where playing Final Fantasy VII on a portable just can't. Why Sega hasn't announced it for US release is beyond me but after about 10 Hatsune Miku games, why am I to believe they'll suddenly wisen up on this one? Whether or not it's worth the import price is up to others to decide but I can tell you it's made it's way as the chief obsession for me over the past couple weeks. Whether or not it can stand up to the upcoming DJ Max Touch Tune in a couple weeks will be a whole other story.
Over the past few months, I've sat back and just watched Destructoid. It's a sad state of affairs that I seem unwilling to participate in the culture of the site anymore but it has become an unsavory culture for me. This culminated, of course, in the reaction to Gaymer Con.
Before I make a reaction on the reaction to the announcement, a quick aside on the con itself. I can see why several people think it's a great idea and more power to them. I personally disagree with the sentiment. Obviously I have something against LGBT community or I'm a hate monger, right? Actually, wrong. One of the biggest problems facing this country right now is the fact that we gave up on the idea of a melting pot. When people are allowed to seperate themselves from the whole of society, whether for good or bad, it creates a little splinter group. This group splinters from that, which splinters from that, etc and so forth. The notion is brilliant, but this group all by itself no longer has any reason to try and assimilate with the culture and likewise, the culture no longer has a reason to accept this little faction.
As an idea, I find it counter intuitive for acceptance. But then again, I've always been a geek and ruined the better part of my childhood trying to either fit into a little group, or trying to adapt myself to the accepted norm. I understand the notion, I've just never seen self-segregation work.
Having gotten that out of the way, the reaction to the announcement didn't really surprise me in the slightest. Jim Sterling claims to have been surprised and annoyed by the reaction and it boggles me as to why. In fact, gamers are among one of the largest extreme reaction groups that I've seen and each each, it pushes me further and further away. Gamers only have two modes nowadays. This is awesome or This is the worst thing ever.
Examples? Why certainly! When GTHD was announced, it seemed, at least to people like me, like a great idea. So get this, you get a free track and a few free cars, right? Then, if, and only if, you want some additional cars or tracks, they're sold to you ala carte. So if you're like me and only really enjoy racing the Dodge Viper RT/10s, that'll be $1. And you get to use this immediately unlike Forza DLC where you buy the car pack, then you have to unlock them. In the average GT game, it takes between 6-12 hours to get to access the Dodge Vipers. That's not only expensive on the game, for me, but that's expensive on the time as well. Think about it. At least 6 hours invested before I can drive the cars I really want to drive. Once again, $1 solves my problem. But of course gamers reacted poorly, bitched up a huge firestorm, and made the entire project get canned. Why? Well, because GT4 had hundreds of cars including 15 types of Ford Taurus, 30+ Lancers, and 40+ Corvettes. And everyone knows, when driving the Nuerburing course, you TOTALLY want to do that shit in a Scion xA that maxes out at 85 MPH. Kotaku, king of the reactionary fuckwits, ran an article that "priced" GTHD according to GT4's content. This number was ridiculously high, of course, and it garnered even further support. Sony was beaten, project was cancelled, and all because something new was being introduced that broke the norm.
This is but one example where and extreme reaction essentially denied us the ability to progress. Now imagine you are EA, the evilist company in the entire world according to Jim Sterling, and you announce you'll allow Kickstarted indie games free storespace on Origins for 6 months after launch, you would think that this is good news. After all, it's selling the game at 100% profit. Nah, this too was corrosive, evil, and insidious. Let's say you want to read a review of Omodius Excellente to see if it's good. Well, the review on this site practically calls you a pedophile for even being interested. Or how Saints Row 3's review score was actually reduced on this website because of the concept of DLC being held back from the project. Once again, an extreme.
Even removing yourself from gaming and listening to the Podcast, holy fuck! I'm done. Because it IS an extreme reaction by itself. Like how Jim claims "the friend zone" is an expression of entitlement to a woman's vagina (I have NEVER heard this interpretation until Jim) or how, according to the entire cast last episode, men are nothing but brooding, violent rape machines waiting to descend on helpless victims.
This website, Destructoid, has been steadily increasing it's support and display of ridiculously extreme reactions to the point that I can't even look at story comments anymore. Rather than trying to curtail it or control it, it's been growing and growing. Finally, we now have the website we see nowadays and it's supposed to surprise us when, good or bad, something garners an extreme reaction. Well, I'm not surprised annd more importantly, I'm fucking done. You cannot constantly fly off the handle, yell like a self-entitled 8 year old confused by the concept of discussion or compromise, make constant paranoia induced claims, and do about as much research as the average GameFAQs Top 10 list and not expect your audience to do the same. When the voice of the site returns to what I used to love about destructoid, MAYBE you can have nice things again. But YOU trained your audience to do this so it's hardly a surprise to me when it occurs.
Seven days ago, I stepped up to a challenge. The premise was simple, could I create a simple dungeon raiding card game in a scant 7 days? The idea behind the game was based around the room clearing concept of Gauntlet but, as time went by, started to incorporate elements of classic Zelda and even Prince of Persia 2. You may have seen 4 of the 7 days detailed last week here on the CBlogs and while I wrote tiny blogs for days 5-7, I will only post them here if, and only if, people are interested in them.
Keep in mind, this entire concept has two major handicaps against it. The first being that it has no official title and the other being it has not been playtested at all. The purpose of the rush wasn't for playtesting, simply getting something together. The game, in question, runs $23 currently to make a print from The Game Crafter so once I have it in my hands and ready to test, I'll be playing the hell out of it and hopefully it will be ready for sale sometime in mid June. So with that said, let's take a look at the game currently referred to as Mini Dungeon Raiders: Lich Slapped.
Before looking at anything else, let's look at the Scenario Cards. The game, in it's current form, sports 6 different Scenarios. At the beginning of the game, you randomly draw one of these scenarios and set the dungeon deck up accordingly. As you may notice, some require a set amount of standard dungeon tiles and there are 29 of these standard tiles which means, of course, you're not going to play every tile in every game. It also calls for special tiles and these are found on the lower right corner of the dungeon tile. So once you have these set up, you shuffle the tiles according to the scenario and place them somewhere within the reach of all the players.
Next, you set up the entrance tile. Each character must occupy one of the 4 spaces the Lich Summoning Circle is in.
Now let's talk about the turn Queue and how it begins. You may notice there are 5 cards, each having a number. This number is ONLY relevant in the beginning of the game. The Lich will never move but every other character can change places in the queue as needed. This can only be done once per cycle. So let's say the Thief has already gone but the Knight needs the Thief to activate a switch. The Knight can then exchange her place in the queue with the Thief, giving the Thief another action this cycle. After four character actions have been performed, the Lich will move. Then the cycle begins anew.
So now, let's talk about the characters, the Ranger, the Thief, the Knight, and the Wizard. Each have different stats and abilities. So let's look at the Knight in more detail. She has 8 HP but only 4 movement. On her turn, she can move up to four spaces. She attacks both Skeletons and Blood Slimes. Her death radius is an 8 way square. Most importantly, if an ally is going to take damage within her death radius, she can take the damage instead. So she's short range and slow, but can be used to mitigate damage to other, much weaker allies. All four characters have these kinds of stats. Who they can kill, how much damage they can take, how far they can move, their death radius, and any special talents. Now, it ANY monster they cannot defeat is in the same space they are, the monster is destroyed but they take 1 damage. If their damage reaches their health, they die and the game is over.
So we've looked at the characters, now let's look at the monsters. You see, after every character moves, a d6 is rolled and based on the result, a certain type of monster activates. So on the cards, you see who will activate based on the roll (you might have also noticed, previously, that the spawn points all look the same as die faces. In the full version, there will be a Custom Die, but for how, a standard d6 is all you need. Rolling a 1 will activate the Lich, so don't do that. But let's take a look at a different monsters behavior. In general, when a monster is rolled, you move all the monsters and then spawn new ones on the matching points according to player proximity.
So let's start with Blood Slimes, indicated on the board by red cubes. They only move 2 and they never respawn. However, if one or more characters are present in the room they are in, they do split into 2. Like all monsters, their top priority when moving are any characters (except their enemy... the Knight) within 2 spaces of them. Barring that, they seek the Wizard. Going from there, Goblins. Since only the Thief can kill Goblins, these can become quite a danger. Not only do they spawn twice as fast, multiple Goblins may occupy the same space. Be wary of this as a single stack could potentially one turn kill a character. Next are Skeletons. They move 3 and seek The Wizard. Perhaps most dangerous, they can travel through Spawn Points, making each Spawn Point a potential ambush for the poor Wizard. Wraiths not only move fast and seek the Thief, but they also move through walls and across pits. Good thing the Wizard has a big Death Radius. Finally, we have Flash Cats. Quick, and more importantly, they can teleport from room to room, seeking the Knight as their target. Naturally, someone could cheat and make these monsters move away from the part but what's the point of that? This is about challenge and winning would be glorious in these circumstances.
So when you explore (exit a room), you draw the top Dungeon Tile from the deck and put it next to the current room with the black arrow acting as the entrance to that room. Most rooms have some monsters and that's it but let's take a look at a Puzzle Room.
This is a standard puzzle room. In the lower right hand corner is a switch for the thief as well as several traps blocking the wizards path to the Tome which would activate the bridge and open the colored gates. This room spawns both Flash Cats and Skeletons. Skeletons will seek the Wizard and Flash Cats seek the Knight. So the trick here is the Thief must stand defenseless on the switch so that the other three characters can pass the traps without damage (Hope there are no nearby Wraiths). The Wizard needs the Knight as an escort and the Knight is vulnerable to Flash Cats so the Ranger must come along as well. Once the wizard reaches the Tome, the bridge is activated and the gates are ignored. To signify this, place a Black Cube on the Tome to signify this puzzle has been solved (in case you have to return to this room). Solving this room takes several cycles so be quick about it because The Lich is coming...
If the Lich ever occupies the same space as a player, they instantly die, ending the game. That, in a nutshell, is the game I made and ordered from The Game Crafter last night. I'm sure it's busted and broken as all hell, which is why I refuse to sell it until it's ready. Naturally, as the game is refined, portions of the artwork may change, new tiles added or removed, and more scenarios are possible. After all, there are only 44 Dungeon Cards in this set and more scenarios will add more chances to add thrills.
What the hell? Name change?!? Actually, the final name of the game wasn't going to be Dungeon Blitz despite that's what the project name was. I typically ramble off a name, design the game, refine it, and come up with an eventual final name. For example, Imps Vs Puppies sported both the titles of Violent Young Imps and That Deplorable Crate Game. So the title, Dungeon Blitz, signified the challenge of the project and the intent of the game. So why, then, did the name change earlier than usual?
Well, put it simply, I got the nicest darn "cease & desist" letter ever. In fact, it wasn't even that. It was a private message that basically said, "dude, game looks great but we may have a problem." Turns out there is a F2P MMO called Dungeon Blitz and thanks to Google (snitches get stitches, google), they were alerted to the name I was using. They, however, were damn decent about it and sent the "Hey, that's our name" email before the lawyers. So despite not knowing anything about the game, I suggest people check out their product since they seem like decent folk. It's certainly the opposite of what I've received in the past over these kinds of mistakes.
What's the new name? I'm very tempted to ape the idea behind Jame's Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game. But for now, I'm focusing on just getting it done. Let's see what I want to call it after I have it further completed. So for now, it's simply called the Dungeon Game.
*sigh* So, where am I? I'm actually at the point where progress has slowed nearly to a crawl. I'm coloring the monsters and that's all I'll be on for a while. But when working last night, it occured to me that I made an idiot mistake. You see, manipulating and moving cubes works much easier with a reference point and I created two monsters which could be considered green cubes. And so I present the left and right result as the Slime becomes a Blood Slime. YAY!
Next up is the Skeleton.... ooooo, he does NOT have the hips to pull off that look.
Which brings us to the Goblin....
Tomorrow, Flash Cat, Lich, character sketches, and who knows, I may even start coloring the characters.
Like all print services, The Game Crafter cannot deliver 100% accurate cuts to the cards. This is the reason why, when you buy board games (if you buy board games), you notice the color of tokens and such go beyond the cut lines. So if a top tier manufacturing outlet that prints up thousands upon thousands of Fantasy Flight Games cannot deliver this, The Game Crafter cannot be expected to. This is why their templates are a boon in that it hints towards how the cutter may drift through production. The general rule is nothing important outside the dotted line but in general, Drift hits the back of the cards the hardest so I might be safe. Just remember this in the image below as the potential cut border could be between the dotted and solid white line. The other potential issue is the puzzle room gates don't contrast enough and it's not always clear what objective will open the room. To make certain the types of gates needed and that the gates are visibly present, maybe I just need to make the gates an energy barrier akin to the energy bridges. Their color portrays the necessary trigger at a glace and the gates don't do that. This will have to be taken into consideration as time allows.
Likewise, the original concept was 11 different objectives and this should be shaved down to 6. Currently, I have 4 figured out and will design 2 more scenarios as I get more time. Also, there are currently 17 rooms fully designed and the only thing missing is the Lich Entry Glyph. But the current roster of rooms are in the image below.
This of course left the question of what to do last night and that question was answered by working towards the monster illustrations. As I feared, this takes a bit more time than I had anticipated. Last night, I finished the Wraith illustration and started, but did not complete, the Slime. Both of which can be seen below.
So at this point, as I've been showing the progress to people, the questions keep coming up, "Just what the hell is this game and how do you play?"
Well, first things first is that this game requires all four characters to play. So the Knight, the Thief, the Ranger, and The Wizard need to be in the game. What ISN'T required is character assignments. So you could play this by commitee (all players agreeing on a turn) or each player controls a character type, or this game is 100% compatible with Solo gameplay. Next, you draw a Scenario and prepare the Dungeon Blitz deck.
Let's say the game is "Seek the Forbidden Texts." The first thing you would do is shuffle the standard tiles (of which there are 34) and set aside 14 tiles. Next, grab all the tiles specific to "Seek the forbidden texts" and shuffle them into the deck. The goal of the game is now to navigate the dungeon and find the three forbidden texts to win the game.
So let's go over the characters for a second. Each character will have certain stats like Health, Speed, Death Radius, who they can attack, and other skills. Consider each party member a walking turrent. So the Ranger can attack Flash Cats so this means if any Flash Cats get within a certain radius, they are instantly detroyed. But she cannot kill Wraiths so Wraiths that enter her space will cost her a health. No complicated combat rules, no combat die rolls, each character simply marches death upon their designated targets.
At the end of each characters action, a die is rolled. On a roll of 2-6, look up the matching monster (for example, a Slime is a 2) and begin their action. Each monsters acts differently. Slimes, for example, do not spawn so even though they start on a map, no more come from their spawn points once activated. BUT, if someone is in the room with a Slime when they activate, they all split in two after moving 2 spaces towards their target. Meaning anyone but the person who's good against Slimes can quickly get overwhelmed. Of course that leaves the question of "what happens on a 1?"
The exact same thing that happens after all four characters have moved, The Lich activates. Consider the lich the games doom clock. He cannot be bartered with, defended against, or defeated. The Lich marches on towards the party. Since he moves slow, there is no immediate danger for a fast moving party but spending too much time in puzzle rooms, or simply rolling too many 1s will lead the party to disaster. If he is within 3 spaces of a character, they will lose 1 Health. If he touches a character, the player instantly dies.
Which leads to the next point. Either you succeed within your dungeon blitz or if any one character dies, the entire party fails. That, in essence, is this card game. It combines the horde fighting of Gauntlet with the puzzle rooms of Zelda. It is designed to be, win or lose, played in 30-60 minutes, making it an ideal lunch break game.
The primary foundations complete, today is all about Tile creation and room designing. On grid paper, I hammered out 12 rooms that would be standard to the dungeon and 8 rooms designed around various scenarios. With my own super creative symbology, these rooms are easy to understand for the criminally insane. But on top of that, they have the added bonus of showing me exactly what types of tiles I need to fulfill the basic design.
At this point, the number of tiles have increased significantly, as shown in this collection. With the information shown, you can start to decipher how many of the rooms will work.
Which is good because the rooms translate directly to their final form in the following ways.
In other words, Day 2 is complete and I have a strong foundation to complete a quick and dirty prototype. I'm well ahead of the 7 day challenge, but coming up next are two distinct problems. First is the character artwork and the monster artwork needs to look good on a standard poker sized card. Next is how to represent the scenario on a card and include the setup instructions.