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LONG BLOG

C-Blog of 01/28/13 + Wrenchisms

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It is almost irresistible to compare Samurai Gunn and Nidhogg. They are both (mostly) local multiplayer games (Nidhogg has a currently broken online mode and they both have lacklustre singleplayer options) focused on intense competition between living players. They both make use of a sparse control scheme and very simple set of rules to contain a deceptively deep fighting system. Instead of relying on complicated execution or memorization, both games boil combat down to a matter of strategy, mind games, and creativity. Both are rendered with stunning pixel art and presented with masterfully composed music.

This is something of a growing trend in recent indie titles. Divekick could be said to do much the same, boiling down the complicated fighting game genre to two simple button presses, dive and kick.



But it was loaded down in baggage. The longer Divekick spent in development, the more it seemed to stray away from it's originally streamlined design. Extra characters with highly specialized moves, super moves and meter building, stat changing gems and alternating stances. The sardonic criticism of modern fighting games, particularly Marvel vs Capcom and the first iteration of SSFIV's Arcade Edition, which saw both games dominated by a select few characters capable of landing the eponymous dive kick and going into a victory deciding combo, got lost. Instead of sticking to those fundamentals, the Divekick devs layered in more and more gags, an extensive collection of in-jokes and references to a genre and community a little too in love with itself.

The result was a confusing compromise a game designed to simplify the baffling fighting game genre ended up being just as weird and impenetrable to outsiders as any other title in the genre. Fighting game neophytes couldn't grok the Stream Monster's bizarre double jumping mechanic anymore than they could catch the reference to abysmal fans jeering at an online broadcast.



Nidhogg is pretty in love with itself too. This was a game that won the IGF awards, then spent two years quietly circulating trade shows, exposing a select group of individuals to it's peculiar style. The relatively few industry insiders and convention attendees who played it would go on to speak of it in hushed tones, like it was the VHS from The Ring. Before it was available to the public on Steam, it was hosted in a New York museum piece. Nidhogg is named after a Serpent-Dragon from Scandinavian myth. Victory in the game is rewarded by being devoured by said Serpent-Dragon to the uproarious applause of pixelated spectators.

Clearly, some art is going on here.

But none of that gets in the way of the game. There is something profound about the purity of play presented by the title. There is no fat to be found, just pure mechanics. Two buttons, four directional inputs, and a simple goal kill the other guy and run like hell to the endzone. With that simple pallet, and a few understated stage obstacles such as pits, doors, and tall dry grass, Nidhogg gracefully opens up a world of tactical choices and split-second decisions.

When you press start to begin a fight, Nidhogg just dumps the two combatants into the stage. It doesn't even bother with an extraneous "FIGHT!" declaration, or a three second countdown for players to find their feet. It drops two dudes onto the screen, swords in hand and ready to stab, almost nonchalantly, as if you say "figure it out for yourself".



Samurai Gunn cuts straight to the chase too, no baggage. The characters are all functionally identical, offering only an aesthetic preference (ninja, topknot dude, puppy Samurai). Everyone works with the same rules and mechanics. The stages play on Samurai movie and videogame cliches.

It's slick, it's well presented, but it's clean.

Do I think Divekick would have sold better without those extra characters and jokes? No. It is a fairly niche title to begin with and I doubt it would have performed better if they just stuck to Dive and Kick. Do I think it might have been a better game?

Maybe.

* - Corduroy Turtle's blogs always bring a smile to my face, but thanks to the inclusion of Krang, this one brought a smile to my heart.

* - An interesting blog about save scumming, perma-death, and the opinions in between.

* - Long John wants to see more long Johns. See what I did there?

* - You can't argue with the FACTS.

A - SpielerDad remembers when Bomberman with a multi-tap was a massive multiplayer experience.



T - Staying true to his "no new games" pledge, Better On Holliday scratches a few more names off the back log.

T - Yeesh, from what I understand, Tony Hawk was actually pretty salty that RIDE never took off. But with tales like this, what did he really expect?




Great blogs today!

-Wrenchfarm

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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

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Crowdfunded

It feels like it's been a decade since we've seen the rise of the crowdfunded game. I'm always surprised when I remind myself that crowdfunding has been a thing long before the first crowdfunded video game, but nowadays a crowdfunded game seems like a dime a dozen.

Of course such a phrase is an incredible disservice to some of the great games that have come out thanks to websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Games like FTL, Shovel Knight, and even Undertale are around thanks to crowdfunding; thanks to people gathering around and literally putting their money where their mouth is, a game they want gets funded and inevitably the greater landscape of gaming benefits from it. Most of the time the landscape gets to benefit from it anyways.

Don't worry though, this month's bloggers wanted prompt isn't an exploratory thesis on the effects of crowdfunding on video game development. We just want you to talk about your favorite games, as long as they were crowdfunded. This topic can be simultaneously broad and narrow, because you can talk about whatever game you want, however you want, as long as it was crowdfunded.
For me, FTL is the original crowdfunded game, and it was great. It was somehow minimalist and incredibly detailed at the same time, and it was all done because a man wanted to do it, but needed the money, and thousands of other people wanted to see where his idea would go. Shovel Knight to me feels like this natural evolution of the classic 8-bit gaming of yore without also throwing myself back to a time when gaming was honestly comparatively archaic. And everyone's talked to death about Undertale, so we all know where I'd go with that.

To participate in this month's bloggers wanted, just start a blog! Oh, and title it "Crowdfunded: [your blog title here]." I bet this month is going to be pretty diverse, since it's basically writing about your favorite crowdfunded game. So I hope to hear about some good games revisited or amazing games no one has heard about.

Remember: Persona 5 was not crowdfunded, but excuse me as I plow through it.

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