Monday, 11 May 2015

YouTube Channel Update



So various things have been going on recently. I have access to a new PC and so recording games has been easier for me, however I have halted progress on some let's plays for various reasons. 

Firstly the release of the remastered Homeworld meant that I decided to stop that series as I wouldn't have finished it in time and Silver is on an old PC that I'm no longer using (it's an original copy). If people would like to see me continue Silver as it is a lot of fun then please let me know and I will try to get it running or I'll get a copy fromm gog.com. I don't yet own the re-mastered Homeworld but it's on my list, however quite a lot of channels did full play-throughs instantly (and I'm not a day one let's play kinda guy!). If it's requested then I will consider returning to it (although this may be more suitable on my new space-related channel).

As for Dark Souls due to the strange yet continuous instances where my external soundcard and mic's connection kept dropping in Elgato, my soul (lol) has been crushed a little bit by how much progress I can't use! I have 2 or 3 bosses recorded with no commentary; I suppose I could do commentary in post but I need to use time as efficiently as possible. If I return to it then there will be a short montage of what bosses I fought before I continue to the Depths or Blighttown (won't that be fun!). So if you want me to continue then tell me, if not then I will probably do a Dark Souls 2 playthrough when I get a PS4 and it would be ace to have people jump into the game and assist me along the way whilst I perhaps stream it?

If anyone has any suggestions for some long plays they may want, channel collaborations etc then let me know! Twitter might be the best place for that @outlandishpixel. Currently I'm trying out some MOBAs and Heroes of the Storm is next on my agenda. Jazzpunk was the start of an 'Avin' a Bash' playlist where I just try out indie games without playing them all the way through, but if Jazzpunk amuses you then I may finish that.

Finally I have started a dedicated channel to my play-through of Elite: Dangerous, an epic space sim MMO, so please go and check that out if you're interested: CMDR-outlandishPIXEL. The game is about to get LOADS more interesting with the 1.3 release so I'm looking forward to doing more videos.

Thanks for reading guys, I do these channels for my own pleasure in my spare time but it is nice to know what my subs think! -oP

Thursday, 7 May 2015

New Project Devlog #1 (Untitled)

  


          



DESIGN

Description
This is my current project nicknamed '30 Days' until I decide on a title. It's coded in the GML language in Game Maker Studio. This will be my first game completed for PC.

Concept
30 Days is a digital board game, which involves drawing cards and playing hero 'models' across 30 turns each with three 'phases'. The goal is to defeat the boss at the end of the 30 turn limit. In order to do so you must have a team of heroes with high enough combined stats to reduce the boss HP to zero. It's a simple concept which could work as an actual tabletop game for one player. The design has changed dramatically since it's original conception, and I have simplified what was once a fairly complicated city building sim. As it's my first 99% coded game for PC I wanted to give myself a realistic yet challenging goal and so there is no multiplayer planned.

Art
The game contains isometric and 2D pixel art and is themed on a tongue-in-cheek high fantasy setting. It is designed to look like a board/card game combined with animated models and a fantasy tabletop landscape. The numerous heroes and monsters are vibrant and unique and while only six have been drawn so far, there will be 36 in total of each type. The heroes are not restricted by any theme and so expect to see super heroes and a 'business-savvy squirrel'!

Coding
The code is more complex than I imagined at first but I have kept things simple by sharing code through scripts and keeping objects down to a minimum. I have reduced the amount of work I need to do by creating my own font, and drawing card descriptions in engine as opposed to drawing pixel art text in the images for each card (each event district has 36 cards so this would take too long otherwise!). I have single objects for each type of card and when each one is drawn it is assigned an ID and it's sprite is then matched according to that index. This keeps the programming efficient and simple (I imagine most people would code a card game in this way).

Devlog Video #1



GAMEPLAY

Phase One
In phase one you must either draw a resource card or build a town district (which requires one of each of the types of resource). Until a district is built, phases two and three are ignored.

Phase Two
In phase two if a district has been built then you may either draw a hero card, or use a previously drawn hero to clear a dungeon. Hero 'slots' are assigned to town districts and if a district is lost for whatever reason then the hero is also lost. There are six dungeon decks each of which contains six monster cards. You must select a dungeon to clear, then choose a hero with which to challenge it. The 'battle ratings' of the models are compared and if the hero's is equal to or higher than the monsters, then you successfully clear the dungeon and it is removed from play. If you lose, then the hero is removed and returned to the bottom of the deck and the monster is returned to the top of the dungeon deck.

Phase Three
In the final phase you must draw an event card from each town district deck. These cards will have a brief description of an event and resulting modifier to the game. This could be positive or negative and ranges from drawing extra resource cards to districts burning down and being removed. As the game progresses and you build more districts then the risk becomes greater as more events are drawn each turn.

Endgame
These phases are repeated until the end of turn 30 after which any remaining dungeons must be challenged. You may use any hero multiple times to challenge each dungeon but your goal is the ensure that you have enough heroes remaining to fight the boss and so sacrificing low 'level' heroes might be necessary. Once the dungeons are challenged you must select one of six boss cards to determine who you will fight. You then select each hero in turn to whittle the boss' health down to zero otherwise the game is over.



CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT

Agenda
My next plan of action is to have a fully working prototype completed. The prototype will be a full working game, minus certain polish and with a reduced selection of card draws (basically the full amount of cards will be programmed, but some sprites will be duplicated). A lot of the art will remain temporary such as the plain green background (which will be a detailed pixel art landscape eventually) and the card stacks wont have any animation. The game will be playable but won't have the 'charm' that I will eventually inject into it through the large amount of hero models and event card writing. It will also be sans audio and menu screens/options.

Feedback
Although this is a learning experience project I still want to produce something of quality. If you have feedback I'd be happy to take some on board but in terms of gameplay I won't be changing any of the rules of the game, only the balancing of cards and heroes/monsters. The biggest development will be the art and writing, and so if you have suggestions for heroes, monsters or events then please let me know! Ridiculous suggestions are welcome!

Thanks for reading. - oP



Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Pleiades Nebula



This week the comms have been busy with bulletins and discussions about the Princess Lavigny-Duval and the construction of her personal fleet of Imperial Clippers. The massive order placed at the shipyards of Syromyatnikov Horizons meant that metals were at high demand. However, as vast hordes of traders (and pirates I would presume) were flooding towards the Nu system in Empire space, I had already set a course along the borders of civilised space.


I set down my newly acquired Asp Explorer on a landing pad at Stepping Stone Base, HIP 8396 and collected some last minute supplies in preparation for my maiden exploration mission. Those aboard the platform were all employees of the Sirius Corporation and willing to do me a favour by refuelling my tanks considering my past. Yes I worked for Sirius, but that's a story for another time. This outpost was literally a stepping stone on a path leading deeper into unknown space at the end of which was the furthest colonised system also owned by the Sirius Corporation. One day I shall visit and recall my past. For now, I had given myself a close, but notable landmark in the galaxy in which to head towards - the Seven Sisters cluster, also known as the Pleiades Nebula.



The journey took a few days, and would probably have been quicker if I had been more selective with my scanning. I had searched GalNet for some exploration reference material, but frequently forgot to consult it. Next time I will learn to identify and ignore the celestial bodies which are practically worthless.

Mid-way on my journey, Col 285 Sector FB-X D1-78: I picked up an unidentified signal, "strange, what the hell could this be" I thought. I dropped out of super cruise and deployed hard points... Four canisters of ancient artefacts drifted within 1km of my ship. No wreckage, no other signals. My computer identified the canisters as illegal salvage, but I had to pick them up. I decided not to sift through them until I was safely at a black market where I could get them analysed professionally, so I closed up my cargo hatch and continued scanning the system. 



In the same system I dropped out of super cruise in the rings of a Jovian planet and was astounded to pick up a contact on my sensors. An Adder licensed to the ID of 'Allan Sargent' was mining - for what, I couldn't tell as I had no appropriate facilities installed. I hailed the ship, and met with a less-than-friendly reply - not over the comms however, instead he charged my ship. Luckily his velocity had no impact on my shields - but I did take my leave... Whatever he was doing, he obviously didn't want company. His behaviour was suspicious and I couldn't help but wonder about the coincidental appearance of those canisters that I had salvaged...




The rest of my trip was uneventful, and soon the colourful aura of the nebula surrounded me as I jumped into the Maia system at it's heart. Again I jumped to attention as I picked up a contact on my sensors. A fellow pilots federation member: CMDR ATHCON - flying a Lakon Type-6. I hailed the ship and we shared a brief moment of friendly conversation. It seemed his enthusiasm for exploration had gotten the better of him, as his ill-equipped vessel didn't even have an advanced discovery scanner. I threw him the suggestion of following in my footsteps by acquiring an Alioth permit for a discounted Asp, for which he thanked me before we amicably parted ways.




Maia system is arguably the most beautiful place in the galaxy I have visited thus far, and also contained a black hole - something I have never encountered before. I got as close as I dared but did not want to take an unnecessary risk on my very first outing into deep space! After my lengthy scans were complete, I also visited the surrounding systems of Pleione, Merope, Atlas, Sterope II, Calaeno and Asterope and similarly did extensive observations of their celestial bodies.



My return route took me through the Aries Dark Region and towards the edges of Empire space; I had never been further than the Federation/Empire borders so this was exciting but also slightly nerving. Two other interesting occurrences happened during my return trip. Firstly another unidentified signal in Aries Dark Region MS-T turned out to be... toxic waste. Who had gone to the effort to dump this way out here? It occurred to me that the edges of deep space were probably ideal places for certain criminal activities and the dumping of illicit and unsellable cargo...  Secondly in Hyades Sector DL-Y D75, I dropped out of super cruise and identified one canister of... clothing? How bizarre. I scooped this up and crossed my fingers that the clothing wasn't being worn by a corpse...






I stopped at the first civilised system I came across - Ngobe. Landing at Offutt Colony I took a long breath and stretched out in my seat as tiredness began to take me. I signed in with the deck officer and collapsed in my quarters. If I hadn't been so tired then I would surely have been kept up by thoughts of what my cargo hold contained... There were no services here to help identify the artefacts, and no black market anyway. However if there was a dead body in my hold, then I needed to be rid of it before I got too deep into Empire space. I had questions that I'd probably never get the answers to, but I guess that's the galaxy in a nutshell.


CMDR OUTLANDISHPIXEL


Friday, 3 April 2015

Travel Preparations


My plans to head to the Tsu system were abruptly put on hold, as I realised that both my credit balance and assets were inadequate to achieve any explorative goals. I had the money for a stock Asp, but I needed as many credits as possible to outfit it appropriately. I had heard of a decent discount on Asp vessels in the Alioth system and so this would free up more credits for outfitting. 

One hurdle was replaced by another as in order to gain access to the Alliance capital I would need to earn a permit. As such I had done absolutely nothing for (or against) the Alliance and so I faced a hard stint of labour in the surrounding systems. 

I made a temporary base of operations at Teller Terminal in the 78 Ursae Majoris system. A small and quiet station despite it's location in a hub of Alliance trade routes, but there I met various colourful representatives of the Alioth Independents some of whom agreed to speak to me despite me current allegiance to the Federation. They dangled the permit in front of me as they gave me a list of menial errands to run. I did not mind however, and it came to pass that I became fairly well acquainted with a few individuals there. I was making them money, I was making myself money and I was improving relationships with each completed mission. I was offered more lucrative opportunities, albeit more dangerous as I involved myself in a local conflict zone. It's lucky I brought my Viper 'Fortune' along with me and not my transport Adder (which has not yet earned a name) as it out performed itself once again. As usual she struggled when surrounded, but her speed meant that I quickly escaped any danger.


After a few days of hard work I was greeted at Teller Terminal by one of my new associates with a big grin on his face. He showed me a document on his tablet which contained my access codes for Alioth. I smiled too and offered my hand. I was congratulated on my sudden dedication to the Alliance and I thanked him without revealing my true financial motives. My ships computer was updated and I plotted a course for Alioth.

I had not realised that Alioth was such a rich and beautiful system, and I can't believe that I haven't taken more interest in exploring before. Ultimately that's what earning this permit was about - preparing myself for exploration. Perhaps my time spent in the company of an independent faction (long before my recent return to Sol and Federation space) has made me more open minded... One thing is for sure: I will return one day to explore this system and to learn more about the Alliance, but for now I will set a course for Irkutsk Station which has a permanent offer on the purchase of Asp Explorers. Not a bad accomplishment for a few days work, although I wonder what my Federation peers would think...

Thank you for reading CMDRs. For now, farewell. See you in the unknown.

CMDR OUTLANDISHPIXEL


Monday, 30 March 2015

LUGH: A RETROSPECTIVE




Here is the first entry of my written log. My adventures in the black of space have already been numerous, however now is not the time for dwelling on the distant past. I have some video logs in production of my exploits as a freelancer since leaving Sol and corporate employ, but as it stands I feel compelled to begin a companion written log where video is less suitable. In brief, my time alone in space has been fruitful and... educational to say the least.

Recent events in Lugh fighting for the Federation have given me a new perspective to consider. Prior to my involvement in the war, I had considered myself a Federation man. Not 100% on board with all policies - but generally my allegiance was solid and without question. Everything changed this week, as the president in her... incompetence, allowed innocent civilians to die. Inaccurate intel resulted in the destruction of a convoy of refugees instead of the Crimson State Group's leader and most trusted lieutenants.



Upon hearing the news I retracted my hardpoints and left the system; I needed time to think. I owe my life to the Federation, but now I'm considering the possibility that my allegiance has been misplaced. Perhaps I owe my life to the individuals who helped me, rather than the Federation itself. This is a story for another time, but to underline my thoughts: I question my actions in Lugh. 


As a freelancer, I reserve the right to find employ wherever the money is appropriate and so the recent announcement from The Alliance of a colonisation programme has compelled me to take some time alone in the blackness of space and appreciate the unknown. My combat bonds from Lugh should allow for the purchase of an Asp Explorer, and so I shall begin my journey to find brief solace amongst the stars soon. Perhaps then I will be able to find a level head, and decide on which course to plot next.

My Viper has performed beautifully and has been reliable in combat. Difficult battles have resulted in me successfully fleeing by the skin of my teeth, but I put this down to my ship (and a little bit of luck). As I have yet to name any of my ships, I felt that it was appropriate to name my vessels as per their exploits and achievements. It feels more meaningful that my vessels, or rather temporary homes, have earned their names by proving themselves. I hear-by name my Viper as Fortune. Unfortunately my time in the war has made me realise that the viper's usefulness has begun to wane. Combat with superior vessels such as the Vulture is no longer feasible without support from a wing. I wont be retiring Fortune but I will need to consider purchasing a more appropriate ship for war in the future.



As a final thought: here is an interesting CMDR I met in my travels... If I meet more... creatively named individuals I will most likely post them here.



Thank you for reading CMDRs. For now, farewell. See you in the unknown.

CMDR OUTLANDISHPIXEL


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sh*tstarter (Quite Literally) - Bathroom Simulator

BATHROOM SIMULATOR

*Deleted the video because it's autoplay was going off when I was editing my template CONSTANTLY and multiple times layering over itself - go watch it at their kickstarter instead. Or not, because... well it's awful.*
"Have you ever wanted to pick up your poop and throw it at the wall?"
No.
"Oh, well, we have. Quite a few times actually."
You must be bored.
"Come to think of it, I think we've thought of doing that a lot more than we should have.... Anyways, Bathroom Simulator is the game where you can do that."
Sigh.

This pretty much sums up the limited vision of today's Kickstarter project. I'm not going to sugar coat the pill in this scenario; I don't need to play this to know that it's simply... pure crap. From what I can see, the aim of the game is to complete pointless challenges requiring you to balance your poop on objects around a small bathroom. This is actually based on the Half-Life fan-fiction which delves into the secret toilet habits of Gordon Freeman. Sadly this isn't the case, but christ it would've been better if it was.

In the same vein as physics-based games such as OctodadGoat Simulator and I am BreadBathroom Simulator attempts to cast off the shackles of modern game design and instead put emphasis on the manipulation of the core mechanics in order to achieve a purist level of interactivity. Except that it fails... fails a lot. I could be fair by stating that this is an early first impression of an unfinished product... but, nah. Sometimes you just know a bad egg when you see one... and smell one (poop/fart joke).




Don't get me wrong, I enjoy an immature fart joke every now and again and I don't think game design creativity should be confined within the face-painted, and glitter-coated boundaries of a PEGI 3 rating - but Bathroom Simulator isn't big or clever. It's not even necessarily a disgusting looking game as you'll note whilst watching the video. The faeces resembles little more than an extremely flexible and bouncy brown dildo and the concept is beyond puerile and therefore limited in it's comedic scope. I am Bread's concept wasn't funny, weird - yes, but not funny. What's funny about putting bread in a toaster? It's not the concept but instead the finely tuned mechanics and physics engine that spawns the hilarity.




Oh sorry, were you wondering why I hadn't really mentioned anything about the game content itself? That's because the quotes at the beginning of this article pretty much sum it up and to be honest you'll get more out of watching the video yourself. Even ignoring the puerile nature of this game, boiling it down to it's core: you have to wonder how many hours of gameplay will there actually be? Balance poop on the shower. Check. Put poop in the sink. Check (achievement unlocked). Do another poop. Check. The possibilities are endless (sarcasm - the possibilities will indeed end). This next headline from the Kickstarter guesses (correctly) what you're probably thinking:




This game exists purely as YouTube fodder, which in principle isn't something I'm against at all. I've enjoyed many videos of my favourite internet personalities awkwardly stumbling through Octodad or yelling profanities as they launch their slice of bread from the kitchen surface in I am Bread, but these examples had a sense of accomplishment. Attempting to put a basket over the head of an NPC in Skyrim is probably more engaging than the experience Bathroom Simulator hopes to offer.




The funding goal is $800 which is mainly for sound effects and music apparently along with 'finishing the other bathrooms' which is as vague a breakdown as most campaigns I suppose. Here are my thoughts on the stretch goals:

-$2,000: The graphics are the least of your shitty problems, in fact your okay graphics are all you've got going for you at the minute... although a better poop texture wouldn't go amiss.
-$3,000: Pewdiepie isn't playing your stupid game on his Oculus mate.
-$5,000: I'm sorry, but there's no way you're getting this on console. Nope.

This has been one of my more tactless first impressions of a Kickstarter project. I'm not offering any constructive criticism or useable feedback today. I'd rather fund a Flappy Bird clone. -oP

Bathroom Simulator on Kickstarter








Thursday, 19 February 2015

Missed the Mark: Grifta - Morphing Gamepad (Kickstarter)

Today I'm looking at a Kickstarter for an all-purpose, customisable gaming peripheral (customisable means that it comes in bits). The Grifta is ultimately a gaming peripheral version of the Power Ranger Megazords. I believe that whilst this isn't a bad Kickstarter campaign, the product isn't as innovative as the creator thinks it is, but it could be if pushed in the right direction. The Grifta is designed to do everything, which is why I think it's doomed to fail as it tries to fill a void in the peripheral market that doesn't really exist.

I'm not going to argue that  the Grifta isn't a decent controller (when the left and right hand side are combined to create a complete Ultrazord-style gamepad). I can't know for sure unless I use it, but for the sake of argument lets assume that it works and is ergonomic. Looking at the backer tiers, ignoring the limited early bird prices, you can see that the left hand unit costs £50 and the standard controller is £69. Also if you want it to work with your console it also costs £119 for the XIM4 bridge. It's a pretty ugly looking thing when it's put together in my opinion. Check out the rest of the tiers and add-ons on the Kickstarter page because there's too many to mention here so I'll just mention a select few.


The add-ons for mobile and tablet are pretty ludicrous. They'd look at home on an episode of Channel 5's The Gadget Show, but let's be realistic: who in their right mind is going to sit on public transport with custom controllers stuck on the side of their phone. Who is going to withdraw a custom 'selfie stick' so that they can play their games at eye level. No one, it's stupid and impractical. My bag is already crammed full of things when travelling (including a specialised mobile gaming device - my 3DS), plus I'd like to be able to quickly put my phone away just before my stop rather than rush to dismantle a load of chunky plastic components. Let's not forget that mobile technology is changing all the time and personally I don't see the point in investing in peripherals for my phone, hell I don't even have a case. However, luckily the mobile elements are part of a more distant stretch goal than the infra-red module - which is one area I think this product should be focused.


Yes, the best part of this split controller design is its possible use with VR devices. Using the 'antler' motion sensor add-on, one half could be used with an Oculus Rift for weapon aiming, whilst the other is used for movement. Considering how VR development is progressing, I think the development of specialised controllers might be a more lucrative direction to head in (albeit risky, of course). Also, one handed controllers... What about options for gamers with disabilities? It seems like a missed opportunity to create an accessible peripheral for those who are handicapped.



Whilst manufacturing costs and logistics obviously play a part in the overall design, I think we've hit a pretty decent level of gamepad quality and in all honesty, things haven't changed that much in a long time - perhaps there's a reason.

"The triggers, buttons, joystick, and D-Pad are placed to suit the ergonomics of the human hand, and not for the convenience of a simple manufacturing package."

Sure the ergonomic benefits of the Grifta could out-shadow the competitors but after weighing up the whole package, is it worth it? Adding different size grips sounds nice on paper but if you really think about it do your existing gamepads really bother you that much? I guess it might be a case of: you won't know how crap your current peripheral is in comparison until you try this one, but for the sake of the extra money involved maybe ignorance is bliss.

"A flat gamepad can't compete. This controller is designed to provide performance and speed. You can even use it with your gaming mouse."

To be honest I disagree. Let's first look at the 'PC Master Race'. If you are a dedicated PC gamer, then it's a good bet that you've already found the perfect mouse and keyboard setup. In order to cover all bases, it's a common sight to also see cheap wired Xbox 360 controllers used for certain types of games. I haven't tried it with my PC, but I can also connect my PS3 controller to my Macbook if necessary with ease (and I assume the PS4 controller works as well). That's the beauty of modern peripherals - a driver here, a driver there and boom it works. I even plug my keyboard into my consoles sometimes (this helps for comms in Final Fantasy XIV). The important thing here is that in many cases, we already own the peripherals to do the job. Depending on the game, you would need to put the Grifta down in order to use the keyboard as well because I don't know about you guys, but I don't like to let go of the mouse in the middle of a firefight.




For most games a mouse and keyboard pretty much covers it. Although many console gamers may feel comfortable using a gamepad for First Person Shooters, it's widely accepted that a keyboard and mouse gives you much more control and accuracy. I doubt many PC-centric gamers would choose a gamepad over the tried and tested mouse and keyboard (even a bog-standard set). People craving a certain level of immersion can use joysticks and HOTAS (Hands-on Throttle and Stick) setups to have specialist control over the mechanics in Space/flight simulators, and if you're a driving enthusiast then you can get a cheap £25 wheel and pedals if necessary. There are affordable solutions for your specialist gaming needs, although if you have money to burn you could spend thousands on something like this cockpit.



Looking at the current consoles, Playstation joined the world of comfort with their latest Dualshock design and it feels good in your hands. The Xbox One controller retains the simplicity of the tried and tested 360 design, and whilst ergonomically superior to the PS3, it's arguably on-par with the PS4. Both the PS4 and WiiU have unique elements that the Grifta can't imitate, notably the touch pad and tablet element respectively plus the PS4 has a light bar designed for gameplay feedback and for locating players in your living room (don't forget the 6 axis motion sensors). The Grifta doesn't seem to have vibration, which may not matter to PC gamers as much, but if they expect console gamers to be OK with this, well... we may not think about it, but vibration is a form of gameplay feedback that affects the way we play, and I'd personally miss it. If it does vibrate then I can't see it mentioned anywhere. Unless it's a planned additional stretch goal expansion. Remember when you had to buy a rumble pack for you N64? This product is making me think of this scene from Naked Gun:




I'm not saying this is a bad Kickstarter campaign, I appreciate seeing experimentation with gaming peripheral design, but that's exactly what it comes across as to me: an experiment, not a viable product. I believe those looking for specialist peripherals have a great selection available in a fairly consumer-friendly set of price ranges and those people looking for an all-purpose solution, well... try using a gamepad you already own or just stick with the trusty mouse and keyboard setup. If they don't get the funding I hope they rethink their brief and possibly focus on breaking the future VR peripheral market, rather than trying to fix what ain't broke. Oh, one final thought: how many chargers will I need for this thing? -oP

Kickstarter

Product Website




Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Our Destiny So Far


This began as a planned brief post about my thoughts about the BAFTA games nominations. When I starting writing about the 'Best Game' nomination I then began to rant a little bit too much about Destiny. It turned out that I simply had to put my opinion to paper, and so it warranted it's own article. So here: have some 100% Destiny 'What I think of it now' editorial. Win.

This year I have only played one game on the BAFTA 'Best Game' list: Destiny. I was very willing to defend Bungie's latest experiment at launch; many people didn't understand it and how the landscape of multiplayer gaming is changing and so lashed out. Some people expected a game reminiscent of the loot gathering, dungeon crawling Borderlands combined with the super-fun acrobatic gunplay and grenade tossing of Halo, bundled together in a massively multiplayer experience. Instead they got... well, something kind of difficult to define. I've played for a decent length of time and I appreciate it on a mechanical level, and even on it's Dark Souls-esque take on lore. I didn't mind checking online to read the 'grimoires', in fact it made me feel more engaged even though it was technically removing me from the gameplay experience.


As I kept playing it though, I felt more and more disengaged, although I will disclose that this may be due to all my friends playing it on PS4 while I'm stuck solo on PS3 (boo hoo). I haven't played any of the raids yet, and as it stands I can't for the foreseeable future unless I spend some time making internet Destiny buddies. Destiny is fun, no denying that, however is it £50 plus an extra £35 for the two currently announced 'expansions' worth of fun? You know what: I find it very easy to say no, for what you get I don't think so at all. In reality this game is small and repetitive, and I find myself rushing through it just to get shit done faster. That's not really a good sign, and it doesn't bode well for me personally as I get the same feeling whilst playing most MMOs.

I'll be honest I don't like referring to this new IP as an MMO; it may have MMO features such as a load of people ignoring each other (but occasionally dancing) in a shopping hub whilst buying stuff using basically 20 different types of currency, but it isn't massive and it's only sort of multiplayer some of the time. If anything, it's a faux MMO experience and in that respect whilst I don't think Destiny truly qualifies, it does well in creating an illusion.


As I said earlier, to me it feels like more of an experiment of which I will agree to be a part of for now, but I feel like an experiment on this scale shouldn't be making it's candidates purchase expensively minimal content so soon after launch. I'm not denying Destiny's technical achievement and it's artistic vision, I'm not diminishing the amount of work that's been put into producing a stable (for the most part) environment in which to shoot things with your buddies, and I am not saying the game isn't fun! But for some of us, we just can't invest all our time into one product and simultaneously justify such a large price-tag for what is in reality a 'small' game.

Personally it does just come down to money on this one. I'm not ignorant in the fact that Bungie/Activision has a large development team with associated costs but I don't think the product is worth it. Now, Destiny 2, or rather the second iteration of the franchise (of which I don't think would have the number two tagged onto it), might just be something special. However, we've got a while for that to become a 'thing', and by then the market might be a totally different place. To summarise: good game at it's FPS core, however even though I do enjoy a bit of space-wizardry, it's not a genre that fully works for me and certainly not worth the money. We as customers don't need to accept the way big publishers are carving out the DLC marketplace, especially when there are decent examples of developers and publishers who are continuously supporting their games with content that feels worthwhile for less. I know it's difficult to draw comparisons between the monetary worth of different game content, even on a purely £1-per-hour basis, because people will experience games in different ways for different length of time - but hey, this is my opinion.

For now though, since I do actually enjoy aspects of it I will play a little bit longer (to get my money's worth) and so l'll just have to be Bungie's lab rat until the new breed of 'MOBO' shooters hit the digital shelves, of which I am interested in - but that's a story for another time. -oP



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

First Impressions: Izzy's Revenge (Kickstarter)


Izzy's Revenge is a 2D platform game with beautiful hand drawn artwork - an aesthetic you don't see too often in games of this genre on Kickstarter. In fact I can imagine the artwork translating quite well into a steampunk point-and-click adventure. Yes I did say steampunk: "OMG take my money!" shouts everyone who likes steampunk (which is like, everyone isn't it?).

The story is set in the city of Steelbridge, named because, well there's a bridge made of steel in it. The city is governed by Sid (a big bad steampunk cyborg guy), who's influence of the other guild leaders ensures his control over industry and the economy. Whilst a world of airships may symbolise a world at the peak of it's industrial age, in reality Izzy's dad has made some cool blue light-sabery energy stuff that could tip the balance of power. The bad guys obviously don't quite agree with this, and have not only killed Izzy's father, but have also stolen all the cool light-sabery plans.


As the games title suggests, Izzy must fight her way to each guild boss and get vengeance for the death of her father. One of the main gameplay mechanics involves using an energy weapon which can change form in order to combat the various enemies you will encounter (some are shown in the Kickstarter video). There doesn't seem to be any media which shows the skill/weapon improvement mechanics but this is something that we will probably see more of in future updates I assume. There is also emphasis on the explorative nature of the level design, but I appreciate that it's difficult to see this without showing a large portion of uncut gameplay footage.

There is enough media on this Kickstarter to show that a lot of work has gone into the development, although they are only approximately a quarter the way through. Despite what this small team has achieved over the last year working part time, they have stated that without this funding the project cannot continue. A sad fact, one which I hope they will retract if the Kickstarter is unsuccessful because far too much work has been done to simply cast it aside.


Onto my thoughts of the Kickstarter itself: considering the goal is $55,000, I am curious to know how this money would be used as it isn't broken down on the page. After Kickstarter fees, and the costs of moving to Unity, this money won't go very far to pay the full-time wages of the developers and collaborators for a 2016 release. Despite this problem (which is mainly out of concern for the developers) and one other criticism, this is a well presented campaign and I hope that over the next 28 remaining days we see some more updates and content. The other criticism I mentioned is simply the English grammar HOWEVER the developers are from Valencia, Spain (I've been there - it's lovely!) and we shouldn't penalise them for this, I mean I've made no effort to learn Spanish have you?


Artwork is frequently given as a backer reward and more often then not I'm generally not bothered, but this is a rare occasion where I would actually appreciate a physical book of drawings (although it's a fair bit of money for that tier). It's also one of the highest tiers, but one reward is to have your face in a steampunk advertisement in the game. Which is cool if you have the cash.

At the time of writing there are 28 days left and $1,678 invested in Izzy's Revenge. Go take a look at the links below. Reminder: it's steampunk... Steampunk is cool.-oP

Kickstarter
Developer



Thursday, 29 January 2015

Pixel Art Collage

I made a college of some of my pixel art in a comic book panel style. I think it's a pretty cool way to display them! I'm going to add to this in the future. -oP