Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Headline that pertains to Political Disaffectation

A lot of people would begin a post such as this pretending they get numerous questions about why they've stopped following politics on their blog, but I have chosen instead to begin this post with an absurdly meta-reference to it because I think that makes me smart and oh what a fool I am.

So anyway, yeah I'm basically not going to follow politics much on this blog anymore. Not because I'm done with politics personally but because there are already people doing that well enough as it is elsewhere on the web, and I'm not going to pretend you, my audience, whoever you are and presuming you even exist, much give a tinker's cuss what my opinion is on things at the moment. Also I've come to the realization that the only reason I ever went to single-person political blogs was to howl in the comments section, and I need to find better ways to spend my days.

However, since people tend to gravitate to where they can howl the loudest here in the blogosphere, I realize that this will significantly limit the size of my audience. Nevertheless, as easy as I recognize it would be to build bogus drama by throwing out another Lieberman Sucks post, I can't be bothered. That is all.

My Next Three Hourgames, and one I sorta inspired.

The following Hourgame Theme was "The Future," And to wit I wrote Future Ho. At this point I started trying to use the Hourgame events as an excuse to learn something specific about the AGS Engine, and in this game it was the elusive, and yet so plot-essential, cut scene. Also about this point I was trying to incorporate some weird time-space spanning super-meta-plot for all my eventual and terrible future hourgames, something about the Sour Smiley and the Shoe being in some level of eternal conflict, something, I dunno... At any rate, Download Here.
Next was the followup game, in which I tried to further complicate the plot in spite of the theme, which was "Paint," which spanned paint itself to MS-Paint or, in my case, Paint.Net and its various graphical filters. As a result most of the graphics in this game are blurry beyond necessity because I was planning on using them to be... I'm actually not sure. I think the plot was supposed to be that there was this painter who was somehow the cause behind the whole Shoe v Smiley mess because of a painting of his, and you had to destroy the painting, but it turns out you didnt and dun-dun-duuuunnnn... Yeah it didn't work out, so I was mainly screwing with the graphics filters. Oh, also I recorded a really lame song for the game, me on guitar as well as making a silly kazoo sound with my mouth. I recommend playing the game with Mute on. Download Here.
Final game in this post is Adventures in Time and Safes, where the theme was "Safes." With this one I was just trying to be more clever than not with the puzzle, where the combination is written on the vertical blinds. Not alot else about this one in particular, with the notable exception that it was the first time I actually won one of these Hourgames, and I'm not to ashamed about the puzzle, though I feel the graphics are a fairly low point for me. Nevertheless, a winner. Download Here.
As I won this one, I got to run the next hourgame, and made a damn pathetic mess of it, since I didn't even show up on time (confound you, daylight savings, my old nemesis) the theme became where the hell I went. SteveMcrea was the only one to complete one, so I'm linking to his game here, as well as the trophy he won for it. Download Steve's Game Here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Helium Articles

I'm posting this link right here to everything I have written, and may ever write, for Helium.com. At the moment it is almost entirely the reviews I wrote while I worked for The Inventory, a now long defunct PDF-zine about Adventure Games. Figured this would be easier than linking to each article individually, odds aren't all that good you came here to read an ages-old review of Tony Tough and the Night of the Roasted Moths. I still have The Inventory PDFs I wrote for, not the entire run of the magazine. Figured the site would have been kept up longer than it was I suppose.

Baby's First AGS Hourgames

So here are my first two attempts at HourGaming from earlier this year. 

First game's theme was the Letter S, so naturally, creative mind that I am, I dubbed it "The Letter S." Note: The game doesn't end properly, but once you reach the Big S, it's over. Hadn't yet learned about the QuitGame command. Download Here


The next one, happening in February, had a theme of Hearts, and thus did I create "Heart Attack," as well as my absurd running theme of including the Sour Smiley character, and the Nuclear Shoe. Download Here 
Baby steps with learning the AGS Engine and all, but I don't think they're that bad... compared to invasive surgery or something. Anyhoozle I'm going to try and put more of these up here, I seem to actually be missing a few though so we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Reviews: Mean Girls High School Showdown and 3 Stars of Destiny

I'm basically posting these so I can have something to put in the Writing Tab I just put up there. Anyhow, these were both done for Helium in the marketplace but never purchased, so nobody else would ever read them. Here now, after a year of internet-limbo, are these two very brief reviews.

Downloadable game review: Mean Girls High School Showdown
While Mean Girls: High School Showdown is based loosely on the 2004 Lindsey Lohan Comedy, it is more directly based on the popular 2007 game Puzzle Quest. The games play fundamentaly identically, the combination of RPG statistics with a BeJeweled-style "Battle" system surviving intact, and is made somewhat novel by the re-framing of the concept for the high school crowd. The games are not identical, and in truth, in spite of how overdone the High School gimmick is presented, I actually appreciated some of the more significant changes.
After creating your character (who, as per the movie, has just transferred in from studying in Africa) you are led through the tutorial missions which explain the story of the game, which, mirroring the movie, has you joining and eventually combatting the exclusive school clique, "The Plastics." Players take on a series of missions as they move toward eventualy completing the game, lining tiles up in groups of three or more to clear them and bring new tiles in from the top. Clearing different tiles will build points in four different categories to allow you to use skills that can affect the game, and other tiles will help you do "damage" to your opponent in order to win the match.
Where Mean Girls differs from Puzzle Quest is in having two different "Health" bars to deal damage to, one for Stamina, which slowly drains, and the other for Loyalty, which slowly fills, depending on whether you match Whip or Heart tiles, respectively. Depending on which of these two ways you use to defeat the opponent affects the story of the game and how later sections are played, though not drastically. Adding this element, as well as removing the Tile-based Experience and Gold collection aspects of Puzzle quest, makes the game that much more interesting, as well as accessable.
Overall, I ended up enjoying the game in spite of myself. Legacy Interactive has done well targeting a new, potentially untapped audience for this type of game, and adding the new twist opens up replayability that its predecessor might have lacked. However, while it will satisfy its intended audience, certainly, it is hard to recommend this game over the original to anyone else, considering how little else it comparitively offers for the same price. Still, it's not a bad game for the price.
Score: 3/5
Downloadable game review: 3 Stars of Destiny
"3 Stars of Destiny" strikes me at first as the sort of RPG you would create if you set out to parody the over-used conventions of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and too many others. Stop me if you've heard this before: Young male hero on just this side of adulthood on an everyday errand for his family meets a mysterious female who he then pursues, enduring the mischeif she initially causes before banding with him, as well as his loyal pet and, for team balance, a healing magic user in order to save all of everything that ever there was from a vaguely defined super-powered evil, a quest that will take our heroes across the globe to attain the magical whatevers they require to face, then vanquish, said evil. Unlike a parody, however, the game makes the tragic mistake of ultimately failing to realize how very similar it is to so much else, and in failing to be self-aware, it also fails to hold the slightest bit of interest.
Combat is basically early Dragon Quest, Attack, Skill, Item, and Run Away being the only options. On the one hand it's uncomplicated, and on the other there's really no point on playing on any difficulty besides Easy, as the harder difficulty levels are only challenging in the sense of how many more healing items you need to stockpile before going out anywhere and how many save points there are. The remainder of the game is spend running around an overhead view of your standard heavily-forested fantasy world, finding apples and nuts in the forest, searching treasure chests in people's homes without them mentioning, fighting creatures that are invisible until you stumble on them, etc. Saying things like this are cliche because they work is all well and good, but it doesn't make it any easier a task to justify paying for more of the same.
Given that the game was created entirely in RPG Maker XP, I can't help but feel there are limits to how much I can criticise the game versus the tool they made it with, and true enough what the Indinera Falls team has contributed is fairly well done; artwork crisp, music well-composed, scripting and storyline thorough (if a little too familiar at times), however, given how easy it is to find other, better games made with the same engine, and free ones at that, it's difficult to recommend purchasing this game.
Score: 2/5

Friday, June 25, 2010

A thing that just happened

In the process of deciding to put my blog back together and force myself to start writing again, reformatting this and adding that, I found my brother's old blog, and informed him of a single typographical error.

'Tis a full and rich one, this life of mine.

On that note, yeah I'm going to try and start blogging again. Life-update, lost my job in March 2009, been trying to find work that my degree is good for now, namely Editing, Proofreading or Writing, but have been unable to find it. Well that's not fair, I worked as an editor for about three months on a manuscript by a holocaust survivor, and as a content proofreader part time as well, but nothing consistent, what little there ever was has since dried up.

About January I realized I should have, a long damn time ago, actually gotten as into game programming as I had meant to about ten years ago. I've since been working off and on (mainly off) on a project involving the Adventure Game Studio, which I've been enjoying learning, and hating that I haven't been doing more with. I have, however, been participating in the HourGames on the forums, even made a few, and will be putting them up here as soon as I get things sorted out. The bigger project, which I'll describe elsewhere (I'm not trying to keep state secrets here, honestly its just that I want to finish this post and make dinner) still remains, however, and I hope to have even a ugly proof of concept by the end of the year, so long as I can kick my own ass into doing something.

Also I'm trying to put together a concept for a sprite-animated Let's Play type thing, but that keeps falling out of my mind too. Being unemployed and filled with broke-ass dread will do that I suppose.

Um... oh, also since last I posted here milady Heather has moved in, my brother got married and I performed the ceremony, and I've purchased a Playstation 3.