Welcome back to Game Dev with the Underdev’d #3. We’ve come along way people. Burpy Fresh’s first game ever has been met with incredible critical approval.
Admittedly, developing something that requires 4 PS2 controllers was likely not a good idea.
Onwards and upwards! Fast forward a year. Nothing has happened. Yay! Basically, I’ve started a number of different projects, and have left them in varying states of disarray. I was bemoaning this fact while watching YouTube and having several bowls of ramyeon when I saw a YouTube ad that wasn’t some k-pop garbage. Udemy was having a sale on their Blender course.
I was like, shit, I can get 20 bucks worth of knowledge out of this, and so I bought it. I was also thinking, “Hey, maybe if I make a 3D game and just make it look 2d-ish with a well placed orthographic camera, and I can get around all the problems I’ve been having trying to define a walkable space on a jpg when I should really just be using a nav mesh.
I don’t know if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, please tell me, because I don’t want to take a 60hr Blender course just to learn that all I needed to do was to not be shit at coding.
I have to admit, while they need to get their Q&A/Community interface in order, the course overall is pretty good. I’d used Blender for all of 20 minutes before, and ended up messing up the the interface so much I ended up deleting the program and reinstalling it from scratch. This is probably why they have a whole section of lectures based just on the interface, and how to clean things up when everything’s gone to hell.
I also made a Mayan temple, and a room that I managed to import into Unity (WITH colliders), and everything worked normally. It was a wondrous occasion.
I now have a box in which I can move and not clip through.
So, I’m going to stick with this Blender stuff, probably through to the end of the course, then start up again and see what mess I can get myself into. @curttheinvert has some amazing ideas… it would be nice to put some of them to use!
Another month has passed, and with that comes another Seoul Indies! Next month, I’ll be in Japan instead of indies, so let’s make this month count that much extra.
Heh. Nah, I’m gonna half ass it like I always do. This week there were 4 presentations, two I hadn’t seen before.
Daily Dungeon – 1506 – PC (iPhone soon?)
If Enter the Gungeon met a platformer, this would be it. It’s hard as balls, and now you have to make jumps while dodging bullets. I think I would throw the controller in frustration about 2 minutes in, but I can see how a lot of people would like this game. Basically, you jump and gun your way around until you can find you way to a boss or the next level. The team at 1506 have a lot of experience with platformers and it shows with this. The game is hard, but it does give you a chance. For example, take an extra half second to spawn, and during this time, you see a Bubble Bobble style … erm… bubble at the spawn point, giving you enough time to react.
The game is called Daily Dungeon, because everyone plays the same levels every day. The levels aren’t completely randomly generated, but rather are customizable with randomized bits. There’s a lot of replayability here due to the constantly changing levels, and the ability to challenge your friends to the same level that day.
The first boss is a mohawk sporting fish that seems to be wearing a crusader costume.
Beatris – Rhybad – PC
Beatris, is like Tetris that where the pieces fall to the beat. Getting lines in the traditional manner is a basic mechanic of the game, but since the piece drop rate is more irregular, there are a few more things going on. Grey filler blocks fill up the screen as the song goes on, and matching up certain colours will allow you to smash through or get rid of them, even without getting a line. I don’t fully understand the mechanic, but you can check it out for yourself here.
To The Hell – Single Core Games – PC
To The Hell is always a crowd favorite at Seoul Indies, as well as BIC and other events. It’s like Downwell, but upwards, and with a shit ton of firepower and huge bosses. It’s straight up shooty fun. That’s about all I have to say. (We’ve talked about it a few times briefly, we’ll do a proper review on it soon.)
Racers: Dirt – 21c Ducks
Racers: Dirt is another title that’s been around the …erm … track and back. It’s a modern take on a dusty RC Pro Am clone. They were at Seoul Indies to get people using their new multiplayer battle mode. Fun. We’ll do proper one on this eventually too, if we can ever get a PS4 and a TV. ㅠㅠ
That’s the rundown. Next month, I’ll be in Japan, so we’ll see what happens from there. (Good times? Good times!)
Not to be confused with Geometry Butt Fun, out next year on the Nintendrix Switch.
I saw Engare this weekend on the Indie Game Developers Facebook group, and decided to give it a go, since it just released on Steam and was on sale.
I’m a sucker for a discount.
It’s a game about geometry, specifically about visualizing how every area of a shape translates and rotates across space with the whole, and with other shapes. Visualize a wheel. The centre of a wheel travels in a straight line as a wheel rotates down a path, but the outer edge moves in half circles. Being able to visualize this difference is key to understanding the game’s main mechanic.
There have been very few times in my life where having a physics degree has comes in handy. This was one of them. Every level animates in a predicable pattern, which allows you to track down the exact path you need, relatively quickly. When you get the knack, the game becomes a little bit simple, but it’s still enjoyable enough to play through. The graphics and music are pretty nice and relaxing, perfect for the odd occasion you may get stuck for a bit. I’m looking forward to some of the later levels where you have to map the location of several pivots.
I’ll let you know if my statement of it being “a little bit simple” was premature.
When you finish a few levels, you unlock the pattern designer, which takes a pixelated square that you design and translates it onto cups and cylinders. I’ve only reached the third level, so I’m not sure if anything else opens up, but I did see a Spectrograph-esque line designer on Facebook.
Not too much to say about this one. I like it. It reminds me of my time in the Middle East, checking out mosques and other traditional architecture. If you got a bit of time and want something to play around with, I’d recommend this.
Disc Room is available as a DRM free download (along with a bunch of other good stuff) for subscribers to the Humble Monthly Bundle.
Trapped in an endless maze pursued by ghosts. Running through a psychedelic hell chased by ambulatory fungi and horribly mutated reptiles. Mocked by a sadistic computer and dying repeatedly while solving it’s seemingly pointless challenges. Wading through a gauntlet of slime forever slashing through the disturbingly cheerful multicolored ooze only to gain the ability to kill more slime and wade even deeper into the mindless muck.
Let’s face it video games are a manifestation of hell in a digital format. And not the cool sort of Catholic Hell with demons and fire and Slayer. No, video games are more like Hades with bullshit Greek-ass punishments where you have to repeat a task over and over for no reward. Every time Sisyphus pushes that rock up that hill, he gets a point and the level up jingle from Dragon Warrior plays. Doodoodododo doot doo! Now do it again, fool!
Disc Room by Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, and Doseone* is video game Hades at it’s best. It came as a bonus in one of them Humble Monthly packs, and like most months I played waaaay more of this than I did any of the AAA titles.**
Here is the story of Disc Room: You awaken in a room. There are no visible exits. Whirling blades of death emerge from the floor and begin careening around the room. You run for your life. You know it is futile but you run anyway. It’s funny what we will do for just a few seconds more of this dreary existence, isn’t it? Blades keep appearing and you keep running, but eventually you slip up and you die a painful messy death. Finally it is over. But no, you awaken again. The memory of your flesh being rent from your bones still fresh in your mind. You are in a room with no visible exits…
The gimmick is that with the press of a button you can slow down time. This allows you to maneuver through tight gaps and extend your limited lifespan even further. Your hitbox is actually quite small, so a lot of the fun of Disc Room comes from slowing time and squeezing through the smallest of gaps with spinning bloody death closing in on you. If you make it to 30 seconds in a give room you unlock more levels. You still die. Horrible. But now there are new ways to die. Some of them are fire. So there’s that.
*Members of the Vlambeer team. Makers of Nuclear Throne and Super Crate Box among others.
**People in the Humble Monthly comment sections are always bitching about the dearth of AAA titles, and I’m all like “Um, the weirdassindiegames are the gems of this whole enterprise, nerds.”
Full Disclosure: I bought this game like a pleb. Worth it.
This game was one of the highlights of BitSummit 2017. Getting pissed drunk on the river and listening to Scandinavian metal for a bit with one of the developers of this game was also a highlight. I don’t remember much else, but I looked at my watch and it was like 3am, and I couldn’t count that high, so must have been a good night.
Figment is about this Jingle looking dude called Dusty, and his Navi-like just-barely-not-annoying sidekick, Piper, who live in the mind of a boring father Ima call Stan who just got into a car wreck. No really.
I almost called him Doug, but I didn’t want to be that mean. The developers seem pretty nice.
The Mind, as they call it, seems to be a pretty peaceful place, perhaps too peaceful to Dusty who likes to look at his scrapbook, drink, and wish that Stan would do something cool for once in his life.
It’s like this guy is inside of me. I should go do something cool. Are pogs still a thing?
Well, he gets that chance, when Stan wrecks the car his ass and his family are driving in, and then probably ends up in a coma, or maybe caught in super slow motion and black-and-white on the side of the road. This trauma messes up The Mind, causing these pretty cool looking baddies to come and get all up in Dusty’s grill.
They’re pretty on point, too. I mean, you’re not supposed to look at the villain, and be like “Dayum, you right on target,” but here’s the most real piece of dialogue I’ve seen so far in the game.
Like this guy should be posting for Nihilist Arby’s. I mean look at this Twitter gold.
This Friday the 13th, remember: it’s not the calendar’s fault that life is a fucking horror show & death is the only way out.
It’s a match. A perfect match. Not that that matters or anything at all ever. And this boss is just killing time until the inevitable end. (Am I cool yet?)
Whatever. So yeah you’re chasing dudes, through this beautifully hand painted Toe Jam & Earlscape, picking up some things here and there and doing some minor modification to your surroundings to get where you need to go. Beautiful doesn’t really cover it. Everything is super vibrant and really pops out at you in a way that’s informative and not obnoxious. Just wandering around is pretty fun. You can’t really wander that far, but everything is nice to look at.
Then you hit a boss.
And the boss music is straight up metal. Which, I shouldn’t have to say this, is amazing. Like seriously, I’m using metal in all of my boss fights from now on. Straight up. Also, the nihilist boss with the extra arms you encounter first totally sounds like Skwisgaar Skwigelf. I mean I know these guys are Danish, but I don’t know, maybe metal has that sort of sound. The boss doesn’t actually sing or play instruments during the battle, but it’s still cool enough. At least I don’t think he sings, I mean there is a vocal track. I should listen to it again. The boss singing metal as you fight him would be frickin’ cool.
On that note, I’m going to get me a drink myself. Dusty loses his martini during the first few minutes and has to hunt down this ice machine. Me? I’m going 3 paces to the fridge. It’s still a worthy puzzle. No? Meh.
Your stuggle is pointless. Everything is.
(Nah, everything’s cool. I use the Internet and sometimes play video games for a living. How could that be bad?)
When you think of France*, you think of ennui, of world weariness, of mimes, of overly verbose stories that still leave you staring at the remnants of raw extruded humanity (some of it yours) on the floor as you wonder if you’ve wasted your entire life on flights of triviality.
It’s true. You’ve only made horrible choices thus far. But that’s okay. You can give that child back and play some unWorded. It’s fun. I mean as fun as this bleak existence will allow.
Bento Studio, based in Lyon, have recently released unWorded for Steam, having come out late last year for Android and iOS. It’s a sweeping narrative with themes mentioned above, that is connected through the drawing pictures with letters. Yes, it’s a bit gimmicky and McGuffiny, but it’s simple, elegant, and it works, really making for an enjoyably different game experience, as long as your mind’s eye is in line with the creators’, which is really is the only thing I’d call a downside. For example, there’s this one scene where you have to make a boat, but I thought certain pieces were waves instead of an upper deck, and the thing ground to a halt. Of course when I saw what the answer should have been it was obvious, but I just wasn’t thinking along those lines.
On the reverse, it’s a really beautiful game. Every cut scene could be a wallpaper. I mean look at this from near the beginning.
Gorgeous. It’s weird, and weird games need more attention. I only went through a few levels, but I’m going to go back into it now. I’ll update if I find anything cool.
*Maybe this is reminding me of Illumine, and hence the French connection? Maybe I’m just a bigot.
The thing about LEFT! the thing RIGHT! about Hyperun RIGHT! LEFT! is that it’s extremely hard to RIGHT! OH GOD! RIGHT! to keep a train of LEFT! of thought while focusing RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! on the track. BOOOOM! Aw, dang it…
Let’s try again…
Hyperun in an infinite racer from the good folks at Concrete Games. LEFT! 360! You get to drive a fly ass looking space motorcycle RIGHT! BACK FLIP! space motorcycle down a DOUBLE FRONT FLIP! LEFT! LEFT! infinite track collecting speed up money things and LEFT! going LEFT! increasingly LEFT! RIGHT! KICKFLIP! BOOOOM! … fast. Increasingly fast. So fast. Eventually you will crash and blow up.
One more time…
The gimmick is a turn-on-a-dime drift mechanic. RIGHT! Your cycle snaps around turns LEFT! like momentum wasn’t a KICKFLIP! RIGHT! wasn’t a thing. Also, check it… LEFFFFFTTT! See that big ole drift I just RIGHT! wrote. You can wrap up mad RIGHT! BACK FLIP! 720! mad points by drifting for long distances. RIGHT! LEFT! You have two possible LEFT! goals in Hyperun, top speed RIGHT! LEFT! and trick points TRIPLE KICKFLIP! BOOOM! Aw, man…
One more time…
Hyperun looks fantastic. The cell shaded RIGHT! backgrounds and cycles. The ultra bright LEFT! REVERSE 360! colors and the bumpin’ soundtrack all combine LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT for a just straight-up-no-foolin’ fun experience. BOOOM! Ooops…
OK, just one more…
In conclusion Hyperun is simply an extremely 360! RIIIIIGHT! fun indie racer. Like many good indie games LEFT! RIGHT! it takes a simple mechanic, exploits that basic mechanic for all it’s RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! phew… all it’s worth RIGHT! and adds a coating of retro inspired graphic. LEFT! LEFT! It also has no small amount of RIGHT! mobile style addictive-as-cocaine-just-one-more-time design. RIGHT! KICKFLIP! BOOOOM! Ugh… I could quit anytime though,,,
Full Disclosure: I don’t listen well to directions. I know one of the devs, but I paid for the game. Also, he knows I like messing with his shit. Also BIC Fest Breakdown coming in a few days.
Life is about making the right choices. The Shrouded Isle is about making the wrong choices for everyone else. The ultimate goal is to keep the island oppressed and manageable while you satisfy a the goals given to you upon your first summer by Chernobog, the god who speaks through you to the masses. Everything is a delicate balance, as the five families you control on the island can only be pushed so far, and adherence to the five pillars of your religion, ignorance, fervor, discipline, penitence, and obedience can only fall so low. The ouroboric nature of power from top to bottom again to top enforces a delicate cultural dance, where fear not only rains down from the heavens but also bubbles up from the vile.
Mechanically, the balance is maintained through the use of two types of stats, the approval of the vicar of each house, and the strength of each of the five pillars mentioned above. Each character has strengths and weaknesses that act as modifiers to one of these pillars, and are encoded as character traits, one good and one bad one per person. In the beginning you don’t know anything about anyone in each of the houses, you run inquiries to try to suss everything out. Each season you have to select a member of each house to be a representative, and then you have the option to use them to manage some church affairs. Using a representative raises the approval of their house, and also affects their influence on the town and their adherence to the five pillars.
Oh, and yeah, you gotta kill one of them by the end of the season, so you better have someone seriously fucked up to kill in line, or at least someone you can afford to kill.
The goal given to you in the first summer has two parts. You’ll be asked to force the town to adhere to one of the pillars to a much higher level than the rest. You’ll also be asked to sacrifice a sinner with a certain type of flaw. I’m guessing on this last part, because I’ve never finished the game by completing both goals. I’m still working on that one.
At first, you try to dictate with the best of intentions, you know punish everyone for their own good and whatnot, but by the second year or so, you’re just feeding whoever you can to the dragons to keep everyone else happy enough not to kill you.
I can draw two parallels here.
This game is about the life of Kim Jeong Un.
This game is like LARPing with emotional consequences.
Yeah, yeah I know I shouldn’t bring up LARPing in … well any company, but… yeah, no, fuck you. Yep. Fuck you. I see your judging eyes. Take your Judgy McJudgerson face and back it all the way back up the page. LARPing is fun. LARPing is social. LARPing is a wonderful way to spend an evening with socially responsible individuals that have a strong belief in personal hygiene.
I digress. Still working through some ‘shoes. (The fuck you stands though.)
I like this game. Graphics are on point, which is surprising since this is basically a monochrome game with only the odd splash of blood. Sound’s good too. I like how the gameplay is math that’s disguised as word games that really make you focus on every move you make. Making mistakes and learning from them encourage replayability. The more you get used to the game, the more you spend searching for the best traits and avoiding the worst while budgeting for the unknown. It’s surprisingly tense when you start getting more than a few seasons in. The only two downsides, I think anyway, are that there are not enough villager portraits (people’s images start to bleed over between games) and that I don’t know if every situation is winnable from the outset. There have been times where I’ve desperately needed an increase in one particular pillar but there was no one in any house who could do that, so I spent an entire season just waiting for my death. It could be that I just didn’t make the correct choices, but I’m not so sure. I know one of the devs, I’ll have to ask him about it.
This game is worth picking up if you like logic based games more than action based ones, or if you just like imagining people suffer.
Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is the fourth in a series of Metroidvania games by Bombservice. I haven’t played the first three, but I don’t think it’s necessary to do so in order to understand this one. Maybe playing the earlier ones would explain some of the story holes. Like, why are witches so giant? And why must you smack them in the boobs until they die? But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re going to do up this review The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly style. Cue up the Morricone…
Gameplay: It’s a Metroidvania! Metroidvanias are usually pretty fun. Momodora: RUtM is no exception. You explore a 2D landscape and collect powers and abilities that allow you to reach more areas that contains powers and abilities that let you access more areas. 20 GOTO 10 and so forth. We’ve all been here before and we love it. Momodora (at least I think that’s the main character’s name. I mean… I assume it is?)*, is a Priestess. She smacks things with a leaf. You can do some basic two and three hit combos and enemies make a satisfying 16-bit squishy noise when you defeat them. You also have a ranged bow attack, a defensive roll, and the obligatory gravity defying double jump**. For the most part (see my reservations in The Bad sections) it feels polished as it should from the fourth outing in a sequence.
Graphics: The graphics are cute 16-bit era pixel art. The backgrounds are evocative of the various stages (Forest! Graveyard! Obligatory Fire Level!) and both the heroine and the enemies have a good amount of personality. I really liked the enemy design on some of the more irritating creatures (the naked babies and the teleporting wizards come to mind), it made me really want to smack them down. The designs have a certain… sass. I think you can call making me hate a cute little imp sprite a win from the character design standpoint from a twisted misanthropic standpoint.
Challenge: This game is hard. And on one level I appreciate that (see below for other level). Many Metroidvanias are on the easy side with combat being more of matter of finding a more powerful weapon and blasting/hacking away with it. A leveling mechanic just compounds this, as you can just grind your way past most challenges. I’m calling out the GBA/DS era Castlevanias in particular on this. Momodora made me work for it. Some areas you just had to make the call to roll through and try to dodge hits rather than take on everything. I respect that.
Gameplay: For the most part the gameplay is solid. It just feels a bit sloppy at times. Particularly I didn’t feel the hit detection on the enemies was 100% great. Sometimes I’d hit an enemy and there’d be no visible cue that I had done any damage. This was a little bit frustrating when attacking some of the tankier enemies. The platforming also felt a bit off with Momodora*** clipping through platforms I swear I should be able to reach. None of this really detracted, but it wasn’t nearly as tightly controlled as I would’ve liked.
Level Layout: The overall level layout is remarkably horizontal. You mostly travel either east or west with very limited vertical movement. I’m guessing the goal was to design a world more along the lines of Simon’s Quest or the Shantae games, but I felt that it made for a few too many screens that were simply moving you left or right with little other purpose. This kind of design makes backtracking a hassle as well. I’m not really feeling too poorly at Momodora: RUtM for this, the high point for world design was Symphony of the Night which had very little wasted space in Dracula’s sprawling castle. That game pretty much spawned the genre and no game has really been able to equal its world design since, so I guess I can’t really blame Momodora for not succeeding here.
Challenge Level: As much as I appreciate the difficulty level on one level this here is another level. There a level of difficulty which is on the level, but there is also a level where difficulty is old school nonsense. Momodora has some old school nonsense. Enemies tend to fire at you from off screen which feels a little cheap. The roll mechanic feels a bit fussy where sometimes you’ll just be one pixel off and take some damage. This ties into the slightly sloppy gameplay implementation (see above). If yer gonna make a hard game, you best make sure the controls are super tight, see? Also, one of the boss creatures shot bullet hell bullets at me. That right there, is new school nonsense.
Boobs: Sigh. Okay. So, the second boss of the game is a giant witch out of nowhere. She has giant boobs. Her weak spot his her giant jiggly boobs. I mean… I meeeeaaannn… I’m sitting here playing this game… sitting here playing this game in 2017… and wondering why this pandering to thirteen year-old sex starved boys is still happening in games. Do better. Do better, everyone.
*I just looked it up. Her name is not Momodora.
**This isn’t a criticism of Momodora: RUtM, but I feel like the double jump is a kludge or sorts. Like you couldn’t be bothered to tighten up the platforming so that a single jump would suffice. It’s pretty obligatory in Metrovanias, but I still think it’s sloppy.
Full Disclosure: It’s 1:37 am and I’m a little tipsy.
I recently quit my job. This job had 22 weeks of paid vacation. Now I work in a cubicle in an office for 3 weeks of paid vacation (but a healthy pay bump). Being under the harsh glow for a continuous nine hour stretch for the first time in more years than I can count tipsy has put me into a somewhat-more-unbalanced-than-usual state of mind. It’s a walking(sitting?)/waking-dream like state where nothing exists except for the computer screen and three fuzzy half walls that are never exactly pleased with what I need to do to get through the day for them and for me, and a semi-constant hum of air conditioning, the snack table, and telephones. Turning 40 recently has also exacerbated this somewhat metaphysical condition, to the point where, during the day, I lose all semblance of my former personality, and can really only communicate verbally though a series of business buzzwords from the 80s, that still seem to work today for some weird reason, power suit, synergy, rebranding.
I just made the company 73 million dollars.
So I started playing Prison Architect for a completely unrelated reason.
This game has been out for a few years now, I got fed up with Sips fucking things up all over the place and fixing things that didn’t need fixing, so I decided to try it for myself.
I learned these things really quickly.
Watching 50 hours of Sips’ gameplay of Prison Architect through various runs does not in any way translate into actual gaming experience.
I am far more shit that Sips at realizing what’s going wrong at any given moment, because my first prison after the intro turned into a riot where 75% of the prison population escaped in about 35 seconds.
It’s a pretty fun game.
I’m aware that by reviewing a 2 year old game, we’re not going to cover any new ground (cough cough retro game reviews are bullshit cough cough), but there’s something really satisfying about this game. It still seems to be getting updates and improvements even this much later, which must be hell on the devs. Could you imagine if they actually went to prison after making something like this? It’d be like serving two sentences at once, but only one is real, the other one is like fighting against Shadow Link in your mind.
Did I mention that it’s 2:04 am, and I’m a bit tipsy?
I guess what was surprising to me is that the game has an amazing amount of depth in it, and your prison is not something you just keep building onto, it’s something that you have to build and reshape and repurpose as you’re going. An hour or two in after the tutorial, and every little of the first iteration of my prison exists. I mean, like 75% percent of my prisoners are gone, and I think I’m fucked, but they haven’t shut me down yet. I might be able to linger on. I mean, this is modelled after the US right? They fuck up prisons, like, all the time.
About fucking up, which happens, often, one of the things that I really appreciate about this game is that they do disasters right. In Sim City, when you got hit with an earthquake or if a tornado got your power plants, you were basically screwed. In this game though, while the emergencies can really do a number on your prison, they feel much more balanced. Sure, I lost 75% of my prison population, but the other 25% were unconscious on the floor or dead, so it felt like I had something to work with. I’ll see how it goes after writing this article, I might change my mind if I get shut down.
Right now, I’m only a few hours into the game, and this is what I’ve built. Good old Bleakville National. This is 2 days before everything went to hell. It’s a nice little cozy prison. Maybe I shouldn’t have let 30 prisoners all stay in the same holding cell for like ever. Maybe I should have hooked up this shower. Meh?
Look at me, I’d be a perfect warden for a for-profit prison. And that’s what’s important. I think I need to play another round.
2:19am. More than tipsy.
The Burpy Fresh crew is heading to the wonderful BIC (Busan Indie Connect) Festival for the weekend! It’s Korea’s premiere (read: only) indie gaming event, so if you’re in the country you should definitely come. We’ll be the guys passed out naked on the beach!