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Tag Archives: Video Games

Cult of the Wind

One thing I love about the booming indie game movement is that we’re seeing lots of games with unique ideas.

Remember when you were a kid and you’d run around the playground pretending to be an airplane? And getting into dogfights with your friends?

Then you may be interested in Cult of the Wind.

In Cult of the Wind, players compete and cooperate in ritualistic multi-player human dogfights, complete with imaginary weapons, pretend explosions, and airplane noises made with their mouths. Shower your friends in a hail of imaginary bullets and proclaim, “I got you! You have to lie down,” to which they respond, “Nuh-uh, I have a shield.” You argue about whether or not airplanes can have shields, meanwhile some other guy does a cannonball onto your head while whistling. It’s great. “

On top of that, the designers give the whole game a dreamlike fantasy setting, where the kids who make up the cult are survivors living in the wreckage of the aircraft and their games are recreating the dogfights of legend.

Cult of the Wind is an intriguing game whose ideas and setting definitely capture the imagination. I’ve added it to the list of games I’m keeping an eye on and might pick it up when time allows.

Check out the game play footage:

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Computer Games, Cool Stuff

 

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Darkest Dungeon – Backed

A little while back I posted about the Darkest Dungeon Kickstarter.

I decided to go ahead and jump in. The game play looks fun, but the art style and the unique mental Affliction System mechanic sold me on it.

There’s about three days left on the project and it’s well funded. You can see my earlier thoughts on the game here.

Also, there’s another trailer!

 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Computer Games, Fantasy

 

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Adventure!

I have played many video game RPGs over the years.

From modern games like the Elder Scrolls series to classics like Bard’s Tale, Temple of Apshai, and my beloved Ultima series.

But before any of those there was another digital dungeon that held my heart. There was only one hero to play who was not very customizable and certainly wasn’t well rounded, but that didn’t stop me from spending many hours playing the game. Gentle readers, I present my first video game RPG character!

Hero

 The year was 1979 and the game was Adventure designed by Warren Robinette for the Atari 2600.

“An evil magician has stolen the Enchanted Chalice and has hidden it somewhere in the Kingdom. To object of the game is to rescue the Enchanted Chalice and place it inside the Golden Castle where it belongs.”

-Adventure

Adventure was an ambitious game for Atari and while the graphics were primitive the world was evocative. To my young imagination the world seemed vast, fantastic, and perilous. There are three castles spread across the world; the Golden Castle where you begin and end the quest, the foreboding Black Castle which lies beyond the Blue Labyrinth and contains the Grey Dungeon, and the mysterious White Castle hidden deep within the Catacombs and holding the Red Dungeon. Somewhere within this world is the lost Enchanted Chalice which must be returned to the Golden Castle. Scattered throughout the world are magical items with various properties such as the keys to the castles, the magnet and bridge, and the magical sword.

Danger roams the world in the form of three dragons; Yorkle the Yellow Dragon, Grundle the Green Dragon, and the fearsome Rhindle the Red Dragon who is the fiercest of them all. Your only protection against the dragons is the magic sword, if you can find it. Also loose in the world is the bat, a force of chaos who may help or hinder you by stealing or dropping off items. The bat has been known to steal the Enchanted Chalice out of your hands, leaving a dragon in its place.

Adventure was groundbreaking for digital RPGs. There are three levels of difficulty, each adding to the complexity of the world and the challenge of the quest. If you find yourself devoured by one of the dragons you can restart at the Golden Castle with everything as you left it, or you could restart completely. Difficulty switches allowed you to further adjust the challenge, making the dragons faster and more aggressive, or harder to kill by having them flee the magic sword.

Each dragon has its own behavior patterns. For instance, Rhindle will remain and guard the white key. Grundle will protect the magnet, bridge, or black key. Yorgle fears the gold key and will be driven off by its presence. Knowing the dragons’ preferences will give the player additional tools to help complete the quest.

The world of Adventure is the same each time, but on level three the objects and creatures are randomly scattered. Unlocking a castle may release the bat or a dragon. The Enchanted Chalice may be within the Black or White Castle, or in one of the lost rooms of the Catacombs. This gives the game a level of replayability that isn’t found in most other games of the time.

Adventure has another distinction in the history of video games, it contains the first Easter Egg. Easter Eggs are comments, jokes, or objects hidden inside a game by the programmer. In 1979 it was Atari’s policy not to credit their programmers for their work. Warren Robinette decided to hide his signature in the world of Adventure.

If you can recover the invisible dot, place it in the correct room, and add one of the correct objects to that room, it opens a hidden chamber. Within this room you’ll find Robinette’s name written in glowing letters.

I still love Adventure. The character is a square, the sword looks like an arrow, and the dragons look like ducks. But Adventure opened my eyes to the world of video game RPGs and gave me a fantastic world to explore, one with enough mazes to thrill my labyrinth-loving heart.

Adventure is available on-line and can be played in your browser. If you’ve never played it, go give it a try. You’ll get a kick out of its archaic graphics and gameplay. If you’re an old fan like me, go revisit your childhood friend.

Just remember, the bat is not your friend.

AdventBat

HEY! Bring that back!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Computer Games, Fantasy, Gaming

 

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Darkest Dungeon

This Kickstarter, it intrigues me.  The game is called Darkest Dungeons.

Uncompromising, unforgiving, and unconventional, we present a fresh take on the dungeon crawler that elevates the importance of sound tactics and a character’s mental state over their gear.

You will recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts and beyond. You’ll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system.

You will have to tend to characters’ spirits as much as you do to their Hit Points. But in these grim situations, you’ll find opportunities for true heroism!

Darkest Dungeon is not a game where every hero wins the day with shiny armor and a smile. It is a game about hard trade-offs, nearly certain demise, and heroic reversals.

Do you have what it takes to survive in the forgotten corners of the Darkest Dungeon?

Darkest Dungeons hits a number of my buttons.  Turn based RPG?  Check.  Procedurally generated dungeons?  Check.  Traps and tricks?  Check.  Compelling art style?  Check.  Any art style that makes me think of Mike Mignola’s work gets bonus points.

Still, as much as I like roguelike RPGs, I find most computer RPG’s limited.  Some manage to stand out from the crowd through epic world building or compelling writing, such as the Ultima series of old or the Elder Scrolls games.  Others through their excellent implementation, such as The Legend of Grim Rock.  Each of these has some special angle that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Darkest Dungeon is aiming to find its own unique key through challenging the player in a new way.  Players will not only be exploring the depths of the underworld, but the psyche of their own characters.

Characters’ stress levels respond dynamically to dungeon events. Coming across a rotting corpse may unnerve the Highwayman, or may fuel the Crusader’s determination. If the pressures become too overwhelming, their resolve is broken, and they will become Afflicted with a range of psychological conditions including paranoia, panic, greed, or even sadism.

The Affliction System will compel the player to keep an eye on the mental well being of his or her PCs, learn what they fear and what inspires them, and play accordingly.  This idea intrigues me, striking me as something at home in a Call of Cthulhu game and just begging to draw the attention of Lamentations of the Flame Princess players.

I’m not sure if I’ll be backing the Kickstarter or not yet, considering that the Taxman cometh soon and not bearing gifts.  But I will be keeping an eye on the project and a retail purchase may be in my future.

Check out the trailer for yourself and see if it doesn’t just scream “OSR”:

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Computer Games, Fantasy

 

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Oblivion Maps

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may be the only entry in the Elder Scrolls series that I have played, but I have played the heck out of it.

I purchased it on sale from Steam when it was quite an old game and it may be the best bang for my buck of all the video games I’ve owned.  Why I love Oblivion could be a post of its own, but suffice to say that I hold this game up to the same level as the Ultima games.

One thing I particularly like is that the world is filled with small to medium sized dungeons.  They’re everywhere, each is unique, and many have a specific flavor to them.  They’re perfect if you want to just dive into a dungeon and go delving, putting whatever quests you have on hold for a while.

The dungeons come in four flavors.  The first are mines, which are often goblin lairs.  The second are caves, which are similar to mines and are often bandit lairs.  Next are ruined forts, which may be home to goblins, bandits, undead, or other forces.  The last are the ruins of ayleid cities, the ayleid being the ancient race that ruled in the distant past.  Undead or demons tend to haunt the ayleid ruins.

These dungeons have a nice variation to them.  The creatures are not randomly generated, but specifically placed in each site.  They may scale based on character level, replacing skeletons with specters or raising the level of bandits for example, but it stays true to the theme.  There are traps that a cautious player can spot and avoid.  And of course, there is treasure to be had.  The level design is mostly linear, but they do a decent job of hiding the rails by giving you one or two paths and a few side branches to explore.  Just the thing for a quick dungeon crawl fix.

Which makes them handy for your table top game too.  If you want to throw in a short side encounter with a ruined fort or cultist-filled mine, the maps from Oblivion are just the ticket.  Thanks to the Unofficial Elder Scrolls wiki site, you can find maps for them all online.

Here is the master list of Oblivion Places.  Scroll down to find maps for all the dungeons, broken out by type.  You can also find city maps here too.

The maps from Oblivion are another tool in a DM’s arsenal for quick adventure generation.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Computer Games, Dungeon Design, Fantasy, Gaming, Maps

 

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Clockwork Empires Trailer

Many years ago I swore off any computer game where I had to build a granary.

I like strategy and empire building games, but I do not like micro-managing civilizations.  If there are more than three resources to manage I know that my digital villagers are doomed to starvation.

However every now and then a civilization building game comes along that makes me want to give it another try.  Clockwork Empires may be just such a game.  A steampunk society stumbling upon ancient cults and nameless horrors?  That’s worth a look.

I hope that the players can build steampunk mecha to fight the elder gods.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Computer Games

 

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The Ghost of GLaDOS!

A group of ghost hunters has been researching the basement of an old building.  Part of their research has been to set up a chalk board in the basement, leave it alone, and see what messages the ghosts have written on the chalkboard.

After all, no human being would ever break into an abandoned building and write on a chalk board.

Take a look at this video from the local news station, who were hard up for a Halloween fluff piece.  Jump ahead to about 2:25 seconds and check out the cryptic message left by the spirits.  Thankfully the ghost hunters have been able to discern its mysterious meaning.

 

This gives new meaning to the term “ghost in the machine”.  Or, I guess it would be “ghost of the machine”.

Still, this could make for an interesting adventure.  A group of local ghost hunters, woefully lacking an understanding of pop-culture and the habits of teenagers, have been the source of amusement around the town for a few months.  However amusement fades as teenagers begin disappearing. 

Suspicion falls on the ghost hunters, who claim that the real culprits are evil spirits that are growing in power.  They point to their grainy footage and records of electromagnetic disturbances as evidence, which doesn’t help their case with the authorities but does strike a cord with other paranormal investigators who begin flocking to the town in droves. 

The disappearances and electrical disturbances continue to happen as the investigators have to navigate through a carnival of ghost hunters, psychics, UFOlogists, and other paranormal investigators who are constantly getting in the way. 

Meanwhile, in a forgotten military bunker beneath the town, a recently re-awakened experimental AI continues to kidnap subjects for its insane experiments.  Will the investigators be able to uncover the true threat in time?

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Weirdness

 

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Framed!

I am not a big fan of puzzle games.

However I am a fan of sequential art, noir style, and imaginative game design, all of which show up in the tech demo for Framed, an upcoming game by Loveshack Entertainment.

The idea of the game is that you are presented with a series of panels.  Your protagonist is shown running through them like a comicbook character brought to life, but something happens to him before he reaches the end.  From the demo I’m guessing that this will usually be a horrible demise.

Then the player is given the opportunity to re-arrange the panels, so that when the protagonist runs through the page again he is able to turn the tables on his enemy or avoid whatever obstacle stopped him before.

I love the art style they’re using here.  I’m a sucker for the shadow-puppet characters and the watercolor look of the backgrounds sets it off nicely.  This game is just beautifully designed to take advantage of the iPad’s touch screen, but they’re not stopping there and the game will also be release for PC and Mac.  Throw in a good soundtrack and this game will be a winner.

I love to see innovative designs like this and look forward to seeing more indie-gems turn up.  Keep your eye on this one!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Computer Games

 

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Super Hot

Every now and then someone comes along and tries to do something new with the first person shooter genre.

Super Hot appears to be such a game.  Or at least the tech demo for one.

The game takes you through a series of levels where, “time only moves when you move.”  To be more accurate, time moves really darn slowly because despite what the game’s tagline says bullets do still move when you’re holding absolutely still.  They just move extremely slowly.

This takes the familiar “bullet time” mechanic from games like Max Payne to the next level, changing a limited combat resource into a core mechanic.  Combine this with a highly stylized art form and creepy ambient music and you’ve got an interesting and fun experience.

Don’t think that the slowed time gives you an overwhelming advantage either.  Even with the extra time to move and react it’s difficult to keep track of multiple targets and while slipping out of the way of one bullet is easy, doing so for several is a challenge.  The way time speeds back up as soon as you begin to move adds pressure and the slow but inexorable advance of bullets when you don’t move builds tension.  Your pistol has limited ammo and there is no counter displayed, forcing you to keep track of your bullets and to make each one count.  Fortunately there should soon be an abundance of replacement pistols lying around as you take down your enemies.  The resulting game play has an almost puzzle-like quality combined with a refreshing level of suspense.

The game was created for the 2013 seven day first person shooter jam, 7DFPS, and runs on the Unity engine.  The current game is short but sweet and a full game may be in the works.  If so I would definitely be interested in it.

The following link to an IndieGames.com interview with the developer.

If you want to take the game for a spin, here’s the link!

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Computer Games

 

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