Game-related ramblings.

Month: November 2011

Victory: The Saga of Urist Redbeard (part 1)

It finally happened. After playing Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup off and on for about six years, I have finally managed my first win.

If you’ve missed my posts about roguelikes, you might want to take a look at them here, especially the introduction. I also specifically wrote about Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (and some of the other hardcore roguelikes) here. For those who don’t want to read through another long post right now, the basic idea is this: roguelikes are games (typically fantasy RPGs involving large dungeons) that you can easily play for your entire life. They are procedurally generated, extremely conplex and difficult to win, and if you die you must start all over with a fresh character and a fresh dungeon. Finally getting your first win is a momentous occasion that only the most dedicated players will achieve.

I’d like to tell you the story of Urist Redbeard, my mountain dwarf fighter who, against all odds, managed to retrieve the Orb of Zot from the bottom of the Dungeon and escape. Hundreds, probably thousands of other adventurers had tried before him, guided my my hand, and all had fallen. But with each of their deaths I was slowly learning, honing my strategies so I would not repeat the same mistakes. And it paid off. On November 25, 2011, Urist, heavily wounded, stumbled out of the dungeon and into the sunlight with his prize.

Technically Not Indie Time: Bastion (part 2)

[Read part one here]

I have now finished Bastion, and my opinion of the game has only improved. The second half did not disappoint and the ending is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I recommend it in the highest terms. After I finished the game I read some pieces that others had written about it and was surprised to find that many players are turned off by the graphical style. I personally think Bastion is gorgeous, but if you are not a fan of the visuals I strongly urge you to try the free demo available on Steam (you can also purchase the full game there). It seems that many players who did not think they would like the game based on its looks actually ended up loving it.

I’m going to spend some time discussing the game’s narrative design, which I will try to keep as spoiler-free as possible. But the main point is that if you haven’t played Bastion yet, you really should. Here’s that Steam link again. You can also play the game on Xbox Live Arcade.

OK, let’s talk about the narrative.

Roguelike-like: Transcendence

[Click on images for larger versions.]

Recently I’ve discovered a few games that are clearly influenced by traditional roguelikes, and manage to use roguelike elements in a completely different genre with some impressive results. Transcendence is one such game, and it also happens to be completely free.

It’s a weird mix of styles. On the surface it appears to be a top-down space combat game that controls similarly to Asteroids, but features the kind of free-roaming, explore/trade/fight/upgrade gameplay popularized by Elite and continued by the likes of Freelancer and the X series. But play for a little while and you’ll soon see that Transcendence takes just as much inspiration from roguelikes.

Technically Not Indie Time: Bastion (part 1)

After finishing LIMBO (read about it here), the next game on my list was Bastion, the first title from Supergiant Games. Bastion is technically not an indie game, as it is published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (I am defining “indie” as “self-published”). It was, however, in development long before that deal was signed, and most of the press is treating it as an indie title.

I’ve been excited about Bastion for a while, after hearing about it while it was still in development. In addition to some gorgeous visuals, it has an intriguing cowboy western vibe, complete with a narrator who sounds like the old, sage mentor of a young gunslinger in a western film. Released back in July on Xbox Live Arcade and in August for PC via Steam, I have only now started playing. It’s a bit longer than LIMBO, and I estimate I’m only halfway through, but I’ve seen enough to give some of my thoughts on the game.

Roguelike Highlights: DoomRL

[Be sure to read my introduction to roguelikes if you haven’t already. Previous Roguelike Highlights can be read here.]

It is true: I have never played Doom. This is why jefequeso contributed a guest post about it. As a game of great historical significance, I really should play it at some point. Maybe one day I will find the time to try it out. But in the meantime, I’ve been playing the next best thing: the Doom roguelike.

Yes, you read that right.

Indie Time: LIMBO

Well, I successfully finished the Shivering Isles expansion pack for Oblivion (it’s good!), and I did it before Skyrim, the next installment of the series, is released. But an unintended side effect is that I now need a break from epic fantasy role-playing games, meaning I will hold off on starting Skyrim for a bit. Instead, I thought it was an ideal time to play through some of the indie games that I’ve been collecting, but haven’t had time to play yet. First up: LIMBO, from Danish developer Playdead.

Alternate History: Doom [Guest Post]

I have mentioned Doom, the 1993 game that basically launched the first-person shooter genre, a few times on this blog. But I’ve never actually played it (gasp! I should probably rectify that). Fortunately, jefequeso has played it, and he contributed this piece about what it’s like to revisit the game today. Read on!

Let’s face it—even the most casual of gamers has at least some passing knowledge of Doom. As the title that essentially jumpstarted the FPS industry, it’s not exactly obscure. So this is going to be somewhat different from the other History Lessons, in that it’s not about introducing people to an old game they might have missed. Rather, this is about re-visiting a classic almost all of us have played and looking at some of the things that make it still entertaining today.

History Lessons: Duke Nukem 3D

2011 saw the release of Duke Nukem Forever, a mere 14 years after it was originally announced. The game was not well received, but really the release itself is more significant than the actual game. Duke Nukem Forever was the classic example of vaporware, a game that had garnered enormous amounts of hype but which suffered delay after delay, until it entered a state of limbo with few believing it would ever be released. Yet somehow the game was never cancelled, and it became a sort of myth, elevated to legendary status.

Why so much excitement about one game? The protracted development certainly didn’t help, with expectations for the final product rising with each delay, but the original spark was the hit game Duke Nukem 3D. Released back in 1996, the game earned an extremely devoted following. I had never played it, so I decided to try it and see what all the fuss was about.

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