Game-related ramblings.

Month: April 2012

Wishful Thinking: Bandit RPG

It’s the start of a new series! Well, maybe that’s a bit optimistic as I’ve only thought of two entries for it so far, and I might not even get around to writing the second one for a while. But hopefully I’ll think up some more. Perhaps it will just be a very slow series. Anyway, the idea with Wishful Thinking posts is to describe some designs for games I would love to play. Some of these will be relatively simple while others might be essentially impossible to actually make, but since I’m certainly not going to make any of them I figured I’d share.

This first entry is an idea I’ve had for some time, but playing Skyrim has brought it to mind again. Essentially it would be a full-on fantasy role-playing game, similar to Skyrim or other open-world games, except instead of playing a hero or adventurer as usual, one would play as a bandit. Players can have their own reasons for choosing this way of life, but the important thing is that they live outside the traditional, civilized part of the world. Rather than starting in cities and heading out into the wilderness for adventure, as is usually the case, players live out in the wilderness, and find adventure the closer they get to cities. Most of the time they’re tending to their lair, raiding hapless travelers, defending against the odd adventurer, and generally scraping out an existence on the wrong side of the law.

You Should Buy Noitu Love 2

What’s this? Another timely post? Don’t worry, soon I’ll go back to writing about games years after they were released. In fact, I kind of am now, as Noitu Love 2: Devolution was originally released four years ago. But it has only recently become available on Steam, and right now there’s a promotion on so it only costs $3.99 (normal price $4.99). Both of those prices are absurdly low for a game as fun as this one. For those who are averse to Steam, you can also still buy it through Plimus but it costs $10 that way.

I will admit I have an ulterior motive here. I want you to buy Noitu Love 2 because I want its creator, Konjak, to finish his current project, a beautiful exploration platformer called The Iconoclasts. But it’s a win-win situation, because Noitu Love 2 is an excellent game that you should definitely play. The Steam page has a great gameplay video, which is good because I didn’t think to take any screenshots back when I played the game. But trust me, it’s a gorgeous thing to behold. It’s most certainly not an exploration platformer, feeling more like a classic action game you might find in an arcade. I’ve heard it’s similar to Gunstar Heroes, but I haven’t played that so I can’t confirm. Noitu Love 2 does feel a bit like a cross between a scrolling shoot-em-up and a platformer though, so the comparison is likely apt. The focus is on hand-to-hand combat in Noitu Love 2, but it features great mouse controls that let your character fly around the screen beating up robots.

If you need more info than that, you can try the demo, or read some quick thoughts on the game below.

Indie Time: Treasure Adventure Game

I decided to try Treasure Adventure Game after it suddenly showed up for free in my account. But don’t worry if you don’t have a GOG account — you can grab it for free directly from the creator as well.

Billed as a retro-styled exploration-based platformer in the vein of classics like Super Metroid, Treasure Adventure Game certainly contains a lot of old-school design elements that might put off some players. There’s a lot of backtracking… seriously, a lot of it. There is a system for fast-travel but it’s not introduced until late in the game and is not very obvious; I didn’t even find out about it until after I finished the whole thing. There are many jumping puzzles where the player can fall and lose significant progress, leading to frustration after missing the last jump in a long sequence. Saving is only possible at special save points, meaning more lost progress after dying. But despite all of this I found I was enjoying myself immensely.

You Should Play The Witcher 2

Today I heard that the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher 2 was released. I fully intend to return for a second playthrough of The Witcher 2 and I’ll definitely write some posts about it when I do, but as I’ve still got a staggering amount of Skyrim to play and a rather big backlog of other games, that won’t happen for a while. But I did want to make a rare timely post and encourage everyone to play The Witcher 2, now conveniently in Enhanced form and with an Xbox 360 release to boot. It has a fascinating world, a great cast of characters and is full of tough choices with true consequences. Rather than simply leading to a few different endings (although The Witcher 2 has those), the player’s choices actually change the game itself, up to and including a choice between two vastly different second acts. Plus it’s one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen. Along with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Witcher 2 was one of the highlights of 2011.

And this Enhanced Edition is no joke, greatly extending the game’s final chapter with new characters and other content, and featuring a slew of other improvements like a new lighting system. Add that to the earlier 2.0 patch which created a completely new tutorial and added an extra-hard difficulty mode with new items, and you’ve got a significantly improved game compared to the initial release, which was already great. And all of this is free to anyone who’s purchased the game.

If you need further convincing, read on for more (brief) thoughts on the game. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say when I play it again.

Games Are Evil, Apparently

I recently read this post over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, which is a response to a UK teacher’s speech at a conference blaming games for negative behavior among young students. The piece rightly takes this teacher to task for making such claims without any supporting evidence, and calls for an investigation into whether such a link actually exists. Unfortunately, this teacher is not alone; similar unsubstantiated claims about the harmful effects of violent games appear with alarming frequency, and it’s not the first time that Rock, Paper, Shotgun has had to pen a rebuttal. While gamers are understandably upset by these attacks on their hobby of choice and worry that the prevailing negative stereotypes of games will stifle the growth of the medium, the problem is actually far bigger than just games. The problem is rooted in how people think, and how they are taught (or not taught) to think.

The Wonderful World of Tweaks

A desire to fiddle with things is one of the main reasons I prefer to game on PC. I understand why consoles are so popular: console games tend to simply work without problems (although technical issues have become more common recently), so players can get right to playing the game without having to wrestle with drivers and such. This is possible because individual consoles have identical hardware to one another, making it much easier to design a game that runs reliably on the system. But the downside is that players can’t tinker with stuff. You can’t swap out the processor in an Xbox for a faster one. You can’t turn the shadows off in a first-person game to improve the framerate. In most cases, you can’t even change which buttons do what in a particular game.

But I want to be able to do those things. To me, dealing with drivers and patches and whatever else to get a game to run is a small price to pay for the ability to set up a game exactly the way I want. That kind of user control is the biggest advantage of the PC, and it’s an interesting aspect of gaming that can almost become a game itself. While I don’t often partake in truly hardcore tweaking, I’ve found myself going farther than usual with Skyrim, which, like its predecessors, seems specifically designed to be tweaked.

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