Game-related ramblings.

Month: July 2014

The Witcher Adventures: Damn Those Swamps! (Plus An Introduction)

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So, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is set to release in February 2015, and I’m pleased to see it’s among the most hotly anticipated upcoming releases. I wrote briefly about the Witcher series more than two years ago, largely to encourage readers to check out The Witcher 2, and noted then that I needed to play through it again. Well, I never did get around to it, and the imminent sequel means I need to get on the ball (no, not that Ball). But before doing that, I decided to revisit the first game. Not to play through the main story again — I remember it well even after several years — but to try out the bonus adventures that now come with every copy of the game. Created by both fans and original developers CD Projekt RED using the game’s D’jinni Adventure Editor, they offer small, standalone stories of Geralt of Rivia, recalling Andrzej Sapkowski’s original short stories.

While playing the first adventure of the bunch, entitled Damn Those Swamps! (renamed from Blight of the Bogs), I was reminded of just how interesting the first Witcher game is. So I decided to start this post with something of an introduction to the game as a whole, before writing about this specific Adventure. Read on!

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’: The Ball

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Those who read my Indie Platformer Marathon series may remember my post about Unmechanical, a lovely game that turned out not to be a platformer after all. In that post I mentioned that before Unmechanical, developers Teotl Studios had released The Ball, a game I’d been wanting to play for a while. Now, a mere year later, I have finally played it.

Inspired in equal parts by Indiana Jones and Portal, The Ball is a first-person puzzle game about rolling a giant ball around some ancient Aztec ruins. Which is kind of awesome.

Wishful Thinking: Han Solo Simulator

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Writing my recent post about The Precursors, and how it attempts to be a dream game by coupling a free-roaming space sim with a first-person shooter/role-playing game, reminded me that I’d started a series about dream game designs over two years ago. I never got around to writing any more entries, which is too bad, because one thing I’d intended to write about is exactly what The Precursors attempts; namely, a Han Solo simulator. I touched on that a bit in my post about the game, but I wanted to clarify exactly what this dream game would be for me, and the ways in which The Precursors (and other games) succeed and fail in achieving it. Read on!

Another Link In The: RPG Maker Chain Game

Longtime readers may remember that I wrote about the “chain game” Chain of Retribution a couple of years ago. It was developed by seven people in succession, each handing the game off to the next after their portion of the design was complete, and I was fascinated by the strange result. Well, now there’s another chain game, also made using RPGMaker, with the imaginative title RPG Maker Chain Game. I knew I had to try it out.

From Russia With Bugs: The Precursors

Remember that you can click on screenshots for bigger versions.

There are some games that achieve such cult status that people still play them years, even decades after they were released. Often, this devotion is reserved for the catalogs of specific developers known for creating a certain type of experience. Looking Glass is one example: their System Shock and Thief series are so beloved that fans took it upon themselves to modify these games so they can still be played on modern operating systems with modern graphical resolutions. In fact, these fan-made fixes are incorporated into the recent releases of System Shock 2 and the first two Thief games on GOG and Steam. Troika are another example, known for creating deep, reactive, highly ambitious but bug-ridden games. Their steampunk-meets-fantasy role-playing game Arcanum inspired a fan known as Drog Black Tooth to work on an unofficial bugfixing patch for years, one that is regarded as essential for any new player. Their adaption of the World of Darkness pen-and-paper role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines, is so revered that a fan known as Wesp5 is still actively working on an unofficial patch, ten years after the game’s original release.

But that’s not the only game that Wesp5 is working on fixing. Wesp5 also has an unofficial patch for The Precursors, from Ukrainian developer Deep Shadows (yes, they’re Ukranian, not Russian, but their game is in Russian and I couldn’t resist that headline). I’d heard that Deep Shadows are also known for incredibly ambitious but buggy games, and I’d heard good things about The Precursors specifically, but it was Wesp5’s attention that really sparked my interest. I played for a surprisingly long time before The Precursors played its trump card and I discovered why Wesp5 was so inspired. It’s a genuine attempt at a dream game: a first-person shooter coupled to a free-roaming space flight game, letting players fly wherever they want, scraping together a little cash, and then land on planets to explore, chat, and shoot some people. It’s a Han Solo simulator.

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