Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Indie Elitist

Hello blog followers, feed subscribers, and other readers of this blog. I have a recent project to announce, a new blog.

As I am sure everyone has noticed but been too polite to point out this blog has the absolutely worst title a blog could ever have. Well that is not changing and this blog will continue without any major changes but I have finally come up with a appropriate name and theme for another blog.

The name is The Indie Elitist and it is online and visit-able at Currently it has 3 articles about a classic graphical adventure and its developers. The basic theme is indie games and its motto is "Admiring Independently Developed Games" which is mirrored in how I rate the games in the articles. I have 3 ratings, null (I simply say nothing about how good or bad it is), Should Play, and Must Play. I also have another form of rating and it, as far as I can tell, fits very well into a blog called the Indie Elitist which is a rating of how indie the game/dev team is (Not Indie, Barely Indie, Indie, Quintessentially Indie). Half joke, half serious (and sometimes based on conjecture and far to much personal opinion of what indieness is) this rating of indieness is a staple of the blog and I am hoping it will become something it is known for.

With the content and how it is displayed I have tried to be elegant in all things, and I hope that is obvious. I think that it will make a perfect style to complement the subject of indie games.

I am also going for what I hope is a timeless approach to the articles, I will write a single article (following strict pre-set guidelines on what a article should contain and how it is laid out) about any game or development studio and that is it, if more relevant information comes along I will simply update the post. Which poses a problem as blog feeds don't acknowledged edited posts, so the comments of a post will be used as a way to inform feed subscribers about updates updates and I can change the date and time of posts when I edit them to make them appear on the front page and show the edit date instead of the original post time. I have also left out the regular blog archive list in preference to a list of categories and a search bar.

How the site is designed to be used.
You can search for a specific game, dev team, or other indie thing with the search bar.
You can search by many categories (gaming genre, story genre, graphical style, developer, and any of the ratings). I particularly think the story and graphical style are unique things to categorise and hope people find it fun and useful to use.
You can subscribe to posts like normal to get notified of new articles but I would urge all followers to also subscribe to all comments (see sidebar) to get notified of updates to articles (for example no dwarf fortress stories would be announced like I have been doing on this blog).
Alternatively you can also subscribe to a post's individual comments (see sidebar) to just get updates on the news you are interesting in.

And that is it, please give me your opinion on the execution/concept of this new blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dwarf Fortress Stories: Bravemule

Bravemule is a extensive and currently running Dwarf Fortress story based on real in-game events. There are screenshots, artwork, comic book style story boards, and even movies and is told mostly through the use of journal style entries from a different dwarf every season.

And it is a fabulous story, with dwarven humour abound.

A must read if you enjoy comedy and Dwarf Fortress

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Humble Indie Bundle * Hubble Indie Bundle * Humble Indie Bundle

That is right Humble Indie Bundle the third is currently available to purchase and well as you would expect it is worth it.

Crayon Physics Deluxe and Hammerfight are two of the most unique and fun games ever imagined let alone released and And Yet It Moves and VVVVVV are both great platforming games. I am not sure what Cogs is doing in this list, but it is obviously not a bad game.

Go here now:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dwarf Fortress: How To Play

Luckily for all involved (brand new people who have never played DF, people like me wanting to get back into it, and even the ever playing hard core DF fans) Dwarf Fortress has gotten significantly easier to get into and play even with little of this help coming from the developers.

Most of this help comes from the Lazy Newb Pack (current thread) which is a all in one stop for easy to use graphical mods, utilities, and game settings. It is a simple GUI program that lets you easily, with the click of a well labelled and explained button, change a few of the more important features of the game; As well as, just as easily, applying some of the most popular graphical packs, launch some of the more popular utilities to run along-side Dwarf Fortress, and of course launch the game it-self.

And in addition to the pack the current thread also has a list of recent video tutorials and lets plays that I found quite useful in reacquainting myself with the world of Dwarf Fortress.

Dwarf Fortress Video Tutorials and Lets Plays:
Feature Length tutorial by captnduck (2.5hr!) [0.31.21+]
Video Tutorial of the Lazy Newb Pack by Djrodw [0.31.21+]
Djrodw's Dwarf Fortress Lets Play [0.31.19]
51ppycup's Video Tutorial [0.31.12]
Cptnduck's Video Tutorials [0.31.03]
quill18's Let's Play DF [0.31.0?]

And  now for a personal update on my current DF endeavours:
I never got a working military when I used to play DF, so this time I am planning out exactly how my defence and military will work.

This is my defence plan for my currently non existent fortress.
1 in-game tile per square.
1. Notes and other indicators that do not represent real in game tiles
2. Stairways
3. Ammo stockpile
4. Walls
5. Fortifications
6. Bridge (all raise)
8. Doors
D. Trade Depot
M. is where the melee warriors train, a large number of war dogs are pastured, and where they ideally mass for expelling invaders. The basic idea is that since they are reachable from the outside that the invaders will rush towards them and just before they finally reach them (after getting peppered by bolts) a dwarf can pull a lever and open all the doors and no matter how big the invading army is initially the dwarfs will outnumber the currently engaged enemies as much as possible.

T. is the archery tower, with both the main level and the level above that (top right) being shown. The basic idea here is that the ground level will eventually be used for 3 staggered billitsas with the upper level(s) housing the archers with a 1 tile thick passage to keep them pressed up against the fortifications and the ammo behind a door and some walls to protect them when reloading.

Sorry about the picture, at least Firefox does not seem to re-size it well but if you DL it and open it in anything (even Windows Photo Viewer) it should be very crisp when you resize(zoom) it to a readable size.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dwarf Fortress Stories: Flarechannel and The Fable of Catten and Eagle

There are some pretty impressive buildings/fortresses that have been created in Dwarf Fortress but there is one that stands head and shoulders above all that I have heard about, and that is FlareChannel.

With over 200 years of in-game history, hundreds of thousands of placed blocks, quite a few mega projects completed, many wars and sieges fought and won, and even a few endearing tales to tell; FlareChannel certainty has has had is share of history, so join me in a stroll down its halls.

FlareChannel, external 3D view
From left to right you have the multi-coloured Colosseum, the almost castle like prison with four towers, the magma and water tower with the grey dome and spikes up top to pump water and magma up to holding tanks, the spa directly in front of it, the trade access tower just below the prison, then there is the interesting looking fortress access tower which spirals upwards and is used to connect all the major z levels, the temple to Armok topped with a sun diagram, and finally the blue-ish military tower.

Not shown in the above fortress overview picture is the menacing front entrance
, it is behind the water and magma tower.
The most impressive part of this fortress is not only is it functional, and not only does it look great (particularly in 3D views) from the outside as we have seen, but it also looks great and realistic on the inside with high ceilings, statues, and stone patterns.

Throne room with marble walls, stone columns, and green glass dome (not seen).

Spiral tower (top left); Interior north entrance with floor mosaic (bottom left); Workshops (middle); Dinning room, kitchen, and food storage (right).
To read the last status update of the fort go here or head over to this page to browse his fort yourself with the fully interact-able map viewer.

The Fable of Catten and Eagle (original thread)

As a prequel to my favorite story of FlareChannel, I'll fill you in on the history of Giant Eagles in this fortress. Ever since I noticed the elves brought, occasionally, Giant Eagles with them, it had been a goal to purchase a breeding pair to populate FlareChannel with. After decades of trying to do so, I eventually got a male and female pair within their respective lifetimes, and the first natural-born clutch of baby eaglets was hatched.

Ever since, they have gracefully adorned the halls of my fortress. They tend to hang around the meeting area, but occasionally one can still see them flying elsewhere.Occasionally they back up military dwarves in taking down and nearby enemy

Or even venturing out into the sky to spread their wings a bit, and perhaps scan the landscape for any suspicious enemies approaching.

One eagle even decided to stand guard over the glass dome above the throne room. Why, we will never know. He could have easily flown away, and yet he did not. He stayed steadfast until his dying day, years later. Some say he was standing guard over the weak, watching constantly for those who would prey on lone dwarves. Some say he chose to perch up there, knowing that upon mid-day, when the diplomat would meet to discuss trade agreements, his giant shadow would projected onto the throne room floor. Nothing helps convince a lone human to heed your subtle warnings than what appears to be a 100-foot eagle waiting above.

I played no part in the events that play out below, except for toggling Catten as a recruit once. This story is recorded as the best interpretation of events that will, likely, remain a mystery forever. Most of what happens I can't even begin to guess as to how it could have. It seems impossible unless there is secret coding going on for Dwarf Fortress, or features I don't know about. Regardless, I was as surprised as anyone else at the series of events that follow

The Fable of Catten and the Eagle

Our story begins 100 years after the first hatchlings wandered the halls of Flarechannel. In the past, giant eagles have been creatures of their own, almost never befriended by dwarves and only then when a
rare dwarf who can sympathize with the beasts is born. They are a species of creature who, in the wild, feast upon the sweet alchohol-infused flesh of Dwarves for fun. This is their legacy, and every dwarf is well aware of it.

However, Catten and the Eagle are unique. Catten is a dwarf who prides himself in his skills, and due to this has developed three legendary skills in Masonry, Weaving, and Clothing, not to mention a good number of additional skills across the board.

Perhaps he had even earned his smugness, having created an artifact in his youth.

He was a prime woodsman in the forest clearing which led to war with the Elves. Truly he is a dwarf
of pride. When it came to the local Giant Eagles, Catten had absolutely no opinion on the beasts. It is well known that dwarves must enjoy a creature to be motivated enough to tame it as their own, but Catten couldn't care less about the masses of feathers, claws, and beaks which flew among the halls and towers.

But sometimes fate doesn't ask us for our preferences or wishes, and it was such in the case of Catten. Recently born in Flarechannel was one unspectacular Giant Eagle. She was a little larger and hardier than most hatchlings as one always is, but nothing any dwarves were suprised by. Yet already destiny had woven a fate which bound this eagle with threads stronger than steel. As soon as she grew past childhood, this eagle should have waited for a suitable master to come along (which happened so very rarely). She did not. She went out and found one. Catten. This had never happened before in the FlareChannel's history. Catten may not have cared one bit about her, but that didn't stop her from picking him as the dwarf she would stand guard over against all dangers. And thus began the story of unrequited love between dwarf and eagle.

At first, it was merely one of the many mysteries of the fortress. Other dwarves would stop and stare and Catten hurriedly passed between jobs. Collect spider silk, weave thread, make clothes, gather rock, construct blocks, make mechanisms, gather plants, plant seeds, finish a few oddjobs. Catten was no stranger to the busy day, and had no time to entertain a foolish eagle that mistook him for her master. What did he care? Dwarves work, and drink, and kill things if possible. Dwarves don't sit around entertaining delusional creatures, especially not those who have been known to slaughter dwarves by the dozen. A less determined eagle would have long since left Catten to his duties, but not this one. The eagle knew that one day, Catten would find himself in trouble. She would have to be there to protect him. His disinterest was not such a crime that it justified leaving him to the horror which lay in his future.

And like this, a decade passes.

The year is 505. Catten, now an old man, still rushes from task to task with the persistence of a dwarf half his age. He now finds himself clad in the finest silk of his own making. Even after all these years, he occasionally turns to pick up a piece of silk or rock and catches the outline of an eagle faithfully waiting nearby. Catten is by no means an unpleasant dwarf to be around, but nonetheless even he scoffs at the foolhardy behaviour of his eagle follower. Assuredly there are more important things to be doing than following an old man who can take care of himself! A dark rain-cloud loomed on the horizon and Catten retreated back into his workshops, to once again shut out the world in the endless stream of garments he produced now.

The next day, disaster strikes.

For the first time in countless years, death incarnate approaches FlareChannel. Alarms sound, and the military scrambles into action. From the south, smoke rises and a scout gives the report nervously. A dragon has once again taken its eyes to Flarechannel. This time, it is Tusnung Heatedgilds the Spark of Warmth. Luckily, all dwarves are safely inside the walls not even a dragon can pass, and the military assembles on the main bridge, some who have not seen such a beast stand fearful. In the eyes of others one can see the gleaming of latent bloodlust in their veins. You can smell it in the air.

As the final few warriors catch up to the group, a single order sends them down the spiral tower to intercept the dragon, which is finishing up slaughtering a lone human pikeman who straggled to long after the caravan left. But the dragon doesn't head to the fortress proper. He heads East. The military still pursues, perplexed at the change of focus of the beast. When they realize the dragon's target, shivers run up their spines. It has been decades since a dwarf has been lost to an enemy. Catten Shoraster is the lone dwarf who ignored common sense and remained outside. Stubbornness does come with old age, but this was insane! Only Catten would be so lost in his work that he would miss the alarm bells. The military would have no way to catch up with the dragon in time.

By now Catten had realized what followed him to the silken-laden hills. The screams of the human as he was ripped limb from limb made sure to that. As unemotional as he is when he works, Catten pulls out his axe and prepares to die as any dwarf would choose - fighting rather than running, even if it means death.

But Catten is not alone in his choice. The eagle has also accepted her fate.

Its likely she had accepted it 12 years before when she chose Catten to protect. Destiny had ensured she would be in the right place and the right time. Diving between the dragon and Catten, the eagle attacks with a ferocity that echos through the legends of all dwarven lore. Spending years around the dwarves and seeing many battles had taught the eagle a thing or two. Like the champions of FlareChannel, the eagle dived fearlessly, directly into the dragon, knocking them both to the ground in a stunned daze. Now that the dragon had lost its footing and fallen down a ramp, the eagle knew it had to act quick. Driven by determination that any dwarf would respect, it rose before the dragon could and attacked it on the one place they were in equal footing - the eyes. In a second the eagle had ripped both eyes from the dragon's face. Rare is the sound of a dragon screaming in agony heard and all dwarves shuddered at the piercing wail. Still the eagle attacked, destroying piece after piece of the dragon's head until eventually it was able to reach the brain through the now mutilated face, which was promptly mangled.

A wounded, blind, insane dragon is still a beast to be feared, and Catten finally realized - that eagle was the closest thing to a family he ever had. If he left it to die, then what would he have left? Pride? Masterful silk clothes? He had never met a wife, and he was too old now. His bloodline would die with him. Perhaps this was why Catten drove himself out of the real world and into has work. The rare happiness Catten felt was when he got a rare chance to help another. He had always valued the dwarven spirit in them. But now, he was seeing the dwarven spirit in a mere eagle. No, not mere eagle. His friend.

Catten rushed in, wielding his trusty axe that had felt the sturdy skin of countless trees. No stranger to the swing, Catten and the Eagle slowly took down the dragon, working together to keep each other safe from any injury. By the time the military had finally caught up, it was already over.

Catten and the eagle both died a few years later, peacefully in Dwarven terms. They were buried together, and immortalized in the very spirit of FlareChannel. From that day fourth, eagles were no convenient guests, or bothersome birds that were looked down upon as inferior. No, from that day fourth they were guardians and embodiment of the spirit of FlareChannel.

And what of Catten and the Eagle in their final years? They still went everywhere together, and Catten looked back at her with a smile of comfort instead of disgust. But much of these details are lost in history. What is known, however, is that during the finishing of the Temple to Armok, Catten's clothes were mysteriously found on the roof, where no path could have possibly led. Additional constructions had to be built just to retrieve them. Some say it was magic, or the joke of some dwarven child. Still, others say that every now and then, on a rare night when others were asleep, Catten would climb aboard his old friend, strip naked, and fly around the towers, admiring the view that no other dwarf was ever privileged to see - laughing as he had only as a child, without a care in the world.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dwarf Fortress News: Talk To Me

Here is a link to a recently released New York Times article on Dwarf Fortress as a lead up to the Talk to Me exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that includes Dwarf Fortress.

Dwarf Fortress Stories: Tholtig Crypthrain the Waning Diamonds, Last Queen of the Bronze Orbs and Ruler of Circletower

The inspiring and stoic story taken out of Legends Mode of Tholtig Momuzidek Lelumdoren and the dwarven civilization of the Bronzes Orbs.

Original thread (by darkflagrance).

She was the fifth and last ruler of the dwarven cilization known as the Bronze Orbs, and ruled the mountainhome of Circletower.

Her grandfather Meng Emetmistem Tirdugzodost Urrith, "Meng Freshportal the Brutal Rot of Scarring," had been the first of their line to rule Circletower, after the previous queen, only daughter of the first ruler since time immemorial, had died childless, slain by a titan after ruling for only less than a year. Meng had earned the throne after he himself stepped up to duel with the titan, driving it off but receiving a heavy wound to his lower body in the process.
It was Meng who had started the war with the elves, incensed over their devouring of sentient beings. In the year 81 he led ten of his best dwarves against fifteen of the elves of the Steamy Winds, slaying five of them in exchange for two of his comrades. Several dwarves who would go on to earn fame and honor earned their first kills in that first conflict, among them Goden Leafybridges the Talon of Shooting (294 kills, the elder, dispossessed son of the first ruler of Circletower), his wife Tosid Stockadefortunes the Lined Friend (146 kills), and Goden Routedgates the Jade Planes of Braving (23 kills).

However, Meng had picked as his foe a powerful elf civ on the rise. During the same years as they fought with the dwarves, the Steamy Winds declared war on the humans and a goblin tyranny ruled by a demon - it was a world war of unimaginable scale. Cities and forest retreats were stained with the blood of literally tens of thousands of the dead, settlements were razed repeatedly by both sides as they fought over them, and the fortunes of empires often turned on a single battle. By the end of it all, over 250 years later, the great elven forest that once stretched across the map was reduced to scattered outposts, but this was long after the passing of Meng and his daughters.

Meng died forty years after claiming the throne in 113, and the skulls of 91 elves decorate the mausoleum where he was laid to rest. He had outlived all but one of his children, the rest having been slain (but thankfully not devoured) by elves.
The only survivor, Metthos Rodercatten Notlith Am, "Metthos Baldedchanneled the Ruin of Speaking," (101 kills) ruled for only seven years before her death leading the Bronze Orbs to victory against a force of elves that outnumbered the dwarves more than 6 to 1, leaving the throne to her only daughter, the aforementioned Tholtig, who had just turned 30. There had been no other children because Metthos's husband had been slain by elves two years after Tholtig's birth.

The odds would only get worse after her death.

As soon as she could raise a hammer at the age of twelve, Tholtig had joined her parents and grandparents on the battlefield. The dwarves had no choice, for their losses were so great that they needed every pair of hammer-wielding arms they could find. By the time she ascended the throne in 121, she had slain 48 elves and a cyclops, but the amount of dwarves left capable of wielding a weapon numbered less than ten. Nonetheless, she led them to victory in her first assault against the elves, but it was a Pyrrhic victory that saw the deaths of two of her children, including her eldest son.

The war saw the rise of numerous heroes and their offspring: among them Alath Pageplaited the Circular Tongs (60 kills, slain by a hydra in 103), Olon Orblabors the Fenced Sandal of Shadow (Alath's brother, 118 kills, became a diplomat halfway through the war and stopped going to battle), Unib Lancemet the Way of Boiling (the sister of Alath and Olon, 8 kills, slain by an elven arrow), and Mafol Drilledhammer the Violence of Forests (Son of Tholtig, with a mere 5 kills before death by an arrow) Many elf heroes of the wars with the humans and goblins, flouting long titles earned by the lives they had ended, themselves met their end at the hands of Tholtig or her brothers and sisters in arms. A typical battle might see 281 elves arrayed against a mere 4 dwarves, only for 96 elves to perish with all 4 dwarves surviving, yet this continued year after year. There was an elf leader who met each of the dwarf heroes in battle multiple times for eight years and escaped, before Tholtig finally killed him in their third duel. However, as time passed, the elves only grew more numerous, while the dwarves, their numbers decimated by constant warfare and their children dying without offspring, only grew closer to ultimate defeat.

Tholtig married Logem Uthmikmelbil Gosterudosiddor, "Logem Shaketomes the Hoary Men-larks," son of the heroes Leafybridges and Stockadefortunes from the first battle between the dwarves and elves and brother of Alath, Olon, and Unib. Unlike previous rulers of the Bronze Orbs, Tholtig and her husband had many children, numbering ten in all. However, fate was against the Bronze Orbs: eight of her children died at tender ages shortly after taking up arms against the elves, and even the two who survived the wars met misfortune elsewhere. Her youngest daughter, Urist Joinedrings the Permanent Scars, who had slain 176 elves and survived countless battles, was slain by a hydra, but most tragically of all, Tholtig's eldest daughter and heir, Erush Racktoned the Rough Miseries of Quiescence, was slain at the age of 90, having slain 1007 elves, by the same titan that her great-grandfather King Meng had driven off to claim his throne, which had suddenly returned 100 years later to plague the Bronze Orbs.

However, time was a foe that even legendary force of arms could not overcome. In 200, five years after Tholtig mourned the passing of her heir, an adventurer slew that same hydra that took the life of Tholtig's youngest daughter and brought an end to the Age of Legends. By then, only three dwarves remained to defend Circletower: Tholtig, her husband Logem, and Obok Willbolt the Drinks of Ruining (a venerable dwarf, great-grandson of the heroes Goden and Tosid, who had witnessed the rise of Tholtig's grandfather and the beginning of the war a century ago and amassed 1654 trophies), along with of course the diplomat Olon, who by then must have been regretting the pacifism had cost him equal glory.

Lacking children to carry on and therefore hope, the remaining dwarves slowly slipped away, Obok in 227, Logem in 237, and finally Olon the diplomat in 242. For nearly ten years, from 237 onwards, Tholtig defended her ancestral home of Circletower alone. Each of these years year saw one hundred or more elves lay siege to the empty halls where Tholtig's entire clan lay sleeping, only to be driven back in bloody defeat. Alone she stood, hammer in hand, the only force between her home and fiery conquest. Despite the injustice of fate that had taken away her children and the inevitability of defeat, she held her ground until at last in 246 when old age struck her down, something no mortal weapon could have aspired to. And so fell the last dwarf of the Bronze Orbs - and with Tholtig's death ended their entire civilization and history.
Tholtig had lived for one hundred and fifty-six years, all of which had seen no peace for her, and outlived all of her children, her friends, and her husband. Logem, the second-to last of the dwarves to pass on, had died with 1955 kills. To give an idea of how many Tholtig had killed, it took one minute and thirteen seconds to scroll from the top of her entry to the bottom.

Tholig Crypthrain at her death with 2,341 kills

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dwarf Fortress Stories: Oilfurnace

Another illustrated tale from the author of Bronzemurder, Oilfurnace.

Oilfurnace is a tale of dogged survival, surprising success, and greed the fall.

And if my humble opinion means anything then I would say that Oilfurnace is significantly better done then even Bronzemurder.

Stay tuned, will be releasing more articles on Dwarf Fortress in the coming days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dig-N-Rig Released

Dig-N-Rig is the latest release from the esteemed college of DigiPen. And in it you control a mining robot in what could only be a future world filled with red necks, where all usages of the word "and" has been removed and replaced with "N". In the game you dig (to liberate the precious minerals from the earth) and you rig (to create machinery that will transport these minerals back to your base), both of which I believe red necks enjoy. But you will not be decimating the natural landscape all the time, sometimes you get to take a break from this to kill off the local wildlife (another pass time of red necks).

I have only been playing this game for a few hours but I have to say that it is quite enjoyable, an enjoyment that is only further enhanced by occasionally shouting Git-R-Done at the computer screen (something I imagine the fictional lab workers whop control your mining robot do all the time), and cannot wait to get back to playing it. So I would highly recommend you all go Git-R-Done and download this indie gem.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dead Cyborg Episode 1: The Beginning of the Death Released

A game I have been looking forward to quite a lot has finally been released. Dead Cyborg is a episodic, first person, fully 3D, text adventure inspired, post apocalyptic, pay if you like, graphical adventure. And earlier today episode 1: The Beginning of the Death was released.

It looks great, is very long for a free episodic adventure, but not sold on the puzzles yet. Have made it about half way through level 2 but am now completely stuck.

Review to follow as soon as I get unstuck, but in the meantime you can play the game yourself, which can be downloaded from its website, and even donate to the developer to help get episode 2 released (if you are so inclined).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apply 1000mg

One of the most distinctive looking games, I think possibly ever, Apply 1000mg is a beautiful pixel art platformer with an incredibly cheerful look that won the Ludum Dare #20 contest. This uniqueness is accomplished by the pixels not actually being pixels but instead small blocks made up of different shades of the same colour.

In addition to the graphics, the platforming is ok but it is the story that really makes this game more then just skin deep. And while I will not spoil anything for you, dear readers, it is quite a interesting minimalistic story.

Apply 1000mg can be played over at its Ludum Dare page.

My mini-review of Apply 1000mg.

Adventure Lantern Issue (July 2011)

The July issue of Adventure Lantern has just been released. And alongside some very interesting reviews of The Next Big Thing (my review of it), Tomb of Zojir (which I am seriously considering playing myself now), and The Marionette (which sounds fantastic); There are also two reviews from yours truly: a recent title from one of my favourite developers (The Fall Trilogy: Separation), and the truly fantastic title Digital: A Love Story. Both of these have already been published on this blog but have received some improvements prior to republishing.

You can check out this issue over at Adventure Lantern.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Improvements to Mini-Review Page

Lately I have been planning and implements some improvements to this blog.

I am sure that everyone noticed the cosmetic changes to the site, hopefully everyone likes the new look.

But now I am working on usability and starting with the mini-reviews page. There are quite a few reviews now so I have implemented some sorting scripts in JavaScript. When the header for any of the columns is clicked on the mini-review table it re-sorts the table with respect to that column. Anyways here are the instructions which I have appended to the bottom of the Mini-Reviews page (hopefully they are understandable, but even more hopefully the controls will be slightly obvious).

Sort Details:
Click table headers to sort. First click on a header sorts it in descending order, second click sorts it in ascending order, and the third click restores it in the original chronological order. Sorting order is retained between sorts so sorting first by title and then by rating results in a ratings sort where given the same rating it is sorted by title.

Game Title: Normal alpha-numeric sort.
Description: A alpha-numeric sort of the (IFB) tag.
Mini-Review: Sort by text length (useless but there are not any better alternatives).
Rating: Sort by numeric rating value.
Articles: Normal alpha-numeric sort of column.

You can check out these finished and semi-finalized changes on current mini-review page.

Or even take a peak at what I am planning next on my testing page (planning to add ways to filter the shown MRs).

And comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Realm of the Mad God

Realm of the Mad God is a browser based MMORPG. And probably the only modern, if not only, MMO to make dying permanent; RotMG is a simplified class based MMORPG. There are many rigid classes, a small number of simple stats, and quite a few tiers of static loot; Additionally, any single class only has two abilities that it can use, that class` main attack (which really only fluctuates in effectiveness with different equipment) and the special ability that uses MP.

One of the best examples of this simple greatness that makes up RotMD is the quest system. First off there is the overall quest of every player in a particular world, which is to summon and defeat the mad god himself, Oryx. To kill him you are likely going to need many max level characters working together; But to even get that far you need to first defeat all of the quest monsters to get him to show up. Even brand new players can help here as there are quest monsters of all levels. Basically anyone of the correct level range in the general vicinity of a quest monster will be notified of its location and if you travel to that location and kill it then you have helped out the entire world in your own little way (and been justly rewarded with loot and experience).

It is also worth mentioning that RotMG has completely done away with the infamously complicated system of windows needed to display all the information of a normal MMORPG and no windows or additional GUI is ever needed nor are any special keyboard shortcut used. And since it is supposed to be a coop game most of the time you are not soloing as experience is not split between players but simply given to everyone in the vicinity, so there are never any hard feelings about just tagging along with even the most advanced groups. this is a huge boon to the less socially apt. I normally hate groups in MMOs, depending on the game you can get into arguments over the loot, or you feel bad leaving a group in the lurch if you have to go on short notice. It is just so much nicer with the easy going, spontaneous, groups that form in RotMG.

It is incredibly fun and addicting, and very easy to get into. The only downside is the incredibly huge amount of bandwidth it takes to play; And as impossible as it seems I have checked and rechecked and it really seems like the game takes 50-100 kbps of your bandwidth while you play.

You can play Realm of the Mad God over at it web site, here (

My mini-review of Realm of the Mad God.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Bulletstorm is the latest release from the esteemed studio of People Can Fly, and like the rest of their games it is a over the top shooter, and in this case one of the first person variety. It has gotten moderately good reviews overall and I agree with them in general. It is a fun game, but I have played FPSs with better core mechanics.

The first issue I want to tackle is a problem that this game shares with many recent FPSs and other combat focused genres. Bulletstorm, even on very hard difficulty (the hardest difficulty setting), is only moderately challenging. And I am not even a FPS person, so I feel bad for all the veteran FPS players out there, you just cannot seem to find a FPS that should not be played on the hardest setting the first time through any more. All in all it was not a bad difficulty to play on, but if I wanted to replay the game it would certainty be far too easy now to be worth it.

Additionally, I found the difficulty to be very inconsistent. For one the most hyped up, supposedly uber powerful, enemy in the game, the Burnouts. These enemies have giant soft spots all over their bodies in the form of puss filled cysts which act as instant kill (or head-shot) locations if given a small amount of damage; These enemies are also not quick, have no long range attack, and have absolutely no special abilities in other words they are a joke, and yet the game warns you about these end game super enemies more then any other. And the bosses and to an extent the mini-bosses make these Burnouts look like Rambo in comparison. The first boss is by far the best one, and the only one I would consider an actual boss, with multiple phases and tones of HP; The others are all clones of themselves, fight identically, only have one phase, and can be killed almost instantly. But there is one thing that all of these bosses have in common, it is near impossible for them to even hit you, let alone kill you (and even though I was playing the game for the first time on the hardest difficulty I still was never even close to hurt by any of them).

Not that the game is bad by any means, it simply is not as dedicated to this sort of finesse stuff. Instead Bulletstorm focuses on over the top, macho, and run and gun gameplay. For this you have the ability to kick objects and people and send them flying across the map; Leash them and send them flying towards you; Or doing a sliding kick which sends you sliding across the ground and kicks anything or anyone you come into contact with. Add to this the strategically placed explosive barrels, spikes, and pits and you get some pretty creative ways of killing people. And even the guns are styled in such a way to promote this run and gun style. For example, the sniper rifle goes into a slow-mo time when shot and actually allows you to aim and move the bullet as it travels to such an extent as to go around corners and over barriers to reach the target.

But probably the most unique aspect of the game is the skill point system. As you play you are awarded points as you kill people and the more creative you are the more points you get. It is basically a FPS version of Madworld. Except that I found it annoying to keep having to look up and memorise special combos and change guns simply to get the other gun specific ones. Additionally, more points then just playing like normal were not needed. Points are used to purchase gun upgrades and ammo. The ammo is at least moderately useful, but the upgrades also include additional storage space for ammo and both the ammo for and additional storage spots for charged shots, which are super powerful single shot attacks; Which are useful in some situations, but are too slow for the average firefight.

So it is a fun game but it hardly seems polished. Worth checking out if a less sophisticated FPS sounds appealing to you but it is hard to compare to the many well balanced titles out there.

My mini-review of Bulletstorm.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Benthic Zone

Benthic zone is a short graphical adventure game set on the bottom of a lake; Or possibly more correctly a tech demo or unfinished project comprised of beautiful graphics and puzzles but completely lacking in plot.

I didn't know who I was controlling, other then I liked how he looked and surprisingly liked him even though he never says anything other then emotionless object descriptions. I also do not know why I was solving puzzles and doing the things I was doing in the game, other then that I enjoyed doing them.

So while the game is really about nothing it does not matter because it is still fun and pretty.

You can download the game here, make sure to extract the game before play because if you just try to play it from the archive it will probably not work.

My mini-review of Benthic Zone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Puzzle Agent 2

With mysteries remaining in Scoggins, Minnesota detective Nelson Tethers just cannot get it out of his thoughts or the gnomes out of his nightmares, even if the case is officially considered solved. So taking vacation leave Tethers returns to Scoggins to finally bring the mystery of the forest gnomes and the missing people to a close.

Puzzle Agent 2 is most of all a sequel to Puzzle Agent, it has the same cartoony 2D hand drawn graphics, wacky plot, selection of mini-games, and starts off right where the first game ended. So if you enjoyed the first game you are likely to enjoy this one just as much but for anyone who has not played either of these games I will try to convince you in the following review.

Puzzle Agent 2, and more generally the entire series to date, is a very unique adventure/puzzle game. In addition to the normal conversation trees with NPCs and story progression there are numerous and diverse mini-games, which are the centrepiece of the entire game. There are optional puzzles and bonus puzzles, mathematical based puzzles and logical puzzles, hard puzzles and easy puzzles, as well as familiar puzzles and unknown puzzles, but all of them are at least somewhat enjoyable.

The graphics are interesting if nothing else. Quintessentially, cartoony and at least appearing to be hand drawn with minimalist jerky animation. They lend a unique visual style which is as essential as beauty, but I cannot say that they look great or even much better then good.

And equally as unique as the rest of the game, the plot of Puzzle Agent 2 is a direct sequel to Puzzle Agent. But where the first game has a freaky and strange plot already Puzzle Agent 2 takes this concept and runs with it, and it definitely keeps you on your toes. And like the graphics I cannot really say that is is a great plot; It serves to differentiate and give the Puzzle Agent world its own theme and mood, which is as important as anything else and it does make one enjoyable world.

Overall it is one of the more realistic fictional worlds. Everything just fits together, makes sense, and makes a finished product that is even better then the sum of its parts. The one bad part of the entire game is the length which, even while not using a single walkthrough or external hint, I was able to complete in under 4 hours, and I think 2 hours would be easily possible, for anyone who is not worrying about their score.

My mini-review of Puzzle Agent 2.