TL;DP Reviews: Community Edition (formerly "1 hour in" game reviews)

JillSammich wrote:

Personally, I would like your take on Transistor. I played through the first time, and started recursion mode (or whatever NG+ is called) and can't bring myself to play...

+1 for Transistor.

That's my most wanted non-sim title for the next Steam sale.

Ask and ye shall receive!

One hour into: Transistor (79 minutes)
Courtesy of: 25% off during the summer sale, and my impatience to wait for the next big sale

C64 Review

Isometric-perspective action RPG with unique combat mechanics. Story takes a while to get going, but the atmosphere and the music are compelling enough to lead you along.

Core i7 Review

Transistor is the "sophomore outing" of Supergiant Games after Bastion, their first major release about three years ago, a slick yet broodingly dark action RPG about trying to pick up the pieces from a disaster of colossal proportions. As another action RPG, it is inevitable to compare these two games. I'll do my best not to play favorites, since I've only put just over an hour into the latter. Let's hope it doesn't turn into a "drink when I compare the two" type of farce.

The setting of Transistor is distinct. It has this future-tech feel, ala Neuromancer, the classic William Gibson novel, mixed with a soundtrack and personalities which, for me, invoke the Roaring 20s of Americana. Very little backstory is given early on, *sigh* as was the case in Bastion (that's one). You're thrown into the action in medias res, being forced to take up a freaking massive sword-shaped hunk of electronics which could have come straight out of some techno-themed anime and having to learn how to wield it to defeat robotic enemies which pop up and attempt to kill you.

The game is an action RPG, but the combat mechanics have an interesting twist. You don't fight in "free form", where you can chase enemies to and fro across the whole level, you fight "processes" worth of enemies in an enclosed setting. You can fight enemies with straight-up button mashing, but this is not the most efficient way to fight. The "smarter" way to fight is to use the Turn() mechanism (yes, they have a ton of fun with the computer theme). Turn() lets you freeze time and queue a set of actions in advance, allowing you to execute a series of attacks with minimal lag (reminds me of how tool-assisted speedruns work :P). This comes at a price, however: after you execute your queued commands, you are unable to act until it recharges, which is about 5 seconds. If you queue fewer actions, your downtime is reduced appropriately. You start with a few simple "functions" and find more as you progress. Functions can either be used as "primary", which maps them to one of your four primary slots (A/B/X/Y for the 360 controller), or as an upgrade to a primary function. The behavior as a primary or an upgrade is similar, but it allows you to mix and match and impart certain desirable traits to various functions. For example, one of the functions you find early on is Jaunt(), which on its own is a simple sprint, but you can use it at any time, even while Turn() is recharging. If you put it into a function's upgrade slot, that function can be used outside of Turn(), but again, this isn't always the optimal way to fight (enemies tend to have a high rate of fire and will shred your health if you stand in the open for too long). You also have a "power limit", which restricts how many functions you can actively be using, and each function has its own power requirement. As I learned the hard way, if your health is reduced to zero, it "overloads" one of your primary functions, rendering it unusable until you get it repaired at the "Access Terminals", where you change your loadout. You can substitute it, but the one time I overloaded, it took two Access Terminals to come back.

There's an interesting story brewing, but it's told rather enigmatically, which admittedly makes it hard to follow, and it's very text heavy in places, which is not good for those with short-attention spans. This is why I got into trouble early on: I didn't read the descriptions of the functions and what they do, not realizing the key is that magic word, "synergy", you have to chain functions instead of spamming one single function. Here's a fun little story/gameplay interweave: each of your functions embodies a person in the narrative, the protagonist and people you come across along the way, and by using the function in each of the different capacities, you unlock backstory about them (so using the function as a primary unlocks one chunk, then using it as an upgrade function unlocks another; there's a third, but that's for later). It's a clever way to poke at OCD and get you to mix up the functions you use, at the very least to try other functions out in all possible combinations.

As far as story... this futurescape is apparently dystopic. Social cliques, conspiracies, shadow organizations, the whole nine. The protagonist is known simply as "Red", a gifted singer whose songs have been pegged as subversive and drawn lots of unwanted attention. During a performance, Red is attacked from the audience, possibly with the very weapon she now wields, and while running around terminating programs, she and her sentient pseudo-sword-thingy, which may or may not be holding the consciousness of a person who saved Red from the attack, deduce that a group known as the Camerata were behind the attempt, and now answers are being sought. It's also implied that Red has lost her voice, at least that's how I interpreted the description of the actions which took place. An ironic subversion of the "mute protagonist" trope if ever there was one. There's other more insidious things at play here: references to "The Program", implications of some kind of evil technological takeover, things which are still unclear at this point.

As far as creative resources, it's pretty solid. The artwork is great, the soundtrack is really neat, very pervasive and engaging, as I said before it gives off this vibe of a speakeasy singer. There's little factoids presented about every little thing you can interact with in the world, ranging from mundane to amusingly obvious, which I guess underscores the spread of the technology in this world. It is very text heavy, it drops you straight into the middle of things with next-to-no hand holding, and it does demand your full attention, but I believe it rewards your diligence. I'm finally starting to understand how to really make the most of combat, it's as much about strategy and tactics as it is about mashing buttons, which is distinct for an action RPG. Supergiant also threw in their little "tradeoff" feature, "Limitations", increase the difficulty for an XP boost. Don't know if I'll be making use of it just yet. There's still a lot to figure out in between.

Will I keep playing?

I suppose I have to. I'm hitting my stride, I'm intrigued enough by the story leads the game has dangled in front of me but not put off by the clouds of smoke and mirrors those leads are shrouded in. Just a question of finding time, I suppose. Bastion was the first game I chose to tackle from my pile, and that was a wonderfully rewarding experience. Transistor is not Bastion, plain and simple, so I don't know if it's fair to say "if you liked Bastion, you'll like Transistor." They are both action RPGs, they're from the same studio, there's bits here and there that are similar, but the core experience is night and day.

Obligatory "Is it the Dark Souls of its genre?"

Well, it's tough but fair. There's no hand-holding, which caught up to me during the first big boss fight I faced (relying solely on one function, it got overloaded and the rest of the fight felt like a plinking slog). It really pushes you in a certain direction by strongly discouraging other courses of action. The number I have rolling around my head is, from 1 to Dark Souls, a 6.

Has anyone compared the turn() system to VATS from Fallout? Because it sounds awfully similar to me from the description.

I'd love to see more VATs type combat in RPGs. It's one of the reasons I keep coming back to Fallout 3.

One Hour In: Nosgoth
Sponsored by: UMOarsman (Thanks for the beta key!)

Story: Humans have been the slave of vampires for ages, but have finally (or again?) risen up to destroy their undead masters. A tried and true story that is a pretty safe basis for this PvP game.

Review: First off, Nosgoth is not an MMO (I assumed it was!). Nosgoth is the Titanfall of vampires vs. humans. You get 4v4 matches when you start, which opens into other gameplay types when you get to higher levels. The levels are massive, far too big for 8 players, especially since there are no NPCs around! Out of the three matches I played, most of them were spent searching for enemies. And no, there's no radar.
Second, this is pay to win. When you start the game, you have 2 classes each for both human and vampire (out of 4 each), and a specific set of standard abilities. You want the good stuff? You can work hard, build up gold, and buy them eventually. Or pay real money for runestones and get them right now, regardless of your level. There was one match where someone obviously had spent money because he was level 2, but had a lot of special (and better) abilities.
Third, I don't think the two sides are really balanced yet. Within each faction, the classes are balanced, but vampires always won. Every time. Six rounds with different players and vampires always won.

So let's get into the mechanics a bit. Unlike Titanfall, where both sides in a match have access to the exact same equipment, the two sides in Nosgoth play very, very differently. The best comparison I can make is if you take Left 4 Dead 2's Versus mode, and swap infected for vampires.
Humans have weapons. Guns, specifically. These guns have ammo and must be reloaded periodically. Humans also cannot climb the sides of building, but in exchange, they can run. Humans are best at range, but since both sides can dodge, you're going to miss... a lot.
Vampires fight with their own natural strength and abilities. This means they primarily have to get into a skirmish to wail on the human, but they will never have to reload or run out of ammo. Vampires can also climb up the side of buildings, letting them hide and wait for the perfect ambush, but in exchange, they can't run.
After a round, you switch factions, so in a match, you'll always spend time as a human and as a vampire.

To try and balance this out, humans have better health than vampires, and can re-arm and heal from waystations, whereas vampires can only heal by eating the corpse of a human (which is usually in the middle of a skirmish). This doesn't seem to help, because once a vampire gets into the fray, it's remarkably hard to kill with a ranged weapon, and all human close-range weapons are cool-down abilities. The higher health keeps humans alive for about one extra hit.

Oh, and since there's friendly damage, humans have to be very careful about their shots.

Speaking of L4D2 Versus, the two free vampire classes are more-or-less copies of the Charger and Hunter. The "Tyrant" is the Charger, and it primarily... wait for it... charges at enemies (Tyrant has a bit more directional control than the Charger, though). However the Tyrant does not grab an enemy and slam it into the ground, so there's some difference.
The "Reaver" is the hunter. You have a pounce attack which, if you connect, you sit on your foe and shred it until you start getting hit. The Reaver also has a shadow bomb ability (smoke grenade), and both have "turn off your attack but dodge everything" abilities, something humans don't.

Due to the fact that humans have limited close range capabilities, and vampires have an ability that lets them dodge all damage, humans are very, very hard up. Maybe if I was in a group that had more coordination, things might be different, but for the time being, vampires win.

The good news is that the match is determined by which team had the most kills overall, so it's possible to win one round, lose the next, and still win the match.

Will I keep playing? Yeah, probably. It's not as good as Titanfall, at least not right now, and I really dislike the pay-to-win aspect, but it's also free and in beta, so there's time to get things going.

The Dark Souls Scale: Nah. Even Dark Soul's PvP isn't this uneven.

Color me tempted, but unfortunately the Summer Steam sale combined with a recent board game binge have left me with limited gaming funds, even when facing the potential for a hilarious review for $5.

I think you'll find this week's review well in the spirit, though.

I really liked Midnight Club 2, especially its cartoony characters and how it never took itself seriously—then Need for Speed: Underground came out, fueling garbage like Juiced and SRS, and they all took themselves and tuner culture too seriously. When I saw that MC3 namechecked DUB, I instantly dismissed it, assuming that series had gone the way of the rest of the sideways-cap crowd in earnest.

But maybe not? Do I still get to be called "Little Shrimp"? You've got me in a crisis I've put to the questions thread.

Gravey wrote:

I really liked Midnight Club 2, especially its cartoony characters and how it never took itself seriously—then Need for Speed: Underground came out, fueling garbage like Juiced and SRS, and they all took themselves and tuner culture too seriously. When I saw that MC3 namechecked DUB, I instantly dismissed it, assuming that series had gone the way of the rest of the sideways-cap crowd in earnest.

But maybe not? Do I still get to be called "Little Shrimp"? You've got me in a crisis I've put to the questions thread.


I posted in the other thread for you. MC still has some of that "tuner" culture stuff but I didn't find it to be detrimental to the game. Its pretty much get more rep if you wanna race us type of thing. I played SRS when I was a teen and I didn't mind it that much to be honest, but back then I though a civic was a cool car.

I've never played SRS, but coincidentally you can get it for $0.99 right now for Steam.

So of course I did.

It was the whole "winning girlfriends" that really turned me off the idea of even trying SRS.

Your warehouse is where all of your cars and girlfriends are stored at.
Gravey wrote:

It was the whole "winning girlfriends" that really turned me off the idea of even trying SRS.

Your warehouse is where all of your cars and girlfriends are stored at.


Pop Quiz - which of these things should not be considered a possession that's yours to lose:

Lay it all on the line - your wallet, your woman, your pride and your wheels

One Hour in: Orcs Must Die Unchained Beta
Sponsored by: Getting invited to the closed beta

Review: I... like a MOBA... What's wrong with me? I don't like any of the others, why do I like this one? Maybe it's because this is not a traditional MOBA. Maybe it's because I'm actually effective, and not ranked last on my team. Maybe it's because so far, I've only done co-op mode, which is humans vs. bots. maybe it's all of those things, but I'm really liking OMD: Unchained so far!

Long Review: OMDU is the latest installation of the Orcs Must Die series from Robot Entertainment and for Unchained, they've ditched the "you vs. horde" gameplay of the last two in favor of something closer to a MOBA-like game. You and 4 friends face off against 5 other players, each side trying to get their own horde of minions to the other side's rift. The big difference between Unchained and a traditional MOBA is that the camera is not a bird's eye view, but over the shoulder, letting you aim your weapon in 3d.

Let's start with characters. The Sorceress and War Mage from the previous games make a comeback, and the roster is filled out with a bunch of other characters, some of whom make sense in the OMD universe (Ogre, orc, etc.), some of which don't (cat girl...). All characters have a weapon which has two attacks (left and right mouse) and two secondary skills (mapped to q and e) and one passive, which triggers automatically based on the skill. As of right now, in the beta, none of those are changeable (though I'm only level 7, so maybe it'll come up later). Each character is designed to fit a different role. My favorite, Ivy, is a long range archer and the only character to have group healing skills, making her very useful in the attack lane.

Now onto the mechanics. The game has two rifts, and two lanes going between the rifts. The right lane is the "attack" lane, while the left lane is the "defend" lane. At the start of the game, your minions run along the attack lane, with players escorting them. Along the defense lane, players place traps and kill the minions of the enemy. Playing the defense lane is more like the older OMD games, with each trap costing a certain number of coins, and you gain coins by killing minions. Playing the attack lane is more like a traditional MOBA, you escort your minions along, gaining leadership points while you do (the currency used to upgrade your minions), doing your best to disable enemy traps, kill the guardians (think the pylons from LoL), and kill enemy players. If you want to make the game even more MOBA like, you can unlock your minion spawn point along your defense lane, letting loose minions along both sides.

The traps and minions you take into battle are determined by your deck of cards. After each round (or maybe after each player level), you get a new card pack, which contains 5 random cards. These cards may be minions, traps, armor, or "weavers", something that doesn't unlock until level 9, so I have no idea what that is. You can take a set number into each battle, and you can "grind" any you don't want for in-game currency.

Which brings me nicely to the Free to play aspect. Yes, you can spend money on this game. I don't see it as being pay-to-win, however, as the only things you can unlock are heroes (none of whom are OP) and vanity items. And yes, as with most F2P games, you can also just work hard and build up the in-game currency to unlock the same things.

Verdict: This is really fun! I'm enjoying it thoroughly, going for a match or two between other games. I'll definitely keep playing, and highly recommend other GWJers get in to the beta, so we can start a party.

pyxistyx wrote:

Pop Quiz - which of these things should not be considered a possession that's yours to lose:

Lay it all on the line - your wallet, your woman, your pride and your wheels

Clearly it's the wheels, since everybody either leases or finances these days.

I've decided I'll give this a shot, except I'll be doing mostly console games as I have an excessive collection of budget titles due to my weak will.

One hour review of: Midnight Club: LA (ps3)

Time Played: 2 hours

Similar games: Burnout Paridise, Need for Speed Most Wanted.

The short version: A decent open world racer with good vehicle customization.

The longer version: Last time I played a game in Midnight Club series was waaay back on ps2, and this game tickles my good memories of that game. The game attempts at having a story but its as shallow as a kiddie pool when its filled up by my 3 year old. Synopsis is that your a new kid in town thats really good at driving, someone gave you a choice of 3 hunk of junks to start racing cars and you go do that, eventually moving up through the ranks and getting better cars, parts etc. The game uses a reputation system to gate content and upgrades, winning races, out running the police all gets you points to unlock more things. Initially you are limited to handful of parts, races and cars, but as more you play more stuff gets unlocked, in my couple hours with the game it seemed to be well implemented. There are variety of races from stop light a desitination across town with no waypoints (similar to Burnout Paradise races) to more stict way point races. They also have "missions" where you compete in variety of challenges to unlock more cars or races.

Highly customizable vehicles, pretty much everything on the cars can be changed up, from interior to specific tire widths. You can make anything from a lowriding tuner to a dragster camaro.
For a game made in 2008 the enviroments look pretty good. My wife even commented that the highway looks realistic.
I liked the variety of races present.
While not as good as Burnout, the game does have visual damage.
Controls are fully customizable!

Camera can be jerky on occasions
While enviroments look nice the cars themselves show their age.
Story line is pretty weak.

Will I keep playing? Yes, I see myself completing this game.

How Dark Souls is it? Not very at first, after first few races it becomes the racing version of Dark Souls.

Edit: after few more hours of play this thing is Very Dark Souls

After few more hours I had to edit my Dark Souls rating of MC: LA. Its a pretty hard game so far.

Fastmav347 wrote:

After few more hours I had to edit my Dark Souls rating of MC: LA. Its a pretty hard game so far.

Hard, but damned satisfying.

One Hour In: Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
Sponsored by: Sony Sale

Short Review: It's zany! It's got self-aware humor! It's got a gun that sings Christmas Carols while you fire it! It's another Ratchet and Clank game!
Seriously, that sentence will either sell you or not.

Long Review: What can I say? It's another Ratchet and Clank game. I've played almost all of them, and I love the series, but I'll also be the first to admit that they haven't really changed the formula since #2. This is both bad and good, but it does make the decision to buy/not buy the game easy... If you like Ratchet and Clank, and want more of the same (like eating another piece of a good pie), then you'll want to pick up Into the Nexus. If you don't like Ratchet and Clank, or think the series has gotten too stale, thank you for reading, I'll see you at my next review.

In the interest of full disclosure, I started writing this review after playing for an hour, but I have since finished the game, and will also include thoughts about the experience as a whole. Kinda defeats the "one hour in" aspect, but not much to do now.

So yes, the plot is dead simple, and continues the epic saga of the two most heroic unfortunate mechanics ever seen. Seriously, these guys have a knack for finding trouble, and though they always seem to fix it, a few cities and/or planets usually get destroyed along the way. If I were in charge, despite the heroic actions of this lovable duo, I'd probably maroon them on some space rock in the middle of nowhere in order to protect the population. Last Lombax in the universe be damned, rebuilding (insert giant metropolis city name here) every game is getting expensive.

The game opens with Ratchet and Clank onboard a prison space ship, which is insanely large considering it's holding a grand total of 5 people (one prisoner, four guards), escorting an albino dwarf space witch with wings on her back (no, I'm serious) to some intergalactic prison. No points for guessing what happens next. Yup, you get her to the prison without any difficulty, game ends your ship is attacked by the witch's bother, an albino giant with wings on his back, who has hired game series staple mercenary group Thugs-4-Less. Ship destroyed, touching scene, move onto the first planet. I must admit I skipped the last game, so I'm not sure if these villains are new to the series or not, but I certainly didn't recognize them. Doesn't make a bit of difference because with Ratchet and Clank, the villain at the beginning of the game is almost never the villain at the end of the game, and Into the Nexus is no different.

Over the course of the game, you pick up and level up a variety of weapons (is it just me or does making guns level up seem like an invitation for mass murdering? "Sorry, officer, I needed to kill 5 more people to get my gun to level 2"), many of which will be familiar to series veterans, at least in function if not in name. Planets are visited, people are talked to, jokes are made, self-referencing jokes are made, self-aware jokes about the self-referencing jokes are made. Clank is always the logical backpack robot (or, as they say in a self-aware joke, "Ratchet's logical foil"). You'll fight in a huge illegal battle tournament. You'll get the same half-dozen tech items that you've gotten again and again over the series (Link's boomerang, anyone?).

All in all, the only new aspect to this game is the plot, and it's not going to win a Hugo award anytime soon.

And you know what? I'm ok with that. I never looked to the Ratchet and Clank series to be an innovator. I look to it to be pie. I want a slice of that pie... which, now that I've written that sentence, could be taken in so many ways that I didn't mean... Moving on...
I'm ok with the fact that every plot twist in the game could be seen coming from a mile away and I'm fully expecting that the next game will be much the same. This is my comfort food series. I can play it without much thought or investment, but it's light hearted and fun, so I always end feeling happy. That's all I want out of Ratchet and Clank, and it delivers with Into the Nexus.

Which brings me back to what I said above. If you like the Ratchet and Clank series, you'll want to pick up Into the Nexus. If you don't like the series, or really want some innovation, give it a pass.

Review after finishing game:
The only thing I'd add is that this is, in my memory, the shortest game of the series. If you don't go in for the OCD-collecting-everything aspect, you could probably complete the game in 5 hours. Even as it is, I only took 2 nights, and I was doing the OCD thing. And other than achievements, I don't think there's an in-game purpose to collecting everything other than the RHYNO plans (series veterans understand that sentence).

Dark Souls Scale: 1 omniwrench. This is not a hard game.

Link for Doubting: Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus by Taharka

One hour into: Game Dev Tycoon (85 minutes)
Courtesy of: Antichulius (in a manner of speaking)

Indie Casual Review
A game about the business of creating video games. Need I say more?

AAA Action-Adventure Review
Full disclosure: I'm not too versed in Tycoon-style games. I think the last one I played with any degree of seriousness was, no joke, Monopoly Tycoon, which is now 10+ years ago. I gifted Antichulius this game during the Summer Sale, and he expressed immense gratitude, commenting that it was all he hoped it would be. After seeing how happy it made him, I decided, "Why not?" and purchased it for myself.

Fast forward three months, I finally took the shrink wrap off. Of the games I bought for myself during the sale, this was one of the top three on my list (see one of my previous posts here for the rest, my top choices were Transistor and Jazzpunk; Jazzpunk isn't really 1-hour review material, let's leave it at that).

So, Game Dev Tycoon: you're an upstart game developer in the 1980s, with whatever company name you want (I unoriginally chose "Starving Programmers", but if I get a do-over I choose "Videlectrix", because you can never have enough H*R references). Your task is to create and sell hit games to earn money, just like in real life!


You start off as a single employee in a garage with something like $50K of funds. At the beginning, your options for games are very limited: you pick the "Topic" (things like Aliens, Ninjas, Life, etc.), "Genre" (Action, Adventure, RPG, etc.) and the "Platform" (thinly-veiled references to the major game platforms of yore: at the beginning, you only have PC and the "G64", guess what that's a reference to?). Once you have selected these, you select additional features, which again, at the beginning, are quite limited (simply "graphics or no graphics", maybe even "sound or no sound", I forget). Of course, you also have to name your creation. My first game was a PC Aliens Action masterpiece called something like "Invasion of Zorbok".

Game development has three phases, each of which involves three different "focuses". You can adjust how much time you spend in each of these focuses during the phase. Phase 1 has "Engine", "Gameplay" and "Story/Quests", Phase 2 has "Dialogue", "Level Design" and "Artificial Intelligence", and Phase 3 has "World Design", "Graphics" and "Sound". I have no idea if these change later on, they seemed to stay pretty consistent for me.

Making a good game is all about knowing what to emphasize. You want your topic and genre to match well, you want the genre and platform to match well, and you want your development to emphasize the features which are important for your genre. Your personal gaming experience may help you when it comes to deciding development emphasis, but other than that, you're kinda on your own.

As development progresses, you generate points in Design, Technology and Research. Design and Technology are basic experience; Research points are currency you use to progress the "tech tree" of the game. You also will probably generate bugs, which are obviously bad. Once development is finished, you will work out the bugs, but you can publish the game with bugs if you're truly desperate.

For completing a game, you will gain experience in the various development fields commensurate with your time spent on them during development. You can then publish the game, which brings you to the moment of truth: the reviews. You get four scores and a one-line blurb from review sources, which will make or break the game. After the reviews, the game is released, and you'll start raking in sales as long as the game is on shelves. After the release, you can optionally generate a game report, which provides insight on what did and didn't work: topic/genre pairing, genre/platform pairing, genre/development emphasis, etc. This feedback is then shown to you during future development cycles, but it will also give you some "hints" based on similarity (e.g. - what applies to RPGs might also be relevant for Simulations). Game reports take time, but also give you Research points.

Obviously, to advance, you have to make money. Making money is all about creating good games and innovating to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of the industry. Platforms will come and go (ersatz Nintendo and Sega products enter the market, the G64 fades into oblivion), causing changes in market share and requiring decisions about things like development cost for a given platform, and paying one-time licensing fees for a platform you haven't developed on before. Making money also requires you to handle increased complexity of your games. This is where Research comes in. You can spend Research points to expand your gaming capacities. The first and most immediate usage for Research is new Topics, which are useful for broadening your horizons (making games with new topics earns you bonus experience). A particularly powerful application of Research is to enable new features during development by creating your own game engine. Naturally, creating a custom game engine is time-consuming and expensive, but done correctly, it can make a huge difference by boosting the critical features of your particular game, provided you use the engine in creating the new game. Once you know how to create engines, Research splits and takes on even more forms: you can research new features to add into future game engines, or you can research more insights into the game industry, such as a target audience, which allows you to make a game for younger audiences, for all audiences, or for mature audiences; platforms also have target audiences, making the decision about which platform to pursue all the more important.

Naturally, things like research also cost money, and if you have a string of clunker games, like I did, you'll suddenly find yourself in dire straits, unable to even afford the one-time license fee for the fake NES without approaching the danger zone (you can go to a net worth of $-50K before you have to declare bankruptcy). You can take contract work during lean times to help pad your bank account: this requires you to generate a certain amount of design and technology points in a specified time frame. If you succeed, you earn a little pocket change and you'll generate Research points along the way, but if you fail, you have to pay a penalty cost.

As I've already mentioned several times, complexity is the core of the game. I have no idea if this is how Tycoon-style games work, but that's what I gathered. If you do succeed and hit it big, like I managed to do with two killer Action titles, "Zorbok Redux" (a Game Boy Alien game) and "Doctor Whoa" (an NES Alternate History game), you can move out of the garage and into a proper office, which lets you hire and train staff, opening another humongous can of worms. Armed with a staff, you can take on bigger games, but it's dangerous to self-publish a big game without a large fan base; here's where Publishers come in. You can accept a contract with a publisher to develop a game for a specified Topic/Genre/Platform combination, with a minimum target review score. If you succeed, you will earn royalties on the game, which should still be a decent chunk of change if you did your job well, because the publisher is marketing your game to a larger audience. If you fail, you have to pay a penalty cost. I accepted a publisher job for a History Simulation game, I chose the PC for my platform, all of my selections made sense on paper, but I failed to execute. Medium-size games require you to allocate your staff to the various foci of the development phases, and your emphasis of each focus affects your employees' work load; it is wise not to overload any employees, but I think that's where I got burned, I got panicked at phase 3 and had to reduce my emphasis on Sound to almost zero to make sure no one went over 100% (you do get an experience bonus for good management). Probably a hint that I need to hire a fourth person soon or stick to my wheelhouse before branching out.

My failed attempt at completing a publishing contract sort of spooked me, it was my first real "failure" of a game since moving into the big office. I had focused pretty heavily on Action games after skirting bankruptcy, because it was the first game I made, the topics which work well with Action are obvious (Aliens, Ninja, Wild West, Alternate History, to name a few), my development emphasis was spot-on, and my custom engines enhanced what was already there. Like I said, I thought I knew what was important, and the game report said my combinations were perfect, but it was probably too much, too soon (I think my third staff member wasn't fully integrated during the project, either). What's more, Research points are used to train your employees, and your options for things to research grow exponentially (probably as a function of time, too), so I felt massively overwhelmed when I kept trying to do things but seeing I was too low on Research points to do anything.

I sound like a broken record at this point, so I'm going to shut up and wrap up.

Will I keep playing?

I was on the fence, but it's a siren call. When I nearly tanked my startup with a string of mediocre games, I quit after 30 minutes and decided to start over after seeing I only got one trading card, but it dumped me right back into my game so I decided to try to turn it around. 50 minutes or so later, my net worth was over $2M but backslid to around $1.5M after that disastrous publisher job. Discussing my options here was actually pretty helpful, makes me eager to get back in there and try them out.

It is a bit rough in places: on my first startup, it threw an error message that said I had to restart the game, and every time after that I had a message in the corner of the screen saying it couldn't save to Steam cloud, FWIW. These guys are indie developers, after all, so I guess it's forgivable to some extent.

Dark Souls?

Like I said, I'm not familiar with Tycoon games, so the complexity spike nearly drowned me. All the Research options, all the Industry news, platforms coming and going, staff management, project management, blarg! You go from only picking three things when starting on a game to maybe five or six, and even then a lot of times it feels like the choices are blind. I'll confess that I'm not entirely sure what kind of games are supposed to be representative of "Adventure" or "Strategy" genres, which makes it harder to figure out what to emphasize during development (Level/World Design for a Simulation?), hence I think my forays into those genres were unsuccessful and I stuck to churning out Action games. And I'm still getting Tutorial messages, which suggests to me that there's a LOT more to come.

Sorry, I wanted to make the point one more time concerning the complexity/difficulty curve and this felt like the best place for it. Not sure if that's "fake" difficulty from under-information or just a by-product of the genre; I suppose a Tycoon junkie could tell you better. As for me, I think the Dark Souls score is 6.5/10.

Linky for OP
Game Dev Tycoon (Bubs14)

Bubs14 wrote:

"Doctor Whoa" (an NES Alternate History game)

Still laughing.

I've always been confused about this game, because I played and thoroughly enjoyed "Game Dev Story" by Kairosoft on iOS and I couldn't tell if this was a rip-off or a more complex simulation along the same lines, sounds like it's the latter. If the complexity of this one continues to be a turn-off, I highly recommend "Game Dev Story," very similar but fewer systems to think about.

One Half-Hour In: Aliens: Colonial Marines
Sponsored By: Me

Short Review:
Gearbox/Sega/Whoever goes on a binge at an all-you-can-eat spicy taco stand, then takes a steaming dump all over my beloved Aliens universe.

I might be exaggerating, but if so, not by much.

Long Review:
I never believed I could be so disgusted by a game that I would not only quit playing a half-hour in, but immediately uninstall it and wish I could expunge it from my Steam library permanently. But here I am, having found precisely that game.

I was willing to ignore the controversy around the original E3 demo that led so many of us to hyperventilate over the promise of how awesome this game could be. Knowing full well that the game had some flaws, but jonesing for a fairly accurate-sounding and -looking Aliens game, and having gotten this dirt cheap in a Steam sale, I figured why not finally take it for a whirl.

The game's opening menus are pretty awesome. The sounds are all spot-on to the movie, the grainy and flickery appearance of the menus evoke the same presentation as the film's computers, and it definitely sets the mood right. However, it pretty much falls off a cliff and downhill from there on out.

The opening story bit features amazingly boring and Try-Hard-Serious(tm) dialogue, with some throwaway slaps at film continuity right off the bat (paraphrased, "I heard the Sulaco was last seen at Fury 161, what's it doing here?" "I don't know, and it isn't part of our mission to know"). Ugh. Then you head over to the Sulaco through the umbilical tube (complete with gratuitous "omg there's an explosion and maybe the tube's gonna break!" moment) and into the titular ship from Aliens.

So apparently another squad preceded the player into the Sulaco, and you're checking to see what's going on with them. You go through a door from the hangar and immediately come across an obvious xenomorph hive. How was this not immediately reported back by the first squad? Especially since the player immediately reports back with the "wtf is this sh*t?" reaction you would expect the first squad to have done. You go through one room and come into a room with several opened eggs and some people cocooned to the walls.

Already I have several problems with continuity. The first squad somehow has had time to get into the Sulaco, enter an alien hive without reporting back that there's some really weird sh*t going down in the ship, get captured and cocooned without any xenos attacking the airlock or umbilical, AND there's also been time for the cocooned marines to get implanted and the xenos to mature and burst out of them? The game is barely five minutes in and it's already piling up plot holes at a rate that puts the Transformers films to shame.

Ok, so ignoring the plot (since the devs clearly did), let's move on. An alien attacks when I try to cut loose the last surviving marine. It pounces you and you do a QTE to free yourself. Yes, the first combat of the game is a quick-time event.

[John Oliver]f*ck you, Shen Mue! f*ck you and your initially clever use of quick-prompts to create a game with a cinematic kung-fu movie feel![/John Oliver]

You free yourself from the alien, and then the motion tracker goes mad pinging the impending threat of the xeno about to attack you again. And then, I spent the next few minutes trying to find the alien to shoot it. Yes, really. I went back and forth between the cocoon room and the room before it, tracking the pinging blip on the motion tracker, and couldn't find the damn alien to shoot at it. FINALLY I must have tripped over some invisible "next phase of encounter" border, and the alien crawled out of an air vent to attack me. I filled it full of pulse rifle ammo during it's "crawl out of the air duct" animation, none of which registered as hitting it. Only when it was fully into its "run at the player" animation sequence did any of the hits register.

Really? Really? This is the best you can do with 2013 gaming technology? We had better hit detection on the original Playstation. We had better hit detection in a "3D" game with the f*cking SuperFX chip on the SNES.


Ok, ok, so I calmed down from my outrage (sadly not from any sort of fear from the aliens, unlike when I played Aliens vs Predator 2 on the pc years ago and nearly fell out of my chair screaming in fright when an alien pounced at me from around a corner), I moved on. Played through a few more rooms of Pulse Rifle Whack-a-Nonsensical-Hitbox-Skinned-as-a-Xenomorph, grew more and more disgusted with the controls and enemy AI and the feel that I was shooting mobile pinatas rather than terrifying alien beasts, and finally just said "f*ck this sh*t" and shut the game down, ready to uninstall.

You'd think this is the end, right? No, Gearbox/Sega/Whoever had one final insult: the game kept relaunching itself over and over; I'd kill one instance and another would pop up. It wasn't until I was finally able to win the Whack-a-Steam-is-Starting-up-Aliens-Notification-Alert game that it finally stopped trying to relaunch itself. Apparently the game is a meta-horror game, where it insists on terrifying you into thinking you have to keep playing such an awful mess.

This game is bad. Really bad. "So bad you shouldn't joke-gift it to anyone during a Steam sale" bad. Ugh.

Dark Souls Scale:
This game doesn't deserve to be compared to Dark Souls in any way whatsoever, even as a joke.

Permalink: Aliens: Colonial Marines (Farscry)

Technically that first Alien you encounter has a separate A.I. that are given to only a few. Basically they're designed to run around and hide, confusing your motion tracker and such.

And sometimes they exhibit this behavior in open environments.

Where they run behind nothing and just stand there. And then keep standing there. Despite all the bullets you're plugging into them.

Aliens: Colonial Marines everyone.

Wow. That sounds really, really, really bad...

That sounds bad enough that even I wouldn't want to play it.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

That sounds bad enough that even I wouldn't want to play it.

I honestly am pretty forgiving towards games licensed from properties I like but that play poorly. Take the old Ghostbusters game, for example; that was honestly a pretty crappy game, but I was a sucker for it. I've actually played most of the prior Alien/s games and gotten some enjoyment out of them (even the side-scrolling Alien vs Predator beat-em-up). But this game is honestly just awful, in spite of having some really solid sound/art design ripped from the films.

Farscry wrote:

Dark Souls Scale:
This game doesn't deserve to be compared to Dark Souls in any way whatsoever, even as a joke.

I suggest an alternative "ET Scale" for situations such as this.


On a scale of 1-1300 unearthed copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, with varying amounts of crushed-ness or stuck-on pieces of trash to handle more nuanced cases.

danopian wrote:
Farscry wrote:

Dark Souls Scale:
This game doesn't deserve to be compared to Dark Souls in any way whatsoever, even as a joke.

I suggest an alternative "ET Scale" for situations such as this.


On a scale of 1-1300 unearthed copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, with varying amounts of crushed-ness or stuck-on pieces of trash to handle more nuanced cases.

Hey now, I liked ET. It was the first game I ever beat on my own.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

Hey now, I liked ET. It was the first game I ever beat on my own.

That explains a lot about your tastes.

So, I actually remembered about this thread just before starting a new game. Unfortunately it's a JRPG, so after an hour I've seen... umm... very little of the game. Just barely unlocked the explanation of the leveling systems... wondering if it's worth writing anything up. :p

Mantid wrote:

So, I actually remembered about this thread just before starting a new game. Unfortunately it's a JRPG, so after an hour I've seen... umm... very little of the game. Just barely unlocked the explanation of the leveling systems... wondering if it's worth writing anything up. :p

I've been sticking to an hour give or take, but I've also been ignoring non-game time like long cut scenes.

JRPGs probably need their own timeline. Maybe add a zero to the hour?

Seriously, though, my rule of thumb is to play as long as it takes me to feel like I have a taste of the flavors in the game. I just haven't been playing many complicated games, so it hasn't run into the hour "limit."

30 Hours In: Warriors Orochi 3
Sponsored by: Me

Short Review: Hack, Slash, Kill, Repeat

Long Review: Out of the many, MANY "Warrior" games, I love the Orochi franchise the most. Gone is any attempt at historical storytelling in favor of the type of story telling I did when I was five, playing with my superhero action figures... "OK, Batman and Joker are teaming up with Sonic the Hedgehog to fight this big bad villain that only exists in the confines of my prepubescent brain."
Because that's about what the plot of the entire Orochi series is... a big bad demon has come to earth and, for some strange reason, gathered all of the heroes of ancient China and feudal Japan into one place (and time, as many of the heroes wouldn't have overlapped in their lives, much less in their countries), and then is surprised when they put aside their differences and work together to defeat the him.
The plot is so paper thin that it's totally irrelevant (though I do love that people from China and Japan suddenly start speaking a common language... makes me think of Antonio Banderas in The 13th Warrior).
The lack of an in depth plot means that you get into what this game is all about... x, x, x, x, triangle, triangle (otherwise known as hack guys up in alarming numbers).
With the third game in the series, the roster of characters you can choose from is now at 145, some of whom actually have nothing to do with Samurai Warriors or Dynasty Warriors (You can play as Joan of Arc, or Achilles, for example). When going into a stage, you select your team of three favorite characters, and you can freely swap between them in some weird version of quantum mechanics that would make Stephen Hawking confused. Gather weapons, gather items, kill guys. Simple, yet surprisingly fun.
Regarding the paper thin plot of 3... I must admit I wasn't paying much attention... partly because I sunk the most hours into it when I had a cold and was on medication, and partly because getting invested in the plot of a Warriors game is like getting invested in the plot of an adult novel... it's really pointless. But, from what I can tell, the plot is basically that a hydra has shown up and killed or scattered all of the heroes. All seems lost, but a deus ex machina "mystic" shows up, saves a few heroes, and tells them they can now travel back in time, so that they can save everyone else. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure then plays out, but with less Keanu Reeves and more killing guys.
Finishing a stage gives you a cornucopia of unlocks, from new characters to costumes to wallpapers to edit points. I have no idea how that last one works, but I'll get there eventually. To the point that, maybe a quarter of the way through the game, I had 30 characters unlocked. But, as these games are all about picking your favorite characters and treating everyone else like an unloved step-child, I never touched roughly 25 of them. That number has only gotten worse as my abusive family tree has expanded to nearly a hundred unloved children and five to eight favorites. Eventually, I'll have to take some of the step-children to the zoo or something, because the only way to unlock every single character and get the best ending is to build up the "bonds" between each of the different characters so that a few extra stages unlock.
Out of everything in the game, that bonds thing is the most annoying because it's so bloody hard to build bonds up, and besides, I don't like all the characters (one guy attacks with a giant paint brush... This isn't Okami, guys...), but otherwise the game is fun and relaxing. It's the type of game I can sit down with, let my brain out of my head to go have a mai tai, while my thumbs enter the same sequence of button presses roughly five billion times.
I'll definitely keep playing it when I need a break from thinking, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants the same.

Dark Souls Difficulty Scale: Surprisingly, I'd give it a 6/10, but only because if you choose to play a stage on an advanced difficulty, you need to be careful. Enemies have more health and toughness and you, seemingly, have less. Dying is quite easy. But if you play it on easy difficulty, you should have more problems with your thumbs breaking off than with the gameplay.

Link for Doubting: Warriors Orochi 3 by Taharka