Wednesday 28 February 2018

Spore: Citizen Kabugto

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

The now Renowned Buglybugs gains new tech from the new races: a larger hold, an even stronger battery, missile tech and a level 3 interstellar drive. The Yoburt even gift 10,000 spore bucks while the Gooplets accept a full alliance!

The Flixxels turn out to be crazy zealots though, and thanks to their constant demands of half a million spore bucks for an "unbeliever fee" which Buglybugs cannot pay they soon declare war on the Direbugs.

In anticipation of future battles, Buglybugs buys mini-bombs for orbital bombardment. Oddly, this weapon is first used on his home planet of Pyrachs as it needed saving from an overgrown, rampaging creature! They prove to be super effective!

That is one giant critter.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Spore: The Peaceful Sector

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

In an effort to push closer to the center of the galaxy, Admiral Buglybugs travels a fair distance - planting a colony on Natus (10% to the center) for resupply purposes, but is recalled to destroy infected creatures, space pirates and a Grox scout fleet!

The Direbug allies, of which the Bordooshios are now part of, are grateful and celebrate Buglybugs. This earns him a few ship upgrades: a bigger cargo hold, a bigger energy battery and an auto blaster turret.

Buglybugs then returns to venture past Natus, encountering a large group of friendly races in the next cluster of stars: the Rammo (crazed space dodos), the Gooplet (happy frogs), the Lillo (happy turtles), the Yoburt (shell foxes) and the Flixxel (monkeys faithful to Spode).

Some really pretty sights in this game.

The Direbugs colonize Ramrourna in this peaceful sector, and soon make allies the Rammo and the Lillo.

Monday 26 February 2018

Today I Smiled: Winter Olympics 2018

Taking a break from the Direbug Saga today to give a nod to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics which has proved to be very entertaining. :)

My personal faves were: Chloe Kim's amazing halfpipe run, Ester Ledecka's unexpected Super G win, the pairs free skate (Germany starts at 12:54) and Javier Fernandez's silly Gala performance.

Aljona was flying!

I'm not sure if those links will work for everyone, but just in case they don't I looked for more so people wouldn't be left out in the cold.

Since I'm very into figure skating, here is the Alina Zagitova in practice, a tribute to Canada's Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue (20 years of pairs ice dancing), and Evgenia Medvedeva as Sailor Moon (not performed in these Olympics, but still cooky. Volume warning)

Didn't get to see much curling which is a shame, but watching the final shots for the men's tournament was great. Just for kicks I've also been ranking the Google Doodles during the Olympics (because I'm an animator too sometimes) and here are the results:

Rank 6
Rank 5
Rank 4
Bronze Medal
Silver Medal
Gold Medal

Also interesting that there are a few things not allowed or simply missing from the games. Lastly, for those who need that "Olympic" itch scratched - have no fear, the Marbelympics are free to watch on Youtube! Enjoy! :)

Sunday 25 February 2018

Spore: One Good Deed

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

As a Commodore, Buglybugs could now handle an extra ship in the fleet and was given one by thier Murglbrg ally. Alas this vessel, the "Crustbuster", is destroyed when Buglybugs defends another alien race - the Gibolobs (peaceful humanoid insects) from the Bordooshio (hat wearing monkeys).

All that debris should burn up in the atmosphere... right?

The Gibolobs are thankful and on top of allying with the Direbugs, teach Buglybugs about planet painting and planet sculpting. On one planet Buglybugs also finds a rare tree that the Spikelors need as medicine. The dinosaurs are overjoyed, agree to a full alliance and give the Direbugs the tech for Interplanetary Drive level 2, letting the ship fly further between stars.

After being promoted to Admiral, Buglybugs goes to talk to the Boordoshio who declare they are creatures of harmony - subsequently asking in help abducting life forms and killing a few others while continuing to war on the Gibolobs. Buglybugs does these tasks anyway, just so that the Direbugs get into their good books.

Annoyingly, the Spikelors and Murglbrg were now also at war.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Spore: First Contact

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Since Paylise was needed to lead her people on Pyrachs, pilot Buglybugs was chosen to fly the spaceship and earning his Captain's badge after a quick tutorial of flight, scanning, comms, laser weapon and abduction planet side.

Behold, the worst spaceship ever!

He then took to the space to explore the nearby solar systems, finding evidence of one vicious one called the Grox. Fortunately it seemed they were no longer nearby. Instead the closest neighbors were the Murglbrg (peaceful demon looking surfies) and the Spikelors (warlike space dinos).

Buglybugs knew that to survive, the Direbugs would need allies and opted to be civil to these two races - running errands for them for cash and building up trust while also establishing a second Direbug planet on Rabotek. With the Murglbrg agreeing to an alliance, Buglybugs quickly skipped past the Commander Rank and was promoted to Commodore by "Mother" Paylise herself.

Friday 23 February 2018

Spore: The Unification

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

It wasn't long before other Direbug colonies around the planet began building cities too, and with now valued spice geysers at a premium the Direbugs fought among themselves for world domination with their new death dealing machines.

Led by Paylise, the first city was always ahead - fielding more tanks to crush their neighbors on the mainland and then skipping naval development to focus on their air force. With air superiority there was no one who could match them, and ultimately the remaining cities surrendered.

Air dominance pew pew!

With the world united, Paylise then looked to the stars to expand the Direbug Empire and with help from all the cities across the globe, developed and created their space flagship.

Thursday 22 February 2018

Spore: Paylise the Wise

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

When the wisest of the Direbugs, Paylise, invented fire, she immediately took the race into sapience and became their chieftain. The tribe built huts and stone axes to better kill the wild animals nearby for food, to kill the tribes of other races in the region, and to defend against those mysterious demons who never did appear again.

Another ship watches the Direbugs wipe out the Yellow Tribe.

While numerous Direbugs fell in these battles, Chieftain Paylise's fire bombs would always win the day and from their victories the Direbugs learned to make throwing spears and fishing rods, the latter being useful when there were no more wild animals around the camp.

Now undisputed, Paylise created a government and asked her people what they most wanted: weapons of war! With work, the Direbugs upgraded their camp into the first city on Pyrachs, and their first war machine - a very odd tank.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Spore: The Demons of Pyrachs

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

With a nest established on the beach, the Direbugs began to explore this new land and ran into other nesting creatures. Many were cautious, but a few tried to be friendly with dancing and singing.

Unfortunately the Direbugs were not good at socializing, and instead aggressively slew these new food sources, mutating to mimic the more useful traits growing blades, mandibles, arms, faster feet and bigger brains.

They were not the ultimate predators though, as a race of flying demons proved to be superior to them in each encounter - forcing the Direbugs to relocate their nest a few times. Conversely, the Direbugs couldn't find where those demons originated from.

Perhaps they were whisked away by that strange ship?

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Spore: Splash Down!

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

There was a massive splash as the meteorite hit the ocean of Planet Pyrachs, unleashing multiple tiny creatures into the tide pool. One eggplant shaped monster swam round eating all the meat bits it could find while avoiding the larger predators. This was the start of the Direbug race.

It's the wormy thing with huge protruding spikes.

The more they ate, the bigger they grew, and developed spikes and poisonous sacs which let it slay larger and larger creatures until suddenly it developed a minuscule brain and four legs. In no time at all, the Direbugs were marching out of the waves and onto the untamed lands of Pyrachs.

The Direbug Saga

It's time for a new story, and this one is from my experiences in Spore. :)

Chapter 1 - Splash Down!
Chapter 2 - The Demons of Pyrachs
Chapter 3 - Paylise the Wise
Chapter 4 - The Unification
Chapter 5 - First Contact
Chapter 6 - One Good Deed
Chapter 7 - The Peaceful Sector
Chapter 8 - Citizen Kabugto
Chapter 9 - Command and Conquer
Chapter 10 - Farewell Murglbrg
Chapter 11 - Terrorforming
Chapter 12 - Flixxels End
Chapter 13 - New Kids on the Block 
Chapter 14 - Crouching Elephant, Hidden Dragon
Chapter 15 - Chibby Corgel Catastrophe 
Chapter 16 - All Oscae, Sector Secure
Chapter 17 - Journey to the Center of the Galaxy
Chapter 18 - Steve in the Center
Chapter 19 - Getting Uber

This story has concluded for now, thank you for reading! 

Saturday 17 February 2018

A Freeloader's Backlog

You'd think someone who doesn't buy games wouldn't have the "backlog" issue, but as it turns out - I now have one thanks to a few elements. I thought it might be prudent to put the list up to can keep track of them.

Sims 3
Overlord 2
Commandos: Men of Courage
C&C: Covert Ops
C&C Red Alert
C&C Red Alert: Counterstrike
C&C Red Alert: The Aftermath
C&C Tiberian Sun
C&C Tiberian Sun: Firestorm
C&C Red Alert 2
C&C Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge
C&C Generals
C&C Generals: Zero-Hour
Titan Quest
Supreme Commander
World at War
FEAR Perseus Mandate
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans
Warcraft: Frozen Throne
Warcraft: Reign of Chaos
Dawn of War II
Universe at War
Sins of a Solar Empire
Diablo: Reaper of Souls
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Black and White 2

The King of Fighters
Grim Fandango Remastered
Beneath a Steel Sky
Tyrian 2000
Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar
Treasure Adventure Game
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire

Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Friday 16 February 2018

Juuni Taisen: Righteous action requires righteous intent

Of all the anime I've seen so far, it's a bit strange that this average battle royal one contains my currently, most favorite speech (season 1). I thought I'd share it here for those that don't watch it - and just so I can look at it myself down the track. :)

It's impossible for you to do the right thing, unless you make a conscious effort.

People do wrong in the most off handed ways, just swept along they fall into evil - without purpose, without deliberation, without any thought at all.

Then just like that, they're on the wrong path as if there were no choice.

By contrast no one ever says something like "Without realizing it, I was just doing the right thing," or how about "The next thing I knew I was doing good deeds," or perhaps "I helped someone by mistake, oopsie."

You never hear that, and you never will. Without intent there is no righteousness. There can't be, because righteous action requires righteous intent. You can't do the right thing unless you set your mind to do it.

If your inability to do the right thing is causing you to suffer right now, that's likely because you're aware of the fact that you are not trying to do it.

There are many reasons why one may not try to do good. A myriad of fears which might inspire hesitation.

You can blame it on another person, or on society as a whole. You can blame it on the age we live in, the cards you were dealt; but hear me - those who are not doing the right thing must admit to themselves its not that they cannot do it but they will not do it.

And you, you need not force yourself to do what is right, but don't fool yourself into thinking your failure to do so is because you are unable but because you made the choice not to even try.

All righteous people decide to do right, and then they do it. The steps must be taken in that order. Worrying about the second step while you are still on the first is the height of calamity. 

Tuesday 13 February 2018


Should be marketed as a super villain game.

Thanks to military experiments, Alex Mercer is infected with a virus that gives him special powers. He can shrug off bullets, run fast, leap and glide over buildings, shape shift, carry and throw cars around, regenerate and most importantly... consume people. That last one you will be doing a lot of.

Yes, it's quite difficult / impossible to be a good guy in this game, especially since Alex is seems enraged all the time. Despite that, and the weird sound issue where some cut scenes are soft and others are deafening, it is quite enjoyable to cause mayhem across the open city.

There are many optional side events as well that get you closer to unlocking more abilities or stronger variants of the ones you have. Being able to use firearms, drive tanks and fly helicopters is really neat too. All up, a very fun and slightly addictive game - I give it 4 supreme hunters out of 5.

Monday 12 February 2018

Bad Design: Checkpoints

Being able to save is always better.

[Part of the Design Folder]

I have to question why anyone ever designed the checkpoint (auto save) system as ultimately, it is just a waste of time when compared with letting people being able to save the game whenever they feel like.

I'm the type of player now who, when real life interrupts, drops from a game immediately (the wife trained me well). If I've not yet reached a checkpoint then that means I'll be replaying whatever hasn't been saved. Conversely, if I know bed time is approaching I must question at each checkpoint if I think I'll reach the next one before my alarm rings and once again - bang: game goes off.

Taking this freedom from a player is bad design. I can understand if you want to make a "safe" save that ensures the game is still in a winnable state, but in that case make a checkpoint / save hybrid option. What do you think? Is being able to save anywhere/anytime giving too much power to the player?

Saturday 10 February 2018

Bad Design: Unenforced Laws

It encourages crime.

[Part of the Design Folder]

Cheaters in games are not a new thing. There are always people looking for ways to go one-up on the rest of the population. While my own description of cheating probably encompasses things others might gloss over, I'm pretty sure we can all agree that having unauthorized, near admin rights for around 3 years is one of those no-no's.

As reported by MassivelyOP, this is the case with Ark. Even though I don't play that game, I can guarantee that I won't even bother trying anything from that developer: Studio Wildcard. Why? Because after finding these cheaters their decision is to simply not do anything to them. No bans, no wipes, no rollbacks.

There is no point in making rules that you don't / won't enforce, regardless if the criminal number is 1 or 100% of your player base. Granting amnesty just shows a lack of spine, and would probably serve only to encourage more cheating. That's not an environment I'd like to experience.

I imagine this will be their stance in all their games henceforth, and even if it isn't "officially" - the fact they've done it once removes -all- doubt in my mind that they will do so again. Good luck Ark, may the best cheater win.

Friday 9 February 2018

Enter the Matrix

Everyone is so cool, they gotta wear shades at all times.

A tie in to the movie series, players can choose to fill the shoes of Niobe or Ghost in their story to help the One. Agents (the ultimate enemy in the Matrix world) are represented very well when they show up and the music track is decent.

The video cut scenes are movie quality, which is not matched at all by the in game graphics. The motions are also hit and miss - all the kung fu stuff is good quality but the regular running motion and climbing actions are ludicrous.

There's no way he can hit me if I'm parkouring, right?

Good thing you also have the "focus" ability which lets you slow time and dodge bullets, because in  "regular" mode, Niobe and Ghost are lousy with firearms and would have trouble hitting a barn door much less keeping other friendly NPCs alive - which you have to do numerous times in the game. This is not helped by the clunky control scheme.

Expect to have a fair few falling deaths too, and questioning where Ghost keeps his MP5 of endless explosive ammo which he uses exclusively during car chase sequences. I also must question their choice of last level which is almost a different game altogether.

Ultimately, unless you are a die hard fan of the movies I recommend staying away. I give it 2 death drops out of 5.

Thursday 8 February 2018

Ban those Lockboxes

Germany might be leading the way.

[Part of the Design Folder

News that in game lock boxes may soon become illegal in Germany has definitely brightened my day, as I truly believe these gambling components detract from any game they exist in. Hopefully the law passes and gets spread world wide, even if it does mean some of my favorite F2P games are forced to shut down in the process.

Yes, gambling is bad (and its worse when its kids getting addicted to it) but more to the point, imagine how much more effort would be going into enhancing or expanding a game if developers weren't so reliant on the low hanging fruit of the lock box crutch?


It's about to explode!?! You need weapons at maximum!

Due to a Russian experiment gone wrong, the small island / research base of Katorga 12 is abandoned. The player is part of a recon team that goes in to do an unauthorized sweep years later only to find the place filled with monstrous mutants. On the plus side, you soon get the ability to control time - and you need it.

The puzzles here are much better than the ones in TimeShift, as are the graphics, story, weapons, game play... pretty much everything. I like that this game gives off a similar STALKER / Metro 2033 horror feel as well, with many jump scares peppered throughout.

It's scary even when you do see the monsters.

Currency scattered around the maps also encourages exploration, as you can use it to upgrade your weapons and abilities at particular points in each map. Really, the only fault I can give this game is that there is no option for subtitles. Still a solid, enjoyable game and one I recommend trying out. I give it 4.5 aged boxes out of 5.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Design: Subtitles Mandatory

[Part of my Design Folder

Not a rehash of Voice Actors vs Subtitles. Promise!
The first thing I do every time I start up a new game is look in the options to turn on subtitles. I realize having them might bother other people, but I quite like being able to read what is being said without either having to translate the voice actors odd accent or turning up the volume. A side effect of watching many subtitled anime I suppose.

It bugs me then, when I run into games that do not have this option. I suppose those particular games aren't marketed for deaf people either? It's just one of those areas where a little polish goes a long way. What do you think?

Monday 5 February 2018

Command and Conquer: Renegade

The only C&C FPS game - what a renegade!

What a surprise it is to discover the experience of Command and Conquer in an FPS! In it, you play as Havok - a GDI Commando who is good at killing people, great at corny one liners and a terrible soldier.

Those helmets really hamper peripheral vision.

Much like the original Command and Conquer RTS game (that I'm still working through) you are up against the terrorist faction known as the Brotherhood of Nod and there's a good representation of weapons (all of which you can carry simultaneously), vehicles (which you can also commandeer) and buildings (which you can enter and/or destroy). The voice over acting is decent too.

Alas not only does backtracking feature heavily here, but your objective tracker is only two dimensional which makes navigating the often massive multi-floored structure interiors to find a key card or press a button a real challenge, more so than the Nod forces whose only tactic is walk closer and fire continuously.

The enemies also spawn from nowhere or air drop on top of each other like an angry totem pole of death - especially when they start carrying the end game weaponry. Definitely adds some challenge when you have to keep idiot NPCs alive as well. 

Not one I'd recommend unless you really are into C&C, I give it 1.5 nuclear strikes detected out of 5.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Wolfenstein (2009)

Ghostbusting some Nazis!

Before Blazkowicz got "recaptured(?)" or fought the Nazi mechas or even had blonde hair and blue eyes, he was a secret agent sent to stop the Nazi's paranormal branch on a remote island. The premise is pretty cool, having a central "hub" city that you must traverse past randomly spawning enemies to reach quest givers, quest locations, and black market shops to upgrade your gear.

Gold is lying everywhere but at the same time can be challenging to find, which encourages a thorough scavenging of the well rendered environments. The baddies have decent squad AI too but are regularly no match as Blazcowicz also has magic powers this time around. In fact only two types of enemies will cause you grief, the invisible maniacal assassins and the cover art undead.

I hate these guys.

With that setup though there is definitely a lot of back tracking which hurts the pace of the game. You also have to question the effectiveness of the Nazis who are unable to find such well marked "hiding" places of the various groups in town. Those aside it's still a very well polished shooter, and one I had a lot of fun playing. I give it 4 out of 5.

Friday 2 February 2018

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

When a legendary assassin goes into retirement, don't piss him off.

Agent 47 enjoys being a church gardener for all of 10 minutes before he once again is fibre-wiring guards and killing targets for obscene amounts of money. While the graphics are now dated, the sneaky gameplay which involves quiet steps, dragging bodies, a multitude of disguises and a LOT of walking is all fantastic. While the voice acting could have used some work, Eidos certainly has a good stealth formula.

Why would you wear shades in an indoor tub?

It is also bloody hard, especially on the higher modes where you can't even save the game mid mission - a feature I'm not to keen on. Expect a lot of retries, as there are plenty of one hit kills, timed missions and gear and objectives that aren't clear right off the bat. The AI is quite clever when they start hunting for you as well so ideally you don't leave a trail of bodies for them to follow. Of course, head shots are once again your best friend when things go sideways. Despite the difficulty, I did enjoy it and give it 3 pizza delivery outfits out of 5.

Thursday 1 February 2018

February 2018 Status

Just like that, it's February already so I figured I'd start the month with another status post - something new I'm trying this year. Other things I'm trying this year include:

    Relearn my old compositions (5 songs - done)
    Complete chapter 1 of my web comic (planning)
    Finish a board game prototype I'm happy with (0% progress)
    End the year with less weight (-1kg down from Jan)

The songs were really the easiest on that list given I had recordings, but those other creative works are on the back burner while I battle through my gifts from last year as all those old games I've been reviewing recently might indicate.

I have a few more action/shooter ones to go but then it's all ARPG and RTS games (which I'm terrible at). I decided to work through one, the original Command and Conquer, in between my other game sessions but it is slow going.

My time in Neverwinter has also lessened as a result but I suspect I'll be returning full swing when the next module the "Lost City of Omu" drops at the end of the month. Lots to do, so I'd best get back to it. Happy gaming all! :)