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It seems we actually CAN be bothered to record another podcast, possibly compelled to raise the standards set by the relatively poor quality of the original. This time we have 100% less toilet breaks, and thusly 50% less content, or at least, less talking, a trade off we are mostly happy with. Nonetheless much of this podcast is Rivas commenting on stuff he already blogged about, but we do have some EXCLUSIVE AUDIO CONTENT, so you crazy internet people who are scared of missing stuff should listen away!

So without further ado here is The Podcast! followed by some more ado:

We have taken my father’s professional journalistic opinion and chosen to hold the microphone this time, this often means I pointed the microphone the wrong way but it’s still better than before. We’re also recording in the nicely acoustic confines of my soft soft bedroom, instead of the sharp sharp living room, so the echo gremlins should be a thing of the past.

Also thanks to Jessica Curry for making the music for Dear Esther, which we have added to the end of our podcast for your listening pleasure. I think it is Creative Commons, it says feels free to share anyway.

Alex.

EDIT: I would like to point out that I used the phrases “Experimental Gamer” and “Pushing Boundaries” at least three times in this recording, so I should probably be given an award or killed or something. D.

Oh, the wolves have gone. Panic’s over, people! You can stop worrying, they… Oh, wait. New panic. I have heard somewhere that rooms bigger than seven squares by seven squares will eventually collapse. A lot of my rooms are bigger than seven by seven squares. Shit.

I sit for a while, pondering my predicament. What is there to do? Hmm. Well, single walls have  a strange circle symbol, which suggests to me they also act as pillars. I hope this will do:

Is this enough?

Is this enough?

Problem solved, I hope. Not so sure, though.

As a side note, I’d like to point out just how insanely detailed Dwarf Fortress is. For example, here is part of the file which describes a cat:

“[BODY:QUADRUPED:TAIL:2EYES:2EARS:NOSE:2LUNGS:HEART:

GUTS:ORGANS:THROAT:NECK:SPINE:BRAIN:CAT_MOUTH]”

Yeah. I have no idea what would happen if I removed, say, the spine from this line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all my cats were to suddenly become “Extra Floppy”, or similar. There is a skill called “Small Animal Dissection”, so maybe we can find out later without having to mess with data files.

Anyway, I have decided to make use of my newly arrived peasentry, and build a metalsmith’s forge, a wood burner and smelter. This way, I can burn wood to make charcoal, then smelt metal ores, then forge weapons and other metal stuff. Cups, or something, I don’t know. At least, that’s the plan. The problem is, none of my dwarfs have skills in these, so they’re bloody rubbish at it. Hurry up and make some charcoal, Stefana.

Stefana, hard at work.

Stefana, hard at work.

Gah, who decided the job list shouldn’t be arranged alphabetically? I need a furnace operator. Ah, found it.

While the new migrants bumble along making iron, I order up a rock throne.There just isn’t enough of a sense of grandeur about the place at the moment.

Oh, I suppose the new guys need a place to sleep. They were late to the party, so they get smaller bedrooms. They do get to live lower down in the proper rock, though. This is a big plus.

Living spaces sorted, I take account of the things we need. I then build a kennels, a barracks, and most importantly, a dining room fit for dwarfs.

Hmmph. A cougar has appeared. This time, we’re prepared. Get out the iron axes, boys. Oh, wait, how do I attack things? Huh. You got away this time, Cougar, but we’ll see who gets the better of who in our next encounter.

Yeah, you'd better run. Stupid Cougar.

Yeah, you'd better run. Stupid Cougar.

D.

Storm

Storm is a physics-based puzzle game, by Terence Lee, and I like it quite a bit.

The game is centred around using weather. More specifically, using it to send little white ping-pong balls down holes. You have three weather effects, wind, rain and lightning, and each allow you to interact with the environment in different ways. Wind is by far my favourite, with a lovely effect and what looks like some pretty complicated physics to get it to “flow” down surfaces. Rain is really a bunch of blue coloured ping-pong balls, from what I can tell, and doesn’t look great. Using it to float things around is till fun, though. Lightning just pushes stuff away.

You get a set amount of “ammunition” for each of the powers, and more can be collected by sending the white balls into them. I personally would have preferred to have the puzzles designed around infinite uses of powers, but whatever.

The music is pleasant enough, if a little unmemorable. Let’s call it ambient.

Storm is very pretty, but something about the art style rubs me the wrong way while playing it. Putting that one down to personal taste. Also, Lee used comic sans in his game, which I find really kind of ugly. This is a prototype, so we’ll let it slide, just this once. Terence Lee, you have been warned.

D.

Storm was made in two weeks with XNA. We should really work harder on Colour Game, huh? Anyway, you can download Storm here.

Well, my game is still running.

First things first, I decided communal bedrooms are for chumps, so I designate eight rooms for my seven dwarfs. I figured the chief dwarf requires at least two bedrooms.

Jeez! More talc!

Jeez! More talc!

I install doors, and beds, and everyone’s happy. Never let it be said I don’t look out for my dwarfs.

Next, I set about constructing a throne room in the lower levels, and am informed that I have once again struck talc. This whole mountain appears to be made of the damn stuff.

Good news! Two of my female dogs have had puppies. I’m still a little worried about security, so I build a kennels in order to train up some war dogs.

Shit. Too late. I have spotted on my map, a pack of wolves. Look at their fangs, it is terrifying.

Bugger.

Bugger.

In other news, my cats all seem to have chosen now as the time to have kittens. In order to avoid a “catsplosion”, I mark the newborns for eating. One narrowly escapes death by adopting the approaching hungry miner. Crafty feline.

Oh! The trade caravan came, as well as a diplomatic liaison. He is “Mighty”, “Extremely Agile” and “Very Tough”. Perhaps he can sort out the wolves.

Nope, he’s gone again. Pity. I remember I have a mason, and have him build and construct a bunch of dolomite blocks, and a door. I’d like to see any lupine predators get through that!

Ha.

Ha.

Oh! MIGRANTS! Now, this is exciting. I have a bunch more dwarfs to do things with, and also see off wolves. My new arrivals include a metalsmith, to make weapons, and a soapmaker, to clean wolfblood off the weapons.

D.

Licorice Theif [sic]

Candy Zoo is a collection of four games, four songs, six pictures and a papercraft pattern. The pictures, songs and papercraft patterns are kind of cool, but this is a column in which I talk about video games, so screw those.

Games!

None of the games in CandyZoo are particularly finished or, you know, done well, but they all have a certain unfinished charm, and at least a few interesting ideas. In terms of aesthetic, they all seem to owe quite a bit to Cactus’s work.¬† The first, Aeronauticon, is a sidescrolling aeroplane game, in which the player flies around, shooting and dodging fire from floating trees, while avoiding a dancing Godzilla. It’s pretty fun, if a bit hard, and the most polished and complete game in the collection.

Next up is Gatorman – River Rocket Rhapsody. In this, you play as an Alligator, riding a rocket and eating chickens for points. You’d think this one would be a winner, but it’s my least favourite of the quartet. It’s kind of boring, the music is irritating and, well, I don’t know, it just feels like it’s trying a little too hard with its randomness. Or something.

Dragcopter, though, gets the Random perfectly. You are a pink helicopter. You spray Drag Dust onto little men, and they turn into drag queens. What’s not to love? I probably had the most fun with this one, but the controls are a bit squiffy. Drag Dust, though.

Last but not least (that would be Gatorman) comes Licorice Theif (I think the spelling mistake is deliberate). This is the one that interested me the most, but I wouldn’t call it fun. You, an anthropomorphic liqourice, float around collecting liqourice, while avoiding teacher liqourice. Also, the music sounds like the theme for a sad Animal Crossing character, so yeah, winner.

D.

Candy Zoo can be downloaded here.

Back again! I’ll jump straight back into things.

I designate a stone stockpile, and have my dwarfs clear this fortress of lumps of bloody talc.

DF_03

Stupid Talc.

Oh My. My entire fortress has been flooded with purple, which cannot be good. It is apparently “Miasma”. A quick trip to the DF wiki tells me that, while it is not dangerous, miasma causes Dwarfs to think bad thoughts. It seems that it is being exuded by all these dead bat corpses I keep finding, so I set up a refuse pile far away, on the surface.

The bad stink sorted, I get back to clearing out the fortress. It seems that the workshop no longer has the beds I ordered queued up. I sumrise that they have in fact been built, but I have no idea where they are now. I try ordering for them to be placed in the fortress.

Aha! The beds have arrived. At least the dwarfs seem to know where things are kept around here.

With the fortress cleared and accomodations sorted, I set my farmers to work planting mushrooms in the upper levels. Dwarfs are apparently huge fans of mushrooms. Who knew?

Oh no! A cat has fallen foul of a lump of dolomite, and is now extremely injured. How this happened, I do not know. Rockfall? In any case, his dwarf is now very sad. Oh, the cat is now dead, and the dwarf even sadder. His friend doesn’t seem to mind, however, and dumps the cat remains on the refuse pile.

The remaining cats keep bringing “little presents” to their owners, who fling them on the rubbish heap. Realism!

It’s now summer. This area is classed as “warm”, so I’m slightly apprehensive that my dwarf’s only current source of water, the brook, might dry up. That reminds me, dwarfs need beer. I set up a still near my mushroom farm. Apparently you can build these things out of talc? This makes little sense, but it’s nice to find a use for the stuff. In any case, apparently brewing does not require water, and dwarfs much prefer alcohol anyway. Problem solved! I set my carpenter building barrels in which to store the goods.

I really wish these stupid cats would stop dumping dead rats in the bedroom.

I am getting a little worried that the fortress is quite undefended, so I set up gates on the surface to at least slow down any intruders. Gate built, my dwarfs step back to admire their handiwork. Here is their handiwork:

Not certain how long this will hold. Oh well.

Not certain how long this will hold. Oh well.

My fortress now feels a bit more like a fortress.

D.

Oh no!

Oh no!

It would appear that all you need to be featured on this blog is a funny name. Dadaists Gone Wild is a funny name. The game’s pretty cool too.

DGW basically takes Dada‘s celebration of random, and runs with it. Turns out this can make a pretty fantastic videogame. Style and play changes around about every 30 seconds, from sidescrolling platformer to top down game to side scrolling shooter to ostrich race in which you avoid giant ears, and find out that, in fact, there was never an ostrich. Scary. There’s also a nice trick that plays with which surfaces kill you, and of course a run-in with Death, but I won’t spoil that too badly.

Dadaists is punishingly hard in places, which might be a statement of some kind about the first world war, but is probably just a case of haphazard level design.

Fun for ten minutes or so, and then it’s done.

D.

Dadaists Gone Wild was drawn by Ben Evans and Alec Stamos, and programmed by Alec Stamos. You can download it here.

So, I have been aware of Dwarf Fortress for some time. I even downloaded it once before, and stared at it in complete bewilderment for a few moments, before shutting it off and vowing never to touch it again.

After reading Roburky‘s Dwarf Fortress Diary, I changed my mind.

It seems DF is bristling with storytelling potential, so I have resolved to write my own, most likely one of crippling incompetence. I’ll split it up, seeing as I still haven’t worked out how to add cuts (jumps) to these posts. Stupid wordpress.

Here we go!

Okay, starting off. I load up my previous setup, and click embark. For this adventure, I have named my fortress LizardGate, and my group The Lenses of Luster. Hurray for the random button.

So, it begins. My dwarfs (dwarves?) find themselves in a world of odd symbols and custom tilesets. It looks a bit like this:

The 'M' stands for Muskox.

The 'M' stands for Muskox.

Well, no point standing around. I order my dwarfs to start digging their fortress, and cut down trees, while I try and work out how to build a carpenter’s workshop.

As my underlings strip the surrounding area of vegetation, my miners inform me they have struck Talc. I am not sure if this is a good thing.

Aha! The carpenter’s workshop is listed under “workshops”. I now feel a bit silly. In any case, I get to work making ten (count ’em) beds, so my people have somewhere to sleep tonight.

The dwarf I named “The Bastard” on account of his personality has wandered off, and is in a bit of a huff at the other side of the brook. Typical. Meanwhile, a stray cat has adopted “Larry”. I am unsure of the ramifications of this.

More adoptions! I have decided cats are a good thing. Also, I have struck magnetite! Hurray?

In a very short time, my miners have made this:

DF_02

Will my talc walls collapse? I hope not.

My carpenter, however, is yet to make a single bed.

D.

BestWayToDie

Who’s gonna disagree?

I pretty much had to post about this one for the name. It’s a nice little platformer, with a difficulty somewhere between super mario and You Probably Won’t Make It. The game is pretty much rote, get to the end while avoiding traps and enemies. The win condition in this case is to get zapped and presumably killed (judging from the title) by the little storm cloud at the end of the level. All kinds of nihilistic. Your character jumps a bit like a flea, which is a little annoying at first, but allows for a good degree of precision once you get used to it.

As you can see, it looks neat, really getting a Game Boy vibe off of this one, which is perhaps fitting, given the year. It probably doesn’t bode well that at this moment I actually can’t remember whether or not this thing has music. Sorry.

BSBLIPTBWYCDOAOAIA (arrgh) was made for GameJolt’s “shocking competition”. I found it in TIGsource forums, and evidently it has been featured on the IndieGames blog also. Check it out.

D.

EDIT: Turns out it does have music after all. Whoops. It’s suitably unmemorable. D.

Being Struck By Lightning can be downloaded here.

cranewars

I wasn’t really looking forwards to this one. I didn’t much like Paper Moon (I found it uninspired), and this is called Crane Wars. By rights it should be bad. It isn’t. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it isn’t bad.

Crane Wars pits you, the foreman of a union-run construction site compete with the neighbouring non-union, scab worksite in building skyscrapers with a crane. Your money ticks down from $10,000,000 to $0 as you damage stuff, or don’t do anything, imposing a time limit. That’s pretty much it. It basically boils down to a big physics playground, as you stack big duplo flats to form apartment blocks, or rather, you try to stack big duplo flats in order to form apartment blocks. In practice, you knock everything down. That’s my main problem with Crane Wars. I realise cranes are not the most precise of machinery, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little annoying when you can’t get the damn thing to do what you want.

Brandon McCarton (of TIGsource) claims the music is extremely reminiscent of N64 games made by Rare, which perhaps explains why it’s so annoying. (Sorry, I’m not a fan of Banjo Kazooie’s music)

The game livens up considerably when you realise that swinging objects into the scab’s buildings is a viable tactic (though it incurs a money penalty). That’s pretty great. Less great is the amount of repetition in your opponent’s cries of dismay. Fuck scabs.

So, yeah, not entirely sold on Blurst quite yet. Crane Wars: It’s okay?

(Lots of brackets today, it seems.)

D.

Play Crane Wars at Blurst, here.

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