I’ve been playing a lot of adventure games lately. I pretty much completely missed out on all the Scumm stuff, so I tried Secret of Monkey Island (excellent) and Maniac Mansion (less impressive). The Longest Journey is pretty much universally praised, and I’m nominally interested in creator Ragnar Tørnquist’s new MMO The Secret World, so I played that. Then, of course, Ben Ward and Dan Marshall of Zombie Cow‘s latest adventure Time Gentlemen, Please hit the internet, so I downloaded Ben There, Dan That, which is free, and made in Adventure Game Studio. And really, really good.

Ben Chandler’s Heed is also free, made in Adventure Game Studio and really really good, but there any comparisons with the Ben and Dan games pretty much stop. For a start, Heed takes itself extremely seriously. Where Ben and Dan race through madcap adventures so they can be back in time for Magnum P.I., Heed’s nameless protagonist engages in a search for purpose, and something called the Force Source.

It’s sober stuff, but it’s competently written, and contains some fairly unexplored themes (at least when it comes to video games). For once, the quasi-religious stuff isn’t centred around (looks down upon, in fact) any idea of destiny. Life is, in short, what you make of it. Okay, it’s maybe a little shmaltzy, but look at what it has to compete with. It’s neat. It’s also very well drawn, and has a soundtrack consisting of out of copyright recordings, which works very well and is probably the way to go if you want a ‘fessional sounding score with a non-existent budget.

There’s only one cursor and no inventory, which makes puzzles (for me at least, maybe I am an adventure game god) a little simple. They’re mostly centred around chasing a fly around the screen, and talking to ghosts. It’s all well done, but there’s little challenge involved. For the last portion of the game, though, it does a good job of switching things up, and the last puzzle is easily the best.

Heed, then. It’s short, easy, and interesting in a couple of ways. It’s a good way to spend the ten minutes or so that it takes to finish.


You can get Heed here. Ben There, Dan That is pretty ace too.

Bustin': Makes you feel good.

Bustin': Makes you feel good.

Glum Buster is a rather wonderful little game from the brain of Justin Leingang, who goes by CosMind. You are sucked into a parallel world, in which you whizz around busting glum, after finding yourself a little depressed. There isn’t a huge amount of story from what I can tell, but it’s atmospheric and really pretty, and you should play it.

The game is split up between side scrolling platformer, and serene twin-stick shooter, in which you shoot glum baddies in the face, then click in a triangle around them to turn them into fairies, or something. It is both chilling and relaxing. One might go so far as to describe it as chillaxing. It’s a pay-what-you-want affair, with a large portion of the proceeds going to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.


Hey look, I’m posting, we’re not dead! You can find Glum Buster here.

HNTDAAB.co.uk had another podcast today. I appear intermittently to talk about adventure games and Steam, then go and eat something, if I recall. I haven’t yet heard the bits I didn’t appear in, so this is as much a magical adventure for me as it is for you guys. Enjoy.


The new HNTDAAB (Totally pronounced huntdaarb, I swear) podcast can be found here. I’m on it, so it must be good, right?

EDIT: Oh, turns out you can’t actually hear my voice. It doesn’t really matter, I didn’t say much of substance.


I don’t generally go in for much in the way of anime. You’re better off asking Alex about that sort of thing. The Japanese language and its three distinct scripts are very interesting, however, and… Well, that’s an entirely different realm of geek to the one this blog deals with, so I’ll just stick with saying I don’t much care for most nonvideo-gamey things Japan.


I quite like Ghost in the Shell. Somehow, by mixing up Tokyo, the future, cyborgs and invisibility suits, Masamune Shirow seems to have stumbled upon the recipe for pure style. Sure, the stories for the movies and the comic were at worst terrible and at best pedestrian, but, well, look at it. Which brings me nicely round to NeoTokyo, a Half-Life 2 mod made by some people calling themselves Studio Radi-8.

I’ve played a bunch of HL2 mods in the past few weeks, and this is the first one in which you shoot a gun. Polaris and Dear Esther were very much artgames. NeoTokyo is a Video Game. You shoot mans.

Pink Crabs - Endemic to Japan

Pink Crabs - Endemic to Japan

And, naturally, you look good doing it. It’s all very GitS (and Akira, apparently? I can’t really comment). There’s only one mode I have seen any server running, Capture the Flag, which is a bummer, but I would like to note that the flag is the cyborg torso from the end of the first Ghost in the Shell film, and it’s called the “ghost”.

It’s quite neat, actually. The person holding the torso is able to see the location of all the enemies, yet cannot attack, so once the flag has been grabbed it basically turns into a game of VIP. This helps to stop the game getting monotonous. The weapon choice is a little weak, in that all the mid to high tier rifles seem to be exactly the same futuristic bullet-spewer, and the shotgun seems fairly useless.

The game all feels very Counter-Strike, what with the one spawn each per round, and (sorta)Terrorists versus (sorta)Counter-Terrorists setup. However, there are a number of advantages I can see:

  1. It looks rather nice.
  2. Not everyone with a mic is a complete dick.
  3. The scout class can do a super jump.
  4. Heads explode just so. Cathartic.
  5. Your guys can turn invisible, with a very nice flash bzzzzp effect.

There are also various vision modes, which are actually pretty useful, and certainly atmospheric. Which is really what I like about NeoTokyo. Atmosphere.


NeoTokyo can be found here. It requires a source game to play.

Before the end of September, I aim:

  1. To finish one, if not both, of the games I am currently working on.
  2. To study.
  3. To find a pair of sandals that don’t leave my feet a bloody mess (I doubt I  will achieve this).
  4. To get fitter.
  5. To join a sports club of some kind (See point 4).
  6. To get a job.
  7. To have drafted and redrafted my Personal Statement at least four times.
  8. To apply for universities.
  9. To write a short story, to prove I can.
  10. To get a sun tan, rather than a sunburn, again to prove I can.

Well, there you go. I’ve put that in semi-public, so I’m committed. You’d better hold me to it, Internet.


Note: That list is in no particular order, but see how finishing the games were at the top? That shows how much I care.

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.


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:



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.



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.


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.



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!



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.


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.


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.


Candy Zoo can be downloaded here.

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