Whew, been a while since I've done anything with this page. Dusty in here. I should clean up... maybe put in a tv, a nice easy chair...
So yeah! As you've likely forgotten that I even exist at this point, I haven't exactly been drawing a lot lately. Well, that's not quite true. I have been drawing, I just haven't been posting them. Not sure why, most of them just felt like scribbles, and I didn't feel like throwing them up. Interestingly though, more than anything I've been doing a fair bit of writing lately. Go figure, right? I like to think I've gotten pretty good at it lately, so I might put some of it up here. The nature of the works makes me hesitant, though. Not that it's like, smut or anything, just... well, You'll see if I ever put any of it up.
In the meantime, I have been playing vid'jya games! go figure right, a game designer actually playing games. anyhow, I've played a few lately I think you ought to take a look at.
The Stanley Parable.
Let's start with a quickie, shall we? I'm not sure how much I should tell you about this game. To tell the honest truth, i'm not sure how much I even CAN tell you about it. Like, seriously. It's weird. It's not terribly obtuse or anything - it's wholly story based, and the story is pretty straightforward... assuming you want to follow it.
See, the Stanley parable is a game about narrative. Setting aside how charmingly meta that is, It's sort of a fascinating experience. see, it's not simply about narrative, rather it's about narrative choice, and branching narrative, and... well, like I've said. i'm not sure how much I can tell you that won't spoil it. Whether or not I have spoiled anything to this point though, I don't think it would make an ounce of difference. It's an amazing experience - from a players perspective, it's deeply compelling and will make you think about the games you've played before it. From a creator's perspective, though, it's... wow. It's incredible. I sat at my computer after playing it, just... staring at a black screen. You don't get a feeling like that often - some bizarre combination of maddening power and paralyzing fear. But for most of you, while it won't come close to THAT, it'll still be food for thought.
The Stanley Parable is a mod for the open source engine. It's free to download, so as long as you have the engine - which you can get from any valve game, including TF2 which is now free - you can play the game. It ranges roughly from about 7 minutes to a little over an hour of gameplay depending on how thorough you want to be, so it's good even if you haven't got a lot of free time. It's available to download here: [link]
Greed Corp. is a turn-based strategy game available on steam for about 10 bucks - I managed to pick it up for about 2 during the last summer sale, but with a few dozen missions and online multiplayer, it's well worth the full price if games like this are your thing.
Greed Corp. sets itself a bit apart from the usual TBS in that it's partly a puzzle game as well - and thanks to having opponents, it's a dynamic one. See, in a normal TBS you have your environments, and you move your dudes around it to try and beat up your opponents dudes. Sometimes you have resources, or some of your dudes are bigger than others. Greed Crop. has all those parts - it's got dudes, bigger dudes, resources and environments - but the trick is that the environment is always changing.
See Greed Corp.'s shtick is that in order to gain resources, you deplete the environment. Your most common, and indeed most valuable piece, is called a harvester. It will give you a set amount of resources for every one of the octagonal panels adjacent to it, and in exchange it lowers them by a single layer. When a panel is out of layers, it crumbles into space, and can no longer be played or built on. The entire game is a gigantic balancing act. In order to get more resources, you destroy the areas where you can build stuff. By the end of the match there's maybe three, four panels left over from the original, ooh, say 40 or 50. Every team gets confined to their tiny little island, taking potshots at one another with mortar shells and trying to scrounge up enough resources to build a plane to fly over to their enemies little island and drop a duece of dudes on them. The end of the game becomes less a game of strategy and more a race. Everyone can see what needs to be done, it all comes down to what you did before the final stretch, and how that helps you get what needs to be done, done. There can be up to four teams in a match at once, making the game a frantic land grab, forcing the player to be wary of the guy to the left, even as the punch the guy to the right.
Admittedly, I haven't played beyond the first campaign of four, so I don't know if it plays differently in later levels. But I don't doubt they'll make good use of that main mechanic they've got set up. It's definitely an interesting experience, and I can honestly say i haven't played another game like it. Unfortunately it doesn't have a trial, so you're going to have to take a risk if you want to give it a shot.
Hah, managed to slip a triple A in there after all!
So, a lot of you have probably played this game already. A lot of you were also probably like me, and avoided it after the caustic review given by one Yahtzee. In truth I only tried this because I got it for free(free being of dubious definition in this case, as it came bundled with a 300 dollar Xbox 360), and in this instance I will have to set aside my immense respect for the irate brit-turned-aussie and disagree with him.
Alan Wake follows it's eponymous character, a writer vacationing in a small Washington town to try and get over a 2-year stretch of writers block. However, as it is with all such towns, this one harbors a dark secret. Not that anyone but the folks in the local asylum would know about it, anyways.
The asylum happens to be another reason for Alan's visit, as it specializes in treating artist - writers, painters, a pair of old rockers who think themselves norse gods, and even a game designer put in there for the sake of taking a shot at oneself, as well as making me hate the asylum's head doc(see what I did thar?). Not that I needed any help in that respect.
Alan, of course being a tad offended by the thought of being institutionalized, has a fight with his wife over this little detail of their vacation, and he runs off to have some time to think, and giving his wife some time to be kidnapped by the dark presence that lives in the lake. A week later, Alan wakes in a crashed car and finds a page of a manuscript he apparently wrote.
Beyond that, I won't tell you anything about the plot for fear of spoiling it, as Alan Wake is heavily story-based, and it comes with a lot of twists and turns. If you're paying close enough attention it'll all unfold itself nicely by the end... with one or two exception, but I've heard that it can be a bit obtuse for some.
In regards to Gameplay, it's pretty interesting. Alan Wake is a rare Triple-A that risks a new mechanic. The entire game is based around light and dark. Your enemy is darkness incarnate, so your main weapon is a flashlight. Standing in pools of lamplight keeps you completely safe, and will heal you. Exposing one of your enemies to a source of bright light will incinerate them instantly - which can be damn satisfying as you manage to jerk a generator to life just as an enemy is leaping at you. The game bases absolutely everything around the mechanic; the story, the combat, even simple things that slip under the radar like leading the player. As long as you can see light, you know which way to go. The light reveals dangers and secrets in the dark. It's an incredibly cohesive game, and it has my applause for that. A lot of games will have elements that just don't fit together in some way, but not this game.
The atmosphere is so thick you could use it in a rocky training montage as a punching bag. The music is subtle and chilling, and raises whenever there's an enemy nearby, adding to an already tense situation. The levels are dark, creepy, and reminiscent of walking through an actual forest at night - the poor light warps the bushes into looming monsters, approaching from all sides. if you find yourself off the path, your fucked and you know it. It never slips right into horror territory, since individual enemeis are easy enough to dispatch, but it never stops being tense and spooky.
The game also has an interesting feature that I can't say I've ever seen before. A lot of games model themselves after movies. There's a single long stretch of gameplay with nothing to break it up, ending in a huge climax. Alan Wake models itself after a Miniseries. It's divided into 6 chapters, each chapter having it's own defined arc, plot and climax. There's cliffhanger endings, and little 'last time on Alan Wake' segments at the beginning of each. Given the similarities of the game to Stephen King, who's had several books adapted to miniseries, I think it's an incredibly appropriate choice of aesthetic. On the Whole, the game feels wonderfully cohesive, excellently designed, and delightfully spooky. Halloween is coming up - give it a a go!
I sadly can't speak of the game's price, nor where you could find it. Likely at any game retailer near you, or on Xbox live if you can't be buggered to leave the apartment.