GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay (PC) - 19 Feb 2024 - by jp'm 12 hours in, have played 11 or games games, and I'm ready to hang my hat. Not bad! I'm playing this one as part of the critical game design seminar (deckbuilding games!) And...this game is pretty interesting! First, it's made by a small team in Korea. AND, I think it was originally a group of students? This might have even been a student game originally? As a game, it's pretty interesting for: a. It's a mashup of tower defense with deckbuilding. You run Ratropolis and get attacked by enemies in waves from either the left or the right (or both). To defend yourself you need to buy cards and play them. BUT, you need money to pay for cards! Building cards get placed in your city (and disappear from the deck), while other cards either result in troops or "jobs" (tasks on a timer that result in some benefit) and there are some other direct action cards. Anyways, your troop count is limited by your ratizen limit, and you get money from tax (or killing enemies) and there's lots of randomness - ala Slay the Spire. BUT... b. Your ability to redraw your hand is on a timer! But you can pay ever-increasing amounts of gold to redraw sooner. I though this was pretty interesting for deckbuilding, since the game does want you to cycle through your cards quickly, but you're also often running up against the citizen limit...and gold accrues rather slowly as well. c. Buying cards seems pretty frequent and common. Perhaps I'm not playing most effectively? There are 30 waves and you "win" at the end of that, BUT you can also continue for 60 waves - and I've been unable to clear those. I did get decently close...but I was in an unrecoverable deathspiral at that point (which new/later waves running into older it was just me trying to hold off until the end, barely hanging on on one side of my city while things collapsed on the other side). d. There are different leaders (at least 6!) which determine what kinds of troop cards you'll see, and they each have different abilities and stuff. So, there's quite a lot to learn here and, if I'm being honest it's all a bit overwhelming! e. Also, you can get advisors - which are sort of like artifacts. But you see them walking around your city. Ha! The game feels like it collapses a bit under it's own complexity in terms of being able to play it. It becomes tedious to scroll back and forth both ends of the city (a quick tab to the end of each would be nice, perhaps via minimap?) and you often have buildings that "produce" something you need to click on...and again, the longer you play the larger the city and the more annoying it is to scroll around. There is a hotkey (tab) that goes to the last event - these scroll up on the right side of the screen, but it still felt a bit inefficient.. All this being said, I did have fun playing! And, I think the deckbuilding is interesting enough in the game that I'm glad we played it.jpMon, 19 Feb 2024 10:44:17 UTC Kiwami (PS4) - 18 Feb 2024 - by jp first Yakuza game! I have no idea where this one fits in the general series (other than it not being a "main" numbered entry) and so far, having just finished chapter 5, I can say that it really takes a while before it opens up. In my mind this game was GTA but in Japan, and I was quite wrong about this. It's similar in being (sort of?) open world - unless it really opens up later, this feels much more constrained - and there's no driving/vehicles and lots of brawling combat. It's perhaps more fair to say it's an open world brawler? It sort of makes me want to play Shenmue again, because I'm sort of reminded of it, though I might be nostalgic of Shenmue in a strange way? (I think it had some fairly robust fighting, but was it brawling or 1v1 sideview fighting? I don't recall). Anyways, so far I'm sort of kind of understanding the story - lots of different names and Yakuza families, and the story seems to cover lots - from protagonist Kiryu being young, spends years in prison, and is now (finally!) out and free...and has a reputation from back then, but now he's weak. It's been fun so far, though I'm struggling with the combat - in the sense that I feel I don't understand the timing well and end up getting hurt a lot and having to blow through lots of health items just to make progress (for boss/important fights, random fights are fine). I've also heard there are lots of interesting side things to do, though I haven't run into any of them yet! Perhaps this is where the map should open up later? I chatted with some kids to race RC cars, and I know that's a thing I can do - but I don't know where yet.... things to look forward to though?jpSun, 18 Feb 2024 15:34:06 UTC Tiles (iPd) - 18 Feb 2024 - by jp started playing this because of the class on mobile game design I'm teaching, and I wanted to have an example of a game for which I would do (some) of the assignments for to serve as a model for the students. I wanted a hypercasual game, and this seemed to fit the bill. It's basically a "pick three" mahjong tile game, but you have a "buffer" into which tiles go when you pick them - so you need to look ahead to make some matches by (hopefully for a limited time) having unmatchable tiles in your buffer. If your buffer fills up, it's game over. The game is partly ad-based (I was getting lots of external ads until I paid $5 or $6) but also booster-based - boosters let you "try again", extend your buffer, and so on. You can also (sometimes!) watch an ad to get the booster for free. I thought it was interesting that you can't always count on being able to watch an ad to keep on playing...and I wonder why? Possibly they want to push towards buying boosters since they monetize better than watching a single ad? (but they allow ads for those players who will never spend any money). The game's basic progression is collecting stars (one per level completed) you then spend on getting items for a scene, and there are many scenes...I'm at level 105 and I'm still on chapter 3 (scene = chapter), and each chapter has different art on the tiles, which is nice and gives variety - but the gameplay is essentially the same. I kind of want to keep on playing because it is kind of relaxing, and I do think I'm getting better at the game, but there are lots of internal ads (popups) and stuff that are quite annoying. There's even one - which is like a doughnut - that partly covers the playfield! Another one interrupts gameplay and you have to tap to get rid of it. There's also lots of short-term (no longer than a week?) events - they start of fine but then get super hard. I wonder if some of the levels are impossible without boosters? It does feel like that some times. Thankfully, each time you lose and start over you get a new random(?) shuffle of tiles? I really am curious if each shuffle has a guaranteed solution without boosters...jpSun, 18 Feb 2024 15:27:20 UTC (PC) - 16 Feb 2024 - by dkirschner! I powered through my nausea and played this in like 30-60-minute chunks for the past month-and-a-half. I was usually good for a level or two at a time. I'm definitely feeling a little barfy right now, but I had to finish. I would power through the nausea again to play the sequel if it's an improved version of this one. Ghostrunner was really novel for me. It's a first-person melee parkour game (Mirror's Edge-ish). You are basically a cyberpunk ninja, the titular Ghostrunner, who awakens at the bottom of a dystopian cyberpunk city, having fallen from a great height. A voice in your ear, called The Architect, guides you along and feeds you story. The story was whatever (big bad overlords of shitty cyberpunk city repress the people, resistance movement, fight fight fight, overlords go wild with power to further repress the people and realize their insane version of humanity, etc.). It didn't matter what I was doing anything for, really. I was content with wall-running and slicing enemies with my sword and feeling like a badass. The set pieces of levels in this game are where it's at. And that's what the game was for me, a "badass simulator." Especially while feeling nauseous, it was nice to play as a badass. The melee parkour action took some getting used to, especially the slo-mo stuff, but once I got the hang of it, it was great. The game is sort of Hotline Miami-ish or Superhot-ish whereby death is not penalized. You'll restart immediately where you were and try whatever combat and/or parkour sequence over again. I'd finish levels with 75 deaths or more. No problem! As you play, you do unlock some special abilities, but I didn't use them often because your running, slicing, and dicing is efficient enough. After you get the best/last one, the mind control ability, the game is basically over anyway. There were a few boss fights that were a bit lackluster. In the first one, you basically just memorize a samurai's sequence of sword attacks, execute what you memorized a few times, and you're good. The second one was a platforming puzzle and probably the most interesting, climbing a death tower. The third and final one was kind of like the first one, but more complex. Learn a few patterned enemy attacks, avoid those attacks enough times, and win. It was kind of weird that the final boss stands in one place and does some easily avoidable repetitive attacks. You'd think she'd be more adept in combat, more creative, more powerful. But she died, just like the samurai first boss and the death tower second boss, easily enough. So yeah, definitely neat and worth checking out. I'll play the next one in 30-60-minute chunks too, and hopefully won't blow chunks while doing so.dkirschnerFri, 16 Feb 2024 14:08:43 UTC Last Campfire (PC) - 09 Feb 2024 - by dkirschner would describe this game as "pleasant." I read someone describe it as "soothing," to which I would also agree. It's a little puzzle and adventure-lite game with cute art direction, a colorful world, a positive, hopeful story, and a narrator whose voice was certainly soothing. You play as an "ember" trying to find its way home. You get thrown off course and have to find your way back. In so doing, you meet a variety of other embers who are lost and wandering, many of whom have given up hope of ever finding their way back. When you encounter one of these "forlorn," you must solve an environmental puzzle to inspire them. The puzzles were generally easy, yet thoughtful. Occasionally the difficulty would shoot up or down. Most puzzles took probably 5 minutes. One time, I was stumped on a puzzle. I'd spent 20 or 30 minutes poring over it. Finally figured it out (and felt very smart!). Got to the next puzzle and solved it in about 10 seconds. Another thing that made the game difficult for me is that there is no map. There is a world that you're (using the term loosely) exploring. It's not that big, and the game begins linearly. Then it opens up and you'll be doing all sorts of backtracking, looking for forlorn, bringing items here and there for characters. Since I was generally playing this like once a week, I wasn't constructing a very solid map of the world in my mind. I'd get turned around, forget which paths led where, where characters were, and so on. It led to a fair amount of extra time spent wandering around (which I guess gels with the theme). But I would have rather had a basic map. By the time you get to the last chapter though, the game is linear again. It was strange having it be linear, then more open, then linear. To the point about it being open in the middle, the amount of time you spend in each area varies based on how many forlorn you care to save. Each area has a campfire, with a ghost, and the forlorn whom you rescue go sit around the campfire. The ghost will give you hints as to where the forlorn in the area are located. When you get enough (I think it was four), then you can request that the ghost open the path to the next area. Or, you can continue asking for hints to find all the forlorn (usually around eight). I liked this option to spend more time searching for forlorn and solving additional puzzles. In a couple areas, I found most of the forlorn, and in a couple I went straight to the next area once I had my required amount. Overall, yes, cute, cozy, soothing. If you like this kind of thing, you'll probably enjoy this. It is nothing I needed to play, but it was nice. dkirschnerFri, 09 Feb 2024 09:11:58 UTC Origins (PS4) - 28 Jan 2024 - by jp played the "intro" to this game over winter break (and forgot to write about it) and last night I played Chapter 1. And this game does some really interesting things! It's essentially a point and click adventure game - the intro has you (the main character) escaping a prison cell (in medieval spain) where you've been imprisoned for witchcraft/satanism - and you're helped to escape and that was the end of it. (and that was as much as I played over Winter break). One of the interesting things here is that there are hot spots (as per normal) you click on them, and then - sometimes - the hotspot is a window-in-window that you can scroll around in to see additional hotspots. So, a shelf might be a hotspot and then you get a little window inside of which you scroll left/right and can click on, say, books on the shelf. So, the game hides "depth" within hotspots - has an interesting scrolling interaction that breaks the pace in a nice way - and is probably easier/cheaper than loading an entire new screen that's a closeup. I thought this worked really well! The second interesting thing is that you character also has hotspots and is also a potential for "mixing" (combining, use item X with Y) stuff. At one point in the intro I had to use things on the main character to get him to think about something. So, the "use with" interface looks interesting. Sometimes it's the main character in the center (and, if you have to use two items you'd pick the first one for the left, and then the second one for the right). To be clear, the interface was a bit confusing to me - and I missed some stuff because of it, but I seemed to make progress until I got stuck on a puzzle because I got the order wrong - in my mind I had to pick A then B, but the opposite was "correct". And, I also didn't realize you could pick the character. Having escaped the prison cell I thought, ok, this will be an interesting game - I was rescued by some monks and it seemed like a cool thing. Last night I started up again and...the game starts in a modern day bedroom? And there's a bunch of story the main character is immortal (but when he dies he is resurrected but loses his memory), and this was done to him by some monk. And he has a girlfriend - and this alchemy was ALSO done to her - but she doesn't lose her memory when she dies. And there's some bad guy and what the heck has been going on? So, I thought that perhaps this would be the plot of the game - sort of going back and forth and filling in the blanks. But, no. Chapter 1 involved three main things: committing suicide, putting together a gift for a rich lady who might want to buy a Japanese antique that would help save the antique store that belongs to the girlfriend (or is it wife) and then visiting said old lady and discovering something about an old book (that presumably is connected to why the characters are immortal). There was a LOT of story stuff going on and it looks like this game is a sequel - and important events of the first game are sort of the backstory for this one? It's al unclear to me... I was pretty surprised that to clear the first "scene" you had to commit suicide as the girlfriend (apparently she does this every now and then as she starts to age - since her body resets to her earlier age) - she had smuggled a gun, bullet, and silencer and you kill yourself in the shower and, within seconds she's cleaning up the blood on the fogged up window. Wow. That was all not expected. There was also an annoying bug/error - I tried the suicide without the silencer and got a message saying that I needed a bullet - but there was a bullet! I tried a few things thinking the game was glitched out to no avail. Then I checked online and it turns out that I was missing the silencer and I was only missing this because the "hot spots" are a bit wonky - you won't always see the "X" on the screen telling you it's hotspot. So, I had missed it twice and then barely was able to get it to appear. Sigh. This would become a problem later on as well - with another item (ink) such that I'm not feeling like I want to continue playing because I either play with a guide directly or just frustrate myself until realizing it was a UI issue (fidgety hotspots on screen) that was throwing me off.jpSun, 28 Jan 2024 13:33:10 UTC Princess Peach (DS) - 21 Jan 2024 - by jp remember when this came out (2006?!) and how there was a little bit of controversy...and that the game was "ok" (I think) rather than great. And, it's been a while since I've played a Mario game - even if this one doesn't have Mario in a protagonist role. You play as Peach! The game's main mechanical innovation is that - when a certain bar is filled up - you can trigger one of Peach's 4 emotions - joy, rage, sadness and another happiness(?). They each have gameplay effects. Joy is my favorite - she spins up in the air and you can fly around briefly. Anger is flames, and burns stuff (and hurts enemies) and sadness has her crying which - when the tears land on specific places grow plants. Oh! I just realized that I've seen these water wheels and couldn't do anything. I think I have to try tears on them? Get them to spin? I've had to use her joy flight (she spins in a tornado) to access special areas - so maybe there's this additional use for the tears? (yay! I literally just realized this as I'm writing this). Anyways, initially I was a bit disappointed - really? she's all emotional? And I was feeling a bit "oh, Nintendo, how could you". It's too on the nose, right? In the sense of stereotypes and so on. But then I told my wife about it, and she has the opposite reaction to what I was expecting - "oh! that sounds like fun" she said - and ignored the emotions/stereotype thing altogether. So, I guess it's less problematic than I thought? I've made it to the 3rd world now - I'm not sure how much more I'll play. It's not boring, and I've been upgrading her parasol with new abilities which is fun. So, it is very much a Mario game but here the abilities come about after purchasing them from a shop. I was surprised at how much emphasis the game's UI makes in letting you know you can use buttons AND the stylus. And, before boss fights, there are these mini-games for getting coins that are 100% stylus driven (but you can skip them if you want).jpSun, 21 Jan 2024 23:27:48 UTC (PC) - 13 Jan 2024 - by dkirschner was going to add an entry for Yakuza 0, which is another (like Binding of Isaac) that I've been playing for a few months, but I need to get away from the computer. I feel nauseous. This is Ghostrunner's fault, and why I am writing anyway, because I had to stop playing it. This is the second time it's made me feel nauseous. After the first time (when I thought I might have just been tired), I turned off motion blur, head bob, decreased the resolution a bit, and increased FOV. I made it about twice as long before starting to feel bad, so that's good. I think I should be able to keep it up in chunks of 90 minutes or so. I have to get my head around the slo-mo dodge though. It feels unintuitive for me to pull off, holding left shift, then moving whichever direction to dodge, then letting go of left shift and having my character dash forward instead of to whichever side I moved him. I think that the last thing I did before turning it off this time was to finally figure out the slo-mo thing. But I'm excited to get more upgrades. dkirschnerSat, 13 Jan 2024 16:01:38 UTC Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC) - 13 Jan 2024 - by dkirschner want to add some entries to a couple games I've been playing for a long time. I rarely do more than one entry for a game anymore, which often results in long post-game reflections instead of more in-the-moment thoughts. There's a lot of stuff I forget. The Binding of Isaac has left some imprints though. At this point, the game is nearly a decade old and, I imagine, quite different and many times bigger than it once was. I mean, there are currently 637 achievements (of which I have 29). I'm looking at old completion data and someone listed 178 achievements, another 403. I would be annoyed if I got a high percentage of achievements, and then the game expanded, added more achievements, and my percentage dropped. People 100%ed it way back when, and now that first person has 178 out of 637. Anyway! When I started this, I was planning to compare it to Nuclear Throne, which I thought had a similar art style, but the games are really different. The Binding of Isaac is quite claustrophobic, whereas Nuclear Throne's screen had more space. Nuclear Throne is also faster and more of a bullet hell. In Binding, you progress through a series of chapters, each with a few types of areas (e.g., Chapter 1 has the Basement and the Cellar). Down you go from area to area, chapter to chapter, until you die or kill whatever big bad boss awaits. The game has been added to so much that there are many big bad bosses now. I assume there were fewer originally. It starts with Mom. In the game, you are traumatized by your religious mother, who attempts to kill you with a knife after she becomes brainwashed by Christian TV, and you find a trap door to the basement as you flee (thus starting Isaac in the Basement area). In each area, you go from room to room until you find the mini-boss and/or exit. There are a variety of room types, from those with just monsters, to shops, to arcades, to treasure rooms, to secret rooms, etc., etc. I am still unclear on the full list and what they all do. But the general strategy here is to acquire items to beef up Isaac so you can go as far as you can in the run. He shoots "tears" as his weapon, and these can be modified to be bigger, faster, wobble, and so on. You can also find upgrades to Isaac's speed and health. There are literally hundreds of items, and I have no clue what the vast majority do (because I haven't found most of them). Even the ones I have found, I still don't know what most of them do. There are no tooltips for the items, or an encyclopedia that provides information. This makes The Binding of Isaac feel very much like groping about in the darkness (appropriate, as is Isaac) and often proceeding on trial and error. Or rather, proceeding on a constant cost-benefit analysis of what you think might happen when you pick up this item or take those pills. The effects are often negative. It took me a handful of tries to beat Mom for the first time, and that only unlocked new chapters, areas, and bosses. Like I keep saying, there are hundreds of items, hundreds of unlockables, hundreds of achievements. Like, so many hundreds of all this stuff that it is nearing a thousand. Some things unlock after you beat xyz boss; others after you perform xyz action or collect xyz things. I have started playing the game to unlock what it tells me I can unlock (e.g., saving up 50 coins to unlock a new character). Different characters have different starting stats and items. There's one I like who has really low health, but can float, and thus avoid a ton of obstacles and gain access to chests and things that are across gaps that other (walking) characters can't pass. I finally started looking some things up though because it's still so overwhelming. I haven't played long (about 8 hours over 5 months), and maybe it's a matter of playing more regularly to remember things better, but runs feel really different from one another. The more I played though, the better I have gotten, and I've killed Mom a handful of times now, as well as killed Satan and Mom's Heart (a couple times). I have no idea how long it will take to kill all the bosses (or even to unlock them) and get all the endings (there are like 20-something). But it's really fun, and it's a good one to play when I have like 30 minutes.dkirschnerSat, 13 Jan 2024 15:56:04 UTC Zhu (DS) - 07 Jan 2024 - by jp I guess that was it? I finished it! From looking at the map - of which I only did a handful of levels, including the "final three" (1-1 fights with single baddies to get one of three tablet) and the final-final level, but I think I got a good sense of the game... turns out you also unlock/free other characters as you go along. The armor you get from finding a tablet hidden (not really hidden, just off the beaten path as it where) in a level...and there are other rewards/collectibles I couldn't be bothered with. Now I'm curious if the game was ever sold alone or if it was sold as part of a bundle with a zhu zhu pet?jpSun, 07 Jan 2024 23:40:17 UTC