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My GameLog

A person who is seriously interested in games, game studies, and game design should play a lot of games.

To the right you will see the latest GameLog (diary) entries I have recorded for the games I'm currently playing and my thought and feelings on the game, the experience of playing it, and so on. If you want to see all the games I'm playing, or the ones I'm no longer playing you can follow the "List of Games I'm Currently Playing" and the " List of Games I've Finished Playing".

GameLog Logo

During the summer of 2003 I started a little project to keep track of the videogames I had been playing. I also wanted to keep track of my thoughts as I played them. Thus, GameLog was born as a blogging tool for gamers. If you are interested you can hop on over and register. I personally enjoy reading about other people's thoughts on the games they play and the more the merrier!

Games I'm Currently Playing ] - [ Games I've Finished Playing ]

Monday 19 February, 2024   //  Ratropolis (PC)

I'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.

Sunday 18 February, 2024   //  Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)

My 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?

Sunday 18 February, 2024   //  3 Tiles (iPd)

I 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...

Sunday 28 January, 2024   //  Yesterday Origins (PS4)

I 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.


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.

I have been keeping track of this information for the past 20 year(s), 7 month(s) and 23 day(s).

kudos for original design to Rodrigo Barria