Name That Game 98: I Have a Name, If Nothing Else!

•April 16, 2014 • 4 Comments

Continuing the theme of the last Name That Game, we’re now delving into the realm of (potentially) memorable characters with fairly generic names. Why?

Well, there are lots of games out there that allow you to customize your character, sometimes even going so far as to allow you to be male or female. But then these games have a problem – if you don’t know what gender the main character is supposed to be, how do other characters in the world address him/her/they/it?

Most games get around this problem by either referring to your character by their last name or by some sort of title. As the player, you should get used to this because you’ll be hearing it a lot.

Below are ten names that games use to refer to genderless (or gender-selectable) player characters. Can you name the games they are from?

1. Shepard

2. Boss

3. Hawke

4. Alex D.

5. Hacker/Employee 2-4601

6. Alpha 1

7. Avatar

8. Viridian

9. The Nerevarine

10. The Courier

Good luck and have fun!

Age of Mythology Made Me Feel Dirty

•April 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So! Just a few days ago I found out about this:

Now, despite my eternal love for Age of Empires II, I did really enjoy Age of Mythology. I played it a lot and I played it with my daughter (co-op against AIs, of course). So that video made me very happy; there are some long-standing bugs with the original Age of Mythology that rear their head every time I try to play it. Seeing these bugs fixed would make me happy. Plus enhanced textures, water and lighting, and tools to make streaming and commentary easier. I might get to watch commented games on Twitch.tv! I couldn’t see a downside.

But the community sure could.

See, the game is being released at the abominable price of $30. I know, right? Quel horreur! It’s not like Microsoft is paying an external developer to improve the original code and add all these features. And it’s not like this developer is actively encouraging feedback on what new features to put into the game. And it’s not like the only reason they are doing this is because they feel they might make money at it.

Oh. Actually, it is like that.

And the thing that bugs me isn’t the fact that some people think that the price is too high. There are always going to be people like that. The thing that bugs me is that people are actually outraged at this price. They are frothing and foaming. The price is an affront to them; they can’t live full and robust lives any longer because of this price.

So I (possibly stupidly) decided to dip my toe in.

You can’t see most of it now because it’s been scrubbed, but I was immediately attacked by one Baron von ZinGer who, instead of addressing any of the points I’d made, called me an idiot. He accused me of having such a big ego that I’d probably be fired from my dev team soon.

I can’t wait to have that conversation.

“Anthony?”

“Yes?”

“Can I have a word?”

“Sure.”

“We’re letting you go from the team.”

“What?! Why?”

“You’re too arrogant and sure of yourself. You’re egotistical and your self-confidence is completely obnoxious.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“I’m sorry, but that’s how we feel.”

“We? Who’s ‘we’?”

“Me, Viridian and Badman.”

“But we’re all the same person!”

“I know. We’re drawing a line inside our brain. We’ll stay on this side and you stay on that side.”

“Well, fine!” (door slams)

Yeah. This same guy also looked up my profile, saw the Greenlight link to Planitia, and accused me of being a “lying stealing dev” because Planitia is based on Populous. When I asked him how I was lying when I explicitly stated that the game was inspired by Populous, he said it was because I called the game “one of a kind” on my Greenlight page.

Yeah, I’ll just stop working on Planitia now and play one of the forty other god-game/RTS’s out there. I mean, why did he think I was such a fan of Age of Mythology in the first place?

So all I can conclude is that people are stupid on the internet. Oh! And that Age of Mythology Extended Edition looks boss and I’m definitely picking it up.

Planitia Alpha 1, “The Gods’ Playground”, Coming April 4, 2014!

•March 27, 2014 • 9 Comments

Okay! I’d like to announce that on April 4, 2014, my multiplayer god-game Planitia is about to have a public alpha I’m calling “The Gods’ Playground” and you can sign up now!

It’ll be a simple version designed to test my networking code. If you want in, you can comment on this post, email me at anthony.salter@gmail.com or sign up on the forums. Both Windows and Linux versions will be available. Sorry Mac users, you’ll have to wait until I can afford a darn Mac. I hope to see you all there!

Project Magma Version 1.8

•March 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Project Magma, as I’ve mentioned before, is the fan-maintained version of Myth II: Soulblighter. I wasn’t aware, but last year they released version 1.8 of Myth II and it is frankly awesome. A video is (literally) worth a thousand pictures, so here’s an overview of everything in it:

The far zoom when playing a replay and the motion interpolation are the best features, IMO. With these, the more modern RTS controls and the ability to quickly quit and restart games, Myth II has all the features of a modern RTS – perhaps more. Indeed, if it weren’t for those damn low-poly models and billboards the game could be released commercially today and would almost certainly be a big hit.

If you try this and like it and decide to play online, the current most popular hangout for Myth II players is Gate of Storms.

Name That Game 97: Remembering the Unrememberable

•February 26, 2014 • 4 Comments

Video game characters are often shallow, 2D, cardboard cutouts. And sometimes they have names to match. Video games somehow get away with giving their characters names that would be laughed out of the literary or cinema realms. Probably because video games don’t have editors.

The worst part is when a character endures and is finally given a decent backstory and gets a fan base…because now you’ve got a cool character attached to a cruddy name (I’m looking straight at you, Solid Snake).

So here are eight of the worst video game chracter names I’ve ever seen. They’re either generic, unassuming, rote, trite, hackneyed, overly macho or just completely inappropriate. Can you name the games they are from? And remember – when you cheat, you only cheat yourself.

1. Blake Stone

2. Cutter Slade

3. Edge Maverick

4. B.J. Blazkowicz

5. Sol Badguy

6. John Dalton

7. Lo Wang

8. Royd Clive

Bonus: Chet Awesomelaser

Good luck! If you win, I’ll put you in my game and I promise I won’t use the Random Character Name Generator to name you!

The Odds

•February 20, 2014 • 2 Comments

Okay, so according to this episode of Penn & Teller’s Bull…pokey, the success rate for any self-improvement plan is about five percent. This includes Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or going it alone.

Which means all I have to do is try twenty times and I’m golden! The odds are in my favor!

So my focus has returned to Planitia again. I’m ditching my own networking solution and going with RakNet, which is free (as long as Planitia doesn’t make $100,000) and incredibly full-features. How full-featured? Peep this video:

And it integrates with Steamworks, so should the clouds part and THAT ever happen I’ll be able to take advantage of it.

This means that I may be able to have a public…alpha of Planitia soon. I’ll be running it through my own forums; if you’re interested in trying it out contact me.

Game Center CX

•February 14, 2014 • 2 Comments

As I mentioned on my Twitter, I’ve been watching GameCenter CX (in the US it was retitled Retro Game Master). It’s a show where a Japanese comedian is tasked with beating old, hard, and/or terrible video games; it’s also interspersed with interviews with developers and trips to Japanese game centers.

Here’s a sample episode for your perusal. In it our hero, Shinya Arino, must complete the original NES version of Ninja Gaiden. He’s never heard of it before.

(Anyone who has actually played Ninja Gaiden is probably chuckling already.)

Now, I love me this show a lot. It’s got humor, game history and interviews with luminaries of the Japanese gaming scene.

But at the same time it makes me wistful. Why? Because the punchline of the show isn’t that a 35-year-old man is playing games. It’s his reaction to being locked in a room with a terrible (or terribly difficult) game and being told he can’t go home until he finishes it that’s funny. When Arino visits game centers there are just as many adult players as children.

As you watch the show it becomes clear that gaming in Japan is not stigmatized like it is here in the United States. Nobody cares that Arino plays games; hell, everybody does it! There isn’t a single person in Japan that is Arino’s age that didn’t play a Famicom at some point in their childhood, and continuing to play games into adulthood isn’t seen as a failing but as perfectly normal.

I just wish that were the case here.

I leave you with Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain’s take on the social stigma of playing games here in the West (warning: salty, hilarious language).

Name That Game 96: Pure Poetry

•February 3, 2014 • 7 Comments

Of course, as soon as I post the last entry I have an idea for a Name That Game! Behold! Hints in haiku for your perusal!

i read your passport
please face the scanner because
you don’t look female

a big, epic quest
ruined by bad RNGS
and dumb time limits

they scream “assassin”
but when I save the empress
I don’t harm a soul

my gun shoots lightning
and sets bandits on fire
ooh! a purple shield!

a robot hero
fights through a cold asteroid
to stop endless war

only turn-based game
where you’ll hear the players say
“halflings are OP”

don’t get too attached
to your soldiers; aliens
will hit even with low scores

Good luck!

Deep Space Settlement

•January 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

And now on to something else. I found another indie developer who also has a long-standing project she is obsessing over, and from what I’ve seen it looks like it could be really good.

The project is Deep Space Settlement. Your job? Turn a colony ship into…well, you get it, and then defend that settlement from anyone or anything that tries to harm it. The kicker is that the game uses RTS mechanics even though it’s more of a build/strategy type game.

The game manages to give off both Homeworld and Sins of a Solar Empire vibes, which resonate deeply with me. And despite the plurals on the home page, the entire game and its underlying engine have been written by one woman, Stéphanie Rancourt. So she’s working on a labor-of-love project that’s probably way too big for her and writing everything herself from scratch. I’ve found my French-Canadian distaff counterpart!

Borderlands 2

•January 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

So! A while back I mentioned Saints Row 4 and how much I enjoyed it. Since then a lot of DLC has been released for it and while I haven’t bought all of it, I have paid attention.

And that’s how I saw this.

Now, despite laughing at the trailer, I had no idea who that girl was or what “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’” was. So I went to the Tubes of You to find out. And that’s how I found out about Anthony and Ashly Burch.

And then I ran across an episode of HAWP (gotta use the acronym to prove I’m hip, dontcha know) where Anthony talked about writing Borderlands 2.

Which reminded me that I’d picked up Borderlands 2 during the Steam summer sale and never touched it.

So I touched it.

For about thirty hours.

Borderlands 2 is a great game and I’m very, very sad I didn’t play it sooner. I should have just dumped that pretentious, jumped-up Bioshock Infinite and gone for this. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s got one of the best villains in recent gaming memory with Handsome Jack.

I actually bought another copy for my daughter and she convinced her friends to buy it and it’s like Catan where it’s always good but at its peak when you’ve got four people.

(I think I may have mentioned in the past that I think co-op multiplayer is the only good kind of multiplayer? Yeah, this game proves me right. Again.)

So if you like FPS games and/or you like to laugh and/or you like playing games with your friends, definitely check it out.