Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse – Day 6 – Explosive Exit

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The military base has one of the strangest and most badly laid out minefields ever. Firstly we are talking mines that can be disarmed by pressing the green button, secondly they are fenced off and inside the base, which seems like a bad idea, finally they are all close enough together that one mine exploding results in the entire minefield going up. Makes it a little ineffective for long term area denial.

But it does make for a kind of neat quick puzzle.

Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse Day 5 – Military Supplies

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Despite not eating yesterday I am leaning heavily on the reasoning that in this game Only The PC Can Succeed, so I have sent a starving Rita out with Jolene to find food and a… military base? Where are we? Whose military build and then abandoned this? Is this, as I assume it is, some kind of Lost reference? How many questions can I chain together?

As a result of not eating this is a very short day and thus a short episode, another consequence of defining an episode by day rather than my normal method of splitting by closest natural ending point to 30 minutes.


Indie Wonderland: Undertale

A week or two ago, Toby FoxUndertale more or less exploded into my Twitter feed. One moment, it was business as usual; the next, everyone was talking about cool skeletons, fish women, and dogs that were or weren’t shitty. It was downright intriguing to see, not to mention a little bizarre.

I couldn’t quite figure out just what Undertale was supposed to be from all the talk. All I could reliably pick up from the Twitter chatter were three things: a) Undertale is apparently really good, b) I should be playing it as soon as possible, and c) no seriously, why haven’t I started yet?

And then, just as I was considering whether or not to give in to Twitter peer pressure ‘this one time’, a friend gifted me the actual game. My Achilles heel. And, well. Here we are!

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, KINDA REALLY HIGH. Mechanical, medium to high.)

(Game source: Gift from a friend.)

After the break: Undertale. You’ll notice that nowhere in the opening paragraph I described just what Undertale is about. The reality of the situation is that… I honestly don’t really know?

Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse – Day 4 – Cave Kitty

YouTube Link After a surprisingly wet and hard night on Day 3 it is time for the crew to spent a little time exploring the cave, eating and getting some sleep. Hopefully they will spend some time reflecting and processing the tragic events of the previous night. It sure would seem odd for the missing character to basically never get mentioned again after the immediate impact is felt. That would kind of cheapen the whole loss somehow.

Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse – Day 3 – Wet Dreams

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Finally it is time to really sort out that fresh water problem. We really can’t go too long without it, fortunately we do have a fire, so we should be able to boil water we find to make it potable. Seems sensible right?

I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed in this day’s major choice, sure I took a bit longer than I expected getting the supplies, but that was only due to missing that I hadn’t collected one piece. What I really found frustrating is it seemed totally superfluous, why is Rita the only torchbearer? There is enough fire left, Garret could have picked up a torch too and rendered the whole situation moot. As a result the whole situation feels really forced and I just ended up annoyed with every other character, rather than sorry I kind of failed.

Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse – Day 2 – Hot Flares

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I enjoy the early stages of these kind of stories. There is just something I find compelling about trying to meet some of the very basic necessities like food, water and heat. Though of course in this case I completely ignored the need to find water in favour of exploring the plane for supplies. This predictably end well.

I am already getting the idea that in Dyscourse, progress can only seem to come from Rita which immediately makes my opinion of the rest of the party drop. If they feel useless I am going to find it much harder to empathise with them and work to save them. It may be kind of heartless but seriously, give me a reason to care.


Talk Of The Ninja: Duck Game

Hey, you all remember Worms? The game you and your friends played decades ago where you’d take turns hopping around as a worm and shooting other worms with deadly and explosive weapons? Of course you do. What a fun game that was! I remember spending multiple days on end with a good friend of mine, creating custom match types and playing over and over, toying with all the different weapons and abilities and seeing what hilarious and even intense shenanigans would occur.

I played the latest Worms game a few years ago with some friends and what I found was depressing — the old formula I loved had aged like milk. A 30 to 60 second turn for each person used to be a nail-biting experience wondering what would go wrong or who would explode next, but now it’s a long time to wait for one unit to attack another, or more likely, to miss and hit itself or nothing. What used to be almost nonstop laughter now feels like dragging out a relatively straightforward battle into a tortured process of trying to shoot and then trying to hide, which isn’t helped by the now-awkward control scheme that hasn’t been sufficiently tweaked in its various iterations.

What I’m trying to say is that Worms as a franchise is utterly obsolete. Gaming has come such a long way that the old clown is no longer fun or funny. But the Worms dynamic — the premise of a couch party game appealing via cartoon-violence slapstick comedy with cute little animals shooting each other — is not obsolete at all. In many ways, its legacy lives on in this summer’s Steam hit Duck Game.

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Ran’s Course Through Dyscourse – Day 1 – Hard Crash

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Much like Jarenth, I too backed Dyscourse, but I then didn’t get around to actually playing it because it released at around the same time as a number of other games I kickstarted and I knew I wanted to do a let’s play at some stage.

So here we are, one of a small number of quirky survivors of a plane crash attempting to survive on a very strange island. We have our frying pan, we have some pretzels, we can do this. We can save everyone.


Indie Wonderland: Dropsy

I backed Jay Tholen and Jolly Corpse‘s Dropsy on Kickstarter a long time ago, in the heady heydays of late 2013. I don’t fully remember why: my long-term memory being what it is, any time frame longer than three months ago might as well be called The Olden Days, The Long Long Time Ago. But I do remember seeing a colourful game palette, a focus on smiling and hugs, and a terrifying monster-looking clown.

Which, in fairness. That’s all clowns.

I threw money at Dropsy, and then forgot about it entirely, save for the occasional bi-monthly Kickstarter update. And then suddenly — suddenly — it’d gone gold. Suddenly. Probably less suddenly if I’d actually paid attention to the contents of those Kickstarter updates. But hey, memory.

The long and the short of it is that I now find myself in possession of a brightly coloured happy huggy scary clown game. And what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t share that joy with all of you?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-to-high. Mechanical, medium-to-high.)

(Game source: Backed on Kickstarter)

After the break: Dropsy. What exactly is this game about? I’d say that the answer would surprise you, but that would imply there is actually an answer.

Torment: Tides of Numenera Alpha Systems Test 2 – Exploration

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Apologised for my voice in this one, I recorded it while pretty ill this weekend, I guess I will ramp more slowly back into production than initially intended. Just before I went away, inxile entertainment released the second Alpha Systems Test for Torment: Tides of Numenera. This time with a couple of scenes focused on the exploration mechanic. It has a couple of puzzles, multiple scenes, companions and conversations. It again spoils some of the very early portions of the game, all of these tests are meant to feature parts from quite early on.

One of the things I am really enjoying about this process is seeing how they are translating the Cipher system to the PC. They are clearly using the same basic system for the checks I have seen so far, the test has a difficulty (which corresponds to a multiple of 3), the difficulty level is modified by traits and skills that you have and finally you can expend effort to reduce the difficulty of a test further. Since the scenes displayed so far are very short there is no reason not to just spend your points as quickly as you can. I suspect this will be different in the full game. I am pretty keen to see how combat will work in Tides.

I also like how we get to see more of the world in this one. The game takes place an unimaginably long time into the future. Earth in Numenera has been host to at least 8 world/universe changing civilizations before the game starts, each having risen and made its mark before falling for some reason or another. Nothing is truly natural or unchanged, even the very dirt itself contains signs of previous civilizations. From the very first scene transition you can see that too, the layers of strange ruins of buildings and craft, diverse and distinct as if no two of them were made by the same hands, with strange devices and objects of no clear purpose. Maybe some of them will be useful, maybe some won’t.

All that said I can definitely understand why they are careful talk about these releases as Alpha Systems Tests. They wear their incompleteness on their sleeve, from the interface to the characters to the easy way in which the text will break the fourth wall. While they expect these releases to be played, they only expect the most invested players to do so literally given that the cheapest tier that included it was $125US and anyone else has to fork up another $10 for the privilege. Conveniently enough I think they are interesting and will probably check out each of the tests as they come out.