Monthly Archives: September 2014

Indie Wonderland: Concursion

The world is full of seemingly mind-baffling mysteries, sometimes. Why do we drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? Why do snowmen wear scarves and hats, even if the heat retention those provide brings them that much closer to melting? What is updog? And what in the devil is a ‘Concursion‘? Conundrums like this are what provide much-needed flavour to our ever-spinning universe.

Human curiosity being what it is, however, the world is also full of dull, functional answers: bringing the mysterious down to the mundane is the human condition in a nutshell. To wit: ‘because the words involved have different etymological roots’, ‘because they want to, regardless of consequences’, ‘a play on words you can use to fool your friends’, and ‘a ‘multi-genre’ platforming game of sorts developed by Puuba‘. Sorry, universal flavour: I’m a scientist. I solve the riddles of life and everything so other people won’t ‘have’ to.

Anyway: Concursion. It’s a video game. I’m curious. Are you curious? I’m curious. Let’s go see what all the hub-bub is about!

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium.)

After the break: Concursion. Truth be told, there was very little hub-bub. I… kinda understand why.

Indie Wonderland: Hack ‘n’ Slash

“Oh, hey, a new Double Fine game on the Steam store page. Neat! I’ve covered most of their work in the past, and they’re pretty consistently high-quality, so that’ll save me the effort of having to think about which game I’m doing today.”

“Apparently it’s called… Hack ‘n’ Slash? Is that right? And it’s a game about… it kinda looks like a Zelda-esque game where you… hack… the gameworld? Like, actually change variables and stuff? Huh, that does sound interesting. It’s a little pricey, but what the hey. Double Fine haven’t steered me wrong before.”

Yes, readers: sometimes all the thought processes that go into my game are laziness, easily-piqued curiosity, and heuristics. I hope your sausages still taste okay, though.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high. Mechanical, reasonably high.)

After the break: I play Hack ‘n’ Slash. I hack in it. I don’t much slash in it. I feel moderately cheated.

Indie Delay-Land

Hey, readers. Sorry to have to inform you that this week’s Indie Wonderland is delayed: I have *legitimately* had the busiest workload of my entire life the past two weeks. We’re talking old-school literally literally. That phase is over, now, but I’ll need some time to pick up the pieces.

And by ‘some time’, I mean ‘one day’. This week’s Indie Wonderland will go up tomorrow. Because not even the heaviest workload imaginable is going to delay me for more than 24 Goddamn hours.

– Jarenth.

Indie Wonderland: Runers

Runers is a strange game name. It doesn’t really gel in my mind well, for some reason, keeps sending me on weird association tangents. Runers. Runners. Ruffles. Rubbers. Rubles. Rupees? Does Runers take place in the super-convoluted Legend of Zelda timeline? It’s impossible to say that for sure about any game, to be honest: predicting the Zelda canon timeline is like predicting two plus two equals gumballs. But wait… Runers has six letters in the title, divided by two equals… Half-Life 3 confirmed?

In non-insanity news, Runers is also the first game by two-man outfit LGK Games, colloquially ‘Let’s Get Kraken’. It’s supposedly a game all about crafting spells, which I like, and then using said spells to adventure through infinite dungeons, which I also like. Two out of two sounds like a pretty good score, so I ‘leveraged’ some ‘industry contacts’ by ‘inadvertently whining at them’, and here we are!

Let’s see if spell-crafting and spell-slinging are all they’re cracked up to be.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, nonexistent. Mechanical, medium, but also quite low.)

After the break: will there be crafting? Yes. Will there be fighting? Yes. Will you enjoy both? …

The Ninja Blues Thoughts for Games Giveaway

Justin here, and yep, we’re doing a GIVEAWAY! For FREE GAMES! Let me explain the circumstances first.

Readers, Jarenth and I have a problem, and said problem came to a head earlier this week. You may have seen that I tried to plan a Morbus gaming session. I’ve had the idea of Ninja Blues gaming sessions for awhile, and it took until now to give it a shot. But as you may know if you follow me on Twitter, nobody showed up. My friends and I hopped on, the Steam group event commenced, and I got a message from a friend saying “wtf is Morbus?”

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Morbus session tonight!

As stated in the most recent Talk of the Ninja, my friend(s) and I are playing Morbus tonight and you all are invited. If you own Garry’s Mod and added the four Workshop mods I listed, please join the Steam group and message me so I know you’re up for it.

Time? Let’s say… 7:00 PM, Central time. That’s about five hours from right now. If there end up being around 4 or less people we’ll probably end up using Teamspeak like usual, so you may want to download the Teamspeak 3 client. I’ll tell you the Ninja Blues server address if we make that our choice.

[UPDATE: Here’s the event page for it in the Steam group! And just as a reminder, the game is best played with voice chat, so bring a working mic if you can.]

Also! Here’s episode 2 from that Youtube show I mentioned before:

Here’s that picture of me that we keep mentioning:

squarestin

 

Probably the most flattering picture of me that’s ever existed. Make that your Gmod spray image and I’m pretty sure you automatically win the game.

Indie Shortieland: Mini Metro

Readers, what’s your favourite system of public transportation? I’ll tell you what mine is: it’s the metro. Subway, underground, whatever you want to call it. I love the metro. For an agoraphobic like myself, whose panic-fear expresses itself in a discomfort around wide open spaces, the ability to go deep underground, board a carriage, and emerge halfway across the city without even having the sensation of travel is pretty much magic. It’s as close to customer-level teleportation as we’re likely to get within my lifetime, is what I’m saying.

So when Steam helpfully informed me about the recent arrival of a game called Mini Metro — by the two-Curry outfit called Dinosaur Polo Club, no less — it was clear what I was going to have to do.

(Go hang out in Vienna for half a week, messing up my Indie Wonderland schedule something fierce.)

Mini Metro is currently in Early Access. Very Early Access. How Early Access is Mini Metro? Let me tell you: Mini Metro currently has no sound. None of it. Not a peep. Unintentionally so: it’s supposed to have sound, and the current opening screens have a habit of profusely apologizing for the current lack of it. But this is how Early Access Mini Metro is: when Peter and Robert Curry found they had the time to either get their game in a playable state, or to provide their unplayable build with aural support, they simply shrugged, grabbed some earplugs, and coded their game into existence in 0-dB silence.

Yes, that’s my imaginary story and I’m sticking with it.

Anyway, standard Early Access review disclaimers apply: I’ll try to talk mostly about the completed things, the elements I think are crucial enough that they’ll definitely make it into the game proper, but I’m no seer by any stretch. Who knows, maybe Mini Metro does have sound by the time you read this. Unnecessary addition, in my opinion, but weirder things have happened.

After the break: Mini Metro. Is it big? No.

Talk of the Ninja: Morbus

I have a few friends that I’ve been playing Garry’s Mod with for awhile.

Garry’s Mod is an interesting beast — it’s a creativity tool used to create countless game modes that can be downloaded and played through the one program — but most game modes are either vapid or extremely confusing and unintuitive, and in both cases you can always feel the Garry’s Mod limitations straining them. There’s a survival horror mode, but it mostly relies on jump scares and you’re ultimately just running around in a custom Source map with “spooky” particle effects and models. There’s a parkour mode, but it feels like you’re exploiting a wall-jump glitch, rather than moving fluidly and naturally along obstacles like in Mirror’s Edge.

The types of modes we tended to latch onto most were the ones that followed the “Mafia” style of social play: you’re in a group, and one of you is the “bad guy,” and you have to figure out who it is. Unless you’re the bad guy, in which case you need to kill everyone else while maintaining your disguise as a not-bad guy.

2014-08-13_00001

The two modes we switched between for the longest time were Trouble in Terrorist Town, and Murder. In Murder the killer has a knife and one of the innocents is randomly given a gun. This way it’s up to the gunner to track down the killer. In TTT everyone can pick up guns, making a tense sort of “I don’t know if I can trust this guy or if I should kill him” gameplay.

Both are decent, but the main problem with both is that if you’re not the killer, there’s no reason not to huddle up with others and just wait for the killer to run out of time. If the killer has to jump into the group of people to win, everyone else can jump away from and/or attack the killer and it’ll be fine.

But just recently we discovered a new mode called Morbus. And Morbus fixes almost every issue we’ve had up to now.

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Discourse Dojo: Shovel Knight

Hi, Internet! Were you hoping for a second Discourse Dojo? Well we made one anyway, because you can’t stop us. And this time we have an intro theme, courtesy of incompetech! So now there’s something on Ninja Blues that actually involves blues.

This episode is about Shovel Knight, a retro throwback to the side-scrolling action platformers of old. It is available on Wii-U, 3DS and PC.

Direct download (ogg)
Direct download (mp3)

We had technical issues hosting the audio last time. We’re trying it again this time, and if the issues persist, we’ll put on our safety goggles and dig into server support. If you’re having trouble listening to the full podcast through our site, here it is in Youtube form:

Note from Ninjustin:

That story at the beginning was honestly not planned. We did a bunch of rambling before we properly started the show, most of which was cut out, but I felt that particular bit was worth keeping in. The echo from last recording seems to be gone here — I turned my voice activation detection on Teamspeak down just a bit to make sure it didn’t pick up Jarenth’s voice coming out of my headset speakers.

Also, I know we griped a whole bunch, but Shovel Knight is a very fun and charming action platformer and you should play it if you’re into that sort of thing.

Jibe from Jarenth:

Unfocused rambling is how podcasts are supposed to start. That’s just basic science fact, yo.

Be honest, internet: do you like my fancier mic? I dug it out specifically to sound my best for you. I dressed up in my Sunday best, too, but you probably didn’t see that. I… I think?

Shovel Knight was quite fun! It’s flawed, in ways, but also pretty and interesting and pretty interesting! It’s definitely a game I would recommend playing in bursts, maybe one or two levels per play session, but it manages to entertain pretty consistently throughout that. Even if the siren lure of the Phase Locket never really goes away.

I can’t believe we didn’t mention Mario 3’s overworld as an influence on Shovel Knight even once.

 

Indie Apology But Also Hype Land

Hey readers. I have good news and bad news for you. Which one do you want first? Too late: I’m choosing for you, and I pick bad news.

Because I’ve vastly underestimated the time and energy drain that would result from me travelling to and working in Vienna this week, I simply don’t have it in me to create any reasonable Indie Wonderland this week. I’m sorry, this is bad planning on my part. And I’ll be here for another half week, so next week’s column is probably going to be a shorter one as well. Again, I’m sorry: I try to balance Real Work Life and Indie Wonderland as much as I can, but this week, Real Work Life took the round. But, like, not even with a fatality or anything. Just… it scored one good hit, then ran out the clock.

The good news, though, is that no Indie Wonderland this week won’t mean no anything this week. As it turns out, much like before, Justin swung by at the last possible minute to grab the game I was going to write about — Shovel Knight, in this case — and hijack it into a podcast instead. So instead of reading Indie Wonderland: Shovel Knight this week, you can all look forward to listening to Justin and I ramble about it in Discourse Dojo: Shovel Knight instead.

So, in summary: no Indie Wonderland this week and half an Indie Wonderland next week — 25% efficiency, a new personal worst — but a new Discourse Dojo about the original topic as compensation. I hope this is acceptable for you, readers ‘o ours, because I nearly fell asleep three times while writing this last paragraph.