Monthly Archives: January 2016

Ranonauts – Robot Terror

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Due to site issues here at Ninja-Blues this post originalyl went going up almost a week after the episode itself did. I guess I should remind people that I try to put up videos on my YouTube channel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at midday Central European Time.

Terror missions were inevitable, they or something very much like them had to be included in any game that clings this closely to the structure of the original X-Com and it is nice to have a mission that isn’t focused on dealing with an alien craft. Admittedly here the difference isn’t particularly large. The goal is still to kill every alien on the map, ideally without losing too many uncontrolled civilian forces.

What really sets a terror mission apart from seizing a higher level enemy craft are the strategic layer consequences. Let’s just say that you can’t delay taking on a terror mission just because you are afraid of the night. There are quite severe consequences for delaying. Don’t do it.

The Ranonauts Project would like to offer it’s heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the following soldier:

  • TurCurudin

The Ranonauts Project would like to welcome the following soldiers to the ranks:

  • Antitonic
  • Turcurudin
  • Lon Lon
  • Scimitar
  • Warstrike
  • Alino Jurjey

Congratulations to:

  • Team IndoChina for dealing with the first Terror mission with only a single casualty
  • Antitonic and Pedro for the successful field test of our expensive laser equipment
  • Lon Lon for taking out an Andron with a pistol

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 2 months and 11 days
  • lost 16 soldiers
  • killed 81 aliens in 11 ground battles
  • captured 12 aliens
  • shot down 13 alien spacecraft
  • had one aircraft shot down
  • received $6,350,947 in funding

Ranonauts is in desperate need for new recruits after recent… incidents, if you or a friend would like to become a soldier in the Ranonauts project please leave a comment or fill in your information here, the next set of new soldiers will arrive in episode fifteen.

Indie Wonderland: Renowned Explorers

Alright! 2016. New year, new opportunities.

And you know what? I spent the last months of 2015 stuck in a rut. A self-imposed rut, sure enough: nobody forced me to camp out in Visual Novel Valley for two months but me. But a rut all the same. So maybe it’s time now to broaden my horizons. To look beyond the stale and the comfortable. Maybe it’s time to… explore. With renown.

Or, putting the former in a non-zany way: this week’s game of choice is Renowned Explorers: International Society. Renowned Explorers for short. Renowned Explorers is the latest release of Abbey Games, the Dutch study previously responsible for Reus. I had some decent fun with that game on the Website That Was: it was pretty, and funny, and interesting, and only slightly longer than my overall attention span. And a quick look tells me that Renowned Explorers at least inherited its big sibling’s distinct art style, so that’s a plus right out the gate.

Let’s see if it manages to stand on its own.

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

(Also additional disclaimed I guess: I’m kind of acquainted with one of Abbey Games’ lead developers. So if I end up being positive about Renowned Explorers, feel free to horrible distrust my ulterior motives.)

After the break: but what, I wonder, will our renowned explorers find? Treasure? Enormous world-shaping giants? Artifacts? Certain death? None of the above?

Ran Story – Who Is This Woman?

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Her Story has been sitting on my wishlist for quite some time and during the winter sale I snapped it up, eager to see what this unusual game had to offer. It is an investigation game, you have been provided to an aging computer database which contains all of the interviews with a particular woman relating to a murder that took place in 1994. The twist is that we do not have linear access to these videos, we just have fragments accessed through searches that use transcripts we cannot read. Neither do we have access to the questions she was asked, which means we have to scramble to assemble whatever context we can find and link potentially unrelated videos.

It is really easy to get stuck on a track with these investigations, I find I am half listening not for general information but for words and phrases that I think would make good future searches as I follow story threads. In retrospect it is kind of strange to realise how quickly I stopped looking into Simon and his death, I will get to that later for now I really want to know who this woman I am talking is. What makes her tick? What on earth is going on in Her Story.

I kept a loosely organised set of notes in notepad, I have since transferred them to Google Docs and have added a section where I organise them and add my own theories (some of which you can hear at the end of the video).  I am really keen to hear what others think based on this information, both of my theories and what things I should focus on next time? Are there any interesting search terms I should use to try to uncover more linking information?

The Beginner’s Ran

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To celebrate another year of survival I thought I would do something a little longer and a little more unusual. Let’s play through The Beginner’s Guide in one single sitting. This does mean that the video here will spoil the Beginner’s Guide from start to finish. Let’s just say my tendency to literally insert my name in the titles of games I am Let’s Playing is a little bit more uncomfortable here than it normally would be.

It is definitely an interesting game, I can see why there was so much indirect discussion of it towards the end of the last year. It is a hard game to discuss directly because that way some of the magic is lost, part of the charm of the game comes from the analysis presented within itself and the what that is meant to reveal and I don’t think it is as powerful if you know the details going in. Which of course makes a Let’s Play of the game itself kind of problematic, but hopefully I bring something to the table by doing this.

If you want to see a Let’s Play that is more focused on dissecting the themes and messages contained within The Beginner’s Guide, I highly recommend omgspoiler’s series on it. That series turns the sound (and thus Davey’s narration off for the first run) to try to focus on what the games themselves say. It is a pretty cool idea and was interesting to watch.

Ranonauts – Double Ship Takedown

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We have entered our third month of operation with an ever increasing budget as we are expected to cover the globe from a handful of bases. With about double the funding I could have set up and staffed more bases, unfortunately right now the US base just doesn’t have enough cash to get up and running. Hopefully the aliens stick mostly to attacking Europe and a little on Indochina. I really need to shoot more down so I can pick up a bit more funding. I have to admit I am pretty tempted to add a mod that allows you to make a profit from engineering making things in your base. I get the feeling that right now I have misjudged things and am going to have a vicious cycle affecting my cash flow.

The Ranonauts Project would like to offer it’s heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the following soldier:

  • Krellen

The Ranonauts Project would like to welcome the following soldiers to the ranks:

  • Narmio
  • Fredagar

Congratulations to:

  • McNutcase for a masterful use of C4 in a desert town
  • Narmio on capturing an alien on her first mission out

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 2 months and 6 days
  • lost 15 soldiers
  • killed 69 aliens in 10 ground battles
  • captured 12 aliens
  • shot down 12 alien spacecraft
  • had one aircraft shot down
  • received $6,350,947 in funding

Ranonauts is in desperate need for new recruits after recent… incidents, if you or a friend would like to become a soldier in the Ranonauts project please leave a comment or fill in your information here, the next set of new soldiers will arrive in episode eleven.

2016’s First Site News

Heya, readers! Happy 2016!

The reason you’re reading this sparse update and not a new Indie Wonderland is this: after last week’s final Sakura surprise, I spent the last week of the year actually taking the relaxing vacation I was due. This involved hanging out with friends, sleeping in, celebrating my fixed Wii U, and no games that didn’t involve apocalypses of any kind, either nuclear or squid-tacular.

i.e. I didn’t play any indie games.

Regular service resumes next week, as it so often does. In the meantime, though, to not leave you all high and dry: why not watch archive footage of mine and Josh’s annual New Year’s live stream! This one was a particular doozy: it has a whole bunch of Crusader Kings II, and a small bunch of incredibly hard zombies. Meaning that if you don’t very much care for medieval dynasty nonsense or hyper-focused zombie shooting…

…well, like I said, regular service resumes next week. See you then!

Ranonauts – Rocket Car

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Our little scout car side project we had going for a while has finally completed, time to take it for a spin. I think I would have been interested in grabbing one a lot sooner if I had known that you give one rockets. Suddenly we have the ability to…. create our own entrances that I have been craving since we started this game. It means we no longer need to rush into buildings to take out the aliens lurking in them, instead we can utilise rockets to peel away the sides and pour in our firepower from a safe distance.

The Ranonauts Project would like to offer it’s heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the following soldier:

  • Aulayan

The Ranonauts Project would like to welcome the following soldiers to the ranks:

  • Rageaholic
  • Pedro260

Congratulations to:

  • The scout car for tanking its way through its first fight.

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 1 month and 30 days
  • lost 14 soldiers
  • killed 56 aliens in 8 ground battles
  • captured 10 aliens
  • shot down 10 alien craft
  • had one aircraft shot down
  • received $4,117,368 in funding

Ranonauts is in desperate need for new recruits after recent… incidents, if you or a friend would like to become a soldier in the Ranonauts project please leave a comment or fill in your information here, the next set of new soldiers will arrive in episode eleven.

Top 10 Games Ranneko Finished in 2015

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Happy New Year, I hope that your 2016 is a wonderful bright happy year.

I thought that today would be an opportune time for me to look back at the games I finished playing in 2015 and talk about the ones I enjoyed the most. Fortunately I have been keeping a list throughout the year so it is easy to ensure I don’t forget anything.

10) Human Resource Machine

First up we have Human Resource Machine, a game that shows me how much fun I can have with programming. I bought it on a whim as I wanted something to play for the channel and Jarenth’s review had me intrigued, and I spent far more time on the game than I had ever expected. It has a slick, funny presentation that introduces and plays with fairly basic programming concepts that I had seen before, but never had to deal with at such a low level. The optional objectives really helped give legs to my experience, as they kept me coming back to the problems of trying to work out how to shorten my response or speed up its execution time.

You can watch my initial run in Human Ransource Machine.

9) Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja delivers a stealth power fantasy experience. It lets you become a master of the shadows, able to strike at will at foes powerless to stop you or ignore them as you desire. It manages this through an interface that delivers exactly the information you need (and little you don’t) and an arsenal of interesting tools to adjust the rules to match your play style. This game brought me such an evil sense of delight, especially in the times where I managed to get one guard to take out his buddies. I only wish that Klei had produced more Mark.

You can watch my playthrough of this game in Ran of the Ninja.

8) Transistor

Ah Transistor: great soundtrack, great art, interesting mix of real time and turn based play. I enjoyed wandering through the world it presents, trying to understand how things worked and why the system existed. The power system was especially cool as you had both a narrative justification for experimentation and a mechanical reward as you found cool and broken combinations that fit well with your play style.

You can watch my playthrough of this game in Ransistor.

7) Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons was a game I went into expecting to have a good time. It has a well established reputation as a 3D indie game that holds up aesthetically because of good art design, and its essential gimmick of a single player cooperative game has not been picked up and run into the ground by other games. It lasts just long enough to be satisfying without overstaying its welcome, and it is a wonderful journey through a troubled fairytale land. The ending strikes very close to painful events in my past which probably amplified the resonance I felt with this game.

You can watch my playthrough in Brothers – A Tale of Two Rans.

6) Broken Age

We finally saw the Double Fine Adventure draw to a close with the release of Broken Age Act Two, and I played the game (as intended) as a complete product without the distinct break in the middle. The latter part of the game has some very difficult puzzles clearly geared around the player taking notes, a decision stemming from listening to old school fans rather than aiming for an accessible modern game. I really dug the art, humor and music, and at the very least it is worth checking out the documentary about the game’s creation.

5) Sunless Sea

This game has an intriguing setting and a soundtrack to match. I happily binged on this game, zailing across the depths building up my legacies and exploring the stories found in the various islands of the ‘Neath. It is a fairly difficult and long game, and the use of permadeath for your captains means that one particularly bad mistake can and will set you back significantly. But if you can muscle past the discouragement this can bring, you have a rewarding experience ahead.

Sunless Sea also marks the first time I decided to make videos about a game that were not Let’s Plays. Ranneko’s Zailing Tips were made as quick looks to help newcomers find out about some easily missed aspects of the game, and to help those who were struggling. I found them very rewarding to produce and was pretty pleased when Failbetter found and tweeted about them.

I am pretty keen to return to this one once the Zubmarine DLC comes out.

4) Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Shadowrun is one of favourite game settings. I love the mix of technology, fantasy and dystopia that it represents and I am always pleased to play around in it when the opportunity arises. I liked Dragonfall so much it managed to gain two entries in 2014’s top 5 list. It is interesting that it took Harebrained Schemes three games to explore the process of a SINner becoming a runner. It didn’t like it quite as much as Dragonfall, but I find it hard to say why. I really liked the diversity of your crew as well as the retooled, less combat focused matrix, but I didn’t quite explore the hub with the same intensity as I did in Dragonfall. I guess I just didn’t feel the same protective relationship there, probably because I was low down in a hierarchy beneath the mob boss who controls the area. I am again pretty keen to get back to this game in the promised post-campaign DLC coming out next year.

3) Crypt of the NecroDancer

This was one of the core games of my daily challenge challenge. It takes the basic dungeon crawling roguelike concept and then sets everything to music. It was interesting tracking a game through early access while I was regularly playing. I could see the effects of each patch as new parts were added, tweaked and adjusted. Crypt of the NecroDancer taught me two things: a good adventurer has a good shovel, and I have a terrible sense of rhythm. Without a good sense of rhythm you can only get so far and thanks to the leaderboards I was able to see my friends quickly outstrip me.

2) Spelunky

Spelunky was the other game at the core of my daily challenge challenge. It combines the procedural generation and difficulty of roguelikes with platforming. It is unrelentingly and unapologetically hard but it couples that with a tight control scheme and simple enemies whose movements are fairly easily read. There is nothing in the game is hard to understand, but Spelunky never lets up the pressure, which means minor enemies can lure you into making critical mistakes. Of Spelunky and Crypt of the NecroDancer I spent significantly more time in Spelunky; I was better at it and enjoyed it more, and these two facts are no doubt somewhat related. Even now when I am undecided on what to play I will often fire it up for a quick game or three, it’s like a nice comfortable blanket. One that will throttle you if you aren’t careful.

1) Massive Chalice

If you want to predispose me to liking a game, show me its development process. I am passionately interested in how games are made and how projects are managed. I loved the open development process that Double Fine used with Massive Chalice. During most of the development cycle they had biweekly team streams where they discussed design, art, programming, animation, project decisions and challenges. They did not just talk about these things: they also showed viewers project documents, art and development tools. They did this even what they had to show looked janky or obviously only half finished. They also put out a more retrospective documentary Massive Knowledge after the game was released which is worth checking out.

I was keen to get in and play when the backer beta came out and I continued to track it through iterations as the Cadence and the heroes changed and adapted, features were refined and introduced. And what I found was a rewarding tactical combat game and a strategic layer where your heroes and time were important resources. XCOM is definitely the obvious comparison but the combat is subtly different due to the heavy reliance on melee, the lack of overwatch and the importance of managing line of sight. I have played through Massive Chalice slowly, and quickly, and I created a huge number of tips videos. I loved the time I spent on this game, I only wish that they were making more of it or that it had an active mod community.

So that’s the list, I know that there are a number of fairly notable release that aren’t on there. Probably because I either have not played them, or I haven’t finished them yet and want to go back… sometime in the future. For a game to go on my list I have to have decided I was done, either because I reached a natural stopping point, or because I was

What were some of your favourite games that you played in 2015? Let me know in the comments below.