Monthly Archives: April 2016

Torment Thursday – Faster than Anticipated

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I’m kind of burning out on Torment Thursdays, there is just so much reading and so many characters, why did I try to give each a different voice? As a result I have decided it is time to try and finish up the section of the game found in the beta rather than my normal approach of doing every single sidequest and chatting to every single character I can find. Therefore it is time to return… to the reef! We have a ship to explore.

The epic quest continues after the break

Good Robot – Good RanBot

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Fair warning: I am always going to try to stick Ran somewhere in the title, it is something I must do even though I know it makes it harder to discover my videos.

We got to see Jarenth’s opinion regarding Good Robot a couple of weeks ago but surely you all need to know my take on it in my timely Recorded at Launch, Released After the 14-Day Money Back Guarantee Has Expired fashion. I have to admit my sentiments echo Jarenth’s pretty closely. Good Robot is okay, it has a decent soundtrack, a fairly appealing look and feel and a set of game systems that function but don’t really do anything that pops to me. I have been meaning to play more (and beat Jarenth’s score) but I haven’t gone back to it, instead it languishes in the To Be Finished Sometime pile.

It is pretty difficult to pin down exactly what it is that has placed it there. I could reiterate the same kind of points Jarenth made, especially about the incremental upgrade system, or I could discuss how the weapon system’s reliance on expensive vendors with limited information punishes the player for experimenting, especially with a number of weapons that are essentially traps requiring higher or even the degenerate strategy of long ranged bouncing weapons allows you to clear bosses from off screen but ultimately I think it is just a lack of surprises.

I haven’t seen any indication that Good Robot has any secrets or interesting interactions. No secret areas activated by going through a particular set of zone types in order, no way to rob vendors, no hunger mechanic, nothing that really turns any other system on its head. You just shoot all of the bad robots in runs that can last a good hour or more. It takes a lot to keep that interesting and I don’t think that Good Robot really has it.

 

Surprise! I thought of a better mouse-over joke at the last second. These bits are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

Jarenth Plays XCOM 2 — Episode 18: Welcome To The Future Past

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, I made two startling discoveries. First, I can just not seem to keep Blademasters alive. I don’t know why! I’m sure they’re really cool and powerful in right hands. They’re just not… for for me. I’ll stick to the more stealth-focused shotgun Rangers, thank you very much.

And second, I found out that ADVENT’s troopers are… made, I guess, not born. I still don’t entirely know how to parse the things we saw in that Forge. Rows and rows of production tubes, seemingly disgorging hand-made ADVENT soldiers. And in a well-guarded clean room in the center, a particular tube… holding a stasis suit of some kind. We absconded with that under heavy fire; it’ll take doctor Tygan some time, I think, to figure out just what it is we’re dealing with.

In light of these discoveries, our second planned mission — following up on the coordinates nabbed from the Codex brain — almost seems trivial in comparison. Still, though, I’m not about to let a second change to hurt the Avatar Project go to waste…

After the break: in the unknown wilds of New Brazil, we find one part uncertain future to one part terrifying past.

Indie Wonderland: Hyper Light Drifter

Heart Machine‘s Hyper Light Drifter coolly slid into my social media mentions the week before last week, with several people whose opinions I varying-degrees-of-respect talking about how cool and fancy it was. The phrase ‘like Dark Souls was used. Several times! And I know that phrase is mostly a joke at this point in time, but it’s testament to the good parts of Dark Souls‘ game design that this still caught my interest.

I mean, a disco-looking 2D pixel art game that’s ‘like Dark Souls‘? That can mean two things. Best case scenario, it present a grand and interesting world that evokes the decay of past grandeur and encourages both topographical and narrative exploration. Worst case scenario, it has a bunch of unfair enemies that kill you a whole damn lot. Because that’s ‘hard’. And, hell, even that ‘worst case’ scenario has been done before to pretty good effect.

But which of the two is Hyper Light Drifter?

Only one way to find out!

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Hyper Light Drifter. I feel like I should be expecting Tokyo drag races in this game, but let’s not get my hopes up too much.

Ranonauts – It’s Like Wearing A Tank

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Narmio finally has our first suit of Predator armour, it is like wearing a tank. It literally sets the wearer’s strength to the maximum, 100, and reduces the time cost and penalties for using a heavy weapon by something like 30 or 40%, meaning that a heavy can move a lot further and shoot a lot more easily. It does have a couple of downsides, it cuts down on the wearer’s peripheral vision and restricts them to only heavy weapons, they may be able to carry a ton of gear but they can’t even manage to throw a flare. I figure either have them carry stuff for other people or just fill their belt and backpack with ammo to ensure they never run out.

I think we still need to improve our air game a touch more but then we can unreservedly move into ensuring every soldier in every base has access to the latest in Xenonauts arms and armour.tTe aim of the game is to completely surpass our foes in weaponry as it turns out in Xenonauts humans lack the ability to learn and use any psionic abilities. At least the aliens are yet to evolve past the vulnerability to shards of metal shot at extremely high speeds.

The Ranonauts Project would like to congratulate:

  • Narmio on the new gear, you deserve it soldier
  • Sofie on managing to land a 2% hit from across the map
  • The tank controller and AI team in charger of Scimitar-02 for exploding at least 4 aliens in a single encounter
  • Vebjorn saving the day with a pistol shot through the floor

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 6 months and 2 days
  • lost 45 soldiers
  • killed 386 aliens in 44 ground battles
  • captured 51 aliens
  • shot down 82 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $15,361,425 in funding
Surprise! I thought of a better mouse-over joke at the last second. These bits are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

Jarenth Plays XCOM 2 — Episode 17: Forging On

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, we learned two devastating revelations about the aliens’ evil plan. First, the goop inside the vial we recovered from the ADVENT blacksite is… well, people: select people, screened for in the ADVENT Gene Therapy clinics on the basis of criteria still unknown, then abducted to the blacksite to be rendered down to their constituent DNA. And second, ADVENT Codices… don’t like being probed, I guess? And they… they come from somewhere?

Okay, so both revelations weren’t exactly equal. That’s alright: gives me the time to chase them down in the order presented. And as luck would have it, the blacksite vial’s destination facility, no doubt a fun and engaging place all itself, is located in West Asia — only one travel link away from the New Arctic, the area I was in the process of unlocking anyway. So I guess it’s time to pay another alien facility a little visit?

Right after I handle some long-overdue busywork. Because speaking of facilities…

After the break: Okay, so that wasn’t my best segue. Listen: I have to bring this topic up somehow.

Ranonauts – Burning the Midnight Oil

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When I record these episodes, normally I need to ask my partner if it is okay to record for a while since she will have to obviously be quiet and ideally out of the room. Even though I know she generally does not mind, I don’t really like to do that, instead I try to take advantage of periods where she isn’t home. So that means that when she has to travel for work I tend to spend a lot more time recording, if you combine this with the unusual amount of progress I made in the past few episodes and well, it became pretty difficult to stop playing. Just look at how rapidly that alien craft shot down counter is ascending! We made it to the end of another month and we were only $500,000 below maintenance costs, we have captured alien leaders and are ahead of the tech curve, I am finally sure that I can actually beat this game.

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 5 months and 15 days
  • lost 45 soldiers
  • killed 369 aliens in 42 ground battles
  • captured 51 aliens
  • shot down 77 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $15,361,425 in funding

Torment Thursday – Chatting With the Genocide

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The conversation with The Genocide that we spend most of this episode on is probably my favourite piece of Torment: Tides of Numenera so far. The Tabaht have shown up in a number of places as we went through character creation and found out further details about the history of Sagus Cliffs but here we have a piece of the past, literally one of their leaders installed into a machine and effectively turned into a permanent mouthpiece, denied the ability to attack and forced to answer any questions asked of it. It clearly is not happy with its fate but it is also not shown as resigned to it. It is a fascinating perspective and I am not sure what it says about me that I couldn’t help but attack its one solace, that it has outlived its enemies, by revealing that the Changing God who thwarted it still exists as a force within the world. It is hard to outlive ones enemies when they appear to be immortal.

Ranneko Plays MouseCraft – Section Four (Part 3)

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With this MouseCraft comes to an end and with the coffee in hand it seem appropriate to try to sum up my own thoughts on the game. It was pretty good, it delivered exactly what I was after when I started it a slowly escalating series of puzzles that occasionally would stump me for a while but never was so difficult that I needed to go online and search for a guide. No one mechanic really outstays its welcome and it manages to introduce new elements and tools at a fairly steady pace.

The biggest misstep for me has to be the movement system. Block placement and obstacles all on a clearly defined grid, but mice and ratoids are fundamentally smaller than any of these grid pieces. This is not in itself a problem, but the transition between each of those pieces is surprisingly ambiguous, it can be hard to know if a block you are about to place will instantly crush a mouse, miraculously have it crawl out of the block unharmed or miraculously crawl into the block and be crushed. It really needs to either make it clear the mouse will be crushed in the last situation or actually have the mouse or ratoid see the block coming as skitter back slightly.

That movement problem is only exacerbated by the moving block, which conceptually is the most powerful of the blocks, especially when combined with the ability to pause the game and move blocks around, but because of the animation problems you are just as likely to accidentally crush the little mice as you are to deploy a block just in time to whisk them away to safety.

MouseCraft also features a pretty good little level editor, but unfortunately no way to share or download levels which really limits the utility of it. Overall I was really pleased with my time with MouseCraft and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a competent puzzle game to occupy themselves for a few hours.

Surprise! I thought of a better mouse-over joke at the last second. These bits are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

Jarenth Plays XCOM 2 — Episode 16: Revelations

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, I robbed ADVENT’s supply convoys and then, robbed them again. Supplies are good! I like supplies. They let me equalize the power gap between the alien forces and myself by way of cool tricks and advanced technology. Well, near-equalize: no amount of fancy armors and high-powered magnet rifles counters good old-fashioned Commander oversights. But even there, technology helps: a buffer for my stupidity, if you will.

Studying the aliens’ advanced technology has given us a lot of directly applicable Cool Stuff. But new toys and tough suits are far from the only things we can learn from them. In fact, I’ve been having Tygan and Shen study a more esoteric bit of alien technology: the mysterious blacksite vial we retrieved back in episode 8. And the fact that the former has requested me and Steve come to the Shadow Chamber ‘as soon as possible’ suggests they may hit some sort of breakthrough…

After the break: So what is in the alien vial, product of a refinement process that sure seemed to involve a whole lot of dead humans? Probably nothing sinister.