Monthly Archives: May 2016

Indie Wonderland: Duskers

Hey, you want to learn an interesting tidbit about your friendly neighbourhood Jarenth? Next to playing video games, I also enjoy the occasional tabletop RPG session. Like Dungeons and Dragons, or Pathfinder. Or Shadowrun! I play a ‘weekly’ Shadowrun session with several online friends. Lot of fun. I play a Rigger in that game. Which, if you don’t know Shadowrun, is a character class that tends to specialize in remote-controlling their personal drone fleet. As an archetype, it’s almost tailor-made for me: what better way to ‘deal with dangerous life-and-death stuff’ than by piloting armored robots into the situation from the comfort of my own couch? I posit that no better reason exists.

So you can imagine I was surprised when I stumbled over Duskers, latest of Misfits Attic (they of A Virus Named Tom, a game I reviewed favourably in a distant past) and found that the object of that game was pretty much that. Except with more of a survival theme. Piloting hand-crafted robot drones into derelict spacecraft to scavenge much-needed fuel, supplies, and knowledge? Let me just sign up here immediately and also forever.

If it’s fun, of course.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Duskers. Will I succeed at staying alive in the cold vacuum of space, using only a fleet of shoddy robot friends for company? Haha, nope.

Ranonauts 47 – Regional Confusion

YouTube Link

There are times where I really wish that there was an undo button, or at least that I didn’t have the habit of just doubleclicking to do movement straight away. Sophie Murphy died because I accidentally clicked on the wrong side of the fence. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to have to list on a death certificate.

We got a lot of fighting done this episode, it doesn’t take much time to handle smaller ships these days even if I occasionally go and sort through the equipment and troops at the wrong base just before a mission. Ah well this series is called Ranonauts Incompetent Planetary Defence, if I don’t make a couple of mistakes per episode I am probably not doing my job correctly.

This is the last episode I edited before I finished the game, so the recruitment prompts will stop next episode.

The Ranonauts Project would like to congratulate:

  • Guila for reaching a career total of 10 kills, despite only being armed with a pistol
  • Guila for creatively weaponising a hyperdrive engine
  • Jan for napping mid-fight

The Ranonauts Project would like to extend its condolenses t the friends and family of

  • Sophie Murphy, operator error.

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 8 months and 4 days
  • lost 54 soldiers
  • killed 558 aliens in 58 ground battles
  • captured 52 aliens
  • shot down 149 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $21,589,801 in funding

Ranneko is on holidays right now and is trying to catch up on posts where possible, these are likely to keep appearing and semi-random times.

Ranonauts 46 – Sophie’s Choice

YouTube Link

I really hate it when the aliens decide it is time to head for the ocean, they continue to pink away at my approval scores but if I shoot them down I get nothing. It is like they know that they are flying cash and experience machines and want to deny me my small pleasures. At least now we have Fusion weaponry, the last of the instant upgrade technologies rendering our grenades, rockets and missiles all the best they can be, they appear to be roughly twice as effective as the previous tier meaning that a carrier is an easy fight for just two fresh marauders. Once South Africa is online I really doubt we have much to worry about from the alien lines.

It also seems kind of ironic that last time I was complaining that my shoot through the floor tactic was becoming ineffective because here it continued to show value, but unfortunately the two positions I most needed to shoot were the ones inaccessible using this strategy. Instead I managed to put myself in a position where I had to decide which soldier I could most lose. Maria or Uno, and given Uno was a community volunteer the choice was pretty easy. It is kind of frustrating though to realise rewatching the video just how many ways I could have avoided this problem. I didn’t need to rush in, I could have continued to fire from a distance, I could have used grenades, maybe I will learn something from this encounter.

The Ranonauts Project would like to congratulate:

  • RebelliousUno for being chosen to live

The Ranonauts Project would like to extend its condolenses t the friends and family of

  • Maria Lazlos, she shouldn’t have been there.

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 7 months and 26 days
  • lost 53 soldiers
  • killed 540 aliens in 55 ground battles
  • captured 51 aliens
  • shot down 146 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $18,388,833 in funding

Ranneko is on holidays right now and is trying to catch up on posts where possible, these are likely to keep appearing and semi-random times.

Ranonauts 45 – Cruising with Reapers

YouTube Link
We are creeping our way through the tech tree for now and as a result we have finally started getting better armour but it isn’t deployed widely yet. It does make fighting reapers slightly less worrying at least they lack ranged attacks and are fairly weak compared to our firepower, it is pretty rare for even an alpha to survive a single hit from most of our weapons.

Unfortunately it does seem that the tactic of shooting through the floor has a fairly limited shelf life, it looks like slight differences in floor sizes, ship layout and default holding positions for aliens basically drastically reduce how effective it is, time to find a new strategy.
The Ranonauts Project would like to congratulate:

  • Guila for tanking a grenade that landed right at her feat, if only she had been able to hit the Salarian that threw it rather than the wall behind him
  • RebelliousUno for getting his Long Service Medal, I have had him running missions for quite a while now

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 7 months and 20 days
  • lost 52 soldiers
  • killed 520 aliens in 54 ground battles
  • captured 51 aliens
  • shot down 143 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $18,388,833 in funding

Ranneko is on holidays right now and is trying to catch up on posts where possible, these are likely to keep appearing and semi-random times.

Ranonauts 44 – Accidental Execution

YouTube Link

I am frankly amazed that there is no confirmation before shooting one of your own mind controlled soldiers. Even in a game where soldiers are a little more disposable than XCOM, it still seems like the kind of thing you want to make sure the player intended.

I am sorry Tyler Mason, but I feel that you were a victim of poor UI design at least as much as you were a victim of my own incompetence.

The Ranonauts Project would like to congratulate:

  • Alex for the instant murder of the traitorous Tyler and then looting his corpse
  • Samy, rocking the predator armour and caster for an impressive 6 kills

The Ranonauts would like to offer their condolences to the friends and family of:

  • Tyler Mason

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 7 months and 13 days
  • lost 52 soldiers
  • killed 495 aliens in 53 ground battles
  • captured 51 aliens
  • shot down 138 alien spacecraft
  • had 5 aircraft shot down
  • received $18,388,833 in funding

Ranneko is on holidays right now and is trying to catch up on posts where possible, these are likely to keep appearing and semi-random times.

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 — Epilogue

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, we did it. Thanks to the efforts of six brave volunteers, and one impromptu Weird Science body-trip on my end, ADVENT’s control over Earth has been well and truly shattered. All Elders we encountered in the alien seat of power are dead, the aforementioned base is destroyed, and thanks to our disruption of the ADVENT Network Control tower, the alien psionic information network is down for the count.

Is that the end of our story? It is, and it isn’t. There is always more story to tell, after all. Not much of it, we’ll be privy to. But I’d be one mean storyteller if I didn’t tell you how the fade-out goes…

After the break: Step Three: we take our planet back from alien occupation.

Indie Wonderland: Shadwen

A flash reveal out of nowhere, Shadwen leapt into my games awareness much in the same way an acrobatic rooftop assassin would onto their target du jour. And with about equal chances of me resisting their intent, too. A 3D free-movement grappling-hook-based assassination simulator, by none other than Frozenbyte? This game was always going to draw my major attention — though not necessarily for the positive reasons you might be thinking of.

If the name ‘Frozenbyte’ doesn’t ring any immediate bells, that’s fine — but you should know they’re the studio behind the Trine series of games. I’ve played all three games cooperatively with a friend. As expected, we had a blast with the first two — if you haven’t played Trine 1 or Trine 2 yet, you know, blanket recommendation right here to get on that. But Trine 3 was… a different beast. The move to 3D has poor results for a game series known for carefully crafted 2D platforming experiences. Particularly the rope-swing physics, a strong point of both former Trine games, was wonky, glitchy, and unreliable. We wondered aloud at the time why Frozenbyte would have made this move: surely, we figured, they couldn’t have thought that this would make for a better Trine game?

And then Shadwen came along. A 3D-movement game based almost entirely on rope physics. And all of a sudden, we saw Trine 3 for what it likely was: an extended technology proof of concept, evidence that Frozenbyte could make ‘functional’ 3D movement worlds, stapled onto a beloved brand name.

So what I’m saying is, I really want to see if Shadwen was worth this.

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Shadwen. I promise I won’t hold Trine 3’s broken promises against this game. Much.

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 27: Part Of Your World

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, XCOM finally did what XCOM’s been wanting to do since the beginning. We broke into the ADVENT Network Tower, hacked their signal, and broadcast the truth — ‘Soylent Green is people’ under any other name — to the masses worldwide. And just like that, the situation flipped: where once we had to operate in the shadows to avoid the overwhelming reach of ADVENT and their propaganda-indoctrinated masses, humans worldwide are now standing up to fight for their survival. The global resistance, finally in the limelight, is stepping up to combine the riots and the uprisings into a global coordinated push-back against the alien occupation.

They won’t win. Not like this. We couldn’t even win with the full might of the united human nations behind us. But in a surprising Lord of the Rings analogue, this fight isn’t important for their possible victory or loss. This fight is important because it ties up the lion’s share of ADVENT’s forces. Giving a small XCOM team the opportunity to sneak into this story’s Mount Doom equivalent, the mysterious alien ‘seat of power’, and destroy it from within.

The survival of humanity depends on the success or failure of this strike team. Luckily for them, I’m about to take a slightly more active hand in this particular outing…

After the break: Step two: under the cover of global resolution, a team of XCOM operatives infiltrates the alien base and… does something. We haven’t quite worked out what, but I can see us playing this by ear.

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 26: Can’t Stop The Signal

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2, our understanding of the whole ‘Avatar Project’ situation moved forward by leaps and bounds. Three leaps and bounds, to be precise. First, we figured out the deal with the alien portal: it’s a gateway to somehow, an important alien base that might as well be on the moon in terms of reachability, but we learned that a particular combination of factors would be needed to travel through it. Second, we dissected the alien Avatar corpse in an attempt to get those factors. Results were… interesting: the long and the short of it is that we’ll have to build us our very own Avatar, and that I will have to ‘remote-control’ it through the portal and into the base. This sounds dangerous, and prone to unexpected errors. But if it’s the only way…

And third, finally, we learned that ADVENT is getting ready wrap this Avatar Project up. Which sounds alright enough, but it would mean the extermination of all human life on Earth. So, you know. We can’t let that happen. Luckily, the Councilman brought us — at great personal cost — the plans that will let us turn ADVENT’s propaganda broadcasts to our own ends. As well as a location that tells us were to look…

After the break: Step one: we find the ADVENT Network Tower, infiltrate it, and replace their propaganda lies with some more wholesome programming.

Indie Something That’s Almost Like A Review Land: Stellaris

“Oh boy! Another Monday, another Indie Wonderland. I can’t wait to see what delicious slice of hot gaming pie we’re getting served up this week. Hey, I know: maybe looking at Jarenth’s Steam account can give me some clue to what he’s been playing this week…”

It totally will.

“Okay, cool, Stellaris then? That’ll do. Make with the word jokes, funny-man.”

Hmm. Okay, so. This is a little awkward.

I can’t actually review Stellaris.

After the break: why can’t I review Stellaris? And why am I struggling to try anyway?