Ranneko Plays Infuriating Surprises – Channel Update 2017-11-03

I think this week marks the first time I have quit a working game earlier than intended since my unsuccessful playthrough of Heroines Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok in early 2015. During the mission I ran into 3 separate issues which culminated in quitting the game and not going back.

To start with: We somehow automatically failed the sidequest from the previous expedition. We were asked to collect musical instruments and had no less than 14 instruments in our inventory and the collector leaves in disappointment. Not a great start, a relatively minor issue, but one that sets the tone for the episode.

Then, during this expedition we encounter our first celestial shrine. Unlike most shrine effects, the celestial shrine doesn’t create a hazard, instead it create impassable terrain. As an added bonus it also seems to cover a much larger area than most shrines. This is a trap, one that can’t help but get most players the first time they encounter it. It is simply much more dangerous than most other shrines and the most likely to render an expedition incompletable. A more experienced play of Curious Expeditions would know to avoid looting such shrines unless the path to the finish is clear. This kind of trap is not great to spring on a player in the last expedition of a run, personally, I would try to ensure this was exposed earlier when it isn’t going to completely destroy a character’s chances.

Finally, having realised the hopeless situation I resolved to use the Hot Air Balloon to escape and rescue what little treasure I had. Now when you are doing this, you get the rather selfish option to kick companions out of the party to increase space available in the balloon. Given I was on the last expedition I decided to completely empty my party. Unkind? Definitely. Encouraged by the game? Indisputedly. What the game doesn’t warn you is that you need at least 1 companion to actually use the hot air balloon. Dismissing every companion renders you unable to escape.

This was the final straw. Keep in mind, the interface to dismiss members of my party is explicitly tied to the hot air balloon. Why does it let me dismiss everyone from this interface if I need one companion to escape? Why doesn’t the interface tell me I need at least 1 companion to use the balloon before I set it up? This is either a bug, or both a terrible interface and a trap. Regardless it was the final straw for me and robbed me of even the consolation of at least returning from the sixth expedition. An incredibly bad experience that soured me on ever returning to the game.

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Shortieland: Opus Magnum

Sharp-eyed inspectors of my Twitter timeline the last two weeks may have guessed the review that would show up this week. Like many of my friends, peers, and distant relations, I fell hard for Opus Magnum, Zachtronics‘ latest… opus, I guess, in their preferred systems optimization genre. It took an international board games convention and a glut of incredible game releases to knock me out of an Opus Magnum fugue, and even now, I’m thinking about going back. I didn’t even get that far into the story. And I could probably optimize that one puzzle a little better. Maybe by…

So it might surprise you that, as the headline suggests, this is going to be a relatively short review. Turns out I just don’t have that much to say about Opus Magnum! In fact, I could do the whole review in two lines: “If you liked the other Zachtronics games, get this one too. And if you’ve never played any, but you were thinking about checking the genre out, start with this one.”

Alright, let’s call this my time-optimized review. Check that off the list. For my next solution attempt, I’ll try to write one that actually hits all the relevant content marks…

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, none. Mechanical, some degree, but nothing serious.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Content-Complete Solution (Still Pretty Short) [v1.3]

Ranneko Plays The Importance of Advertising – Channel Update 2017-10-27

My channel has been pretty stagnant of late. In a typical 48 hour period I average somewhere between 40 and 50 views, 0 comments and no new subscribers. I’m not sure what to do about this long term, but short term there are some very obvious actions that I am always somewhat hesitant to take.

The most obvious reason why I don’t get many views is that not many people know about my videos. If you don’t tell people they exist, they don’t find them. Strange right? Unfortunately, I get pretty nervous telling people about my videos, mostly worried that they will see it as spam or that the videos themselves aren’t good enough.

This week I built up the courage to post the Heat Signature tips on the Heat Signature subreddit and almost immediately saw results. My views immediately tripled and I got a few comments on the thread from people who learned things from the tips that I’ve already put out. It is a good reminder that telling people what you are working on actually works.

Is there anything cool you have been working on that you are nervous telling people about?

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Wonderland: Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!

Hey readers. November’s fast approaching; Long-time readers will know this as the time I generally indulge in the theme of visual novels and dating sims. However, following reader feedback at the end of the last excursion, I’ve decided to tweak the formula a bit this year. By not indulging in the formula at all. November 2017’s gonna be Just Normal Indie Wonderland Reviews month, or: There Are So Many Good Games I Haven’t Gotten Around To Reviewing Yet, You Guys Have No Idea.

As some contrition to those who like to see me suffer in a serialized manner, I offer this: Earlier this month, I was mailed by a PR representative of Daylight Studios with an unprompted review key for their latest work, Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!. Yeah, it’s this series again, of earlier weapon shop and space adventure fame. I was mailed because the studio thought that my earlier experience with pop culture potato games would make this a good fit for my writing; And if you think that dramatic arc sounds similar to the last time they mailed me, that’s because it is.

Still. I’m not one to turn down well-intentioned potato gifts.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high, I think.)

(Game source: Developer Steam key.)

After the break: I’d make a month out of games like Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!, but alas, I already reviewed the other two earlier.

Ranneko Plays Rushing For The Finish – Channel Update 2017-10-20

I am not sure how widely I have discussed this, but most of the recording I do is also streamed up at https://twitch.tv/ranneko. There isn’t much in the way of audience interaction, and thus there generally isn’t much of an audience. The goal is to give me a backup in case I screw up with my local recording.

At the time of writing, I am actually very close to the end of the Ransistance and I am hoping to finish it off before I fly out (At the time of publishing I will already have started the first leg of my journey). I have been having a great time with War of the Chosen but I think it would be less fun if I not play it for a month and then have to get back into the flow right at the end of the game.

With the Chosen weaponry, the new hero classes, the new skill system and the near gear from the Alien Hunters DLC by the end of the game your soldiers are significantly more powerful than in the base game. I am finding the late game missions to be almost a cakewalk. I think if I play again I will try increasing the difficulty level and look at using mods built around upping the danger level.

Have any of you given War of the Chosen a shot for yourself?

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Shortieland: SiNKR

Heya readers. Shorter Indie Wonderland this week, for reasons not of poor planning but of content. I was emailed by game designer Robert Wahler, who expressed an interest in seeing me review their latest work, the abstract puzzle game SiNKR. And, you know me, hilariously vulnerable to peer pressure and all that. Plus, SiNKR seemed like it’d appeal to me. I like puzzle games for two reasons: One, I’m good them, which makes me feel clever and competent. Yes, that’s totally a valid reason. And two, puzzle games tend to have a clearly defined end point, making it easy to judge how far off the end I am and how much of the game I’ve seen so far. I wouldn’t recommend that for every game, but as far as planning goes, ‘I can see I have X puzzles left until the end’ is much easier to deal with than ‘I think I might be at the final boss, maybe, unless this is a fake-out ending’.

I beat all of SiNKR‘s (current) 60 puzzles in about an hour and a half. That could either mean it’s too short and easy, which would be bad, or that it’s engaging enough to push through a challenging level of difficulty, which would be good. But which option is the correct one? Well…

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, none. Mechanical, high-ish.)

(Game source: Developer Steam key.)

After the break: I know some of you are hoping I’ll say I fell in love with the game. You’ve got your obvious jokes at the ready. I can just feel it.

Ranneko Plays Year on Year Improvement – Channel Update 2017-10-13

I have finally completed all of the recording I need to do before Australia. All I have left is a little bit of editing and uploading and I will have videos scheduled for every day until early December.

Last year I remember pulling off something similar, but at that time my release schedule was a little more relaxed, I think I was only doing 3-4 videos a week but it still took a lot of time and effort to build up the buffer enough to cover everything. This has been a similar amount of work despite the fact I am producing about twice as many videos.

I think the biggest difference, besides simple practice, is changes to the video editor I use. Last year exporting a video would take several hours and I would need to manually kick off the next in sequence. It was hard to speed things up, because ultimately I could export maybe 3 videos in an evening with long stretches of downtime (and leaving the app open overnight).

Nowadays, VideoPad has a queue system which means I can edit the next video while the first exports, but even more significantly, the export process itself is significantly faster because the developers have made the program work smarter. Previously every frame of the video would be re-encoded, regardless of the original source. Now, if I haven’t made a change in a large section of video, and the source is the same quality as the export, VideoPad will literally just copy the data. Where previously I could render a few videos a night, now I can render half a dozen or more.

Are there any apps you use regularly that have improved like that? Also if you edit videos yourself, what is your workflow?

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Should have called this game 'Explosive Decompression Adventures'.

Indie Wonderland: Heat Signature

Suspicious DevelopmentsHeat Signature serves as an incredible example case study into the weird relationship I have with traditional game news. I was entirely on-board when Tom Francis first announced he was working on a new space game, pretty much solely on the strength of Gunpoint, and I followed the associated Twitter account immediately. And then I… never looked into it? In any way? I knew it was in progress, and I had a vague idea of the graphical layout and the problems involved with mapping an enormous procedural (outer) space. But beyond that, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about Heat Signature right now. I’ve heard from smatterings of other reviews that it involves space ships? And boarding? And plans, and backup plans, and backup-backup plans, and plans marked ‘under no circumstances enact this’? Which you will enact anyway?

I have the amazing ability to be feature-blind to hyped indie games even if I’ve taken explicit steps to stay up-to-date with it. I know, I know, it’s like a superpower. Let’s hope it pays off in this case.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Heat Signature. Will managing heat levels of space ships be a critical gameplay factor? I’m genuinely asking because I have no idea.

Ranneko Plays Tuesday Tips – Channel Update 2017-10-06

This week marked the release of the first of Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips, a series I intend to be long running and touching on many different games, though for the first few months they will all be Heat Signature based.

There are a few reasons for making this change:

  1. Tip videos are interesting to make. Unlike a Let’s Play they take more planning, lend themselves to a little more editing to tighten things up and also lead to script writing. All of these are skills I would like to improve.
  2. Tip videos have worked well in the past for me. I have actually had people recognise my username from Sunless Sea and Massive Chalice tip videos in the past and it is a lot easier to get a few minutes of someones time for a tip about a game they might like than it is to convince them to watch a Let’s Play that might take anywhere from one to forty hours
  3. Tip videos have a longer tail. I still regularly see my old tip videos surfaced through YouTube search, they easily make up the majority of my view count. When looking at view count, 8 of my top 10 most viewed videos are tips. Even looking at watch time, 7 of my top 10 videos are tips.
  4. This series explicitly asks for audience assistance. If you have a tip for any game, no matter how obvious it may seem, please let me know and I may make a video about it in the future.

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday: Syfro Saturdays – Ranneko and Syfro Play Thimbleweed Park
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips
Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Wonderland: A Robot Named Fight

Ah! My readers, my children. Come around, come around, it’s been a long time, I know, I know. But as the hour grows late and the fire grows dim, I find I have it in me to tell you on more story. A story about a robot… named fight.

What’s that you say? “Jarenth, ‘A Robot Named Fight is a silly name for a story or a video game, it doesn’t make any sense”? Well, first of all, I can tell nobody ever taught you any manners. It’s terrible rude to interrupt a storyteller, is what it is. Second, you’ll have to take that up with Matt Bitner, from Matt Bitner Games. They named the robot Fight, not I. And third… Did you want to hear my story, or not?

That’s what I thought. Now, where was I? Ah, yes: A Robot Named Fight. I remember it well, readers, children. It’s like I played it only last week…

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high-ish. Mechanical, medium or high, depending on your reading pattern.)

(Game source: Developer Steam key.)

After the break: I’ll admit I didn’t really know what to make of the title either. Let’s hope it makes more sense before the review runs out, or else…