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What have I bought lately?
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:43 am    Post subject: What have I bought lately? Reply with quote

I'm still Linux-only, so there are lots of games I can't play, but these days there are actually quite a lot of options, especially with Steam now available for Linux.


I bought Puppygames's Ultratron yesterday on Steam for Linux. A very slick, beautiful entry in the Robotron genre. I feel it suffers the same problem as Revenge of the Titans: it seems quite easy to squander your money badly and end up seriously underpowered. On the other hand, it plays through much faster, so if you die it's much easier to jump back in and try a different set of upgrades. I'd recommend this one strongly. It's great to play when you have perhaps 30-60 minutes spare.

The Cave

I also bought The Cave. Sadly I wouldn't recommend this. It's like a point-and-click adventure, but with platforming elements. A bit like the old Dizzy games. It is not as good as the Dizzy games. The platform elements are rare and not particularly fun. Mostly it just involves lots of walking backwards and forwards and climbing ladders.

You get to select three out of a selection of seven characters, and you switch between them to solve puzzles. A bit like Day of the Tentacle. It is not as good as Day of the Tentacle. The best puzzles I've encountered so far were in the time-travel level, which is very similar in structure to Day of the Tentacle, but much more crude.

Overall, it feels a very skewed game. The graphics are beautiful. The narration is good. I like the characters. But the puzzles are unfulfilling, and sparsely scattered through a large environment lacking in interaction. The writing is weird. I don't know if I had bad luck with the characters I picked, but they all seem to have pretty much identical stories of being horrible, cruel people. (Hmmm. There are seven, maybe each represents one deadly sin? Not sure that would redeem it much.) It also seems very linear - the classic adventure games all had a rich structure where you could explore and progress through several different strands of puzzles that were eventually woven together as you came to the finalé. The Cave is extremely linear, and mostly split up into a sequence of short levels with no real linkage. The only non-linearity is that each of the seven characters has their own dedicated level that you skip over if they're not selected.

I haven't finished it yet. Maybe I'll change my mind with more play, but so far it's just a very pretty disappointment. The one upside is that it's moderately interesting to watch, so I can play it with my partner.


I bought this last year, also for Linux. Spiderweb's RPGs are rather idiosyncratic. Ugly but functional graphics, little animation to speak of. Lots of little bits of plot and backstory, lots of optional quests and hidden stuff, quite an interesting world. Vast quantities of items you can pick up that have no game function but just serve for colour. A very bleak setting. Huge world and a very long story.

I played it a lot at the time, but drifted away over time. I enjoy the combat and the exploration, but I find the story really grinds you down. All the Spiderweb games I've played have been a slow progression of "go and do this morally dubious quest for someone very powerful that you don't quite trust, while observing rampant human misery and despair". I don't mean to say that the quests are all the same - there's a lot of variety of content, just not of theme, and it's a theme you can only really endure for so long. I don't think I've ever finished a Spiderweb RPG.

The character progression (in terms of gameplay, not story) is also a bit frustrating. It feels an awkward hybrid of hyper-gamey, carefully balanced progression systems (e.g. World of Warcraft) and relatively unbalanced, simulation-oriented, stats-heavy systems (e.g. Nethack, AD&D). On the one hand you don't quite feel like you trust the design enough to stop you spending your points so badly you will get stuck, but neither do you feel the system is rich enough to be especially rewarding to explore the different combinations of skills.

Legend of Grimrock

This is excellent. Retro-style grid-based dungeon crawling with lovely modern graphics. The combat is fun and the puzzles are very well designed. It's quite hard. It could do with a better tutorial - the tutorial tells you how to open doors, press buttons and move objects, but neglects to tell you how to *fight*. The first time I met a monster I dropped all my weapons on the floor in front of it. It actually took a while to figure out how it works. Still, once you get the hang of it you will find it rewarding.


Good grief this game is hard. I almost never play games on 'easy', but I just find 'normal' far too punishing in FTL. This is a charming, clever space-ship sim. Perhaps you could describe it as a cross between The Sims and Star Trek where you are almost always at battle-stations. It's one of those games where you won't realise quite how much you're learning on each playthrough, but each time you'll find you last a lot longer because you are picking up the little tricks you need to cope with critical situations, and getting a better feel for when to push your luck and when to play it safe. Still, sometimes you will be unlucky and there's not a thing you can do about it. I'd recommend it so long as you have a tolerance for learning-by-dying.


The only other game I can remember is Knytt Underground, but I need to think some more before I comment on it. I'm sure I've played more games, but I can't remember what. I've actually been playing a lot of board games lately.
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've kept an eye on Spiderweb, who make Avadon, for years. The developer writes quite interesting and funny articles now and again. But yes, I have a go at his games every now and again, play avidly for a while, but then lose interest and drift into something else without feeling like a lot of progress was made. I think he serves a specific niche of adventure fans very well though and I've always found him an inspirational indie i.e. he isn't an over night super star, but has made a good living at it for many years.

As soon as I saw Grimrock I thought - modern day Dungeon Master Woo! I'll definitely be taking a closer look at that one. No demo, seems more and more common these days. Looks gorgeous though.

FTL sounds like a great idea, again no demo and it looks a bit complicated from the trailer. However, it's on sale at the minute for $5 so you can't say fairer than that!

I've got to start teaching mobile game development in a couple of weeks, eek! So I've been playing quite a few mobile games, I love the humble bundles where you get android+mac+window+linux.

I've ended up with lots of great games for surprisingly little money:
Need For Speed: Most Wanted - cost £2 and consists of lots of short race challenges to win money for better cars. Very pretty, very simple, very addictive. Spoilt by the pervasive 'credit for cash' sickness. The parts you buy to customise your car disappear at the end of a race, so you go through your winnings very quickly and are then encouraged to 'buy' more credits with real cash. Ruins the game design, car customisation is an excellent way of making you feel like the cars are really yours and this system kills it. It's a shame they didn't feel able to charge £5 or mroe for the game and do away with freemium ****.

Zen Bound 2 - came with a humble bundle, gorgeous puzzle game about wrapping up 3D shapes. Very relaxing.

Osmos HD - another HIB game, a little cell swimming around eating. Cool idea.

Canabalt HD - another HIB, one button free running type game, I met the developer at Game City in Nottingham and he's really nice. Nice, quick, addictive game.

Temple Run 2 - free, same feeling as Canabalt, but nice 3D motion, my daughter beats me though.

Machinarium - another HIB, quirky and lovely puzzle game.

Jetpack Joyride - free, another one button game, nice graphics.

World of goo - free, nice to play it again on a new platform, works well

Dead trigger - free, very pretty 3D zombie battling game

Beach Buggie - free, fun racing game, but really kicks in trying to get money off you very quickly.

Real Racing - GTA style racing competition with real cars, number 2 was really good, loved it, but they only charged 89p which was silly. With 3 they've gone free to play, but start trying to get money off you for parts and repairs within minutes, it just ruined it. Just sell it to me, I'd pay £10 no problem.

Angry Birds Space - can't help myself, it's so addictive.

Triple Town - free, really clever twist of match3 puzzle, really good.

Sector Strike - at last a scrolling shootemup, more of those needed!
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On X360 I finally got around to Modern Warfare 2, I thought I'd better considering its the biggest selling game franchise of all time. I didn't like MW1, the story was daft and single player was just chaotic and confusing, multiplayer is where all the effort went I know, but I don't like the verbal abuse. MW2 had exactly the same problems, single player finished in about 4hrs. One saving grace though, special ops. Takes all the same levels but gives you a clearly explained structured objective. I love it, completing at high difficulty unlocks more levels, I must have put 15hrs into it so far. I hope MW3+4 have the same feature. Paid £10 for a bargain bucket copy.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far as the Spiderweb games go, I feel a bit sad about the direction they have developed. The earlier games were - I think - both smaller and much graphically simpler. They've never been graphically beautiful games, but I feel like they lost their naive, low-res 2D simplicity and surrendered it for a rather bland and lifeless isometric style. It feels like the same thing that happened when games went from 320x200 to 640x480 and higher - it's much easier to make passable low-res art than passable high-res art.

It's not that I think the developer could or should have made it differently, but that I feel sad the market demands bigger, more detailed, higher-resolution games, even when it makes them more dilute, both in terms of content and in terms of art.

(Come to think of it, maybe I've had this rant before... Oh, yes. I have. http://www.moonpod.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=3712 )

Nevertheless, I'm really happy that he's still going. I'm glad that someone is able to continue making these games successfully.

Of the games you listed, I think I only own Zen Bound 2 and Machinarium, and I've still never played Zen Bound 2. Machinarium is delightful. I bought it ages ago, long before it was in a humble bundle. I love the art style, and the puzzles are generally very nicely set.

I was sad to read the Puppygames blog post on the financial figures for Ultratron. It was up when I started this thread, but I only just saw it the other day. It seems like the game has quite a mountain to climb to ever turn a profit, and it's a shame for how well-made a game it is. I guess maybe Mr Robot has a similar story. Sad

Some other games I forgot to mention are:

Final Fantasy Dimensions

One of very few games I've bought for my Android tablet. It feels like a very competent clone Final Fantasy 5, except with really very bad writing and chopped up into dismally regular chapters (because it was released as episodic content in Japan). It takes quite a while to realise this, though. In style it look extremely similar to FF5 and 6, but after a while you begin to notice that it's not as visually rich as either. The best things are the things that are the same as FF5, the weakest things are the innovations, which lack conviction. I wish it had been a little bit braver in trying to define itself.

Retro City Rampage

Well, I didn't forget this one. I bought it just last week. It suffers from the same problem as Bastion - a game with deeply enjoyable and engaging core gameplay, that throws out that core gameplay for its last level and replaces it with a frustrating and unfulfilling mechanic, to leave a slightly bitter taste in your mouth even though the vast majority of the game was very fun.

RCR is broadly the original GTA as if it were made for the NES, but with a million references to games, TV and films from the late 80s and 90s. It really beats you over the head with them. It takes the core mechanics of GTA and makes it much more accessible and fun.

The developer also has a blog with some interesting stuff in it, especially the video on how he made an actual 8-bit version of the game: http://retrocityrampage.com/blog/
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't seen that Ultratron post, but I know the developer and he'd mentioned the profitability problems many times and yes, MrRobot is the same.

I noticed the makers of Weird Worlds Infinite Space have started a sequel, they've gone 3D and implemented a planet map editor and a very nice looking space ship modeller. It will obviously take massive man hours to finish, but they've cleverly now pitched it as a kickstarter project. So at least they won't spend any more money on it without knowing for sure what people are willing to pay for it.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently got DOOM but to be honest i prefer the previous title DOOM 3 because of the horror.

The new game was a bit too much arena shooter and no horror. Hope they will return to the DOOM 3 style with the next one.
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