Saturday, June 28, 2014

Interesting Indie: Lifeless Planet

Wow. Talk about an underrated game.

4.5 hours of my evening just evaporated into this game. And I couldn't be more pleased.

Lifeless Planet, was released June 6th, 2014 on both PC and XBox One by Stage 2 Studios - this atmospheric puzzle-platformer was an enchanting experience, mixed in with a subtle and absolutely sublime soundtrack. The narrative and visual storytelling me completely engrossed in the game, and left me pressing on until the eventual and rewarding end. Graphically, this game is also quite beautiful.


Only two puzzles out of the many actually had me stumped. I'll say this, I'm terrible at puzzle games, and this game does not hold your hand, however the puzzles become fairly intuitive as you progress through the game. But beware the 'forest'.


The platforming and controls were solid, and one unique thing to note was the characters 'building up speed' as you continued to hold the directional button. Which is a mechanic you should familiarize yourself with, as it becomes important in a few of the platforming portions. There were maybe 3 platforming sections that irritated me, mostly because I didn't know which way to go, but one in particular was due to my inability to time my jumps. I don't fault the game for this at all.


Do you have 4-5 hours that you want to spend having a unique and pleasing experience? Then buy this game. I bought it during the Steam Summer Sale, and it was (in my opinion) absolutely worthwhile.

-Nelson

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Steam Summer Sale 2014 - The Psychology

Steam Summer Sales.

Quite possibly the best time to pick up video games that you normally wouldn't ever give a chance at otherwise. Steam sales in general are a huge boon to those who are willing to wait to buy games, and at the same time, it draws in a lot of revenue to the folks at Steam.

How?

There's some psychology to how people spend money. Buy a game on sale? "Welllll, I'm already buying one game, and this *other* game is cheap, might as well throw it in!" - the impulse buy. Kind of like that shelf full of candybars at the checkout in the grocery store. You see it, and you figure "why the hell not".


Well this particular sale has gone above that psychology.

First off, Steam broke users out into random teams. How do you get points for your teams? Collect cards and craft badges. How do you get cards? Buy games. OR, buy the cards from the Community Market.

"What's the Community Market?" - oh Steam, you brilliant bastards. This sale educated a lot of users into how the Steam ecosystem works. Namely...

  1. How to find your inventory
  2. How to find your badges
  3. What the Community Market is (and what it's about)
  4. Steam wallet (and how to fill it, so you can buy stuff on the Community Market)

By showing users how to use all this, was a smart move. Because in order to craft badges, you need cards, in order to get cards, you have to buy games, or buy cards... well, how do you buy cards - oh you get them in the market - which you have to put money into your Steam Wallet to do... you can see where this is going.


OH... AND... Steam gets a cut. You wanna sell your cards on the Community Market? Steam gets a piece. Wanna fill your Wallet to buy cards? More money for Steam. Wanna buy a card? Steam ALSO gets a piece.

So with all that said and done, plus the social buzz created by the whole "Team" thing... it's driven a lot of interest in social feeds to participate. And then the human nature of competition kicks in. Humans are inherently competitive. Gotta get my team points... because we could win a game from our wishlist!! Ah yes, offer rewards... digital content that costs Steam nothing - such as in-game items... to 'free games for X people' - 30 users will win 3 free games from their wishlist... Well, technically it'd be cheaper to just buy the games. But that's not how people think.

So in the end, Steam is likely making a killing using psychology and creative marketing to get people to spend, and spend often for this sale.

And you know what, well done Steam.

-Nelson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nelson plays: Spelunky (and finally beats it!)

Spelunky.

That game has been a major thorn in my side, but also one of the most solid platformers I have ever played. Over and over. And over. Almost to the point of obsession.

I had beaten Olmec, the golden god, and was almost satisfied by that. But there was something deep down inside the cockles (or sub-cockles) that urged me to beat Spelunky properly.

Many hours, many attempts, some swearing - ok lots of swearing - I managed to get to Hell. Only to get summarily wrecked by King Yama.

This would not do.

More runs, more frustration, and an even bigger push to complete this game fueled me to continue. And then... I won. I beat Spelunky. Holy shit. I almost forgot to record the session, but I had the good fortune of remembering to turn on my recording software, and actually beat the game.


After beating Spelunky, I thought I would want to continue playing it some more, get all the achievements and unlocks. I tried. Not too seriously. And today, I finally uninstalled Spelunky.

Goodnight my sweet prince. You will not be forgotten.

-Nelson

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Danny Jay Plays: WildStar

MMO's are one of Dan's video game passions. He treats them like Pokemon. Gotta play them all.

WildStar is an MMO that Dan had been keeping his eyes on for a while, and he finally gets to enjoy it. Some folks have been calling it "World of Warcraft, but for Furries" - and that may or may not be true, but that's beside the point.

Watch as Dan takes a dive head-first into WildStar!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interesting Indie: Night in the Woods

Indie games can be a hit-or-miss experience. Especially when they start out as a Kickstarter. But there are also some indie games that just look so good, that despite the risk of crowdfunding, or even pre-ordering, you feel compelled to buy in early.

In Nelson's case, that game was Night in the Woods.



While he had missed out on the original Kickstarter pledge/drive, Nelson had found out about this game randomly via some E3 coverage of all things. 

First of all, this game has an amazing soundtrack, let's just get that out of the way first. And that brings us to the art style... it's absolutely beautiful. It's soft, with kind of a dull neon glow, but sharp and engaging to the eye. It seems to have many layers to it, foreground and background all merging together seamlessly. Most importantly, this will be a story-driven game, and as some of our listeners might already know, Nelson is a big fan of games with a good story.


Now you're probably asking - "What kind of game is it?" - and we'll let the developer describe it:
"Night In The Woods is an adventure game heavily focused on story, characters and exploration, with some platforming to get around town. Mae's a cat so the roofs and ledges and powerlines are all her playground, and she's not the only one up there by a long shot. You'll also be doing various activities and interacting with the world in different ways, getting to know the townspeople, hanging out with friends, exploring Possum Springs inside and out, and venturing into the surrounding areas."
If this is your style of game, or you want to take a chance and check it out - you can preorder it now, and it should be available in 2015, but hopefully sooner, on PC/Mac/Linux, as well as Playstation 4. 


Episode 24 - Steam Summer Sale Week 1 Roundup

Steam Summer Sale 2014! Prepare your wallets. Sell a kidney. Get ALL the (deeply discounted) games!

In this episode - Dan and Nelson go over the games they've bought so far, how deep the discounts went, which games they're still holding off for, and how brilliant Steam is with making money during this Summer Sale.



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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Episode 23 - The Hot Banana E3 Wrap-up Show

E3 was a real hot banana of game announcements, shenanigans, and some miserable disappointments.

In this episode - Dan once again expresses his love for Nintendo, Brian's skirt got blown up a bit by Sony, and Nelson would almost buy a Wii U, maybe.



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Friday, June 13, 2014

E3 Mentionables: Cuphead

Well the onslaught of E3 game announcements have come and gone (mostly gone)... and there are certainly some notable games on the horizon...

Especially this one: Cuphead (by Studio MDHR)



I'm a sucker for games with a good art-style. And this game is one of those. It's styled after the old 1930's Looney-Tunes / Disney-Mickey-Mouse cartoons that aired in the long-long ago. The soundtrack also fits with the 'era' or feel of the game. 

But what kind of game is Cuphead? Well the folks at Studio MDHR describe it as:
"...a classic run and gun that centers around 1-on-1 fights (2-on-1 in two player mode). With Cuphead, we aim to evolve the genre by adding new features such as: super arts, infinite lives, a playable world map and hidden secrets. In addition to that, we will have refined controls, additional boss patterns on harder modes and balanced weapons to equip (that you don’t lose!). We plan to release 10-15 bosses per episode and end up with over 30 bosses. If all goes as planned, we will defeat the current “Guinness World Record for Most Boss Battles in a Run and Gun Game”[25 total]."
Watch the trailer if you haven't already, and you'll see what I mean. And you'll likely agree that it looks fan-fucking-tastic. 

I'm eagerly awaiting the PC release of this!

-Nelson

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Episode 22 - Mass-edonia Effect

Alexander the Great's Favorite Podcast (probably)

In this episode - Dan "Pokemons" another MMO - gotta play them all, Brian tricks and tenderizes his foes in Dark Souls 2, and Nelson is still talking about Broforce.



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