As the year’s end approaches, John E. O. Stevens, Fred Kiesche and Jeff Patterson tempt the fates by doing a THIRD episode for the month. Joining them is the man who was the unintentional catalyst for this podcast, Patrick Hester. They pause in their assorted biscotti, chili, and laundry activities to take on the topic of wish lists, their usefulness, and what is currently on them.
Then the discussion turns to all things comics. It’s really nerdy.
Not too long ago, I reviewed the free game Octodad, a game developed at DePaul University for the 2011 Independent Games Festival, which is about an octopus pretending to be a human trying to keep up his disguise to his family and everyone else, and trying to avoid the murderous pursuit of Chef Fujimoto, the only one to see through the disguise.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the sequel to that game, developed by Young Horses, which is staffed by some of the developers of the original. The game is several times longer, has much nicer graphics, and covers much of the story of Octodad and his family that wasn’t covered by the original–starting off with a flashback to Octodad and Scarlet’s wedding day.
Octodad is living the American dream. He is a businessman with a wife and two lovely children living in a nice suburban home with a nice big green lawn. He’s just an ordinary guy. Except for the minor detail that he is actually an octopus living a lie and fooling everyone into thinking he’s human. And he’s done a good job so far, apparently. Not even his wife and kids suspect. There’s only person who sees through the not-so-clever disguise–Fujimoto, a local sushi chef. And he’s out to expose Octodad for the fraud that he really is.
Nick Sharps had the opportunity to chat with Ubisoft Scriptwriter Oliver Sudden about the new living-world game Far Cry 4.
Join them, won’t you?
Nick Sharps: Hello Oliver, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your position at Ubisoft Montreal.
Oliver Sudden: Well, I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and I first came to Montreal to do a degree in Filmmaking at Concordia University.
I moved away and then moved back and after applying two or three times to Ubisoft Montreal, I was hired on as a scriptwriting intern and hope to become a full-time scriptwriter soon.
NS: It is my understanding that you worked on the action-adventure first-person shooter video game Far Cry 4. As a long time fan of the Far Cry franchise I have to say, this must have been an exciting opportunity. Can you tell us a little about your contribution to the game and what it’s like to work with a team of writers?
The Bridge is a side-scroller puzzle game with level design inspired by the amazing artist M.C. Escher, released by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild in 2013.
The game starts with the player character snoozing hard under an apple tree. You can wake him up by using one of the central controls of the game–shifting gravity. Pressing left or right rotates gravity in that direction–tipping the ground back and forth shakes loose an apple from the tree to bonk the player character on the head and wake him up. He goes for a stroll to his house, shifting gravity to make it up some of the steeper slopes. In the house he finds a series of rooms in which he has to use his gravity-shifting powers and other puzzle elements to make it to the exist door. Continue reading
Scott Taylor is an avid reader, writer, and have worked as a senior editor for Black Gate Magazine and Director of Publishing at Skull Island Expeditions. He’s also done freelance work for Wizards of the Coast and White Wolf. He is currently the Art Director for TSR/Gygax Magazine. On the side he also work as a freelance art director, art agent, and art blogger at his own ‘shop’ Art of the Genre. Scott’s greatest passion is to work in conjunction with great artists and authors to produce inspired pieces of fantasy and outstanding games. Because of the wonderful fans on Kickstarter he has successfully run seven ‘dime store’ fantasy book projects with artists like Jeff Easley, David Deitrick, Jeff Laubenstein, Janet Aulisio, Brom, Rk Post, and Todd Lockwood. He’s also managed to found the micro-press Art of the Genre to produce products for the public. His current project, The Folio: Neo-Retro Gaming Modules for 5th Edition, marks his eighth Kickstarter.
A Disturbing Trend in Art Direction
by Scott Taylor
Fantasy art director Jim Pinto is often fond of saying that there is no art in RPGs, and by inference, we can extrapolate that he also means there is no art in fantasy publishing at all. Art, by Pinto’s definition states that, and I paraphrase only a bit here, ‘the work is serving a direct purpose, it is not serving itself’. So, creation for the sole sake of expression is ‘art’, and all else becomes illustration. He also indicates, and I feel correctly indicates, that there is rarely expression by the artist who must interpret an author’s or art director’s vision from less than one hundred words.
Last week Steam had a free game weekend where they opened up ten games for a free-play weekend. Don’t Starve, published by Klei Entertainment in 2013. You could install the game without buying it and play as much as you want for those few days. I’d had my eyes on Don’t Starve already before that, so I took a shot at the game and got a couple of hours of gameplay in.
Last week, I attended the Austin Comic Con (aka Wizard World Texas). Oddly, the show ran Thursday through Saturday. No Sunday at all. Since Saturday was Yom Kippur, I only went on Thursday evening, which ran from 4:30-9, and Friday, 2 until sundown.
Cool, and pretty much what you’d expect. But with more cake.
Nick Phillips of Oriental Excess Co. has an interesting project brewing and is looking for contributors to extend the world of the Tokyo Yakuza strategy war game.
Adam Pesapane, a.k.a “PES”, is a stop-motion animation filmmaker. File this video-game themed animation under Oddly Captivating…
If you’re like me, you were one of many, many kids who got to play the edutainment game Oregon Trail at school originally published by MECC in 1977 with various updated releases since then. In case you’re not familiar with it, the game follows a family setting out on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s to settle in the west. You have money, food, bullets, sets of clothes for your family, and you have to try to keep everyone alive on the trail. Your characters can die from starvation, various diseases, from exposure, from drowning if you fail a river crossing, probably some other things that I’ve forgotten. Part of the appeal of the game, at least to me, was that you could name your family members–so typically you’d name them after your classmates and then could shout out in study hall “Hey Paul, you just died from cholera!” And you could also leave gravestones with custom epitaphs where your last party member died so other players would see them as they pass in future playthroughs.
Now, imagine that someone went back in time and interviewed every kid who was enjoying playing through this game and asked each of them one simple question: “If you could add one thing to make this game more awesome, what would it be?” And then that someone made a game that incorporate all of the answers without the slightest regard to historical accuracy. That someone would be Sparsevector, and that game would be Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, released in October 2013.
To the Moon is a story-heavy light-puzzle game released by Freebird Games in 2011.
Johnny is unconscious and on his deathbed. He might not survive the night. Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts of the Sigmund Corporation are called in to fulfill Johnny’s contract. Sigmund Corporation will grant your dying wish… sort of. They can rewrite your memories to change the narrative arc of their life and make sure their wish comes true. The main problem of the procedure is that the new memories overwrite the real memories, but nothing has changed in the real world to match them, so Sigmund Corporation will only perform the operation when a person is near death, so they can wake up and experience the new memories before they die.
Gunpoint is a 2D stealth strategy game released by Tom Francis released in 2013. In it, you play a private detective specializing in infiltration of secure buildings (mostly breaking into secure office buildings, stealing/planting data and then escaping it). As the game starts, you get a call to visit the office of a friend but when you get there you find that she’s been murdered in the short time since the phone call. You don’t see any clear evidence but the building security camera recorded you entering her office.
A friend of your dead friend contacts you, warning you that you’ll be the primary suspect for the lazy local police force. She wants the real killer to be found so she contracts your services to break into the five offices that store the automatic offsite backups of that security feed.
FTL is a game by Subset Games published in 2012 (with all-new game expansions published in April 2014). It’s a space exploration and combat game with much of the challenge coming from resource allocation problems.
You are the captain of a Federation ship that has vital information about the war against the Rebels. You have to race ahead of the Rebel fleet to reach a Federation base that can make use of the information.
A week ago I noted that a new version of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook made its debut. Though it has been about 30 years since I last played D&D, I immediately ordered a copy, and was surprised and delighted when it arrived today. I hadn’t expected to get it for a few more days.
It is a beautiful book, its thick, glossy cover and heavy color pages reminiscent of a textbook. And in a way it is a textbook. If anything in my childhood taught me how to exercise my imagination in a fun and unique way, it was Dungeons & Dragons.
As I sat on the couch running my hands across the pages, my son, who turned five earlier this summer, saw Tyler Jacobson’s wonderful cover art and asked what the book was about.
“It’s a Dungeons & Dragons book,” I told him. Being a five, he was familiar with both dungeons and dragons. But possibly not together in a book. So while his next question was inevitable, he asked it with sincere curiosity.
“Daddy, what’s Dungeons & Dragons?”
The Maw is a 3D puzzle/adventure game released by Twisted Pixel in 2009. The game starts as your player character — a rather cutesy alien of childish proportions — is taken into custody by a military force and put into a force field cell on a transport ship with other captured species of various varieties. Before long, the ship crashes and the player escapes. The player soon makes friends with a tiny but ever-hungry purple blob, the title character known as the Maw. The blob is held in a collar and the player character soon finds an electric leash that can latch to the collar and direct it.
Platformines is a platform-jumper shooter that takes place in a mine (who would have guessed?) It was released by Magiko Games in March 2014.
The basic premise is that you are a member of a crew that mans an underground excavation vehicle called the Robodig. It has broken mid-dig and scattered the nine block cannons that could be used to repair it. The mines are filled with hostile monsters of various shapes as well as hostile weapon-toting humans. At any given time the location of the next block cannon is marked on your map as well as providing a directional arrow and distance on the main play screen. So you have to navigate through the maze-like mines fighting hostiles all the while to get to each cannon until you’ve collected all nine.
VVVVVV is a platformer game released by Terry Cavanagh in 2010, based around a single simple idea–what if, instead of jumping, you could reverse gravity? The plot of the game is that a crew of five people has some kind of accident that leaves it stuck, and with the screw scattered across the area when there’s a transporter problem. You are the captain and it’s your responsibility to find your crew members and return them to the ship so you can leave again. You can flip gravity–the reason for this is not explained, but none of the other crew members seem to be able to do it, some captain’s privilege I guess. The one restriction is that to flip it , you have to have your feet on a solid surface–you can’t flip back and forth in mid-air, you have to wait until you land.
Fez is a platform jumper with an interdimensional twist, released by Polytron in 2012. In Fez, you are a marshmallow-looking fellow happily living in his little town of similar marshmallow-looking people until you meet a divine being known as the Hypercube which gives you a magical hat (the titular fez) which gives you the ability to venture into… dun dun DUN… the third dimension. Or, well, kind of the third dimension–more accurately a two-dimensional orthogonal projection of a rotatable view of the third dimension. Yes, yes, I know that’s confusing unless you happen to have a computer graphics background. It takes a little work to wrap your head around it, but once you understand it is a neat idea that lends the game most of its novelty.