When I was 13, I got Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic at launch. In a matter of hours KOTOR became one of favourite games of all time, no question, everything about the game spot on, from its array of interesting fully dimensional characters, its vast playpen worlds filled to the brim with lore and and quests and the feeling that you were really manipulating a story with your own choices (I finished the game is a dickhead first… Come on… I was THIRTEEN!). Since then I’ve played and completed KOTOR more times than I can remember and when a sequel was announced I was all on board, oh my god was I excited!
KOTOR 2, however, to me was a bit of a disappointment. Well… I kind of hated it. I thought it was messy, boring and very samey. The characters seemed to make weird silly decisions for no reason and the none of the worlds visited felt of realised as any from the first. I’ve only completed KOTOR 2 once in my whole life (dark side of course, it seems to be how I do things). Since 2005 however, I haven’t completed it since… I’ve tried but the game is so buggy something ALWAYS happens that pisses my game up.
Well NOW I going to try and complete KOTOR, nearly 10 years into the future as a light side, Jedi Guardian named Conor Kets and I’m going to document my experience world by world… You can keep up with the blog if you want. Its like a lets play with text! HOW FUN!!
Time to listen to my complete bullshit! Here are my top 5 games of 2013:
SimCity (“Honourable” Mention)
You know why it isn’t on the list. I really enjoyed my time with SimCity. When those problems were ironed out and the servers aren’t down, sure, you have to dig through a load of shit but theres a really fun game underneath I spent a lot of the year playing.
5. GTA V
I only got to play 11 hours of GTA V as I’m a PC gamer you see… BUT, from what I played, through its stupidly juvenile world, was an impressive piece of software that was ludicrously fun. Heists, man… Heists…
4. Stanley Parable
I remember playing the mod some time ago but never really playing much of it. However, with the release of the “HD Remix” I got to play Stanley Parable as the game it was truly meant to be. Narrated flawlessly, written impeccably, if you haven’t played SP… PLAY IT!
3. Gone Home
How many games are like Gone Home? What a fantastic game, a clever game that tells its story perfectly through you. It never tells you you’re wrong or you aren’t playing it properly. It just lets you play and what you see is what you see.
2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
When I picked up Brothers I had no idea what I was expecting, and I’m really glad. What I was given was an amazing story. From start to finish Brothers is an emotional and truly engaging game up there with the best!
1. Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite is undeniably the best game I have played all year, without a doubt. Colombia’s “what if” setting drew me in as soon as I saw it, Elizabeth is one of the most realised companions in any game ever and the game’s ending… IT’S ENDING!
Top 3 Best non 2013 games of 2013 (games from yesteryear I got round to playing this year)
3. Fallout New Vegas
Cannot even believe how long it took me to play F:NV, but when I did I never stopped… Until I played the DLC… They were terrible.
Well this is kinda a 2013 PC release but Spelunky has been on XBLA since 2012. Spelunky is really, really, REALLY fun if not INCREDIBLY difficult!
1. To the Moon
Nor film or book could gave me the experience To the Moon did. To the Moon is one of the best story based games out there at the moment. A true emotional tale of loss handled very, very well.
Deadly Premonition (Honourable Mention)
Honourable Mention because I’m still in the middle of my playthough… but I get it. I’m with the cult
As Lex Laser Saves the Galaxy, Again comes to its final stretch over at Kickstarter, Fund This Game thought it would be cool to take a look into the game and also talk to team leader on the title Andrew Grant.
Andrew describes the game as “a tactical puzzle RPG for busy people. We’re going out of our way to keep the game accessible, but also to provide a little bit of depth when you look for it”.
“The basic game design came before the fiction. Square-based map, turn-based gameplay, lots of area effect attacks, and lots of enemies. You pick the correct weapon for the situation at hand, and try to figure out how to target it for maximum effect. It’s a twist on the classic tactical combat games that plays a lot more like a casual puzzle game. But unlike most casual puzzle RPG games, the puzzle element fits in directly with the fiction. You aren’t manipulating gems on an abstract board; you are managing the tactical situation itself”.
The game has various ways to complete its episodes, I asked Andrew if this was original design idea when first going into the game.
“No. Every game *wants* to have a branching plot line, but it’s often prohibitively expensive in terms of production”.
“That came about after we decided to split the story up into Episodes. Once you’ve finished an Episode, we’re promising that you don’t *need* to remember all the details. We’ll tell you everything you need to know in a quick summary. This boundary also creates a handy branch point”.
“Let’s say that Lex Laser meets the brilliant scientist “Mercer,” but discovers that Mercer has been performing questionable biological experiments on human subjects. Lex can thwart Mercer by letting the research subjects go. Lex can help Mercer in exchange for some valuable medical equipment. Lex can kill Mercer. Any one of those outcomes ends the Episode. In the save file, we write a summary for the Episode, and we record a little bit of data about Mercer. Mercer hates Lex, Mercer likes Lex, Mercer is dead…”
“Let’s say that Mercer hates Lex Laser. When the player chooses the next Episode, we can filter Episodes based on this record. We can present Episodes where someone with high-tech resources is gunning for Lex Laser, and we can cast Mercer in that role”.
“That’s a particularly complicated example. Simpler things are: “Does Lex Laser have a space ship right now?” “Is Lex Laser friendly with the pirates?” “Is Lex Laser rich or poor?” “Is Lex Laser’s father alive?” Those are all outcomes that can vary depending on how you complete your Episodes”
When asking Andrew for his influences, I wrongly assumed Douglas Adams was an influence. I guess the Englishman in me took over, Andrew went on to tell me mor
“For humor and narrative, look to Firefly. Firefly had this wonderful way of keeping tense situations light. The *universe* wasn’t always funny, but the *characters* dealt with the drama of the universe by laughing at it. (Hands down, Firefly has the funniest torture scene ever filmed.)”
“Firefly and Babylon 5 both had this wonderful feeling that the universe was a big place. If you truly wanted to, you could just run away and lose yourself in it. But you also have friends, family, responsibilities, and honor. So you don’t turn your back on those things entirely. When you are needed, you step up.”
“We also reference Heinlein’s juveniles and E. E. “Doc” Smith’s books. You’ll see a lot of the same themes there. Space is big, and dangerous. Humans are clever, resourceful, and above all, determined. Those books have a lot to do with why Lex Laser is an asteroid miner by trade.”
“As for gameplay, we’re influenced by Robots, Gauntlet, Rogue, Diablo, Dungeons & Dragons, SSI’s Gold Box games, and HERO System. These games all have strong positional tactics, which manifest in different ways. Star Control II, Star Saga, and FTL are primarily storytelling influences.”
So as we come up to the final week of the funding for Lex Laser it should be interesting to see what happens. Andrew Grant’s reflects on his time with Kickstarter.
“We’ve already gained a lot from the Kickstarter. The process of writing and rewriting and trying to honestly represent what’s cool about the game has helped crystallize a lot of ideas. The Kickstarter is working a lot like a very early focus test in that regard”.
“We’re also hoping to gain a group of dedicated fans, people who look forward to new versions of the game. That’s an amazingly powerful force for any creative endeavor. Knowing that someone out there wants to see our game makes all the hard work worthwhile. I love it when something I do makes people smile”.
“And on the flip side, if there aren’t people looking forward to the game, that’s really useful to know up front. That means we need to change the game and try again”.
“Don’t get me wrong; the funding is essential, too. But if this were just about money, we wouldn’t be making independent games”.
If you would like to know more about Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again here is their homepage
And here is their pitch
Lets fund this game!
In only 6 days into their campaign, Onipunks‘ recent project C-Wars has been successfully funded. C-Wars describes itself as “what happens when a Cyberpunk apocalypse roguelike meets an RTS in pixel art”.
Doesn’t that description sound crazy? Well its real. Here it is!
“Funded in 6 days, it’s totally beyond our expectation. We are very happy and grateful. Our backers are awesome! The more attentions we get, the bigger responsibility we have. We will work harder to deliver this game on time to our supporters. Also, we are here to listen the feedback from our backers and steam greenlight/twitter/facebook/tumblr followers. Like we said in the KS video, this is a fun and ambitious project, and we want you to part of it”. Says Loup Zhou, creative director at Onipunks’ Studio. When I asked about the community surrounding the project Zhou told me:
“For now, only our combat-system was shown to the steam and KS community. It’s quite well received by Steam users and KS backers. Most likely because they either like our combat system design [and the alpha demo] or being pixel art lover as we are. We will release our roguelike integrated Beta soon, then we can finally see the reactions from the community”.
“In fact, there is another community we need to talk about; the indie community. As you noticed maybe in our KS page, we are talking about the partnership with our 3 Indie friends: Spooky Squid Games, NostalgiCO, and UpperByte. They let the main characters from their awesome games (They bleed pixels, Cryamore and Wooden Sen’Sey) to be special guests in C-Wars. It’s pretty a big deal for us, we didn’t expect they will accept this invitation of partnership but when we show our prototype to them, they were kind of like it right away. Other than that, we don’t have enough feedback from indie community yet but we are confident about our product. We think we will know more about it after IGF China and PAX [yeah, we are going to show our game at PAX]”.
With 18 days left on the campaign, I can’t wait to see what will happen. “We’d like to receive more attention on C-Wars. Also, our backers want to have 3DS/WiiU/PSV ports. We want to give them these too but we need to get the dev-kits first. For now we don’t know if Nintendo/Sony are going to let us have them or not. So if we can hear back from these giants and get approved, it will be an awesome thing we can get from KickStarter. Actually, the most awesome thing we get from KickStarter is not the money, it’s the support given by our fans and backers”
You heard it, It’s all about you. You’ve funded this game.
Recent Kickstarter project, Survival Games has been put on hold by creator Hayden Allred. Recently speaking to Hayden he told me not to worry about the project
“I’ll still be working on the game, just not at the Kickstarter pace. I will still stay active on the forums and keep you guys updated on my progress often! This definitely isn’t the end of Survival Games… There has been too much stress this past week and it is affecting my health. We will be back”.
For those of you that do not know what Survival Games is, Hayden describes it as what “Started as a spinoff of Hunger Games, but overtime, it has evolved into something so much more than that”. It is a 24 player FPS that’s pits the players against each other. The players can fight each other, form alliances and just about do anything to survive.
“The only thing still here at this point is 24 players fighting to the death. Survival Games mainly focuses on realism, value for your life in-game, and the community. It really is a complex project to put together, but I feel confident in it as I’ve been programming for a very long time, I actually started in the 6th grade! I spent the last few years programming some games on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and I’ve always felt so limited on what I could do there. You don’t have the freedom I wanted. I’ve been wanting to do a game like this ever since I started making games, but I didn’t have the skills necessary, so I started small. Everything that I’ve done has gotten me to the point I am today! This is my dream game”.
I haven’t seen how the community have reacted to it yet, But Hayden seems confident in the support in the community that already exists around the game.
“The Survival Games community is just awesome, simple as that!.. I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are interested in working on the game, so I’m really excited about that! Anyway, the community is really what this game is all about. Unlike traditional publishers, every member of the community has a voice! They are able to post any question or suggestion they have, and they will get an answer quickly. Every time I have a question on how a gameplay mechanic should be handled, they are ready right away with a response! They are the real visionaries of Survival Games”.
I will hopefully be keeping more in contact With Hayden Allred throughout the development and wish him well.
And if you want to see more of what Survival games is about, here is the original pitch:
Don’t forget “This definitely isn’t the end of Survival Games”
Hands On! Tangrams developer Island Officials are back on the scene with their new Kickstarter project Orion’s Odyssey: A Pattern Blocks Adventure. Island Official’snew Nintendo DS title Orion’s Odyssey calls itself a “comedy-puzzle game with memorable characters, a strong emphasis on presentation and a whole lot of heart.” The game seems something of a spiritual successor to Hands On! which the same puzzle gameplay mechanics are in play however, now a story mode guides you through the stages and puzzles that you will see throughout your journey. The story follows Orion, a robot from space who makes his way to earth. Orion has the power to create any object he can think of and helps anyone out that in he in his journey. As you progress you meet young Ryan. Ryan, a seven year old boy with a lot of energy, becomes your sidekick as you help the people that you meet.
Orion’s Odyssey is a finished game. The game has already been developed but the reason Island Officials have taken Orion’s Odyssey to Kickstarter is to cover nearly their entire production cost. Being a Nintendo DS game the company are opting for cartridge distribution over Nintendo’s eShop, a purely 3DS based market. Included in the whole in the production process will be passing through Nintendo’s certification process and getting an ESRB rating to go with it. The process is not cheap and the company has to fund it themselves as the publisher they have can only get them through the submission process only.
I’ve recently spoken to the CEO of Island Officials Ryan Morrison about the project and the road they have to take in distributing Orion’s Odyssey.
“While Tangrams was in development, we realized there were a lot more
features and polish we wanted the game to include, but unfortunately
didn’t have the time or the budget to include. Orion’s Odyssey was a
chance to really create the kind of experience we wanted to accomplish
with Tangrams; Multiple game modes, including a fully featured story, tons
of extras, and a well rounded cast of memorable, crazy characters…”
“…When a team pours their blood, sweat and tears into a project for two years, naturally there’s going to be some frustration when things don’t pan out the way you had hoped or planned. That being said, everyone at Island Officials understands that situations like this are a part of the business. While we remain optimistic about the future of Orion’s Odyssey, we’re still pushing ahead with other exciting opportunities regardless of what happens…”
It was really nice to hear Ryan’s optimism about the project but in the back of mind I couldn’t help but think this would be a different story if instead of putting the game on cartridges, Ryan opted to put the title on the eShop. I asked Ryan to elaborate more on why Island Officials are distributing this game like this.
“Our goal with putting Orion’s Odyssey on Nintendo DS cartridge is so
that we can reach the widest possible audience. While eShop is certainly a
proven, viable method of distribution, it is also one that is exclusive to
the Nintendo 3DS. With over 100 million Nintendo DS and DSi units sold,
there are a lot of potential consumers who don’t have a 3DS or an internet
connection to access the eShop, and a cartridge release allows us to offer
the game to them as well as those who do own a 3DS.”
I wish everyone at Island Officials the best and I hope that they reach their goal. I am excited to see how the project works out in the month to come.
If you are interested in the project here is the kickstarter.
Here’s their pledge vid.
Lets Fund This Game.