A MAZE 2017

I’m currently sitting in Berlin Schönefeld Airport, my feet are aching and my eyes are very tired. I’ve just wished my girlfriend bon voyage on her return flight to Quebec and there’s a pain in my stomach from missing her and everyone else that I’ve been able to hang out with this week.

But I’d do it again, for sure. It was amazing.

So, A MAZE is an ‘International Independent Games and Playful Media Festival’ in Berlin that basically allows cool people to get together, share ideas and have a generally excellent time all while under the influence of copious amounts of German beer served in steins that hurt my wrist if I held them for more than a few moments.

I played a bunch of weird and wonderful games, both traditional and VR-based and I’ve come out of it inspired to make more cool things in the future with the people around me. I am very impressed by the curation that the event had, and I look forward to what they have to offer next year!

I also had the chance to meet up with Joonas to discuss more of the new game we’re working on. I am not gonna say much about it right now, but it’s gonna be one hell of a crazy ride when we start posting about it!

The lovely Adriel and I also started formalising some ideas for a game we’re working on too. It’s going to be a small thing, but pretty funny and we’re really excited to show you it soon! It was great to see them and spend time with them too, I’m looking forward to spending a weekend in Paris with them this month. Oh, and I also got to spend a heck of a lot of time with the wonderful Kate before she heads off to Canada tomorrow!

(What is it with people I like fucking off to Canada, eh?)

The food in Berlin was fantastic. Lisa and I ate more food than we probably should have ranging from fancy sushi to a cheeky (and very delicious) doner kebab on the way home from a good night out. I’ve really unlocked a love of different food experiences recently and I’m looking forward to travelling the world and trying more food out.

ALSO I WENT TO THE ZOO. IT WAS GOOD. I REALLY MISS BEING A ZOOKEEPER. I HAD A LOLLYPOP.

That’s about it, really. I’d write more but I’m tired.

BYE.

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Oxy’s Top 10 Of 2015

It’s that time of year again for me to put together an arbitrary list of my favorite games from this year. Please remember these are the games I most enjoyed playing and I’ve not played everything that came out this year and as such this is a very personal list that probably won’t have everything you’d expect on it (for example Undertale as I’ve not played it yet).

Splatoon

Genuinely the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer game in some time. It was the reason I bought a Wii U and I don’t regret it at all. I love the way the ink looks too – whoever programmed that shader needs a medal.

Bloodborne

I suck at this game, but I adore everything about it. I love the enviroments, lore and the fact that it has done survival horror with Lovecraftian elements so damn well.

Party Hard

Who’d have thought a game about murdering obnoxious people at a party would be so cathartic? I went into this game not knowing much about it, but I had a lot of fun with it and still haven’t unlocked everything.

Mushroom 11

I first played Mushroom 11 last year at Eurogamer, I was instantly captured by its unique control system. It is a beautiful little game that you should totally check out if you have the chance.

Until Dawn

This game takes all the wonderfully cheesy tropes of teen horror films and turns them into a grand adventure where each choice can lead to a horrific death. I am very happy that I had the chance to play through this with friends.

The Magic Circle

I’ve sang praise after praise for The Magic Circle. I loved it. You can check out my thoughts here.

Fallout 4 & Fallout Shelter

I’m a massive fan of the entire Fallout series and Fallout 4 did not disappoint. The ruins of Boston are really cool to explore and it develops so much lore that I’ve been theorizing about ever since Fallout 3. I’ve lumped in Fallout Shelter here too because it was potentially the only free to play game I’ve not felt conned into spending money on.

Downwell

Simple and elegant. Cheap and cheerful. Thoroughly enjoyable! This little rogue-like should be on your phone or computer immediately.

Cities: Skylines

This game is everything that SimCity should have been. It’s perfect. I have sank many an evening into building grand cities on this wonderful game. I’m so glad it exists.

Nuclear Throne

I FINALLY BEAT THIS DAMN GAME. YOU SHOULD ALL GO BUY IT. #BuyNuclearThrone

 

JumpJam!

I thought I’d write a quick post to let everyone know about the game jam I’m running over at The National Videogame Arcade in a few weeks time. It’s called JumpJam! and it’s going to be all about the miraculous form of movement – jumping.

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The game jam is being ran on the weekend that The National Videogame Arcade opens, it’s going to be tied in with the main Jump! exhibition that will be on show for the first few months there. The best games made at the jam have the chance of being shown alongside the exhibition… which is pretty awesome!

I’m also looking for people to help run sites across the globe for the jam, if you’re interested in running a site then please send me a message on Twitter or through the sign-up form on the link below.

You can find out more about the jam and sign up for it here.

#GGJ15 Post-Mortem

BigGodLogo

So last weekend I had the pleasure of helping run the Lincoln site for Global Game Jam 2015. I worked with Kieran and we made a really odd game called “Big God, What Do?” which is about a tribal god and his little villagers. Here’s the little blurb taken directly from our submission on the GGJ website:

“Big God, What Do?” cry the tribes-people of a small, jungle village. The idol in the center of town stirs to life and an ethereal voice echoes around the near vicinity: “Okay, guys, you need to bring me some pigs and throw them in the fire.”

BGWD? is an experimental multiplayer game where one player assumes the role of an ever-present deity whose belief is slowly dwindling. This player has to yell orders to his followers in game through the shrine in the middle of the map, then the other players must go forth and collect the items he needs. There is a catch, however: the villagers can only hear their god when they are very close to the shrine, and the things that the god needs are constantly changing.

The game was really fun to make, it was quite a challenge to get audio streaming across a network clearly – the final result was still rather choppy which was a shame. Unfortunately we could only get the game working on local area networks, so the game only really worked in the computer labs.

FinalScreenBGWD

I learnt how to 3D model using a free package called Wings3D, I’ve never done 3D modelling before so I was very interested in trying it out. I don’t think I did an awful job either; apparently I went against a tonne of 3D modelling conventions, but I was bound to make some mistakes on the first attempt!

I think that after a few hours I had a reasonably good-looking low-poly art style going. I actually really love how the game looks, and I definitely want to use this kind of style again in the near future!

Oh… and I also managed to get a photo of me and Kieran where he’s not pulling a silly face:

KieranAndMe

It was very refreshing to work with Kieran on something other than Hashtag Dungeon. Working on a project for too long without a break can get kind of stale; I think this jam was exactly what I needed to remind myself that I love making games and that I can work on whatever I want, whenever I want.

It was definitely a great jam and I had a tonne of fun! Roll on the next game jam I’m hosting in March!

My Top Ten Games Of 2014 (Cross-Media)

Here are my top ten games for 2014 for your perusal, enjoy:

Luftrausers


This glorious dog-fighting game was a heck of a lot of fun. Extra juicy with all the gratuitous explosions you’d expect from a game with the Vlambeer logo attributed to it. The soundtrack is brilliant as well – go listen to it.

Shovel Knight


This game is a beautiful love-letter to the glory of old school NES games. It feels good to play and gets me feeling very nostalgic. What makes it awesome though is that despite it’s heavy inspiration by old games it has it’s own distinct personality, it looks and plays like something unique. It looks gorgeous, plays beautifully and has a soundtrack that is easy on the ears.

Alien Isolation


As a fan of the Alien series I was hyped for this game – and it really didn’t disappoint. The game is nightmarish and unforgiving, the xenomorph is not playing around and there are no stealth-game patterns to avoid it. Nowhere is safe and you’ve got to keep your wits about you to survive – which is a very difficult thing to do.

Push Me, Pull You


It’s fucking weird but really fucking fun. Technically I suppose it’s not actually out yet… but I played it in 2014 so that’s what counts!

Pandemic: Contagion


I’ve always wanted to play as the infections in Pandemic and this year they have given me the chance in Pandemic Contagion. In this version of the game you play as the infections trying to wipe out mankind. I played this in the LiSC office on top of a coffin and it was bloody brilliant. If you like Pandemic then there’s a good chance you’ll like this one too.

Desert Golfing


A minimalist mini-golfing game that is great for playing every once in a while for a few seconds… I’m on hole 2304 right now. I would highly recommend you get it just for when you’re really bored.

Goat Simulator


This game is completely stupid and I love it. It shows that games aren’t all serious nowadays, sometimes they are just for the fun and the madness.

The only thing that makes me sad about Goat Simulator is the plethora of crappy clone attempts afterwards such as Rock Simulator and Grass Simulator – they don’t capture the craziness of Goat Simulator, the thing that actually makes the game fun.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted


I adored this game. I’m sad that it doesn’t seem to be on many people’s top 10 lists this year. Sir, You Are Being Hunted did a wonderful job of procedurally generating the drab and dreary British countryside, right down to the silly town names!

Sir, You Are Being Hunted does a wonderful job of reminding me of my childhood (bear with me, this will make sense). When I was a young lad I spent a lot of time playing man hunt with my friends in the woods near my house – pretty much exactly the same environment as you get in Sir, You Are Being Hunted – it gives me feelings of nostalgia: remembering hiding behind a dry-stone wall as my friends were trying to find me. That adrenaline-fueled feeling of anxious waiting as they walked past was awesome and I miss it.

Like Alien Isolation, there isn’t anywhere in this game that is 100% safe, really. The robots patrolling the islands are actively looking for you and do not sleep or eat until you are full of lead, laying dead on the floor.

If you’ve not played it before I’d highly recommend it if you like your stealth survival games quintessentially British.

P.T.


Yes this is technically just a demo/teaser thing, but I felt like I had to include it on this list. It was in itself a great and incredibly terrifying ARG game. It got people talking, it got people hyped, it was clever and made people think. It did what most horror games can’t do with a SINGLE CORRIDOR.

South Park: The Stick Of Truth


This game is perhaps the best adaptation of a TV/Movie series that I have ever had the pleasure to play. It feels like you’re actually playing an episode of South Park. All the jokes are there, all the characters that make the series amusing, and most importantly the unapologetic satire that I love from Trey Parker and Matt Stone.


This isn’t part of the Top 10 but it’s the one game that defined my 2014:

Hashtag Dungeon


This was the first game that I’ve properly released. It’ll be something that will be important to me for the rest of my life and I will treasure it. It’s a bit buggy here and there, but it’s sound for the most part and we’re continuing to work on it. Kieran and I are really proud of how much we’ve achieved in 2014 – and no matter how much I moan and how upset I might appear to be, I am genuinely happy that Hashtag Dungeon has done as well as it has. In the new year we shall be releasing on Steam, let’s see what the future holds, I guess!

#LD30 ‘Going Postal’ Post-Mortem

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

After a long week of making sure that Alex gets on with her final year coursework, building Minecraft server transport networks and making new enemies for Hashtag Dungeon; I thought it’d be nice to take part in Ludum Dare 30 with a few friends.

For those who don’t know, Ludum Dare is a big, weekend long game jam where loads of people from around the world come together and make games and then show them to one another in order to be judged. It’s pretty awesome and this is the second time I’ve managed to find time to do one.

I called up my friends Mark Boyde-Shaw and Amelia George to see if they wanted to join me in making a game, they accepted and joined me at my house for a weekend of excellent game development work!

After waiting up till 2am on Saturday for the theme to be revealed (the theme was ‘Connected Worlds’) the three of us spent a good hour or so discussing possible ideas. These ranged from a horror game where you slowly bring more ghosts into a house by destroying wards, to a crazy planet destroying simulator. Eventually we all agreed on an interesting idea and swiftly moved to our respective beds to sleep.

Morning came and the three of us reconvened in the living room to start work. Mark had been very busy overnight working on a possible storyline for our game, the elevator pitch for the game (entitled ‘Going Postal’) is as follows:

You are a mailman on a small planet with a few houses on it. You deliver mail to houses in order to connect the people who live there together. You can however, choose to deliver mail to the wrong house in order to cause absolute chaos within the small community.

Amelia got to work immediately on making art assets for the game. I went to work on programming the main part of the game with the little help of some placeholder programmer artwork (yes, I do the art for #Dungeon and no, I don’t care that this art is terrible in comparison):

LD30_Pic1

I went into the game jam feeling pretty lazy and I wasn’t really looking to have very pretty code… so in the end I may or may not have put almost all the code into one giant script attached to the planet. This caused a few major problems later on in the evening but for the most part everything worked out fine so I am not too bothered about it. Game jam code is always disgusting.

Over the course of the day, Mark wrote out all the possible letters we wanted to have in the game and the outcomes of each of them. He then printed them off and cut them out in order to arrange them into a cohesive story. PHYSICAL PROTOTYPING FTW!

LD30_Pic2

Once we had an order of letters that we all agreed upon, I set about adding them into the game. It was a very time consuming part of the jam which went on for several hours. Each letter had several recipients who each had different writing styles, letter artwork and house locations around the planet – some of them also had special events tied to them.

It was around this time we also started replacing my horrific excuse for placeholder art with Amelia’s glorious artwork – the tiny microplanet town of Dreamsdale was born:

LD30_Pic3

Mark and I worked on giving each of the characters a believable and unique personality. There were a total of eight characters living on the planet in the end:

  • King Harold IV – The pompous king who is loud, bold and brash. He lives in the palace.
  • Queen Anne III – The wife of Harold who we based around Mrs. Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances. She also lives in the palace.
  • Daisy ‘Sugarplum’ Dumpling – The baker who has the personality of a particularly annoying american teenage girl. She lives in the cute gingerbread house.
  • Sergeant R Murphy – A war veteran who has seen his share of horrors in a ‘Great War’ – he is a no-nonsense soldier who doesn’t like to express his feelings. He lives in the fortified bunker.
  • Mr Frank Fisher – The town fisherman who lives on a small boat in the only lake on the planet. He is a kind natured man who likes poetry and the outdoors.
  • Mr Boris Bletchley – The manager of Dreamsdale’s waste disposal and energy plant. He is a perverted old man who smells horrible – but he’s trying to turn over a new leaf.
  • Dr Eugene Egbert – The geeky scientist who moved to the planet in order to study the local area. He doesn’t really get other people. His letters are all typed in the same manner as Terezi Pyrope from Homestuck (A, I, and E replaced by 4, 1, and 3, respectively). He lives in a hi-tech tree house.
  • Sister Jane Jazzpunk – A nun who is also a talented musician. She is always looking for more people to donate to the church and spread the word of her god. She lives in the church.

Of course we didn’t manage to get everything we wanted to into the game. We wanted it so that if you sent letter to the wrong houses then the world would change slightly in appearance. We also didn’t manage to add all the ending cutscenes we wanted. The options on the letters were also not particularly clear to players, and could have used some work.

Luckily we also managed to get in touch with our friend Will Bryce, who frequently writes music for our games. He managed to come up with a cute little tune to play in the background of the game. Adding music and sound really brought the game to another level of juiciness.

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All in all the game jam went well, we took it easy and had plenty of rest breaks. We didn’t want to burn ourselves out doing a full 24 hours straight and I think it really was beneficial because the end result was far less buggy than I’d expected. The feedback we’ve had on the Ludum Dare website has been incredibly encouraging. I look forward to seeing our final scores!

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

My Thoughts On: E3 2014 Microsoft Conference

Okay so I’m a little late to the party here as I’ve been in France since Monday. I have no idea why I picked such a dumb time to go on holiday but it’s done now so I can’t change that. I’m going to watch each of the press conferences and type up my thoughts as we go along. This might get pretty messy and I might ramble a bit.

INTRODUCTION

Okay – they’re focusing on games. That’s good. Definitely makes a change based on last years conference.

CALL OF DUTY

The new Call Of Duty is looking pretty damn gorgeous. Holy crap that’s pretty. Look at all those particle effects! I like the futuristic feel they’ve gone for. It’s still as horrifically scripted as per usual though… but I guess thats what Call Of Duty’s single player campaign is all about.

The guy playing is walking around REALLY slowly – I hope that’s not the players normal walking speed.

Oh god that was a freakin’ mech… I kind of want to play this game now.

Oh wow… those swarms of drones move really nicely. I wonder if they’re actually using flocking AI or they’re just animated to look like that.

(Can’t help but see the last two Crysis games in that though.)

FORZA MOTORSPORT

I have no passion for cars and racing. I have no idea what this guy is talking about. Do people really spend this much time recreating real-life tracks for games…? (Did they really get it down the millimetre accuracy? I doubt it… why would you bother?) Ech, I don’t see the appeal to be frank.

Dynamic weather and day-night cycles? IT’S LIKE A WHOLE NEW RACING GAME.

Granted the textures look quite nice.

EVOLVE

Okay I’ve been looking forward to this one actually. I’m really excited for the asymmetric gameplay between the hunters and the monster. The monster looks amazing – like something straight out go HP Lovecraft. I can’t wait to play it.

ASSASSINS CREED: UNITY

I was in Paris this week and it wasn’t all that great.

Cooperative multiplayer – not bad at all, sounds like it could be pretty fun!

So much Les Miserables going on round here. I approve.

As a fan of crowd simulations I’m very happy that the crowd reacted and charged into the building once the guards were dead.

These people don’t sound very French to me…

(I’m noting that none of the playable characters are female. Poor form Ubisoft. Poor form.)

DRAGONAGE INQUISITION

There’s some damn cool looking monsters in this game. I wish I also had the power of green.

SUNSET OVERDRIVE

Lawl, cover mechanic joke.

Well this game looks pretty zany. I think I’m gonna enjoy playing this game! Very tongue in cheek, self aware and highly amusing. It’s like Tony Hawk crossed with Dead Rising crossed with Borderlands.

This game has a heck of a lot of juice in it.

DEAD RISING 3 ARCADE THINGY

…is it really cosplay when it’s a character in a game?

…I still feel very confused by Dead Rising 3. I still think that they were very confused about what they were going for with that game.

DISNEY FANTASIA MUSIC EVOLVED & DANCE CENTRAL

FABLE LEGENDS

Ecch. This series should have died many years ago.

Oh… wait, hello, what is this? You can be the villain? That’s kinda cool. I like the idea of having an over world villain – I’ve seen it done a few times – it’s kinda similar to what we are trying to do with Hashtag Dungeon. I suppose they’re actually trying to be innovative for once! Good luck to them, hopefully the villain will have more up their sleeves than very easy to kill mobs and trolls.

PROJECT SPARK

Project spark looks pretty awesome. It’s like a far more complex Little Big Planet. I feel as if there’s gonna be a heck of a lot of crap uploaded by people though.

OH SHIT CONKER WHAT…

Wait. No. He’s only making a cameo?!

What have you done Rare… what have you done…?

ORI AND THE BLIND TEMPEST

Oh that gorgeous animation! I WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME NOW!

HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION

I really love the Halo universe… so this is pretty cool for me. Having all the games on one thing is mind-blowing though – that’s surely a lot of data to store on one thing… unless it’s several discs.

Oh god Halo 2 multiplayer… that was the majority of my teenage years…

Holy shit that’s gonna be a lot of multiplayer. I might have to start doing Halo nights again.

INSIDE

Gotta love Limbo 2.

Seriously though that looks pretty intriguing!

INDIE GAME SHOWCASE

As per usual they pretty much all look amazing.

RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER

Completely understandable that she’d be in therapy after the events of the first game. I loved the reboot of Tomb Raider and I am definitely looking forward to the next instalment.

THE WITCHER 3

Woo! Hunting! Looks good to me!

I have a strange feeling that the griffon was scripted to go through that village though. I seriously doubt that the player just happened to walk through there and the NPC just happened to have a griffon speech choice.

I’m very disappointed that they didn’t actually let the player kill the griffon and instead just had a cutscene.

PHANTOM DUST

Pre-rendered cutscenes just don’t do it for me. Show me gameplay damn it!

THE DIVISION

This game is still looking as cool as it did last year. I really like the post-apocalyptic world they’ve created. I’m loving the augmented reality overlays they’ve put in the game. I still have no idea how it’s supposed to play though.

SCALEBOUND

Another pre-rendered cutscene so I can’t really make any good comments on it.

CRACKDOWN 3

Crackdown’s narrator voice makes me shiver with enjoyment every time I hear it. I love how unforgivingly over the top the Crackdown series is. I’m also very glad they’ve gotten rid of the zombies – that was a waste of the games IP.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Definite focus on the games this year from Microsoft – specifically exclusives. I’m glad they’ve learnt their lessons from last years atrocious press conferences. I hope that the rest of the conferences are just as good. (Of course I have my doubts as per usual…)