Monday, June 26, 2017

Let's get LOADED. ShellShock LIVE!

Artillery games have been around a while. Many were distributed as demos with PC related magazines or even as full source code within the magazine itself. Later when the dial up Bulletin Board Services and Internet came along we had the luxury of downloading a copy to disk and sharing it with friends. Friends we'd often lose (at least until lunch) when ever we splattered them accross a colorful pixelated landscape. These games made it to the computer labs and offices of many a school and were among the most successful time wasters for students and faculty. Flash games made a splash to such a degree many sites still host these games and use various HTML5 tricks to make them run. WebGL does a great job too in most respects. Before these standards existed the only way to get into one of these games in the lab was to have a really cool teacher and the right access. You can forget all that now though. Just jump on your laptop or Windows tablet and bring up Steam. WHAMMO. Shell Shock LIVE!

I adore this game. Being good at Scorched Earth won me a lot of bets and earned me a lot of free sodas and candy. Other folks played similar games though. Cannon Fodder for Macintosh comes to mind as does the QBASIC classic 'Gorillas'. Shell Shock live borrows a lot from these oldies and does it with a gorgeous presentation in both visuals and audio. The game supports a very legacy-minded 'hotseat mode' which you may have seen in some Android and iOS games. They're the ones that tell you to pass the device to the next player. It supports controllers. It supports online multiplayer. It can also be purchased on
steam in a convenient 4 pack.

For me the game has only one major issue. It suffers from what I like to call FFF or Freemium False Fanfare. It's that naughty mobile app habit of making a lot of noise and splashing around a lot of color and special effects to celebrate minutia. If I could turn that off in favor of a simple feed of what XP I earned and what weapons I unlocked I'd be that much happier with the game. Some might complain that the game never tells you what exactly weapons do but I prefer it that way. Sometimes it leads to some accidental awesome or some hilarious fail.

Score: 98/100
Just give us a way to turn off those annoying 'winning game', 'unlock' and 'level up' screen fulls of particle effects and the epilepsy inducing celebration screens..
You'll get a perfect 100 from me then :3

Sunday, June 25, 2017

PoPPc pre-show blog for June 24th 2017

WarSong's 5:

Google's gonna stop snooping on your emails and I'm not happy about it - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/technology/gmail-ads.html

Your medical records should be private but somehow they ended up search-able on Google and they are fixing that. I'm happy about this one - http://www.nola.com/health/index.ssf/2017/06/google_to_remove_private_medic.html

Windows 10 leaks. Oh and some of the source code ended up getting out too - https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/24/15867350/microsoft-windows-10-source-code-leak

Rockstar slaps TakeTwo around until they see reason and 'real purdy stars' over modding fuck up - https://www.gamespot.com/articles/after-angering-gta-5-fans-rockstar-releases-new-st/1100-6451151/

You'll be able to buy a standalone version of the Modern Warfare 4 remaster whil being reamed for more money than it is worth - https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/06/23/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-remastered-standalone-release-has-one-big-problem/#7b9987683780

Pokemon Go raids and balance for Gyms with OP defenders - http://comicbook.com/gaming/2017/06/24/pokemon-go-motivation-losses/

Sunday, June 18, 2017

PoPPc Pre-show blog for June 17th 2017

WarSong's 5:

Amazon vs Walmart - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/upshot/the-amazon-walmart-showdown-that-explains-the-modern-economy.html?_r=0

Philanthropy and Jeff Bezos - https://www.forbes.com/sites/jakehayman/2017/06/17/open-letter-to-jeff-bezos/#1cb0d1411d62

Amazon to buy Whole Foods in 12 billion dollar deal -https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/business/dealbook/amazon-whole-foods.html?_r=1

Amazon's patent on shop-blocking while in brick and mortar stores -http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Amazon-has-a-patent-to-keep-you-from-11225265.php

Keep It Simple, Stupid: The 2 Pizza Method - https://finance.yahoo.com/news/two-pizza-rule-amazon-ceo-184400983.html

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Quick Journey in to Disputed Space.


This is a title in a beta state. At least to me it feels like there are a lot of features missing. This footage was pulled out of an hour long play session that concluded with one of the worst eye strain headaches I’ve ever had. I would not do it differently though. So here we have a game with a lot going for it. The lone caveat to enjoyability being the intense lighting effects. It could use some more features. The ability to enable or disable an auto aim would be nice. Turn it on and let the electric death stream forth. Turn it off and the HUD give you an ITT* reticle to fire at. Accomplishes roughly the same thing. Let’s go over a break down of the current build:

Cons (Always lead with the bad news folks):
1. Dem lights doh. Dimming projectiles based on how close they are would be great.
2. Nearly empty HUD. No idea what you are targeting, what’s targeting you and checking your current status is almost a guessing game.
2. Nearly empty Menus. It feels like there’s something waiting to go here but it’s just not implemented yet.
4. No comms. There’s no way to co-ordinate with your NPC wingmates or capships.
5. No Radar. In space combat sims radar gets tricky but Elite Dangerous has a system that deserves emulation.

Pros (There’s a lot to list but I’ll stick to the top five):
1. The graphical fidelity. From the models to the texture the ships’ appeal is right on spec.
2. Satisfying booms. From the pew-pew of the lasers to the roar of other weapons the sound leaves an appropriately lethal impression.
3. Musical accompaniment. Amazing music by Micheal La Manna. Most tracks seem to be from “From Robots To Dragons Vol 2”.
4. MASSIVE battles. Watch the video! That’s just one of the smaller fights.
5. Diversity in hostile units. They also behave consistently. Once you’ve tangled with one of that type you know how they work.

As it is now the game scores a solid 4 out of 5**. It’s in development still and I expect the score to go up. Pick it up now while it’s cheap because even in this state it makes a great ‘instant action’ space combat sim that would do games like Freespace 2 and Wing Commander Prophecy proud on technical accomplishment alone.

*ITT = Inertial Targeting and Tracking. A system that calculates where you should fire based on your trajectory, the target’s trajectory and the projectile’s velocity.
** That’s 8/10, guys.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Preshow topic list for the PoPPc June 10th 2017

WarSong's 5:

1. Are you ready for the Americanized version of Sharia law? Because fundi christians are rolling it out.
http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/life/about-eminent-domain-and-our-freedom-in-christ-jesus/article_ce0e2c12-4afc-11e7-8385-47b0e8b54d88.html

2. Tim Cook wants you to protect everyone's fee-fees.
http://time.com/4813651/tim-cook-mit-commencement-speech/

3. NSA employee leaks data, EVERYONE PANIC all your shit is spying on you!
http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/its-not-just-your-color-printer-that-could-betray-you-here-are-5-other-ways-youre-being-tracked/

4. Intel lawsuit again Qualcomm to kill x86 emulation within ARM.
http://bgr.com/2017/06/10/intel-vs-arm-qualcomm-x86-lawsuit/

5. What can we expect of <insert gaming console device name here>?
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2017/06/10/four-questions-microsoft-needs-to-answer-about-xbox-scorpio-at-its-press-conference/#5e401f38514e

6. Ark Survival Evolved is getting a price hike.
http://www.inquisitr.com/4282776/ark-survival-evolved-price-increase-coming-signals-early-access-exit-soon-for-pc-ps4-and-xbox-one/

7. Pokemon GO is still free to play btw oh and LOOK a new event!
http://comicbook.com/gaming/2017/06/10/pokemon-go-fire-ice-event-spawn-list/#2

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Golden Child of Indie platforming. FUMIKO!

Dropped in the deep end.
At least it feels like that time your mom got tired of your s**t and hammer tossed your butt into the pool sans floaties. Or did that only happen me? Traumatic childhood aside Fumiko! does drop you right into the world with NO prelude. None of that pretentious "menu" or any of that. NOPE. *BAM* GAME. Now go play and don't mess with the power main.. I'm making margaritas.

Deeper, longer and a bit more satisfying.
When I put in the title 'Golden Child' it's not click bait. This is what I've wanted from a 3D platformer for a while now. The game plays a lot like Dawn. If you've not played Dawn go give it a try now. It's a freebie title on Steam. The game starts you in a 3D environment you can explore that HAPPENS to have some portals you can use to resume a previous game. You can also access a pause menu. The menu is intentionally jarring and out of place. As if you're not supposed to be able to do that. This makes exploring it that much more tantalizing. Not only does the menu let you get into the options but also provides you with a log and a list of objectives. Save for escaping the sandbox and leaving Kronos server the world is open and the verticality is mind blowing.

Joined at the hip.
The game's mechanics and art style are so intertwined that to critique one is to critique both. Compared to other avatars present Fumiko's character model is more advanced but also markedly more petite. The impression I got was an innocent and almost childish creature in a mature body. As if all that she learns is really just her consciousness tapping into her body's version of muscle memory. Like an amnesiac. They know how to do things but sometimes don't know how they learned it. Since she's so small she's faster and lighter. However her figure is what I refer to as 'The Professor' cuz dat booty SCHOOLED somebody. The environments have a resource light design which makes traversing these zones seemingly difficult for most but for Fumiko its just a stroll through a theme park. As you read dialogs you'll find yourself moving the camera to get a better view. This is something the game encourages in actual dialog. While someone would pick at this as an issue (and claim the dialog is just a cheeky excuse to be lazy) it's well interrogated as an intentional game design mechanic. Fumiko needs to be aware of her surroundings at all times.

Vertical Musicality.
There's a lot of ambiance here. I hate to say any of it mismatches but when a track starts playing for the first time it might take a bit to associate your situation to it. This only happens in certain situations and feels intentional. Just like the pause menu. It seems wrong for a reason. Sometimes the musical cue is too late to really warn you of what is going on. But that's part of the process of learning to be Fumiko. As much as you are learning about her, her environment and the events that brought you together she is learning too. The music encouraged me to be patient but also instigated me to act depending on context. One of the early levels has a graphically doretstid feel but the music is deceptively calm. Read it again. It's distorted. It's a trap. Someone is waiting for you to take the bait and has gone so far as to manipulate how Fumiko perceived that area. Since it would be too resource intensive to manipulate the appearance they changed the music on you instead. Walking too far in one direction will even glitch your screen for a second.

A story you have to earn.This is a game that reward you for being skilled. That's not to say someone can't casually pick it up and eventually git good. That's actually a rather reasonable prospect. Literally anyone can run this game and improve quickly with mere trial and error. Hardcore players have the added challenge of finding hidden memories that may or may not be Fumiko's own. Up until the first major hub world you interact with ethereal dialogs that guide you. How many other voices can intrude into Fumiko's consciousness? Rather than who; What is Fumiko? Where have all the memories gone and why were they missing? Were they misplaced or taken? When will her world make sense again? In the end this game is either brilliant or accidentally awesome. I'm willing to bet 7 bucks on the answer. That's the price on Steam btw. Considering how layered it feels the price feels just right.

When measured against main stream titles she still holds a very honorable 3 out of 5 stars.
If you're looking for another silly romp in a punny/cartoony universe you're better trying elsewhere. There are funny moments so I'd give that aspect 2 out of 5.
This is no Rare platformer. Fumiko really expects you to make those shenanigans for yourself.
As an indie title, when gathering up all aggregates and delivering a score.. I feel compelled to give FUMIKO! a 98 out of 100 as an experience I enjoyed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cooking Witch Rage-view: Maybe I can have a salad instead?

Here there be Taboos:
The premise is off-putting. It just is. The concept of cannibalism for any reason gives all of us a visceral reaction. Let's go over the scene: You are playing a video game as an evil witch who eats children. Still sounds bad huh? Let's keep going! The children are left out in the open around fireworks. The amazing parents only show up when they can get their fat butts out of the tent. They only bother when the kids ring a bell. The kids don't even look like people. More like pumpkin headed, free range (and color coded) semi ambulatory pinatas. They don't even look like the adults. Even if the concept still seems like a terrible idea for a game I will ask you to watch a mere 5 minutes of gameplay. Because as a game it holds itself quite well.

With that out of the way:Graphically the game makes use of a healthy amount of effects coupled with very convincing pixel sprites. The lay of the level and the placement of your targets seems right on. The background deep woods aesthetic, tents and tall grass all lend to the idea these morons shouldn't even be out here. The game zooms out when you move quickly and give you a good feel for the over all lay of the land. Graphically a wolf or bear jumping out and snatching your targets away before you can wouldn't feel out of place. The particle effects do a good job of adding polish to the pixelated landscape. The moon also changes color which you might miss if you don't look for it. Another nice visual touch.

Is that the Moonlight Sonata??The title theme song is the classical music piece known as "The Moonlight Sonata" by Ludwig van Beethoven. The stage itself is backed by "Star and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa. This matches up well enough with the fireworks and other pieces in the stage. The use of public domain music is an inspired choice I've not seen since "Little King's Story". If I ever manage to see another stage I hope it has "Entrance of the Gladiators" and coupled with more of a circus theme.

So is it any good?:
The short answer is YES. The game is fun and addictive. The unlocks are paced just right in my opinion. You can figure out a lot of the game by trial and error. I have suggested this game and will continue to in the future. Yes. Child eating witches are gross. If you are going to judge based solely on that then I don't wanna see your name on the score board. Meanwhile Imma go deep fry some hicks who decided to camp in my dang forest, wee hee hee!

A mixed score:
As an indie title it scores a well deserved 7 out of 10. The game accomplishes all it sets out to do and manages to be fun regardless of one's opinions on boiling pixelized kiddos.
As a game you can play in mixed company it scores a passable 3 out of 5. Considering how loud sensitive people have become in recent years you play this game openly at your own risk. It's still kinda gross tho :3