Gaming

Blog 855: Ember

I tend to ignore game store sales. Sales are so frequent that missing one is irrelevant, because there will be another. I don’t really buy games to stack up into a backlog either; I’ll usually wait until I’m in the mood for something new, and then I’ll see what’s on sale at that moment and let that guide me (or ignore the discounts and pay full price for something like a god damn rube).

But sometimes you’re between games and a discount comes up for a thing that’s on your wishlist, and since that takes it to 69p (nice) it seems almost rude not to pick it up. Thus is the story of how I bought RPG Ember.

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Game Development

Blog 854: Ultralight

Some of you may remember that I used to go to a meet-up for local Edinburgh game developers called GameDevEd… In fact, I went so regularly that I ended up becoming the organiser (oops). This is a fun role for somebody who doesn’t have a smartphone, seeing as it requires being able to broadcast which table we’re at on social media. To compensate, I take along my little laptop, because the full game dev laptop is too massive to cart around all day (let alone keep open next to my dinner and a drink or two).

Now that the pubs are definitely open again, I’ve finally restarted GameDevEd. Unlike the Before Times, however, I now have a demo — my precious Exon can truly be played live! But my little laptop can’t run Exon smoothly, so no, actually, Exon cannot be played live…

… Unless I can find a way?

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Gaming

Blog 853: K.Hawk: Survival Instinct

Browsing a popular internet auction site for old games, I am not going to lie, fills me with joy in a way that — for whatever reason — browsing an online storefront does not. It must be the physicality, the thought of getting a box of something. Maybe it’s the restrictions, of only being able to buy what’s available rather than being overwhelmed with an immense catalogue of… everything.

Or maybe it’s finding weird obscure stuff that even a place like gog will never rescue. I had never heard of K.Hawk: Survival Instinct before, but it looked like a third-person action game and I know I like those. I couldn’t resist.

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Gaming

Blog 852: Hordes of the Underdark

Lots of games got better with their expansion packs. Warcraft III unlocked the modding universe with The Frozen Throne. Age of Empires II‘s The Conquerors gave us the fantastic Mayan and Aztec civilisations (and snowy tiles). Morrowind‘s Bloodmoon gave us the delightful (snowy) island of Solstheim. Supreme Commander‘s Forged Alliance gave us the gloriously shiny Seraphim faction (but, alas, little more snow than we already had).

And Neverwinter Nights got… well… marginally better with its first official expansion pack, Shadows of Undrentide. Then there was a second, a direct sequel to the first expansion pack! Remember when games could get two expansion packs?! It never happened! (Still raging that WC3 never got a second pack at the time, and let’s not talk about… whatever Re4ged is.)

It’s time for Hordes of the Underdark.

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Game Development

Blog 851: Crafting the Waystation

I have a complicated relationship with crafting mechanics. In terms of narrative, I actually tend to hate crafting — it’s very likely to devalue any item you find in the world, because you can always make something better than any pre-existing “legendary artefact”. Skyrim is particularly egregious, as enchanted weapons are no longer exciting to find, instead becoming mere feedstock for your own creations.

But I fucking love forging arms and armour in Skyrim. Even though it ruins half the game for me, and it’s a huge missed opportunity, I looooove hoovering up exotic metal ingots and carting them back to Whiterun to make stuff. I wish there were more different styles of equipment to craft from the same materials. I wish the game was entirely about being a warrior who forged stuff.

What I love more unquivocably, however, is when in Baldur’s Gate you take some ankheg shell to Taerom Fuirim, and he makes ankheg armour for you. That’s our way in.

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Gaming

Blog 850: Shadows of Undrentide

Yes, I know what you’re about to say. “You hated Neverwinter Nights, so why are you playing its expansion pack Shadows of Undrentide?”

Honestly, I do not have a satisfactory answer for you. A big part of it is that I have two games waiting on my shelf for the Windows XP machine, but I want to stay on the main PC during August while the Edinburgh Fringe is on — because the main PC’s attached to the printer and I’ll need to print show tickets. Not the greatest justification, but what is that saying? “Wars have been fought over less”?

And, well, there’s also pure morbid curiosity. Did they manage to rescue the art and the potential when they made more bits of the game? It’s already installed and its siren call is irresistable.

Sometimes I hate myself.

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Gaming

Blog 849: Project Snowblind

Project Snowblind was originally touted as an entry into the Deus Ex ouevre, albeit by a different developer than Ion Storm. However, Crystal Dynamics took a bold step — they realised that they were making something a bit different and cut ties to let Snowblind become completely its own thing.

It’s always been an object of interest to me, even more so now considering that the actual Deus Ex prequel that did get made would have been much better off had its developers realised they were making something different and not crowbarred their game into a mythos it didn’t suit. Sigh, etc.

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Game Development

Blog 848: Fragment v0.04

I’ve done it. I’ve committed to the orthographic camera. There might still be teething issues I’ve missed, but I think it makes the game look a thousand times better so it’s worth the pain. (Feel free to make me eat those words in a year or two if/when I give up and switch back.)

Which means, of course, now is probably a good time to let some real people test the water. I’ve also done a whole heap of other stuff, including rain and bug fixes, so please head on over to itch and give it a go!

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