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  • Pete Davison 10:18 am on September 6, 2014 Permalink  

    Move out, soldier! 

    The Squadron of Shame is no longer active on this site. Instead, please point yourself to squadronofshame.com and join our community there.

    At the time of writing, the SquadCasts are temporarily offline. Sorry about that. They’ll be back soon.

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  • Pete Davison 2:47 pm on March 17, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , 2K, , ,   

    SquadCast Mission: Spec Ops: The Line 

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    If ever there were a game tailor-made for the Squad, it’s Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line. Pete, Mark, Calin, Alex and special guest MJPilon stroke their chins thoughtfully over the nature of war.

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS from the outset.

    Be sure to leave a comment in our G+ Community. Next mission is Alpha Protocol — join the discussion here.

    Music in this episode:

    The Black Angels — Bad Vibrations
    Deep Purple — Hush (Remastered)
    Martha Reeves & The Vandellas — Nowhere to Run
    Alice in Chains — Rooster

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  • Pete Davison 8:02 pm on February 3, 2013 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , Home, HorrorCast, , ,   

    The Squadron of Shame HorrorCast 

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    Pete, Mark, Calin and Alex get together for a discussion of all things horrific and horrible, taking in Corpse Party, Home, Lone Survivor, Amnesia, Penumbra and other spooky treats.

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS for all of the above from the outset.

    Be sure to leave a comment below or in our G+ Community.

    All music in this episode is from Corpse Party: Blood Covered.

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    [Pete’s note: Apologies for the huge delay between our recording of this in November and it finally getting uploaded — real life happened a bit. Due to the long delay between recording and publishing, some things we mentioned as “coming soon” (like the sequel to Corpse Party) are now actually available. Curiosity still sucks, though.]

     
  • Pete Davison 10:12 am on January 7, 2013 Permalink  

    Hey y’all! Some of you may be wondering why it’s been so quiet around here lately. That’s ’cause we’re all hanging out on teh Googlyplus, as its community features are pretty well-suited to structured discussion and that sort of thing. This page will still be kept open as an archive of our past discussions and a place for the SquadCast to live (I promise the next one is coming — I’m just super-short on time and also have too crap Internet to download the recordings!) — discussion from now on seems to have migrated over to the G+ community, though.

    You’ll need a Google account, which most of you probably have already. Join us here: https://plus.google.com/communities/103037990631817130414

     
  • Pete Davison 1:25 pm on December 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    After seeing the new G+ Communities feature deftly put to use by Jeff and Chris for TOFT, I’ve set up a Squad community over there in an attempt to potentially attract some new people. Please feel free to check it out here: https://plus.google.com/communities/103037990631817130414 — all you need is a Google account with G+ activated, which is easy enough to do.

    This site will stay right where it is, but over time we’ll review our needs and see if the G+ community might fit us a bit better as our primary online hangout — it’s certainly easier to categorise and manage discussion threads than it is here, but we’ll see how it goes.

    In the meantime, drop by on G+ and say hello. It’s a public group, but you require moderator approval to join so we can keep the riff-raff out. If you send a request and don’t get a reply, give me a poke somewhere else (here or Twitter) and I’ll sort you out as soon as I can.

     
  • Pete Davison 2:11 pm on December 9, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone I think we’re fast reaching the point where treating “games” as a single medium is becoming a useless endeavour. Interactive entertainment in all its forms is so diverse that you absolutely cannot judge, say, a visual novel by the same criteria as a strategy game or a first person shooter, and as we’ve seen, not everyone likes everything.

    I think we’re probably doing everything content creators put out a great disservice by treating “games” like this. There’s an obvious difference between a game that has been designed as… well, a game — see: Dyad — and a game that has been designed as a vehicle for storytelling. And a game that has been designed for creative expression. Or… you get the idea. I’m not sure this blanket definition of “video games” as a medium is really all that helpful any more!

     
  • Pete Davison 11:33 am on December 9, 2012 Permalink  

    It will surprise no-one to hear that I will happily sacrifice what we traditionally call “gameplay” for a well-crafted interactive narrative, which explains my love for the visual novel genre. With a couple of notable exceptions (Aselia the Eternal being the most obvious one) these “games” are almost free of traditional “gameplay”, and instead focus on simply telling their story in a distinctive manner while allowing the player the most basic control over where it ends up. Because the focus is on simply storytelling rather than trying to shoehorn “gameplay” in, these titles can explore a much wider variety of themes and tell some much more mature stories that simply aren’t possible (or at least very difficult) via the medium of, say, a first-person shooter.

    The other side effect of visual novels is that they manage to tell a directed narrative while simultaneously stoking the fires of the imagination. By narrating the majority of actions rather than explicitly showing them, the player is left to imagine the bits in between. In non-voiced VNs, the player even imagines what the characters sound like.

    This is still true in fully-animated titles like School Days. School Days is effectively an interactive anime, but the focus is squarely on the characters and their interactions, leaving the player to imagine things like the settings and things that are going on off-screen.

    “So why not read a book?” I hear you ask. Well, despite the fact that by playing a VN you are effectively just reading for 98% of your time, the whole multimedia experience is what sets it apart from a straight book. You have graphics, sound, music and sometimes voice as well as text — and this makes it its own unique and very effective storytelling medium. It’s more than a book, but less than a movie — plus the degree of involvement that simply making a few innocuous-seeming decisions along the way shouldn’t be underestimated.

    That Dyad piece annoyed me not because of what the dude said — though it was kinda dumb — but because it was once again another example of the “one size fits all” model being inappropriately applied to what is possibly the most diverse, flexible artistic medium there is. What “games” mean to one person is not the same as what they mean to someone else, and it is just straight-up ridiculous to make blanket statements like “storytelling in games is idiotic”. It may not to be your personal taste, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many examples of it working well and resonating with others. I think the critical acclaim of The Walking Dead has proven that’s lot of people are hungry for it — and that games don’t have to have juvenile narratives.

    Basically, any time you start an argument with “Games are…” just, you know, stop. Then think about what you’re saying. Then be more specific and accurate!

    (See also: anyone who finds the most stupid thing they’ve seen in a game recently and then posts it with an exasperated-sounding “VIDEOGAMES” after it. Not helpful. For as many dumb things that triple-A blockbusters do, there are at least as many titles off the beaten track that handle things maturely and sensibly. If the dumbness of Call of Duty pisses you off, go look elsewhere for your interactive kicks. Just like if Michael Bay pisses you off, you’d go and watch other films.)

     
  • Pete Davison 11:29 am on December 8, 2012 Permalink
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    @cgrajko ah, now, see, the moment I got that message I dropped the difficulty down to “easy”. Still moderately challenging for someone as bad at shooters as me, but not so frustrating you can’t progress.

    There’s a lot to talk about with Spec Ops and I get the feeling I didn’t appreciate it as much as others, but I’d be interested in a discussion.

    Re: SquadCast, next week is like The Week From Hell for me. I have my friend’s wedding today, getting ahead on work and packing tomorrow, jury service from Monday, moving house on Wednesday and somewhere in the midst of all that, getting the rest of my work done. So don’t hold your breath for the podcast just yet — I will get to it, just not when my head wants to explode with ARRRRGHs.

     
  • Pete Davison 1:42 am on December 8, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    So, uh, I picked up Hotline Miami for 50% off on Steam and thought I’d give it a “quick try” earlier.

    Five hours and an achievement for dying a thousand times later, I appear to have finished it.

    That was… Well. Quite something. Gosh.

    Also, where the fuck did my evening go?

     
  • Pete Davison 9:52 am on December 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    @mjpilon I played that a while back when they first accidentally released it, and I thought it was a complete turd. Not up to Double Fine’s usual standards at all — the usual shallow free-to-play business “sim” (and I use the term loosely) gameplay with only some fairly amusing writing to redeem it from the million and one other almost identical titles on the App Store. (And believe me, given my day job, I see nearly all of the fucking things). I’d hope they’ve improved it a bit since then — the version they released was supposedly not intended for public consumption — but it left a very sour taste in my mouth.

     
  • Pete Davison 5:17 pm on December 6, 2012 Permalink  

    Christmas is coming! Squad Santa time!

    Can anyone remember how we organised this last time, or indeed who organised it last time?

     
  • Pete Davison 11:31 am on December 3, 2012 Permalink  

    Hello! Do you have friends, relatives and/or loved ones who own iOS devices and who are in relatively close physical proximity to you and each another? Do you like the idea of bellowing “FLUSH THE MEGACONDENSERS! SET THE SHIFTSANITIZER TO 1! PRESS THAT BUTTON THAT LOOKS LIKE A BABY! ASTEROOOOOIIIIID!” at one another while frantically pressing buttons to do all those things? Do you wish that you were the little people running around frantically trying to avoid death in FTL rather than the all-seeing eye in the sky watching them from above?

    Then Spaceteam, a new free iOS game, is for you.

    Seriously, this shit is amazing. It’s the perfect party game for modern smartphone-wielding geeks. Check it out. I wish I was near the rest of you so we could play this together.

     
  • Pete Davison 10:35 pm on November 30, 2012 Permalink  

    Spec Ops is $5 on Amazon right now for anyone who wants to subject themselves to it.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:00 am on November 30, 2012 Permalink  

    @feen I just have a wireless keyboard and mouse on a small coffee table that is a convenient height to reach from my sofa. It’s not IDEAL, I’ll admit, but it works. Alternatives would be a lap tray for a laptop or one of those hospital-style wheelie tables that you could poke over the sofa arm or something.

     
  • Pete Davison 7:32 pm on November 29, 2012 Permalink  

    Dargh. Beat me to it, @sinfony.

    Yes, everybody get on that. Then play Saints Row co-op with me.

     
  • Pete Davison 3:14 pm on November 29, 2012 Permalink  

    TrackMania 2 > Everything Bowley said

    NYAAAAAN~

     
  • Pete Davison 6:26 pm on November 28, 2012 Permalink  

    Probably futile attempt to pitch ShootMania time!

    First of all, this “manifesto” trailer sums up what Nadeo and Ubi are trying to do with the whole “ManiaPlanet” platform as a whole.

    The basic essence of it all is “accessible e-sports”. E-sports in general are quite tough to get into, with a learning curve to figure out the game itself and then an often newbie-unfriendly community to deal with.

    ShootMania, though, like TrackMania before it, is designed to be very easy to get into. In TrackMania, you only needed the direction keys to play; in ShootMania, if you understand the basic WSAD-and-mouse language of FPS navigation, you’re good to go.

    Where ShootMania is notable over other, more well-established FPS titles, is in the differing approaches it takes to things. In most game modes you’re limited to a single weapon, so there’s no charging around camping powerups or weapon respawn points, and you score points for hitting rather than killing people, meaning even a complete FPS spaz like myself can at least score a few points and even win.

    Then there are the different modes. The basic free-for-all deathmatch is great fun, but then you have super-cool creative stuff like Joust mode, plus the potential for modding.

    Joust mode is very cool, and the most “sport”-like mode I think I’ve seen in an FPS. Two players square off against each other at a time in a small arena. Neither may shoot until they’ve made their way to one of the “poles” on the field, at which point their gun charges up enough for five shots. The winner of the match is determined by whoever reached the score limit first, with a tennis-style “advantage/break” system in play to keep things exciting. Once a single round is over, another pair partner up and take each other on while the other players watch through the excellent spectator cam, which does a fine job of keeping all the action in view.

    Or how about Royal mode? This is a straight-up free for all deathmatch in which all participants have just a single life. To make things more interesting, whoever triggers the point at the centre of the map causes a deadly force field to start closing in from the outside of the level, meaning the level effectively gets smaller and smaller and smaller until everyone is crammed into a tiny space in the centre.

    Interface is clunky as hell at the moment as it’s in beta (plus TrackMania never had the most well-polished interface in the world anyway) but if you’re looking for something a bit different from your shootymen experience, I highly recommend checking it out.

    http://www.shootmania.com/

    Can’t wait to see what QuestMania offers.

     
  • Pete Davison 4:34 pm on November 28, 2012 Permalink  

    Oh! Yes, I bought Cargo Commander, too.

     
  • Pete Davison 4:13 pm on November 28, 2012 Permalink  

    I actually didn’t buy much in the Steam sale this time. Here’s my haul for the Thanksgiving/Black Friday period:

    • Magical Drop V
    • Fairy Bloom Freesia
    • Ether Vapor Remaster
    • ShootMania

    More ShootMania enthusing coming later — that game has some fantastic game modes.

     
  • Pete Davison 4:04 pm on November 28, 2012 Permalink  

    @bluesforbuddha Fascinating. That is all stuff I haven’t seen mentioned AT ALL in any review of Hitman, and sounds awesome. WTF, games press?

    @cgrajko At least P4A is available in your territory! GODDAMMIT, ATLUS

     
  • Pete Davison 2:34 pm on November 28, 2012 Permalink  

    My take: the Wii Mini is clearly aimed at people who want a cheap console on which they can play Just Dance, Wii Sports and all that sort of thing — the sort of people who probably don’t give a toss whether or not their console has online connectivity. In other words, not your average “gamer” but just someone who wants something that will play a few fun party games that will likely be available for pennies as Wii U starts to take hold. There’s a market, I’m sure. It’s just not “gamers”, which is why everyone in the games press is looking at it with such bewilderment. It’s not FOR you.

    Doesn’t mean it’s not a vaguely daft idea — Wiis aren’t expensive anyway, after all — but I don’t see anything wrong with Nintendo trying it out as an experiment. If it works, great; if not, they’ll just quietly retire it. No biggie. Good on them for giving it a try, I say.

    I’m kind of tired of the constant nitpicking of Nintendo by the games press, and I’m actually quite glad they’re willing to buck the trends of the hour. I’m interested in Wii U purely because it offers something different. I don’t give a toss about the quality of the ports because I’m not going to play ports on it. If I want to play Black Ops or Arkham City (I don’t), I will play them on 360, PS3 or PC. As with the Wii, I will instead play the unique titles that are only available on the platform. Stuff like ZombieU, NintendoLand, Mario and the other stuff that is undoubtedly around the corner. (NEW TRAUMA CENTER GAME PLZ)

    As for the criticism of it being not as powerful as the (still nonexistent) PS4 and next-gen Xbox, again, I couldn’t care less. Wii was home to some fantastic games despite being technically inferior — games that are often ignored when talking about the “best games of the generation”, I might add — and proved that no, it’s not all about tech. Indeed, in the case of Xenoblade, Last Story and Pandora’s Tower, whatever you thought of those games, budget constraints and niche audiences mean that they’d probably never have gotten greenlit on PS3 or 360. And yet we can still play them because of the Wii. I’m happy about that.

    eh. Whatevs. Like what you like; just don’t bitch when others like what you don’t like. Words to live by. (Unless others like, say, genocide or something. Then it’s OK to bitch a bit.)

    There’s a new Squadcast in the can, but I’m not sure when I’ll have time to get to editing it. Hopefully I’ll be able to give it some time over the weekend, but Andie and I just forked over a bunch of cash for a new place to live, so we’ll be moving in two weeks. I’ll try and get it out in time for Christmas though. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 12:08 am on November 27, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    @UMD sold.

    The rest of you, check out our Alex’s review of CC and his interview with the devs. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 11:50 pm on November 26, 2012 Permalink  

    Bard’s Tale! There you go. I was trying to think of more games like that and drawing a blank. Kudos if you actually remember “Knightmare”. I don’t know if that ever saw a release outside the UK, as it was technically based on a children’s TV show from over here but actually had pretty much nothing to do with it.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:45 pm on November 26, 2012 Permalink  

    @feenwager Did you play any of the following and enjoy them “back in the day”?

    Dungeon Master
    Lands of Lore
    Eye of the Beholder
    Knightmare

    If the answer is “yes”, and you’re not averse to the idea of returning to that exact style of gameplay with modern graphics, then you should pick it up.

     
  • Pete Davison 2:42 pm on November 26, 2012 Permalink  

    @rocgaude Yeah. That’s a solid Vita list, and I second the motion for Corpse Party if you’re into that. Gravity Rush is good, too, at least until the last hour or so, when it becomes rubbish. It’s awesome up until that point, though. Hot Shots Golf is great, too, as is Need for Speed Most Wanted.

    @feenwager P4 is much less grindy than P3, and there’s more variety in the dungeoneering. It’s lots of smaller dungeons rather than one massive one. It still has a very “slow” opening, though, so be warned, as that puts some people off.

     
  • Pete Davison 2:39 pm on November 25, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ShootMania   

    Speaking of multiplayer betas, I prepurchased ShootMania (TrackMania with guns and no cars) yesterday and had an absolute blast (no pun intended) in the few games I played against very skillful Frenchmen.

    That game is surprisingly good — and noticeably different from the hordes of “me too” multiplayer shooters out there. I haven’t delved into any modes other than the free-for-all deathmatch yet, as that’s typically my favourite way to play multiplayer shooters anyway, but even that was fun.

    The interesting thing — in that mode, anyway, I don’t know if it’s different in others — is that there’s no charging around the map to be the first to get a powerup or special weapon; it’s purely based on skill and tactics.

    Everyone has just one weapon — a railgun-type thing that shoots a bright, colored laser beam that immediately gives away your location — and you score points for hitting people, not just killing them. Hit people repeatedly without missing and you get increasingly-large amounts of points — 2 for the first hit, 4 for the second, 6 for the third and so on — and no particularly special bonus for actually killing them.

    Get defeated and you have a momentary overview of the whole battlefield, then the view zooms down from the bird’s eye view into where your character is respawning, so you know exactly where to head to get in on the action.

    And the maps. Oh the maps! Because ShootMania has a focus on community-generated maps, just like TrackMania, there’s some wonderful creativity on display, leading to some first-person shooter scenarios I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. In one match, the whole map was just a very realistic, dark forest at night-time, with the only source of light being a large building in the centre. In another, it was a relatively small arena in which everyone started up high — ideal for attemping to snipe — but in which the real action was down in the “pit” in the middle. In yet another, Halo-style bouncy things flung people around the map with gay abandon.

    Highly recommended if you’re looking for something a little different. Check it out here.

     
  • Pete Davison 10:06 pm on November 23, 2012 Permalink  

    @bluesforbuddha Saw that the other day — be interested to hear your thoughts on it. Won’t be picking it up myself as I’m not a big fan of the author, but I’d certainly like to hear your thoughts on whether it’s a worthwhile piece.

     
  • Pete Davison 3:03 pm on November 22, 2012 Permalink  

    Gotta be honest, never been a huge fan of big robots, but that may just be a side-effect of my general disdain for anything vaguely military at the moment. I think I’m just tired of shooting things generally. 🙂 I remember quite liking Front Mission 3, though.

    I did have one positive experience with big robots recently, however, which was the visual novel Deus Machina Demonbane, which deftly combines Lovecraftian mythology with giant robots and the most adorable take on the Necronomicon you ever did see. I wrote about it here if I’ve piqued your curiosity.

    PICS!

     
  • Pete Davison 9:54 pm on November 21, 2012 Permalink  

    Playing Walking Dead on PC here, though on my TV with a 360 controller. Works fine. PC version is also, I understand, not afflicted with the game-breaking save game bug that has mangled some players’ progress. To be safe, play through whole episodes in a single sitting if you can. They’re about 2-3 hours tops each, so it’s more than doable, and they’re clearly designed to be played that way.

    I finished it tonight. I won’t say anything else for fear of spoilers.

     
  • Pete Davison 4:02 pm on November 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    @bowlisimo Cheers bud. Yeah, Jeff Green is on board already, as he’s already written very publicly about his experiences. There are a few other people involved who haven’t decided whether or not they want to “go public” just yet, too, so I’ll refrain from mentioning them for now.

    Hadn’t thought about Wil Wheaton and Mike Krahulik, but those are both good shouts. I’ll mention it to the group.

    Anyone reading and thinking “hmm, I’d like to be part of that,” we’re still getting stuff into place and sorted out to begin with, but we will be “recruiting” at some point in the near future if anyone wants to share some experiences. For now, I hope the content that does trickle out is of help to some of you.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:48 am on November 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    SRS BIZ for a mo.

    I don’t know how many of you have suffered with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues in the past, and I’m not going to pry into anyone’s personal business if they don’t want to talk about it.

    But I did want to share a project I’m involved with: Take This. We’re a group of people primarily from in and around the games industry — our membership includes people like Russ Pitts and Phil Kollar from Polygon, Susan Arendt from the Escapist, Aubrey “Chupacaubrey” Norris from Deep Silver’s PR, Troy Goodfellow from Evolve PR, Sean Sands from Gamers With Jobs and numerous others — and we want to share the stories of how we have been, in some way or another, been affected by depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

    The project was spurred on by a freelancer who committed suicide a few weeks back. He had obviously been suffering, but hadn’t felt he was able to reach out and ask for help, at least in part due to the stigma that talking about mental health issues still has in many parts of society. Take This is an acknowledgement that the world is a difficult place, and a place to find empathy and support. It’s a place where we share our stories in the hope that people who are suffering mental health issues don’t have to deal with it by themselves — and to make it clear that it is okay to talk about these things.

    Here’s a story from me — there will likely be more in the future, and in the meantime others in the group will also be sharing their own experiences. Do please keep an eye on the site if it’s something that you think might be helpful to you. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

     
  • Pete Davison 7:19 pm on November 19, 2012 Permalink  

    @redswir1 I didn’t deny tech heads reviewed cameras. In fact, they’re the right people to review them, second after actual photographers who can write. 🙂 I said that film critics wouldn’t review cameras, which is a vaguely comparable situation to games critics reviewing hardware.

    The thing with the Vita is that you’re not just buying a Vita, you’re buying a PSP with a delicious screen, too. The PSP has a fucking awesome software library, particularly if you’re into JRPGs or other “interesting” games that you can’t get on any other platform. When people bitch about Vita having “nothing to play” they are completely discounting this fact — and it’s a big selling point, particularly for anyone who never had a PSP. Granted, there may be a dearth of actual Vita titles, but that’s a situation that is gradually improving. And there are some cracking games already — WipeOut, Need for Speed, Gravity Rush, Hot Shots Golf, Uncharted, LBP, Rayman, VLR, Ragnarok Odyssey, Persona 4… I could go on. And then remember it’s a system where you can also play Persona 1, 2 and 3, Trails in the Sky, those two Atlus games that begin with G that I can never remember the names of, Corpse Party and all manner of other goodness on and you actually have a pretty attractive prospect all round — for certain gamers, anyway.

    Re: the “not HD enough” thing, I’m pretty much over graphics. The games I had the most fun with recently are some of the “worst” looking. Xenoblade, Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, the visual novels I’ve been playing, Aselia the Eternal. The more realistic graphics get, the less attractive they are to me. If the new Xbox and PlayStation end up being just CoD and Halo machines, I’ll happily skip them.

    I’m aware I don’t speak for everyone, of course, and in fact am probably in a minority. But I like my colours and big-eyed anime girls, dammit!

     
  • Pete Davison 12:41 pm on November 19, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone No, you know what? You’re exactly right. That is weird. We don’t see art critics reviewing the latest canvas and paintbrushes; music critics don’t review instruments; film critics don’t review cameras. They review how the artists (to use a general term applying to all content creators) leverage those things — and sometimes their limitations — to create works of art. Another argument in favour of more specialised press, perhaps — leave the hardware reviews to tech writers, so the games writers can focus on what is, after all, the important bit.

    (Also, I’m probably the only one in the world who feels like this but I probably wouldn’t have given a flying fuck if the Wii U didn’t have any online functionality. It’s lovely to have some peace sometimes.)

    But whatever, Wii U is worth 6.5 out of 10, whatever the fuck that means.

     
  • Pete Davison 9:48 am on November 19, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone Okay, yeah, let’s talk about this, as it’s bugging me a bit.

    Every new console launch in the last few years (and by that, I mean 3DS, Vita and now Wii U) has been met by nothing but cynicism, snarkiness and what seems like a very genuine desire for the new systems to fail. And I’m not talking about fanboys here — I’m talking about the press.

    Some systems come out of this initial “gauntlet” better than others — you could argue the 3DS is in a relatively healthy place right now — but others don’t. I feel a big part of the Vita’s struggles can be attributed to the initial negativity over things like battery life (which hasn’t been an issue in my experience) and people not wanting to engage with it as a result.

    In Wii U’s case — no, in all of these cases, actually — “reviewing” a console at launch is a completely fruitless exercise. Putting a score on it is even more ridiculous. Systems, by their very nature, evolve and change over time, particularly now we’re in an age where you can patch your hardware as much as your software.

    I get where some of the criticisms are coming from. It’s frustrating to have to download a patch before all the functionality is in place. But you only have to do it once — and it’s not as if the most important part of the system, namely the ability to play games is inaccessible without the patch. If you’re going to review a console, surely you should talk about the everyday experience of it rather than just what happens the first time you turn it on.

    The reason why this is bugging me so much is that the press reaction is a complete inversion of the reaction from people I know who actually own one now. Granted, in the latter case there is probably an element of wanting to justify their own purchase, but so far I have seen very little but genuine affection for the new system. In the press’ case, they seem to be actively looking for things to nitpick — things that may not even be an issue for some users.

    I think I’m just tired of cynicism. People claim they’re fed up of the same old, same old, but as soon as something new and interesting shows up it’s responded to with negativity. A new console launch should be an exciting time!

    Just my take. Call me an idealist. I somehow doubt it will affect Wii U sales, but I’m sad to see Vita flagging and consistently derided, as it’s a wonderful piece of kit, and I far prefer it to my iOS devices for portable gaming.

     
  • Pete Davison 3:28 pm on November 17, 2012 Permalink  

    @cptcarnage I don’t have your email address, can you let me know what it is please? Here if you’re happy to post it, or just email to pjedavison at teh geemailz dot com if you don’t want to post it publicly.

    Anyone else interested in this? I’m keen to get some ideas rolling on this, so speak now if you are. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 3:20 pm on November 16, 2012 Permalink  

    @bluesforbuddha The nice thing about RPG Maker is that it has a nice character generator built in, so one of the most pain-in-the-ass bits of making a top-down game (sprites) is taken care of no problem. It would be cool if we could have some Corpse Party-style close-ups for some scenes, though — but not essential.

    Regarding scope, that’s why I think it would be interesting to have each person handle an “episode” — maybe an hour or two of gameplay, whatever form they choose that to take, each, tops. The whole thing could then be wrapped up in a crisp pastry shell of meta-plot (which I think it would be quite fun to keep secret from everyone until the final product) and then baked until golden brown.

    So that’s one “interested”. Anyone else?

     
  • Pete Davison 2:28 pm on November 16, 2012 Permalink  

    Serious question: who would be interested in having a serious attempt at making an interesting, unusual story-based game next year?

    Here’s what I’m thinking: make use of something like RPG Maker VX Ace (which I own a copy of) to bring it all together, as it’s an enormously flexible engine that can be expanded and tweaked as necessary. It’s also proven to be good enough for great games — To The Moon and Corpse Party are both RPG Maker creations from previous versions.

    Those who are interested in contributing can each take responsibility for a particular area. What I thought could be quite interesting would be if we had some sort of overarching meta-storyline, then individuals responsible for writing/scripting the individual episodes. Sort of kind of like The Walking Dead is doing with its guest writers for each episode, only with a top-down RPG style. Each writer would be responsible for determining the “format” of their episode, and they wouldn’t have to follow the traditional RPG formula. For example, one episode could be a combat-heavy dungeon crawler, the next could be a dating sim, the one after could be a series of adventure game-style puzzles. I have a vague idea for how we could justify this shifting around of styles in narrative terms, but the specifics would depend on exactly what people were interested in doing.

    The RPG Maker VX community has plenty of great free resources, but it would be nice to have some custom graphics, sound and music, too, if people would be interested in contributing in that way.

    If you fancy it, let me know and we’ll see if we can start knocking some ideas around in private. I really, really want to make a game but I am also not sure it’s something I can practically do by myself. I’m happy to do all the RPG Maker-wrangling as I know it quite well, but I think it’d be a lot of fun to do as a group project. Or it might be something that makes us all hate each other and never want to speak to each other again. But it would probably be fun. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 2:15 pm on November 16, 2012 Permalink  

    I’m up for Squad Santa, too.

    *prepares list of the most embarrassing loli-dating visual novels possible, just for Feen*

    Just kidding. (Mostly.)

    Re: SWTOR… I could potentially be tempted to take another look if other people were interested. I don’t know how intrusive the F2P component is though. If they handle it like Star Trek Online or DC Universe Online, I could get behind that.

    Not doing that big download unless other people are interested in partying up, though. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 11:20 pm on November 15, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone Fear not, sir, the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things! A love of Barkley somewhat depends on your fondness for the source material it’s lampooning. ‘Tis all a matter of taste in the end.

     
  • Pete Davison 3:06 pm on November 15, 2012 Permalink  

    Calin and I were talking about this the other night. What I wouldn’t give for a game set in a convincingly-realised, realistic modern-day city that wasn’t undergoing an apocalypse, zombie outbreak, military invasion or crimewave — and a game where you don’t feel obliged to be a dick antihero. I’d absolutely play a game where you just “lived” in a realistic city, could explore its various nooks and crannies and get to know the characters therein. You could add some sort of story and/or quests over the top, or perhaps some sort of Persona style dating sim mechanics where you built up relationships with people around the game world.

    I know I’m basically describing The Sims 3, but I’m thinking a game like that with more direct control and less micromanaging of how much you need to go to the toilet. I think it would be interesting.

    It will also never happen. Ever. Unless I make it.

     
  • Pete Davison 5:08 pm on November 14, 2012 Permalink  

    Eh. I am always skeptical of trailers these days, largely because 1) they often include nothing about the game whatsoever and 2) they’re not necessarily representative of the final game when they do bother to include some actual graphics. I mean, sure, this looks cool, but it’s a collection of cutscenes, nothing more. We can pretty much guarantee that it’s going to have the same sense of dissonance between gameplay and story as the last few GTAs, and that people will still buy it by the millions and love it. I will probably be among them — though I never felt the impetus to finish GTAIV, which is causing me to pause over this one.

    I think I’m just weary of the public and press alike collectively sucking Rockstar’s dick over GTAV. Everyone bitches about countdowns to announcements of trailers when people like Square, Capcom or Activision do them, but Rockstar are following that model to the fucking letter and everyone is lapping it up without any sense of irony whatsoever — press included, which is somewhat hypocritical after the whole “Doritosgate” thing recently. Rockstar could have put out Meatspin when they said the trailer was going to release and they would have still had a bajillion views.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:49 am on November 14, 2012 Permalink  

    @rocgaude You want guns, you knock yourself out. WITH THE BUTT OF ONE OF THE RIFLES YOU LOVE SO FUCKING MUCH etc

    My GOTY is School Days HQ. Not sure if it counts because the Japanese version is a little older, but it came out in English this year.

     
  • Pete Davison 2:28 pm on November 13, 2012 Permalink  

    Hey, check out this review of Black Ops II on Kotaku. I really liked how they handled it, but the vast majority of feedback on it has been negative due to it being highly unconventional and not doing the usual “THE GRAPHICS ARE GOOD THE SOUND IS GOOD THE PLOT IS ALL RIGHT” thing.

    Thoughts? It actually read to me like something one of us would write.

     
  • Pete Davison 9:35 pm on November 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    @redswir1 I’m not sure what’s up with the resolution of Japanese doujin games, they always seem to be 4:3 aspect ratio at 640×480 or 800×600. Same for visual novels. I’m assuming that the Japanese PC gaming market isn’t so hung up on big screens and visually-impressive stuff as the West is — the whole “impressive graphics” thing is apparently console territory.

    Japanese PC gaming has pretty much stayed exactly the same in terms of specs for a large number of years now — while VNs and the like used to be incredibly demanding mainly due to the amount of storage space required for all that art and speech, nowadays the system requirements for a typical Japanese PC game look fairly laughable. CTHCC is a 95MB download and requires 128MB of RAM and a Pentium III to run. I have visual novels on my shelf that list Windows 98 as the lowest required OS.

    I don’t think all this is necessarily a bad thing, though; it means these games can run on pretty much anything, and it’s not as if it looks terrible. I played CTHCC on my laptop, as it happens, and it looked fine in full-screen mode, but I’ve played a bunch of visual novels on the 1080p TV without incident. Aselia the Eternal is only 640×480, I believe, and still looks great — the only minor inconvenience is having to manually switch the TV to 4:3 to get rid of automatic stretching, and that’s only an inconvenience if you’re either a lazy bastard or your remote’s batteries aren’t working. The thing with anime-style art (and pixel art, for that matter) is that it actually doesn’t look terrible at low resolution on a big screen — certainly nowhere near as bad as a 10 year old 3D engine running at 640×480 would.

     
  • Pete Davison 8:03 pm on November 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Grah. On the one hand, I really want to play Spec Ops: The Line. On the other, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get past the whole “military shooter” angle, so I’m not convinced I want to drop £20 on it. I do get the impression it’s a title that is well worth discussing, though, so I will consider it very seriously.

    Unrelated:

    Do you like Persona but wish it was approximately 96 hours shorter?

    Do you like Persona but wish it had 100% less fighting and consisted solely of leveling up Social Links?

    Then you may be interested in Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, which hit Steam this week. Here’s my review.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:44 am on November 8, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , recruitment drive   

    HELLO! DOUBLE POST etc

    I am looking for some more writers for GamesAreEvil, specifically to write one 1,000-word column per week on a specific, focused gaming-related subject that is of interest to you.

    The chap who has up until now been writing our “The Vault” retro gaming column on Saturdays is unfortunately no longer able to fit that into his schedule, so I’d like it someone was able to take that on on a (probably) temporary basis until he’s able to rejoin the team. Here are his past entries if you want to take a look.

    I’d also like someone to take over the “FreePlay” column on the subject of free shit. This could be free-to-play games, mobile games, freeware games, free mods or whatever — anything, so long as it’s free for people to download and at least get started with. This column goes out on Thursdays, but you can submit it any time it is convenient to you, so long as it’s ready in time for Thursday.

    If anyone has any interest in other niche subjects and would like to write a weekly 1,000 word column on said subject, please get in touch. So far, we have the following niches covered:

    • Tactical Tuesday — bi-monthly strategy game musings by our own @unmanneddrone. Goes out on Wednesdays. Just kidding.
    • Swords & Zippers — weekly JRPG musings by me every Wednesday
    • FreePlay — weekly musings on free shit, currently by me but IT COULD BE YOU. Goes out on Thursdays.
    • Insert Coin — weekly arcade culture column. Goes out on Fridays.
    • READ.ME — weekly visual novel musings by me. Goes out on Sundays.

    The Vault previously went out on Saturdays, but again, you can submit at any time in the week so long as it’s ready in time. If you have a niche interest that’s not already covered and are interested in enthusing about it regularly, get in touch.

    If you’re interested in some more general writing such as news and reviews, also get in touch. Please check out the GrE Manifesto beforehand. Several Squaddies have already contributed on a number of occasions and I trust you guys to do good work that needs relatively minimal editing, so that’s why I’m coming here first.

    This is voluntary work so I can’t pay you. However, I can snag review copies for specific things you might like to cover that you don’t already own.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:14 am on November 8, 2012 Permalink  

    I got Most Wanted on Vita. Seems pretty good so far, though I admit I haven’t delved that deep into it so far. I like the “explore and find cars” aspect of it. Some of the courses could do with being a bit better marked, though — it’s HARD, particularly when it comes to the system-exclusive challenges.

    For those wondering, Autolog is cross-platform… sort of. To clarify, the leaderboard that tracks your “Speed Points” (basically XP earned by completing races, milestones and other challenges) works across all the different platforms, but the Speedwalls for individual races don’t. This is a shame, but due to differences in performance between systems I guess it’s understandable.

    The Vita version seems really good. Some of the text is a little bit teeny-tiny (I get the feeling they pretty much just ported the PS3 version across without fiddling around with the graphics too much) but it seems to work well.

    I can’t shake the feeling that the previous Most Wanted game might have been better though… I’m not sure yet. We’ll see.

    Re: Torchlight II and Diablo III, both are good but as Bowley says, don’t go into either for their story. I’m actually yet to fire up Torchlight II, so if anyone fancies some multiplayer this weekend I’ll be up for it. Let me know.

     
  • Pete Davison 1:44 pm on November 2, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    You should read his review, too. 🙂

     
  • Pete Davison 1:17 pm on November 1, 2012 Permalink
    Tags:   

    @Shingro Yes, from what you told me about your tastes you will enjoy it a great deal. I would love to have some people to talk about it with. @waterkanji, @cgrajko — any interest? There’s plenty of potential podcast discussion value in it, but I appreciate it’s a significant time investment.

     
  • Pete Davison 11:16 pm on October 30, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , mission pitch, worth a shot   

    Hello everyone. Tonight I finished my first playthrough of a game called Aselia the Eternal. I would like to officially submit it as a possible future Squad mission, because it is boss and I feel there are at least a few people here who will genuinely enjoy it. Allow me to elaborate.

    The Elevator Pitch

    Aselia the Eternal is a hybrid title which combines the rich, narrative-heavy nature of a visual novel with an elegantly simple-to-understand strategy RPG system that features an impressive amount of hidden depth.

    Why You Should Play It

    Besides just having a strong, interesting story, period, Aselia the Eternal is noteworthy for its interesting approach to blending gameplay and narrative together. The plot can continue unfolding at any time — even in the middle of one of the “strategy game bits” — and frequently does. This has the knock-on effect of meaning that you know exactly who every single one of your units is in terms of personality as well as statistics.

    Its strategy RPG mechanics are also unusual and original but simple to understand and very effective. Its combat system rewards players who think carefully and strategically about what they are going to do, and minimises the role of chance so as to be almost non-existent.

    It is also noteworthy for featuring one of the most well-realised fantasy worlds I’ve ever seen — and managing to create said world without flashy 3D engines or indeed any kind of “open-world freedom”.

    Where To Get It

    Here. Aselia the Eternal is published by JAST USA, who also carry a variety of “adults only” visual novel titles, but Aselia the Eternal is an “all-ages” title with no sexual content.

    It costs $30 for either a packaged or physical copy, or an extra $5 if you want both.

    Time Investment

    A single playthrough took me about 54 hours. There are eight endings, but each subsequent playthrough is easier as you are able to keep your levelled-up characters and skip scenes you’ve seen.

    Further Reading

    I wrote two spoiler-free articles about the game for Games Are Evil’s regular visual novel column:

    Aselia the Eternal and the Balance of Story and Game
    Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words

    I also wrote a gushing blog post in which I explain how the combat system works, if you’re curious.

     
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