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Archive for July, 2012

I’ve been busy working on… too many projects.  I’ll have a Zomblobs! “patch” up here closer to the weekend, though.  Remember, the beta is over thisaway, and I’m looking for feedback.  Please let me know what you think and ask me any questions you might have!

In the meantime, here’s an eeeeevil Death Kitty I drew and painted to, er… brighten your day.

Death Kitty

Oh, and this is the rune I plopped under his feet.  I’ve long loved constructing Celtic knots, and this was fun to work out.

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I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while now.  I’m stupidly busy with a lot of “real life” stuff at the moment, but this is the perfect time to offer a miniature review on this Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet game.

In a nutshell? It’s a “Twin Stick Metroidvania” game with a nice sense of style.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet places you in control of a plucky little UFO with a variety of tools and weapons, and tasks you with saving your home planet from star-eating shadow play monsters. You drive with one analog stick, and aim your weapon/tool with the other, pitting your toolset against a massive alien invasion.

The Good:

-Classic “Metroidvania” game design involving exploring a large map that opens up as you take tools and weapons from boss monsters and use them to interact with the world. You grow in power and utility as you learn to interact with and explore the world. This is really the heart of the game, and there are enough different tools, ways to use them and things to use them on to carry the gameplay through several hours of fun experimentation and exploration.

-Instruction comes via icons and demonstration, which cuts down on mistranslations and keeps the learning curve fairly simple.

-The visuals are a curious mix of flat shapes and color gradients, simple and clean. The art design and animation are excellent, and help to sell the alien nature of the game. This ethos is vaguely reminiscent of World of Goo, another game standing as a testament to the strength of good 2D art presentation.

The Middling:

-Boss Monster hunting strategies tend to be more about execution than deciphering the gimmick. This is usually good, but sometimes it would be nice if it were the other way around.

The Not So Good:

-Steering missiles can be tricky and frustrating… but that can also mean that it’s satisfying if you get the hang of it.

-The simplified instructions aren’t always clear, and it will take some tinkering to figure some things out. This isn’t always bad, but it can be frustrating if you get stuck.

-The underwater area requires a bit too much retracing of your path as currents push you around and block off channels. Choosing a different fork in the road means looping back to the start of the path instead of just backing up to the fork.

-Some boss fights are a bit demanding or unclear, but some players like this as a skill test.

-No difficulty settings.

Now, to be fair, I played it on the XBox 360, and the controls were tight and easy to use. I’m not sure how it works without a console controller, but the game design is still solid.  I still recommend it as a good twist on the Metroidvania core design.

Happy weekend!

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Zomblobs! is finally in a playable state!   It’s a tabletop tactical wargame, played on a map with hexagonal cells, miniatures (folded paper for this version) and six-sided dice.  It’s the beta, so it’s not yet precisely balanced or perfectly presentable, but it’s playable!  (If you print out the PDF and prepare some paper, anyway.)

Zomblob!

I’ve worked long enough in the game industry to believe that game testers are the last line of defense between a working game and a broken one.  There’s definitely more polishing I want to do before I call Zomblobs! an alpha-release-worthy product, but it’s in a state where the game will benefit greatly from playtesting and experimentation.

Polishing can be pretty prickly

If you all have the time to at least read through the rules and give me some feedback, I’d greatly appreciate it.  If you have time to print out the game and play it for a while, I’d really love to hear what you think of it.

Many thanks for your interest!  I’ll be writing more articles on the game, especially if there’s something important to address that I haven’t yet covered in my previous articles.

Consume or be consumed!

For Science!

UPDATED!

Now, in convenient just-under-19 MB size!  It’s a bit JPEGgy, but that’s just how the Zomblob crumbles.

Zomblobs Rules Beta Smaller

…and, because commenter “ironshield” down there has a very good point on printing, here’s the exact same data split into a “text” file and an “extras” file, just in case you want them that way.

Zomblobs Rules Beta Text

Zomblobs Rules Beta Extras (unit tokens, maps, map widgets, templates, that sort of thing)

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It looks like Professor Beej‘s Birthright novel’s Kickstarter project has reached its funding goal.  Of course, while there’s momentum, the good Professor has extended a new mini-goal to pay for some more sweet cover art.

If you haven’t investigated Birthright yet, it’s a perfect time to do so.  Professor Beej wrote this article on it a while back, and he has other commentary over at his site.

For what it’s worth, I chipped in on the Kickstarter, but even before that, Beej let me read a bit of his earlier draft for the book.  While I didn’t have much time to read it, I was left itching for more.  It’s interesting, well written, and is curiously founded on a conceptual conceit distilled directly from games.  I’m really looking forward to the final book and whatever else Beej winds up doing with his pocket universe(s).

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Just a little something I’ve been working on.  The Zomblobs are coming!

Zomblobs! Desktop 1

Happy weekend, all!

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