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Posts Tagged ‘rust’

It’s been a while since I actually had enough time to play anything on my Steam backlog.  I still haven’t since last time I posted about this project, but I have been playing a few smartphone games and even a PS3 game, so I’m splicing them into the project.  Gaming is gaming, more or less, and it’s worth writing a bit about these.  Standard boilerplate disclaimer/description, with a rider that most of the images this time around are swiped from the ‘net, since I couldn’t get screenshots:

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I’m going through my Steam list (and then some, as it happens) alphabetically, picking up games I own but haven’t played to see what’s there.  15 minutes each is all I’m budgeting, but I reserve the right to get sucked into a cool game.  Some I’ve played already, though, so I’ll mention them in passing here and there, giving them a rating like the other games.

I’ll be giving each of these Backlog games a rating of sorts, as follows:  Regret (uninstall and forget), Remember (uninstall but wish for more time), Revisit (leave installed for later) and Recommend (wish for more time to play this right now).  This is a squishy continuum of sorts, and deliberately imprecise.  This isn’t an in depth survey-and-review, it’s Spring Cleaning of my video game backlog.

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First, I’ve mentioned Slingshot Braves before, which I’ve played on my Android smartphone and an Android tablet.  It’s a fairly solid game, as far as actual combat goes, but the progression system and gear acquisition system is… not good.  If you’re up for some good combat-billiards…ish sort of gaming, it’s worth checking out for a bit.  Just don’t spend any real money on it, and don’t expect to make much progress once the leveling curve ramps up.  The “Gacha” system, popular in Japan but with all the stink of F2P underbellies, is kin to the lockbox system we see in many Free To Play MMOs, where you can pony up about $5 worth of premium currency (earned either slowly in-game or via cash purchase) to open a thingamabob that might have a small chance of being useful instead of something you will just break down into materials you could literally earn in a three minute mission.  It’s a waste of money.  I’m not above wasting money, but this just itches in all the wrong places.  It’s a game I Regret, but only because it could have been so much better, not because it was awful to actually play.

Embracing Diversity

Yes, that’s his best armor.  Optimus Striptease, The Chief and Tutu Gogo.  The game’s gear design is largely the same old ridiculous chainmail bikini sort of crap, but once in a while they do something cool like steampunk armor, so there’s gold in there somewhere.

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Automatic RPG is silly.  That’s OK, as the charm of the goofy writing takes mild jabs at badly translated Japanese games and other RPG tropes.  The gameplay is minimal, even banking on the “it plays itself” mechanic to sell itself, and it’s kin to mildly entertaining time wasters like Candy Box and Candy Box 2.  It was fun for a while, seeing what gear the team found and what conversational malaprops happened, but there’s not really any meat on the game’s bones.  The Fire Emblem-like minimal graphics are good for what they are, and the competent music is probably out of a game dev bundle somewhere, but they serve their purpose well enough.  Again, not something to spend money on, but it’s fun to see what people do sometimes.  I don’t exactly Regret playing it, but it’s close, and it won’t last for more than another week or so, unless I forget I have it installed.

AutomaticRPG

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Random aside:  The current (for another 12 hours) Humble Weekly Bundle has some game-making programs and assets that are worth investigating, if you’re itching to dig into making games.

There’s also a ton of stuff in this bundle:

Game Makers Mega Bundle

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Terra Battle is my current favorite mobile game.  It’s from the Mistwalker crew, complete with Nobuo Uematsu and Yoko Shimomura music, as well as art from stars in the JRPG community, so there’s more to it than Just Another Mobile game.  The core design is derived from the Puzzle And Dragons mechanic of swiping a unit around, nudging other units into place for some sort of attack, but the increased depth in its tactical considerations of placement and team composition is much more satisfying than games of that ilk.  Sure, there’s a Doctor Who and a Mario P&D variant if those are your IP hooks, but Terra battle takes the core design further, and does a great job at making it more satisfying.

The goal is not to line up units or whatzits to match three in a row and have them pop, but rather, to move your fighting units around to pincer enemies in, since the only way you attack is if you can set up your units in that sort of pincer.  This spreads things out, rather than clumping them as in a match-x sort of game, which shakes up the formula nicely.  Also, units that are lined up with the units initiating the pincer can lend some support, especially mages and healers, so mastering the entire battlefield and positioning is critical.  It’s rewarding to learn the system and plan things out well, making the most of your assets.

terrabattle-review1

(Image from this review, complete with a customer complaint.)

Mistwalker has also promised to do a console Terra Battle game, though the last time I checked, they didn’t know what sort of game it would be.  I’d love to see them tackle a Final Fantasy Tactics sort of game using that IP.  I can dream.

I Recommend this game, with the caveat that the bog standard “free to play” shenanigans pop up with its own sort of “gacha” system for character recruitment.  Extremely rare mages are somewhat overpowered, but I was able to finish the game’s main storyline without needing them and without spending money.  Rare characters are not critical to success in the game, and the game is more generous with its premium currency than most, but still… it’s not something I want to spend money on.  I’d be perfectly happy to pay $15 or so for a faster leveling pace and guaranteed recruiting (say, in given story missions) in a Buy-And-Play version of the game, though.

Terra-Battle-2

It’s a solid game, fun to play, at least until frustration sets in with a slow leveling curve and some of the game’s more annoying bosses or level hazards (spiked floors in chapter 18 are eeeeeeevil) pop up.  I finished the main storyline without spending a dime, and I think I have a good feel for what the game offers.  I played way more than the 15 minutes I’m budgeting for this project, but I love just playing the game, so I don’t mind.

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And then there’s the biggie.  Motorstorm: Apocalypse.

I love this game.  I Recommend it.  It’s ridiculous, entertaining, and just a blast to drive through crazy, shattered locations.  Yes, I’m a sucker for apocalyptic land-and-cityscapes, and the overall look of the game is really what sold me, but the gameplay is really, really solid in my book.  The challenge of driving any of a fairly wide variety of vehicles through tracks that don’t always stay in place is just fun.  They really embrace the post-apocalyptic setting, but only as a vehicle for making sweet places to drive in absurd scenarios.  Drive through an earthquake, a hurricane, or just a huge rainstorm, all while plowing through buildings and skating across roads that break as you drive on them.  Drive anything from a semi truck to a superbike, taking advantage of the terrain and your ride, which makes replay interesting as the same track plays differently according to your vehicle.  Sure, it’s all contrived, and Michael Bay-like explosive events conveniently happening as you drive by are sort of silly, but it’s all so goofily fun in a wonderfully conceived and realized world that it’s hard to complain.

MotorstormApocalypse1

The “comic book” storytelling is weak, with palpable yearning to be Image Comics in video game form and a thin story with cliche characters.  It’s not offensively bad, but it doesn’t really add to the game.

motorstorm_apocalypse_cutscene

I was hooked in the first five minutes of driving through a broken city, though.  I’ve played through about half of the story and driven on about a third of the open “free race” tracks.  There are more tracks that  I get to unlock, but out of the gate, there is plenty of fun to be found.

MotorstormApocalypse2

It’s not quite as great as Burnout Revenge in my driving library, but it’s easily in second place, just edging out Burnout Paradise.  And yes, all of these edge out any Mario Kart game I’ve played.  Perhaps that’s sacrilege, but the pure mayhem in Burnout Revenge (crash events, especially), gorgeous explorable world in Burnout Paradise, and the broken, beautiful world of Motorstorm: Apocalypse are just more fun for me.  Sure, I had a blast with the original Mario Kart on the SNES back in the day, just like I had a lot of fun with Goldeneye, but these days, the field is a bit more stuffed with options.  I also haven’t played more than a few glorious minutes of DIRT 3, which seems like it might fit in the top 5 somewhere with a proper review.

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This is also a good excuse to share a few of my favorite short films.  First, there’s Ruin, which is most on-topic.  This post-apocalyptic short film is apparently a “tiny” piece of a bigger world, and I’d love to see more of it.  The character is a bit JRPGgy, in that he’s slightly oddly proportioned and moves in some regular cycles, reminiscent of Final Fantasy characters in their prerendered movies, but that’s the animator in me nitpicking.  The sense of world and place is great in this film, and I’m fond of the world building that the creator indulged in.

Then there’s World Builder, which scratches my film-making and game dev itches at the same time, and is just a sweet little story to boot.

And then there’s Carousel, one of the best CG short films I’ve seen to date.  The clowns are creepy, the “moment of time” hook is brilliant, and the story told really works well for what could have simply been an exercise in showing off fancy image-smithing.

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Until next time, then!  I’m hoping to dive back into Steam, but the Tinker Plastic Dice should be at my place this week or early next week, so I’ll be busy again with that for a while.

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Entropic Appeal

I’ve written about this before, in my Broken Down article.  Old things fascinate me.  There’s something both sad and heartening to see the effects of life as time goes on, both human life and all the other forms that we share our spaces with.

Anyway, this is a link repository of some more fascinating photo collections of beat up, run down places and things.

Abandoned Areas (Twitter feed)

Abandoned Olympic Venues

Abandoned but Beautiful

Abandoned Places

Abandoned Places 2

Abandoned Places Around the World

Abandoned Places LiveJournal

Abandoned Places.com (navigation is a bit wonky, but they have more details about the places, which is cool)

Expoland

Keelung Taiwan

Maunsell Sea Forts

Nara Dreamland

Spectacular Abandoned Places

Swallowed By Nature

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Hello everyone!

We made it!  Thank you everyone for your support, and for making the Tinker Deck possible!  It’s been a great couple of weeks, and we ‘re very grateful for your support.

We do have 12 days and change left, so it’s natural to wonder, now what?

Well, we’d love to get these decks out to anyone who might be interested.  Please keep spreading the word.  We believe these to be a great design, and it’s been really great to hear others like it!  The more the merrier!

We also have a handful of stretch goals in mind, as noted in the main campaign.

First, at $12,000, we’ll make custom seals for every deck.  They will look something like this (the Rusty Tinker Deck will, of course, have its own, if we get to make that deck, too):

TinkerDeckSealCrop

At $13,000, we’ll make new Gearpunk Gamer Dice sets available as Add-Ons.  These are the Gearpunk dice designs from the Tinker Dice campaign, but a new batch in Black Nickel, a new finish.  We ordered them in between campaigns for future plans, and this qualifies.  (So they aren’t going to be draining funding from the cards themselves.)  That finish looks something like this, over on the right side of the image… sorry we don’t have the production photos of the dice themselves yet:

plating

Each Gearpunk Gamer set will have a D4, D6, D8, D10, D10 “decader”, D12 and a D20 and a random color leather pouch, for $40 (just like the other sets we have in the limited quantity pledge tiers).

At $14,000, we’ll introduce the Gearchips, which will come in two forms (unless you’d like us to make a different set available, that is).  Specifically, we’ll have two sets unlocked as Add-Ons:

One, the “Gearchip Sampler”:  $7 for 5 Gearchips, 39mm chips looking something like this, in five different finishes.  (Chrome for white, Copper for red, Black Nickel for blue, Antiqued Bronze for green, Dyed Black for, well… black, roughly correlating with some standard poker chip colors.)

TinkerGearchips

Two, the “Gearchip Playset”: $90 for 100 Gearchips, 20 of each color.  (We’ve actually already ordered a production batch of these, too, so again, these are incidentals that we had paid for outside of the funding for this campaign, we’re just making them available.)

The big goal, though, the one we’d really love to see, is what happens at $20,000.  It’s a bit of a jump, but it’s something we can get to if we keep getting new people on board.

If we can reach that goal, we can make the Rusty Tinker Deck happen.

RustyTinkerDeckTuck

This is another fully customized deck, effectively the Tinker Deck after a bit of time in the field, or after spending some time in a machinery warehouse or mining colony.  All of the art will be rusted and aged, picking up some nice oxidized green, brown and red tones here and there.  The silvers of the Hearts and Diamonds will be closer to the traditional reds, and everything will have a nice patina of age.  They will come with their own custom tuck box and seals, just like the main Tinker Deck.  We will make uncut sheets available for them as well.  You can see some of the preview images over at Max’s website at this link, or in our update on the deck.

The Rusty Tinker Decks will be available as a “deck pick” for any pledge tier.  If you’ve pledged for one deck, you can pick either.  If you’ve pledged for two or more, you can get them all in one style, all in the other style, or half in each style.

Thank you, everyone, for making this all happen!  We’re looking forward to the next week and a half, and hopefully, we can make some more awesome cards for everyone!

Also, please note that we’re still running the cross promotion with Ferrel’s Havok & Hijinks game, presently in its last two days on Kickstarter, where you can pick up a pair of exclusive Tinker Dragon coins if you back both projects; his for at least $15 and ours for at least $11.

TinkerDeckDragonCoins

Thanks, everyone!

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Stretching Rust

Just a slightly sneaky sneak preview:

Rusty Diamond 10

Here’s hoping we can get to make the Rusty Tinker deck!  Please spread the word about the project, and join us if you can.  Thanks!

Tinker Deck Kickstarter

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Just a quick sneak peek at the next big announcement for the Tinker Deck campaign.  It’s been fun, doing the new oxidation messy pass on these.

The campaign is around 80% funded, so thank you everyone who has been a part of it!  If you’ve a moment, please spread the word.  There are miles to go before we sleep, and plenty of fun places to take the campaign if we get into the “stretch goals” segment.

Thanks!

Rusty Diamond Ace

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Alas, the Tinker Dice campaign didn’t meet its base goal.  I am nevertheless very grateful for everyone who backed it and/or plugged it on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, G+, forums and a smattering of other places.  It’s been a good ride, and I’ve made new friends.

Thank you very much, everyone!

Since I hate to leave anyone empty-handed, though, here (at the bottom of the post) are a half-dozen files that you can use to print out your own paper versions of the dice to play with, if you’re interested.  The 4×6 files fit neatly onto a 4×6 photo print, and photo paper tends to be nice and sturdy.  That’s what the beta prototypes are made from.  Just cut them out, fold them together and put some tape around the seams, and you’re set.  You can glue the flaps and put them together that way, but in practice, that’s more fuss than it’s worth most of the time.

New Tinker Dice Prototypes

Alternatively, the 8.5×11 one can be printed on a standard sheet of paper or cardstock.  It’s black on white to save ink, but if you all want an 8.5×11 of the colored dice, I can make those pretty quickly.

I know, I know, it’s just not the same, but these should be the same size as the plastic dice would be, so it’s hopefully better than nothing.

You can take these and print them up and play with them, just please don’t sell the designs.

I am also working on another Kickstarter campaign for metal Tinker Dice, as well as metal Gearpunk dice.  I’ll have those up as soon as I can; I’m just waiting on some prototypes I can take photos and videos of.  It does seem that the metal dice were intriguing enough to some to merit a separate Kickstarter, and the base goal will be a mere $1,000, which should be more accessible than the $3,000 we needed for a production run of plastic dice.  I am actively looking for other production options for the plastic dice, but so far the search hasn’t borne fruit.  It’s certainly possible to get places like CustomDice.com or Chessex to make these, but they are significantly more expensive that way.

…speaking of which, if any of you really want to go that route, please just email me at tishtoshtesh at gmail, and I’ll see if I can help you out.  I’m not opposed to individuals taking my designs and making their own dice, either via homebrew tech like this, or asking Chessex to do it.  I ran the Kickstarter campaign to see if I could get the dice out to more people at better prices, but I’m not going to say that’s the only way they can be made.

I also have the beta version of Tinker Dice up for sale in my Shapeways shop thisaway.  These will be the designs we use on further Tinker Dice campaigns, with the corner screws scooted around to allow rounded corners, which allows more printing options.  Again, it’s a more expensive option, but it’s a viable one.  The Shapeways dice are hollow to save costs (except for the solid singletons), but they are printable as far as I can tell; they are printing up a few for me to show for the next campaign.  There are plastic versions and metal versions; they differ only in the interiors; the metal dice require more interior structure to meet the Shapeways printing guidelines.

Tinker Dice plastic D6 pair

Tinker Dice plastic Fudge/FATE set

Tinker Dice metal D6 pair

Tinker Dice metal Fudge/FATE set

Tinker Die solid D6

Tinker Die solid Fudge

Tinker Dice collector’s pair plastic

Tinker Dice collector’s pair metal

Thank you again!

Oh, and while we’re talking about dice, might I recommend the Daft Dice Kickstarter?  They do fine work with a laser cutter.  I have one of their simple numbered wooden dice, and it’s a solid, handsome bit of work.

Wood Die

TinkerDicePrintableSimple8_5x11 4x6FourTinkerDiceBronze 4x6FourTinkerDiceDarkRust 4x6FourTinkerDiceGalvanized 4x6FourTinkerDiceRusty 4x6FourTinkerDiceSimple

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My family went down to Eureka, Utah this past weekend to see what sort of photos we could collect.  It’s an old mining town that still has a small population in it, so it hits a sweet spot between a ghost town and a place that people want to live in, which means some amenities and environmental cleanup (taking care of lead from mining, mostly), but relatively easy access to some excellent old mining machines and sites.

Machinery

So naturally, the weekend we planned to go there, Harley Davidson had an event there, with nearly 2000 bikers in town (more than double the town’s normal population).  I found this would be the case the morning before we went, and I was a little dismayed, since I was looking for a nice quiet photo expedition.  I don’t have anything particularly grievous against bikers (secondhand smoke is annoying, but the bikers I tend to run into here are decent folk), but I was hoping for, well… quiet.  As it happens, though, the event was exactly what we needed.

One, they were doing a poker event.  Heh.  I wound up handing out my whole deck of business card prototypes (really just my deck’s aces with a link to my website Project Khopesh on the back).  Funny how that works out.  (Incidentally, the Project Khopesh site mostly just points back here at the moment, but it’ll be more interesting when I get things rolling.)

Two, because the bikers were in town, Eureka was more open than it typically is, letting us explore their Union Pacific trolley and the Chief mining facility.  Those are almost never open according to the people I talked to, and we were able to get some great photos in both locations.  I also got to talk to an older biker guy (dude? gentleman? whatever) who was also taking photos of the machinery.  He was quite genial and told me about some of the machinery, since his wife’s family was a mining family.  He really knew his stuff, and was happy to share.  His story about the underground mule stables was most interesting; I had no idea they did that, but it makes some sense on reflection.  (They needed the mules to move ore carts, but if they ever brought the animals above ground, they wouldn’t go back down.  So, they lived their whole lives in the mine, complete with underground stables.)

IMG_8539-1024

I did record some video at the Chief mining site to make a promo video for the Kickstarter for the deck I’m now calling the Tinker Deck (still carrying the subtitle “Heroes of the 19th Century”), but there was an almost constant background chatter of Harley motorcycles.  So, once I get it cut together and presentable, just know that such isn’t the normal soundscape of Eureka.  Those bikers were our “angel facilitators” of a sort, though, so I think it’s wholly appropriate that they are part of the campaign, even if it doesn’t sound like a sleepy semi-ghost town.

Anyway, here are some of the photos from the trip over on my Google+ account.

Eureka, Utah

I also got a bunch of photos of the textures of the place, like a lot of really cool shots of rusty metal, and I’m weaving those into the card designs.  So yeah, when I said the art was done, I was right… at the time.  I tell you, it’s possible to tinker endlessly with art if you really let yourself.  At this point, though, I’m polishing it up to make it more appealing to Kickstarter denizens, some of whom have somewhat particular tastes.  It’s subtle things, like making the card back perfectly rotationally symmetrical and making the faces use the same edge; these are big things for magicians and some collectors, and pretty easy to make happen.

Card Poker Back Eureka

Card Poker Back Eureka

The bigger question at this point is whether or not to print via Bicycle or just USPC… or just the best priced Chinese company… or something in between.  I’m still not sure on this, so any input you all might have would be appreciated.  I’m leaning to the cheaper cards because I want to peg the price per deck around $5 instead of $10+, but I’m really not sure how that will sort out.  I’m price sensitive, but the Kickstarter market seems… fickle.  Also, the alpha version of the deck (pre-Eureka upgrades) will be available at The Game Crafter for $9.99 without shipping.  I know, Bicycle makes better cards, so $10-12 for a deck with upgraded art isn’t a bad deal, but that $5 price point is still intriguing.  One of the biggest points of doing a Kickstarter in the first place is to get a better price thanks to the economy of a bulk order.

Anyway, plenty of numbers to grind and research to do yet.  It feels agonizingly slow sometimes, since I want to get the deck released into the wild and move on to other fun projects, but sometimes the gears of progress grind slowly… slowly…

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