Thursday, March 28, 2013

Downtime (Or... Not Really)

There's no Thursday Impressions piece today. I've been busy with my life of being lazy that I just didn't get around to it. Don't worry, though; the next few weeks are set to go with the series, and hopefully I'll get some other reviews in there as well.

I'm currently reading a couple more books—Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—so perhaps we'll be seeing my evaluations of them sometime in the future. Remember, you can keep up with what I'm reading on my Status page.

I've been tossing around some ideas of what to do for this blog, and I and my friend Adam Bolander are considering creating a gaming-related blog together. Stay tuned for more information, if that's going to happen!

And so ends my hastily-created update post to cover up my inability to get a Thursday Impressions piece out today. Live long, prosper, and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is a 2D survival horror game about an unnamed character. It takes place in some post-apocalyptic world where almost everything is mutated or dead. The character finds hints here and there that he may not be the only survivor, but it's quite likely he is.

The game creates an atmosphere of dread, as the more you play, the more confused the character becomes. He's constantly afraid to sleep or venture too far from his home, for fear that he'll forget whatever he had been trying to do. His main goal is to find another living person (not one of those mutated nightmares) so that he does not have to die alone.

Verdict: Keep playing... maybe.
Lone Survivor is pretty darn creepy. I want to see how the story turns out, but I don't know if I want to take the frightening journey to get there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Cogs

Cogs is that classic "slide the tiles to unscramble the picture" game, but brought to the next level. It's a puzzle game where, as I just said, you slide the tiles in order to connect gears or pipes to complete various different tasks. Some levels are completely 3D, and you need to rotate the playing field, opening up all sorts of possibilities for puzzles.

It's not really my kind of game, but it's fun and I can see it having a lot of replay value, with all of the levels and game modes. The presentation and music are both of good quality. As I've stated before, however, I'm pretty awful at puzzle games, so it's doubtful that I would be able to get much farther than I did.

Verdict: Stop playing.
Once again, this verdict is chosen due to my own skill. If you're good at puzzles, you should definitely check the game out.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flying Eagle by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Flying Eagle by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is a children's book I found and read in a museum's bookstore. It had absolutely nothing to do with the museum, but it impressed me enough for me to write up a quick review.

In short summary, this is a poem about an eagle trying to find food for his young, and the adventures he has on his way. It's short and simple, but at the same time it's beautiful. The book is illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, whose gorgeous imagery adds a wonderful flare to the already impressive poem.

Though I had not on me the money to purchase this gem, I highly recommend it. Flying Eagle is beautiful.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Oozi: Earth Adventure

Oozi: Earth Adventure is a game currently in the Steam Greenlight, which means it's not officially on Steam yet, but it may be eventually. It's about an alien named Oozi who crash-lands on Earth. As described on the Greenlight page, "Oozi: Earth Adventure is a classic 2D platformer with old school gameplay, with no puzzle, no punishment, just 100% pure classic platforming fun!"

You see, that description in itself was enough to get me excited for the game. 2D platformers are my specialty, but I can't stand some games because of the "puzzle" and "punishment" involved. From what I've played, this game lives up to what it says... for the most part.

Oozi is a super fun game. It took me a while to get used to the physics, but that was expected. (Of course the game was meant to be played with a gamepad, but I don't have one.) Also, the game has a control scheme that only uses the mouse. I've never seen that before in a 2D platformer, and I have no idea how well that would work. It's pretty cool, though.

The gameplay itself, once the physics have been gotten used to, is quite fun. There is a not-so-infrequent form of "punishment" in the game, and that is that water always kills you instantly and sends you back to the last checkpoint when you touch it. This can get very, very frustrating, as it's harder to avoid than other hazards are, and other hazards only take one health each.

The visuals and music are pretty sweet as well. The soundtrack could occasionally get a little bit repetitive, but never annoying. In the end, I really have to recommend the game. It would make a perfect addition to Steam's library of games.

Verdict: Definitely keep playing.
It's my kind of game, and it's awesome so far. Perhaps I'll review it once I'm done.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Indie Game: The Movie

Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary about what it takes to make and release a game in the independent gaming industry. It focuses on Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes during the final months of development on Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish during the later development of Fez, and Jonathan Blow reflecting on the development and release of Braid.

For those who don't know, indie developers are game developers who create games on their own without the help of larger corporations. If you were to download some free programming software and create your own game, as even I have done myself, you would be considered an indie developer. It's not always so simple as that, however. This film focuses on those who have battled their way to the top of the industry and gotten recognition for it. In other words, those who have succeeded where so many others have failed.

With success comes great sacrifice. Similar to how it is with novels, you cannot just come up with an idea that will instantly sell millions (though there are exceptions). You have to fight. You have to give it your best and push through the hardest times, knowing full well that even in the end you could fail and everything will have been for naught. It takes an unbelievable amount of endurance and creativity to make something that will sell.

But in the end, the point isn't really to sell your game, is it? The point is to put yourself into something. Make something that everyone, even yourself, would want to play. It doesn't come down to money; it comes down to others enjoying what you have created. If there's no enjoyment—if there's no love—then everything will have been for naught.

Indie Game: The Movie tells a brilliant story of what it takes to get through the living hell of being a successful game developer without the support and funding of corporations. In a way, a lot of parallels can be drawn between game development and writing. Both paths are nearly impossible to travel, but if you can succeed, it's worth it. Anybody can make a game or write a book, but few can create something that will always be remembered.

This documentary is highly recommended, especially for those who are trying to make a name for themselves in any given industry.

Caution: Indie Game: The Movie contains frequent strong language, along with brief footage of a NSFW game.