Posts Tagged ‘rpg’


Dear Indie Game Developers…

Last year for E3, I made a post with a few guidelines I would have liked game developers to keep in mind while practising their craft. Naturally, nothing changed but I think I’ve found a new audience to plead to.

Steam Greenlight

A few days ago, Valve launched Steam Greenlight, a customer facing round-table where game developers (typically small companies and indie set-ups) get to present their digital babies and a raving horde of juvenile imbeciles Steam customers either rip the living shit out of them or fawn like drooling nincompoops critique and provide feedback in the hopes of uncovering potential hits and grooming them to take their place in the Steam store itself. It is, of course, a colossal travesty of ignorance and fanboy excess an exciting process to witness! So…

Dear Indie Game Developers…

…not every RPG game has to have blue text boxes and a white font. We get it, it’s ‘retro’! It’s like Final Fantasy! But you’re also drowning in a sea of similar clones who all had the same bright idea.

…you’re not a huge developer with hundreds of employees churning out mountains of quality assets and hours of content for a triple-A game. Stop pricing your slightly-better-than-shareware like it was the next Fallout or Call of Duty.

…I know ‘Hunt for the Ember Lodestone: The Challenges of the Fire-Scorched Demon Mistress from El-quor-Marankta Seven‘ sounds impressive, but unless this is the latest long-awaited part in a hugely successful series of games, maybe you should lay off the subtitles and pick something a bit more snappy/memorable.

…yes, Minecraft was very successful, yes, it wasn’t a wholly original game and yes, Notch has more money than he knows what to do with now. But, no, not every game has to be a multi-player adventure sandbox world-building survival-based voxel game. Basically, if you find yourself appending ‘-craft’ to the title of your game, you’re a joke.

…and while we’re at it, no Slender clones, no Super Meat Boy clones, no Terraria clones and no Day-Z clones.

…just because every major game these days seems to have a near-endless trail of DLC in its wake, like an incontinent goldfish, doesn’t mean you should. Your original content barely qualifies for DLC status alone so why do you think you can piecemeal it even further? You’re offering a game that doesn’t have the backing of hundreds of artist/coders/designers/musicians behind it – you should be offering more, not less (for more money).

…stop using the ‘retro‘ tag as an excuse for producing terrible graphics, ear-grating music and one-dimensional gameplay. We know you’re not really paying homage to anything – you just suck. That goes for ‘old-school‘, ‘classic‘ and ‘nostalgia trip‘ too. You’re not fooling anyone.

…your pretentious experimental art/thought journey ‘game’ might have gone down great guns at Indiefest 2004 but please don’t get too upset if it doesn’t appeal to the knuckle-draggers just coming down from a 8-hour L4D2, CoD, TF2 stint.

…enough with the silhouette artwork already. Yes, Limbo did well and looked great but they used it for atmosphere. You’re just a lazy bastard who can’t be bothered to spring for proper graphics.

…maybe your droning, nasally voice isn’t really suited for promoting the game in your trailer. You’d probably do fine for YouTube unpacking clips, rants about how Blizzard screwed you over in the last patch and narrating your clan’s new CoD kill-fest but for your game, just stick to gameplay clips and music. It’s for the best.

…while we’re on the subject, you and your friends aren’t voice-actors. The professionals get paid for a reason.

…six players at the same time doesn’t make your game an MMO project.

…just because whatever engine you’ve licensed can do a screen full of glows, motion blur, bloom effects and depth of field, it doesn’t mean you have to go crazy using them all. Calm down.  And no amount of post processing will cover up terrible graphics, anyway.

…spell-checker. Use it.

…let me guess, your game is all about zombies, right? Yeah, well, so is 95% of the other games on Greenlight. The rest are hidden object games or dating sims.

…you might have done well with your sub-Facebook game on the iPhone/Android or whatever but people might be expecting a little more meat on the bones of their PC games.

…people will figure out you’re nothing but hot air if all you’ve got to show are renders of art assets. Maybe wait until you’ve actually written some code before trying desperately to stoke the hype train up to speed?

…engines. Nobody cares you used the Unreal/Cryengine/Unity engine for you game as long as it’s good. You don’t get a special badge for mentioning it.

…engines. Nobody wants to play a game you churned out after ten minutes with some tatty game-maker. You might think you can get away with not mentioning it but we all know.

Thank you.


Gaming Wisdom – 10 things I learnt from Dark Chronicle (PS2)

I recently came across a post that I’d written for a couple of years back for another site. Since it was pretty ageless (I was taking about a seven year old game at the time), I figured I’d repost it here for prosperity’s sake. Who knows, I might continue this as a ‘series’.

Got a little nostalgic the other day so I decided to dig out an old RPG. Settled on the outstanding Dark Chronicle (or Dark Cloud 2 for our friends across the pond) from the ever-reliable Level-5. Playing it through, I considered the number of times games can bestow wisdom – little life lessons that surely must be as applicable in the real world as they are while you’re tramping around a randomly generated dungeon driving a hulking robot built from a telescope, a milk can and a chimney.

So here are 10 things I learnt from Dark Chronicle (PS2)

Dark Chronicle

  1. The pen may be mightier than the sword but a well synthesised wrench can hand you your ass on a platter.
  2. Strange unattended chests should be opened from behind in case they have an urge to bite you.
  3. Whether you choose yellow or pink, gift-bearing clowns will always screw you over.
  4. Wandering around a city taking photographs of everything and everyone will not get you locked up for suspected terrorism but can in fact lead to the greatest discoveries of our time.
  5. Most of the temporal anomalies featured Star Trek TNG could have been repaired with a golf club or at a pinch, a handy stick.
  6. Fish love bananas and carrots – a cruel joke indeed considering their lacklustre horticultural skills.
  7. You can leave an old lady alone on a train for several months with no negative side-effects …or disturbing odours.
  8. When faced with overwhelming trouser-browning danger, the best course of action is often to whip out your Kodak.
  9. The fossilised remains of a loaf of bread found in volcanic rock will be both still edible and nutritious.
  10. The fate of the world can rest on how you place your Homebase garden furniture.

There’s nuggets of knowledge to be had from gaming so get out there and apply what you learn at the foot of your favoured electronic shrine to your everyday life. How could you possibly go wrong?


One more Persona 4 review

Persona 4 crewOkay, so in my last post about Persona 4, I said I probably wouldn’t be making any further updates regarding how well the game was doing critically. After a while, there’s only so many different ways you can say “It’s a great game so buy it you fools!” but then along comes, one of my favourite sites (it’s in my sidebar links, didn’t you notice?) and did one of their video reviews.

I have to say, their reviews are pretty much the only kind I bother with these days for checking out new games. While most magazine & website reviews out there are reasonably passable, reviews are concise, give you the basics and don’t need to do a half-arsed job of describing the visuals, audio or gameplay mechanics – it’s all up there on the screen for you to see. In an age where some piss poor websites encourage their self-obsessed writers to disappear up their own backsides, where they spend most of the review trying out second rate comedy routines wrapped in third rate flowery prose, I find game reviews that actually focus on the game to be surprisingly refreshing.

The games gets a solid 9.3 out of 10 from Gametrailers, and with this one more than any of the reviews I’ve linked to before, if you don’t want anything spoiled, I’d probably avoid checking this one out. As lovely as viewing clips from the game is during the review, it does tend to reveal a few scenes & settings that you might want to discover yourself. You were warned.


Even more Persona 4 reviews

Persona 4: IgorAlong with the reviews mentioned in my other post, a few more have surfaced just prior to the US release of Persona 4 this week.

Given the number of people visiting the site looking for information, it’s clear that quite a few of you will soon be neck deep in a murder mystery and busy molesting TV sets in a picturesque Japanese countryside. While you’re enjoying yourself, please spare a thought for us unlucky European bastards who have anything up to half a year to wait. Hey! Stop laughing!

Since the reviews are all picking up on the same points and have a general theme of appreciation, rather than comment on them individually, here is a list of the new reviews and their scores…

As you can see, this new series of review scores closely match the ones posted last time. Certainly encouraging for anyone with the game on pre-order or considering popping into their local ‘house of games’ to purchase Persona 4. If you were previously on the fence, get the hell off and get the game bought. Tsch!

Another related tidbit is this article from Siliconera, expanding their series of previews of the game with a look at the dungeoneering aspects. As with other previews, if you want to experience the tweaks to the game fresh, avoid but if you’re nosey like me (and you’re looking forwards to months of waiting for a European release), have at it.

Speaking of which, Square Enix have confirmed that they’ll be releasing Persona 4 in Europe next year with a slightly firmer ‘Spring 2009′ (so any time between late March and late June) in their December newsletter.

I think this will be the last Persona 4 review update. They all seem to be of a single mind (the game is great!) and there should be enough nuance in the eight to ten reviews I’ve linked over the last few weeks to help you decide if the game is for you.

Simply put, it is.


Persona 4 reviews-a-go-go!

Persona 4: TeddieSeems like I should have held off posting my previous Persona 4 update a couple of days ago as shortly after, a whole bunch of reviews hit. Annnnnyway, here is a quick rundown of the reviews and how much everyone seems to love the new game.

First up is Gamepro, who in this review, give Persona 4 a 5 out of 5. The reviewer is an old hand when it comes to the series and brings up (and lays to rest) the worry that P4 is merely P3 but with a minor dust and polish. While he acknowledges that the gameplay will feel familiar to fans of the series, it appears that everything Persona 3 already did well has been tweaked and fine tuned to perfection in the new game.

The game scores a lower, but still commendable, 8.7 out of 10 in this review from GameZone. Despite some odd reaching to link the game’s inspirations to other sources (wait, pyramidhead from Silent Hill?), the reviewer still admits the game is one of the best RPGs on the PS2 in recent history. A fair review, if not a little focussed on that fact the game is ‘old gen’ rather than a PS3 or Xbox360 title.

Next comes another top mark with 10 out of 10 in this review from Gamervision. Another review from a devoted fan who wasn’t expecting Persona 3 to be improved on. Like the Gamepro article, this gamer appears to have come away very pleased with the results.

This review from Hardcore Gamer Magazine gives Persona 4 a healthy 4.75 out of 5 (an average taken from the 5 out 5 of the reviewer and a 4.5 out of 5 from another writer). This time the reviewer enjoys the new storyline from the series as well as all the improvements made to the game mechanics. They also note the increase in activities to fill the protagonist’s days leading to fewer ‘what now?’ moments and the improved social link development.

Finally, 1UP gives Persona 4 a shining A+ mark in their review. This reviewer appreciates the bite-sized chunks of dungeon Persona 4 serves up in comparison to the sometimes daunting colossal tower of Tartarus. They also feel that the characters are better placed in this title than the previous one.

Overall, the theme that runs through all these reviews is that everything we love from the Persona series makes a happy return with a new lick of paint and some minor niggles (such a lacking team control or no fast travel) have been exorcised. It all adds up to a game I’m really looking forward to having eat up a considerable amount of my free time.

…when it finally hits Europe, of course. Bah, I’d almost convinced myself I was a US citizen and Persona 4 was only a week away. No such luck!


More Persona 4 previews and info

Persona 4 Box ArtSince a lot of people visiting the site seem to have just as much a desire for Persona 4 information as I have, I thought I’d post a quick round-up of a few things I’d spotted while wandering the intertubes wasteland.

The first item and probably the most important, personally, is a hint… rumour… vague indication that Persona 4 will be hitting European shores before too long. According to French gaming website ‘‘, the German classification organisation, USK (*deep breath* the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle) have rated Persona 4 (for ages 12 and over). It also mentions that it’ll be released in Europe by SquareEnix and that it should be expected early next year – though from the translated text of the article (original here), I’m not sure the entry actually says that. Oh well, fingers crossed whatever.

As, previously mentioned, the US gets Persona 4 in just over a week on the 9th of December and Japan is already enjoying the game. At least it’s nice to know that we haven’t been forgotten and plans are afoot to get the title in our grubby European mitts.

If you’re still jonesing for whatever Persona 4 information you can get, you might want to pop over to this Persona 4 Hands-On article from Gamespot posted earlier in the month. Obviously, avoid like the plague if you want to go into the game fresh and without having any of the gameplay elements spoiled for you but if you’re fine with a little preview (and let’s face it – we all know the gameplay isn’t going to be a million miles from Persona 3, anyway), then have at it.

The same can be said for this article from the Siliconera website covering the part that the protagonist’s home plays in the development of your social links and stats. It’s a bit more in-depth than the previously mentioned preview, focussing as it does on one specific area of the game so if you prefer to uncover details like that for yourself, you probably should stay away.

All in all, ‘early next year’ just can’t come quickly enough.


Persona 4 review

Persona 4 Box ArtWhile visiting the aggregate game review site – Game Rankings, I noticed there was an entry on the front page for Persona 4, signifying someone had reviewed it. Odd, given the site is US-centric, after all and as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, it’s not coming out in America until the 9th of December. After checking the game’s page, it turns out it has been reviewed – not by one of the ‘big banner’ sites, but by RPGFan, who I assume are reviewing an imported Japanese release. All in all, they seemed very pleased with it, giving it a score of 94%. A good sign.

The point of this post isn’t to rah-rah the fact it got a good score (though I’m more than happy to see it) but to mention the review does contain a fair bit of information about the storyline and gameplay of the title. Since a lot of the hits I get are Persona 4 flavoured, I thought I’d point interested parties in the direction of the review (and at the same time apologise for the lack of Persona 4 ‘meat’ on the bones of my own particular pages – sorry if you wasted a ‘trip’). It makes for an interesting read and certainly gets me thinking about that yet unannounced European release. Come on, when are we getting it, guys?

Anyway, have a look if you’re a bit of a fanboy and tend to eat up anything Persona 4 related.

UPDATE : As some people are hitting my site through this article, apparently looking for Persona 4 reviews, I just wanted to point you towards two newer posts I’ve made that link to a series of reviews. They are…


Persona 4 storms the charts!

Persona 4 Box ArtWith a huge existing PS2 user base and a great following for the series, I guess Persona 4 (released in Japan on 10th July, hitting US shores 9th December) was always going to do ‘well’ upon release. Now though, we know exactly how well thanks to Media Create’s sales rankings for July 7th-July 13th. It’s kinda surprising in that ‘Yay!’ kinda way .

According to an article on Wired’s Game Life website, Persona 4 tops the charts with 193,000 sales! Even second place, Nintendo’s powerhorse ‘Wii Fit’, is only trundling along steadily (adding to it’s albeit still impressive existing 2,353,000 sales) with a much smaller 30,000 untis. The next ‘new’ release that week comes from ‘Densetsu no Stafy Taiketsu! Dire Kaizokudan’ on the Nintendo DS, clocking in at number 3 with only 29,000 sales. 193,000 sales?! I’m sure Atlus must be feeling all smug right about now (how about a celebratory European release date announcement, eh? No? Okay… maybe another time *bah*).

It makes me happy that the PS2 is still managing to command such a healthy share of the market but should we really be surprised? According to this article from Kotaku covering hardware sales for the same week, the PS2 is only trailing the PS3 by just over 2000 sales. In this age where some console manufacturers are eager to push us all into the next generation of hardware at the earliest opportunity possible, I’m glad to see that the old PS2 can kick ass/take names show the big boys that it’s still far from dead.

By the way, apologies for the link-fest in this post. Got a little carried away.


Another Persona 4 trailer

Persona 4 Box ArtHot on the heels of the announcement the other day dating the US release of Persona 4 (official site here), Atlus have put out another trailer, this time showing off some of the characters you’ll be scampering around dungeons with.

Of course. with the game being released in Japan yesterday (lucky sods *cough* sorry), I’m guessing this is one of those final marketing pushes just to keep the game in the public eye but I’m still happy to see new artwork and scenes from the game anyway. Even happier if we got a European confirmation for the game seeing our shores (or even, *gasp*, a date for it’s arrival) but you take what you can.

The characters seem to be matching the standard archetypes introduced with Persona 3 but I guess that’s to be expected and not really a bad thing. School setting, small town environments and what appears to be another holiday locale – great stuff, can’t wait.

The video is only a YouTube affair so fairly blocky but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, eh? You can find it here


Persona 4 US dated

Persona 4 TVJoystiq (and a few other places around the net) are reporting that the continuation of my current favourite JPRG series, Persona 4, should be hitting North American shores on the 9th December 2008. Of course, Japan will be getting their sweaty mitts on the title within mere days (10th July!) and no word of a European release as of yet (think sometime late 2009 knowing the delays we usually face in such matters).

Still, it’s nice to see some firm dates and signs of movement even if it isn’t for my local brethren specifically.

But that’s not all – along with the date there’s also news that “each copy of the game will come bundled with a soundtrack CD featuring “select music” from the title“. The music to Persona 3 really stood out for me, both fitting and strangely infectious. It’s rare I find myself humming music I hear in games but Persona 3 had just such a soundtrack. As Shoji Meguro will be returning to take up the music director reins, hearing Atlus are bunging in a ‘free’ soundtrack taster CD in with the package is great.

And still there’s more. The Joystiq snippet features a nice blurry YouTube English language promotional trailer just to get you wishing it was December already. You can find the article (and the English language trailer) in question here.