“War is Hell: My Time Spent in the Great Neptunium Conflict of 2015”

subterfuge

So, there’s this game called Subterfuge for mobile platforms (I know that at the very least it’s on iOS and Android with cross-play) that’s a long-form board-game-like strategy game that plays out over the course of a week for up to eight players. Players use submarines full of “drillers,” which serve as basic combat units, to capture outposts to increase their power before they begin mining for precious Neptunium in interests of collecting two hundred units and being crowned the winner. As the creators of the game are careful to point out in their tutorial videos, the game isn’t just about controlling nodes and strategically moving units around the map, it’s about DIPLOMACY.

I was really rather annoyed by how often the word diplomacy came up in the tutorial videos, for primarily two reasons: the first being that the concept of diplomacy and alliances cannot truly exist in the context of all parties knowing that within the next seven-to-ten days, only one of them can be crowned the winner. Secondly, my first game was a game with three players, which meant the idea of forming alliances was even more ridiculous given how few players there were and the fact that I knew these people in real life. Sure, Joe and I could team up to knock Ryan out of the game first, but that’s not cool. I have to still do a podcast with that guy every week.

Subterfuge diaries are really in vogue right now. That’s not what this article is, though. I do want to explain how I felt about my time playing subterfuge, which means, however, that I’ll need to provide you some basic retelling of the events of our game.

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Review: The Beginner’s Guide

2 deep 4 me, but like, in a good way.

the beginner's guide

I had to think for a little while how to go about writing this, and I’m still not really sure of all the details, but I do know for sure that if you have any interest in playing The Beginner’s Guide, the more information you have about it, the less enjoyable you’ll find the game. Let me take a paragraph or two to tell you about the game and you can see if it sounds like your sort of thing. Everything after the “read more” line and subsequent spoiler warnings should only be read by people who have played the game or have no intention of doing so. I’ll be including a gallery of screen shots, also not intended for people who are still hoping to experience the game. It’s just that due to the nature of the game, the screen shots tell too much for me to not include. Okay, let me try and tell you a little about this game.

The Beginner’s Guide is a narrative-driven game, short and dense. It engages with the player, and asks something of them in a very personal way. The entire game is narrated by the creator, Davey Wredon, and as soon as the game begins, he connects with the player, through his honest tone, in a very intimate way. He tells you that he’s created this program to exhibit to you the video games created by a dear friend of his named Coda. Placed in what is a very convincingly crappy Counter-Strike map, listening to the narrator, the player forgets, for a moment, what is real. “This is a game,” they’ll tell themselves in response to the brief moment where they start to think that maybe they just really bought a game exhibition off of Steam. They’ll lift one of their headphones away from their ear, and look around the room to establish where reality ends and the game begins. What Davey Wredon has created for us is most certainly a game, but his presence in the narration blurs the line so well, that you’ll believe that Davey is speaking to you as a real person and not just a character.

There are no real goals or game play objectives in The Beginner’s Guide, you’re just along for an interactive ride. For fans of such narrative-driven, or to a lesser extent, “art games,” I think they will find this game is a very good example of those. This game does not waste your time. It tells you a story and takes you on a journey, and if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy, I think this game is for you. I do think, however, that some of the primary themes of this game are really difficult for many people to relate to. A certain amount of appreciation for video games and their creation is required to understand this game, and even being immersed in video games such as I am, I still felt that part of it was lost on me. Likewise, creation being used as an outlet is another theme this game explores heavily, another element I found going over my head, and I’m sure plenty of other people will have the same experience. I’m not going to tell you that I understand every symbol and deeper meaning of every part of this game, but I did enjoy it. Its story didn’t grab me like some games have in the past, because I had trouble relating with it, but The Beginner’s Guide made me feel things that video games normally do not. I’ll do my best to try and explain what I mean.

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Tap of its Class: A Look at Clicker Games on iOS

tap of its classWhether you call them idle games or clickers, it’s undeniable that they exist in a genre all their own, or at the very least, their own non-genre. Defined by their stripping away of “extraneous” elements of video games like story and game play, and leaving behind what truly matters: collecting large amounts of cash, upgrading and becoming more powerful, etc. Clickers task players with a simple objective, like defeating monsters, baking cookies, building a town, making lots of money, drawing cats out from a seemingly trans-dimensional box, and so on, but reduce basically all of your interaction with the game to the simple clicking of the mouse or the tapping of the screen. The game play is ludicrously simple on purpose, and brilliantly so, because it allows you to perform a simple task over and over and awards you huge amounts of money or experience points or what have you, which is what you’re really looking for from video games; clickers just cut out the middle man.

I’m kind of obsessed with non-genres of games: match-threes, whatever dynasty warriors is, Diablo-likes, that thing where you add RPG elements to games that weren’t originally RPGs, and so on. It’s no surprise that I enjoy clicker games, but I must also concede that not all clickers are created equal. So, I set out on a journey to play several of the most popular clickers on iOS to figure out two things: which of these games provide actual enjoyment for your time playing them, and which elements separate a shitty clicker from one that actually feels rewarding. I chose iOS specifically because I think the only games like this that could possibly be worth playing are ones that you have with you at all times. At least for me, having a clicker on my PC almost completely defeats the purpose because many games reap the most rewards when you check in with them often. All of the following games are available on Apple’s App Store for free, all for iPhone (I played on my 5s) and most on iPad as well.

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Hype Level: Max – E3 2015 Edition

E3-Logo

I may not have gone to E3 this year, or any year, for that matter, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get all hyped up when I experienced all of the press conferences, demos, and trailers. Ryan and I already broke down all of the press conferences in some special edition podcasts you can listen to here: Part One/Part Two, but now I want to go over the games shown at this year’s E3 that got me the most riled up.

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Now in “Nick Predicts the Future News”: Koji Igarashi Kickstarts a Game That is Definitely Not Castlevania Nope Nuh-uh

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SURPRISE: it was funded in less than twelve hours

Guys, remember swordorwhip.com? We talked about it on last week’s podcast, come on guys. Earlier today, the heavy implications set forth by that website were realized in the form of yet another Kick Starter by a famous, but now rogue video game designer.

Koji Igarashi and his team got the masses to fund Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which they are calling “An exploration-focused, side-scrolling platformer featuring RPG and crafting elements.” Better known to everyone else as a “straight-up Castlevania game.” Which I am not saying is a bad thing. Quite the opposite. I love the newer Castlevania games and the way they blend platforming and 2D action with item collecting, leveling up, platforming, exploration, and boss slaying. If this game is half the game Symphony of the Night is, it’s already worth the million bucks.

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Holy Shit: Banjo-Kazooie Spiritual Successor Makes Over $1 Million In Less Than Twelve Hours

yookalaylee

More specifically, £721,089. My currency exchange game is not strong, but I think that’s just over a million bucks. FYI, they were asking for £175,000, and still have 45 days left before the campaign ends. They’ve met all but three stretch goals, and how could they possibly not get to £1,000,000 in the next month and a half?

When Ryan and I discussed Playtonic’s new game many weeks ago, I guessed that there would be a Kickstarter. Boy, was I right. Check this shit out.

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