Archive for July, 2010

[Episode 36] Wingin’ It

Everybody loves it when a plan comes together, but sometimes that just isn’t how it goes.  Every once in awhile you’ve got to just get out on the field and see what happens, and the results of such an exercise are on display for you this week.  We didn’t really have a topic before going into this recording, and our crew was a little smaller than usual, but there was no reason to be worried – as it turns out, we’re somewhat chatty individuals, so dragging a conversation out of us wasn’t hard.

We love Alien Swarm (and you should too), so you’ll hear quite a bit of that towards the beginning, and Valve in general draws a lot of attention in the early part of the show – mostly positive, though not all.  Counter-Strike, we’re looking at you.  On the negative side of company-focused discussion, DICE seems to be in danger of losing the goodwill they built up around Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  After retracting their Onslaught mode announcement, still not delivering BF1943 on the PC, and releasing a multiplayer Medal of Honor beta that left us… underwhelmed… we’re starting to wonder if those guys still have it anymore.  I hope we’re wrong, personally; I want to love ’em.  But it’s looking… dicey.  (I’m so sorry.)

Some hardware talk also goes down as we discuss Steve’s frankly ludicrous gaming rig – OH! and we’re running a giveaway!  Want to know how to win a copy of Beat Hazard?

Then you’re going to have to listen to the episode, now, aren’t you?  Come on in and join us… we’re Wingin’ It.

Hosted and Summarized by Eric [Ravenlock]
Participants are Steve [Dukefrukem] and Producer Clayton [Voodoo]

Want to talk about the show?  Come discuss the episode over at Colony of Gamers.

It’s a true pleasure to see an underdog come from behind.  There are a lot of games in the world, and many of them aren’t that great.  Those ones are pretty easy to dismiss.  But occasionally one shows up that has so much potential and only misses the mark on a couple of fronts, but that’s enough to rob it of success.  It aches a bit when that happens, and all you can do is hope that they can patch the game up to where it needs to be, or fix the problems in an expansion or sequel.  Usually they don’t, of course, but when they do, it’s that much sweeter for the unlikeliness of the success.

Lead & Gold: Gangs of the Wild West was one such game, when it came out on Steam back in April.  A great theme, well handled; solid gameplay; an excellent aesthetic; some really creative ideas in terms of promoting teamwork.  But it launched without dedicated servers, and the P2P netcode was shaky enough and the community small enough that it seemed to kill all chance of its success.  To read the forums after launch was to hear the laments of many unhappy customers about how they wanted to love the game, but just couldn’t when it was so hard to find a reliable match to play.

But I wouldn’t be posting this if it didn’t have a happy ending, and indeed, in this case developer Fatshark seems to have come from behind.  Dedicated servers have been patched into the game, the recent Steam sale seems to have bolstered the community, and I had a really great time getting back into the game and playing some (very stable) matches on the much-expanded server list.

If a Western-themed team-based third person shooter sounds like your thing, you’re going to want to listen to the latest Indiecast and hear more.  If you like what you hear, $15 will get you a copy – or, of course, you can wait for another Steam sale, which there will inevitably be.  There always is.

Want to talk about it?  Come join the discussion over at Colony of Gamers.

[Episode 35] The Value of Entertainment

We all have pled guilty before to spending too much money on entertainment. But how is that really defined and who is to say what is really “too” much? When it comes to PC gaming that always seems to come up. Many would argue who do not play PC games that you could get more mileage with your cash with console systems or spend nothing and just go visit your local public library. However at the end of the day what really defines value in entrainment is the pleasure you get from the activity. In this case I would argue that PC gaming as a whole is the best bang for the buck. But there are some who would argue that it is also hardware costs as well that either makes or breaks this argument. As with most things in life this not as simple as it appears. But it does make for a very interesting discussion with us fellow podcasters. So join Robert [Trebor], Eric [Ravenlock], Adam [Grifter], Steve [Dukefrukem], James [Vigil80], J Arcane and Clayton [Voodoo] as we each answer the question: Are PC games the best entertainment bang for the buck?

[IndieCast] Beat Hazard

I’m a sucker for procedurally-generated games.  They don’t always work, mind you – sometimes generating levels off random seeds just ends up with an infinite number of relatively unplayable messes.  But when they do work, their replayability can extend far beyond that of most games.

Beat Hazard, much like another recent, successful independent procedural game AudioSurf, generates its contents from your music, making every song in your collection a potential leaderboard challenge for you and your friends.  With AudioSurf it was racing, with Beat Hazard it’s twin-stick shooting.  If AudioSurf was music meets Skyroads (yes, I’m dating myself – go Wikipedia it), then Beat Hazard is music meets Geometry Wars.

A few neat concepts manage to set Beat Hazard apart from just being a generic shooter with your music as a soundtrack, though.  Firstly, the current beat and volume of the song dictate how powerful your weapons will be.  During a frantic, loud section, you’ll be unstoppable, raining death upon your enemies.  During quieter sections, though, your ship because a far less powerful force, and you may need to focus on evasion more than offense.  Secondly, the augmentation of your strength during the song (both through the song’s attributes and through “power” and “volume” pickups) is balanced by increased visual noise as the literal noise increases, making it harder to follow the action; suffice it to say that Beat Hazard gets visually crazy, and this is not a game for those prone to seizure.

Finally, high scores will net you level progression as you play through your music collection; you’ll earn reduced death penalties, bonuses to your score multiplier, additional power-ups, and so on as you make your way up the ranks.  High score tables that compare you to your friends on any songs you happen to share round out the package to make a pretty seriously addictive game; I poured far more hours into Beat Hazard than I intended to, the week I started playing it.

But enough text rambling, you’re here to listen to vocal rambling!  So please, enjoy our latest Indiecast.  If Beat Hazard sounds like your thing, a very reasonable $4.99 will obtain it on Steam through July 4th ($9.99 afterwards).

Want to talk about it?  Come join the discussion over at Colony of Gamers.