Posts Tagged ‘alpha’

Premature Evaluation: The Deer God

By Marsh Davies on December 15th, 2014.

A staggering vision.

Each week Marsh Davies launches himself into the bestial bloodbath that is Early Access and comes out with whatever stories and/or handfuls of porcupine innards he can find. This week he gets his game on in the weird woodland-themed survival-platformer hybrid that is The Deer God.

And today in Least Fulfillable Game Development Promises: The Deer God “will challenge your religion and your platforming skills”. Presumably they didn’t hit the stretch goal for a full Damascene Conversion, but, still, that’s a loftier aim than making the player John Romero’s bitch. The Kickstarter blurb also mentions that the game is “dedicated to a small cardinal, whom I ran over recently,” which, if taken in the spirit of Thomas More, might well involve a robust challenge to religion – but I think the author probably just means the bird.

In the event, The Deer God has only challenged my patience so far, but it does start out with a little doctrinal shake up: a hunter reaches the Pearly Gates – via a gruesome mauling by wolves – and discovers that God is, in fact, a ruminant. And She isn’t best pleased about his penchant for venison burgers. Cue reincarnation as a baby deer, forced into a fittingly punitive collision of platformer, endless-runner and survival roguelike.

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Premature Evaluation: The Masterplan

By Marsh Davies on December 8th, 2014.

At least I’m good at the “execute” part of “execute the plan”

Each week Marsh Davies saunters nonchalantly into the forbidden vault that is Early Access and then, after a few muffled shrieks and thuds, saunters back out again with any stories and/or incautiously guarded diamond tiaras he can find. This week he steeples his fingers and prepares to execute The Masterplan – a top-down realtime heist-em-up.

Remember Subversion? It was the project that almost brought down Introversion Software: a five-year dev-slog that resulted in a whole load of cool systems and breathless column inches, but, by Introversion’s own estimation, only a void where the core game was meant to be. Subversion was reluctantly put on ice while Introversion pulled money-hats from the jaws of financial oblivion with Prison Architect – pioneering Early Access in the process. So it’s oddly fitting that Early Access should now birth a project that is notionally similar to Subversion, wherein you assemble a crew of specialised goons, case a joint and then rip it off, all in top-down real-time.

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Premature Evaluation: Eternal Winter

By Marsh Davies on December 1st, 2014.

I call my dog sled team the Rosebuddies.

Each week Marsh Davies staggers off into the barren, frigid wilderness of Early Access and comes back with whatever stories and/or slabs of dog meat he can find. This week he sticks on his mitts and braces for subzero survival sim Eternal Winter.

There’s good and bad failure in games. Good failure teaches you something, whether about your own resolve and ingenuity or the world these things are tested against. Good failure is a dynamic, riveting generator of experience. Bad failure is, I fear, what the vast majority of indie survival sims have to offer: a way of capping off a game with no definite trajectory. Like wading into chest-high cement, you do eventually stop, but you wouldn’t call it much of a journey.

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Hands On: The Curious Expedition

By Adam Smith on November 28th, 2014.

The Curious Expedition is a breezy, bright and endearing game about small groups of explorers who head into the unknown to seek golden pyramids and other wonders, natural and man-made. There have been comparisons to FTL, which are understandable but not entirely appropriate. While many of the same elements are included – a journey, a ‘crew’, permadeath, limited resources, randomisation, emergent narrative from minimalist components – but the machine for which those elements are fuel is quite different. Happily, one area in which a direct comparison can be made is quality.

I’ve been playing the alpha and having a splendid time.

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Premature Evaluation: Massive Chalice

By Marsh Davies on November 24th, 2014.

Glad they went with Massive Chalice over Big Jugs.

Each Monday, Marsh Davies splashes around in the shallow end of the Early Access gene pool and brings back whatever novel splices and/or horrific abominations he can find. This week he crunches chromosomes in fantasy lineage sim and turn-based battler Massive Chalice.

Score one for diversity in games: the realm has just been saved by a nearsighted, asthmatic, drunk lady. Marginalised wheezing pissheads rejoice! (Though do keep an inhaler and bucket close to hand.) Massive Chalice combines XCOM’s turn-based permadeath squad combat with Crusader Kings’ management of bloodlines across multiple generations, inducting heroes into a ruthless breeding program intended to foster a roster of noble characters with superior physiques. But, well, you have to work with what you’ve got and what I’ve got is a malformed, shuffling host of genetic wreckage. For the first time in games, I am among my people.

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Premature Evaluation: Miscreated

By Marsh Davies on November 17th, 2014.

That new Tory poster campaign is off to a strong start.

Each Monday, Marsh Davies scours the apocalyptic desolation of Early Access for precious artifacts and/or tins of beans. This week he staggers through the irradiated online survival sandbox of Miscreated.

In this particular post-cataclysm nightmare, I play a bald man of grim countenance, maniacal staring eyes and no pants. In fact, when I first toggle into thirdperson, it appears I don’t even have legs. So far, my survival plans are going exactly as well as I’d imagine they would if civilisation actually collapsed.

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The Lighthouse Customer: RIP

By Marsh Davies on November 3rd, 2014.

It's very hard to sleep when you do that, bro.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. But Chris isn’t here this week, so Marsh Davies has hurriedly stepped in to tug on the kevlar-flavoured war-teat that is RIP, a military multiplayer FPS which lays somewhat dubious claims to MOBA mechanics.

In the week that a new Call of Duty launches, you might wonder who, if anyone, is eager to plunge into a far-from-complete budget multiplayer-only alternative. But one war just ain’t enough for this cordite-snorting, bullet-spitting, hardcore digital-jarhead! (One who has, by pure coincidence, an emergency copy deadline.)

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The Lighthouse Customer: Metrocide

By Christopher Livingston on October 27th, 2014.

Can't believe I was gunned down just because I gunned someone down.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, inept murder-for-hire with top-down assassination game Metrocide.

In a game where some people are victims and others are killers-for-hire, it’s a little odd to complain about being the one with the gun. But this assassin is having one hell of a rotten day. Pesky eyewitnesses and annoying security cameras keep reporting me to the fuzz. Flying police drones gun me down or, even worse, issue me fines. Potential victims refuse to walk down secluded alleyways to be quietly dispatched. Can’t a cold-blooded killer catch a break?

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The Lighthouse Customer: Windward

By Christopher Livingston on October 20th, 2014.

Diplomacy in action.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, sailing the shimmering, procedurally generated seas of action RPG Windward.

Glimmering seas and snapping sails. Pirate ships and plundered booty. Factions fighting for control of ports and lighthouses. Cannonfire, ship-to-ship combat, pitched battles and daring escapes. Really, the only thing missing from Windward is a rousing sea shanty. Don’t worry, though. I wrote my own.

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Diplomatic Opportunity: Gal Civ 3 Beta 2 Adds Lots

By Graham Smith on October 17th, 2014.

Update: Stardock have now released a video showing the diplomacy feature in action.

When Brendan looked at Galactic Civilization 3‘s beta back in August, he deemed it not ready for consumption. It’s a 4X series that’s beloved for the anecdotes it creates for players through its personality-driven AI and the ability to conquer galaxies not just with superior numbers but by, say, destroying all the stars or broadcasting better television. None of that choice was in the game at that point, despite the £30/$45 price tag.

Now there’s a lot more of it. Beta 2 has just gone live, which adds diplomacy and trading and personalities and a ton of new ways to win the game, including through influence, alliances, ascension and research. The full list of changes is too vast to list here, but I’ve picked out a few below.

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The Lighthouse Customer: Interstellar Marines

By Christopher Livingston on October 14th, 2014.

I don't think he wants to play a nice game of chess.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, screaming in space can definitely be heard in Interstellar Marines.

As an interstellar marine, it goes without saying that I’m the best of the best. I’m tough as nails. I’ve seen it all and I’m ready for anything. I scream like a preschooler and fire entire clips in a messy panic. Okay, maybe the last one doesn’t fit with the image, but I can’t help it: when malfunctioning robots run at me from the darkness I scream. Then I fire a flood of panicky bullets into them far longer than strictly necessary. Then I run away and try to hide. I’m an interstellar marine. And I’m terrified.

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Life is Feudal Alpha: Is It Worth Playing Yet?

By Angus Morrison on October 10th, 2014.

They don’t teach Terraforming like they used to.

Life is Feudal wants to be a “realistic-fictional Medieval hardcore sandbox MMORPG”, give or take an adjective.

A warning before we fish for the meaning in that sea of descriptors: Life is Feudal is Early Access, a point the devs take pains to communicate, but this isn’t ARMA III Early Access. It’s not even DayZ Early Access, which was held together by duct tape and rags on release. Life is Feudal is sketch-on-the-back-of-a-napkin Early Access, and you’ll have to squint to see what the picture is.

Swear fealty at this stage and you’re buying a vertiginous £25 worth of idea. But there it is, staking a claim on the Steam bestseller list. I struck out to found my fiefdom and see how its promises are being put into play.

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The Lighthouse Customer: I Shall Remain

By Christopher Livingston on October 6th, 2014.

You're doing fine. You got this. I'll hang back.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, being a terrible apocalypse pal with top-down zombie ARPG I Shall Remain.

I like to think of myself as a selfless person. I donate to charity, I pick up litter in parks, and help my elderly neighbor with her chores. If I come across a stray dog I’ll work tirelessly to find its owner, and if I find a spider in our home I’ll carefully carry it outside, find a nice bush for it to live in, give it a bag lunch and a tender kiss on the forehead, and check on it periodically to make sure it’s getting on okay. In a zombie apocalypse, however, all that seems to goes out the window from zed one. There’s no I in TEAM, but there is one in I Shall Remain. Actually, there’s two. They both stand for ME. Everyone else can get stuffed.

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