The RPS Bargain Bucket: Flu Faced

I’m pretty sure back-to-back conventions were the Grim Reaper’s finest invention. I feel like death. I feel like death gently warmed over, to be fair, rather than death squirming with maggots. So it could be worse. But it isn’t an amazing day. (P.S: Sorry for this being an out-of-season Bargain Bucket. I was squished by meetings last night. Boo.) While I endeavor to make myself into a coherent human being again, enjoy this bucket of bargains. This very strange plushie is from Ross. (And apologies for a very short Bargain Bucket. I’m wilting from bacteria.)

Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World
Civilization V is a dangerous predator, capable of stalking down and devouring even the most resilient prey. It is a subtle danger too. It doesn’t announce its desire to swallow your time. It simply sips at it, turn by turn, moment by moment, until the dusk has turned to dawn and you’re very late for work. Sadly, this deal isn’t about the core game itself. But it does concern the expansion, which introduces new civilizations, new wonders, new scenarios, new gameplay systems, and a cacaphony of new units. (Given that this is Amazon, you’re going to need a US mailing address.)

Open XCom
Is there anything better than free things? Disrobed of price tags, even the most mediocre product becomes something mildly interesting. Happily, OpenXCom appears to more than fractionally fascinating. An open-source clone, the game’s been in development for years now and it looks like the developers aren’t prepared to stop at. (It’s also apparently more of a replacement engine than anything else, according to Alice.) But still. Still. It looks neat, and it appears as though you’d have a veritable platoon of mods to choose from. Don’t be shy. Go poke at something.

I remember when Starbound first came out. It was sci-fi Terraria. It was two-dimensional No Man’s Sky. It was space travel, flattened into a world of side-scrolling cute. I was excited. But the actual product didn’t quite turn out the way I would have liked it too. Freedom, no matter its medium, is ultimately a limited idea. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Starbound tremendously, and the latest volley of improvements is slowly enticing me back into its pixelated arms. If you’ve ever been curious about it, now might be a good time to check it out. (Don’t forget the SAVE23-WITHGM-GAUG15 code.)

Blind Griffin – Pay What You Want
Since I’m feeling miserable, you’re going to get a profusion of off-beat instead of the usual deals. Blind Griffin is an absolutely lovely-looking otome game with some pretty heavy themes. It also sounds interesting. Set in the roaring 20’s, the game will have you exploring the eponymous speakeasy, while interacting with its family of magicians. There is a wonderful amount of diversity present, although it seems like you’d be restricted to courting the male characters. Oh, well. Free with a pay-what-you-want model, Blind Griffin seems like a great weekend diversion.

The Down Under Bundle – Pay $3.19/£2.04/€2.87
I could be wrong, but I suspect the Down Under bundle might feature Australian developers. It could entirely be a salacious remark instead. One never knows. Featuring titles like Deadnaut and Curse of the Assassin, this bundle’s a strange conglomeration of ideas and genres. But it is very cheap.


  1. Axyl says:

    That’s a slightly unfair assessment of Starbound.
    It’s still actively in development, yet you talk about it as though it’s finished and done with.
    No mention of it’s Early Access status, or the nigh-daily blog updates from the devs.

    I don’t mean to be a dick, but that’s not cool, Cassandra, and a touch unprofessional.

    • doho7744 says:

      She hit it pretty much spot on, in fact I think she was more than kind. The game has some fun spots, but your idea of active development is showing some new things on the website and then trickling them out in patches.

      • Michael Anson says:

        Starbound has two builds, stable and unstable. Every blog update is pushed almost immediately to the unstable build. Once a large amount of content/coding is done and confirmed largely bug-free, it gets pushed to stable. Judging the progress of the game based on the stable build, when all of the development activity takes place in the unstable build, is akin to judging the progress of a skyscraper being build by looking at the occasional picture of the site, rather than seeing the progress in person at any given time.

        In short, judging a game that has chosen the two-release schedule to ensure smooth gameplay for its customers by default, but still allows them to experience everything the developers have added as an option, solely by the incomplete but smooth gameplay, is poorly reported.

    • Minglefingler says:

      Well, Starbound has been in early access since before Germany reunified, at some point it’s only fair to judge it for what it is and not for its promise. Cassandra does refer to “the latest volley of improvements” form which any reasonable person can infer that the game is still being worked on so I think that accusations on unprofessional behaviour are a tad harsh.

      • Minglefingler says:

        From which. Clumsy fingers.

      • Axyl says:

        Agreed, but that point is once it leaves Early Access, not while it’s still being developed.

        • Minglefingler says:

          Come December it’ll have been in early access for two years. I’ve had it since the first week of release so I’m judging it on what it is now. I’m not saying it’s a bad game but you can’t qsk people to pay for something unfinished for such a long period and not expect that thing to get judged.

          • Axyl says:

            Umm, I mean, you kind of can.

            It’s not like their buying it unaware it’s still in Early Access.

            Besides, so what if a game’s taken almost 2 years to make. Since when was that outside the norm?

            DayZ has also been in Early Access forever and remains one of the best selling titles on Steam.

            Starbound will be done when it’s done, and until then I genuinely think it’s only fair, right and decent to judge it as an Early Access title and not a complete game, which is what you’re suggesting and what Cassandra is basically doing.

            I’m not angry or having a fanboi moment or anything like that. I too bought Starbound day of Early Access release, but I’m aware it’s still being made, and so am happy to wait until it’s done to pass final judgement on it.

          • Axyl says:

            Plus, there’s the rather significant point of you being just a commenter on this article.

            Cassandra is writing the article for a major, syndicated website.
            You personally can judge the game however you wish. That’s totally fine. As can Cassandra or anyone else.. apart from when they’re doing it on such a high profile platform, then dose of objectivity is required.

            Again, i’m not trying to “have a go” or anything similar. Honestly, simply stating that the game is in Early Access still and thus not yet complete in the article would be more than enough.

            Sorry if I rustled any Jimmies, especially to Cassandra. I just think the section about Starbound was below her usual standards.

          • Llewyn says:

            Yes, a dose of objectivity is indeed required. The only way to do that with early access titles, which ties in with RPS’ official* position on EA titles, is exactly as they are now assuming there will be no further updates. Anything else is optimistic pre-ordering.

            I say this as someone who buys quite a lot of EA titles, who has been surprisingly lucky in his EA hit rate, and who will continue to buy EA titles. They are always what they are, not what they will be.

            In short, I suggest (intended politely, not insultingly) that it’s you who appears to be lacking objectivity on Starbound.

            *As much as there are official RPS positions, that is.

          • Minglefingler says:

            Eh, you didn’t rustle my jimmies even if I’m not entirely comfortable typing that sentence. I still don’t think Cassandra said anything out of turn but we can agree to disagree on this one.

    • Tukuturi says:

      Now that damn near everything is released in early access and lingers there as long as possible, it hardly seems fair to use that status as an excuse. Starbound was released over a year ago, and while it boasted a lot of cool, big ideas, the core gameplay loop just isn’t fun. It’s a mostly failed experiment that got too big and picked up too much momentum for its own good, and probably the best thing Chucklefish could do at this point is to stop banging their heads against that wall.

      • Axyl says:

        I don’t think it’s an excuse, but it’s definitely a relevant point, especially when this isn’t a review of the game, but a “heads up” about it having a discount currently.

        Simply having the words “Early Access” in the part about Starbound in this article would be more than enough, imo. :)

        • Baines says:

          Telling people a game might not be worth its price is fair policy to me in a post about games being on sale.

          This is even more true when the sales post isn’t trying to be comprehensive, and is instead recommending things you might want to look at. Which has that key word of “recommend.”

          As for just having Early Access in the title be a heads up, it really isn’t these days. Too many games use Early Access now. The term covers everything from games that are already pretty much good enough for a full retail release to Unity asset flip scams that will never see any improvement. It covers games that will see release in months to games that are years away, and includes games that have flat out been abandoned.

          So it doesn’t just matter that a game is in Early Access. Its current state matters. Its rate of progress also matters, for at least roughly judging its potential (but not guaranteed) future progress. All sorts of things matter, because Early Access at this point just means “I have this game idea, give me money for a WIP demo, and hope that I keep working on it.”

      • Baines says:

        Don’t forget tricks like Akaneiro, which sat in Early Access for months (maybe more than a year?) on Steam despite having already seen full release outside of Steam.

        The official excuse given was that it was an online game that was still seeing new content being delivered. The unofficial reasons were probably so that Spicy Horse could have a “f2p” game on Steam that required you pay to access it (as Early Access let them get away with not actually allowing real f2p access), and presumably as protection against negative reviews.

    • Bull0 says:

      If you’re writing a recommendation of whether or not someone should buy it, you absolutely can and should judge it based on what it is now.

      • Creeping Death says:

        “can and should judge it based on what it is now.”

        Which would be an Early Access game.

        There is no discussion here. It should have been mentioned. Just like I would expect, if it was an episodic game, how many of those episodes had been released at time of writing.

    • TheDreamlord says:

      It is more than fair to comment on Starbound and its status. It has been in EA for two years with little indication on when it will release it’s version 1.0 so to speak. If you sell a product for money, you are liable to be judged on how well your product performs, so to speak. Starbound will never be what it promised to be, I just hope that at some point they finally exit EA and give a more complete product. And CK said nothing wrong, she just stated the truth.

  2. welverin says:

    “This very strange plushie is from Ross.”

    Spanky! Kind of looks like Rigel from Farscape.

    p.s. welcome back, and get better.

  3. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    OpenXcom: “Terror from the Deep now available in the nightlies!”

  4. mukuste says:

    There’s a fantastic Devolver Digital Publisher Weekend sale going on at Steam, surprised this didn’t get a mention.

    I got Shadow Warrior (2013) for € 3.50 and it’s as glorious as everybody said. Also, The Talos Principle, Hotline Miami 1&2, Titan Souls, and lots of other games on sale.

    • welverin says:

      She doesn’t bother mentioning Steam sales because they’re so obvious and purposefully highlights lower profile things.

    • RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

      I got Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, although it’s not that cheap, because I was just tired of waiting. I also got some short film, The Quiet Girl’s Guide to Violence, because the title caught my eye.

  5. Axyl says:

    Quoted from the OpenXcom website

    “OpenXcom requires a vanilla version of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM: UFO Defense (any edition) with the latest patch. It is not compatible with other games in the X-COM series. If you don’t own a copy, you can buy one from Steam, Amazon or GamersGate.”

    So.. it’s just a wrapper for the original game, rather than a true open source version, available for zero cost?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah, it’s really just an engine along the lines of DaggerXL, not an open source clone like FreeCiv.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Like Open Transport Tycoon it’s an entirely new engine emulating the old game with modern programming and features support. It’s still using the original files (it’s fetching the old graphics, sounds and data) because they aren’t free.
      It is “true open source”, but somebody would have to make alternatives to the proprietary data files like the Open Transport Tycoon community did.

      • El Goose says:

        Ooh, does that mean it will support modern resolutions? That would be nice. I spent a fair bit of time playing it a few years ago (far too young to have played it first time around) and although I enjoyed it those huge buttons were quite an annoyance, so it would be cool if this could solve that problem. Although come to think of it I could just play the new one. Yeah, that’s annoy you old folks won’t it!

  6. trn says:

    Bee, tee, double ewe, the ‘real’ xcoms are on sale at Wingamestore. I also nabbed Crusader Kings 2 at a historic low price in their Paradox sale. Don’t work for them, just like my grand strat cheap :)

  7. Gabe McGrath says:

    I asked the man for a a Down Under bundle.
    I asked him if he spoke my language.

    He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
    And he said..

    • bad guy says:

      … *Pft-plaaagh!!* this Vegemite stuff he gave me tastes horrible.

    • RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

      I’m going to England this fall for an Erasmus+ exchange until December and I’m wondering whether to try marmite. Cause if I do, I have to buy a jar of the stuff, and if I don’t like it, I have to chuck it away.

      • iainl says:

        It’s worth a try. In the scope of travelling to the UK, £1.65 for a jar of yeast extract isn’t going to break the bank, surely?

        • RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

          It’s not, I just dislike throwing away things, especially food. It’s anathema to me. :D