Why Even Make Software

Long week at the grindstone on the game, actual gameplay is mostly done, but a lot of the fine details of UI, animations, and music are janky or nonexistent: "the first 80% takes 100% of the schedule, the last 20% takes another 100%", as they say.

So I may take beta-testers and let them at it soon; comment/email if you'd like in. If you've played any of my games before, you know what you're getting, but much bigger:

Perilar: Fallen Kingdom, an entire world of Perilar, massive dungeons deep into the earth, towers up into the sky, hard tactical roguelike RPG. Mac/Windows/Linux.

I'm running late to think about marketing now, but: Should I Kickstarter for the final stretch? Set up a Patreon? Those feel like begging or grifting, even though I support some stuff that way. I prefer to release, try to get copies in front of the people who'd like it, collect money. Advertising used to be viable for user acquisition, now I suspect a large part of my potential audience are savvy enough to ad-block, and giant horrible things like EA drive the CPK up. There won't be ads or IAP in the game.

Apple killing the affiliate program could not come at a worse time. Kick all the little guys while we're down, Phil Schiller, that's what you're for.

And then there's always people who say "just release it as open source!", by which they mean I should starve and die in the street, and no software except command-line developer tools should ever be made. Yeah, that's not an acceptable business plan.

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2

Sweet, a new SMT game (not a Persona game, which are OK but not really my thing)! You are literally using your mobile phone to run a game where you use a mobile phone to run a game which lets you fight real (in the game?) demons that can only be seen with a mobile phone. … Look, man, I just play it I don't do sanity.

Like the classic SMT games, you start with Pixie and go out and recruit more demons by talking to them before fighting. Then you merge them together in blasphemous rituals to make more powerful demons.

Sadly there's no grid-by-grid dungeon crawl, just the usual mobage missions with a series of fights, and some story visual-novel stuff.

[UPDATE]: There is a dungeon crawl, you just have to unlock it after the first chapter of the story missions! The first one is very small, but I presume they'll get bigger and more complex. So it's a real SMT game after all!

I mostly like the style of this, and there seems to be hundreds of demons to summon and create. The music varies from rather good JPop to some of the most boring elevator music loops ever invented to drive humans to Black Friday rampages.

The one negative is the "Megakin" tour guide/"Pro Youtube Personality"/most annoying NPC in a game since Navi and Tingle from Zelda games. Holy shit I hate this guy, and I hate being forced to tap on buttons to fulfil a "tutorial". Just let me play and make my own mistakes, SEGA. The gun-crazed chick NPC partner is insane but amusing; who or what do you get if you're a female avatar?

My friend ID is EG93SHUH (Home screen, đź‘Ż icon, Search tab)

Minecraft Aquatic Update

I've been playing with the many betas and pre-releases, and Mojang's software quality is… job NaN as usual. Each version would break something that worked before, add new completely unrelated bugs, as if (and in fact we know this to be the case) they don't have any tests, they don't even have a "feature", they just hack on the source at random whim until they feel like dumping it, and people report bugs and sometimes those get fixed.

Anyway, this "official release" is somewhat stable, but today's new bug is: My chicken farm dies out. I use water flows from the corners of a 5x5 pit to put all the chickens and their egg drops into a hopper in the center, but in this version baby chickens drown in even a thin stream of water, probably due to Mojang "fixing" zombies not sinking & becoming aqua zombies.

Press X to Review

Picked up Life is Strange freebie episode on Steam. Super aggravating controls: Almost no control over the camera, even less over the cursor: Find the off-target mouse circle, drag slowly to a command. Running is not always available, let alone default as it should be for playability. Most cutscenes can't be skipped. I don't know if I'd like the story or the game, because the first few areas drove me insane.

I've played and enjoyed a lot of walking simulators, like Proteus, Dear Esther, Gone Home (had to massively increase mouse sensitivity), and Connor Sherlock's games. These mostly use standard FPS WASD controls, mouse crosshair, and E to use.

And a lot of story games, like David Cage's Heavy Rain & Beyond Two Souls. Cage's games make heavy use of dual-stick controllers and "mash X now!" quick-time events, have minimal free will to go off the rails, but they aren't frustrating to play.

And physics toys, like Garry's Mod and Goat Simulator. These have dead standard FPS controls and total player freedom.

LiS is the first game in a long time I can't progress in.

Nintendo E3

  • Daemon Ex Machina: Looks like recycled material from the bad Starfox and non-Metroid "Metroid" mecha games. Dire.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Cartoony JRPG with pretty art, music, and numbers all over the screen: I love you. I barely remember the first Xenoblade Chronicles game (Wii?), but I'm up for it.
  • PokĂ©mon Let's Go: I've never poked a man and never will, except briefly in Go. The physical PokĂ©ball Plus is a cute idea.
  • Super Mario Party: Video shows way more ethnically integrated families and friends than entirely plausible. It's Mario Party, pointless but fun little minigames, it'll be fine. Everyone should have one.
  • Fire Emblem Three Houses: Pretty, seems like there's more story than usual between the tactical battles, and bigger armies? Cool, tho I expect like all FE games it'll get dull fast, they never learned to build pressure on the player.
  • Fortnite: The message of the novel (one of my favorites, along with the manga & movie) Battle Royale by Koushun Takami is that totalitarianism thrives on cruelty, people will do almost anything to each other to survive… but resistance and hope through sacrifice is possible. The central message of all these Battle Royale ripoff games is that it's fun to just murder your friends and classmates and reinforce totalitarianism. So, you know, I'm not a fan of this bullshit.
  • Overcooked 2, Killer Queen Black, Hollow Knight: Ports of indie games, the kind of things worth playing. Nice.
  • Long string of games, but I will call out The World Ends With You, which I loved on iOS until Squenix stopped supporting it, and Apple's moved the platform so often you can't rely on it to stay playable. If Squenix gives me back my $20 I'll buy the game again, Switch would be a really good platform for it.
  • Super Smash DoucheBros Ultimate DX GameCube Elite Pro for Smashing Faces: I have never cared less about a game franchise than Smash, and this I cared about less than usual. But I'm sure it's super exciting to Smashbros. Samus & Ridley Amiibo might be nice to have, as an old Metroid fanboy.

Have I missed it or did they say nothing about Animal Crossing for Switch?

Sony E3

Catching up:

  • Japanese instruments: Not exactly my thing, I prefer WagakkiBand, but classier than anything else we'll see here.
  • The Last of Us Part II: Laster of Us: Little girl (ignoring first game's plot choice to sacrifice her and save the world) goes on a mass murder spree after dancing with her girlfriend. No sign of the clicker zombies. Just a psychopath chopping people's necks open. What the actual fuck is wrong with you?
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Very lovely natural world and samurai. And then it's just used for a bunch more murders. You can't go play a flute and drink and fish in a river, the dialogue is very obviously scripted and choiceless. All this tech wasted making another fucking fighting game?
  • Control: While it seems to have a lot of fighting, there's maybe some puzzles with your amazing psycho powers?
  • Resident Evil 2: When there are no more good ideas in Hell, remakes will walk the Earth. But at least shootin' zombies is OK.
  • Trover Saves the Universe: Fuck yeah Justin Roiland and some kinda silly platformer! First time I've been interested in anything here.
  • Kingdom Hearts III: Pirates of the Caribbean WTF, is Jack Sparrow a Disney Prince(ss) now? Toy Story? Why not the Incredible Hulk and Deadpool, Squenix? The first one was weird, but this is so mashed together I don't even know what it is.
  • Death Stranding: Weirdest fucking thing ever gets weirder (but also more boring? Lot of walking scenes) in each video. What if there is no game, just increasingly fucked-up videos as an art project/troll? Hey, Lindsay Wagner (Bionic Woman), awesome!
  • Spider-Man: New York's shittiest hero gets to fight shitty villains like the Shocker (two fingers and thumb), looks like an exact ripoff of Batman Arkham Asylum. Super shitty skintight texture suit like a 2001-era low-poly game.
  • Dreams: Cute little VR-based toy, like LittleBigPlanet. Probably even more penises. Huge points for not being a murder simulator.

Devolver Digital E3

Great stage show, amazing parody (I guess? It's impossible to parody the game industry, worse than televangelists).

Sadly, their games are fucking garbage, and what they showed was even worse than usual. Devolver haven't published anything good since original Hotline Miami and Hatoful Boyfriend; both from outside indie developers. I don't know how these people get through the day, being meaningless parasites.

Bethesda #BE3

Rage 2 has the guns & blood of the idiotic rail-shooters I normally condemn, but it's open-world and goofy. I openly laughed at the skeet-shooting carnival cannon. The rock show singing "Better get ready to kill better get ready to die" is a perfect tone setter for this. It looks like how Doom 1 played, fun and stupid. The environments look great, very cartoony and colorful. Down side, you apparently have to play some doofus "Ranger Walker" and endure bad dialogue on some mystical quest. I prefer games where you make your own character and do whatever you want. So… pass, but maybe if it's discounted.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game is… not great. I love TES, I like card games and board games, but it's very slow-paced, trick-card-based, and the story mode is often excruciatingly dull and dumb. Maybe now that it has a new studio Sparkypants, it'll move into my casual-gaming slot. Bethesda didn't talk about this change at all.

The Elder Scrolls Online, "MMO of the year" for the last 3 years, is my home world. Earth I tolerate, but Tamriel is beautiful and terrifying. Summerset is gorgeous and I'm just wandering around to solve problems, or kill world bosses, nowhere near done with main quest, and really far from finishing my jewelry crafting skill or Psiijic Order. I loved Morrowind and Clockwork City last year. The announcements for this year of a Werewolf-based dungeon DLC, and then Murkmire, eh. I don't do the group dungeons much, and Shadowfen's the worst zone in the game. More silly lizards in mud are not really what I wanted, but it's free for me on ESO+.

I feel sorry for the shambling corpse of iD software, ever since Carmack fucked off to build rockets, Romero had a rough time for a while but he's made a cool original Doom level, and Gunman Taco Truck with his kid, and has a new studio.

Doom Eternal? Couple bros in suits. "You want even more badass demons? We got twice as many!" Fucking punch it into a spreadsheet why don't you? Goddamn how Doom has fallen, into a rail-shooter. Guy calls the character "The Doomslayer", not "space trooper Henry Rollins".

"Let's hear it for Quakecon!" (very muted pity applause from like 3 guys who still care about Quake)

Prey, rail-shooter, couldn't care less.

Wolfenstein reboots, ha ha BJ has two daughters so now you can be girls shooting guns in a grim Nazi world. Original Wolfenstein was fun, remember? Dumbass Nazis shouting "Mein leben!" as you shot them in a bright 16-color world.

So enough of that.

Todd Howard's oral history of E3, and the new Skyrim platforms, are amazing. Watch the stream. Skyrim Alexa is just D&D, man. That's what we do when we play any role-playing game.

Fallout 76? I haven't played Fallout in a long time, since Fallout 1 on classic Mac, a bit of Fallout 3 on PS3, and some of the iOS Fallout Shelter. But Fallout 76 being an online might be fun. Looks like they're doing a megaserver like ESO. A bit of survival murder, a bit of building game. It's kind of Unturned but more hostile? Might be worth trying the BETA.

"I read on the Internet that sometimes our games have bugs?" —Todd Howard

Release on 14 Nov 2018? I'm surprised they've got this far without everything leaking everywhere.

The Elder Scrolls Blades: A mobile TES game? Procedural dungeons?! Town-building? YEEEK! Put me in a coma until it comes out! playblades once their servers come back up, it seems they've been E3-balled into failure so bad it can't even return an error page.

A few seconds previews of Starfield, and TES 6. Zero details.

E3 WTF

"With Halo Infinite, we will join Master Chief on his greatest adventure yet, to save Humanity… We're now at an exceptional moment of creativity in gaming!"
—Phil Spenser, Microsoft Xbone Zero 290 whatever at E3 2018

The ninth (more or less) Halo game, an unseen, suited protagonist with two ranks but no name, a cliché rail-shooter "quest" where you move through linear levels and gun down anything that moves, othering aliens and opposing cultures so you can personally murder them by the thousands. This shit is what you think creativity is?! Fuck you, Phil. Fuck your entire goddamned species and the shit studio that pumps this stuff out for you.

Funny story, I once interviewed with Bungie; I figured they had money and might not be jackasses. I figured wrong: It was top to bottom the douchiest brogrammers I've ever met; zero women, even security/reception was a dude; they are exactly what you would expect from their fans. By the end I was just openly telling them what I thought of their non-game, and walked out.

Anyway. I'm waiting for the Bethesda event, since they seem to be the least bad big game company these days.

So to get the "Twitch extension" on the sidebar to work, the "grant access" link does nothing. You have to go to your ESO and Bethesda.net accounts, and link to Twitch. Then back on Twitch, settings, advanced, Grant access. Pain in the ass.

More Sword Art Online:IF

The game progresses VERY quickly at first, such that in 5 days of light playing I'm Level 50, geared up nicely, about ready to do the 5F labyrinth and boss, and then I expect 50-60 grind to be harder, since 6F is I think the top currently. The game devs have a lot to work on, since there's 100 floors in Aincrad.

I spent quite a few hours this morning grinding very difficult 5th floor mobs from 40-50 to get the mats for my level 50 armor and level 45 weapons, which didn't help me at all until I hit those points; it would've taken another day to get everything at 50.



Where the gear says "Lv1" or "Lv20", that's the experience level, which is unrelated to the gear level. While that's obscure, it's kind of interesting, lowbie gear with high experience can be nearly as good as high-level gear with no experience, but won't have as nice a set of "random bonuses".

Why does my heavy chestplate look like it has boobs? The other armors are more angular. I'm using costume pants to cover up the ugly jodhpur lower armor, but I don't have a costume shirt yet.

There's a lot more gear and skill depth than you'd ever expect in a mobile game, it's more like a desktop MMORPG. The fighting game is somewhat simpler, since the tiny UI and a few touch buttons limit it, but positioning and teamwork (even with your invulnerable NPC partner) matters, there are boss mechanics, and even normal mobs can be complicated. Poison and paralysis are incredibly dangerous, as seen in the books and anime; I just swapped out a skill with a good defense bonus for a poison reduction because I want to survive.

The only thing that I'm much disappointed in is, they didn't do permadeath even tho that's the premise of Sword Art Online. When you die, you can use up a (somewhat rare; I have 5 left) recovery crystal and instantly revive, or just return to 1F city. You should be deleted and have to make your character from scratch. If they wanted to be nice, they could let you keep your gear, but lose all experience. As it is, it's like any MMO where you can die a few times.

Only 1F is even slightly detailed, with a city of 3 areas, a town of 2 areas, and 3 fields of easy monsters; floors 2-6 are 2 areas each, but I expect 10F will have another city and multiple fields, since that's how the books and anime are structured. But it is very lovely:



Because I've forgotten a lot of side characters who are showing up in the game, I started reading all the light novels from the fan translations. I'd previously just seen the anime and read the first few manga adapted from the novels, but now I am a bona-fide teenager reading trashy pulp novels, oh, wait, that's exactly what I've always been.