June 2017

Gaming News

Indie Gem Moirai No Longer Playable Due to Database Attacks


Sad news for the indie scene. Today, Chris Johnson – one of the creators of a small indie game called Moirai – tweeted today that the game will no longer be playable due to repeated attacks on their server database. You can read the full Steam community post here. While it’s tempting to ponder about why anyone would specifically target small companies, much less an indie game company, I know that will lead nowhere. Instead, let me tell you about this little gem that you may or may have not heard of.

Moirai was a free game on Steam. It was very short, maybe like five minutes tops, and it had standard pixel artwork and straight forward (at least, in the beginning) gameplay. It was essentially a first-person adventure game that featured a really interesting mechanic, which I can spoil now since the game is unplayable now. Under better circumstances I would’ve told you to stop doing whatever you were doing and go experience it for yourself, but alas.

You played as a simple farmer who lived an even simpler life. One day, one of the townsfolk goes missing – a woman named Julia – and you snoop around the village to find clues. You hear that people have been hearing spooky noises coming from the local cave, so you go check it out. A lumberjack at the entrance gives you a knife in case something goes… wrong. As you venture deeper into the cave, you hear the ominous moans get louder.

Soon you come face to face with another farmer, but his clothes are covered in blood stains. You get to choose what you want to ask him, and here’s the cool part – the responses you got were actually written by the person who played the game before you did. Depending on the person, you might have gotten nonsensical responses or an honest explanation as to why he was covered in blood. You then have the choice to kill the suspicious farmer or let him go.

With the path cleared, you can continue searching the cave. You eventually find the source of the moans, and it is not a pretty sight. A badly wounded Julia lies on the floor of a small section of the cave. You talk to her and find out that she had wandered deep into the cave in order to take her own life. She lost her husband and son due to a mining accident in that same cave and has been broken since. It’s a tragic tale, and she asks you to help her end it all. You can comply to put her out of her misery or refuse and go seek help. Either option you pick ends up with you covered in blood (she spits blood at you if you refuse) and now things start to come full circle.

Upon leaving the cave, you’re met with another farmer. He asks you why you’re covered in blood. Sound familiar? At this point you’re now in the same spot as the suspicious farmer you saw before, and you get to type in your own responses to the questions the farmer asks you. From there, the game ends and you’re asked for your e-mail address. Whoever played the game next determined your fate, and the game would e-mail the outcome to you. I dug around in my inbox and found the e-mail I got from my story, which ended up being really silly!

As you can see I tried to be honest as possible but unfortunately another farmer with a funny name killed me. Amazing, isn’t it?

This concept was a really neat idea and it provided some “organic” moments, but this is where the database attacks happened. The developers of the game are not full-time indie devs, so they were paying out of their pockets to keep the database up. With repeated attacks they were at risk of e-mails getting leaked, so they decided to shut down the whole thing. A real shame. Moirai did something really special and I hope another game comes around that plays with this idea.

read more
Gaming News

Yooka-Laylee’s First Major Update Adds Some Welcomed Polish


Spit’n’Polish, to be exact!

Yooka-Laylee released two months ago to some rather lukewarm reception. Many review sites claimed that while the game was a decent attempt at reviving the 3D platformer genre long thought to be dead, Yooka-Laylee was still rooted in archaic design choices and featured generally unfocused game play. While it seems like the core gameplay and design haven’t changed much, Playtonic Games listened to the feedback nonetheless and pushed out a new update that will bring some nice polish to the whole game, hopefully making the game a more pleasant experience.

For starters, character dialogue can now be fast-forwarded. Yooka-Laylee features the rapid-fire gibberish noises that were seen in Banjo-Kazooie, and unfortunately a lot of people found it be more annoying than charming. Additionally the rate at which these voice effects play has been lessened, and of course you can now also just bypass these cutscenes altogether when you’re not feeling the wacky voices.

The camera has also been reworked for smoother control. There’s an all new mode that sort of works like a chase camera where it’ll auto adjust to where you’re running to. The camera assist is minimal so you still have full control over the camera. Playtonic has also reduced the amount of scripted fixed camera angles, return control over to you during specific moments. In addition to the regular third-person camera, the first-person camera has receive some new aiming controls to help it feel more natural.

Among these quality of life improvements this update also fixes a plethora of bugs, including potentially game breaking ones. One particular instance was Pagies not saving after exchanging casino tokens during the Capital Cashino level. If you’ve been affected by this bug, do not worry – you don’t have to start over for this update. Simply re-entering the zone will replace all of your missing tokens, according to Playtonic.

I was one of the backers for Yooka-Laylee, and I guess it worked out that I’ve put off playing the game for this long. Being a fan of the original Banjo-Kazooie games, I was excited to try Yooka-Laylee out, even after all of the mixed reception it received. I’m not sure if all of these improvements warrant another playthrough for those that already beat the game, but I’m ready to hop in to see what it’s all about.

As a bonus, Yooka-Laylee is 25% off on the Steam store if you’re interested. You can also view the full patch notes on the official Playtonic Games website.

read more

Voodoo First Impressions


Voodoo is an open-world multiplayer survival crafting game. I know, I know, those few words scare off a lot of people but Voodoo‘s got some interesting quirks about it. Set against the backdrop of a fantasy primal Africa, you play as a tribesman looking to build and grow his tribe. The trailer on the game’s store page on Steam shows off multiple players grouping up together going off to fight a rival tribe. The trailer then cuts to a scene where that same group is shown fighting a gigantic totem boss, and the battle looks exhilarating to say the least. Voodoo shows off a lot of promising stuff like most Early Access games do, so I sat down and spent some time with the game to see what’s up.

Right off the bat things were off to a rocky start. The current stable build of the game was updated the day of writing this piece – June 27th – and it seems to have completely broken the frame rate of the game. The game’s frame rate capped out at around 3 FPS, and that’s not an exaggeration. Okay, maybe it’s a little under optimized, I can understand that. So I change the video settings to the lowest preset and the frame rate was still busted. Finding no solutions on the forums, I opted into the game’s experimental branch and everything was okay.

So I finally get in and am able to play. Voodoo‘s early game is a bit too slow. It starts off like any typical survival game where you’ll need to scavenge for loose materials. The first things you can craft are an axe and pickaxe, the essentials to any survival game. With a large amount of wood you can craft a basic crafting bench that lets you craft the basic structures, which don’t include much. There’s a simple straw bed and a totem to mark your building space.

You’ll need to craft the advanced builder bench to make the big structures like proper shelter. The problem is that this thing requires a TON of materials that would take hours to get. I get that they want to encourage group play – which is the point of the entire tribal theme – but this seems a bit too much. This problem is especially compounded by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anyone playing at the moment because the game is still relatively small.

Voodoo is built in the Unity engine and you can really tell by how it looks and controls like. The current graphics are decent, but things look a little flat. I think the game will do better with a more memorable art style, and you can already see that growing in the player models and the enemy models, like the totem boss shown off in the trailer. The game will be a little more memorable if it’s got cool designs like those.

Ultimately, the interesting setting, emphasis on team/group gameplay, and the Shadow of the Colossus styled fights are what going to set Voodoo apart from the other open-world survival multiplayer games. The gameplay so far is a little too similar to what many survival games have done in the past. Voodoo is of course still in early access so we’ll remain hopeful with future content updates and patches.

You can visit the game’s web page, and check it out on Steam.

read more

I’m an Old Gamer and I Don’t Plan to Stop Playing!

old gamer let me play

A few days ago, I met an old friend with whom I used to play countless hours of Heroes of Might & Magic 3. The same person that used to come by to my house during the summer at 10-11 AM and not leave until 9-10 PM because we had important matches to win in Championship Manager 01/02. A gamer, just like myself.

Eventually, after finding out about his kids, after telling him stories about my son, after talking about back pain and hemorrhoids, the rising cost of living and the fact that our bodies couldn’t handle as much alcohol as they did back in the days, I asked the question:

“So, what are you playing nowadays?”

Oh, boy, the look I received as an answer! I thought that he’s about to call the cops, to call a mental institution and plead for them to take me in. Or at least go tell my parents that I’ve been bad.

“I no longer play games,” he replied eventually, clearly disgusted by the idea. “I am, you know… an adult now”.

So, what? Adults are no longer allowed to play video games? Just because I am old, I have to stop playing? Is there an age limit for defeating hordes of alien invaders, blowing building up or teabagging fallen enemies in online FPS games?

Well, hell no! I am and old(er) gamer and I plan to keep on playing for as long as I have money to buy me some games. And if I no longer have them, I don’t mind jumping into the freemium crap that would keep me entertained for a while.

Heck, I can’t wait for my son – who’s 4 right now – to get older, so I can kick his ass in Mortal Kombat 28 or team up with him and wreak havoc against enemy troops in whatever Star Wars shooter will be popular when he’s older. This would actually be like a dream come true for me: bond with my son in front of the large TV screen, having endless hours of fun playing video games.

You’re never too old for that. And I am definitely not that old. I’m almost 33, for God’s sake! Many people my age don’t even know what career path to follow, yet they’re starting to consider themselves too “grown up” to play games.

NO, thank you! I taught my mom how to play Heroes of Might and Magic 2 when she was 50+. She later upgraded to HoMM 3, loved Civ 2 and 3 and a few months ago I learned that she alone Googled and managed to install the Wake of Gods extension on her Heroes of Might and Magic 3 copy. This is how you do it!

I don’t think that we should ever let age or society or anybody else tell us what to do and what not to do. I know my friend who told me that he doesn’t play games anymore because he’s an adult. And I don’t even believe him!

He’s a bachelor, he lives alone, he has a decent job but still spends a lot of time inside. You can’t really watch that much Netflix or xhamster. You need a break. You’ve been a gamer. It’s in your DNA now. You game. Period.

Of course, being an adult doesn’t allow me to play as much as I do. My reflexes are no longer what they used to be and I get owned by Russian kids in Counter Strike like there’s no tomorrow. The way I’m living now no longer allows me start gaming sessions at 9 PM and stop at 6 AM, surprised that the sun is starting to shine (real story, happened over and over again with Gothic 2).

I am getting older and the only reason why I am not gaming as much as I’d like to is because life happens. I have a son. I have a job. I have health issues, I have a wife, I have mortgage to pay, I have endless sleepless nights to recover from my youth, I have high cholesterol and my eyes start hurting after playing any shooter for two hours in a row…

But this does not mean that I plan to stop gaming. No, I just have to adapt. And don’t try to make me feel bad for being a gamer. Don’t try to make me feel bad because I still have the guts to do whatever I consider being fun! That’s not what being a grown up means. That’s not what being an adult means!

Being an adult should be about making YOUR choices and sticking to them. If I choose that I want to game since early morning til late at night this Saturday, wearing nothing but my boxer shorts, eating cold pizza and drinking Mountain Dew, that’s what I am going to do! Especially since my wife’s visiting her mother, together with my son. (Really, you can’t actually do this otherwise if you have a family, but the point matters!)

I’m an adult now, but I’m always a gamer. Have been and will always be, even though I don’t have as much time for this as possible. Even though my skills get worse the older I get. Well… no problem! Somebody’s got to play Farming Simulator anyways!

I’m an old gamer. Let me play!

read more
Gaming News

Super Nintendo Getting Classic Edition Treatment in September


After many discussions, rants, and rumors floating around about the fate of Nintendo’s Classic Edition line of products, Nintendo themselves have confirmed that the glorious Super Nintendo Entertainment System will be getting a Classic Edition just like the NES. The SNES Classic Edition will be available in the US on September 29th and includes an all-star line-up of games including critically acclaimed titles like Super Mario WorldSuper Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, among others.

Two classic SNES controllers will be included with the console, so bring a friend over to enjoy awesome games straight out the 90’s. Much like the NES Classic Edition, the SNES Classic Edition will use the same ports that the Wii Remotes did, meaning that you’ll be able to use your old Wii Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro if you’ve still got them lying around. I mentioned this the first time around, but it’s amazing that you can still get mileage out of controllers that are two generations old now at the point.

But anyways, back to the most important part: the games! If you grew up in the 90’s you’ll recognize a lot of these big hits. Here’s the full list:

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Kart
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • F-Zero
  • Super Metroid
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Mega Man X
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Final Fantasy III (Also known as Final Fantasy VI)
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Secret of Mana
  • Earthbound
  • Super Ghouls’n’Ghosts

We weren’t kidding when we said this thing was super-charged with lots of big names! You’ve got Capcom’s flagship Mega Man X and the super hard platformer Super Ghouls’n’Ghosts. Square-Enix threw in their fantastic co-op action RPG Secret of Mana and arguably the greatest 16-bit Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy VI. Konami was a big name during the 90’s too, so of course Super Castlevania IV and Contra III: The Alien Wars are here as well.

Last but definitely not least, we have Nintendo’s hall of champions to celebrate. Whether you’re an old school fan who has played through these games many times or a new comer interested in Nintendo’s history, you’re bound to be in for a treat. Something that came quite a surprise to me though was the inclusion of the never-before-released Starfox 2. This hidden sequel to the 3D space shooter was near completion when it was ultimately canceled, but now many fans will be able to experience it for the first time ever! Starfox 2 featured an interesting change from the original game. Classic Arwing shooting action was still there but now the game tasked you with defending Corneria from Andross’ bombardment, and this was done through a pseudo-RTS perspective. It’s really interesting and pretty fun, so check it out if you get your hands on an SNES Classic Edition!

Speaking of which, I know this is a sore subject for many – including myself since I wasn’t able to get a NES Classic – but Nintendo has stated that they’re producing many more units this time around. Hopefully this remains true so that everyone who wants one should be able to get one. We’ll see come September, but this doesn’t mean you should slack off! These things are still probably going to sell out insanely fast so prepare yourself if you’re hoping to snatch one!

read more
Gaming News

Subnautica’s Voice of the Deep Update Reveals Big Story Elements


Underwater alien planet survival game Subnautica received its latest update this week, and a lot of mysteries surrounding the lore of Subnautica’s world will finally be explained. If you’ve been exploring the ocean of Planet 4546B like I have been obsessively for the past couple of weeks, have no fear – this update, albeit quite large in terms of new content, doesn’t actually change much to the existing world, meaning that old saves will be able to play it just fine. In the event that you do run into problems, be sure to try deleting the cache file before starting a new save.

So, what’s new in this patch? Well first off, even though it’s obvious there are some light spoilers here, so if you want to discover things on your own, beware! We’ll talk about the focus of the new patch: the Containment Facility. If you’ve witnessed the Sunbeam getting shot out of the air by the giant Precursor cannon, then you’ve probably already guessed that there are more Precursor structures to find. The Containment Facility, much like its name implies, is where the Precursor race stored artifacts, data repositories, fragments of history, and more. Here you’ll be able to use your scanner to find some clues on the mysterious Precursor race and the history of Planet 4546B.

That’s not all that awaits you in the Containment Facility. When we said big story elements, we meant that both figuratively and literally! Inside the Containment Facility you’ll find the gigantic Emperor Leviathan. This thing is bigger than the dreaded Reaper Leviathan, so that should give you an idea of what to expect. However, unlike the other creatures you’ve encounter thus far on Planet 4546B, the Emperor Leviathan seems to be reading you. It seems to be interested… in you. Like the official website states, we recommend caution upon entering the Containment Facility.

In addition to the facility, you can now find Precursor Pipes and Vents scattered throughout the ocean. These pipes are drawing in large amount of water, but where is it taking the water? And why is it doing it in the first place? You can even find some Peepers swimming through the pipes. This is just another mystery that requires further exploration and examination.

The Cyclops has received some tweaks since the Silent Running update. For starters, the Cyclops’ projected shield ability has been enhanced, and its maximum energy reserves have been increased. The engine can now be shut down entirely for complete silence, which greatly reduces your aggro range, even more than rigging for silent running. Speaking of silent running, you may now activate it at any speed. Once activated, the Cyclops will silently run like usual but only temporarily. After it deactivates, you’ll need to wait for it to come off of cooldown before it can be deployed again.

A new Lifepod – Lifepod 7, to be exact – has been added into the world. This Lifepod contains data logs for you to read through and it even has some special items, one of which is a special doll of someone you might recognize if you watch a lot of Subnautica videos on YouTube!

Lastly, the PDA has been updated with an all new interface. It’s clean and slick and makes reading data log entries a lot smoother. Items and entries that used placeholder icons in the past now have proper icons, and this includes 3D models too! So this means no more of those mysterious black boxes.

Are you ready to jump back in the water? There’s a lot of adventure to be had more than ever in the world of Subnautica!

read more