Hey guys, remember Stencyl? I’ve been playing around with it a lot lately and I released my first game on Kongregate. If you’re interesting in playing, its called Avoid the Fire! and can be found here.
Archive for the ‘Unrated’ Category
Tags: Board Game, boardgame, Old School, Table Top
Boardgames are a centuries old classic, a cultural go-to for fun. Almost every culture around the world developed some form of board game to amuse themselves once the work was done. From the far east we have such classics as Go and Mahjong. From Europe we have both Checkers and Chess. From the near east we have an entire category of games known as Mancala. In the modern day board games are still a wildly popular hobby, with clubs popping up devoted to playing the various types. But board games are also a mystery to some people. For most of the American audience, if you say board game, they think Monopoly and Scrabble and don’t get much beyond there. Maybe checkers and chess. But these days those are only the surface of a great and wondrous mountain of games. Games have fallen into 3 major categories: War Games, American Games and German Games.
War Hammer 40K, De Bellis Antiquatatis, Babylon 5 Wars and Troops, Weapons and Tactics are all examples of miniatures based wargames that take place throughout history, alternate history and science fiction futures. All of these games simulate large scale battles using the weapons of the age they take place in but tactics determined by the players. Some people like to set them up to start out like real battles and see if they can win where the great generals of history lost. Generally speaking, these games use lots of miniatures, detailed fields and lots of dice. Wargame miniatures can be acquired either pre-painted or unpainted to be painted by hand. For some players, that is a lot of the fun. Unlike a lot of other board game types, War Games aren’t designed to tell the same story or play the same way every time.
War Games are also the forebear to table top roleplaying games. It was a wargames ruleset known as Chainmail which Gary Gygax modified to create Dungeons and Dragons. For a comprehensive list of miniature wargames, you can look here. There’s something for everyone interested in taking up the hobby.
American board games have a strong tradition to them. Starting early on with handmade chess and checkers sets, they evolved only slightly over time. There are periodic booms of new games, but for the most part there are Parker Brother and Milton Bradley leading the charge. Most of their games are re-skins of the old traditional stand-bys. What kid growing up in America hasn’t played Monopoly? Scrabble? Chutes and Ladders? As far as the board game community is concerned, American games are this style, old games that have been around for decades, very few of which involve real skill. Take a look at Chutes and Ladders (or Snakes and Ladders as some people know it). First off, the roots of the game are actually found in India, not 1950s America as most people would tell you. Second off, its purely randomized using either a die or spinner. The Milton Bradley version includes a spinner rather than a die since at the time of its production, dice were considered sinful. Out of all of the games considered to be American style board games, Scrabble is probably the best. My feelings about Monopoly…well, that’s best left for another post. I tend to find that this style of game is very hit or miss, with a lot of the old “classics” being dry. They do offer a wide variety of games for kids though, which does redeem them some.
German style board games are wonderful. High quality games, designed to require thought and skill with added randomness. There are also always new ones coming out. Its quite wonderful. Now of course, German style is something of a misnomer. The trend for these new style games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride started in Germany and spread to the rest of Europe. These games tend to be light on conflict and drama, don’t kick players out of the game before the end and emphasize strategy over luck. Another great thing about them is that they largely use symbols rather than words so they can be played internationally. This genre leads to lots of new games, with only a few continuing to be published. The style is also starting to get adopted in America now, leading to wonderful things like Arkham Horror from 2005 and Merchant of Venus.
For more information on this type of board games, you can check out the wikipedia page on the topic. Its a bit sparse, but helpful and contains a list of publishers.
I hope you find yourself more enlightened about board games in general. Consider starting a board game night with your family. Its a great way to have fun together and to work on math, logic and reading skills with young children. For even younger children, there are even games that teach colors and shapes.
Tags: App Store, Chrome, Knitting, Row counter (hand knitting)
Okay…I know, this isn’t my usual. My mom knits. Like a lot. And I wanted to make a quick app for the Chrome App store, so I decided to make a simple knitting themed counter for counting rows and such. Turns out they need those. I’m also trying to convince her to switch to Chrome on the main computer. I have my motives.
So here is Row Counter.
Tags: Nintendo, Nintendo DS, Playstation, Video Game Stores, Wii, Xbox, XBox360
So you went out to your local video game store and picked up a new game. You play through the first hour, maybe two, and then realize that you have just made a horrible mistake and this isn’t what you thought you were getting. It happens more than you would think. Maybe you were expecting an action RPG and got a platformer, maybe you were expecting a casual game or maybe you just don’t like the play style or mechanics involved. All of this brings up the big question of what do you do with it. The natural thought is that you would return it. Sadly, a lot of stores won’t take returns on video games if the box has been opened. I know for a fact that Toys R Us doesn’t. So you can’t return it to say, Walmart, Target or anything like that if you’ve actually played it. The next place you could go is somewhere more like Gamestop where they do Trade-Ins of games, hardware and accessories and resell them. That sounds like a really great idea right? Here’s the problem, and it all falls on you the consumer. So you buy a $30 DS game, for example. If that game is for the DS and not the 3DS, don’t expect to get more than $5 of Trade-In value, and that’s for a really good popular game. You might remember my misadventures with The Sims 2 Pets for DS. Well, I took that in yesterday to exchange, along with a few other games like Populous DS and Logic Machines, which had all seemed like good ideas at the time of purchase. Four games sold back, for $4 of store credit, and that’s with the Powerup Rewards membership getting me an extra 10% on all trade-ins. And that’s with all 4 games having their case and instructions.
You’re probably wondering how that can possibly make any sense. I mean, that’s approximately $120 in games and I got $4 for it. But the thing is, those games aren’t even really available any more because they’re so out of date. And on top of that, the ones that are just aren’t popular. They’re running about $10 new. The video game market tends to be very much on demand pricing. If a game is the next big thing, super popular and everyone wants it, the price is going to be higher. Just look at the Metroid franchise. At the time of release, The Other M was running around $40 like the usual Wii game. At Gamestop yesterday, it was selling for $10. So if I had bought The Other M back when it was new and gone to trade it in now, Gamestop would be giving me a very small amount of money, enough that when they sell it again at $10 they would still be making some kind of profit.
Its pretty obvious that this system only benefits the game store. After the original purchase, no money is going to the developer and the return is hardly giving the customer any of their money back. So how do we solve this system. My favorite solution, though not one that everyone can employ, is the mantra of Try Before You Buy. The way I usually handle this is through rental of games that I’m interested in trying but aren’t in a franchise I have a lot of faith in. If a new Zelda game, for example, is coming out, I trust the Zelda developers to maintain a certain level of quality, but if I see something completely new and weird, or even a long standing series that I have no experience with and I’m considering buying it, I will rent it first. But not everyone can afford a Gamefly or Blockbuster rental plan. In that case, talk to your friends. See if anyone you know has the game and can let you try it out, or even just give you an opinion. If everyone you know says a game is terrible, chances are its terrible. Another way to avert gaming disaster is to check out a review website like this one here, or Metacritic.
So you tried before you bought, and got opinions, and even checked the Internet and still gamer fail occurred. What’s next? At that point come the options of give it to someone, yardsale it or shove it in a box somewhere. I mean, there’s also Ebay and Craig’s List, but that once again depends on the popularity of the game in question. Honestly, the best way to not have to deal with trading in games is to try really hard to do your homework before purchasing it.
Tags: Educational Game, Gameful Game, Self Improvement Game, Serious Game, Socio-Political Game
The Gameful movement is taking the indie game design world by storm, but what does it mean? What is a “serious” game and how do those two words together even make any sense? That is what I will be talking about today. The raw basic idea of what a serious game is can best be defined as any game that has a purpose beyond entertainment. These can come in several different varieties from the traditional educational game to the advertisement or training simulation or even a socio-political game. Gameful is a specific movement where game mechanics can be added to anything to help make the real world a better place, in particular, adding points and achievements to doing good things. Without further ado, on to the definitions!
Adver-Games are any kind of game that is trying to get the player to buy some product outside of the game. They generally speaking use the product or the product’s mascot in some situation where they make it seem fun or exciting. Its like an advertisement only better because the player is invested in the game far more than they would be in a simple commercial. Adver-games don’t tend to be Gameful, given that they’re just a more audience inclusive version of your standard commercial.
The edu-tainment category is a vast array of kinds of games, but for the sake of today, I’m going to define it down to any game that seeks to impart information of an academic or practical nature. This means that there are two types of games coming in under the Edu-Tainment umbrella.
The so-called Educational Game is the traditional type of game that most people think of when they hear Educational Game. They impart knowledge and information, typically geared to children, and include happy games, usually of the arcade style. Reader Rabbit and the Magic School Bus games are really good examples of this. Educational Games are quite Gameful.
The other type is Training Simulations. These teach a person how to perform a job or how to handle a situation. Many companies use these to train their employees, up to and including the military and police departments. They are particularly useful for teaching people how to handle volatile situations without putting them in danger, such as a police simulator that teaches officers how to handle various situations with possibly armed suspects. These can also be quite Gameful.
Persuasive Games fall into the dubious category of socio-political games. These are any kind of game that is trying to draw you over to the developer’s point of view. Darfur is Dying, Super SOPA Bros and ICED are good examples of the genre. These games can be made through a serious delivery of facts, or through comedy, or any other direction the developer wants to attempt. A lot of the really volatile ones about situations that the developer considers to be horrible will tend to be done through shock factor. These, of course, are very Gameful. I’ve seen some very good games that reward the user for doing good things, for talking to strangers, for cleaning up their homes and for almost anything else.
So now that we’ve defined the types, what makes a serious game good at what its trying to do. Well, the first rule (and the one most often overlooked) is that the target audience has to want to play it. It turns out that doing math problems on a computer doesn’t make doing math any more fun if you don’t like math. But if you make it an action platformer where you have to catch the proper answers, or a puzzle game where you have to slide tiles around to solve problems, it becomes much more fun. The second rule is that it has to impart whatever it is trying to impart, be it information or an opinion or even just a commercial. Adver-games are the simplest to succeed at but have the downside of most people can identify that they are an advertisement. Educational games are also reasonably easy, for a young audience. Training simulations have to be painstakingly accurate in order to be effective. Persuasive games are their whole own can of worms. Sure, you have an opinion. Everyone does. But can you convey it well? Can you make it sound reasonable? Can you avoid sounding like you’re crazy? Theses are all important concerns which have been failed countless times in the history of persuasive games.