So, been a couple of weeks since my last blog. My PC blew up last week... which was a pain. Thanks to the wonderful members of the giant bomb community I was able to identify the problem, test it and fix it by replacing the part. I've also started playing Dino Crisis again. I got too scared when I was a kid to play much of it. Now that I am an adult, I can still feel the tension. Maybe it's the poor controls and fixed camera angles, but it definitely holds up I'd say.
Anyway, I've been keeping up with my design a day challenge which you can view here. In the past few days I did some ghost trick art. I drew them first then brought scans in to photoshop to make them in to full illustrations. My drawings suck, so here are the illustrations.
I think my Lynne turned out better, but I enjoyed doing them both. I love Phoenix Wright and the characters in Ghost Trick seem amazing.
So, Day #010 of my design challenge. Haven't missed a day yet and have been keeping up with my blog (and I post them on Facebook). Today I had another crack at videogame ties. Not necessarily for fashion but just as references to games or ties that represent characters. I think these are better than the first lot I made.
So it's Day #002 of my design challenge and I somehow made this one videogame related too. I wanted to recreate the look and feel of an original gameboy screen and then put in a little christmas/new year message.
I wanted to capture the feel of that dirty, grimy plastic (more of a memory, less that brand new gameboys were sold dirty). I think I did OK. Doesn't look at cool as yesterday but I've got over 300 more of these things to do. As always, comments and feedback are welcome.
So... it's a new year. I don't much believe in New Years resolutions. I did however decide that it would be a good time to challenge myself. My confidence in my design abilities is pathetic at best and I need to be able to generate more pieces. My portfolio is surprisingly empty. I need to do something that gets me feeling creative each day and doing something so that I can improve. I want and need to be better at my 'job'.
For the next year I will be designing one thing every day and writing a blog about it. Not much writing but generally posting the image and then talking a little bit about it. But not here. You guys don't want to have to get a blog from me a day. I will however post here when they are game related such as Day #001, a vault boy poster. First thing that came to mind when I woke up so I went with it.
I will probably do some more phoenix wright illustrations, as I have already done a few (check my previous blogs for those). Please leave feedback, I enjoy reading it. Let's hope I can actually do this. It's going to be tough.
So it's Christmas, and it's time's like this that I am reminded that I am surrounded by wonderful people.
First of all, my mum saw some Plants vs Zombies models on the internet but they were very expensive. She decided instead to make some herself and give them to me as a Christmas present. She obviously put a lot of work in to them and it is such a sweet gift. I love it.
Before that though, early this morning two of my friends Ben and his girlfriend Nina popped over to drop off their present. It was a sackboy knitted by Nina's mum. Such a wonderful gift. Very well made. I can't believe I have friends like this.
I also got a Solid State Drive and some other bits but these were the highlights. Already a good day. :)
So... I was looking at the Christmas wallpaper thread and realised I haven't changed my wallpaper in a long time. I don't change it often. I didn't change it for 3 years until a few months ago. I once saw an image of a heart rendered as Breakout, and I thought it would be cool to do a T-Shirt design that I could use as a wallpaper in a similar style, but with Space Invaders (nothing is original.. :/).
I'm posting this now since I won't have a chance to do it any other time until next year...
I detest placing unnecessary importance on completely abstract orders of value on games. Which game is the best? is Mario Galaxy better than GTA IV? If you're smart about things, you don't always have to choose. You can enjoy more than one thing and saying something is the best sort of detracts from the other experiences. So why do this? Well, I'm doing it for me. I don't get why some people write blogs but I am writing this to reminisce about the year in gaming.
I'm going to be using kind of Bombcast 2009 rules for this, so exclusives for platforms unless a multi-platform game has a platform that it's meant to be played on. There are games that I haven't played, and won't get to this year so I can't put them on the list. I'm an all platforms kind of guy, I have so many consoles (look at my console list).
Best PC Game Best Xbox360 Game Best PS3 Game Best DS Game Best Indie Game Best Multi-Platform Game Game of the Year 2010
Best In-Game Hamster Best Person Trying to Steal Nolan North's Job Best In-Game Broom Best Zombie Game Best Strategy Game Best Downloadable Game Best 2010 Game Not Released in 2010
Best PC Game
I have enjoyed so many PC games this year. A lot of them were not released in 2010 though, thanks to Steam and Games for Windows Live selling me games for almost nothing. Two of the most enjoyable are Starcraft 2 and Civilization V, both being strategy games and that genre is pretty tuned to the PC platform so it's not surprising. I enjoyed Mass Effect 2 most on the PC but since that is multi-platform I won't nominate it.
...and the winner is... I feel like both Fallout games and Oblivion released by Bethesda were meant to be played on PC. A small part of that is the control scheme, but the largest is mod support. Gamebryo's modding capabilities is insane and Bethesda are really good at releasing that toolset (Obsidian followed up on that here too). The things that you can do to your game adds a touch of personalization and can even fix the game's problems.
The game itself, for most people, was broken and frustrating because of all of the problems. Looking purely at what Obsidian have done here I loved it. The world was smaller but better crafted. The writing, voice acting and overall story arch were much more enjoyable (but no Liam Neeson this time :/ ). A lot of people will disagree based on how busted it is, but I have to look past that. I experienced very few technical difficulties, am I supposed to reflect somebody else's busted experience?
Best Xbox360 Game
This is a tough category. So many of the best games for Xbox360 are multi-platform games. I bought Crackdown 2 and while that fulfils my lust for orb huntin' I can't recommend it as a game that's really worth it. I didn't get to play Alan Wake, so that doesn't count. I don't like Halo, so Reach doesn't make the list. That's not to say the Xbox360 didn't have it's good games but in terms of exclusives that appeal to me... not much stands out.
...and the winner is... Technically this is a multi-platform title... or will be. The PC version will not be coming out this year, which for the purposes of a 2010 list means that it is an exclusive. I can see so many of your disagreeing with me. The entire bombcast crew definitely would. I think it is much better than Fable 3, does a lot of things that I enjoyed incredibly. It's not going to make a 'best games ever' list, it has a hell of a lot of problems, but I love what it does. I am eagerly awaiting the PC version but I had to give in and play the 360 version after borrowing a copy from a friend. I'm not going to bother justifying this choice, most of you have already made up your mind about this game.
Best PS3 Game
This is the year I bought a PS3, and I have played very little games. I haven't checked out the back catalogue yet. The only games I played this year were this years games so I suppose that makes this easy. I have the God of War trilogy, and I borrowed Heavy Rain (and I also bought Fat Princess and Trash Panic). It was really great revisiting the first God of War game in HD and actually getting to play the second one. Heavy Rain absolutely blew me away. The game's structure, story, graphics and animation really impressed me and the impact of the story left me feeling like this is one of the best 'experiences' I've ever had in a game. As a game though, I'm not so sure.
...and the winner is... Yeah, this game is pretty stupid. I really enjoyed the story but the ideas behind the story and a lot of the dialogue gets ripped on because it's just such an overdose of masculine chest beating. The level design is so restricted. Completely linear, jumping from one set piece to the next. That said, I enjoy the combat so much, I think it's one of the best looking games ever made and the atmosphere in the world really drew me in. Plus ripping guys in half is so satisfying.
Best DS Game
If I could... I would put the Ace Attorney franchise as a winner for this every year. At the start of this year I discovered the first Phoenix Wright game and I keep playing through them all sequentially. I haven't stopped since I started, and I've gone through them all at least 3 times now. I can't stop, I'm addicted. I can't do that though, since the only 2010 ace attorney game is Ace Attorney investigations... which I do not really like. I want to so bad but I can't. Pokemon Gold/Silver were great additions to the series but I can't find time to play it between my phoenix wright playthroughs. The addition of the pokewalker was a lot of fun, it got me to walk around a bit more for a bit.
...and the winner is... This was my first Picross experience. I genuinely got an incredible buzz figuring out the puzzles. The sound and visual provide satisfying feedback for the chipping away of the blocks which is really all you're doing in this game. The visual design for the menus and the things you are making feel really old, like kind of 80s/early 90s.
Best Indie Game
Super Meat Boy. I love everything Team Meat have done, I love the punishment this game doles out. Not going to say anything about this game. Next.
Best Multi-Platform Game
Always going to be the toughest award. It used to be that exclusives were the best games, but these days companies realise that if they've got something good they need to exploit it on as many platforms as possible. Unfortunately Assassins Creed: Brotherhood won't make the list because I'm waiting for the PC version which comes out next yet but I know I am going to love it. I really enjoyed Dead Rising 2 despite how flawed it is. I even started a guide on the forums which got stickied and took a screenshot of every combo card to upload to Giant Bomb. Despite the 50+ hours I devoted to that game, I realise there were better made games, and games I may have enjoyed more.
The other issue plaguing this award is the 2 only real choices I have. Do I give one of them this award AND GOTY? They both need to be honoured in some way.
...and the winner is... Mass Effect 1 was so enjoyable, and had a lot of interesting features. They took a big risk with Mass Effect 2 by stripping away and overhauling so much about it but the core that they kept was the conversations. It's the best in the industry and while being fairly simple the things you do have consequences, the way you talk to people changes up the missions in a significant way. They really improved this game in ways that made the franchise go from an ambitious cool game that was fairly well received to one of the best games released. The PC version looks absolutely beautiful.
Game of the Year 2010
Now that Mass Effect 2 is out of the way, there can only be one winner. I have a hard time with the logic here, because if it didn't win best multi-platform how can it win game of the year? Well, this is a way of giving props to both of these games. They are on equal footing and they are very different games. Rockstar took their open world 3rd person shooting action framework, applied it to the setting of a Western and just ran with it. The voice talent, writing, graphics, settings, atmosphere, gameplay and everything else is really, really good. The controls are not as precise as I would like, but it didn't let me down when I wanted. This game is packed with content and high quality production values (have you seen that sunset?).
The actual ending for the game kinda of sucks, but the end phase of that game I found to be incredibly unique. Having the game continue after your character has completed their goal, essentially the entire point of the game, it becomes something else. Then tragedy strikes in a way that it doesn't normally do in games. You can argue that all this sucks blah blah blah but I enjoy it so much that I shut out all of that and just enjoy it.
Now for the minor awards...
Best In-Game Hamster
Got to give it to Mass Effect 2 this year. The writing and voice over kind of sucks ("Squeek"!? Come on) but it's so cute. Also, what kind of games lets you buy a freakin' hamster that has absolutely no purpose? Genius.
Best Person Trying to Steal Nolan North's Job
Yuri Lowenthal. He was in quite a lot of games this year, and some significant roles/releases too. Just look at his IMDB profile. He was great in Persona 4 but like North you can recognise his voice in other roles. Congratulations to Yuri, I hope he has many more roles in future games. He has a lot of talent.
Best In-Game Broom
While I am waiting for the PC version of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, my friend brought his copy round and told me to kill someone with a broom. Why... just... why is that in the game? Great addition. I have to give it to Dead Rising 2 though, since it's actually incredibly useful as a weapon. Not for sweeping them but snap that head off and you can use it as a spear. Plus it makes the Knife Pole.
Best Zombie Game
Dead Rising 2, no question. Zombies are popular, and I am not tired of them but so often are they treated seriously which doesn't do much for me. Dead Rising 2 makes fun of that. I can't comment on Undead Nightmare as that will be arriving tomorrow and I won't finish it before the end of the year.
Best Strategy Game
OK, for serious now. Civilization V is going to take it. I enjoy Starcraft 2 a hell of a lot. It looks better, does good things for the RTS genre. The between mission stuff is really enjoyable. That said, in Civ I really appreciate how it is all grounded in history and the slow methodical pace. I can play a game for 12 hours. Going from nothing to conquering the world is very satisfying. The diplomacy isn't great, the AI don't act how they should a lot of the time but it's a really good game.
Best Wii Game
Disney's Guilty Party is so much fun. I don't own a Wii, which is why this is a minor award but I've had the opportunity to play through Wii games via friends and this is one of the only 3rd party Wii games that can compete with what Nintendo puts out. I wrote pretty much the entire Wiki article on this game so go take a look. I think it's a really well crafted game. The mini games are typical Wii fare but the characters and cases are so vibrant you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Best Downloadable Game
Scott Pilgrim vs the World is an incredible achievement. Ubisoft did great things with the source material and put it in to pretty much the only genre that wouldn't completely suck for a licensed game and isn't overplayed. The best thing about this game though is that it features the best combined talent in a game... ever? They got Paul Robertson for the graphics and Ananamaguchi for the music. I can't think of a better combination. I can't think of 2 better people to bring to this game and without those 2 this game would just be a standard sidescrolling beat 'em up. It has such style that I can't help but love this game.
Best 2010 Game Not Released in 2010
I bought Psychonauts right at the beginning of the year for £1 on Steam. How could I pass it up? I was completely blown away. I had heard so much about it and while I don't listen to hype I can see why it is held in high regard. I really felt like I was playing a Saturday morning cartoon, between the writing, the atmosphere and character designs. It's so enjoyable, and I just can't be too cynical of this games flaws. Loved every minute of it.
Well, if you read this you are a crazy person. I could have made this longer but I tried to keep it short. Nobody reads these things anyway but now I've thought about this years games and go it off my chest I feel better and it was good to think about all the great games this year.
So, I foolishly decided to start yet another Phoenix Wright character illustration (I guess I should call them ace attorney illustrations but screw it). This time it's Trucy Wright. I really love her magician look, and I think I did a good job on this one. I didn't fuck it up this time. However, I'm starting to find my style a bit flat (I know that's what I was going for but I'm bored with it a bit) so to mix tings up I applied some effects.
Already I've been designing these things like old posters so I decided to go all the way and make it look actually old. I'm not sure if it's any good though. Can the Giant Bomb community please help me decide? I'd like to hear your thoughts on which is better. Plain or with sickening effects.
Here they are:
If you could post some thoughts in the comments that would be great. Also if you have any comments about my illustration in general. I think I did so much better on this one than with Ema Skye. I did an OK face this time! I'll use your feedback to make some changes and then post the final one. Thanks.
Edit: some 'in development' screenshots that I don't normally show. 12 Comments
So, it's December. I figure on the lead up to the new year I would honour my favourite games of the year. Sure, I might do a Game of the Year award but there are so many good games it's a disservice to just list the very best. For each week in December I'll write a blog listing some of the best games this year, starting with the top 5 Indie games.
These are 5 games I think you should play, not in any order. You decide for yourself which of these you like most. I'll decide in my game of the year picks.
1. Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
Nelson Thethers: Puzzle Agent is a game developed by Telltale Games in conjunction with Graham Annable, who's books and art style the game is based on. You are Nelson Tethers, the FBI's top Puzzle Agent. Yes, there is a division in the FBI devoted to solving puzzles. This sets a light comedic tone to the point and click adventure/puzzle game where you are tasked with getting an eraser factory back up and running after an unknown accident. Apparently erasers are the lynch pin of democracy. The light-hearted and comedic tone that fills the game is juxtaposed by a supernatural/horror based story framing the whole game.
Why should you play this?
The story, characters, voice acting and general writing of the dialogue is very compelling as it swings from comedic to tense as you are trying to figure out just what is going on. The puzzles themselves vary in difficulty and feels largely based on the Professor Layton games where you have hints and the puzzle is abstracted from the world. I really enjoyed Nelson as a character, and while it's a shame that this game is very short (couldn't haven taken me more than a couple of hours) I enjoyed the time I spent listening to him report on his tape recorder and questioning the townsfolk. The Puzzle stuff is an experience you can get from Professor Layton and other games, but the real appeal lies in the framing of Puzzle Agent.
2. Super Meat Boy
SUUUPEEEEEEERRRRRRR MEAT BOOOOOOY!!!! God I love hearing that every time I start it up. In this masocore platformer developed by Team Meat you play as Meat Boy, the boyfriend of Bandage Girl who has to platform his way across the world to rescue her from the evil, and pretty creepy Dr. Foetus. Starting out as a flash game I first downloaded last year sometime, Team Meat have developed this in to something that feels like a full fledged arcade or Indie title unlike other games that try to move from flash to retail.
Why should you play this?
This game has a great sense of style, from the menus, to the music and overall game graphical style. The sparse animated cutscenes are filled with videogame references/parodys and humour. There are over 200 levels, and team Meat promising free updates through 'Teh Internets' (an unlockable world). While levels might only last 10 seconds the game is so hard that you won't finish a level on the first time. I am stuck right now but I still don't regret my purchase because the wind up to the final stage where I am at has been a blast.
3. Comic Jumper
Comic Jumper is Twisted Pixel's newest game, (mainly) a sidescrolling shooter featuring failing comic star 'Captain Smiley' and the sidekick stuck to his chest 'Star'. The game starts with captain smiley in a usual issue of his comic, when after a big battle with his nemesis 'Brad', his comic is cancelled. Twisted Pixel to the rescue! In a self referential and knowing twist the game developer put themselves in the game, buying the captain smiley brand and putting him to work in several other comics to make money. Honestly the gameplay is pretty poor. I found Captain Smiley to be too slow, further encumbered by monotonous and repetitive level design.
Why should you play this?
Despite my negative points about this 'game's gameplay', almost everything else about this game is fantastic. It excels as a piece of entertainment, not as a game playing experience. The characters and dialogue are hilarious, along with all the of the live action video they shot (and a particularly funny motion graphics sequence at the end of the game). The settings are also fantastic. You'll jump in to 5 different comics across the game (including Captain Smiley's own comic) all featuring different storylines and art styles. if you dig the humour then it's a must. Don't come here for gameplay.
4. Monday Night Combat
This is the only title with multiplayer on the list, and is an only multiplayer-only title. Released on Xbox Live Arcade in the summer of arcade selection by Uber Entertainment, Monday Night Combat is a class based third person shooter featuring both an online objective based mode and a tower defence/shooter mode that be played by up to 4 players. It has been said many times that this game draws from Team Fortress 2 as it's main source of inspiration, and I can certainly see that in it's art design and class based gameplay but I feel like it draws from a lot of modern game design concepts in general. There are perks from shooters like call of duty (called sponsors) and other now normal features such as map voting.
Why should you play this?
It's very easy to recommend this to anyone who appreciates some team based shooting. The concepts in this game are pretty safe; shoot the other guys, storm their base, but the execution here is very good with a decent variety in presentation between the classes, the art style, the feeling of the shooting. It's light hearted action and while not 'funny' it doesn't take itself seriously. Very easy to get in to, very limited progression so you don't feel like you're being gimped with unlocks and for a low price it will last you for a lot longer than the price tag suggests.
5. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
Recettear is a very strange game. A PC RPG/Action game developed in Japan and recently localised, it is unabashedly grounded in Japanese fantasy and Anime (as if the game's art style didn't clue you in). I picked this game up in the Thanksgiving Steam sale after hearing about it from a friend (who hadn't played it mind) and decided to give it a try. The concept is a unique one, you are a girl running an item shop in a town. Sounds simple, but the various aspects of the gameplay begin to pile up and it soon becomes a game of time management and economics. Yet, somehow, it's fun. You'll be buying, selling stock, expanding your shop, installing vending machines and haggling with customers in no time. The other part to this game is top down RPG style dungeon crawling where you play an adventurer searching for loot to sell in the shop.
Why should you play this?
This game pleasantly surprised me. It's so unique in it's premise and while the execution of the gameplay system feels very much 'Indie' it has decent ambition. The art style consists of old school 2D sprites on a 3D world and looks very appealing. All the characters are based on a good Anime art style and the original Japanese voice acting has been left in so no awkward American voices to ruin this wholly Japanese experience. They did a great job on the localisation, as the translations are often quite funny and surreal. It spices up what would otherwise be bland dialogue. Getting used to the seemingly dense and complex gameplay systems is incredibly addictive, as you soon see the fruits of your labour when you go from raking in hundreds a day to ten thousand. Try the demo on steam and you might be presently surprised too.
Here are some games that didn't make the list because I didn't play enough of them or only played a demo version of but feel (to me at least) like significant releases.
So there you go. My top 5 Indie games of this year. Most of my favourite Indie games that I played this year were in fact made in 2008 - 2009 (like machinarium, go play that game, seriously) so it's a shame I couldn't give them a shout out in this list but there are still some very good games this year and I think my list is as diverse as it can get. There's something for everyone here.
if you have played any of these games let me know in the comments what experiences you had. Not sure what I'll do next week, but if people read this one stay tuned for more.