So I heard you liked Charged Monkwands...

Seriously, it's like they realized I was a magic-user, and they stuffed their pockets full of the damn things. I don't even use them!

I have some issues with Torchlight.

For one, it's repetitive as fuck-- at least, as the Alchemist. Blast with your favorite spell, run away, use a Potion to refill your Mana (let your pet finish off the current hoarde of monsters if you need to), summon some friendly mooks for backup if you're really hurting, repeat. I've been using the same armor (mostly of the Heavy variety, which gives me the added bonus of looking like a purple gem-encrusted ninja), and a nice Unique Staff I picked up from gambling for the last several levels. Gives me a bonus when I summon Golems. S'nice.

Also, the A.I. is really bad. My cat lynx Bubastis (to go with my Alchemist, Ozymandias, of course) can't seem to comprehend what walls or stairs are, and often bangs her head into the geometry like she has no idea where I've moved to, even though I often haven't moved very far (or at all). Weapons, ammo, and potions all drop way too much. The difficulty is either astoundingly easy, or impossibly hard. Walls often get in the way of attacking or grabbing loot (thank goodness for item tags and health bars that appear through them). The voice acting (when it's there) is kinda meh. Also, the secondary characters don't have much depth, and appear so infrequently that I can't get invested in them. (I get the feeling story isn't meant to be a main focus in this game, anyways.) So in summary: A bit on the repetitive/boring side, bad A.I., nearly non-existant story.

However, I still think the game has a lot going for it.

Just look at this little guy! He's like if Sableye and a bulldog had a baby. He's totally cute, in a weird kinda way.
  • The Steampunk art style. Even with the dated graphics, the aesthetic is still pretty neat.
  • It's oddly relaxing. Whenever I need a game to unwind with, I just set monsters on fire for a few hours.
  • The soundtrack is just wonderful. If you're a Diablo fan, you probably know this already.
  • I can dual-wield wands! Apparently this is a reference to something.
  • Crafting socket-able gems to get to the highest tier is addicting, as is the obligatory fishing minigame.
  • The game is very mod-friendly, to the point where there's achievements for installing certain amounts of mods! That in of itself is pretty cool, but I predict a growing trend of this behavior over the next few years when it comes to certain types of PC games. The only one I have installed so far is the mod to re-add the ferret pet that's missing in the vanilla Steam version, but appears in other versions of the game.

Overall, I'd suggest checking it out. I'll probably look into the sequel at some point and see if they've fixed any of the nitpicks I had with the original. We'll see.

It probably won't be for awhile now, I still intend to play every game (at least the full ones, dunno about the prototypes) in the Humble Double Fine Bundle, leading up to the release of Broken Age. Wasteland 2's pretty close on the horizon as well. Looking forward to finally playing both.

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Go Team Venture!

I like Poker Night 2. I know some others don't, and I can understand why, but the character interactions are very in-character and funny, and I get to play poker against the great Brock Samson. Sometimes, that's all you need.

I've been watching Venture Bros. for a couple of years now. I started after Season 2 had ended, and Season 3 hadn't aired yet, so I proceeded to marathon it, and immediately fell in love. Even though the show's been on since 2003, there's often been gaps of over a year between seasons, so they're only in-production on Season 5 right now. The animation has gotten quite smooth over time, the character interactions feel very natural, and the dialogue is some of the most real, relatable stuff I've ever listened to. I can relate more to a show about spies, mad scientists, and super-villains than I can a many shows about "normal" people. And that's the thing. No matter how much power these characters have, they still have normal, everyday annoyances and problems. And I like that. I think it's the most accessible show for people who have never watched [adult swim] to get into, to be honest.

Also, the game implies that Dr. Byron Orpheus teamed up with Ashley "Ash" Williams at some point so they could fight hell-demons together, which is fucking awesome.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than "The Venture Bros. is awesome, Telltale did a pretty good job with the writing of this one, and if you're a fan of one, you should check the other one out."

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow: My Thoughts On Mortis Ghost's "OFF"

OFF is a French Indie RPG made in RPGMaker 2003. The game starts out in a peaceful world that is being plagued by ghosts, and it's your job to assist a man named The Batter in getting rid of them. Your mentor along the way is a little white cat called The Judge, and despite the sharp teeth, he's quite articulate and friendly. There's also a man named Zacharie, who is your average, friendly, everyday teleporting RPG shopkeep.

Meet Zacharie. The Batter breaks ghosts, Zacharie breaks the Fourth Wall. A lot. In fact, a decent chunk of the cast seems to be aware of it-- and of you, The Player.

You start off by beating ghosts into "Purification" with your baseball bat. Learning new abilities. Adding new, mysterious, ring-shaped party members into your party. Defeating bosses who seem pretty evil: an asshole who bullies his subordinates, an insane cat who punishes his people for not taking advantage of the wonderful city he has built for them, and a businessman who keeps his workers hopped up on sugar. Everything seems pretty fine so far. You're doing it all for the Elsen, the people of this land. Eventually they'll be free. You're the hero here, you're doing it all for them.

However, it doesn't stay that way. The cat isn't really evil-- he's actually The Judge's brother, and the only way to kill the bird possessing him is to kill them both. The Judge is heartbroken by his brother's death, and even stops helping you as a result, not showing up again until the very end of the game. Go back through the Zones, and you'll notice that you've just wiped the world entirely of color, music, and people. Going back to defeat the Secret Boss, Sugar, causes your only friend, Zacharie, to lose his love to your hand, even losing his signature chuckle in the process. Was the money and EXP gain you earned really worth it? The bombshell really drops once you get to the final level, The Room. Your allies in battle? The Guardians of the Zones you killed, who you thought you were Purifying. And they're actually pretty nice guys! The evil Queen you've been gearing up the entire game to defeat? Your loving wife. The sickly little boy who shows up between levels? Your son. You don't even get a chance to opt out of killing him, and he doesn't even fight back when you do. The final level really hammers it in that your son thinks of you as a comic book villain, and you start to wonder if you really are.

The Judge calls you out on your bastardly behavior at the end of the game, and gives you a choice. Side with The Batter, and be forced to kill The Judge, your conscience. Successfully complete the mission and turn the light Off for the world forever. Side with The Judge, admitting your outrage at being strung along by The Batter, and The Batter transforms into the monster he really was all along. The worlds will never be back to what they once were, but at least The Judge knows that by defeating The Batter and not allowing him to complete his mission, The Judge can at least have his peace. Cue the credits, The Judge walking through the monochromatic Zones alone, set to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".

There's also an after-credits bonus sequence, unobtainable unless you beat the Final Boss and obtained the bonus Aries Card instead of the final weapon. It informs you that by purifying the worlds, you have just allowed a race of talking space apes to take over and build factories that they will now use to defend against their enemies, a race of alien brains. The End. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who thanks Suda 51 in the credits? (I expect they'd get along well. They appear to both be fond of cats, among many other things.)

Overall, it's a fantastic game with a fantastic soundtrack (courtesy of Alias Conrad Coldwood). I've included the basic battle theme here as just a taste. Quite a catchy little electro-swing track.

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On Amnesia

The reason I've always been a defender of the "games are art" argument is because I don't see a lot of things (at least story, audio, and visual-wise) that video games don't have in common with other media, like television, movies, and comic books. A lot of the same tropes in those three aforementioned categories, good or bad, come up again and again in all three.

One particular plot device that I've always universally hated is amnesia. Now, I understand why it's used, especially in video games: the player character doesn't know themselves any more than we do, so we learn about their past as they learn about themselves, it's no fun/too easy if you start off a sequel with all the maxed-out powers from the first game, and it's really confusing for people who didn't play the original. It's just that "you don't remember anything" or "you have to save the world alone" is rarely ever justified in a game in a way that doesn't feel super shoehorned in, even if game mechanics-wise, I totally understand it. Has it ever been used well? I don't like having a "never say never" attitude about anything.


Idea For Site Feature: Bombcast Tag Words

I was thinking of a feature, perhaps a link on the side of a wiki article, that would display every Bombcast that mentioned whatever that article was about, so people who hadn't listened to every episode could go through to listen to every time the staff had talked about that game or that studio. How about it?


Holiday Haul


Things Artists Need To Study Before They Work On Video Games

I'm compiling a list of things I and my fellow artists might want to learn more about if we end up drawing concept art for a video game. For example, the closest I've been to a gun in real life is a paintball range. Here's some advice I got:

  • Bring in an expert. (I know some retired military members have offered their expertise on games and movies before-- although I can't remember specific titles)
  • Basic firearm anatomy and safe operation
  • Trigger discipline
  • Ammo vs. clips
  • The difference between full auto, semi auto, and single shot
  • Proper grip position
  • What does and doesn't count as a "bullpup"

In the person's opinion, the artist shouldn't go overboard with it. They didn't like how complex the guns were in ARMA, and it's not fun when video game guns jam, get rusty, break, etc. What else should I read up on? Cars and ships? Animal behavior? Please lemme know.