16
Sep
2010

Jolly Rover

Posted by Cha

Brawsome's Jolly Rover, winner of the best Australian Game at this year's Freeplay independent game festival, is currently on sale for $4.99, in honour of upcoming Talk Like a Pirate Day.

At full price I'd been tossing up whether to part with my money. On sale it's an easy choice for fans of point-and-click adventure. It's a very polished independent game, with a great sense of humour. It includes a heap of truly awful puns, but I also found myself laughing a few times, and I'm not an easy target for humour.

Jolly Rover is essentially Monkey Island featuring anthropomorphic dogs. That's no bad thing, though I would have loved to see them tackle a different setting. It's also quite easy, which disappointed me but may appeal to some.

[Note: The rest of this post contains character discussion on Jolly Rover and Monkey Island. Potential minor spoilers.]

11
Sep
2010

Infinite Adaptive

Posted by Cha

I'm not a particularly skilled player, so I do like having difficulty options of some form. I have also improved considerably and am working on continuing to get better. The only way I can do that is if game difficulty stays just a little above my current level. Enough to challenge, but not to give up in frustration.

One of my pet annoyances in games is when I die a few times and start getting messages reminding me I can turn down the difficulty level. The game seems to be mocking me. You aren't good enough to be here, why not just switch to easy mode, you loser? The occasional tip I could probably handle, but once I know the option's there I see no need to hammer the point. Unless someone out there in game-developer-land really enjoys teasing people like me, which is valid I suppose.

30
Aug
2010

In Defence of Gamers

Posted by Cha

The hip thing to do at the moment is apparently to reject the use of the word 'gamer' and tell people not to identify themselves that way. Maybe I'm just not fashionable, but I have some reasons for standing up for the label (though not without limits).

The first issue is a lack of alternatives.

When I named this blog I accepted that including gamer in the title has its problems, but it is still meaningful. Game can mean all kinds of things, but gamer is probably going to be about video games -- or possibly pencil and paper roleplaying, which is also accurate in my case.

Now, I could have tried to come up with a clever name without needing to include games as a term at all. I could have incorporated something people might recognise from gaming culture, perhaps. "Giant enemy crab set us up the bomb" isn't very personal really. More seriously, I doubt I could have come up with something to fit.

23
Aug
2010

Freeplay 2010: The Design of Everything

Posted by Cha

It's been over a week since the Freeplay Independent Games Festival, which might be enough time to start properly gathering my thoughts.

I want to start with a massive disclaimer. I am not about to do the festival or the many excellent presenters justice. The positive energy and ideas are better covered elsewhere.

For example, in Brendan Keogh's write-ups on Gamasutra:

Brandon Boyer Tells Indies To 'Be Yourself, Be Wonderful'.
Why Adam Saltsman Makes Video Games.
The Difficulty of Understanding A World That Can't Exist.

16
Aug
2010

Play Is Everywhere

Posted by Cha

I spent the weekend at Freeplay Independent Games Festival here in Melbourne. I wasn't at my most interactive that's for sure, but did sit quietly and listen to a lot of great speakers. I'm still turning it all over in my head.

Others will probably write about more specific ideas from the various sessions. As usual, I'm going to write about a more individual experience.

I wasn't too sure what I might get out of Freeplay, given that I enjoy playing and writing about games, but have never been interested in making them myself. I expected some new ideas to think about, possibly also a bit more insight into the development process.

I didn't quite expect the level of passion and inspiration. I also didn't expect to start making connections in my mind to my day job, and where there might one day be great synergies. I keep different aspects of my life fairly fragmented, so crossovers come as a surprise.

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