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Kev’s Slog #11

One indie game that is probably unnoticed is Richard & Alice.  It’s finally coming to Steam after almost a year.  This game has really simple graphics, but most people that have played it have stated that it’s actually a very touching and sad story about two people trying to survive the end of the world.  You can try the demo on the developer’s website if you’d like.  I am somewhat curious where the story will go, and I’ll buy it eventually.

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Steam is now Greenlighting games so fast that I wonder if they are now approving games faster than people can submit them.  Then again, most of the current indie games (the really bad ones imported from the saturated mobile market) are bypassing Greenlight completely by using a backdoor method.

The most recent list includes several games that have been waiting for almost two years, such as The Oil Blue.  Believe it or not, David Galindo–the developer that made The Oil Blue–later created Cook, Serve, Delicious!, a major indie hit.  Even more ironic, the developer had formally announced that he was going to remove The Oil Blue from Greenlight at the end of April because he figured it would never be approved and the game used outdated technology anyway.  Now that it’s been approved, it’s hard to say if this is a cynical or delightful turn of events.  David needs to port it to a new game engine and do a large number of improvements, effectively meaning that he must reprogram the game all over again.  But he’s going to do it!

I think the takeaway here is that indie developers need to keep faith and keep trying.  It’s got to be brutal to be an indie game maker, and I feel bad for the ones that are struggling.  However, I think that developers would benefit from showing their game to other indie developers for feedback and constructive criticism.  The Oil Blue may not be a bad game, but it’s very hard to tell what’s going on unless somebody is narrating the action.  One cardinal rule about video games is:  “Gamers won’t buy (or vote for) games if they can’t understand them.”

Two ancient MMOs have been resurrected on Greenlight: Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot.  They were almost immediately Greenlit, so I don’t know why they weren’t just approved flat-out in the first place.  More importantly, I’m still confused who really wants to play these games anymore other than nostalgia.  Both games are also going to have monthly subscription fees, and I suspect this is going to change several months down the road.

Finally, I saved the best for last.  The Old City is on Kickstarter and it may not get funded, but it got Greenlit and that makes me happy.  The Old City is a so-called “walking simulator” game.  I’m going to say this very clearly and without any sarcasm:  I can’t get enough of those games.  I want more Dear Esthers and Gone Homes.  I like them so much that I think that the tag “walking simulator” needs to change.  They need a sexy new name, like “explore porn.”  No, wait…  I’m going to call them “anti-platformers” because none of them have a jump button.

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I’m not exactly sure why, but there’s already some fear and negativity about Wolfenstein: The New Order despite that it hasn’t shipped yet and all reviewers are likely under an embargo.  With all that I’ve seen, my guess is that this game is not going to be all that bad.

Bethesda has been very careful with this game.  First of all, playable demos have been made available for some time to game critics and many have given favorable first looks, other than Total Biscuit.  Keep in mind that absolutely no game is ever so great that nobody will complain about it, and Half-Life 2 is a perfect example of that.  Also, they are now livestreaming play videos of the game, and by the time the game launches, the game will have a total of 90 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay available.

There’s also a list of features that I find positive about the new Wolfenstein:  I never saw any QTE prompts in any of the trailers or streamed video.  I.e., there’s no “Press X To Not Die.”  Second, your health doesn’t regenerate except to make your health an easy to read number.  You need to find health kits and armor for the rest.  Third, the game lets you decide if you want to go a stealth assassination or guns blazing play, and you can mix it up.  And finally, I like how you can pick up a mounted machine gun and carry it around, but in Wolfenstein you can put it back on the mount again later.  I think it may even reload all the ammo and turn it back into an infinite ammunition weapon again.

One last thing.  Some folks on the Internet are furious that the game isn’t going to have multiplayer.  I need to point out that many games have put out a terrible or flat-out idiotic multiplayer mode, because the game wasn’t really designed for it but the publisher insisted on it.  The best example of this is Spec Ops: The Line.  The game had a brilliant single player campaign, but the publisher wanted a PvP mode anyway.  It’s so odd because the campaign made war look really terrible and Captain Walker ended up a broken man.  But PvP is all about making war and killing very fun and exciting, and it completely contradicted the game’s message.

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