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The days in Minecraft seem so short, the nights so very long. Who hasn't been out exploring, lost their bearings, and realized, as the sky grows dark, that they'll have to dig a hasty hole and spend the night in it? RikMuld's Camping Mod is here to make those long nights bearable, by adding recipes to craft tents, sleeping bags, camping tools, roaring campfires, and even marshmallows for toasting, to make the groaning zombies, hissing spiders, and exploding creepers a bit easier to bear.
I'm doubly excited to try this mod. First, I love when open world games (like Skyrim or S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) get portable bedrolls or sleeping bags modded in. There's just something nice about not having to return to town to get some shut-eye. Second, I haven't played Minecraft in ages, having given up because while everyone else was building exact replicas of Vatican City or the Death Star, my crowning accomplishment was building a small, ugly house entirely out of pumpkins. I'm eager to see how the game has changed since I last played it.
I've just arrived and I've already made dinner plans.
I start a new world in Survival Mode, and I spawn on a snowy slope with a chicken and a pig staring down at me from a nearby tree. Okay then. I climb to the top of the nearest hill, and looking out to sea, I spot what looks like a tiny island in the distance. I decide that will be my goal: to craft my camping supplies, take a boat over to the island, and camp on it. I take the normal first steps of a new game of Minecraft: I punch a tree into cubes, build a workbench, fashion a wood pickaxe, and start digging. Once I've collected some coal and stone, I head back to the surface just as night begins to fall. I throw together an ugly cobblestone house just before the monsters begin to appear, and spend the evening hunting for iron deep underground.
Brace yourself, pristine island. I am coming to camp on you, and then probably dig you up.
The new item I want to craft first is the camper's tool, which looks like a swiss army knife. After mining what little iron I can find (this chunk of land appears to be sponsored by Lava Pools Backwards-N Gravel Co.), I head back upstairs, killing a spider that was hanging around on my roof. That's good, I'll need some string later to make canvas for my tent. As the sun rises I explore the outdoors, collecting a few roses. Voila, my camping tool is complete.
Flowers + Iron = Swiss Army Knife. Video games.
The upgraded camping tool (which requires more roses and iron) is one of those things that's so useful it almost feels like a cheat. If you're holding it, you can press R and it opens an instant three-by-three crafting pane without the need to carry around and drop a crafting table all the time. It's also used in the creation of new camping gear, allows you to rotate your tent after you've placed it, and lets you pack up your tent and campfire without damaging them.
Onto my next item: a tent. The tent is decorative until you either stick a chest in it, which gives you additional storage slots, or combine it with a sleeping bag, which lets you sleep safely and quickly through the night. To build my tent I need tent pegs, which are made using the camping tool with an iron ingot. Easy enough. To craft canvas, I'll need more string, which means finding more spiders. Since there's no cavern under my house, I stroll around, hoping to find one.
I come across a small settlement of NPC farmers, which is a nice surprise, as they weren't part of the game the last time I played. They are under siege by mobs of monsters, which is also nice, because while the zombies are busy terrorizing the villages, I'm free to run around outside and kill all the spiders I can find. Eventually, I've got enough string to make canvas, and after combining the canvas with my pegs, I've got my new tent. Booyah!
Cooking multiple things at once is handy, though my chicken will taste like stone and my stone will smell like fish.
To create my campfire, I need torches (got 'em), stone blocks (I've got some cobble currently cooking) and flint (now I'm thankful there was so much gravel in the basement). That gives me a basic, decorative campfire, but I want to roast marshmallows, so I upgrade it by combining it with four furnaces. Done! Now I can cook food and even use it as a smelting furnace at the same time. There are several more camprife upgrades available, including a one that cooks food faster and one that cooks slowly but produces more from each recipe. Campfires can also be used to convert sticks into torches if you're low on coal.
There's no tetrasodium pyrophosphate, but it'll have to do.
Speaking of which, I need to craft something to cook. There are two choices for camping food in the mod, marshmallows or radishes, which really means there's only one choice. For marshmallows, I need sugar, and luckily I find several sugarcane plants growing along the waterline. I also need an egg, so I follow some chickens around, staring at their butts until an egg finally appears. I also need a bowl, which is easy enough to make. Finally, I need a blue bottle of some sort, which I don't recall being in the game the last time I played it, but the Minecraft Wiki tells me it's a bottle of water. I heat up some sand in my furnace, remove the resulting glass, fashion a bottle, and dunk it in the ocean. Voila! Marshmallows, ready to be held over a fire and melted into a wad of sticky, charred sugar that I suddenly can't believe we actually eat in real life. What the hell are we thinking?
The mod adds random campers as well. You can even use their tents. Finally, a camper we're happy to play with.
All that remains is my sleeping bag, which requires three blocks of wool and will allow me to sleep outdoors, keeping me safe from monsters as it fast-forwards through the night. I walk for hours without seeing a single sheep, but finally, off in the distance, I spy something that looks like a desert temple. Neat, another addition to the game since I last played it! The temple is sporting some orange blocks I've never seen before, and after I hack one out, I'm pleased to discover it's orange wool. Perfect! My sleeping bag is complete, and all I had to do was deface an ancient temple!
Night is rapidly falling, and while I'd like to get to my little island and start camping, I decide to spend the evening here first. Inside the temple, I notice another design in the floor made of orange wool blocks, with a blue block in the center. Well, I'll be having that. I chip out the blue block, which plummets through the hole before I can grab it. As I try to peer down through the hole, I also fall through, landing with a thud in a tiny chamber. There are four chests in the chamber, along with a pressure plate. Which I've fallen onto. I have just enough time to register that I've fallen into a trap, and that every single piece of camping gear I've been working on all morning is in my pockets, and that something is probably about to explode. Something explodes. I die instantly.
NOOOOOOOOOOO *breath* OOOOOOOOOOO
I've lost everything. EVERYTHING. I run back to the temple after I respawn, but my inventory was either destroyed in the blast or simply vanished. I briefly consider the logical course of action, namely, to start a game in Creative Mode, quickly slap together everything I spent all morning making, find an island that roughly looks like the one I was planning to camp on, and not mention that I was stupid enough to get blown up in an Indiana Jones trap. Instead, I grouchily spend my afternoon repeating everything I did all morning. This time, at least, I stumble into a cavern with a ton of iron, so I can quickly rebuild my camping tool, some armor, and a sword. A couple hours later, I've rebuilt everything: the tent, the sleeping bag, the marshmallows, everything. I even found some gunpowder, which is great, because after this column is written I'm going to craft some TNT and blow that stupid temple into a pile of sand cubes.
As the sun comes up, I ride my boat over to the tiny island, plunk down my tent, stick a sleeping bag in it, plant my campfire and get a stick of marshmallows out. Of course, I step too close to my roaring campfire and it sets me ablaze. Then it proceeds to rain for two solid days, but hey, that's what happens when you go camping.
Only YOU can prevent YOU-FIRES
The mod also adds recipes for several backpacks that provide extra storage, achievements for completing various camping goals, and a few guidebooks to provide recipes and information (though only two of the five books have been completed as of my playing the mod).
Installation: You will need to start by installing the latest version of Forge. Instructions and download link are here. It's not too hard.
Visit RikMuld's site or download RikMuld's Camping Modright here. To find your mods folder, click the Windows Start button, type %appdata% in the search box, and open the folder named Roaming. Open the folder called .minecraft, then mods. Then just drop the Camping Mod .jar file right into the mod folder.
You have the right to watch the above video. You do not have to laugh, but any sniggers or guilty smirks may be taken and used against you. If you do not have a sense of humour, one may be provided. Everything else will assume the TV show "Castle" is an accurate depiction of police procedure.
Needlessly Lengthy "Show" Notes!
So, there we go. I've had a couple of requests for Police Quest recently, and thought it would be fun to try one of these again. Yes, I've done Police Quest 1 before, but it didn't seem to make sense to leave it out just because of that. Also, there are new gags, I promise.
So, more detailed notes, snippets and other bits of info that either didn't make it into the video, or could do with extra detail. I should start with, no, of course I don't hate the series. I actually like Police Quest 1 VGA a lot. I think it's a fantastic remake that adds a lot of character to a game that often lacked it (just compare the writing on Sweet Cheeks and Dooley in the clips). It's very, very silly, in the cop-fever-dream way that I've spoken of before, but in really likeable ways. It's full of frustrations, complaints of low wages, never getting any respect from people... but also daydreams like Sonny saving Marie from her distinctly casual life of bed-hopping, or getting caught up in big undercover sting operations and the like instead of just chasing cars and booking scumbags. Despite all the procedure, it never feels particularly realistic, but it still feels like an 'inside' game in terms of attitude, focus and direction.
It's just a shame the series hadn't launched a year or two later on, when there'd have been more likelihood of a recurring cast instead of clearing almost everyone out each game. Police Quest could so easily have gotten a precinct feel going, where you bounced between different people each case and got to see different sides of the characters. Oh, well. C'est la vie, I suppose.
Yeah, Marie's hooker origins are swept under the table as fast as possible in this series.
As for Police Quest 2, there's a difference between 'bad game' and 'game I don't like much', and I see PQ2 as firmly the latter. It's caught between two worlds, and the fussiness bugged me more as a result. There's a particularly bad scene, which I mentioned in a deleted bit in the video, that exists solely to throw off your gun's alignment and make you do a whole puzzle again. The actual story isn't that interesting either, due to really having no grip on drama. Bains is out for vengeance, and while you can certainly argue that he'll be back for Sonny, hopping a flight to another town really defuses that. And speaking of defusing things, why the hell do the terrorists have a timebomb to hijack a flight?
Police Quest 3 though mostly stinks. The premise of a murderous cult isn't horrible, but tying it to the Bains clan was a mistake (a non-canonical book goes a step further by making Morales Bains' half-sister), and they actually get up to surprisingly little of note beyond burning down their own stuff, killing themselves, and finally surrendering. Morales though shouldn't even remotely have been involved, and needed much, much better writing. To make her work though, the actual Lytton PD needed to be more developed - a place where that kind of personality could fester, as opposed to one where everyone reads reports saying things like "Borderline Sociopath" and just goes "Yep. That's our Pat!" And even that is really giving this mostly empty building with a few apathetic cops in it too much credit.
What joke was this part of? The world may never find out. And shouldn't care.
So, onto a couple of cool things that were deleted for various reasons, usually bad line reads I wasn't able to salvage. First, there was a Japanese version of Police Quest 2, and it's... great. Not that much was changed overall, but it's worth checking out to compare and contrast. Hit HG101 to do just that. Try not to scream at the sight of the new boss. He is... quite something. Yes.
Second, something I'd never noticed before. Gordon Brown is a fictional journalist.
Also the state of your economy. Yes.
Third, I had a bit more on the authorship of the games, though that's more interesting for the number of hands that it went through. Al Lowe did an uncredited redesign/polish that I mentioned in passing (and he goes into more detail in it in this book). Essentially, Walls' first design had something of a problem - it was written from the point of view of someone for whom cop training was deeply embedded, which wasn't going to work that well in the wider market. Lowe's job was to pound it into shape, and while I don't know where Walls ended, Lowe began, or indeed, anyone else on the team had their own input, it's hard not to look at the game that we got and see more than a few fingerprints on there. The nudity thing is something I don't ever remember seeing in a non-porny game before, but could have livened a few up.
As a snippet: "Jim had written up this entire story, the programmer had implemented it, but without any of the things Jim didn't think of, therefore it was impossible to play! You'd get into a situation and say 'what would I do?'. And Jim has this great wealth of knowledge of police work, and he'd say 'It's obvious!' Well, it's obvious to you, because you've been trained as a police officer! So the big project that summer was to go through and come up with any kind of hints, some kind of dialogue and radio commands that would enable you to figure out what the hell you were supposed to be doing!"
In retrospect, maybe the programmer just figured "I'll do what Jim says... and add some nudity for kicks."
(When I recorded, I said that you could have Sonny strip 'anywhere'. That's not quite true - you can't around characters like Helen. But still. The woman who catches him if he comes out of the shower in a towel incidentally is Laura, a Homicide detective, and the station prankster. That makes Sonny's death at that point somewhat odd, since she's probably the least likely person in the entire building to raise trouble, but it probably beats him becoming Towel Cop. And had there been the option, he would indeed have been Towel Cop. Laura is the one who put the chicken in the office, and as of Police Quest 2 has been 'retired' after getting caught. Pity. Like a few of the characters, she had potential, even if the general level of the writing prior to PQ3 was dire, and it didn't improve that much afterwards.)
The dreadful Man Enough has appeared in Crapshoot form before, and you can read it here. Walls didn't design it, it's just from the company he left Sierra to work with. Tsunami Games/Media is no real loss to the industry, honestly. At some point, we may look at Blue Force or Police Quest: Open Season here, but it won't be for a while. Need a break from cops and robbers at this point.
Ah, Tsunami. Gone, but not remembered. Which is like being forgotten, only with more 'meh'.
Music from the games, including the full version of Cell Block Love from Leisure Suit Larry 6, can be found at Quest Studios. Plenty of Let's Plays are available of the whole series, head over there and choose your poison. If you'd rather play the games, Police Quest 1-4 are in a bundle at GOG.COM, as is SWAT 1 and 2. 3 is really janky these days, but 4 remains a very solid - if ultra picky - tactical shooter. Who made it? Little company called Irrational. You've probably never heard of them.
And that'll do for now. Back to text next week. Not sure when there'll be another video, but if people enjoy it, there'll probably be another one along before too long. If you missed the last couple, they were on American Laser Games (Space Pirates, Mad Dog McCree, Who Shot Johnny Rock and Riana Rouge. As ever, apologies for my many, many mistakes. Learning as I go, and there is a lot to learn.
You remember The Swapper, right? For beneath that rather bland name lies a gorgeous handmade science-fiction platformer in which you have the power to make clones of yourself. Rather than using them to do chores or carry him aloft like a war hero, Swapper Guy uses them to solve puzzles, admittedly in one of the most striking, atmospheric indie games of recent years. Head here for a reminder, then stick around for a very Promethean trailer - oh and the news that it's heading to Steam on May 30th.
The Swapper is heading to Steam on May 30th. Just wanted to, you know, clear that up. That's slightly less than two weeks away, giving us more than enough time to watch both Aliens films, and unwatch Prometheus, in preparation. Man, it would suck to live in a parallel universe in which the Aliens franchise continued after the second and final film. Anyhoo, here is what The Swapper looks like (spoiler: it looks pretty damned good):
I don't know where Tangiers has been hiding, but I'm glad it's finally emerged from the shadows of its stark industrial environment to show off its first teaser trailer, because it's a doozy. Inspired by literature (William Burroughs, JG Ballard), art (the DADA movement) and music (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire) as much as Thief, Andalusian Games' abstract, surrealist stealth game has the artistic ambition to match its beautiful fractured world. According to the Facebook page, that world will literally change depending on how you play - "play disruptively and the world fractures, deforms". You will also be able to acquire "discarded conversations, hurling worlds down the street to distract your enemies, to give you a split second to slip past." I've hurled some words, and that trailer, beneath the break.
There's not much to go on at the moment - the game's not expected to be finished until mid-2014 - but Tangiers will feature an open-ended landscape in which you'll be "uncovering and breaking the secrets of lost civilizations." It sounds, frankly, fantastic, but we obviously won't know how it plays until a little further down the line. Until then, here's our first glimpse of Tangiers:
Originally published in PC Gamer UK issue 252.
"I heard it’s like stroking a turtle!” There are probably lots of reasons for not listing a crass line of NPC dialogue as your favourite part of any game, let alone the much-anticipated return of a classic. Still, this is my favourite thing about the new Thief. Partly because it sounds rude, which always goes over well, but also because it captures the spirit of the old games in a way that a thousand hissing water arrows never could – a snatch of conversation caught while cosily enveloped in shadow, the sense of a busy, oblivious world playing out in the light. It’s about voyeurism and detail, power and character, and it’s a big part of why Thief currently looks like an assured reinvention of a fiercely guarded series.
The studio behind this reinvention, Eidos Montreal, have previous experience with this kind of material. They were founded in 2007 for the specific task of bringing back Deus Ex and Thief, two games associated with an influential creative group that moved between the Looking Glass and Ion Storm studios at the turn of the last century, and are spoken about in the kind of hushed tones normally reserved for great artists or really old people. The games were bound by common ideals: first-person perspective, choice, immersion – and the first reinvention, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, succeeded because it made excellent choices about what to keep from the original and what to update and improve. Now the same process is being applied to Thief.
"As far as Eidos Montreal are concerned, this is the same Garrett as before."
When the team talk about this process, a few things happen. As a group they’re aware of the pressures of expectation, but still unusually relaxed and funny – producer Stephane Roy, for instance, opens his introduction by saying his job is “to convince you that I really loved Thief, I’m not just saying it”. The other thing that happens is that everyone says “pillars” a lot, referring to core elements of the first two Thief games in particular (the third game is a more distant creative relation). The arrows are a pillar. The shadow-based stealth is a pillar. Freedom in achieving objectives is a pillar, as is the unnamed city. But the strongest pillar, the one expected to bear the most weight, is the thief himself: Garrett.
Garrett announces himself with a line of monologue that is, under the circumstances, perfectly ambiguous and Garrett-like: “I’ve been away, but I couldn’t tell you where.” The main points being that he’s back, and he still talks to himself in the style of a cynical noir hero – handy, since he rarely talks to anyone else (he’s the kind of guy who “doesn’t have a Facebook page”, says one of the team). As far as Eidos Montreal are concerned, this is the same Garrett as before. “We had carte blanche,” says game director Nicolas Cantin. “We were able to do everything we wanted to do, but at some point we wanted to constrain ourselves within the Thief experience. Our goal was to bring back Garrett, the master thief.”
He looks broadly the same as we last saw in Thief: Deadly Shadows, only with nearly a decade’s worth of visual embellishments and detailing. He’s an odd shape for a hero: wiry, slightly hunched, bound in leather with piercing eyes staring out from a under his hood. There’s an irony somewhere in the character who made not mass-murdering every polygon in sight a first-person possibility, also being the one you’d scream and run from on sight. The added visual sophistication heightens the effect – the scar across Garrett’s right eye, for instance, the one that suggests a plot continuity with the very first Thief, looks raw and jagged rather than a leading man’s cosmetic accessory. It looks like it really hurt.
The new visual fidelity was key in nudging the team towards Garrett’s buckled leather. “With the new power of the platform today, we can really go deep with the shaders,” explains Cantin. “We can almost say ‘what type of leather do we want?’ and it will be exactly that.” If that gives anyone else flashbacks to mixing seven subtle varieties of brown while painting a Warhammer army, Cantin’s team took meticulousness even further. “We made real costumes,” he says, “then lit them to see how would react to the lighting.”
"Garrett uses the new gear and technology to build his new bow, which is now more powerful."
Similar steps were taken with Garrett’s bow – another of the game’s perceived pillars, although this time one open to some changes. Describing the original bow as “kind of weak”, Cantin explains how the specifics of the new game’s setting have influenced the updated weapon. “We now have a more industrial setting, a clash of medieval and new industrial. Garrett uses the new gear and technology to build his new bow, which is more powerful than before.”
It’s also a bit more self-consciously cool: not just a stick with a string on it, but a folding mechanism that snaps out into a deadly metal instrument. Like the leathers, the bow was physically constructed, this time by a traditional blacksmith in Montreal whose functional design work ended up changing the weapon’s final in-game form. (I actually visit the workshop where, as the proud Quebecois artisan turns red hot iron with his bare, blackened hands and speaks earnestly about his mission to save the ancient knowledge of smithing, I decide never to introduce him to my wife.)
Changing the bow is inching into more sensitive territory. Not because the bare aesthetic will be missed, but because the arrows it fires have always been Garrett’s principal way of interacting with his environment. Part of the original game’s non-lethal sidestep was that arrows were in the main not for killing – they were for snuffing out torches with water, covering noisy floors in deadening moss, and making sounds to distract guards. And so it will be again, the only changes to this particular pillar being an idiomatic refresh of the arrow types (it’s now dry ice, rather than water, that extinguishes torches) and, servicing one of the development team’s wider concerns, stress-testing the ammo types for plausibility. “We worked really hard on the credibility of those things,” says Cantin, “especially that layer of magic and mysticism. We still have some of those , like fire for example, but now balanced so we’ll believe in it a little more.”
One of the most interesting elements of the new Thief is an expansion of this pronounced sense of the world’s physical properties: the soft carpets, clopping flagstones, almost blanketlike darkness. Now on the borders of the first-person screen are Garrett’s hands. They rest on surfaces and obstacles, brush against walls – not always visible, but creeping into view when Garrett presses up against objects, giving a sense of the fabric and flavour of what the studio are calling a “tactile world”.
"On the left, a thief protests as he’s clapped into the stocks, on the right a noosed prisoner is kicked from a first-floor ledge."
In the demo Eidos Montreal have prepared, this tactile world looks like one you wouldn’t necessarily want to touch. The introduction to The City, another core returning element, has a sense of BioShock-like parade. Garrett rides a bumpy wooden cart through a portcullis checkpoint, with piles of plague victims stacked nakedly on the filthy roadside, top hats and iron armour marking the clash of medieval and Victorian, bystanders and guards muttering and arguing as he passes by. There’s a sense that The City is happening on cue – on the left, a thief protests as he’s clapped into the stocks, on the right a noosed prisoner is kicked from a first-floor ledge and swings lifelessly into place alongside two or three others.
The City is the same place as before, with a different configuration. The Hammerite and Keeper ideologies that dominated the earlier trilogy are all but swept away (at least on the surface – the occasional Hammerite slogan might appear as a brickwork advertisement, and I did glimpse some Keeper glyphs in the demo).
Instead The City is divided between an autocratic Baron – whose guards Garrett will spend a lot of time piling unconsciously in dark corners – and a growing, seething population on the verge of revolution, with the feudal and industrial charging each other headon. “We skipped the Renaissance,” says Cantin. “We’re not making a historical game, we don’t have to stick to that period – we wanted to have two brutal periods that clashed.” This brings up an interesting point of philosophical distinction between Thief and Assassin’s Creed, a series that many at Eidos Montreal have worked on: Assassin’s Creed is rooted in the Renaissance as a defining moment of civilised man’s evolution; Thief is about stealing things in the dark.
So it’s interesting that the two now share some similarities – with The City bigger and more explorable than before, Thief now includes third-person climbing, scrambling and ledge-inching, with a claw grapple (not entirely unlike Assassin’s Creed: Revelations’ hook) to make the acrobatics smoother and faster.
"Thief now includes third-person climbing, scrambling and ledge-inching."
Including third-person moments has clearly been a laboured decision (the team ask assembled journalists pointblank if the perspective shift breaks the immersion) but is apparently preferable to the first-person limitations on agility that came in, say, Dishonored.
In the demo, a burst of third-person clambering brings Garrett to the rooftops. It’s an impressive view, a Hammer Horror matte painting of atmospheric light and shadow with his clocktower hideout (as The City’s only landmark, it’s also the worst hideout ever) visible in the distance. Cantin describes it as a “cold, blue, Jack the Ripper mood”, by which he means it’s full of moonlight, cobbles and fog. The fog is particularly important, because if it were up to Cantin the game would actually be black – and he’s not even joking. “Technically, we want to have a pitch dark game, and to see nothing on screen. The fog helps us to see things in a dark setting, a night setting. It’s helping us to create gameplay as well as a visual mood.”
Thief is a game built of contrasts: most obviously between light and shadow, quiet and loud, medieval and Victorian, but also – it’s clear once Garrett slips inside his target building in the demo – between frozen exterior blues and warm interior oranges.
Emphasising the ‘layering’ effect of The City – of the past existing underneath the present – The House of Blossom, an opium-cloud bordello run by the exotic and oddly deep-voiced Madame Xiaou Xiaou, is in fact the same building as the old Keeper Library. The books are gone, replaced with red drapes, rich brown furniture and glowing firelight.
The House of Blossom underlines the common ancestry between Thief and Dishonored – the extravagant masks, the decadent opulence, the busy rota of characterful NPCs. But it also underlines the key difference – that while Corvo was a man of magic, Garrett is still a creature of the dark. The shadows are everything, and while his world has been updated and made more credible, when Garrett stands in them he’s completely invisible. He lurks, he distracts and he swipes, gradually exploring the location to build a picture of dangers and dark, safe areas. It’s reassuringly familiar.
"Corvo was a man of magic, Garrett is still a creature of the dark"
While inside Madame Xiaou Xiaou’s office breaking into her strongbox, that too-deep voice warns that Garrett might be interrupted. This is a chance to show off perhaps the biggest addition to Thief: Focus. Focus is a temporary abilities boost that, for a few seconds, makes Garrett better at everything. He can see things others can’t – switches for secret passages, chandeliers that might crush guards – take down several attackers in a few seconds, and swiftly snatch loot. Activating Focus drains a nonrecharging resource with the aim of limiting players to tactical, essential uses, but it’s still a move away from the stern old formula of patience and perfection – a get-out-of-jail-for-a-chunk- of-this-blue-bar card.
Super purists may shudder at this. But they do a lot of shuddering. On balance, I’ve decided Focus is fine (actually, on balance I’ve decided it’s a fine bit of balancing). Thief should be about freedom and choice – as well as bocking people with short, blunt instruments – and the kind of person who complains vigorously about Focus will also have already loaded their last saved game before they have to use it.
The most important objectives in Thief are those you set for yourself – dropping all the guards on a level down the same well, or disavowing stealth and stabbing everyone in the neck – and the most important thing Thief should provide is a world of tools, freedom and surprises. That’s why, as the demo ends and Garrett heads for a violent exit, that overheard line becomes my favourite: “I heard it’s like stroking a turtle!” Because it’s a surprise, and suggests a world of further surprises.
May 18, 2013
Just as death is an inevitable part of life, having your house smashed up is an inevitable part of home ownership – or it is in the therapeutic Destroy Your Home, at least. This week's round-up is also dedicated to an aristocratic jerk who murdered your entire family, a small square haunted by his past, and a Pop Tart. Indie games, everybody.
Mr. Tart by Max Glockling Play it online here.
I can't help but feel your glamorous assistant should be a glass of OJ or a slice of toast or something.
If nothing else, it's a pleasure to finally see the world from the Pop Tart's point of view in Max Glockling's Stencyl Jam 2013-winning platformer Mr. Tart. To the sugary breakfast treat, it turns out the world is full of spikes and toasters – which sounds about right, considering. Thankfully, the rather basic platforming of the early tutorial stages soon gives way to tricky co-op, either with yourself or another player, if you can both fit round the keyboard. Mildly diverting stuff, but it won't fill you up – a bit like a Pop Tart, it has to be said. (Via Indie Statik)
Stockholm by Evan Zenker Play it online here.
You're the little black square on the right. Avoid your red past selves and collect the yellow blocks to succeed.
In the minimalist platformer Stockholm, your greatest enemy is you, you, you and you, albeit at different periods in time. As you run, jump and wall-jump your way through each stage – rather than finding your way to an exit, you're picking up collectibles – you're soon followed by a ghost constructed from your own past movements. Take too long completing the level and another ghost appears – and so on. Make contact with any of these spook clones and you'll meet your blocky maker, meaning you need to plan your route meticulously to avoid double-backing on yourself. Though it doesn't seem to like my computer very much, Stockholm is nevertheless a thoughtful mish-mash of ideas, delivered with a great amount of care. (Via IndieGames)
Je Suis Pierre The Movie: The Game by Four Shadow Games Play it online here.
As in a real fight, the best approach is to slide through your opponent's legs and hit them from behind.
I can't help but feel that more games should devote over half their available viewing area to a sneering aristocrat villain, who narrates (and mocks) everything you do. Without this conceit, Je Suis would be a fairly standard, slightly rough sidescrolling action game, albeit one with a cool sliding move. Thankfully, it does have a sneering aristocrat villain who narrates everything you do – and a fine job he makes of it too. There's also some appropriate piano accompaniment and a rather high difficulty level – one jab from an enemy and you're toast. (Via IndieGames)
Destroy Your Home by fabienporee Play it online here.
Don't try this at home. Try this at someone else's home, obviously.
If your house was made out of Jenga pieces, Destroy Your Home is what would happen the moment you walked through the door. It's less of a game and more the best episode of Cowboy Builders ever – the rogue traders that constructed your dream home having neglected to stick any of the bricks together (really, even blu-tack would have been done). As such it sways and threatens to topple with every minute movement – and that's where the fun begins. Destroy Your Home is as therapeutic as the name suggests, and there's even a hidden minigame once you've turned your dream house into a pile of Lego. (Via Indie Game Hunt)
May 17, 2013
I frittered away many an hour on Final Fantasy 8's card minigame, Triple Triad, as a teenager. Now it seems I'm going to lose even more of my life to it, thanks to today's announcement that a HD do-over of Final Fantasy 8 is coming to PC.
The news, originally reported on Japanese-language gaming site Famitsu, comes to us via Kotaku, who have generously translated the thing. The HD version of the 1999 classic will be hitting Japan first, and we can assume an English-language version will be on the way after that; no word of a release date, or whether this new version will come with any additional content, but Square Enix has released two screenshots of what we're likely to see on PC.
And, uh... Hum. While the re-release is promising high-resolution graphics, it doesn't seem that associated high-res textures will be included. That's not necessarily a bad thing—after all, not everyone was thrilled by Monkey Island's graphical makeover in 2009—but don't expect any miracles to save the characters' overly blocky looks. (Save that for the lovingly detailed fan mods.)
May 17, 2013
Nothing bad could come of chugging a bottle of oddly glowing green liquid labeled "Miracle Tonic of the Ancients," right? I mean, according to this Battlefield Heroes trailer, it's capable of curing everything from rocket-induced toothaches to male pattern baldness! So this stuff can't be half bad. I'm sure it won't turn anybody into a mutant zombie at all.
The latest supply drop in the free-to-play browser shooter brings a lot of oddly Halloween-themed things to this sunny May afternoon, but it's not terrifying or anything; I'm sure this is all in good fun. For instance, the Nationals can toss a panic-inducing vial of black liquid called Schroedinger's Nightmare. And the Royals? They get a freaking beehive. See? Fun!
All of this exciting stuff is due to hit the Battlefield Heroes store "soon." Meanwhile, one shipment of the adorable Monsters and Mutants-themed gear has already landed; a collection of zombie parts is available for 999 Funds, which clocks in at less than $2. I mean, it's fun to play dress-up, especially since exceeding your recommended daily allowance of tonics will never, ever lead to your hideous mutation.
May 17, 2013
Good community content continues to flow from Left 4 Dead 2, a game we can't seem to stop championing for its healthy modding scene. Our latest praise is aimed at GoldenEye 4 Dead, an adaptation of the 1995 James Bond film and Nintendo 64 game that isn't afraid to bring original ideas to a setting most gamers are deeply familiar with.
Watch my playthrough with Tyler above.
Download links to featured mods
Download GoldenEye 4 Dead campaign
Download S&W Model 29 revolver weapon mod
Download Stevens Model 620 shotgun weapon mod
Download Lightsaber weapon mod
Download Desert Recon FN P90 weapon mod
Download Mountain Dew pills
Download Captain Price character mod
Download Hitler Hunter character mod
Download Glowing One Spitter character mod
Download Raptor Ellis character mod
Museums like to use the phrase "frozen in time" to describe dinosaur bones and stuffed dead things, but in the case of Jagged Alliance: Flashback, the term's not a euphemism from "dead." Far from it! The gang behind the still-running Kickstarter have released what they call a "gameplay scene"—imagine you've hit a pause button mid-battle, enabling you to explore the scene without fear of getting pulverized. And if movement's not your thing, there are some handy screenshots available as well.
Danish indie studio Full Control released the downloadable jungle scene to give gamers a sense of the style they're aiming for in their "reset" of the cult, turn-based, cold-war-era franchise, though currently being in pre-production, we should keep in mind that that might change during development.
"We have been influenced by games such as Dishonored that oozed dirty, dark and filthy visuals without succumbing to photorealistic textures," says Jesper Andersen, concept artist. "With Flashback we want to combine a realistic approach with strong colors to stand out from the masses."
What do you think? I'm really digging the color palette and painterly art style, which reminds me a little of Love. Both the game and the emotion.
The Jagged Alliance: Flashback Kickstarter is still plodding along, with five days to go and a little over $233,000 out of the $350,000 goal raised. It looks as though it might be a tight campaign; if you're wondering whether to throw in a couple of bucks, you can check out the PC, Mac, and Linux builds of the diorama.