Jan 21, 2014
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Graham Smith)
Do you want to compete against your friends at Spelunky, the randomly generated platforming roguelike? That’s what the Daily Challenge is for; each day, a single set of levels is generated which is the same for everyone and which can be played only once.
But if once isn’t enough to satisfy your competitive urges, there’s now Seedlunky HD. The user-created tool lets you set a custom seed from which to generate levels, which you can then share with your friends while you continue to compare your adventures. (more…)
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Part of the point of Spelunky is that players never see the same level twice, always learning techniques to defeat what the level generator throws at them rather than simply layouts. But if you do want to replay a particular world over and over, for whatever reason, a canny little hack made by one fan will let you force the generator seed and recreate the same set of levels over and over.
Spelunky is brilliant. Part of the reason it's brilliant is the random generation, ensuring that each of your many retries are a chance to explore something new. Even the Daily Challenges - which randomly generate a new level each day, and share that level between every player - are brilliant. Here, then, is a community application that lets you completely bypass those randomised levels by setting your own custom creation seed. Will it still be brilliant? It's Spelunky, so probably.
The utility - found on the Mossmouth forum - lets you force Spelunky's level generator to use a predefined seed, which you can then share to other players in the spirit of friendly competition. Alternatively, you can go in the opposite direction: telling the utility to generate a 64-bit hash, thereby ensuring a bigger pool of random levels to draw from.
All of which sounds great, but opens up the possibility that players can gain an advantage on the leaderboards. By finding a seed that has beneficial items early on, or just by being able to practice on a non-randomised level set, it gives less-scrupulous high-score chasers a leg up on their honest competition.
Used in good faith, though, it's a fun little tool. And, short of an official, leaderboard skipping alternative, it's the only way you'll be able to create a special campaign challenge between you and your friends.
Jan 1, 2014
Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.
Here it is, our game of the year 2013. It's Spelunky! We loved it for its exquisite, focused design. We loved it because of the laughter, and the loud cursing that it inspired. We loved it for a thousand hilarious deaths, and a thousand scary, silly, exciting lives. We loved it for its hidden depths and challenging secrets. We loved it for the shared experiences inspired by the PC-only daily challenge. For all of these reasons, and many more, this is the game that stole our hearts in 2013, and then hid them deep underground underneath a really annoyingly placed bat.
CHRIS It took a few months of dedicated advocacy from my friends, but I m glad I finally found out what the fuss was all about. Spelunky is an astonishingly well-designed adventure generator. It demonstrates that it isn t technology that matters, at the end of the day, or even mechanical complexity it s ideas and execution.
TOM Spelunky is a wonderful demonstration of the powers of randomisation. It should be a benchmark for designers who want to make their games endless. Its shifting dungeons constantly turn up challenging new formations, and it s packed with secret worlds and advanced challenges for experts. I am certainly not an expert, but I have had an amazing time playing in co-op. With a few friends at your side, it s a noisy and hilarious blame-a-thon, rife with accidental betrayal and moments of desperate heroism. We ve cheered, laughed and screamed ourselves to exhaustion, and we ll be doing it again and again in the years to come. At a glance you d never guess how good Spelunky is, but it s a quiet classic, and the best game on PC this year.
CORY My favourite games have a way of teaching me difficult lessons. Spelunky s lesson, which I m still learning, is slow the hell down.
I try to approach it like a normal platformer, racing against the clock to make jumps over spikes and bounce off spider s heads. And I fail, over and over and over. Because Derek Yu s game isn t a platformer, and it isn t a race though when Death shows up, you better believe I m going to run for my life. Instead, it s a perfectly measured mix of pacing and permadeath that somehow keeps me reloading after every cheap ending. I m still learning how to play it how the intro message about hating snakes means there s a snake pit in the level, and a pickaxe hiding at its bottom. Or how the angle of a bat s descent can be used to catapult my jump to new heights.
Here s an admission: I still haven t beaten the game yet. And I certainly haven t succeeded in any of its Daily Challenges, although watching others recorded playthroughs of these is a better teaching tool than any wiki or walkthrough. But some day I ll make it to the bottom of this constantly-shifting cave from Hell. And then I ll die a random, stupid death, and do it all over again.
PHIL When I left the Xbox 360 version of Spelunky, I d hit a crippling state of being just good enough at it to be annoyed by how bad I was. Even the smallest mistake in the Mines would prompt me to restart. I knew that I could do better, and that I d have to if I wanted to ever complete the game, but the frustration of this pursuit for perfection ultimately drove me away from the game.
The PC version s Daily Challenge changed that completely. With a single shot at each day s seed, each run took on a new significance. Where before a snakebite on 1-1 would lead to a deliberate suicide and restart, now it was a reminder to redouble my caution and an opportunity to improve my technique. It was the PC release that taught me to roll with Spelunky s unpredictability, and it was that lesson that let me eventually complete the game.
EVAN Spelunky is our Mario. It hasn t had the same impact (although it s fun to imagine what gaming would be like if Spelunky had been released in 85), but it s far and away the most important platformer to ever grace the PC. As an FPS player, what I appreciate most is how well tuned the subtleties of movement, distance and danger are in Spelunky the agility and needle-threading that happens when you re pushing yourself to get that extra gem, rob every store, or reach Yama with an eggplant as your only item. That, and I just love the sound it makes when I pick up gems, ugh. It s immediately brain-tickling.
TONY I m always surprised people don t talk more about what a great spectator game Spelunky is. The threats are obvious and urgent, the action varied, accessible and non-stop. At parties, on someone s big TV, I can watch for hours as others run around, shriek, kiss pugs and die. This is just as well, because I m not actually any good at it myself. Never mind: I respect it hugely. I love the magic of procedural games, and I love that someone has somehow channeled that magic into the familiar strictures of the platformer, to create a game that is at once cute, homicidal and infinite.
TYLER I m just bad enough at Spelunky to be emotionally crippled every time I try to play. I m impatient. I bunny hop around like it s Counter-Strike. I take leaps of faith without looking below. I don t value my inventory. And then I die. And cry. But at least I can t yell BS! The randomisation can be cruel, but the fantastic generation algorithm and consistent platforming put me in control of my fate. I abuse that control because I m too eager to see what s next.
I am exactly the wrong person to play Spelunky, but luckily for me I can live vicariously through my friends. Like Tony, I love watching livestreams, and I m in awe of players who can coolly make decisions while disarming traps and whipping spiders. Watching them struggle is like watching a Japanese gameshow contestant stumble through an obstacle course designed for maximum humiliation: harrowing, hilarious, and endlessly entertaining.
Dec 30, 2013
The holidays are a time for family gatherings, massive dinners, mildly disappointing presents, and visitations by ghosts who show you harrowing visions of what might have been. This year, the Ghost of Video Games Past showed me what the games of 2013 would have been like if graphics cards had never been invented! I have no idea why he did that. The Ghost of Video Games Past is a little weird.
Even with its improved graphics, the 2013 version of Spelunky retained both the charm and frustration of the original. Of course, improved graphics don t matter when you remove the graphics altogether. Let s unfurl a rope and descend into Spelunky: The Text Adventure!
Before running away for a few days of competitive eating and cooperative gaming, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to reflect on the most memorable victories, losses, and stories they virtually experienced in 2013. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
Dec 22, 2013
Have you been playing a lot of Spelunky? Maybe even playing it every single day for the Daily Challenge? Do you feel that even though Spelunky is different every single time you play it, it s just not different enough? Do you promise not to hassle me about these not really being mods but just file replacements? Then read on!
Since this column will be covering a bunch of different unrelated "mods" I'm just going to talk about them first, and then below I'll give all the links and various installation instructions, which vary from "Piece of cake!" to "Why is this so f**king complicated? I JUST WANT TO PLAY SPELUNKY AS A PUG!"
Let s start with an aspect of Spelunky most would agree could use some changing: the soundtrack. I m not suggesting the new Spelunky s music is bad. It s fine. But the original music was better than fine, it was damn fine, and deserves to be heard by this new, young generation of Spelunky players who weren't around in the days of yore (2009). I mean, wouldn't you rather listen to something like this while playing? That's why you should install the Classic Music Pack: it replaces all the new music with all of the original music.
While we re getting all nostalgic for the original version of Spelunky, why not take the lovely, fancy new HD graphics and completely restore them to their old-timey pixelated glory? You can do that too, with the Pixel Mod. Not only does this turn back the clock on the visuals, but it does away with the new HUD which, while pleasantly attractive, is also frustratingly opaque and has been known to occasionally make a good hiding place for spiders.
It's like traveling back in time almost FOUR YEARS
Maybe going full-on pixel is a little too much of a commitment? You can plant a spiked boot in both worlds with the Classic Chaos mod. It gives you chunky graphics when it comes to most of the environment, gold, gems, and pots, but leaves your character, enemies, weapons, and certain surfaces in all their HD glory. It s a nice compromise for those who want to act retro but really aren't that retro, sort of like when I pretend I prefer the original Ocean's Eleven or Cape Fear to the remakes.
Something old, something new, something burrowed, something in a crate.
Even if you re not interested in changing the music or visuals, it s hard to resist playing as a different Spelunker once in a while. For instance, why not play as the Damsel for a change?
From dispensing kisses, to dispensing the kiss of death.
You've seen her standing around helplessly, handing out kisses to Spelunkers, the same Spelunkers who are just as likely to sacrifice her to Kali in exchange for some bomb paste, or throw her across a cave to set off a trap or open a crate, or simply leave her behind because they don t want to part with a rope. Now, finally, SHE can be the one treating Damsels horridly.
Hm. Rescue or sacrifice? Maybe things haven't changed for the Damsel at all.
You can also play as another helpless inhabitant of the game, the Pug!
Now PUG has the boomerang.
Once you ve had your fill as playing as the most abused characters in Spelunky, why not play as one of the bad guys? Vlad, the adorable little vampire with the nifty cape and useful amulet, has apparently decided to become a dapper little undead adventurer.
Oh hell yes. Vlad in the HOUSE.
What s more, rather than crouching like the other Spelunkers do, Vlad hides his face in his cape. It s super cute.
And what would running, jumping, shooting, and climbing be without Mega Man? And you know, for all the different worlds Mega Man has fought his way through, dropping him into in Spelunky for a few minutes makes you realize he s actually had it pretty easy. Spelunky is just brutal.
Mega Man, probably wondering where Interior Worm Belly Man is.
Mods can do more than enhance games, they can also fix problems. I d say at least 311,784 of Skyrim s 948,672 mods fix issues and bugs with the game (the rest add naked boobs). Here s a Spelunky bug that s probably been bothering you since day one: there s a small, nearly invisible shadow that briefly appears above the spikes that you can see if you record the footage and zoom in and slow it down to a crawl and watch it repeatedly. Take a look here. Frankly, I never noticed and would never have noticed, but if you did notice, now there s a solution: the Lighting Normal Map Fix. Yay!
Okay, let's get some of these installed. First things first: find your Spelunky data folder (for the Steam version, it s in Steam > steamapps > common > Spelunky > Data). Make a copy of your Music and Texture folders. Put them somewhere safe: you re going to be overwriting some files, and you'll need these if you want to revert the game back to normal.
Classic Music Mod: Simply replace your Music folder with the one contained in the download, and enjoy the retro (and superior) tunes.
Pixel Mod: Take the contents of the download and drop them into your Textures folder, overwriting the originals.
Classic Chaos Mod: Same as with the Pixel mod, drop the two files into your Textures folder, replacing the originals.
The Damsel, Pug, Vlad, and Mega Man characters are .png files. Download 'em!
Next, download the Spelunky Mod Installer, and install it, and run it. You'll see a menu screen, and at the bottom you'll see a link to download Python 3. Download and install Python 3.
Now, take the .png file for the character you want, create a folder called "repack" and drop the png file into it. Then, zip up the repack folder. On the Installer menu screen, browse to your Spelunky folder, then browse to the location of the repack.zip folder you made, then choose Texture Mod from the little drop-down bar. Then click "Install Mod." Start up the game, and you should see your new character in the selection screen (typically replacing one of the default characters.)
There's also a tool for installing mods called Spelunktool that I didn't try because it involved launching things from command prompts and just thinking about that made me tired.
Finally, you can find the Lighting Normal Map Mod here. The final link is the rar with the fixed texture files. I personally did not install this one. And, if you want to poke around for some more mods, this is a good repository.
Dec 20, 2013
PC Gamer editors are prohibited from celebrating Christmas. For the team, the end of the year is marked by an event known as GOTY Sleepover, a time where we somewhat-voluntarily sequester ourselves away from our families and loved ones in the interest of a greater good: selecting the best PC games of the year. We gather in a room with a very heavy door and very little ventilation and stay there until we ve reached a unanimous decision on every award category. It s a lot like the Papal conclave, but with more Cheetos.
So far, this is what we ve got. These are games nominated for awards in general, not just our single Game of the Year. Consider this a short-list of the games our team loved in 2013, one we ll whittle down into proper, named awards in the coming days.
Saints Row IV
Total War: Rome II
The Stanley Parable
XCOM: Enemy Within
Check in each day over the holiday break to see who's victorious. In the meantime, here's our 2012 winners and some lively year-end video conversations about our best PC gaming experiences in 2013.
Dec 19, 2013
Before running away for a few days of holiday revelry and hardcore gaming, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to reflect on the games they put the most time into in 2013. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
If you’re not plugged into the wider world of non-PC gaming, you might have completely missed the release and positive reception for the Nintendo 3DS title SteamWorld Dig. It looks a bit like a steampunk, Wild West Spelunky, with randomly generated levels and blocky, destructible terrain. It's also got a new trailer that shows off the game’s locations and self-aware humor.
SteamWorld Dig certainly comes with the baggage of high expectations. The 3DS version landed a ton of high-scoring reviews, and according to developer Image & Form’s CEO, there’s some debate over whether it could be a contender for Game of the Year. Phrases like “the best 3DS game ever made” are being bandied about.
That’s all hearsay, though. What I see so far is a clever platformer with the potential to push that genre in unexpected ways, and the rest will be decided after the PC port is finished and we can get our hands on it. SteamWorld Dig hits Steam on December 5, so we won’t have to wait long to see how well it survives translation from the handheld universe.