Symbiote

As you know, it’s been slow on this site. Me and my partner in crime are still working on IGMC stuff and eventually something I make will be the one getting roasted. Until I pay for my crimes, let’s check out more past IGMC stuff.

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While you’re all playing Super Mario Odyssey, I was playing Symbiote a nice short platformer. It was made by Jason Perry (also known as finalbossblues) and it was the 3rd place winner of IGMC 2015.

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Nanuleu (IGMC Version)

So, we continue looking at some past games made for past IGMC’s as I help out on my team’s entry for that. We at the Gay Punk Squad will hopefully finish Crime Nirvana before the deadline.

I was originally going to check out Corrine Cross’s Dead & Breakfast, which was the 1st place winner overall for IGMC 2015, but the download link for the IGMC version of the game seems to be dead. Thank goodness IGMC 2017 is on itch.io, land of free game hosting that isn’t likely to dead link.

I was also going to look at a game called Free Spirits, winner of the RPG Maker engine prize (not to be confused with Grist of Flies, winner of the RPG genre prize), but then I found out that there was some bad stuff between the creators and I don’t want to elevate that kind of stuff. So, I stepped away from my comfort zone of RPG Maker games to check out the 2nd place overall winner, Nanuleu.

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Nanuleu is a game made by the members of Selva Interactive, consisting of Carlos Villagran and Alhvi Balcarcel. Unlike the other IGMC games I looked at, Nanuleu was revisited and polished and can be bought on Steam or Humble for $2.99. For the sake of keeping consistent with past writings, we’ll be looking at the version released for IGMC as is.

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Bosstardian

After a year hiatus, the Indie Game Maker Contest is back, geared toward RPG Maker games to accompany the Humble Bundle sale. I’m actually working with a friend to make something for it and I guess you can check on progress of that on my Twitter.

But Indie Hell Zone is here to talk about other games and in honor of IGMC, I’m spending the rest of this month to look at past IGMC games. I’ve previously looked at Grist of Flies, an RPG Maker game that I wish hasn’t disappeared into the ether. Today, let’s take a look at a shmup game, Bosstardian.

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Bosstardian is by Ricardo Baeza, who won the genre prize for shooter games for the 2015 IGMC. The game as it is has two stages with boss fights at the end.

The main gimmick of Bosstardian is collecting the absurd amount of gems that the game throws at you. Blue gems makes your shots stronger and increases your spread on the current life and green gems create shields that get bigger the more you collect (which… I actually kinda consider to not be much of an advantage). Collect 100 pink gems and you get an extra life. Collect enough orange gems and you can go into Bosstardian mode, your ship suddenly morphing into an invincible colossus armed with fully powered shots and spread. It’s one of those cathartic things where you can just tear the shit out of everything. Also, a thing I like is that the gems automatically float toward you, so you’ll never have to stress about catching them.

If you get a game over and choose to continue, you’re presented with two choices: either halve your gems or halve your score. Honestly, halving your number of gems is a slap on the wrist. Unless you get a game over during one of the boss fights, it’s kinda easy to recoup your losses and if you’re the kind of player that aims for highscores, the choice is easy with that in mind. It’s an interesting idea, but the dilemma’s kind of a no-brainer.

I like the look of the game, but I also wish that enemy bullets looked more distinct.  I found that it was hard to distinguish them from the sea of gems you keep pulling in and they could easily hide in them with how small they are. I also found them getting lost in my own shots, which isn’t a concern at low power but grows to be more of an issue as spread increases.

My other issue is that the levels just went on for Too Long and felt kinda tedious to play through. I feel that it was like that so that you could gather more gems, but the game throws enough at you that it makes stretches of the game feel unnecessary. A consequence is that the music, which I thought was just sorta okay, got grating, especially since both levels use the same tune. I will say that they end off with neat bosses, though. I like how they’re just the enemy version of you when you go into Bosstardian mode. Actually, it’s more like that Bosstardian mode is you ascending to the same level as a boss ship; seeing the bosses honestly gave a sort of thematic appreciation for this mechanic.

I feel that Bosstardian is one of those games with interesting ideas that just needs balance and polish. As a game made in a month though, it’s pretty neat. It’s stated to be a demo, so hopefully it might show up again in an improved state? Unfortunately, like Grist of Flies, the game seems to have disappeared, which is a shame.

Even the Ocean

The world is a balance of dark and light energy, horizontal and vertical. Whiteforge City stands as a shining beacon of civilization, empowered by power plants scattered around the continent, technological marvels made in balance with nature. After an accident that kills her senior, a woman named Aliph is tasked to check on the power plants, which are threatened by odd biological monsters that may herald greater disasters.

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Interview with Torch60

Torch60

Last month, I took a look at a game called Soma Spirits, specifically, the updated version that was released on Steam. It’s a pretty swell game and something I’d recommend picking up. I hit up the developer, going by the handle of Torch60, if they could do an interview, partly because it’d be neat and also to satisfy journalism class needs.

The only edits the following interview has are links I added to things that Torch60 mentioned, which I recommend giving a click on!

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How not to handle criticism: featuring John Clowder

Today, we’re going to talk about something practical. This is intended to be game dev device from one amateur, but really, this is applicable to anybody that makes things for people to consume.

This post is going to be about taking criticism, more specifically, a post on how not to handle it. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to criticism, but it’s something that we have to face. But you know, it could be hard to take criticism with grace. How do we learn not to freak out toward criticism? I say that the best way to do that is to look at an example of somebody flipping out, so that we may look upon them and think, “jeez it’d suck to be like that guy.”

Our example will be John Clowder, also known as myformerselves and revolverwinds, creator of the cult RPG Maker games, Middens and Gingiva. He is also somebody that didn’t handle one negative review very well. Middens is a game that’s well-regarded, having mostly positive responses. However, one fellow on rpgmaker.net, NTC3, dared to give it a mostly negative review. Say what you will about the review, but it’s Clowder’s reaction to it and what we should take away from that reaction that’s important.

clowder1Rule 1: Don’t immediately argue with a reviewer over their negative points.

This is the first reply in what is probably the greatest review thread on the rpgmaker site and Clowder is already on the defensive. There isn’t any consideration for the reviewer’s negative points on Middens or any reflection on the positives, Clowder just goes in there. To me, getting argumentative immediately characterizes somebody to be hard-headed and unaccepting of criticism. It’s not a good look.

There’s also another take-away, with the whole “assessing those that create when you do not is ignorance” bit:

Rule 2: Don’t say something along the lines of, “if you can’t make it, don’t criticize it.”

In fairness, you get a bit of perspective if you’ve spent time in someone else’s shoes. Like hey, people that accuse game developers of being lazy is an actual problem and maybe if they understood how much time and effort is put into something, this attitude would be less prevalent. Trying to work on my own stuff certainly has given me more appreciation for people that make games.

But the thing is, even if somebody doesn’t work on games, that doesn’t mean that their points aren’t valid. You can think a song is good without being a musician or a professional music critic, you can find a tv show enjoyable without ever having worked on content like that. What exactly is your audience, if you expect your critics to be game developers on your level? Heck, game dev friends might actually hold you to higher standards, so criticism from your average player may be preferable. Appreciate those reviews and listen to them.

Also to note, this point of view would mean that any positive reviews of a game by somebody that’s never made one should also be ruled as irrelevant. But, nobody ever parrots this idea if the consensus is positive; NTC3 points this out amidst Clowder’s rantings, as the rest of the reviews for Middens are positive, but Clowder never even said a thing toward those reviews – not even a simple thanks. So hey, don’t say that a person’s opinion is completely invalid if they’re not in your shoes, because everybody knows that it’s only used against negative criticism and is a sign that you can’t handle it.

And so, NTC3 tries to justify his points in the face of hard-headedness, but it just prompts another response:

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Rule 3: Don’t angrily accuse people of “not getting it.”

To be fair, people sometimes miss the underlying messages in games. Heck, sometimes people could miss the explicit messages too, just take a look at Metal Gear Solid fans that think war is badass. But here, Clowder shows attitude as he argues the meaning of his game. Combined with his previous hostility, it’s less like Clowder is explaining what was missed but it feels more like him calling the reviewer an idiot for not seeing his vision. Throughout the thread, Clowder just keeps contending that NTC3 “just doesn’t get it” refusing to consider that, “hey, maybe I am the problem.”

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So hey, if somebody doesn’t quite get your work, maybe stop to understand why they don’t understand. If they don’t get the themes of your work, maybe your execution is vague. Maybe they’re not the intended audience? At the very least, don’t be like John Clowder.

(Also, as a sidenote: Claiming that somebody doesn’t understand your vision kinda doesn’t help accusations of pretentiousness.)

But that’s not all. As this argument went on, other rpgmaker.net users joined in on the thread, usually taking up NTC3’s side of the “debate.” A user going by Fidchell tells him to get off his high horse and while they were a bit rude about it, it really didn’t justify the response:

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Rule 4: Please don’t do this.

Holy fucking shit, you shouldn’t talk to people like this. Like it’s one thing to be hard-headed, but it’s another thing to treat somebody like this. Yeah, it was a bit rude, but this person wasn’t being a piece of shit. This wasn’t quite a death threat, which is why I imagine that Clowder wasn’t just flat-out banned from this site, but it’s still such a lousy thing to say to somebody. Seriously, if you talk to somebody like this for the crime of not liking your game very much, you’re probably not going to get a lot of respect from circles and in all honesty, serves you right.


So, look at the ramblings of John Clowder and please resolve to not be like that. Besides, that guy is actually awful beyond his handling of criticism, so fuck him anyway. Criticism is (or at least, should be) a healthy thing that helps people improve. We gotta know what we’re doing right, but we also need to know what we may be doing wrong and try to fix that to make games that more people can enjoy. It can be frustrating, but please understand and please don’t be an asshole about it.

A Few Music Game Jam Things

Do you like music? Do you like games? Do you like music games? Boy, is today’s post for you!

Music Game Jam was hosted by Xavier Ekkel, running from the 22nd to the 25th of September. In this weekend, Ekkel dared participants to make a game related to music. This didn’t necessarily mean that it had to be a rhythm game, though a lot of them ended up being crosses of rhythm games with other genres, which is still creative.

I haven’t played any rhythm games for this blog yet, so I decided to take a look at some of them. The following games I mention are ones that stood out to me and that I liked.

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Grist of Flies

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Grist of Flies is a RPG Maker VX Ace game, made for Indie Game Making Contest 2015 by Razelle, winner of the genre reward for RPGs. The dead have been brought back to life, aided by unknown supernatural forces. In a matter of hours, the world is overrun, the only safe havens lying in bunkers. In this RPG, you play as a squad of survivors wandering a city’s underground tunnels in search of one of them, fighting monsters and meeting more survivors on the way.

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Soma Spirits: Rebalance

The world of Soma was once ruled by the Sun King, who became mad with power. The spirits, Form and Dissonance, stepped in to stop him and the resulting conflict led to Soma being split into two realms: the World of Joy and the World of Sorrow. The worlds are looked over by the guardian spirits, Heart and Soul, who are called into action as the balance holding the worlds together begin to shift.

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Soma Spirits: Rebalance is an RPG Maker game by Torch60. Rebalance is an expansion of Soma Spirits that’s up for commercial release on Steam for $4.99. However, you can still download the original version of the game for free from over here. It lacks the additions and the refinements that Rebalance has, but it’s still good in its own right.

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