Merry Christmas, viewers. Here's a present for you: Gabriel finally managed to dislodge his thumb from its usual comfort zone (up his butt) to record a gameplay video of Young Merlin. Then we jabbered over it, as is our funny little way, for the benefit of any other total saddoes who have nothing better to do throughout the Christmas season than watch Youtube videos.
The game turned out to be a bit slow and backtracky, so our conversation had a slightly unfortunate tendency to drift back to cocks a lot.
The above image of a random recruit in X-Com: Enemy Unknown comes courtesy of Jacob, via my email. He assures me that it came from a friend's game and that he didn't edit the name or callsign beyond what the game assigned it. So either Jacob's friend is a big fat liar, or I am officially being shouted out by the developers of X-Com. That was nice of you, developers of X-Com! Look out for my ZP review in the next few weeks! Hope it doesn't jeopardise my new career as a space marine!
A. First of all, the suggestion that peanut butter might counteract the jam has long stopped being funny.
It has been observed that absorbable substances (vegetable matter, wood, organic fabrics, flesh, etc.) can be safely immersed in the jam if they are completely sealed in an unabsorbable substance (metal, stone, plastic, molten lava, etc.). Wrapping your limbs in several layers of plastic bags may provide enough protection to recover vital objects from the jam, such as prescription medication. Citizens doing so, however, must accept full responsibility for any subsequent downturn in fortune and/or bodily mass.
The only surefire protection from the jam is to remain indoors, at least one story above ground level, in a nonwooden building.
Q. I was in a wooden building, outdoors, or on the ground floor at the moment the jam arrived. What can I do?
A. You are currently dead. Since you are reading this, we would like to suggest that you resolve whatever issues of the flesh keep you fettered to the mortal realm.
And the next one will come up at around half past when we fucking feel like it. I don't know how clear I can make this but no amount of nagging on comments and Twitter will expediate new LPs because we both have other work to do and this is an indulgent side hobby at best. So shut your face.
Ho yes, this is actually a thing that is being done. Bet you thought I was hoping you'd forgotten about the promise of a Mogworld audiobook, right? That I'd been spending these quiet months sitting around in my pants eating Spotted Dick from the can? Oh ye of little faith. Actually it was Heinz Sticky Toffee Pudding. But importantly, there was a microphone set up next to my fat mouth and I recorded Mogworld between syrupy gulps.
It came to over 13 hours in length and about 1.4GB in total, it's fully unabridged and narrated by me, and let me tell you this: having to listen to thirteen hours of your own voice four or five times over for editing purposes has got to be someone's idea of an ironic Hell.
It's being published by the obliging chaps at Open Book Audio, and after a fairly lengthy approvals process it is now available on the big audiobook networks, meaning iTunes and Audible.com. But if you're one of those tiresome indie types it's also available on a few smaller networks. A full list of places that are selling it can be found on Mogworld's Open Book Audio page.
I'll answer the obvious question: no, I don't read it at Zero Punctuation speeds because that would be mental, and the audiobook format calls for a gentler, more relaxing approach than a hate-ridden 5 minute internet video. And incidentally un-learning how to talk fast was really hard and someone had better appreciate it.
Well, I've literally just arrived back from Escapist Expo, in case you were looking for an explanation for why there's no Zero or Extra Punctuation this week. It's 'cos I spent all last week in North Carolina being handsome and wonderful. Here's proof!
This was the first panel I was on, and the first panel of the expo, in which I, Graham Stark, Jim Sterling, Gavin Dunne and Cory Rydell discuss our favourite games. Watch as I get a bit too into talking about my extremely predictable choice.
Things got heavier on my first panel of the second day as I rejoined Jim Sterling - with whom I was developing a curiously natural stage chemistry - as well as Paul, Bob and Dr. Mark to discuss fanboyism and why people are shit.
And here's the big one, the Hour of Love with me and Jim (and also, from half way onwards, a slightly hungover Moviebob) are forced against our will to think of something positive to say about entities suggested by the audience. I was pleased and astonished that no-one brought up that pony thing.
Other videos of other panels will be posted when the Escapist puts them up. In the meantime, I'm going to have a long sleep. Right now, on this keyboard. oesaf,.s;///////////
So things have been very busy lately partly because of the above and partly because of some things I've been working on on the quiet that I should be able to provide less vague news on very soon, but the Escapist Expo is just weeks away (specifically 2 of the buggers at time of writing) and there's still time to register, North American peeps! Also there's a facebook page you can join now, and I've been provided with a list of panels I'll be taking part in over the weekend of 14-16 September. Presumably there will be other panels that don't have me in them, but this is my blog so they're not my responsibility. Let's have a look-see:
Time: Saturday, 12:00 P.M.
Location: King’s Landing
Panel:Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw (Zero Punctuation), Bob “MovieBob” Chipman (Escape to the Movies), Jim Sterling (Jimquisition), Mark Kline, PsyD (Clinical Director, HRS, Inc, Columnist at The Escapist), Paul Saunders (Writer & Producer at LoadingReadyRun)
Fanboys. We all know one, and some of us may even be one. Like it or
not, “fanboyism” is a massive force in nearly all social circles, either
online or as part of your local gaming group. But what’s the impact the
phenomenon really has on our culture? Escape to the Movies
host Bob Chipman and Jimquistion star Jim Sterling tackle the issues
alongside Dr. Mark Kline, and Paul Saunders from LRR.
Hour of Love
Time: Sunday, 12:00 P.M.
Location: King’s Landing
Panel: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw (Zero Punctuation), Bob “MovieBob” Chipman (Escape to the Movies), Chris Pranger (No Right Answer, Media Sandwich), Jim Sterling (Jimquisition), Mark Kline, PsyD (Clinical Director, HRS, Inc, Ask Dr. Mark)
Hour of Love sets out to answer one important question: what if some of
your favorite gaming critics were all put in one room and only allowed to say nice things for an entire hour? Dr. Mark Kline moderates as The Escapist contributors must all swallow their bile and think about nothing but rainbows instead.
How to Review Games
Time: Saturday, 1:30 P.M.
Location: King’s Landing
Panel: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw (Zero Punctuation), Bob “MovieBob” Chipman (Escape to the Movies), Susan Arendt (Managing Editor at The Escapist), Jim Sterling (Jimquisition), Graham Stark (Director & Producer at LoadingReadyRun)
Reviewing videogames looks easy, but it takes more than just playing
something and writing about it – especially if you want to keep an
audience entertained. Learn the art behind the entertainment as the
minds behind Zero Punctuation, Game OverThinker, and Unskippable discuss the tools they use to take games apart.
My Favorite Game
Time: Friday, 12:00 P.M.
Location: King’s Landing
Panel: Janelle Bonanno (Business Developer at The Escapist), Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw (Zero Punctuation), Cory Rydell (Critical Miss), Gavin Dunne (Miracle of Sound), Graham Stark (Director & Producer at LoadingReadyRun), Jim Sterling (Jimquisition)
Description: Everyone has that one game that they put on a pedestal. The one game that you measure all other games against. The Escapist
contributors talk about their favorite games and why they will always
compare new titles to the one game that provided the perfect mix of
character, story, and skill challenge.
Q&A with The Escapists
Time: Friday and Saturday, 4:30P.M.
Location: Kings’s Landing
Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw (Zero Punctuation), Bob “MovieBob” Chipman
(Escape to the Movies), Susan Arendt (Managing Editor at The Escapist),
Jim Sterling (Jimquisition), Graham Stark (Director & Producer at
LoadingReadyRun), Cory Rydell (Critical Miss), Gavin Dunne (Miracle of
Sound), Chris Pranger (No Right Answer), Mark Kline, PsyD (Clinical
Director, HRS, Inc, Ask Dr. Mark), Paul Saunders (Writer & Producer
got questions, we’ve got answers. If you’ve ever wondered how Yahtzee
learned to talk so fast, why MovieBob hates Michael Bay, why Jim is
banned from Konami events or if Gavin really is that bad at Call of
Duty, now’s your chance to ask. Escapist staff will be pulling questions
directly from the audience, so be ready to be curious.
Return of the Sequel 2
Time: Friday, 3:00 P.M.
Location: King’s Landing
Panel: Susan Arendt (Managing Editor at The Escapist), Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, Bob “MovieBob” Chipman (Escape to the Movies), Chris Pranger (No Right Answer), Graham Stark (Director & Producer at LoadingReadyRun)
Every year, it seems like there’s more and more sequels out there.
We’re told that merely putting a “2” at the end of a game’s title
increases the chance for monetary success, but the cost is a shortage of
original concepts, settings and ideas. Yahtzee, Movie Bob, Chris
Pranger and Graham Stark headline this all-star panel discussing the
preponderance of sequels and their influence on movies, games and
That's your lot, so make notes in your diaries, attendees. I'm quite looking forward to all this, the topics sound like I can get a decent gush on, and that second one in particular should be quite the spectacle, I think. Mighty good fun this convention season lark, right readers?
What time is it? It's Let's Play Manhunter time! And apparently the reason why it took so long is because Gabriel couldn't play it for more than ten minutes at a time without falling into some kind of trance.
EDIT: And here's the second part. I'm now of a resolution to not upload any videos longer than an hour, because it feels cruel to hog more than the average person's lunch break.
Oh look, another post on this blog that exists only so the blog doesn't go unupdated for another lengthy period. I'm afraid all I can do for right now is make promises that stuff is in motion. There'll be another Let's Play once Gabriel has levered himself off his fat arse to record some game footage, 'cos it's his turn.
One of the reasons I've been quiet lately is that I have been working pretty solidly on the Mogworld audio book. At time of writing I've recorded all the way up to page 181 and have been trying to get at least some recorded each day. Hopefully I'll have more news on that sooner rather than later.
I guess I've been in a bit of a creative malaise since I released Poacher. My technique for learning a new programming system is to just make a big project with it and pick things up as and when it becomes necessary, and Poacher was that project for Game Maker. And now I'm all to grips with it - I'm realising that a lot of Poacher was pretty shockingly programmed compared to the techniques I've picked up by this point - I've been groping around for a new project to seize my interest. I've a few ideas, a few prototypes, but none have really kicked in yet. And I still get new ideas all the time. I'm disturbed by how my mind keeps turning to Puppies Hugging Things. Maybe it would work as a sort of Binding of Isaac-style room-by-room fighter except from a side-on perspective OH THERE IT GOES AGAIN.
Part of it is that I'm now of a mind to stop faffing about and make a serious go at turning my solo developments into an actual source of income, so I can at least justify the stupid amounts of time I tend to sink into them. What with Steam and tablet/mobile devices it's never been a better time for the small one-to-five-dollar solo-developed indie game to get around. I've been making eyes at this Game Maker Studio thing, lately. It would, however, mean having to get around my non-existent business sense.
Just a quick update to indicate that I've stuck Jam on the sidebar over there to the right, if your eyes can bear to be separated from this sentence long enough to glance at it. The book's now available to preorder from TFAW.com. Also Amazon and Amazon.co.uk, but they haven't got the box art set up yet, lazy buggers.
Also, since someone asked, no, Jam won't be out by the time of the Escapist Expo. You see, the Expo is in September, and Jam comes out in October, and October is the month that comes after September. Sorry about that.
Time for another Let's Play with me and Gabriel, in this case, 1989's Future Wars, an early game by Delphine Software (of Another World and Flashback fame) that they probably hoped everyone would have forgotten about by now. Here is a quote from our commentary: "Why, that's the biggest another monkey's butt I've ever seen". Why not try to guess what the context for that was, then watch the video and see how close you were?
So there's that. Also I thought I'd mention something that I've been banging on about at the end of Zero Punctuation for the last few weeks, and that's the planned Escapist Expo in September.
Yes, my colleagues are organising a game convention get-together fun times scenario type thing in the city of Durham, North Carolina, where the Escapist offices are based. I've been there once before after I did the GameX convention a while back but it'll be nice to see how massively it's changed since then. I'll be attending along with Graham and Paul from LRR and MovieBob and several other of my Escapist chums, so this presents American readers an ideal opportunity to hang out, get copies of Mogworld signed or perhaps murder me while I've been foolish enough to make my whereabouts publicly known for a brief period.
It's on the weekend of September 14-16, 2012, and here's the site again with more details. Make a note, assassins.
It's Let's Play time again with Gabriel's choice of game being Hugo 2: Whodunit, probably the most forgettable of an already pretty obscure adventure game trilogy. On this occasion I'm experimenting with just throwing up the whole video in one big lump to see if anyone really cares that much.
Well tickle my nuts, because Dark Horse Books has made the announcement that my second novel, JAM, will be released later this year. With slightly less of a video game focus than my work usually is, JAM is a dark comedy in which a small group of survivors is forced to deal with the one apocalypse no-one saw coming: an infinite, crimson doom that smells strongly of strawberries.
In other book news, the e-version of Mogworld is now available for the Nook and Kobo E-readers. Kindle is apparently still being sorted out, but is in the works. The audio book will also be in the works as soon as I pull my finger out and start recording it, which isn't easy when I seem to get a new round of tonsillitis every bloody month.
Here's all four parts of the Dreamweb LP. I released them on Youtube but I wanted to keep the Poacher 1.1 announcement at the top of the blog for a bit. Have you got all the achievements yet? What are you, some kind of Southern poof?
The updated version of Poacher, version 1.1, is now available! I was originally only going to fix the major bugs but the Escapist were away on Easter holiday for a few days and I figured I might as well use the time to put in some new features. So here's the updated download link (updated on the original post also). And if you need convincing, here's what's new:
- Bug fixes, including the crash caused by using grenades too quick, the right-screen-edge exploit someone helpfully demonstrated on Youtube (sorry if you were having fun with that one), an error that occurs when fighting Rebecca's phantom daddy in the Abyss with only three grenades, and a couple of other minor tweaks. I also made some tweaks to one particular bit in the Great Library that was widdling on a lot of pies. Speaking of making things easier, though:
- NEW FEATURE: Optional easy mode! Well, basically you have 5 health at the start, removing two health upgrades later in the game, so it's more like a 'get settled in mode'. But it does also increase the drop rate of pickups from dead enemies and hopefully that'll be enough. You know. If you're a wuss.
- NEW FEATURE: Customisable keyboard controls! You asked for it, you got it. I didn't want to have to put some big artful menu system for changing the controls, so I hit upon a pleasingly retro idea. There's now a text document in the game folder called controls.txt which the game reads the keyboard controls from, and it's designed so that you can edit it to put in whatever controls you please. But back up the original file before editing and follow the instructions carefully because the game is quite picky about formatting. No support for customising joystick/controller buttons at this point, though. Sorry.
- NEW FEATURE: Achievements! Love them or hate them, they at least give you something to do when you've 100%ed with the secret ending. There are 20 in total to collect and after one playthrough the ones you've yet to unlock will appear on the intro screen. Rest assured that there are no mandatory story achievements besides the ones for beating the game, 'cos too many games just give you an achievement for beating each chapter and I hate that shit.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Save games for the old version will NOT work with 1.1. This is unavoidable, I'm afraid, so you'll have to start the game over. Consider this the opportunity you need to shoot for the secret ending. Haven't found that, yet? Well, here's your hint: the secret ending will only appear for the pure of heart. That download link again in case you missed it: Poacher version 1.1. Some security software apparently has been spreading ugly rumours about it being malware, but they just get uppity about installers that haven't had the thumbs up from the Man. You trust me, right?
If you're not interested in Poacher because you prefer Cooking Mama or games that will work on a Mac, then there's also a new Let's Play from me and Gabe coming soon. I'm going to go upload it now and edit this post when it's ready. Watch this space!
EDIT: Specifically, watch this space. Preferably in full screen:
So my latest freeware game, Poacher, an unashamedly retro platformer starring stout Yorkshireman Derek Badger and his trusty shotgun, has been released. The download's being hosted by my good chums at the Escapist. Read the news post about it here or just click here to download the installer. Yes, it's an executable you have to download and install onto your PC, remember that?
I'll have a proper page set up for it soon. Until then, feel free to give it a download and let me know what you think. This is the first Game Maker rather than AGS game I've released and perhaps the most overtly gameplay-focussed I've ever done (I've been trying to move more in that direction since Art of Theft), so I'll be interested to know what lessons I can learn. Also it's freeware, so if you hate it you can't demand your money back. Basically what I'm saying is 'aaah don't hit me'.
And here's the second installment of our playthrough of atrocious retro game Alex Kidd in High Tech World. Tune in to see puzzle design that trolls the player so hard their head would turn into a bridge. Also, to watch Gabriel, in his first attempt editing gameplay footage, somehow manage to splice in the final twenty minutes of the game twice. But that's nothing a pair of seasoned giggle merchants like us can't cope with. Keep encouraging him, he needs it at his age.
In our second retro Let's Play, Gabriel takes the helm and leads me through the lesser known Master System title Alex Kidd In High Tech World. Be encouraging, he's new to this video recording business.
(news on my other projects shouldn't be long, honest)
Aaand here's the second instalment of the egg-cellent adventure that began here. In this concluding half, Dizzy visits Australia, ascends to the heavens (about fifty feet off the ground) and rescues his woman from a profoundly disinterested antagonist.
Ha ha ha. 'Henpecked'. And he's an egg. We could've made a little joke out of that, couldn't we.
Well, while we're waiting for all my various more interesting ventures to bear fruit, here's another thing me and Gabe did.
I haven't done a Let's Play since, ooh, 2007 I think, but the other weekend I recorded a quick playthrough of the first game I remember capturing my imagination in childhood. Then we talked all over it like a pair of bellends. Hope you like it.
Yes, that subject line is by no means pulling your pud. Gabriel is back in town (actually he's been back in time for a while but we've been very tired) and he and I recorded yet another horrible podcast together. Sorry, that sentence should probably have ended with an exclamation mark because you're all so excited. Here it is. !
On this podcast we kind of found it impossible to stick to one subject for any length of time (we're trying to think of more disciplined variations to the format) but the starting topics were sunburn, movie novelizations and Fisherman's Friends. The ending topics tended to be too unpleasant to mention, so don't listen to this with your Auntie Pam.
Also, in case you missed it, I talked about Poacher a wee bit in one of my Extra Punctuation columns a while back. Here it is.
Alright, well, remember in the last post from all those months ago when I said I was working on another free game? Well, that's still the case. And here's a trailer I made for it while messing around with VirtualDub, which will suffice as an announcement, I suppose. Maybe watch the video in a resolution larger than this blog's format will allow because it looks a bit shit otherwise.
The game's called Poacher, as can be inferred, it's a Metroidvania-style platformer that's somewhat influenced by Cave Story amongst other games. You play Derek Badger, unflappable Yorkshireman, who stumbles upon a strange underground kingdom and gets caught up in a conflict between two mysterious magical races. I'm making it in Game Maker because current generation technology frightens me.
Sorry, I can't say when it'll be in a fit state for release. As I mentioned I'm waiting on some music, and I also need to get some proper focus testing done (don't volunteer, it's in hand). Also sorry it's not a playable demo. Trust me, I hate game trailers too, but most of this one actually shows gameplay. Sorry, also, for using Times Roman as the font in it. I showed it to someone and they said that was a horrible choice of font but I couldn't be bothered to go back to my source files.
And sorry for not updating for ages again. Rest assured the Mogworld audiobook project still weighs heavy on my mind. Sorry about going quiet on that, too. Basically I'm sorry. I-I'm sorry for everything.