TBoD podcast – episode 19 – Return of the Red-eye

Right click and choose ‘save link as’ to download.

Down to just the dynamic duo for the second week in a row Quim and eremenko discuss what they’ve been up to in gaming this week along with a whole host of gaming news including;

Oculus Rift pricing

Photo-Realism in next gen consoles

One Finger Death Punch in our Indie spotlight

a loop hole that allows you to buy an Xbone or Ps4 on the cheap

and much much more, give it a listen and feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

InsaneCakes’ Top 5 Indie Games!

Here at TeaBag or Die, we’re suckers for great indie games. We commend anyone who takes their time to make their own game(s), and there truly are some incredibly talented individuals out there making some fantastic indie titles, whether they are on XBL Indie Games, PC or mobile, there truly are some great success stories.

However, it can be tough to sift through the huge amounts of indie titles to find those which are worth your time (and money). Currently, there are fairly poor systems for finding the best indie games, especially on the notorious Indie Games section the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. So, I thought I’d do the hard work for you, because I’m nice like that.

In no particular order, here are my top 5 indie games. Currently, that is. With the endless supply of indie titles streaming in across all platforms there are bound to be more that pique my interest.

Game Dev Tycoon (PC, Linux, Mac)

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Game Dev Tycoon was developed by Greenheart Games, founded by brothers Patrick Klug and Daniel Klug. The game starts in the 80s and follows the evolution of gaming over a 30+ year period.

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You start out in your garage, with only the ability to develop simple games for a couple of platforms. You pick a topic and platform, then allocate the amount of time you wish to spend on each part of the game’s development and gain Design and Technology points based on this. Then the game gets reviewed and goes for sale. Over the course of the years, new systems are developed such as the TES (NES), Gamesphere (Gamecube) and the mBox (Xbox), and new research becomes available, which costs research points (earned whilst making games) and sometimes money, and you can move to a variety of offices and get employees. You can create your own game engines, featuring your researched things, which costs money but allows you to make better games. You earn fans from games and can attend the G3 convention (E3) which, like the marketing you can do, builds hype for your games.

My most successful game (so far), the aptly named Game Dev Tycoon 2, which gained me 316.6M in profit. *Victory dance*

My most successful game (so far), the aptly named Game Dev Tycoon 2, which gained me 316.6M in profit. *Victory dance*

The game is simple, addictive and fun. Occasionally the game can also feel slightly frustrating, but Greenheart are patching some of the issues with games you make that should be successful but fail, which will arrive when the Game Dev Tycoon comes to Steam later this year. Even still, when you make a successful game that scores great reviews and sells a lot it is an incredible feeling.

The game costs $7.99/£5.69(+VAT) and is well worth every penny. There’s also a free demo/trial, and people who bought the game (which is DRM-free) will get a Steam key later this year.

Thomas Was Alone (PC, Mac, PS3, PSVita)

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I won’t go into this one as much because Quim did a post on it awhile ago, but this game is a great platformer developed by Mike Bithell which follows on a group of different AI’s, which are coloured blocks. Each of the AI’s is the embodiment of a different human trait; for example, Claire, a large blue block worried about her weight but determined to be a superhero. Read Quim’s post for more.

Little Inferno (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Wii U)

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Little Inferno is a simple game developed by Tomorrow Corporation (a team of 3 guys) that is set in a world where the temperature is constantly getting colder, and the only way to stay warm is to sit in front of your Little Inferno fireplace (made by the company Tomorrow Corporation in the game), buying things from catalogues and burning them. Burning them gives you more money than you spent, which you can use to buy more expensive things from the catalogues. Right.

 

 

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The game is almost hypnotic. There is no way to lose and no penalties. It has a tragic, yet beautiful story told through letters that people send to you as you attempt to work out what is going on with the world. The art style of the game is perfect, and the game’s soundtrack is truly magical. A true wonder for your indie collection.

Mount Your Friends (XBL Indie Games)

This game is about… This game is… This game surrounds… This… Just watch the trailer, okay?

 

Developed by Daniel Steger, who comprises the entirety of Stegersaurus Games, this XBLIG gem is absolutely hilarious to play, and endlessly fun – especially when playing in multiplayer. Essentially, the player has to climb higher than the last person in less than 60 seconds, using the A, B, X and Y buttons to control each limb separately to climb the tower of testosterone-rich individuals on top of a goat. I never thought I’d say that before.

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For just 80 Microsoft Points you really can’t go wrong. Go here and download the trial, you’ll soon see what I mean. Plus check out the other games Stegersaurus has made.

 

 

Fez (XBL Arcade, PC)

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Fez is a puzzle/platform game developed by Polytron, and released on XBLA in 2012 and PC earlier this year. Fez is somewhat unique in that it is set in a 3D world, but always presented in a 2D perspective that can be rotated anytime in 90 degree intervals. As of it’s first birthday Fez has sold more than 200,000 copies on XBLA, which is incredible. 

The game has charming visuals and a fitting soundtrack to play along to as you and Gomez, the magical-fez wearing character you play play as, progress through the game’s countless worlds. Fez is endlessly replayable and entertaining for hours, and his full of hidden secrets.

 

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Fez is another demonstration of just how far indie developers will go to make a game. The game took 5 years to develop and had to go through legal battles before release. Even after release it was subject to some controversies, as a patch that fixed some bugs caused some players’ (less than 1% according to Polytron) save files to read as corrupt. Polytron refused to fix the patch due to huge costs they’d need to pay Microsoft if they did. Ultimately this just shows how hostile the world can be to an indie developer, but it’s something that both Sony and Microsoft seem to be attempting to address, with Sony making indie self-publishing possible on the PS4 and Microsoft making patches free from now on. It’s about time.

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Either way, Fez is still a fantastic game, and new players will not be affected by the issue with the patch. It’s available on Steam, XBLA, through the Humble Store and GOG for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points. It’s also coming to Ouya, Mac and Linux. You should get it. Why? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. Plus Polytron announced a sequel to it at the Horizon Indie summit held at E3 this year. Be sure to keep an eye out for more here.

So there they are. My top 5 indie games. But I’m curious, what are your favourite indie games and why? Drop a comment below and let us know!

InsaneCakes

TBoD TV – Episode 1 – BattleBlock Theater

Hello Internets! In this first ever TBoD episode we play Battleblock Theater on INSANE MODE because, well we aren’t sure why… Just watch and troll away in the comments. Thanks!

The Hungry Games

The recent influx of indie games into the mainstream consciousness has come as a welcome break in the monotony of the repetitive nature of the titles streaming out of the big publishing houses like so much turd from a burst sewer main. A trend that is on the increase for small perfectly formed titles appearing on Xbox Live, PS Store and in particular the Steam service is without doubt a great thing for the industry, moving away from the strenuous nature of target driven creativity from larger studios, removing the expectations and putting control of the project back into the hands of those who care for it most. One such title is currently available on Steam early access and is the subject of this review.

Continue reading

Journey – Playing in the sand

So Christmas has been and gone and with it, like many of you, I was given a couple of game related items, the most notable being a PlayStation 3. I have submitted to the dark side but who would have thought it would have brought me to a game as pure and original as Journey. Having made a very late return to the Sony ecosystem I probably wouldn’t have even heard of this game if it wasn’t for Journey being receiving a VGA for PlayStation Game of the Year. With my interest piqued and a PS3 inbound I started doing a little research and found the entire internet gushing salty ‘praise’ all over this game’s face from their virtual wang’s. One site going as far as to say it goes beyond the boundaries of a game and transcends to that of an artistic masterpiece.

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Anyway with the hardware dropped off by a rather garishly dressed bearded gentleman the first thing I did was purchase Journey and fire it up whereby I was immediately taken aback by what my eyeballs were dealt. The desert vistas that my nomad traverses were simplistic yet somehow also quite intricate, with a shimmer seemingly coming from each grain of sand really bringing the whole environment to life in way that easily rivaled many of the other big budget open world titles. I think I almost prefer the aesthetics of Journey over say Skyrim which admittedly are both very different creations, however they both endeavor to conjure ajourney2 sense of wonderment and discovery. Journey does not use a powerful magic staff held by a great old wizard to do so, but instead accomplishes it using a humble set of tools deftly handled by little known artisan craftsmen. As overly verbose as this analogy is I am basically saying I am more impressed by the accomplishment of just fourteen developers fraught with money troubles than that of one hundred developers sat within Bethesda’s Great Keep and its adjoining treasury.

The game-play itself was a particularly intriguing experience for me given that Journey is the polar opposite to the eye bleedingly frenetic FPS genre which I can usually be found playing, controller trembling between my white knuckles. If I were to use another rather unnecessary analogy to compare the two I would say if the FPS genre was a type of music it would probably be akin to Speed Garage whereas Journey is runs much more in the Enya bracket, I swear it actually slowed down my heart rate at times as it was such a relaxing experience. You tread, glide and fly around in such an elegant and soothing journey puzzlemanner that you sometimes forget about the point of the game – which is to solve a puzzle and progress to the next area. I wouldn’t really call it a puzzle game as the ‘puzzles’ are for the most part totally common sense rather than brain teasers only requiring one of the two buttons you press to be solved. I don’t think it’s a big deal that the puzzles don’t bamboozle you though as Journey is not about the puzzles – oh Jesus I actually am about to type this – it’s about the journey. Cheese aside the game-play is secondary to the journey you are on, think of it more as an interactive story I guess, loosely similar to The Walking Dead game (also a VGA winner) but with little to no mess.

So what’s it all about…well you take on the role of a desert dwelling mute on some kind of spiritual journey toward a mountain where some kind of godly power is present, with each cut scene telling a little piece of how you and your people came to be. But it isn’t just the cinematics that tell the story the highly revered musical score helps shape the story as much as visuals as you progress. The music subtly reacts to every step you take and makes the whole experience just that much more marvelous.

What really clinches this game for me as one of the best games I have had the fortune to play is the multiplayer aspect. I have always been a very social gamer and Journey takes a very unique stance with regards to player interaction. As you go through the game you will encounter other random players, you don’t know who they are and communication is notJourney title screen possible unless you count the little note noises you can make in-game, because of this the whole potential for trolling another player is eliminated and all is left is the drive to aid each other in order progress. I felt quite a strong bond with the my little buddy as we trekked through the each environment, which actually turned out to be six different people when I found out who my companions were at the end of the game. It was this addition of a silent side-kick that made game that much richer.

Overall I found Journey to be totally immersive, full of fun aspects with some poignant moments and an amazingly touching game. It may only be a couple of hours long but much the same as the first Portal it is perfectly formed in every way. So if you are want more than just identikit machismo heroes that saturate main stream titles and levels that merely require you to be quick on the trigger please try this game, it is a true diamond in the rough and it might even make you re-evaluate what creativity in the games industry really means.

-The Quim Ninja

Meta Critical

When it comes to video game to movie cross overs the success ratio is, how can I put this nicely, shite. But don’t just take make my naughty word for it. Lets take a brief examination of the facts. (Warning I may shit on some of your childhood memories so you may just want skip over the next few paragraphs if you want to maintain those happy delusions)

Streetfighter: The Movie

With the game turning 25 years old not so long ago (inoright?!) it seems relevant to start here, in 1994 a film was made which on paper seems to tick all the boxes for a great movie. It had Van Damme kickin’ ass and taking names as Guile, the late great Raul Julia in his last proper movie as Bison and our nations favourite adopted daughter Kylie wearing some tight clothing. As an 11-year-old this film seemed to be the greatest movie that was and ever will be made. About a year ago I flicked over and found this polished turd on TV and I am telling you now I just couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes of it, it was diabolical in all kinds of ways from the migraine inducing script to the wafer thin storyline. Epic fail.

Mortal Kombat (both of them)

Now I love Christopher Lambert as much as the next dude and because of Highlander he will be excused forevermore. However this man cannot read, if he could he would realise how utterly substandard the scripts for these movies were and would not have done them. The first one I can almost stomach but number 2 (Annihilation) is dog shit on so many levels. If you don’t want to burn you retinas on this filth check out this audio commentary of MK2 over at JTPodcasts.com. I will say these films did one thing right and that was to only waste a small amount of money in the making of them with their limited budget

Tomb Raider (again both of them)

Now I loved these games as a teen, mainly to try in vain to get a look up Lara’s shorts when she was swimming (you know you did the same) and don’t get me wrong 11 years ago when the first movie surfaced I like most easily excitable 17-year-old boys of the time, were more than happy to sit through an action heavy and plot deficient film in the vague hope of seeing some side boob from Miss Jolie. Ok so the first one is actually OK (partly down to my inner 17-year-old) but that second one can be described in one monosyllabic, all-encompassing word – Gash.

Right, I think it best to stop the attack on shit movies you love there. I could go on about the Final Fantasy movies which all look very pretty but are boring as fuck. I could flip it and talk of how many great movies got turned into rubbish games (see Avatar, almost any movie based superhero game, any game based on a Pixar film.) or the exceptions to that rule (see Goldeneye64 and Lion King on the SNES). Instead lets look to the present and the very near future.

So in my opinion the whole game characters to the big screen hasn’t translated so well, so this next movie maker took a different route altogether and decided to make a film about the makers of games instead.

Indie Game: The Movie

If you read my co-blogger elth’s post about our society’s dismissal of gaming culture and you want to see just how much effort goes into making games, or you just want to watch an expertly crafted documentary which happens to be about games developers then please watch this. This independent film follows a few independent (indie) developers as they strive to get their games out there to the masses and documents their heartfelt struggles in making their respective games and their daily lives. This documentary is poignant at times and it really makes you feel for them and what they are going through. Either way I would suggest you watch this by purchasing from the official site or as most of you have it get it off iTunes. It’s only £6.99 ($9.99) and it will make you happy.

Right time to remove my makeup and emotions, let’s talk explosions.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

Whether you are a Halo super-fan like me or you just like a good bit of sci-fi this forthcoming web-series by the team at 343 Industries shows a lot of promise. In the build up to Halo 4 this episodic story tells a tale of a group of cadets a couple of decades before the Halo game series at the beginning of the Covenant War, detailing their fight for survival. For those who have no idea what I just said this series will introduce you to the rich Halo universe and show you what you have been missing out on.

The story is not all guns and ammo, the creators of this series say it is very much character driven and aims to develop the relationships between these young soldiers facing this impossible situation. Those worried about it getting a bit too soppy this will not be a snooze fest, with Daniel Cudmore (of X-Men and Twilight fame) taking the role of a young Master Chief you can be certain that a lot of Aliens are going to die.

Needless to say I am creaming myself over this but don’t take my biased view on how good it is going to be watch the trailer here for yourself and do a little sex wee afterwards.