Saturday, May 30, 2015

SOMA (update)


Do you still remember Soma? - I wrote a post about this game more than a year ago. Since a few days there is now an extended gameplay trailer available on youtube and you should absolutely not miss it!

This game gets more and more promising and the robots make me wet my pants already! Shame that it won't launch for Xbox One... seems I have to stay several nights at a friend's place or play the PC version. Hmm... I don't know, I think wouldn't be able to play it alone anyway. And don't worry, as stated by the creators already some months ago (GamingBolt) a later release on Xbox One could happen after all

Play more! Fear more!

Friday, May 29, 2015



After finally releasing my small game Supreme Chicken Showdown, I've recently been able to finish a lot of games I have played only sporadically over the last months... so there are quite a few reviews ahead. To mix it up I thought it would be good to start it off with a review of a really big AAA title: Destiny.

Before I begin I would however also like to shortly address something that might again land in my inbox because of this review. Sometimes I am asked the approximated following via email: What is the purpose of a review of a game that is already out for a long time? Why do you do that?

Because first of all I am pretty busy and even more importantly I can't print my own money at home, and since nobody (at least not the big-time industry) is sending me free copies of their games, I have to wait a bit until the prices drop before I can buy them. - Luckily, taking a look at the industry prices that doesn't take that long anymore. But there's more: I also don't want to write a review of a game that I haven't played at least through half of it - in most cases I even want to finish it completely. I find this very important because I strongly believe that from playing just a very short time - especially when it comes to bigger titles - you can't and shouldn't really judge a game. I don't have any rush. If this was a race I have already lost. But it isn't! And quite frankly I think it's about time even more people realized that you don't have to play a game right away, let alone buy into the mostly disastrous preorder hypes! I neither have the time nor the money and I also don't want to be treated like any other form of modern, high-speed and in the end completely useless review platform on the net. I see my reviews anyway more like an opinionated and often exaggerated testimony, here to stay and still funny to read even in some years from now. So, sometimes you might get lucky and I can indeed review a brand new title super quickly, but I guess most of the times you would just have to wait until I am really sure what I am writing about. If I just finished a very old game on my Super Nintendo for example, I might even review that just because I feel like it. That's how I meow!

Thanks for your understanding and continuing support and without further delay, let's have some fun (?) and jump right into Destiny:


Oh boy, was this game anticipated! Everybody was talking about it, the media was going crazy and already at the public beta (like a year ago) servers were running hot and dozens of comparison videos (Xbox 360 vs Xbox One vs PS4 graphics, and so on) flooded youtube while becoming a big part of the general XB1 vs PS4 debate.

I have played the beta... the whole weekend and I already knew back then, that contrary to my expectations, this game wasn't for me. I tried most classes and I was done with it. The game didn't feel like there was anything left to do for me after the content that was provided in the beta... and after I finally got it and started playing (about three months ago) nothing had changed.

Yes, this game's visuals are astonishingly beautiful, the regions are vast and imaginative and especially the controls feel awesome and almost exactly like the - probably - best shooting controls, taken directly from Halo. BUT that's it! In my opinion this game respectfully fails at everything else.

The only thing I naturally have to exclude from that statement is the basic nature of this game being a massive online shooter hybrid. But I don't like massive online games. Be they massive online RPGs or this kind of "modern" shooter adaption. I usually avoid everything that says "massive online". Still, I understand some people like this, so in all fairness for those I'd have to say Destiny might be good in that regard. Personally, I almost had to puke the first time I was teleported to the city and I saw all those other people running around behaving like idiots, doing stupid dancing memes, jumping on my back, and so on... sorry, but this just destroys any game for me completely!

Next up: looting, items, drop rates, skills and customization. - Actually something that could have kept this game going,... but I never felt particularly rewarded or in any way motivated to progress my level or get new gear. Sorry, but I think the skills across all classes and sub-classes are not that special and I would have preferred to find a hundred times more different guns and weapon classes instead.

Also the gear; from what I have seen on very high-leveled players, I didn't like any of it! In a way they all looked liked some messed-up, futuristic vampires and that's not really my taste.

Welcome to Space-WOW? And the rest of it (the items you just find easily while playing through the game without dedicated farming) just all looked like the same piece of armor with only minor adjustments.

And what are you doing in Destiny? Well, you simply accept a mission, you travel there for like 3 minutes (loading time) you run towards your marker, which btw. is so stupidly hidden all the time that you have to constantly press a button and stop the flow to make it pop up again for a few seconds, then you get confined in a final location, you fight off big waves of again more or less randomly spawning enemies and then you travel/load back to the city. - Phew... great stuff, right? Oh, and did I mention that just after you have defeated the final wave and/or the boss, there is always a countdown that stresses you to search the area for possible drops because it strictly ports you out of the location when the countdown reaches zero? - Seriously, what is going on there?

Before I mentioned that the regions are vast... yep, that is true, but sometimes they are simply too big and it really becomes annoying to travel through them. After playing the first missions there is just nothing... not the slightest incentive to play the next one. You always do the same: Fighting of waves of enemies, filled with endless travelling, loading times and other nuisances. - For example the constant stumbling around of other players on the battle fields. Imagine walking from A to B in this game. On the sheer endless way, you fight off one of many spawning nests for enemies, then you continue. You think you have cleaned that spot, you move safely through it and you already aim at the next enemy region in front of you. Suddenly another player enters the region at A and guess what: The first nest you just cleaned becomes again populated with enemies (of course also the "new" player needs to shoot at something, right?). Well, thanks to the new player you are now trapped in the middle of two enemy nests! Bravo! Don't you also love it when enemies just spawn out of thin air all around you? I think after this example you can now very vividly understand that if this game is one thing, it most certainly is a shooting range with an infinite supply of enemies. But sorry... that just gets boring. - Especially if there is no reward or some sort of thought-through challenge involved.

Alright, enough of that. I realize the last paragraph is all about issues up for personal interpretation and I really don't want to go more into detail about the public shooting events you can join. So here's the one thing completely unrelated to whether you like shooting or not and the one thing that ultimately destroyed Destiny for me (as well as my friends):


- Is there any of this in Destiny? As much as I am open to imagination,... honestly... no, I don't think so! If it was one thing I expected from this game (something no beta would reveal), it was a deep and epic story; a story that drags you along similar to Halo; great personalities, simple yet sticking dialogues, impressive locations accompanied with some epic music and everything superbly well staged! Maybe the locations are there but in Destiny there is absolutely no staging and everything feels as empty as the surface of the moon. - Like I said, the missions are always the same, they feel boring and if there is something that explains you why you're again supposed to fight your way through infinite enemies over and over again, it is short and useless monologues during the loading/flying times. I am really sorry to say that but this is no staging, this is less than nothing! Where are all the in-game cut scenes? Where is the dialogue? Characters giving purpose to everything? A real introduction the current level and its goals? Characters that tell the story? Characters that become more?

It is obvious to compare this game to Halo, so just take a look at this link (a collection of all the cut scenes from the original Halo), or this (collection of Halo 4 cut scenes)!! I am really sorry but why is there no such story telling in Destiny? Is this not possible to synch with the massive online nature of the game? Sorry... but then please don't force it into that! Destiny has only one good cut scene and that is the intro. I know there are a few more during the game but yeah... they are simply not worth mentioning. If I assume the story of Destiny is actually great, there is only one conclusion: The story telling is ridiculously bad and that is the biggest negative point about the game!

Hmm, Destiny is still said to become the next big thing, isn't it? When you take a look at some official servers stats and how often this game is still played every day, maybe it is. Maybe this was really just the beginning. We will see. For now, in my opinion, this game unfortunately remains an over-polished, short and boring shooter with a good handling but filled with countless massive online zombies instead of real story, characters and purpose. I am deeply sorry but to me this game was a disappointment and I really miss the money I spent on it.

Play more! Cry more!

Monday, May 18, 2015



Hello my friends! It is a great pleasure to me and I am very excited to finally inform and surprise you with a small secret I've been keeping during the last months: I've made a small game for you! It is called Supreme Chicken Showdown and as off now it is available to download on (here's already a direct link while I am working on getting a widget up on this page)!

Please hold your horses because it really is just a very simple fast-pace, arcade-style, multiplayer game and I don't want you getting disappointed because you crazy people might expect the next Minecraft or something that come close to Phi. Trust me, chances are you might not even be able to play the game at all :) - Funny story: Seriously, not everybody can play this game... intentionally! But I will get to that later. Boy am I glad it's finally out!! I can't tell you how frustrating it was not to constantly tweet about this during the last weeks! I have no idea why I wanted to surprise you so badly and decided on keeping this a secret. So much for the "sneaky release".


Supreme Chicken Showdown started a few months ago as a rather primitive prototype I did in a couple of night sessions before I began the intensive model of Daniel for my main project Phi - Beyond Immortality. At that time I didn't think about making a complete game out of this, I just had this idea that I quickly wanted to prototype and try out. After a few tries with friends we thought that this idea has potential and I put a bit more effort into getting it documented and theorized. Then I concentrated on Daniel for some weeks and as soon as that was done, around the beginning of April, I was sure that I wanted to stray a bit and make SCS real for several reasons:

First and foremost because I had a lot of talks with other indies and industry people, and knowing that with me alone working on Phi it will take like years until it is really done, they all suggested to more or less "just release something". We talked a lot about being able to finish a project and the relevance of this versus working on the "real" or rather ambitious stuff. Personally I still don't fully agree - especially when it comes to skill and knowledge - that it is better to release small and simple games instead of... well "bigger" games. Because the stuff I do and learn on Phi goes far beyond anything I did in Supreme Chicken Showdown for example. However, I do understand the notion that there is a difference between finishing something and most likely endlessly working on something else. I agree even more on the fact that also we indie people need to live from something. If I'd work the next two years fulltime on Phi it would eventually be done, yes, but until then I have either perished from hunger or disease.

Secondly I really like the great indie community I am becoming part of more and more. So I really wanted to give something back especially to the indie guys. SCS is not a game for the masses - at least not as it is now. During theorizing, naturally the thought about making money from it came up and while there still are pages in my design document on implementing a single player mode, match-making services, getting this game online, on micro-transactions, customization options, or even on how to make this game possible on mobile platforms and utilizing advertisements and/or in-app purchases, I never really wanted to walk down this road. I wanted a game that can be done as quickly as possible and that fits both the old-school player as well as the actual indie developer audience more than any other. Something that doesn't take itself too seriously, that will just seem a bit crazy but has a very enjoyable and classic fast-pace feeling to it.


So yeah, Supreme Chicken Showdown is free. Why? Because I especially want you developers to have something to play in your lunch and crunch breaks! I guess most of you are probably working alone, but for those who aren't and/or those who still see some friends from time to time, SCS can be quite a tricky, tactical and challenging multiplayer/versus experience ideal to relax and laugh in a short break from excruciating work. What's the catch? Well, you need two gamepads to play this game! As a serious developer I hope you have a lot of Xbox 360 controllers laying around... seriously guys: controller support is soo important and sometimes I still can't believe how the greatest indie titles (even predestined to be played with a gamepad) on Steam for example come out without it! In a way - as I said intentionally - SCS goes the other way and sets an exclamation mark by giving you a game that you can ONLY play with two controllers. Personally I also always liked to play games together the old-school way; meaning two controllers, one couch and at least one friend (irl!). This is something I miss a lot in our modern days of online gaming and crappy headset communication. So I guess even the non indie developer with lots of gamepads can play the game after all, right? Just invite a friend and tell him to bring his Xbox controller...

So please - in order to avoid any misunderstandings - let me tell it one more time: You need two gamepads to play this game! Actually even two Xbox 360 or Xbox One gamepads - and I recommend the wired ones, because I only have those and I honestly have no idea on how to connect those wireless or rather battery draining bastards. People that tested the game however told it is possible to connect the wireless ones as well. If you don't have the two controllers please don't even bother because the game will not work. One 360 pad and a PS3 controller for example? - Nope. Any combination of other gamepads? - Nope. The game most certainly will not work. I found this nice tutorial on how to hook a PS3 controller to your PC and even simulating it like an Xbox 360 controller seemingly without some other nasty software. - Looks promising but I haven't tried it and I won't because... yeah. There is also a program called MotioninJoy or something like that... Personally I don't need it and I don't want it, but if you get the game working that way, I would be glad to see some comments/tutorials for other people who might need it.

In the past I was also frequently asked why there is no support for keyboard and mouse so that people would need only one additional gamepad. My answer: Because first of all it would be unfair and secondly because it kind of goes against my whole philosophy behind this game being played comfortably on a couch with a friend or as a quick party/drinking game. - Wait did I say that? Don't drink people. Drinking is bad! Pfui!


Naturally I am not going to review my own game, but I still want to tell you what you can expect from it. Like I already said, it's a (really) fast arcade style 2-Player versus game. You have to skillfully navigate between enemy projectiles and other hazards while trying to stay and conserve your playfield and trying to shoot your opponent thus destroying all of his playfield. The game features several items that can be picked up and increase your chances of survival as well as a few random events to make it more interesting.

Experience has shown that it often is not good to play too aggressive but to play smart; using items in certain situations, being patient and so on. Ultimately you would have to find your own tactic to be victorious and to get the most out of it. The game has three awesome stages to battle at and each stage's background theme music is better than the last, filled with great sound effects partially self-recorded or lend from a great free 8 Bit Retro Rampage sound effect package. - Many thanks to the guys behind Red Button Audio btw. this package is just remarkable!


:) Well, nothing they tell. But I hope you guys will be happy and have a bit of a laugh. That makes me feel good already. Something tells me it is quite unrealistic that I would get enough donations to be able to pay the next rent from it or to spend more cash on other indie titles, but you know maybe... I humbly estimate that Supreme Chicken Showdown will be downloaded at least 10 times worldwide and if only one of those players donates 6€ or two players each pay 3€ I would already be able to buy beer for myself and the guys who helped, which would clearly be a success in my world. So, many thx in advance and (also on behalf of the other contributors) I wish you a great time and many laughs with Supreme Chicken Showdown!

Play more! Cluck more! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015



Yesterday the Austrian indie scene got enriched by yet another event to strengthen and support the local indie developers: The Vienna Game Dev App - I don't know about the "app"... but that's what it said on the screen... :) - How about just "VGD"?

@asebist, the famous "orchestrator" behind Bloody Irony's debut game Shooting Stars (a game which you should totally check out btw. because it has a cat as a weapon!!) took the initiative and invited to this first meet-up including short talks and discussions, indie game presentations and the opportunity to comfortably hangout, socialize and play the games.

Initially anticipating about only a handful of participants everybody seemed quite happy the event attracted easily about 40 people from the vicinity. Applications to show games went through the roof and unfortunately only a few indies were able to present their ideas, prototypes or even final games. From CCTV Nation, an ambitious and promising augmented reality, massive online project, dealing with the crucial topic of surveillance and privacy (about to launch on kickstarter), over the apparently #1 genre for student developers - the puzzle platformer, represented by Introducing Sword and MADchen, to Bleed Off, FPS-Horror game, and even a crazy, seemingly self-soldered praying game about absolution, the evening featured quite some diversity and there surely was something for everybody.

Obviously the event needs a bit more structure but since this was the first time and nobody expected that much of a reception no harm was done. - On the contrary, as mentioned before, it's gatherings and initiatives like this, that really build and bring a community forward! So: Engines check positive, the board is green and Vienna Game Dev (.app) is cleared for departure... allegedly every first Tuesday of the month from now on at the Stockwerk (Peter-Schwartzgasse 11, Wien). Hope to see you there next time!

Play more! Gather more!