Trouble Thinking

March 15, 2016

The Wayward Astronomer – A brilliant illustrated novel

Filed under: Uncategorized — callmegeo @ 8:08 pm

Hello internet! Mighty fine day we’re having, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if your day was just a little bit better?

Well, look no further friend, because if you want to read a thrilling story that’s brought to life with breathtaking artwork, I have just the thing for you. It’s called The Wayward Astronomer, and it’s a kickstarter campaign going on right now !


The Wayward Astronomer is an illustrated novel set in the vivid and imaginative Dreamkeepers universe, which has been featured on this blog before! If you like what you see, you should head on over to the kickstarter page to learn more, or take a read through the graphic novel saga of Dreamkeepers

Bookmark Montage


August 22, 2012

Planetary Annihilation Kickstarter Looks Really Neat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Durandal @ 5:18 pm

If you’re already into games, you’ve probably checked it out by now, but for real it is worthwhile to give this a look:

Now, I actually never really got super into the Total Annihilation games, they felt a little bit more supply-chain focused than I found interesting. However, the concept of launching a goddamn asteroid at an enemy just appeals to me too frigging much.

As always I find the extra kickstarter stuff for paying more pretty silly, but the $20 level is perfectly cool for a preorder from a company like Uber Entertainment. They’ve got a solid handle on producing actual decent products. Plus, I like that the setting is a future of warring Von Neumann machines.

August 2, 2012

How I Feel About: “Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes”

Good! Generally Good. So, if you’ve got like $15 to burn and you were dumb and missed it on deep discount during the Steam sale, grab it in penance.

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a game developed by Capybara games and published by Ubisoft, and is another in the long line of games that are all vaguely related to the original Might and Magic that everyone has forgotten because the like 40 spin-offs are all more popular.

Remember this? No, no you do not remember this.

So I’m assuming that all the random fantasy names and general plotline somehow tie into the larger universe, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how. Suffice to say: demons are breaking out of Not Quite Hell, called Sheogh, and they kill the parents of a group of five children right in front of them with fire. The game’s sort of dark for a cartoony kid’s game! Like, I’m gonna say it straight up: there was more immolation and murder than I really expected. Like a bunch more. And yet, the bar you go to in one portion of the game serves milk and tea. Oh and it also has

The most amazing dude. This is a guy who knows exactly what needs to be done during a demon invasion.

But anyway the kids go on their own quests to become Heroes of Might and Magic and they each get a short chapter where you overcome some aspect of the ongoing war and treachery and ultimately foil the evil villain as expected. So how do they accomplish these mighty tasks? Why, PUZZLING of course! Similar to Puzzle Quest and a few other puzzle-based RPGs, your prowess in combat is represented by your ability to maneuver little arrangements of shapes properly except in this case rather than gems they’re beautifully animated archers and knights and whatnot.

In each battle, you have columns of random assortments of these units, in 3 colors. You can only move the bottom-most layer of each column, but you can spend a move to eliminate a unit at any level of a column. Align 3 units of the same color vertically, and you start charging an attack, and when it goes off your units shoot up and try to make it to the top of the gameboard. If they do, they deal damage to your opponent, minus any that’s been absorbed by their defenses. Align 3 units of the same color horizontally and you get a 3-column wide wall that will block damage from enemy attacks. There are also twists like larger champion units that deal more damage, your core units having different charge times and effect, and fusing or linking attacks to make them deal more damage. There’s room for some strategy, it’s very moreish to call in random selections of reinforcements and see if this is the turn you can cascade 3 walls out and then like 5 attacks or get one of your champions charged. It’s an engaging system! And it had fucking better be because it’s all you’re doing for like, 15 hours.

Not gonna lie here, I will probably win.

Which brings me to my major gripes. This game doesn’t wear nearly as quickly as Puzzle Quest, where I found myself dreading battles which was basically the entire game. You pick all of your fights, and you can always back out. For most of the chapters, most of the fights can be attacked in a lot of different orders thanks to things like Bounties and random grinding if you don’t feel prepared for a fight. But the thing is, the average fight is about 10-15 minutes if you know you’re going to win. The randomness inherent in the system and the fact that heavy attacks take a while to charge mean that you can be at 100 health to your opponents 50 and still have a 10-20 minute fight just waiting for things to line up right. Too much of the battle system depends on this random dropping in of new units, and too little depends on actually figuring out clever move combinations. Almost every fight can be won by making every available move that grants you one extra move, then lining up as many attacks as possible. It’s not necessarily the fastest method, but the game doesn’t really give you many clever ways to deliver a coup de grace. Eventually it can become pretty rote. Speaking of rote! They end the game with just the worst idea. Throughout the game, you take on the role of a hero, slowly build their army and take them from wimpy level 1 to godlike level 10. Except at the end. You start with all units, you start at level 7 which is just high enough for leveling to feel like it takes forever, and you have just the least fun to play army with the least ability to end a fight fast. So the last section of the game ends up suddenly ramping every tiny issue you’ve had thus far way up and isn’t the best note to go out on. There are 10 Battle Puzzles sprinkled through the game, and I feel like expanding the concept further would have helped. Having something to break up the relentless match-3 that requires some time and thought and comprehension of the rules was super fun.

I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but the fact that it has hotseat gets it high marks in my book. Too few games of this sort recognize that turn-based means I can play on one dang controller.

Anyway! I highly recommend grabbing this, it’s a bunch of fun. Just don’t make the mistake I did and bomb through the whole thing in like 3 days. Spread it out a few hours at a time and have fun watching little cartoon archers impale adorable cartoon demons.


July 17, 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2012: Day 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 1:47 pm

Alright today isn’t super amazing but alright here we go:

-Grand Theft Auto IV: Eeeeeh. Grab Saints Row 2, or 3. Or anything. Don’t get GTA, it’s a snoozefest. $5

-Call of Duty: Black Ops: NO. And fuck, $20! Fuck you guys.

-Stronghold 3 Gold: Everything I’ve heard says nope, even people who were super excited about it. :(. $14

-Limbo: It’s… kind of… it’s worth $2.50. It’s atmospheric, but I wish the puzzles were more puzzle, less trial and error. But it’s worth giving a shot for that price.

-Company of Heroes: Get the first one, only the first one, if you haven’t tried it. Great single-player RTS, fun multiplayer if anyone is on. $2.50

-Indie Bundle VI: Spacechem is an absolute must in this. If you dig ticket to ride, just get the pack so you can get both for $5 off, but the test is dross, so get Spacechem alone if you’re not into that. $10

-Train Simulator 2012: I’ve heard oddly good things. You buy it, I’m not buying it. $3.50

– Spec Ops: The Line: If you were thinking about Call of Duty, get this instead. At least they tried. $35

-Wargame European Escalation: Horrid name aside, I’ve heard it’s one of the better new RTS games. Poor thing can’t compete with the big names though. $20

Must Have Flash Deals:

Double Fine Pack! Totally worth it for $7.50 if you don’t have any of them, and all worth it alone.

July 16, 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2012: Day 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 10:27 pm

Hey! Here is the lowdown on what to purchase, you need it. I trusted you for Day 4 and look where that got us.

– Age of Empires 3: This is a weird one. I mean it isn’t as though it’s bad or anything. I just can’t think of an RTS fan these days who seriously considers Age of Empires as a touchstone. That said, having played around with the demo I enjoyed it. If you don’t dig Starcraft or Supreme Commander, give it a shot! $10

-Rage: I feel like this got pushed to the wayside because it didn’t really do anything new or interesting. But it did do corridor shooting well. So if you have a jonesing for killing waves of enemies that run straight at you… get Serious Sam: BFE. But also this, if you have extra. $10

-Indie Bundle V: I’d get this one. Tiny Bang Story is what happens when describe Katamari to a terminally dumb person, but the rest are critically acclaimed and quite interesting. Greed Corp is also fucking hard, but the good kind. $10

– Iron Front: Liberation 1944: Nah. I mean it’s 33% off an let’s be honest, you’ve never heard of it. Fuck these guys. $20

-Men of War: Vietnam: It’s a tough series to get into, but particularly if you dig the multiplayer it’s this big sprawling war-movie of a war game. It’s worth checking out an earlier cheaper title even if you don’t get this. $9

-Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: A classic, but one of those classics that only assholes tell you is fun to play at this point. It’s fine, it’s fine. Worth a couple bucks if you’ve never played. But seriously find something new. $2.50

-Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: No, you’ve had enough. Everyone had enough. Do not bother. $13.50

-Dear Esther: If you’re the sort of person who would buy this, at least buy it on sale. $2.50

-Metro 2033: YES! Get it. It isn’t perfect but by god it’s like a linear companion piece to STALKER and it is so worthwhile. It’s just a great fucking game. Do it, make them more successful. $5

Flash Deal You Need:

Amnesia The Dark Descent: Half as scary as people make it out to be, still 15 times more scary than any horror game in the past 10 years. Give the Penumbra games a look too, same people made them. $5.

July 13, 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2012: Day 2

What to buy, what not to buy, you need help I know”

-Payday: The Heist: If you’ve got friends to play it with, I’ve heard it’s a very fun L4D clone. Probably worth a look for you and your pals at $5.

-From Dust: I got it! It got acceptable reviews that mentioned a few issues, but nothing major. For $3.75 obviously worth a shot.

-Anno 2070: Unless you really really need a near-future Anno, I don’t know that I’d bother. The other Anno games are great, and still cheaper than $25.

-The Binding of Issac: Is amazing. For $1.25, you’re going to get a lot of game. I’d go for it.

-Tribes: Ascend Starter Pack: No! You don’t pay for free games. Let other people finance FTP with their $5, you’re no rube.

-Indie Bundle II: Is not setting my world on fire. Maybe E.Y.E alone? It’s very weird, worth a look if you’re into that, but the pack might not be worth $10.

-Warhammer 40K Space Marine: Fun and simple third-person shooting. A bit repetitive, but it’s just a ridiculous, gory good time for the majority of play. Well worth $7.50.

-Sonic Generations: Well, if you’re one of the people who were waiting years for a decent Sonic Game… yay! This is it. If you’re anyone else, feel free to continue forgetting who Sonic was. $10.

-Max Payne 3: I’ve heard good things about the shooting mechanics, but honestly grab Space Marine and wait for the price to drop below $30 if you must shoot things in third person.

Flash Deal You Need:

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light: The best Lara Croft game, and one of my top fun-givers of the past few years.

July 12, 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2012: Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Durandal @ 6:05 pm

What should you buy? You should buy the things I damn well tell you to but. To wit:

-Crusader Kings 2: Probably worth a go if you’re into big turn-based strategy games. It’s got a great system whereby you actually guide a dynasty of rulers, meaning your current beloved king can age, die, and leave squabbling bastards fighting for the remnants of a once-great empire. It’s pretty cool! $10

-Total War Shogun 2: A Total War game. So you know, strategic map, battles with giant armies that look cool. Apparently improved strategic and battle AI, certainly looks incredibly pretty, not a bad price at all. $7.50

-Portal 2: Fucking, right. You’re reading about it but don’t know it’s worth $5. Sure.

-Might and Magic Franchise: Some people have loved all of them, most loved 4 most, I believe, the newest one has gotten no particularly poor reviews but didn’t set the world on fire. Niche enough that you probably know if you want it. $25

-Indie Bundle 1: A shitload of good games. If you own fewer than 3, buy this. $10

-Call of Duty: MW3: Do not even think about this, bucko. No! There are neater things. Have you heard about Spec Ops: The Line? They apparently did some neat shit with the storytelling. Modern Warfare for $30? Christ, you can play TF2 free. No.

-Ridge Racer: Unbounded. I have actually not got a single opinion on this, $25.

-Terraria: For $2.50 it’s probably worthwhile. Like sideways minecraft with way more items. Neat procedural shit and a whole lot of it.

-Legend of Grimrock: I’m getting it! $6 for a pretty sweet looking old-school dungeon crawler. Everything happens in real-time, but square-by-square. It’s very neat looking, it’s gotten a shitload of positive reviews, and it seems just the right mix of very tough and very fair.

Current Flash Sales:

Probably won’t keep up with these every 8 hours but:

-Mafia 2: Some people loved this, but mostly only if they weren’t expecting GTA: The 30s.$7.50

-Spacechem: The Best Puzzle Game, $2.50

-Rayman Origins: Has received undiluted praise from all corners. If you like platformers, grab it. $15.

-Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Very, very good. Get it. $7.50

June 27, 2012

There Is A Magic Machine That Will Always Beat You At Rocks, Paper, Scissors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Durandal @ 1:28 pm

Stolen direct from (who stole it from /.), this thing is just too cool not to mention briefly. Look at this! Researchers at UTokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Lab made a sweet RPS robot!

It looks at first blush like it’s out-predicting you, but it’s totally not! It’s just waiting for you to move with a high-speed camera, then snapping out its fingers really quick when you’re settled. That is the coolest. I am slightly disappointed that it’s not some sort of super-robot mind-freak machine predicting your every move, but I’m also more interested in replacing my limbs with robot parts than ever!

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you, but it all happens so fast that it’s more or less impossible to tell that the robot is waiting until you commit yourself before it makes its move, allowing it to win 100% of the time. You might be thinking that you could fool the system by changing your mind halfway through, but my guess is that the hand and vision system are faster than your reflexes could ever be, and that it would be trivial for the robot to adapt to any creative moves that happens on the human end.

June 7, 2012

Just buy the Humble Bundle V

Oh my goodness for real just pick this one up. I can say that with confidence having, like a damn fool, already bought all the frigging games in this bundle. It’s amazing. I’ll give you a rundown, though.

LIMBO: Neat, slightly full of itself platformer/puzzle game with a very striking visual style. It’s good, it’s quick, you’ll die a bunch to cheap stuff for a shock but it’s cool.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP: Okay I lied I haven’t bought all of them, but I’ve heard good things about this!

Amnesia: The Dark Descent: It’s really good! It’s not quite as pants-crappingly scary as the internet has decided it must have been, but it’s definitely one of the top horror games. Played in the dark with headphones it can get pretty close to as scary as people joke about it being!

Psychonauts: Great, charming platformer about a boy in a summer camp for psychics made by Double Fine of Having Tim Schafer fame. It’s more than worth a look, even if the collectibles were rubbish.

Bastion: I’ve written about this! It’s the best fucking game! Seriously just pay your $8 for this, it’s beautiful and moving and has a neat narrative conceit and fun gameplay and man maybe I should replay it. Remember to get this, you need to pay more than the average!

Lone Survivor: Aaaagh I’m a liar! But! I did play the demo. Did a surprisingly good job of wringing horror out of pixels, so check it out! Remember to get this, you need to pay more than the average!

Braid: Not half as clever as it wishes it was, it’s still pretty frigging clever. A puzzle game masquerading as a platformer, it’s all about manipulating time in different manners to progress. Super fun, really worth a playthrough. Reasonably neat meta-story thing too, but mostly just play the puzzles and leave it be. Remember to get this, you need to pay more than the average!

Super Meat Boy: The best platformer the world has ever seen. Tough but fair but SO TOUGH. Really fun times. Remember to get this, you need to pay more than the average!

There you go! Pick it up, you cannot possibly be disappointed by these games.

May 24, 2012

Endless Space Alpha Impressions

So I caved, obviously.

Endless Space is an upcoming game by newcomer Amplitude Studios. It’s currently available for purchase both on their website and on Steam, for a 20% discount. It’s still in Alpha at the moment, so you’re not getting the complete version quite yet.

I would recommend that if you’re into 4X games, particularly space-based ones like Master of Orion or Sword of the Stars, that you give this one a purchase. It’s surprisingly solid for such an early stage in development. I’ve spent hours on it already testing out the races that are currently available and it maintains entertainment into the end-game. I do want to stress that it’s still an Alpha, though. There isn’t really “balance” or “a functioning late-game AI”, so you will usually either get rolled or roll over your AI competitors quite easily.

What Amplitude have brought to the table here is a very traditional world (or galaxy) conquering empire-building game and stripped off a lot of the useless bits that have built up over the years. They focus on allowing you to easily exploit your current resources, expand to new areas, explore the galaxy, and exterminate your enemies. The user interface that got me interested in the game via screenshots is completely as wonderful as I had hoped. It’s clean, it’s simple, the tooltips are useful, and you’re never at a loss for what to do. Your traditional turn is spent choosing a research, building basic “exploits” on your currently colonized planets, building ships or projects on your older more established worlds, and looking for new worlds to conquer. You spend resources to build, and use new planets to get access to more precious resources which are divided into FIDS: Food, Industry, Dust, and Science. Food keeps your population growing which adds a multiplier to all of your resources, Industry makes things you’re building pop out quicker, Dust is a catch-all “gold” resource letting you buy things fast, and Science adds a certain amount to whatever you’re currently researching.

When you inevitably meet other players who would maybe prefer you didn’t conquer their worlds, it’s handled elegantly if a bit simply at the moment. Your default state on meeting a new race is “cold war”, in that you can attack and kill their fleets so long as you’re not in their borders, but they won’t necessarily declare war on you because of it. In a nice twist, your early colonies are considered “outposts” rather than proper parts of your empire, so in the cold war phase of diplomacy they can be attacked and even conquered without consequence. Well, without going to war. It makes for a nice way of preventing the Civilization thing where people would just drop shit in the middle of your territories if your borders didn’t quite cover every square inch of land and now you suddenly need to go to war to take that city. The combat is also great fun, if a bit simple at the moment. It’s designed to be quick, taking a maximum of a minute or so each time, and gloriously space-operatic with big glowy ships firing cannons at each other from around the orbit of a binary star or whatsit. The combat is at base mostly a Civilization style clash of armies, and whoever has the most stuff wins. But if you choose to take command yourself, you can play “cards” at each of the three battle phases that can really turn the tides. For example if you notice your enemy is using mostly kinetics, which are deadly at close range, you can play “deflectors” in the last phase of combat, to give you a plus 40% chance to deflect their shots. It’s a neat system that seems easily extensible. It also didn’t wear on me even after hours of play. Something about seeing a big fleet of spaceships fire at another big fleet of spaceships is always entertaining.

If looking at a map of a galaxy and wondering whether you can take that star system by … force if necessary is something that really appeals to you, this isn’t likely to disappoint. If you’re really conservative, it’s still only going to be $25 at release. God I love budget games these days.

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