Justice Playthrough #124: Antigas Constelações (sobre a Vila Itororó)

Damn, I was right. Can’t play this one.

Page 54, Game 28: Antigas Constelações (sobre a Vila Itororó) by Menotti

Looks like it’s VR; when I try booting it up in my laptop, I just get a blank screen (albeit with some very nice background music playing). Also, from the comments on the game page, it looks like there’s a lot of spoken stuff that’s all in un-subtitled Brazilian Portuguese. So there’s a hell of a lot standing between me and actually playing this guy.

Screenshots on the game page look pretty dope, though.

Perhaps the next one will be more accessible?

Page 33, Game 8: Penicillin Issue #2 by Micah Anderson

“The follow up to the acclaimed first issue of Penicillin, a new Eclectic RPG Zine.”

Ah, zine-time. I’ve actually had pretty good experiences with these, even when I’m not familiar with the core game. Let’s see if this guy continues the trend.

Justice Playthrough #123: Vilmonic

Very niche game. It’s not for me, but I suspect if it works for you, you’ll fuckin’ LOVE it.

Page 3, Game 10: Vilmonic by bludgeonsoft

This is a lo-fi sandbox game where you’re basically running a nature preserve of fast-breeding creatures. You’ll want to provide them with what they need to survive, and keep the weird zombie things roaming around from causing too much trouble. Nurture your creatures! Get them to evolve into new creatures! Promote bio-diversity! Try and figure out just what the hell is going on visually!

Some critters and a zombie and fungus and … a tire? I think?

This is a very ambitious game. It’s procedurally generating not just critters, but everything about their environment and what they need from said environment to survive. It even has a mutation mechanism, such that the beasties roaming about your screen will literally evolve over time. When this game cares about something, it cares a LOT.

There are a number of things keeping me from getting into this game, though. Some really aren’t the game’s fault — but some definitely are.

Look at that screenshot — there’s a LOT going on. What does it all mean? The game will tell you some of it. If you click the binoculars icon in the toolbar (which the tutorial does NOT deign to mention — grr), you’ll get details about the critter or plant you click on. Lots of details.

Looks like this guy is motion-stressed and water hungry — but, thankfully, not water thirsty. Wait, what?

What’s all that mean? I’m not sure. The game really isn’t interested in telling me. I’m going to have to figure that out myself.

Also, take a look at this business:

why u flat bro

See that squishy-boy right above me? (Yeah, that hunchback looking motherfucker is me. Your avatar is procedurally generated, which I kind of love.) That’s apparently just another Cotei hadei. Why is he so flat, though? Is he sleeping? Injured? Is that what they look like when they’re young? I have no idea, so I’m just going to have to figure it out.

Ditto for anything terrain-related. You just have to sorta figure out by context what terrain types are what, and how they interact with the world; the game has little interest in telling you directly. You may note from my above screenshots, there are what appear to be old tires. Is that what they REALLY are? If they’re old tires, does that fuck up my critters or their biome any? I have no idea.

There’s also a crafting mechanism, if you’d like to do some Minecraft but with a truly risible UI.

Time to make things into other things

What’s all that shit? Hover over it, and hopefully the game will tell you. (The game seems very fussy about interface focus.) To make it, you’ll need to add stuff you’ve gathered into that bottom row, and make sure you put it EXACTLY in the slots matching the recipes above. If you’d like to make mushroom boards, as indicated by the first item, you can’t just have a pile of mushrooms; you must have TWO piles of mushrooms. Then, you click the little right arrow, and it makes as many instances of the whatever as you’ve provided resources for — so make sure you actually WANT all those mushrooms to become ‘shroom planks.

It’s really awkward, and I feel like it would be a huge nuisance if I were getting into the game.

Which, obviously, I’m not.

But that’s not entirely the game’s fault. It suffers from severe interface issues and is generally reluctant to part with information, but as has been well established by now, I am a seriously basic bitch. Even if it were presented better, a sandbox game where your only goals are self-defined and revolve around critters mutating randomly would still be a tough sell for me.

I don’t much like this game, but I definitely respect it. It’s trying to Do Something here. That Something is not for me. But if you think it might be for you, it might be worth your bother to take a closer look.

What sort of mutations are in store for me with this next game?

Page 54, Game 28: Antigas Constelações (sobre a Vila Itororó) by Menotti

“marginalized heritage as blazing celestial bodies – a VR experience”

The sort of mutation where I’m reminded of how I kinda want a VR rig but don’t actually own one, it looks like. Damn.

Justice Playthrough #122: The Morrison Survival Game

Pass.

Page 55, Game 15: The Morrison Survival Game by Jon Jon Games Studios, Inc.®

When I downloaded it, I got a warning from Google Drive that the file was too big to scan for viruses. I downloaded it anyway, unzipped it, and ran my virus scanner on it; all clear. However, actually firing up the game gave me this:

Uh oh

I do NOT, in fact, know for certain that it’s safe. So I’m going to be conservative here and back away from it.

Though just to be fair … I’m gonna remove it from the “already covered” list my script uses. If it comes back ’round on the guitar, I’ll give it another look and see if by then a critical mass of users have confirmed it is not digital herpes.

In the meanwhile, let’s have a look at this guy:

Page 3, Game 10: Vilmonic by bludgeonsoft

“Artificial life and genetics evolution simulator sandbox game.”

Aw, yeah. Let’s get godlike with it.

Forbidden Lore Design Diary #4: Now With A Point Of View

Nobody who explores a dungeon should have a godlike view of the hellhole into which they have plunged. Restricting the POV to just what you can draw a line to was the focus of today’s tutorial.

Yeah, need to work on that fog-of-war color scheme a bit

It’s one of those things that’s astoundingly simple (and leans heavily on an existing bit of code) if you know what you’re doing, and hard as balls if you don’t. Thanks to the tutorial, I can pretend that I know what I’m doing! Am I gonna keep knowing what I’m doing when I move past the tutorial?

Maaaaaaaaaaybe? The relevant code is powered by a lot of array shenanigans that I can only barely follow along with. Looks like the “numpy” package is a big fuckin’ deal here.

At this point, I feel like if I can iterate out from what the tutorial is showing me, I have a fighting chance of figuring out out. If I have to do something array-powered that’s nothing like anything I’ve yet done, that’s gonna be a fight. But what the hell, that’s what the /r/roguelikedev community is for. I hope.

And it’s possible that this tutorial is gonna cover so much ground that most of what I want to do is just going to be some iterative extension of it. That’d be nice.

Important to note: this version of the tutorial isn’t complete. It’s an updated version of a pre-existing 13-part tutorial, and it only covers up to Part 9. The author meant to have the final four chapters finished by now, but is apparently running behind due to life or something. If I catch up to the end, I may have to branch out on my own and try adapting the lessons of the old tutorial to the new code. That could actually be a really worthwhile challenge.

Also started going through a Python tutorial. Nothing too exciting there, though it is helping provide me with a little formal context for stuff I’ve already figured out. Python has an awful lot of fiddly bits in its method parameter definitions, definitely hitting “Enough rope to hang yourself” territory. Looks like the tutorial is pretty good about documenting any esoteric/inobvious features it’s using, at least.

Still feeling good about this. Looking forward to defining the battle spells by which fools shall be smoked.

Justice Playthrough #121: 1-6 Oozes in the Dark

“Jesus Christ, this is at least a quarter ass short of qualifying for half-assed. I’m in serious danger of going into Jerkass Mode on this one. The author isn’t expecting anyone to give them actual, you know, MONEY for this, are they?”

“Right. We are GO for Jerkass.”

Page 50, Game 28: 1-6 Oozes in the Dark by Deus Ex Minima

“Hey, have some low-level PCs in D&D 5e? Have them fight some fucking gray oozes!”

There. That’s the adventure. You may keep your three bucks. You’re welcome.

Or, you can buy it. This will also get you:

  • A sliding Perception check chart where, if the PCs beat a 20, they will notice the hilt to a sword that is not mentioned anywhere else in the adventure.
  • A random encounter chart where you roll a d12 and pit the characters against a perfectly generic D&D foe.
  • A thoroughly generic hex map of the contryside, with an indication that it apparently has a fuckton of caves.
  • A loot table. As a reward for fighting a cave full of enemies that could easily destroy them and potentially shred their gear, the PCs could, if you roll poorly enough, earn 37 pennies.
  • A d12 NPC name generation chart. Behold fantasy names such as Bivvup Garn, Bronchow, or Roy.
  • Locals of note! There’s an overly talkative bartender, a dude maintaining a spy network that sounds interesting but has sweet fuck-all to do with the titular oozes, and some lady who keeps seeding the cave with fresh oozes with which to lure adventurers to their deaths. She sounds pretty interesting, actually. What’s her deal? Shouldn’t she be fleshed-out a bit more? Shouldn’t learning of her scheme and bringing her to justice be the focus of the adventure?
  • Nah, just walk into a cave and fight some fucking oozes. After you fight (*rolls 7*) a flock of 1d4 stirges first.
  • A cave map that looks suspiciously like a vagina.
Sometimes a dark cave leaking fluids and filled with oozing horrors is just a cry for help

Next.

Page 55, Game 15: The Morrison Survival Game by Jon Jon Games Studios, Inc.®

I truly have no idea what to expect here.

Justice Playthrough #120: Knights of the Kitchen Table

I’ve seen my fair share of TTRPGs in this trawl, and I do not find myself saying this often, but:

This one might be a bit over-designed.

Page 57, Game 5: Knights of the Kitchen Table by Bat Enthusiast

You and your fellow players (minus the GM) are all residents of your basic FantasyLand, with knights and wizards and dragons and, most importantly, the KING. Specifically, you lot are all the king’s kitchen staff. The king would like you to prepare a feast — but seeing as this is FantasyLand, there are liable to be all sorts of bizarre complications, like imps infesting the bread oven, or the thieves’ guild having swiped all the really good dishes, or the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy having caused the nearby town to become infested with zombies which could really be a problem when you go shopping for fresh produce.

All of these complications have one thing in common: they’re YOU problems. Now get to work. That feast isn’t gonna just happen by itself, and you’d rather His Majesty not hand a one-star review to Yelp. (Yelp is the name of his executioner.)

So. Based on that description, what kind of experience comes to mind? Some light silly storytelling game, right? Something with a smattering of random charts and loosely-defined character attributes to help you along as you come up with a goofy magic-spiced culinary tale together?

The actual game is 40 pages of very fiddly medium-weight rules loosely based on White Wolf, defining five attributes and twelve skills, with eleven races and five character classes to choose from. For the record, the five classes are: Chef, Knight, Fool, Butler/Maid, and Advisor.

If you’re asking yourself “If this game is all about preparing feasts for the king, why is only one of the character classes actually qualified to prepare feasts for anyone?”, then congratulations, you’ve spotted the first major problem.

The basic premise sounds fun — or, at least Fun With The Right Players, which is pretty much the default caveat for every TTRPG ever. Whatever. But role-playing the kitchen staff? That sounds like it has all kinds of potential.

The game goes into significant detail laying down a ruleset that’s often only tangentially related to its core premise. This feels like the dev had these rules in their pocket as a result of some other project, then grafted-on the kitchen stuff at the last minute. Why not dig into the various roles within the kitchen? Okay, there’s a head chef, fine. How about a sous chef? A saucier? A chef de partie and demi chef de partie? A patissier, a chef garde manger, a kid who washes the dishes and may or may not have a genius rat under his hat controlling his movements and making inexplicably amazing food?

Okay, sure, some of those folks COULD have been knights, but whatever they used to do, they got their asses busted to the kitchen. Why not build in “What you used to be doing” or “Desire to actually be in the goddamn kitchen” as mechanical elements within the game?

Why is the equipment list so fiddly? Why do the rules explicitly state that a frying pan costs two coins? If I only have one coin, does that mean I can’t have a frying pan? Does the fuckmothering ROYAL KITCHEN force its staff to supply all their own equipment?

There’s an interesting game here, I think. But if you’d like to dig it out of these rules, they’re going to fight you. The rules are overly specific where they would benefit from hand-waving, and leave out the details that would actually make their intended setting come to life.

These rules need a pass with an editorial chainsaw. Everything that doesn’t support the setting needs to be excised ruthlessly, and replaced with the details that would flesh-out the corner of the world the players actually inhabit. (And if the author is reading this, feel free to steal my idea and make Yelp the executioner’s name. You’re welcome.) To a fantasy chef, a dragon’s hit points aren’t nearly as important as information on how dragon flame affects the bread’s flavor.

The game isn’t awful, and if you think the concept sounds awesome, by all means give it a look. But I can’t exactly recommend it, either.

Will this next game teach me anything about the proper temperature at which one should roast a land shark?

Page 50, Game 28: 1-6 Oozes in the Dark by Deus Ex Minima

“A print-and-play micro-module for 5e”

Ah, oozes. Definitely a job for the saucier, my bad.

Justice Playthrough #119: RPG Items – Retro Pack

Fuck me, I might use this.

Page 6, Game 11: RPG Items – Retro Pack by Blodyavenger

It is what it says on the tin, a whole shitload of lo-fi sprites for use in a retro RPG. I’m taking a stab at doing-up a fantasy themed roguelike. I’m not to the point where I need real graphics yet, I’m very early in the tutorial, but … yeah. Once I start integrating items and shit, I’m gonna bear this guy in mind.

If you need some sprites for gems and food and armor and weapons and potions and stuff, this might be worth a look.

Will the next entry be as useful?

Page 57, Game 5: Knights of the Kitchen Table by Bat Enthusiast

“The culinary comedy tabletop RPG.”

Wait, is that the comic book I used to read 20 years ago?

No, no, that’s Knights of the DINNER table. Damn, that was some funny shit. Oh, hey, they’re still publishing it! Dope! I should check that out — or at least read some back issues.

I’m sure this game thing will be lovely too, though.

Justice Playthrough #118: Wild Woods

Promising. Very, very promising.

Page 24, Game 6: Wild Woods by WildWoods

Your wagon is making its way through the woods. Gather resources by day, fight desperately for your lives at night! You and up to three friends (all with controllers plugged into the same machine, natch) are kitty cats on an expedition. As your wagon trundles along, you can chop wood to toss into the back so you can turn on the lights when it goes dark and the baddies arrive. Or, you can harvest the plants you need to make potions of healing, to help you survive said baddies. Or, you can mow the lawn for some chump change.

Make hay while the sun shines, bro

Survive long enough and you’ll make it to The Bandit King. Emerge victorious from the big-ass boss fight, and you’ll move on to…

The main credits screen.

Victory?

This is version 0.016 of the game. Not a hell of a lot of content here.

But what’s here is pretty damn good.

First thing that jumps out at me: the game looks fantastic. This may be an early version, but it’s already pretty damn polished. The animation is adorable and smooth, and everything looks like it belongs in the same world together. This sincerely feels like something I’d be playing on the Nintendo Switch.

In fact, I’d RATHER be playing it on the Switch. This game is meant to be multi-player, but I only have the one controller, so as much as I’d love to invite my wife and her boyfriend to go hack and slash some murder-bunnies with me, I really can’t. Solo mode is fine, but this is clearly a diluted version of the intended experience. This definitely feels like we’d all have a blast tossing onto the big TV.

The game always keeps moving — literally. That damn cart doesn’t stop (mostly), so if you’d like to gather up resources, you need to hustle. This gives that game a very nice sense of tension even when you’re not in combat. (The exception is that when the cart comes to a fork in the road, it will stop and wait for you to choose which way you’d like to go. It may have disrupted the rhythms of the game, but every time, I made sure to harvest everything harvestable on the screen before allowing it to go forward.) Chop the thing to turn into a resource, grab the resource, run back to the wagon, toss it into the wagon, go find another thing to chop.

Once night falls, you’ll need to put the stuff you’ve gathered to use. You use the wood to light the fire, which never seems to burn long enough or illuminate enough area. You’ll use the plants to power-chug healing potions as the game’s various monsters wail on you.

Aw, are those cute widdle bunny wab– OH FUCK THEY’RE STABBING ME

The bunnies are basically mooks, but it isn’t long before sub-bosses like badgers start showing up. Luckily, the big bads will telegraph their attacks and give you a chance to dodge to safety — assuming there’s somewhere you can dodge to. Also, bad-guy friendly fire is totally A Thing in this game, and watching the big guys murk their allies never stops being hilarious.

Take enough damage, and you die. Die three times, and your expedition is over.

Also, the big guys drop gold sacks, which you’ll need to pick up and toss into your wagon like any other resource. This is somehow perfect despite how annoying it is.

There are also power-ups you’ll occasionally be given the chance to spend your money on. This version of the game only allows you to pimp your wagon, but I have to think beefing-up your personal weaponry and armor will start showing up as an option as the game keeps being developed.

That’s really my only serious beef with this game — there’s not enough content here yet. Given that it’s Version 0.016, that’s hardly a surprise. Even playing the watered-down solo version, if there had been another forest to fight through, I’d gladly have done it. The core cycle of gathering resources during the day then spending them fighting for your life at night just plain worked for me. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see it on the Switch in a few years — it absolutely looks that polished. And if I see it there, I’m gonna buy it. This looks like a damned fine little party-esque game.

Last I checked, it’s free — as one would hope for Version 0.016. I can definitely recommend giving it a try.

How many cute woodland critters will be locked in mortal combat for this next one?

Page 6, Game 11: RPG Items – Retro Pack by Blodyavenger

“591 retro styled item RPG items”

Ah, looks like a development resource pack. So I’m gonna guess “none.” Unless the person who made them is VERY creative. Who wouldn’t wanna go into battle wielding a pair of woodchuck-chuks?

Forbidden Lore Design Diary #3: A Void With Walls

Know what’s more interesting than moving around an infinite void? MOVING AROUND A MOTHERFUCKING DUNGEON THAT’S WHAT!

Build it and they will come

Granted, when the dungeon is completely empty, it’s not THAT much more interesting. (I’m the red “@” sign. That yellow one? That’s Larry. He’s just chilling, don’t worry about Larry. He’s just happy he didn’t wind up embedded in the walls again.) But, still. There are places I can go, and places I CANNOT go! And I’m generating this shit at random, just like a proper roguelike!

Still following the script, though things are getting sophisticated enough that I occasionally had to debug when I miscopied something. (Already learned that Eclipse’s in-line syntax checker can be fooled a bit easier than I’d prefer and is prone to reporting false errors that look alarming but that don’t actually prevent the code from running. Grr.)

I should probably use my next coding session to spend some quality time with a Python tutorial. I’m more or less following along, but I think it’s time to get myself a bit better grounded in the basics of that language.

This is coming together fast. I imagine it will come together a whole lot LESS fast once I hit the end of the scripted tutorial and have to, you know, decide some shit for myself. Still. This is cool as hell.

Justice Playthrough #117: Broken Minds

Insane Troll Logic: The Game!

Page 11, Game 12: Broken Minds by LockedOn

Interactive novel where you’re a young woman who’s just moved out on her own, but who has horrendously abusive parents. Luckily, someone has murdered them! In your apartment. Which is kind of a pisser.

Still. You contact a detective agency to investigate the crime, because police are apparently not a thing in this world. The three detectives will bicker and stay stupid inappropriate shit and extort you for money as they try to solve the case — and recruit you into doing their work for them.

Who killed your parents?

Well, you, duh.

Yeah, fuck these fuckers

I mean, that’s not what the game says. The game … says all sorts of preposterous shit, and tries to get you to follow along. The game very seriously feels scripted by a hyper six-year-old. There was a BUNNY! An EVIL BUNNY! Who was outside your apartment! And started a fire in your kitchen! And when you ran away, THE EVIL BUNNY SHOT YOUR PARENTS! Except they weren’t really shot! Your dad was poisoned! Your mom’s pacemaker failed! BUT THEN THEY WERE SHOT ANYWAY AND NOW YOU’RE AN ORPHAN WHAAAAAAAA?!

So, what do YOU think killed them?

This game is so bizarre it actually starts to horseshoe back around to brilliant. It LOOKS fantastic, with a cool, fucked-up art style that clashes violently with the bizarre sitcom banter of the three fuckwit detectives investigating the case. You can investigate the crime scenes, which mostly involves clicking on arrows at random and learning nothing in particular.

At one point, you’ll be tasked with answering the door, finding the envelop dropped on the floor, and returning it to one of the detectives who can then read it to you. This is one of the more challenging quests in the game.

You get some dialog options, and it may not work for shit, but you gotta love this choice tree.

You cannot choose Liar, which makes Liar a Liar and OMFG I JUST BLEW MY OWN MIND

I went with “Nice” before more regularly choosing “Psychopath” in an effort to express glee at my parents’ demise. It did not seem to matter.

So, is this game, you know, good? Oh, FUCK no. It’s terrible. But there’s a kind of dim enthusiasm to its awfulness that gives it a bizarre Wiseau-esque charm. If you’d like to experience a noir mystery as filtered through the imagination of someone who doesn’t know what either of those words mean, by all means, give it a look.

What manner of brain-bending madness awaits me next?

Page 24, Game 6: Wild Woods by WildWoods

“Go on an expedition, cooperate with up to four friends and fight your way through the woods”

Ah, camping gone fucked. Sounds like like the Blair Witch OMFG MY USER NAME IS RELEVANT PLEASE LET THERE BE HIPPOS.