WordPress.com being awful

I was already thinking about moving away from wordpress.com to self hosted because of the limitations of this and the CEO being weird and shitty to trans people, but I guess I have to move a lot faster now that the company wants to sell shit on here to AI companies. Technically there’s an option to opt out and I’ve done that, but I don’t really trust the company. Definitely not deleting the site but there might be some weirdness transferring everything once I figure out how to do that.

Screenshot Saturday (Feb. 26, 2024)

There was a lot of stuff on Cohost/Mastodon/Blue Sky that looked very nice to me with the Screenshot Saturday tag. Let’s take a look!

I’m interested in this solarpunk city builder that I just found out about last Saturday on Mastodon

top down view of a futuristic city

Even the menus for Kitsune Tails are looking very charming on Blue Sky, Cohost, and Mastodon

menu showing how to design a magic postcard

I also just learned about Settlemoon on Cohost. I really like the colors it’s using and apparently the game is already out!

a menu sitting in front of a pixel art village

I like this game’s aesthetic. You can follow it on Cohost and Mastodon

gif of a low poly walk up stairs

Axyz looks like a puzzle game I’ll enjoy with its vaporwave aesthetic. I saw this on Blue Sky.

marble sitting on a platform in the sky

Indie Game Roundup (Feb. 23, 2024)

Hello! This is going to be a shortish one since I’m preparing for the arrival of a baby in two weeks and haven’t had that much time to play games. Maybe I’ll do one of these next week but then I’m taking a break from these for at least a month, probably two. Still some stuff I really enjoyed though!

Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story
If this is the last one, I need everyone to know that Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story comes out very soon and I need everyone to buy it. It’s absolutely wonderful that Digital Eclipse is doing these interactive history things/game compilations and I don’t know if there’s one I could get more excited about than this.

pixel art image of a building and person saying "Sometimes I try to lose myself"

Provenance
Provenance is a ridiculously beautiful Bitsy. I did not know that Bitsy games could look or sound like this.

Smashtronaut
It’s a month old so maybe not brand new but it’s a very fun little browser game on Itch.io where you smash into stuff with your ship and get points.

Zine in a Cassette
Not exactly a game but if you wanted to know how to distribute a game or zine in a cassette case, this guide on Itch.io is incredibly useful.

Word Sprint
Word Sprint is a free browser game on Itch.io where you make as many words as possible in 2 minutes. I’m awful at these types of things but it’s very well made and I had fun playing it.

top down view of a maze in green, with other mazes behind it

20 Small Mazes
20 Small Mazes is a free game on Steam where you do a bunch of clever mazes. Great stuff and I like how the game looks too.

space ship shooting at very psychedelic looking things in space

NIDUS
Haven’t played NIDUS (Steam link) yet but look at that! It looks fantastic and early Steam reviews are positive too.

top down view of pieces moving around on a white board

Sokobond Express
Haven’t played this one yet either (Steam link) but I’ve really enjoyed other puzzle games these folks have made so I’m sure I’ll like this too.

Other People Talking About Indie Games
Fortunately there’s lots of other people that are better at talking about indie games than I am that you can follow while I’m on break.

Wraithkal does regular Screenshot Saturday blog posts about people participating in it on Mastodon.

The Pixel Prophet has a very nice newsletter from Buttondown about indie games and other things

Rascal just launched. It’s always nice seeing more people talk about tabletop rpgs that aren’t Dungeons & Dragons.

Other Things

I guess I should have been putting new album recommendations in here this whole time as well. Tim Midyett, most famous for the bands Silkworm and Bottomless Pit, just released a new album (Bandcamp) from his band Mint Mile and I think it’s pretty good stuff.

Mary Timony (Helium, Ex Hex) also released a new solo album today (Bandcamp). I haven’t heard it yet but she’s just a fantastic guitarist.

I liked this article about 80s Lucasfilm Games MMO Habitat and 30 years since the closing of Club Caribe

Other videos I’ve put up this week on YouTube include Let’s Plays of The Last Exterminator, Meatverse, and Sea Peebles. I also put up gameplay videos with no commentary of 80s Lucasfilm Games MMO Habitat, the 1998 Collier’s Encyclopedia that Sierra developed, and shorts for indie games Toro, Handvaska, and Kobold Generator.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll probably do one next week before the 1-2 month break but if not, thanks for reading!

Screenshot Saturday (Feb. 19, 2023)

I got grumpy about it feeling like outlets covering #ScreenshotSaturday are only doing it for X, which is just a dying social media platform for the far right at this point, so here’s some of things that I thought looked pretty neat elsewhere. Some of the posts have multiple images, so click on the links to see more. I only got Blue Sky, Mastodon, and Cohost this week but can check out other places like Tumblr, Instagram, and Threads in future weeks.

Shadow jumping game SCHiM is looking pretty nice over on Cohost

I’m excited to see Eldritch 2 development going smoothly on Mastodon and Bluesky since I loved the original.
view of a building with lit windows at night

This fan project is looking pretty lovely on Mastodon, with a lengthy post on Cohost explaining development of the game as well.

https://cdn.masto.host/mastodongamedevplace/media_attachments/files/111/949/042/844/859/101/original/60c9c0e6e47bb191.png

Oidanoid is looking like a lovely twin stick shooter (Mastodon)

https://cdn.masto.host/mastodongamedevplace/media_attachments/files/111/949/054/396/697/055/original/8e71ece681abe575.png

I continue looking forward to The Crimson Diamond, a point-and-click adventure inspired by games like The Colonel’s Bequest. (Mastodon, Blue Sky, Steam)

gif of a man packing clothes

Frenzy is pitched as a demake of Far Cry from an ecofeminist lens (Mastodon)

a woman shooting at some bad guys in a jungle

I’m a huge fan of Cosmic Void’s games and will be the first in line to buy Devil’s Hideout as well. (Mastodon, Blue Sky, Steam)

https://cdn.masto.host/mastodongamedevplace/media_attachments/files/111/945/955/492/764/040/original/e2e547faa0e285b7.png

Inspector Waffles Early Days is turning out to be a lovely Game Boy inspired adventure game. (more images on Mastodon, Blue Sky, Steam)

https://files.mastodon.online/media_attachments/files/111/946/258/704/852/865/original/e74e547ff9779a1d.png

I enjoy Taconite’s game jam work so I’m excited to see that they’re making another FPS (Blue Sky)

Tearcell Games has a nice looking Godot tech demo for a rpg (looks much better on Mastodon)

gif of movement through a forest and then fighting a blob

Mushroom Musume is already fantastic and it’s continuing to get updates (look better on Mastodon, Itch.io)

visual novel gif showing photos of a forest in a low amount of colors

Retrowave ’84 has some nice colors in their FPS (Blue Sky, Steam)

a neon highway with police cars on the road in a futuristic city

Indie Game Roundup (Feb. 16, 2024)

Hope you’re all doing well! I’m still getting over a cold that has actually been pretty mild but I’m a big baby so I’m acting like it’s the worst thing ever. For some of you it’s probably a 3 day weekend as well, so that’s a nice thing to look forward to. Despite my mild cold completely ruining my life, I still found a way to play some video games. If there’s something I missed, especially if it’s something you worked on, please reply with it in the comments or contact me (see About page) with a link to your thing.

Vaporwave Pinball

top down view of a pinball table with a statue and roman columns to its right

Vaporwave Pinball is an upcoming pinball game being developed by Mixtape Games UK. I played the demo as part of Steam’s Next Fest. I thought it was really neat. It’s got some quirks that should be fixed as development continues and I didn’t get to the more abstract tables that pop up in the screenshots. I feel like if a pinball table in a video game is not a 1:1 recreation of a real table, then it needs to get really weird, which is what this seems to do in later tables and something that I feel like Pinball FX needs to do more of with their fictional tables. I’m also learning how to do Let’s Plays and did one here.

Lost in Space

a boy, a man, and a robot around a space ship console

Lost in Space is an upcoming point-and-click adventure game based on the classic science fiction tv show. I played the demo and idk, it’s fine! They picked a weird spot for the demo. From watching the trailer at the end, it sounds like they use audio from the show for some of the other characters but not the player, which is the thing I was actually most interested in and how that’s pulled off. It’s a completely average adventure game, meaning I’m kinda just fine with it but would lose my shit if they made game at this quality level of a different IP, like a Farscape adventure game. So if you like Lost in Space then I would recommend it! (YouTube Let’s Play)

Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge 2

game boy screenshot of a golfer in bed saying "Mornin Morty! I bet you're as excited for the Springfield Cup as I am!"

Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge 2 is a point-and-click adventure for the Game Boy based on a joke at the end of an episode of The Simpsons back in season 7. It’s not too long or challenging, took me about 30 minutes to beat, but the jokes really worked for me and there’s a lot of hidden jokes I didn’t see but know I missed because of the achievement system. The game is also playable in the browser. (YouTube Let’s Play)

8BUTTERF.EXE

Gameplay footage of 8BUTTERF.EXE

8BUTTERF.EXE is a bullet hell game made for the TIC-80 fantasy computer where time only passes when you move. I really enjoyed this game and highly recommend checking it out. Elements of it almost make it feel like a puzzle game in that you have to manage your resources and plan your movements ahead. It’s playable in the browser here.

Kobold Quest
Just a very pleasant and short Bitsy where you’re a Kobold. (Itch.io)

Gelatinous
A solo tabletop rpg where you play as a gelatinous cube and eat things. Don’t know how I can sell it better than that. (Itch.io)

Advanced Fantasy Dungeons
A tabletop rpg available as pay-what-you-want that is strongly inspired by Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition and compatible with supplements as well. Despite that era being kind of clunky, it’s what I grew up with so I have a ton of nostalgia for it. I’m interested in seeing how that type of game is redesigned to be a bit more approachable. (Itch.io)

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is a spiritual sequel to the infamous Zelda platforming games on the Philips CD-i. Weirdly enough, I do sorta have some nostalgia for those games, despite being pretty awful, since I actually played them at a CompUSA when they came out and was confused why there were non-traditional Zelda games out there and on a non-Nintendo console. I always get excited when people do a spiritual sequel to something that wasn’t good and my hope with this is that the approach was “what if we did one of these but it was good?” Because why not? We have plenty of remakes and sequels to good games. Let’s revisit things that maybe had some good idea but the execution wasn’t 100% perfect.

Ultros

I know nothing about this game other than it’s a metroidvania but look at this art! I think it’s lovely. (Steam)

News Tower

news tower screenshot of a side view of a tower

I haven’t played this one but the concept is really interesting to me and I heard good things about the demo. It’s a game where you run your own newspaper and looks pretty great. The game is available in Early Access on Steam.

Other People Talking About Games
There’s also lots of other people talking about indie games that you should follow:

And then finally on my YouTube channel I’ve uploaded footage of games I’ve played like Super Space Club, Glypha: Vintage, and Dead Petals Bliss.

Starting a YouTube Account

So a few days ago I’ve started uploading videos to my YouTube account, partially to share my experiences playing games, partially to spread awareness of indie games I enjoy, and also to document games that don’t have videos, either because they’re lost games or because they’re indie games that are just too obscure.

Since my interest is mostly in adventure games and interactive fiction, I guess my question now is: What is the ideal Let’s Play for an indie game developer’s game? The last thing I want to do is cost a sale of a game I liked because someone just watched my playthrough instead. Commentary or no? Just the first 30 minutes of a game and then I just play the rest offline? Does this differ if the game is free vs being paid? I’m guessing it’s fine to play through an entire thing if it’s a demo or free game. So what I may do is if it’s a new commercial game, I’ll play for 30-60 minutes and then do the rest offline? But I would love to know from game developers what they think in the comments or replies.

DREAMM 3.0 is Looking for Testers

DREAMM, the Lucasfilm Games emulator created by Aaron Giles, is looking for testers for version 3.0. It adds support for the following games:

  • PHM Pegasus (1988)
  • Battlehawks 1942 (1988)
  • Strike Fleet (1989)
  • Pipe Dream/Pipe Mania (1989)
  • Their Finest Hour: Battle of Britain (1989)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989)
  • Night Shift (1990)
  • Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1991)
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game (1992)
  • MasterBlazer (1992)
  • Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1989)
  • Super Star Wars (unreleased prototype) (1989)
  • Star Wars Chess (1993)

If you want to check it out, you can download it here.

Indie Game Roundup (Feb. 9, 2024)

Here’s what I’ve been excited about this week. Let me know if you’re working on something that I missed!

two cartoon mice sitting at a table
Screenshot from Esther’s

Indiepocalypse 49
The newest edition of the monthly indie games compilation zine is out and features a lovely assortment of games. I recommend Esther’s, a really cute interactive fiction game.

Threes
Threes is now available on Steam! It’s probably my most played iOS game so I hesitant to fall down that wormhole again, but it’s really a great little game.

futuristic looking platformer
Screenshot from Q.P.I.D.

Q.P.I.D
Digital Eclipse has released another game in their Digital Eclipse Arcade, a series of small games inspired by 80s arcade games. Digital Eclipse is much more known for rereleasing old games but these are pretty neat too and this one is free.

3 characters climbing steps in a dungeon
Screenshot from Stairup

Stairup
Stairup is the newest game from the anonymous game dev collective Domino Club. It’s a very short turn based rpg made with RPG Maker MV where you climb a series of stairs and stuff happens. It’s got some very good writing and I thought it was funny. Playable in the browser on Itch.

Canabalt
The classic endless runner has been ported to HTML 5 and the source has been posted to Github. You can play it in the browser/download it for free on Itch.io.

TTRPG Bundle for Trans Youth
A game developer is raising funds for their local trans youth group Emerge and has put together a bundle on Itch featuring tabletop rpgs from a ton of different game developers. You can buy it on Itch for $5 or more.

Cookie Cat Grandma
A local game developer has started working on a chill platformer game and I think it looks really nice! Follow them on YouTube for further updates on the game.

(Per Person) Refillable
(Per Person) Refillable (playable in browser) is a very short and lovely interactive fiction filled with nice art about ordering too many lemon ice teas.

Nesterin Trail
We got a new text adventure for the Commodore 64! Available as pay-what-you-want, it’s also playable on modern computers.

person's face in a chair saying "welcome to ur internship"

Meatverse
Meatverse is a short horror adventure developed for a game jam about an office made from humans.

a pixel art cave with spiders and frogs

Mushroom Soup
Mushroom Soup is a new platformer for the ZX Spectrum 128. Available for free on Itch.io

man telling a woman "This hospital is strangely silent for a medical facility"

Devil’s Hideout
Devil’s Hideout is an upcoming horror point-and-click adventure by Cosmic Void. I’ve enjoyed everything else by this developer so I know I’ll pick this up when it comes out too.

Mops & Mobs: A Sweeping Dungeon Novel
Mops & Mobs is a prototype of a game where you have started working in a dungeon and helping the various creatures with tasks that need to be done. It controls a lot like your traditional dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master but is essentially the opposite of those. Instead of walking around and murdering everything you see, you’re cleaning and decorating the dungeon, and talking to the creatures that have defeated previous adventurers. It’s a really good game and I’m looking forward to future versions of the game. I actually just started a YouTube channel to get footage of various tiny indie games and you can watch my Let’s Play of the game here, although the game is only 15-20 minutes long and I highly recommend it.

Other People Talking About Games

There’s also lots of cool people talking about indie games elsewhere. The Adventure Games Podcast has put out two videos this last week. The first video is about adventure games released this month and the second video is about games that aren’t adventure games but are very narrative focused.

On startmenu Kate Robinson hightlights some of the best sleeper hits Of 2023.

The Pixel Prophet has a regular newsletter that highlights indie games and other folks talking about indie games.

Adventure Game Hotspot has done a massive roundup of demos for adventure games in the Steam Next Fest.

The Museum of Screens regularly highlights browser games you should play as well as preserving browser games of the past.

Indie Hell Zone highlighted some demos from the Steam Next Fest.

Bobbins’ Olde Tomb of Videogames continues to do an excellent job highlighting new arcade games.

Anyone Can Make a Game with FMV

When the use of cd-roms for games became mainstream in the 90s, there was a massive explosion of people taking advantage of all that extra space by adding full motion video to their games. A lot of great games were released during this time but it became a short lived trend since there were also a lot of bad games released. Having grown up playing a lot of these games, I’m now (mostly unironically) a fan of FMV in games and love seeing what new games are using it on Steam and Itch. While FMV can limit what kind of games can be made, I think it also has advantages. Video of real people or things can possibly help players connect to the story being told and even low budget or bad FMV can be charming. While it sounds intimidating to record something for a game, it doesn’t mean it must be a big production and there are a lot of tools to easily add video to your game.

Adventure Game Studio
Adventure Game Studio is a free and open source game engine for making point-and-click adventure games. While most games made with the engine are 3rd person adventure games, the engine can be used in a variety of ways. This excellent tutorial by Space Quest Historian shows how someone who has never used AGS before can make a first-person game that uses FMV. Even if you have no interest in using AGS, there’s some good advice in here.

  • Anyone can record video for a game as long as you have a smartphone. Making FMV doesn’t mean you need to have massive camera, people doing makeup and lighting, and a cast of actors. I’ll talk about it later but last year I made a game with my cat and an iPhone.
  • Plan all the video you’re shooting in advance – Make sure you know everything you’ll have to film before you start shooting your game. It will be a massive headache to go back and get more video once you’re halfway through coding the game and realize that you forgot to film something.
  • Organize your videos – Make sure you have a good folder structure and naming scheme for your videos. If you have a lot of little video clips, it can quickly become overwhelming to figure out what videos are used for what.

Charles Engine for Unity
If you are more interested in doing a Choose Your Own Adventure/branching narrative game, I can recommend the Charles Engine plugin for Unity as an option. The Charles Engine was made by Charles Games, developer of games like Attentat 1942 and Svoboda 1945. I made a very tiny FMV game using this plugin with my cat last year and while I would maybe recommend having an actor less difficult to direct than a cat, making a game with the plugin was very easy and the engine provides an easy to use tool to plot out all the nodes and branching that your interactive story will use. But the plugin can do more than just interactive movies and the tutorial that comes with the plugin has you eventually creating a game set on a fake computer desktop, kind of like making your own version of Her Story.

a picture of my cat and asking if she stole my chicken nuggets
A screenshot of the game I made with Charles Engine

Narrat
Narrat is a lovely tool for making interactive fiction games, with a layout that seems to be inspired by RPGs like Disco Elysium. But that’s not all it can do. The creator of the engine also made A Walk Through the Forest, a short interactive fiction game where you walk on a trail through a forest while the narrator talks about their personal thoughts. Parts of the game can have you looking at video of parts of the trail. Narrat also has integration with Godot if you prefer to work in that engine. Hopefully one of the takeaways from this post is that your game doesn’t even need to have people in it, it can just be video of nature or animals.

screenshot from a walk through the forest showing a trail in a forest
A screenshot from A Walk Through the Forest

Twine
Even Twine can be used to play full motion video. Issue 36 of Wireframe magazine (RIP) has a tutorial on how you can do this. The article’s author also has two demos of this on their Itch page. One demo uses footage from the film Plan 9 from Outer Space while the other one recreates the dialog system from one of my favorite games The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery.

plan 9 from outer space playing inside of Twine
Twine can play video like this clip from Plan Nine From Outer Space

Ren’Py
Ren’Py is the game engine of choice for Oh, A Rock! Studios, who has made a few games with video like Internet Court and The Awkward Steve Duology. The functionality to play video in games is built into the engine and from reading the official documentation, doesn’t seem too difficult.

a bearded man laying on the floor with the choices "Answer the Door", "Get in Box", and "Ask the internet"
Screenshot from The Awkward Steve Duology

GDevelop
I was recommended the tool GDevelop by game developer Damon L. Wakes. They added video into their golfing game Nine Hole Ninja because they felt it was the easiest way to add a story in the final hours of the game jam. What they liked about using GDevelop (link to Mastodon post) was that videos are game objects just like sprites or particle emitters: you drag them where you want on screen, and then there are events to start/pause/show/hide them based on conditions you choose. Nine Hole Ninja plays them over top of each level when it starts, then deletes them when they’re done.

I hope this post was useful and you’ll consider putting video in your next game, whether it’s a personal story or a total schlock fest. I also recommend this article that lists 10 tips from folks that have made games with FMV before. If there’s other tools that you use for this type of thing, please let me know in the comments!