Indie Spotlight - Unmannned

When I first started playing Unmanned I was very unsure what to expect, the title isnt an obvious clue as to what is going on unlike some of the more mainstream games out there and it's website is very plain and uninformative as to what sort of genre this game is. I think that's because its very hard to categorise Unmanned as any one type of game, not that it suffers in any way for it and I must admit Unmanned was one of the more interesting looks at indie design I've seen in some time.

With its very surreal style of gameplay, nicely designed artwork and atmospheric audio (as well as some nice beats here and there) it is a great package for a free title. Giving the player specific sections of a man's day to do with what they see fit, enabling you to ruin his face while shaving, crash his car and disobey orders, there really is a lot of content here to play with and I would encourage multiple playthroughs.

If you have 30 minutes to spare try out Unmanned


Thoughts about Quantic Dream's "Kara"

While you might be tempted to just watch it in the window above, Kara is truly a beautiful thing to watch full-screen and in HD, 

I've been a follower of David Cage and his interesting takes on game design since the Sega Dreamcast release of Nomad Soul so it comes as no surprise that his latest tech demo, Kara, is currently taking the internet by storm.

This 7 minute video, showcasing the now year old demo of Quantic Dream's ability is a prelude to what will no doubt be their next title. This of course is only an assumption that can be made from a tech demo shown by Quantic Dream shortly before Heavy Rain was unveiled for the first time.

While it is still unknown what will be used for their next title, Kara really delves into how I personally want to see games grow. In the 7 minutes of footage, an entire plot is shown off about a robot who 'malfunctions' and develops the ability to feel, facial capture, voice work and fantastic animation bring this machine to life and made me really want to see what happens next. Cage has always had a fantastic ability of making likable characters that I want to learn more about and this is probably the most impressive yet.

If you have 10 minutes to spare or want something to watch on your lunch break I highly suggest taking a look at Kara, its fantastic footage not only begs the question what will come next but also what can be made with this kind of tech.


Bomberman x Team Fortress 2 = AWESOME

Let me drop a knowledge bomb on your right now. I LOVE TEAM FORTRESS 2.

After shaky beginnings with it, me and TF2 got past our issues (namely its inability to drop items on me) and I went on a daily rampage of playing with friends and pubs alike.

One clever chap has created a new mod in 24-hours which reminds us that at one time big headed sausage people were the height of videogame violence, blowing each other up in the middle of a square arena. This Bomberman style mode forces the player into the role of the Demoman and creates the destructible blocks we all know and love. The actual bombs don't work the same way as the original (I'm unsure if this is by design or just because it was too difficult) and just explode in the standard Team Fortress way.

If you fancy having a crack at it, check out the link on his on website 


Indie Spotlight - Wonderputt

I want to dedicate a little time to indie games every now and again which not only showcase some interesting ideas but also show off the potential of future designers.
All the titles I post about will be free to play/try.

Today I want to mention another IGF finalist but this time from 2011, Wonderputt.

I have a feeling Wonderputt will need very little explanation or description. It's crazy golf imagined by people who have a flair for style and visual aesthetics. Using a fantastic physics engine, Wonderputt tasks you of putting a ball in a hole, a simple and well known game with a great art direction and addictive challenges.

You can give it a go
here, it's great to have open in a browser when you have a few minutes to spare.


How to make a Playstation 3 Music playlist on your PC

Ever play Wipeout, Street Fighter, SSX or Burnout on PS3 and had the issues of transferring your music playlists from the PC to PS3? I feel your pain.

After sitting and putting together some great playlists on my PC over the weekend I tried to figure out a easy way for me to transfer these playlists through my network and have the PS3 automatically add the correct songs in the right playlists or, even better, transfer the playlists in their entirety.

I managed to find a way which, might take a little setup but I think is the easiest to transfer and maintain in the future (IE add more tracks to).

You will need :-
  • a USB memory stick, size is dependent on your playlist size but 1gb or bigger will make the task easier. This should also be formatted to FAT32
  • a copy of Winamp 
  • a copy of MP3TAG
note - my instructions are for PC Users, sorry Apply fans.
  1. Construct your playlist! - collect all the songs you want to use into a single playlist in Winamp. To do this right click the 'Playlists' header on the left hand panel and select 'New Playlist' then add the songs from your library straight to the playlist
  2. Transfer to the USB memory stick - if you're letting Winamp handle your USB memory stick management (which is recommended for this tutorial) click the 'Send-To' button at the bottom of your playlist and select your USB Stick
  3. The waiting game - Winamp will now make a copy of every single track in your playlist on the memory stick, this is hugely important as we are going to change the ID3 tags of the songs and dont want to mess up your perfectly organised and well presented collection. While waiting its a good idea to download and install MP3TAG as we will need to use it shortly.
  4. Changing tags - with the songs now on a memory stick, load up Mp3tag and select 'File' then 'Change Directory' and point it at the USB stick with your music on. let all the music load up and then select them all (ctrl + a). now change the 'Genre' on the left hand side to something unique. When I was going this the first time it was for an SSX playlist so I named mine 'SSX Tricky'. Once you've picked your Genre press Ctrl + S to save it, this might take some time depending on how many songs you're using.
  5. Transfer time! - once mp3tag is finished insert the USB memory stick into the PS3 and head over to the Music section of the XMB and press triangle on your memory stick. This will give you a few options but we want 'Display All' which will show all the folders that appear. Press triangle again and select copy multiple then select all the folders of music you wish to copy and start it off!
  6. Finally - Once the copy has completed go back to the music section of the XMB and check if your genre is correct (you should be able to sort songs by pressing square) and you're all done!
Now if you're like me and you want several playlists just rinse and repeat this process as many times as you need and don't forget this is also a great way to add tracks in the future too as all you need to do is alter the genre and put them on your PS3.

Happy gaming!


Indie Spotlight - The Snowfield

I want to dedicate a little time to indie games every now and again which not only showcase some interesting ideas but also show off the potential of future designers.
All the titles I post about will be free to play/try.

The Snowfield, an IGF 2012 finalist, is a atmospheric 3rd person title in which you take control of a nameless, faceless soldier after a battle in snowy land. as the battle is over your thoughts go towards your own survival and so the game begins. Aside from a single screen of controls, The Snowfield offers very little in the way of direction but that also adds to its charm, offering the player to chance to discover what survival means to them.

The Games own description offers the following statement

The Snowfield represents an attempt to make a simulation-based narrative game according to a special method for developing such games, a method designed to avoid the need for complex A.I. or massive content generation"

The method they are talking about is user testing. Creating the world's "building blocks" and then watching to see how a player reacts to them has created this games narrative, an interesting idea which inverts the current way most developers create their titles.

The Snowfield is an interesting title which has no true ending (or not one I've found so far) the game does time out after a little while so no real 'WELL DONE' type of kill screen but with that said its still work 30 minutes of your time.

Link (Please note you will need the free Unity engine plug-in)


Xenoblade Chronicles is a Slice of Awesome

I was a very big on the Nintendo Wii when it first came around, saying that I would be spending most of my time on the machine for near future and I was somewhat right in that statement.

Having spent 3 years with the machine as my 'first choice' console I had amassed a significant collection and had even helped a UK based Nintendo site with some reviews and opinions. A few years further on and like many other Wii's around the world it sits gathering dust as neither 1st or 3rd party offerings raise a single hair on my neck.

This didn't change when I heard about Xenoblade Chronicles, the fabled 'great last game for the Wii' that everyone who was interested enough to listen, had been waiting for and after watching/reading some reviews it still didn't pull me in enough to pick up a copy until very late last year (part of my 'finish my old games first' decision). So now, 70 hours in I can say only one thing.

Holy crap, this game is superb.

I'm not going to say its the best game on the Wii nor will I ignore its faults but this is one hell of an RPG regardless of what platform it's on. Having spent January trying to delve into several JRPG's on the PS3 that I just found annoying, long winded and poorly designed it was great to see a JRPG which not only did it right but did it better than so many others (Japanese or Western)

Starting off with a generic and fairly mediocre plot of 'boy with unknown origin discovers he's the only one who can wield legendary sword' the first hour or two dont really break any new ground story wise but it does show off the UI and controls at the players disposal. Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the only truly explorable RPG's I've ever known. Similar to Skyrim in a way if you can see an area in Xenoblade Chronicles you can climb/run/jump your way up/to it which covers one of my biggest peeves in RPG games, the chest high walls that games decide I cant climb even tough I totally could normally.

Away from exploration, the system's at Xenoblade's core are superb. save any time you arent in combat or dialogue, switch out the party at any time (even removing the main character if you so wish), players not in combat still level up with you and fast travel to any major location you've already visited anytime. While none of these are features which could be considered new, they are rare in Japanese RPG's and their inclusion in this title made it far more of a joy to play than any other RPG since Persona 3.

All in all Xenoblade Chronicles is simply fantastic to play,


Why Investing in the Past Will Only Help Your Wallet in the Future

(Note, sorry if this is a bit long winded... early morning writing was never my strong suit)

Those of you who I speak regularly to on Twitter or Steam will know I don't shy away from buying games on day one in stupid crazy collectors editions such as my super shiny Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception Explorers Edition.

I made a promise after that particular collectors edition to stop doing it. stop buying crazy £100+ collectors because of some crazy piece of plastic that comes with it and since then I've only bought standard editions of titles... for the most part.

You see, after looking down my pre-order list and cancelling 35 or so titles off the list leaving just above 10 games, I decided to work on my backlog of titles (something I know a lot of us put off) and I discovered some things that I should have put together a while back

1. there are some titles I've paid a fair chunk of money for which I just don't enjoy playing
2. I should have been doing this a long time ago.
3. Old games on PS1 are still fantastic if they were fantastic then.

So, some of you might be sitting there saying 'well those are 3 obviously things you nob'. True enough for the most part and trust me when I say I'll be a lot more picky when it comes to JRPG's in future but now lets get on to the subject of this post.

Old games cost less and play just as good as £40/50 new releases.

Now, this isn't new vs pre-owned, this is just a way to say stop paying so much for your hobby. Videogames are one of the more expensive types of new media and this is only because companies can get away with it. Recently Currys/PC World had a clearance sale where titles like Rage, Dead Space 2, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, Fear 3 and Mortal Kombat were the overdraft killing price of 97p. I paid between £30 to £40 for each of those titles close to release and while I had enjoyed them all if I had spent time on my backlog rather than go and grab them and ignore the pile of games on my desk then I would have saved around £145 quid.

I know this is a special case, it's not like game is going to have a closing down sale soon (I hope) and not everyone has insane pre-order lists or a huge stack of unplayed/unfinished games but if you spent a little more time on the titles you already own then you'll only save cash on the ones you want in the future.