Tag Archives: game

Game Review – GoatUp

Jeff Minter, with his alter-ego/software company, Llamasoft, has been creating ungulate related games for as long as I can remember. On the Amiga games like Llamatron and Attack of the Mutant Camels were ridiculously over the top arcade perfection, with retro (even then) graphics, lofi sound, and pixel perfect controls. GoatUp is a fine addition to Minter’s metaphorical stable (as opposed to the real stable he probably owns.)

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In GoatUp, you control an incredibly nimble and fertile nanny goat who must jump from platform to platform to climb an impossibly tall tower into the sky, picking up bonus items and powerups along the way. Every so often you will meet a billy goat, kissing billy goats gives you more points and also causes you to get pregnant. After a while you instantaneously give birth to a kid that follows you around, if you survive long enough you can get a long chain of offspring trailing behind you. This is useful for defeating enemies, but disturbing if you stop to think about it. Luckily, there is no time to think – you must always be climbing and the game is hard, hard, hard.

The old games lived by their control schemes and GoatUp provides several. The only one that really works well is moving via tilting left or right, and jumping with a touch. You can tell that some thought has been put into the controls, and they work much better than the tilt controls in other games. Speaking of old games, GoatUp’s graphics are deliberately designed to look like various games from the 80’s, some pretty obscure. Part of the fun is trying to remember the particular game that is being invoked.

Recommended if you like this sort of thing.

Minecraft Creeper Shirt

The minecraft creeper face textureI don’t use my computer for games much these days, but I have been playing a bit of Minecraft lately. Minecraft is a strange beast, more of a pastime than an actual game, but well worth the money. I have tried online games before, and although I like shooting things, the first person shooters all look the same after a while, and the MMOs are tedious. A huge, multiplayer lego set turns out to be just what I wanted. Besides, I find the lo-fi graphics and even the obvious bugs in the game charming.

As I was invited to a fancy dress party recently, I decided I needed a Minecarft creeper shirt. The creepers are the most terrifying creatures in the game, and I knew I needed to do them justice. 4 pots of fabric paint and many hours gave this result:Me in my creeper teeshirt

SsssssSSSSS – kabooom!

Not too bad, if I say so myself.

Update: I have been asked how the tee shirt was made. This was my first experience with this type of craft, so perhaps a better way exists, but the following steps seemed to work OK:

Materials

  • Plain white tee shirt (I brought mine from the Warehouse for the princely sum of $8. If I was going to do it again I might spring for a better quality shirt since the one I got was made from rather thin fabric.)
  • Long straight edge ruler
  • A dark pencil (2B or similar), dress makers chalk would probably be better
  • Textile Ink – I used Fastex Textile Ink which I found in the craft section of Warehouse Stationary. The colours I used for the Creeper design were Black, White, Leaf and Green.
  • Some brushes
  • Water
  • Small containers for mixing colours (I used yogurt pottles)
  • Lots of newspaper to protect the table top
  • Lots of copier paper for stencils
  • Baking paper
  • An Iron
  • Some scissors

Method

First I ironed the shirt until it was as smooth as I could make it. Then with the ruler and pencil I divided the shirt into squares of equal size. Because the design I wanted extends all around the shirt, some of the squares wrap around across seams.

Don’t make the squares too small! Large areas are much quicker to paint than small ones.

I started at the centre line for both the front and marched the squares towards the edges. It doesn’t matter that the squares the wrap around over the seams are slightly different widths, being symmetrical is more important.

With the dining table covered in newspaper, I laid out the tee shirt as flat as I could. Then I inserted the glossy insert magazines that came with the paper into the tee shirt to keep the inside surfaces from touching. This is to stop the ink from bleeding through to the reverse surface when you brush it on.

I used a purpose-bought Weekend Herald for this, because I knew it came with a lot of glossy paper inserts that will not absorb ink or fall apart when damp like newsprint will. If you follow my lead, it is vitally important not to accidentally glance at any of the editorials, regular columns, or especially the letters to the editor. You need to maintain your calm for applying the ink.

To get really straight edges on the design it is best to mask out the fabric with masking tape. I found the really cheap off-brand sello-tape works even better, as the adhesive sticks just well enough to do the job but comes off very easily. However, I had far to many square to paint, so I just used bits of copier paper cut more or less straight with scissors. Holding down the paper against the fabric with one hand, I quickly brushed on the int with the other, taking particular care with the corners. Working this way I found I could do a square every couple of minutes.

I needed a lot a shades of green, so I was continuously mixing colours. Some very vivid colours can be created, but mixing in too much black or white just results in a muddy mess. Some of the squares are supposed to be white – I just left them unpainted.

The squares that wrap around from front to back across the seams were the hardest. I carefully folded the sides of the shirt up to reach the hidden side, then placed bits of baking paper over the wet ink before I laid the fabric flat against the newsprint. The prevented the ink from smearing if the shirt moved around, the baking paper doesn’t get stuck to the ink as it dries.

Once the front was done and completely dry, I fixed the ink (see below) before completing the other side. Remember the wash and dry your brushes.

Fixing the ink (so it doesn’t run when damp) is done with a hot iron. Iron each part of the shirt for 3-5 minutes to make sure that the ink stay where it is supposed to. I thought I did a pretty good job, but found the the black areas still ran a little when I washed the shirt, so you might like to pay particular attention to dark colours.

Go forth and impress people* with your custom, one-of-a-kind shirt.

* results may vary

TrapIt

My friend Aaron has been working on an iPhone game for ages, and now it has finally been released. It is well worth the NZ$1.29 being charged (there is no demo version available).

TrapIt Title Page

You can see more about the game at the TrapIt official site, or jump straight to the App Store page.

I must say I am a little envious. I have been an Apple Registered iPhone developer for 3 years and haven’t managed to produce anything.

Game Review : Citadels

Citadels is an easy but fun card game where the players compete to construct the most impressive city by amassing wealth to spend building various districts (docks, university, cathedrals, etc). The game ends when a player plays an eighth district then everyone’s city is scored (and certain bonuses added) to determine the winner. Simple.

Or not so simple. There are 8 role cards, each player will get one of these each turn which will enable certain actions. For instance, the Magician role can swap hands with another player, the Architect can build more in a turn, the King gets first choice of roles for next turn, etc. Because there are more roles than players and the roles are chosen secretly in turn, the way to win lies in choosing the correct role at the correct time. Some of the more expensive districts also confer additional bonuses apart for score such as more money or protection from certain attacks so thinking several turns ahead is required.

Citadels can be quite a sneaky game – many of the roles allow you to ruin your opponents plans by stealing cards or money, or even destroying their hard won districts from under them. But it is hard to get an unassailable lead and the way the roles work means that no player can really feel ganged-up on. It is also one of the few games I have played that actually works better as a 4 or 5 player game (haven’t tried 6 or more) without leaving some players in an unwinnable position.

The game itself is attractive and the cards are well designed. The one flaw is that the role cards get constantly handled and can get bent or scuffed up, which is a problem since they are supposed to remain identical to maintain the secrecy required. The basic game is flexible, the official website has a whole bunch of alternate rules to turn it into a children’s party game or a drinking game (although hopefully not at the same time). With 4 or 5 players the game takes about an hour to play.

Highly recommended.

Card Game Review : The Spoils

I think it is best to say two things right up front : firstly, The Spoils is a collectable card game just like Magic the Gathering. If you are not familiar with this form of gaming the rest of this review is going to be impenetrable, but in short each player builds a deck of cards from a much larger pool and then plays this against the opponent’s deck. Different cards have different effects, the skill in deck building lies in picking cards that compliment each other. The collectable part comes from the method of acquiring these cards, instead of just buying a full set you typically purchase small packs containing a random selection of cards, so each player is building decks from a different subset. Vast secondary markets exist for players wanting to trade surplus cards with others, sometimes for surprising sums of money since some card are deliberately printed in small numbers.

Secondly, The Spoils is a collectable card game just like Magic the Gathering. Seriously, it is basically Magic with a quick paint job and the VIN ground off. This is not necessarily a bad thing – I like Magic the Gathering, but the similarities are pretty blatant. I can almost imagine playing a Spoils deck against a Magic deck in the same game, most of the rules work in exactly the same way, only with different keywords (cards don’t get tapped, they become “depleted”, etc.)

Having said that, Spoils does differ in a few interesting ways which seem to be designed to make the decks play more consistently. A common problem with Magic is that sometimes you just don’t draw enough land cards of the correct type to play your hand full of spells. In The Spoils, you start the game with two staple resources (basic land) cards of your choice already in play – this hugely helps if you are running a 2 colour deck since you can ensure that you have both colours available.

Additionally, the costs for all cards are colourless – you can tap (sorry, deplete) any colour to pay for them. However, most cards have a “threshold”. A certain character (creature) might have a threshold of 3 rage (red) with a cost of 4 – to put this creature into play you must deplete 4 resources (of any colour) but you can only do so if you have at least 3 red resources out (depleted or not). Along with the staple resources there are special resource cards that still produce a single mana but count for double when calculating threshold, as a special bonus the card art for these special resources features scantily clad ladies for no particular reason.

You can play any card in your hand as a resource by playing it face down. These work just like regular resources but do not count towards threshold at all. Although you can usually only play a single resource a turn, you can deplete 3 resources to put another resource into play at any time.

Combat works much the same as it does in Magic, the big difference is that characters have an extra Speed statistic. This works much the same as first strike but with multiple levels, the faster character hits first and suffers no damage if it kills the other character outright.

These changes do make for a smooth game – it is almost impossible to imagine getting screwed by a bad starting hand in Spoils (especially since the mulligan rule is very forgiving.) On the other hand, one of the things I like about Magic is the unpredictability that forces you to have backup options in your deck if you don’t get what you want, Spoils is more forgiving but I think less flavourful. You could get much the same effect in Magic with a couple of house rules.

The card design is good without being brilliant, the art is perfectly OK if sometimes a little tacky. It may seem like I am damning The Spoils with faint praise, but there is actually a lot to like. It is just that The Spoils has little reason to exist in a world that already contains Magic the Gathering.