On GamerGate – Asking Questions

So to preface this, I’m a gamer. I love games and have all my life. I knew a long time ago that I wanted to go into game development, but I’ve only over the past few years started making large strides toward getting into it. Because I keep up with games and the community though I’ve had a front seat for much of GamerGate. I’ve been bothered because this controversy is hurting people I care about and an industry that I love. I don’t know what to do to fix it though, to change things. I’ve seen a lot of my friends scared and upset by things that they’ve read, about how women in gaming are lesser and other friends telling me that they cannot speak out. I posted another blog post about that earlier so I won’t delve too deeply into that. The point is though I’d like to see this resolved so they’ll still love this industry and feel safe in it.

The truth is women have been targeted and treated poorly and like lesser “gamers” before GamerGate and likely will after. What I want to do is open up conversations and try to understand what’s really going on here and try to bring about a peaceful solution. Because regardless of whether it’s people who support GamerGate or do not, we’re all gamers and we all love games and the industry we’re a part of. That’s a passion that we share, at least I hope it is.

To that point I decided to start asking questions. The big standing point for the GamerGate movement has been that they want to see ethics in gaming journalism, so I asked on Twitter, “Serious question, given that you have issues with ethics in journalism, why not organize your own outlet for gaming news?” I’d like to again preface by saying that so far anytime I’ve asked questions on Twitter of the GamerGate hashtag I’ve only received polite and cordial responses, no personal attacks or insults, that’s not to say that other people have not been attacked, I’ve seen the results, I’m just giving my personal experience up to this point.

The first response I received was a short one, unfortunately that person did not give me permission to share it so I cannot. The second response though led to a very polite conversation and the person was very helpful, they even agreed to allow me to post that response verbatim here. Ideally I would have liked to include it as one whole PDF-based image so it could be seen that I did not cut anything from it, but my PDF printer isn’t working so I had to do six separate images, here they are:

First part of conversation
Second part of conversation
Third part of conversation
Fourth part of conversation
Fifth part of conversation
Final part of conversation

There are a number of photos included, if anyone would like me to post them separate from the conversation I will be glad to.

First Impression – Growing Pains

Unlike Gateways or the Adventures of Shuggy, I couldn’t give this one a full thirty minutes to an hour. Not because the game was that bad, but because what the game comes with does not take that long. So instead I spent the next little bit of time looking over the editor and the workshop somewhat. It’s a neat little game with some simple and fun features. Seems like it could be fun to make some levels and send them to friends to challenge them to complete them. Not really my thing though.

Would I suggest this game: Well, like I said above. It’s a neat little game, pretty simple, but still a little fun. If you want to make levels with the editor and challenge your friends to complete them that would be one fun thing you could do with it.

Would I play it again: Probably not. The game doesn’t really capture my interest all that much, it’s a little fun, but nothing I would play continually.

First Impression – Gateways

This is the second game from Smudged Cat Games that I also received from GamesMatter.

Just from what I saw of it to begin with this game looked the most interesting to me out of the three. I’m really very impressed with the mechanics of the Gateways. Kudos to the developer on that for making a very fun and well-developed mechanic there. Yes, it’s somewhat like an 8-bit platformer combined with portal, but it’s so much fun. Even though I usually do not get into platformers very much I really enjoyed this game. There’s a story there, but the gameplay itself is entertaining enough that it’s not really necessary.

Would I suggest this game: Definitely, it’s a really fun little game.

Will I play more of this game: I definitely will, might even do a stream of it in the next few days.

Link to Smudged Cat Games: http://www.smudgedcat.com

First Impression – Adventures of Shuggy

So this is my first “first impression” post, basically what it will entail is me playing a game for about thirty minutes to an hour at most and then detailing what I thought of the game and whether I would suggest it to someone else and if I plan to continue to play it myself past that point.

The first game is Adventures of Shuggy, I got this and two other games from GamesMatter through Twitter, all three games were made by Smudged Cat Games. Their website is http://www.smudgedcat.com

I’ll start this off by honestly saying this isn’t the type of game I’d normally pick up for the PC usually, but when I started up the game I liked the art style and the design of the character. It’s amusing and a neat and unique style that definitely seems to fit together throughout the game. I liked the comic style introductions and transitions it used, though I’m not entirely certain about the flow of the story in the intro.

Once I got into the games themselves they were interesting and provided unique little challenges, but honestly it was not anything I had not seen in a number of games on the mobile market. Though the addition of so many different mechanics did make it a little more interesting. Though the difficulty of challenge in the levels did not always seem to scale well, but that could be different from one player to the next. For me sometimes I’d have a hard time on one level and then breeze through the next one that had just opened up from beating that one.

Would I recommend this game: Maybe, it depends on whether you’re a fan of platform games and escalating challenges with a number of different mechanics being thrown at you. What will keep a player here is definitely the challenge and the gameplay, and not the story.

Will I continue to play the game: I’ll play it some more, but honestly I cannot say that I was enjoying it that much. The story didn’t really invest me in it enough for me to keep going through the different levels. While the new challenges were something, it still grew repetitive and boring to me over time, but then I’m a big RPG fan.

First Game Dev Interview – Interview with Drassray

This is my first interview with a game developer, I had a chance to sit and speak with Drassray about the RPG he’s currently working on.   The interview follows and within the next few days I’ll be posting a review of the game at its current development stage.

You don’t make a living making games.   So what do you do for a living?

I work for a company called “Trinity Technologies.” I’m fairly new to the company and I work as a Technician. The company is a provider of Aloha Point of Sales systems. We build the servers and install the network components and help maintain those systems for the future.


When did you get started playing games?   What was the first game you remember playing and what did you love about it?

The year was 1989, I was only three at the time, and my parents got my older brother and I a Nintento Entertainment System (NES). I don’t honestly remember the occasion but that was my really first experience blaying video games. My first game was Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on the same cartridge. All I remember, since I was so young, was how cool is was to control a little character, Mario in this case, and make him jump and get to the end of levels, or at least I tried. My brother was six at the time and was much better than me at it.


That’s awesome, got my Nintendo when I was four, which was in 1986. Mario and Duck Hunt were my first games on it but the game I really remember on it was Final Fantasy.

We got that game a little later. My first RPG though was Dragon Warior. I played that game for hours on end. That’s when I discovered I loved the RPG genre.


How did you get started with making games?

I was always a gamer. When we got a PC with Windows 95 when I was around ten years old, I got into games like StarCraft. I would play with the level editor a lot. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I had fun. By then, I was playing games like Zelda and Final Fantasy and really enjoying those games as well. But, I would think to myself, why don’t they make a level editor for those games? Well in 2001 and during a search for SNES games online I discovered RPG Maker for PC. Back then it was RPG Maker 2000. I downloaded the demo and played with it some but never really committed to making anything significant. But that’s what sparked my interest.


Oh yeah, I remember RPG Maker 2000, that’s how I got my start with RPG Maker, too.   What was the first RPG Maker game you played?

Well, to be fair, I didn’t really play any until the last few years because even though I knew the engine existed, I didn’t think about playing games made by it. But one of the first I remember playing was the free Crystalis game. I remember thinking how polished it was and was incredibly inspired by it. That was almost 3 years ago.


For those who don’t know, what game are you working on right now?

It’s called The Magi Chronicles, it is a fantasy RPG.


Why are you working on this game?

I call it my first game, but to be honest, it’s not entirely my first game. I had a project that I started when I first bought RPG Maker VX ACE, called Legend of the Dragon Temple. Shortly after I started it, I scrapped it because I started working on The Magi Chronciles. I knew I had something so I went to my friend, Corban (saberwolfcdw) and showed him what I had. We started bouncing ideas off eachother, he helped me balance enemies and characters. And here we are today!


How did you come up with the concept for your game?

Writing. Which is ironic because I suck at writing. I don’t remember exactly when, but one day I was just really frustrated with LoTDT and was really discouraged by everything about it. I sat down and came to the conclusion that I need a good story. So I started writing Daryls’s back story and the lore of Rhaethol.


What inspired you?

It’s really apparent to those that play RPGS that a lot of my inspiration comes from other games, such as The Legend of Zelda. A lot of our puzzles and some of the lore share similar themes. I also look at other RPG Maker games now for mapping ideas a lot of the time as well.


Do you take any inspiration from anything outside of gaming?

Anime… That’s probably the other big one. I love most Japanese anime art styles and plots/tropes. I watch way too many to think of anything other than maybe Twelve Kingdoms that I found some inspiration in.


When did you start working on this game?

It was in April of 2012 that I really started putting lots of work in it.


What are the biggest challenges you’ve run into while working on this game?

Limitations of the engine. Corban would get a really good idea with the battle system and ask me if something was possible. Most of the time we would have to turn to scripts. And sometimes there’s not really a feasible script for something we would want to do but most of the time we found one. Neither of us code. It hasn’t been an issue recently though, I think we are at a point where we are happy with what we have!


Given that you’ve run into issues like that, have you thought of working with any other engines for any future projects you might work on, or would you stick with RPG Maker?

Right now, RPG Maker is really the only thing I know how to use, but I’m open to trying new things. I’ve looked at other engines, but one thing is for sure, if we want to make a really good action rpg we’ll probably look at new engines.


What have you learned from working on this game?

I’ve learned… That it is HARD to make a game. Good lord, why do I put myself through all of this? Haha. But seriously, it’s a lot harder that I first imagined but I’m so happy that I’ve made it this far and It’s really taught me a lot of patience.


What would you say to someone who is dismissive of RPG Maker as an engine and believes that any game made in it is not worthwhile?

I’d first let them know that there are good RPG Maker Games, I’d give them some examples and tell them to try them for themselves. I can’t change everyone’s opinion but if they dismiss a game purely because it’s made in a specific engine then they are arrogant to not even give that game a try. I know games get pumped out a lot by people from RPG Maker, so it can be overwhelmed by ones that are just not that good. On the other hand, if there is evidence that a certain RM game is good, then it should at least be worth a try if you like the genre. It’s not for everyone, so it does depend on the person saying that.


What’s your favorite game?

That’s too specific. I have many “favorite games.” The two games that have been the most influential in my life? I’d have to say The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and FFVII. Those games literally changed my life. But there are many many others that I love almost as equally.


Anything else you’d like to add?

An encouragement to those who may be making their first game: Stick with it! I’m not done with The Magi Chronicles, BUT I will be! Nothing is more fulfilling than having other people play your game. Take feedback with a grain of salt but absorb it, let it guide you. Most people just want to help you make your game better! Nothing wrong with that. Lastly, have fun of course!


For anyone interested in looking at Drassray’s game themselves, here’s a few links to where you can find the game and more information on its development:

RPG Maker Web Forums


Original Soundtrack

Gender (In)Equality in Gaming

Usually I try not to post about stuff like this, mostly because I dislike talking about anything that veers close to politics.   It’s not because I’m not opinionated or do not feel strongly about it, but it’s mostly because I realize trying to convince certain people is about as worthwhile as slamming your head against a brick wall for about an hour.

That said, I talked to a friend of mine earlier and she was very upset by the current state of things.    If for no other reason than that she and people like her will hopefully read this and realize that not everyone feels that way, and might take some solace from it, I thought I should write this.

Now I’m not talking about the way women are portrayed in games, that’s a whole other issue, although it is connected in its own way.   I’m more focused at this point on the wholly misguided belief that games as a whole are an institution solely for the male gender.  The idea that women don’t play real games, or that they don’t make real games.

What sort of civilization do we live in anyway that such an idea can not only exist, but be so prevalent?  I suppose it’s not too surprising, after all there are people who still carry hate in their hearts for other races.   There might be laws that protect the equal rights of races, equal rights of sexes, but they do not govern hearts.

I can’t understand it personally, I mean I can look at it from a purely psychological standpoint and attempt to pick out the personality of someone who would think like that.   Who would believe that women cannot play or make games?    Likely they are single and have not had much luck in relationships.   Either they were incapable of speaking to women, or were capable of it but did not respect them even then.   Either way they likely never actually got to know  a woman, to see that they can love and enjoy a game as much as they can.

Carrying on with my little psychological profile here, obviously since they can’t seem to actually have a healthy relationship with a woman, they must see them as very different and incapable of understanding things the way they do.   They don’t want women involved in their “niche”.    The thing is though, gaming never has been a niche exclusively for men, nor has game development.   Women have been playing and developing games since before I was born and I likely have a good few years on most of the people in the groups with these so misguided opinions.

Of course I suppose the worst part isn’t that they think these things, the worst part is how vocal they are in trying to force their opinions on others.    How they lash out trying to protect something that doesn’t belong to them in the first place.    They threaten women with violence making use of the impunity afforded them by the anonymity of the internet.   Yes, I’m calling them immature and cowardly.    What kind of person could say the sorts of things they do though and still be able to look themselves in the mirror the next morning?   Does it make them feel powerful to threaten someone and make them afraid, hurt them?

All it is is hate-mongering, and they are not powerful, they’re just afraid themselves.    You can’t keep women from gaming, you can’t keep them from developing games, they’ve been gaming all this time, and they’ve been developing games all this time, too.   It’s not a recent development, if my mind isn’t failing me the first female game developer released a game in the late 1970s.

I would never want to exclude anyone from gaming.   I love games and have loved them since I was young.   I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to share it with someone.     You can really tell when someone is passionate about games, when they really get into them and developing them.   I love talking about them, and a number of my friends in development are female as well.  One of the members of my current development team is female and she’s more passionate about game development and driven to actually do something than a number of guys I’ve known.   That’s why I’m glad to work with her, not because she’s a woman, but because she’s passionate and driven.

Like I said when I started this, I don’t honestly expect my voice to create some massive change, but if I can make my friend feel better and maybe some other people out there, then I’ll feel I’ve accomplished something worthwhile at least.

CT: Demon’s Revenge Kickstarter, they are trying again!

I wrote a pretty long post about this game and their Kickstarter as my first blog post, so I will not be writing quite as much in this one.   I was overjoyed when I read that they were trying again.    They decreased what they were looking for down from $12000 to $4500, which means there will be less of the game released, but at least they’ll be able to make some of it with that.   Hopefully they can make even more than that though.

It really is an amazing game though, you should check out their Kickstarter page and help them out if you can:


What Am I Playing? Ar Nosurge

Going to try to keep posting regularly, I figure this is something I’ll do pretty often.  Just talking about what game I’m playing most of the time at the moment.

Game:  Ar Nosurge :  Ode to an Unborn Star

Genre: RPG

System: PS3

I’ve been really excited about this game for a while, because as far as I could tell it was going back to the original battle system that the first Ar Tonelico game used.   For anyone who does not know, this is a prequel to the Ar Tonelico series of games.   If you’re going, “Ar Tonelico, what’s that?”  Then you should go out and find a copy of Ar Tonelico for the PS2 and play it.   I loved the game, it has an amazing story,  an interesting battle system, and a whole lot of comedy tied in to the game in both game-play and story.

Back to Ar Nosurge though,  when I got into a battle for the first time I was glad to see that it seemed to be right.   You have a female character in the back row who is casting a Song Magic that you choose at the beginning of the battle.   As time goes on her song gets stronger and stronger until you choose to release it on the enemies.   As for the character in the front line you attack using a combination of attacks, you get a certain number of each and they are tied to the buttons on the controller.  It’s something like the system from Xenogears except that it doesn’t take from a set amount of points for the turn, each attack has a counter of its own.

I was so happy until the defensive round came, and I had to defend the girl in the back row by pressing a button and raising a shield, timed defense just like the second game.   I hated that change they made for that.   If I’m playing a turn-based game, I want a turn-based game, not some amalgam of turn-based and action.    Fortunately it’s more forgiving than the second game’s battle system though.

Anyone who knows me knows I love playing RPG Maker games, because it’s a chance to see what someone came up with on their own.   Usually there are a lot of amazing stories out there.  That said, I can expect at least some issues in those games.   Sometimes they have a window open up incorrectly, the game crashes, a character says the wrong lines.   Something like that, and I’m not surprised.   You just report the error and the creator will fix it and re-release the game.   What I don’t expect is to see those issues in a game like Ar Nosurge.   The translation quality is so much poorer than the first two Ar Tonelico II games.    Sometimes an NPC obviously says the  second part of their conversation before the first part.   Other times an NPC is obviously saying what another NPC should have been saying.   It’s really annoying.

All of that aside though, it still mostly feels like Ar Tonelico and I’m loving it.   This isn’t a full review though or I’d tell you more about the systems in the game.     I would definitely recommend this game to anyone though, even if it is a little on the “unfinished” side.  I might do another post about it once I’ve gone further in the game.