Ten out of ten

News about games by Vatigo

My look at To the Moon

May 292014

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To the Moon has a great story and nice music. Graphics are nice to look at too.

That's the only good thing I can say about it really.
Great story is not enough for a game that lasts a couple of hours. Not for me. There has to be more to a game than a good story for me to enjoy it.
I can't even enjoy the story when the gameplay is so boring it makes me want to break something.

The game is about two agents who help a dying man fulfill his wish to go to the Moon. They do so by hooking the man and themselves to a machine that allows them to travel inside the man's memories. There, our duo is changing bits and pieces of the memories to make him motivated enough to go to the Moon. In the process you learn everything there is to know about this man, his whole story.

As interesting as it may sound, in practice it is tedious. Sadly, this whole game is basically one giant cut scene you need to click through.
There is some walking and a few pretty weak puzzles but 95% of the time you just click through the dialogues you can't control.
Playing this game makes me feel like watching a movie that has a good plot, but is an hour too long, so you can't wait for it to finish.
Unfortunately, you can't only watch this, you need to click to move the dialogue forward and I guess that's what kept me awake during my playthrough.

The interface also felt clunky at times and it didn't always respond in the way I expected.

I knew what this game was before I started playing and I still ended up disappointed.
It's a great story ruined by weak gameplay.

Why do I still even hope to like one of these story games?
Here's why. I love old school Lucas Arts adventure games and I think with some clever game mechanics and interesting characters, I could love these new games too.

Mega Magnitude progress - almost feature complete

May 232014

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Release day is getting closer and pieces are falling into place in the last couple of weeks. In terms of programming features, the game is mostly done. Gameplay, various obstacles, ending, upgrades, objectives, menus, purchase process... all done.

I've also been doing some optimization tasks which are never fun but are still important. Now I'm mostly polishing things up and testing.

Graphics are in need of a major overhaul, but I'm next to useless in that area. Luckly Antonio, awesome artist, master of the atmosphere and half of indie dev studio Bitserum, offered his help, so thanks to him Mega Magnitude is going to look beautiful soon.

I'm posting this screenshot of Mega Magnitude in its current state so that you can point and laugh at it later when Antonio does his magic.

Switching music files in LibGDX

May 092014

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This post is mostly a memo for myself but I figured maybe there are other newbies like me out there that could find it useful ;)

Music objects in LibGDX are quite huge so ideally we only want one in the memory - the song that's currently playing. We'd also like to have a different song for every level so that means we're going to have to load and unload music files as necessary.

To achieve that, I made a class called AudioPlayer which contains static methods for playing music and switching music files. It also handles sound effects, but that's not the focus of this post so I'll ignore it.

If you need many different songs, it would be better to pass a path to the song file as a parameter of the method, but since I only needed 3 songs I placed the paths directly inside the method and I load the appropriate file using the value of the integer parameter.

public static void setSong(int i) {
//nothing to do, the song we want to load is already loaded if (currentSong == i) return; if (levelSong!=null){ //a different song is loaded levelSong.stop(); //stop it levelSong.dispose(); //dispose it levelSong = null; }

//load the appropriate file switch (i){ case 1: levelSong = Gdx.audio.newMusic(Gdx.files.internal("data/music/1.mp3")); break; case 2: levelSong = Gdx.audio.newMusic(Gdx.files.internal("data/music/2.mp3")); break; case 3: levelSong = Gdx.audio.newMusic(Gdx.files.internal("data/music/3.mp3")); break; }

//remember the song we loaded currentSong = i; }

To use it, when the level loads I just call for example:

AudioPlayer.setSong(1);
AudioPlayer.playMusic();

That's all there is to it.

The playMusic method just calls levelSong.play();

My look at Gone Home

May 062014

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SPOILER ALERT: This post contains story spoilers and since Gone Home is a story exploration game, you might want to skip this post if you haven't played the game.

I'm a bit late to the party but I finally managed to play Gone Home, which is, for those that don't know, a relatively short story exploration game. That means that all you do is walk around and explore the area and by doing so you find out more about the story and the characters.

The premise of the story was good, the main focus is on the love story between two teenage girls but there are side stories about Sam's parents, her childhood friend and the dead ex-resident called Oscar.

The developers recreated the 90s well and the house is full of various items that each tells us a bit more about the people that live there and I can appreciate what the creators tried to do, but there are two main reasons why the game didn't sit well with me.

1. I don't like going through other people's stuff

I respect other people's privacy and I never go rummaging through their stuff, but in this game this is the only thing you do!

Since I don't do it in real life and I don't like to do it in a video game, going through the drawers and personal items of the characters made me feel uncomfortable and awkward.

2. I found Sam an unlikable character.

As GLaDOS would put it: "It says so here in your personnel file: unlikeable. Liked by no one."

Sam is a young teenage girl trying to find her place in the world, like many other teenagers do, and she possesses all the traits people find annoying in teenagers. I haven't found proof of any virtues she might have. She is not nice nor kind and she's very self-focused. Because of all that, I didn't find her a likeable character, which means I didn't care that much about what will happen to her.

There's one more thing about this game which definitely negatively impacted my experience - it ran horribly on my laptop.

I guess in conclusion it comes down to this - this game is not for me and that's OK. A lot of people enjoy it and that's great too. Dear Esther, another experimental story exploration game, also wasn't for me, but I like the concept and I'm sure that one day there will be a story exploration game that I'll like.

Until that day, I'll spend my time playing other games I find more engaging.

Mega Magnitude - and game ending(s)

May 052014

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As you might already be aware, Mega Magnitude is NOT an endless runner, so this week I finished implementing the game's end cut scene and with that done, Mega Magnitude is one step closer to release.

I actually dislike endless games, so even though it might look or in a way play like one - the main focus of Mega Magnitude will always be the goal of escaping the collapsing building.

If there's demand for it I might add an endless mode, but it's not something I'd personally enjoy playing.

Also, there may or may not be an additional, hidden, ending(s) in there ;)

Hard drive failure

Apr 302014

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This error message welcomed me on my laptop screen today so I spent the rest of the day making backups on my external drive.

The disk appears to be working normally so it could be a false alarm. I'll run some checks on it later, but just to be safe I copied everything over. I think I'll take this opportunity to finally make some order in my backups and if the drive is really dieing I might pick up an SSD to replace it.

Laptop is still under warranty though, so maybe I can get it fixed for free.

While there's never the right time for hardware failure, I'm not under that much pressure at the moment and there's no data lost so besides being an inconvenience, this event is not a major setback.

May this post be a reminder to you to make your backups on time :)

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