Category Archives: Game Pile

My Game Pile is my stack of videogames that I’ve been working my way through over the course of the years, and writing about them. The plan is pretty simple: I talk about the game and I talk about the things that that game inspire. Sometimes it’s short, sometimes it’s long – and always, I try to give you an idea of who the game might be fore, or why they might want to buy it.

Let’s use Games to talk about Everything!

Game Pile: City of Heroes Homecoming 2021

Last year I ran through some of the recent changes that have been happening in City of Heroes Homecoming, a free MMORPG I play that lets me make superheroes that kick Nazis in the face. I love this game, I like playing it, and I like using it to make characters. You may have seen me post about that.

What’s happened since last year, then, for this MMORPG with no paid developers?

Well, we’ve had two major releases, known as ‘pages.’ These are sorts of releases that are meant to build up to form what would, back in the day, have been ‘issues.’ These are fan-developed expansions that involve adding new class material, new content, new powersets and even new systems designed to make old content feel ‘right’ while addressing balance problems.What I prioritise for these guides is information about things you can make and do.

Like, there are some really cool systems at work here: There’s been a system for guiding you around for exploration badges, and another system for letting you share thumbtacks in a team, and while those are genuinely interesting and cool systems to see introduced to an old engine that works on what we all know as ‘spaghetti code,’ but while those things improve user experience, and definitely have a chance to encourage less-enfranchised players to explore things they hadn’t, they’re not the same as the bread-and-butter of an alt-reckless game with a lot of ways to play superhero dress up dollies: More stuff for new characters.

The big additions on that front this year have been the Travel Revamp and the Bunch of Rocks update.

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Game Pile: Print N Play Extravaganza!

Okay, it’s really near a gift giving day, or a family gathering day, or something like that and you kind of think ‘I should have brought some games with me’ and now you realise you’re out of luck on that front because shipping timing sucks and so does everything else right now. This is also me pretending you’re travelling to visit people this Christmas, because, well, ha ha, but hey, you may be one of the people reading this blog who just… doesn’t Christmas.

That sounds nice. I hope you have a great december.

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Game Pile: Your Own Fake Artist

Okay, we’re going to talk about bootlegging games.

A Fake Artist Goes To New York is a fantastic game. I do not hesitate to recommend, if you want, to spend the money buying a copy so it can live on your shelf and easily and conveniently bring together all the components you need in your life. I think it’s a great game design and has a great aesthetic and I heartily recommend that you play it ‘properly.’ Buying a copy shows support for the creators and also gets you a nice box which organises everything neatly for you. It’s even quite cheap, considering the price Oink games used to command, and it’s domestically available in Australia too, so you don’t have to wait months for it like you used to, and it’s not being choked by the same international supply problems that are impacting the board game industry in general.

But.

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Game Pile: A Short Hike

I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about A Short Hike in and of itself. It’s a lovely charming little game. I don’t know if there’s some clever mystery at the end of it, or some twist in how the game works, because as I post this, I’ve only played a little bit of it. Like, oh, say, forty minutes.

I think it’s a pretty sweet little game. I like its style, I like how it feels. It’s a cosy game, and I’m just not very well-acquainted with cosiness. But while I played this game, I talked a little bit about game design, about courage in choices, and about workloads and my own history with games.

Game Pile: Les Manley In: Search For The King

Being as it is No-Effort November and I am already penning this after having brushed my teeth and let my last fuck for the day wend its way off into the yonder, my plan was to talk for roughly five hundred words and with zero meaningful insight about the 1990 narrative adventure game Les Manley in: Search For The King.

A tepid little entry into the ‘maybe I’ll get to see boobs’ genre of adventure games pioneered by such titles as the Leisure Suit Larry and Spellcasting franchises, rather than coming from the duelling giants of Sierra and Lucasarts, or their peripheral competitors, this game was made by Accolade. Now, there’s some novel history here, where the guy who made the game was Steve Cartwright, who you may recognise if you’re a huge Atari 2600 nerd, and also is responsible for making Diner Dash, yes, that Diner Dash, no, it doesn’t mean anything to me either.

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Game Pile: Creature Of Havoc

Hey, I don’t just generate videos about postmodernism or solastalgia, I also sometimes make videos where I just partake in a game that you probably don’t know or remember, and spent some time complaining about it. This time, it’s a book, and oh boy, isn’t this going to be a WEIRD book to start with!

This whole setup is the real prize of this video: A dice roller and book reader system means I can do other game books, but also things like roll-and-write physical games or the like. The pngtuber is also neat here, and this can be seen as like, a beta test for them.

Game Pile: Tamashii

I got this game in the Racial Justice bundle on itch, and I thought I’d give it a shot for Dread Month. Turns out that the plot is obtuse enough that I thought the most interesting thing was the way that the game spends a lot of programming effort and visual aesthetic looking like an old junky game from a long time ago, even on modern hardware.

Neat game, definitely one to try if you like the way it looks. Not the kind of thing where I put much stock in ‘the plot’ as much as that plot is an assemblage of stuff the creator thinks about.

Game Pile: Bloodborne The Card Game

Hey, do you remember Bloodborne? That critically acclaimed internationally successful videogame made by longstandingly successful company From Soft that I looked at and gave you the useful insight that it wasn’t actually that good and it serves as a symbol of how we are sycophantic towards games for idiotic fears of hurting those games’ feelings? That game that was a solid 7/10 but only the reviews of the people who have sunk all the sunk costs count, meaning it’s elevated to special uncriticisable place in the pantheon of videogames as somehow being ‘near perfect’ despite being incredibly janky and failure-prone? The game that has an aesthetic I love, but which disappointed me immensely?

Yeah, that, it’s back, and in card game form!

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Game Pile: Channel Trailer 2021

What’s this? This isn’t Game Pile at all? Well, sort of. It’s a video about my Youtube channel, what it’s for and why I use it to put up Game pile articles. It’s meant to double as my channel trailer over on Youtube for those people who don’t come and look at the blog. It’s weird to me to consider that there may be people who watch over there but don’t read over here, but hypothetically, that’s what Youtube is about.

Script follows!

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Game Pile: Draftosaurus

There’s a couple of other dinosaur park themed games that hit the market recently, which ranged from the positively bombastic Dinosaur World by Pandasaurus to the more multiplayer-friendly Dinosaur Island: Rawr and Write by Pandasaurus to the sprawling euro of Dinosaur Island by Pandasaurus to — you know, maybe it’s just Pandasaurus games.

Nonetheless, you might be the kind of person to whom the theme of a dinosaur theme park, as inspired by classic 90s piece of pulp media, Dinopark Tycoon, just makes your heart sing, but you don’t want to have to reconstruct an actual academic model of a human heart out of cardboard and math. To you, I wish to show you the dlightful Draftosaurus, a game that sells itself almost immediately when I show you the meeples.

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Game Pile: Magic Trick

This is a cute little game about playing a skateboarding kid in a town of animal people. It has pickups and tricks and magical powers that give you fast travel. It’s not a long game and I imagine if you’re better at skateboarding games than me, it’d probably only take a few hours to finish. It’s charming, it’s sweet, there’s a trans flag in the banner art.

If you want to check the game out, you can go get it here, and also, if you bought the Bundle For Racial Justice back in 2020, you already own a copy. But it’s also really cheap, so maybe buy it again?

I’m thinking more and more when it comes to itch games, just showing them off on my platform and talking about what I like about them is more interesting than trying to apply some deeper analysis to them. Not that I won’t for games that inspire it, but especially when it comes to games like this, I want to make sure I’m taking the opportunity to just share games.

Be kind with energy,
Be cruel with purpose.

Game Pile: Kyrandia 3: Malcolm’s Revenge

The medium is the message. If you look at the way things are made, rather than the content that is presented, you can see patterns of behaviour, see deformations of the way that things got made. The point-and-click adventure, for example, tends to get framed as a sort of game creature that evolved on the PC platform, existed for a while, then classically died out out of incompetence.

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Game Pile: Among Us

Among Us is a 2018 social deduction videogame, developed and released by Innersloth games. It is a borderline omnipresent media thing right now and you may have seen it on like, kid’s t-shirts and stuff if you are lucky enough to be able to walk around outside right now. There’s a non-zero chance that you don’t know what this game is or how it plays, so I’m going to fly through that real quick.

In Among Us, players are dropped into a play environment (known as the map) with nothing but their little blobby toes and a team affiliation to their name. Then they’re required to do a number of tasks to ‘fix’ the map — like, getting a spaceship going, for example — and that’s it.

Oh, wait, that’s what you have to do if your team is ‘crew.’

See, in any given map, there is one, and maybe two non-crew members, that look like crew members but aren’t — they’re a fangly shapeshifting alien (or aliens) — and they want to sabotage the tasks and kill off all the other members of the crew. This is obviously bad, so, whenever a player discovers a body, they can call for a meeting, where the crew can vote on who they think is the murderer (or not vote, if they so want), and if someone gets a majority of the votes, they’re spaced.

This creates the basic systems of the game. The alien wants to isolate people and kill them in places that are likely to go undiscovered, build a cover identity and defray suspicion. Non-aliens want to get their tasks done without being killed, and without being perceived as suspicious, for fear of being flushed out into space mistakenly. Alien wins when they’re equal or majority of the crew, crew win when all their tasks are done or the imposters are disposed of.

There are, I think, maybe two forty year olds who read this blog who may be going: Oh, is that it?

And yeah, that is it.

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Game Pile: Familiar Alchemy

Two things before we start. One, I backed this game on kickstarter, because a friend of mine, Calvin Wong Tze Loon, talked about doing work for it on his twitter. I followed that, thought it looked good, and backed it. I have, therefore, a clear connection, socially, to the making of this game. As it happens, Calvin’s main job was editing the rulebook, and the rulebook is pretty stellar, but I would say that, wouldn’t I.

The other thing, before I talk about this game, I need to get one thing out of the way, up front. The kickstarter for this game, the reason I own this game, the access point for this game, describes it as:

A wondrous world of plants, potions and familiars await in Familiar Alchemy, a semi-cooperative game rooted in Scottish folklore.

See that? See them bolded words?

What I need you to know is that’s a fucking lie.

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Game Pile: Shadowcaster

There are two stories about Raven Software.

For those of you not familiar, Raven Software were-slash-are a Wisconsin-based videogame development company founded in 1990. They were responsible, most famously to nerds like me, for the games Heretic, Hexen, and Hexen 2, a set of first-person fantasy shooters that used id game engines to tell you the story of multiple fantasy realms being assaulted by dreadful Serpent Riders.

The first story, the story I know I’m part of telling, is as an understudy company that stands next to id software and waits for them to be done with an engine before they make a game. This is a history that tends to happen when you work backwards; id software made Quake, which Raven turned into Hexen 2. id made Doom 2, which Raven used to make Hexen. id made Doom, which Raven used to make Heretic. When I spoke about Heretic earlier this year, I said this, even!

This is not a wrong story.

It is an incomplete story.

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