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7/9/05: Game Old Story

New article by me at Adventure Gamers. Come back when you're finished reading, I ain't through with you yet.

Recently I was finally in a position to buy a PS2. I've been meaning to do so for a while because of there being about half a million PS2 games I want to play, and because not being able to play DVDs in this day and age means that you are to video rental shops what black people were to early 20th century America, if you see what I mean. For want of an update, then, I figured I'd write short capsule reviews of all the games I've rented/bought/borrowed from mates over the last couple of weeks. Stick with me, it'll be more fun than it sounds.


- Red Faction

I'd heard good things about this one, mostly regarding the really amazing way the walls blow up. And it is fun to use your rocket launcher to dig tunnels in rock with the consistency of suet pudding, for about five minutes, then the game seems to lose all interest in the tunnelling thing and says "No more digging. You be dancing to MY tune now, sucka." And then it's a bog-standard linear first-person shooter with story and characters right out of something I would have written when I was 12. Also, the stealth missions can suck my rebellious dick.

THOUGHTS: Here's a tip for story writers. If your story involves a big evil corporation that does evil things for no apparent reason when less evil things would be a lot more economical, reconsider, because you appear to be writing about a Captain Planet villain.

- Project Zero (aka Fatal Frame if you're fat)

Japanese horror can pretty much be summed up with two words: "Scary children". Project Zero takes that and runs with it. This is probably the scariest game I've ever played, no hyperbole. I played Eternal Darkness a while back, and I thought that was pretty scary, but Project Zero makes it look like a twelve year old running up and shouting 'bum' because he's heard it's quite shocking. At least in Eternal Darkness you get a gun. All you have in Project Zero is a camera and an absurdly short skirt.

THOUGHTS: The people who made this game are masters at picking the moments when you least expect ghosts to jump out, then have ghosts jumping out. You might want to consider wearing brown trousers while you play. But after all that, the American voice dubbing is absolutely terrible. Everyone in Japan apparently grew up in California. "Like, I have to, y'know, stay in front of this gate, and like, stop the evil from getting out, like, forever."

- Silent Hill 2

Now, this is the kind of survival horror I really get into. Psychological horror, a mysterious deserted town, combat that isn't too horrible, and some stumbling guy with a big triangular head who wants to slit you up. Silent Hill has always been more into 'creepy' than 'scary'. In Project Zero, you open a cupboard and a ghost jumps out going 'boo'. In Silent Hill, you open a cupboard and there's a guy in a dress with no face stroking a dead cat. The plot follows James Sunderland, a dead spit of Denis Leary, as he searches the town for the reason why he came to the town. It's kind of complicated.

THOUGHTS: So big Jimbo Sunderland comes to Silent Hill with no idea of what he's looking for, gets attacked by monsters, and consistently fails to find whatever his goal is. Nothing seems to be stopping him from leaving the town whenever he wants, but he refuses to leave. I'm not saying he deserves to get kniferaped by a big pyramid man, but someone should at least give him a slap.

- Final Fantasy X

I didn't play this. Sarah played this and I occasionally glanced at it. From what I saw it's about a bunch of people who wake up in the morning, get half-way through getting dressed, forget what they were supposed to be doing, then go out to fight monsters.

THOUGHTS: Until this game, I was never sure how you pronounce the word 'chocobo', and now I know, so thanks for that I guess.

- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Good to see modern updates keep the spirit of the original Prince of Persia - ridiculous traps, unlikely feats of athletics, and shitty combat. And I hear the next game in the series focuses more on the combat. Fuck, that's like making a prequel to Freddy Vs. Jason that focuses on the life story of the drunk guy who gets killed in the first act. For the record, I really like this game, though, and not just because it's the only game I've ever played with something approximating to a sex scene.

THOUGHTS: The entire game is narrated by the Prince as if he's telling the story after the fact. So every time you die, he says "Whoops, sorry, that's not what really happened" and the game backtracks. If you're not a very skilful player, you begin to wonder what the Prince's audience would be thinking. "And then I wall-jumped at the wrong time and fell down a chasm and died. Oh, sorry, I'm thinking of something else. What really happened was... I wall-jumped at the wrong time... and fell down... no, wait, hang on. In actuality I wall-jumped at the right time, then accidentally pressed circle instead of X and fell to my death - I'm not boring you, am I?"

- Resident Evil 4

Admittedly this wasn't on the PS2 but I did play it recently so I'm sticking it in here anyway. Resident Evil 4 is a top game, if you only look at the graphics and gameplay. If, like me, you're one of those 'games as art' fags, you will quickly find that the story and dialogue are a load of old wank. Get this: you're an American government agent who has to rescue the president's daughter from an evil cult who want to take over the world. I think Super Mario Bros had a better plot than that. Fuck, you could sneeze onto a piece of paper and it'd still be a stronger piece of writing. I also can't classify this game as survival horror when it's more of an action-adventure, and isn't scary at all. To put it in terms of films starring Sam Neill, Resident Evil 4 is the Jurassic Park to Silent Hill's In The Mouth Of Madness.

THOUGHTS: Shotgunning off a zombie's head at point-blank range is fun. Sniping their kneecaps from a hundred yards is also fun. What isn't fun, though, are the moments during cutscenes when the game gives you a split second warning to start mashing buttons, and if you fail, you die, and it's back to the start of the cutscene with you. I was so annoyed with these moments I decided to dramatise them.

(a cutscene begins)

YOU: Hello, Bill!
BILL: Hello, you! I was just on my way to [draws knife] I STAB YOU DEAD!
BILL: [stab]
GAME: You're DEAD! You FAILED! You LOSER! You'll never achieve ANYTHING you STUPID FOOL. We don't LIKE people who don't have superhuman reflexes around HERE. Try again? Y/N

(start cutscene again)

YOU: Hello, Bill!
BILL: Hello, you! I was just on my way to [draws knife] I STAB YOU DEAD!
YOU: [mashes buttons] [grabs knife] What the hell was that for, Bill?
BILL: Oh, sorry, it's these new pills I'm taking [produces another knife] I STAB YOU DEAD!
GAME: MASH BUTTONS MASH BUTTONS! NOT THOSE BUTTONS THE OTHER BUTTONS! Oh, for fuck's SAKE, you failed AGAIN! You FAILURE! Why are you even playing this game?! I hope you DIE. In a DITCH. Flapping your hands like a retard going [falsetto voice] 'oh mummy mummy mummy I'm in a ditch and dead and scared and I'm a big pussy as well'.

- Yahtzee

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29/8/05: Why Men Are Jerks

I added Achewood to my webcomics list. A lot of people tried to sell me on it but first impressions didn't impress. Then I forced myself to go through the archives and I must admit I was sold.


FullyRamblomatic has a mention in this Wikipedia entry, I just noticed today. Apparently I am an 'internet phenomenon'. Now I just need to know how to get the special internet phenomenon discount at Target and the 'my other car's an internet phenomenon' bumper stickers.

Anyway, here's the proper update.

Ugh. I don't know how they got this impression from the kind of websites I've been visiting lately, but apparently the spam people have decided that I am either a chauvinist the size of New Mexico or an abused housewife for whom the feminist movement was just something that happened to other people. Get a load of this circular that someone decided I'd find relevant to my daily life. I'll break up the action every now and again with my trademark devastating wit, DVD commentary-style.

"Every man has a similar list of women's mistakes. If you show it to your men he will agree with some of the points and probably add some more."

Yes, this is quite true. I, like most men, maintain a list of areas in which I feel my significant other's performance could be improved, and every evening I sit down with her and discuss ways in which she can please me better. Then I kick her down some stairs.

"You may notice that some of the points seem to have no relation to sex at all. However, this is what puts the men off and makes you less attractive. That is why these points are as important as sexual complaints."

I will give ten pounds from my own pocket to anyone who can decipher this shit.*

*Disclaimer - no I won't

"1.Men hate when women act as though they do not like sex."

Yeah, keep this in mind next time you're being raped. Men hate it when women struggle or cry for help. Try smiling encouragingly, or offering to prepare a selection of drinks and snacks.

"2.Men do not like women who never show initiative in sex."

Initiative? You stick one rude bit in another rude bit and jiggle them around for ten minutes, there's not a lot to work with creativity-wise. I suppose you could add a little spice by showing up to bed in a full Chewbacca costume, but frankly, girls, I'd be more concerned if he got into that.

"3.Men do not like women that do not know men's body."

Yes indeed. So make sure you know men's body so that men's body will like you good.

"4.Men do not like when women make them responsible for their orgasm."

"Darling, I've just found some curious white salty substance all over my thighs."

"Oh, and so naturally you assume I had something to do with it."

In all seriousness, I guess what he's trying to say is that he likes a woman to be a sexual controller in bed.

"5.Men do not like when women become sexual controllers in bed."

Whoops, my mistake. I guess you're supposed to just lie there like a corpse for half an hour, then.

"6.Sexual corpse. Men hate women that are insensitive in bed."

Whoops, my mistake. So, to recap, the author of this sensitive piece likes his lady friend to be a sensitive lover but to not take too much part in proceedings, and to be riding an invisible winged spirit of Christmas because HE'S OBVIOUSLY LIVING IN A FUCKING FANTASY WORLD

"7.Sexual chatterer. Men hate women who talk too much in bed."

Yeah, I guess he added this one when too many women were asking him where he expected them to find an invisible winged spirit of Christmas.

"8.Men are irritated when a woman does not like her own body and depreciates herself."

Don't let your poor self-esteem and psychological issues take over your lives, ladies. How do you expect to get a man like that?

"9.Men hate women who are too obsessed with their looks."

Is it me, or is the author deliberately grouping together the comments that contradict each other? Perhaps this is a cry for help. "I like women who are pretty but don't fuss about being pretty and don't self-deprecate and OH GOD SO LONELY HOLD ME"

"10.Men hate women who do not like oral sex."

I'm going to give the author of this piece a name so I can address him personally. I'm going to call him Horace. Horace, if you ever think you've found a woman who does like oral sex, run a quick check. If she is wearing nothing but high heels and appears to be trapped inside a small glowing box in the corner of the room, there's a good chance that she is actually an actress in the porn video you are watching in your lonely, lonely flat.

"12.Men do not like women who are too serious."

"13.Men cannot stand stupid perfunctory women."

Jesus Christ, Horace. You should become a superhero called Captain Middleground, whose powers involve constantly taking a stance directly half-way between two extremes. Then he goes home to kick his wife down some stairs.

"14.Men hate women who are worried only about men's financial status."

Digressing for a moment, I find it objectionable that he seems to think his misogynist dickhead ramblings apply to all men, but then I remember that, in his first paragraph, Horace seemed to think that the word 'men', plural, was interchangeable with 'man', singular. Re-reading the whole list with that in mind, it suddenly becomes a lot funnier. "Raar! Man hate gold diggers! MAN SMASH!"

"15.Men hate when women tell them about their ex-lovers."

I guess this is another thing Horace has particular problems with, because something tells me that the ex-lover would have to have been a rampaging grizzly bear before Horace could start comparing himself favourably with them.

"16.Men cannot stand women with disgusting underwear."

Okay, I'll give you that one. Next?

Oh, there is no next. Apparently the underwear thing was the big one this whole thing has been leading up to. Well, at least he ended on a high note. So, I hope this has been informative to all you girlfriends out there. Give Horace a call if you meet every one of his criteria, just as soon as you WILL YOURSELF INTO EXISTENCE

- Yahtzee

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24/8/05: Christ What Happened Last Night

So, guess what I was doing at about midnight on Friday the twelfth of this month? Go on, guess. You'll probably have a better idea than me because I can't remember much of that evening.

Let's see where it cuts off. I remember going to the bar. Me and a few of the Gridwerx lads went out to Friday's bar on Edward Street for one of the rare occasions when we get together and drink instead of design a game. I remember scabbing off everyone else because I didn't have much money on me. I remember that there were an awful lot of pitchers being bought. I remember that Lyndon, our technical director, kept refilling my glass while we conversed endlessly about stuff that would make absolutely no sense to either of us come morning. And I remember putting it away like nobody's business.

I remember the words "I think I'm a bit pissed" passing my lips more than once.

I remember looking at my watch at 10:30 and thinking now would be a good time to leave.

This is where it starts to fade. I don't actually remember saying goodbye to everyone, although I suppose I must have done. I don't remember leaving the bar. I think I must have attempted to walk home through the city, because I have one or two blurry visions of city streets. I remember steadying myself on a bollard. At some point I felt myself stagger and slam heavily against a wall, which in retrospect may have been the ground.

What happened next I remember only as sound and sensation, so I guess my eyes were shut. I was lying on something hard, like pavement. I could hear traffic. I was freezing cold and rain was sprinkling on my face. At least, I hope it was rain. There was a bloke asking me if I had taken drugs, and I remember slurring "JJUUUUUST BEEEEERR". Then the same bloke was talking to someone else, and I think that may have been the ambulance man, but that's the last I remember of that evening.

When next I awoke, I was wearing a backless surgical gown and was lying in the emergency ward of South Brisbane hospital with a saline drip stuck in my arm, busting for a piss and in a vomity sort of mood that culminated in me throwing up all over the nice hospital floor. They had me call Sarah to bring some fresh, non-vomit-spattered clothing, then kicked me out. She wasn't pissed off, or anything, but then she wasn't exactly sympathetic, either. Most of the time she just called me a twat. Anyway, I was as sick as a dog for the rest of the weekend, then this big horrible fever came out of nowhere, so I was sick as a dog in subtly different ways for the last week and a bit. It was only recently that I summoned the courage to dig my clothes out of hospital laundry bags and give them a clean.

I suppose it could have gone a lot worse. Someone could have nicked my wallet. I could have been hit by a car. I could have lost my fedora. So I was lucky this time. But what exactly did I do during those lost few hours? The hospital was only prepared to tell me that I was found passed out in a gutter, omitting to say which gutter. I only have two pieces of hard evidence for my antics while blacked out:

1. My trenchcoat, which was almost dyed greenish-yellow with puke, so much so that I must have somehow found a way to rotate my head 360 degrees and vomit like a garden sprinkler, and

2. A coupon I found in the trenchcoat pocket, good for 10 dollars off at some strip club in the city centre.

The latter gives me cause to wonder. I'm certain I didn't leave the house with it. I definitely didn't pick it up in the bar. So I apparently picked it up during the adventure I have no memory of which ended in me passing out in a ditch. From a comedic point of view I like the idea that a leaflet-giver-outer slipped it into my coat pocket while I was unconscious.

Obviously now that I've drunk myself into a gutter I'm too cool to hang around you losers anymore. So rest assured my updates will continue to be sporadic, and laced with even more implied contempt for the reader.

- Yahtzee

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18/8/05: Witty Title

No update.

Too sick.

Go away.

- Yahtzee

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10/8/05: Spring Cleaning

You know, gentle reader, it's amazing what you can find from a little spring cleaning of the basement, and when I say 'basement' I of course mean 'website server'. I, for example, was trying to pick some of the ten jillion files in my Images folder to get rid of and help our bandwidth problems, when I came across some interesting old projects that I thought I would share with you. And by 'you' I mean 'site donators'.

Before Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment was a game, you see, it was an idea I had for a comic after reading too much Platinum Grit. I have some talent for sketching and cartooning so I figured I'd start a webcomic actually drawn by hand rather than MS Painted for once. I completed 21 pages and the entire first issue before I realised how boring the process was and kicked the idea into the archive basement.

The point is, I've got this 21-page origin comic for the crew of the Elaborate Gesture, an entirely self-contained story, and it's probably of good enough quality to show people, so I've decided to give it away to anyone who donates at least 5 bucks to the site with the request 'GFW comic' in the comments field. I tied up all the pages into a .CBR file so you'll need CDisplay Sequential Image Reader to view them. Fortunately CDisplay is freeware. Unlike the comic. You see how this works?

Here's a sample page, in case your hand isn't snaking towards your wallet yet.

But wait! Don't worry if you're some scabby cheapskate who thinks he's entitled to something for nothing! I found something else in my archive folder that I'm giving away all free like! This one is an abortive attempt of mine to make a platform game with the Game Maker game maker, starring that loveable psychopath Chris Quinn. I was very surprised to find it, having thought it lost to the ages, so I figured I'd let my cheapskate readers have a look.

By the looks of it I only got around to finishing the first level, but it's still an amusing romp for all that. A-check it out!

- Yahtzee

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7/8/05: Confess-a-thon

Yeah, sorry about the whole no-updates-for-two-weeks thing, but I kind of assumed everyone had better things to do. Anyway, I wrote a new feature called True Confessions. Click the funny blue words to read it.

- Yahtzee

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25/7/05: Adventures... IN SPACE

UPDATE 28/7/05: Beta test over, the current version of GFW seems to be largely bug free and definitive. Feel free to tell all your friends about it now.

Okay, so I've decided to release my new game. Figured I've put it off for long enough. The main problem with it right now, though, is that no-one except me has played it all the way through to the end, so a lot of it may be untested. Seems to function alright, as far as I can see, so I thought I'd hold a bit of an open beta test. So, if you find any bugs or gameplay issues, don't mail them to me because then I will hate you. There'll be a thread on the FullyRamblomatic Forums to post in.

So, what is this new game? Well, it's called Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment, would you believe.

Basically, it's an adventure game with other bits. It incorporates a space sim with all the trading and pirating that sort of thing involves, and the player is invited to faff about as much as they want between main plot elements. There are a few sidequests to complete and subgames to play, and some good old-fashioned adventure puzzle solving. The way I see it, this could either go down really really well or really really poorly, but then that's what experimentation is for.

So, if you want to try it out, go to the page I set up for it and download it post haste. There's also a walkthrough on there in case you get stuck.

Still here? Okay, I guess I'll give you a little history on the game.

Like most of my most acclaimed products, GFW came to me from various sources of inspiration. Just as 5 Days A Stranger came to me from The Dig, Clock Tower, Nocturnal Illusions and some other shit, and 7 Days A Skeptic owes its existence to System Shock 2, Jason X, Event Horizon and some other shit, so too does GFW have multiple parents. This time it came from me playing too many console games, namely Metroid Prime and Zelda: Wind Waker, the latter of which giving me the idea of letting players mess around in the game world while the storyline remains in the background.

As for the theme, well, that goes back a bit further. From reading Platinum Grit a while back and becoming steadily more proficient in sketching, I wanted to make my own proper drawn comic, and completed twenty-one pages before realising I hated the process and stopped. Those twenty-one pages made up an entire storyline, though. Possibly something to hang onto for a donator gift somewhere down the line.

Anyway, the comic focussed on the adventures of three quirky characters on a ship in a comedic, Hitch Hiker's Guide-esque universe. While I didn't like the process of making a comic, I did like the characters, so I thought I'd bring them back for this little enterprise. Those three characters make up the crew of the cargo ship Elaborate Gesture at the beginning of the game, to which our hero Daniel Gordon is brought. As for the story for this game, I was driven to create it mainly from watching the End of Evangelion. While opinion is divided as to the quality of that story, it made me want to create something epic, and similarly big in scope.

This was also an opportunity for me to tie up some of the loose ends in my fictional universe, namely the question of what happened to Rob and Paul in between Rob Blanc III and the beginning of YTOTW. Yeah, I guess that doesn't mean much to anyone other than me, but I like tying stuff up, whether it be the details of a fictional universe or a piano wire noose around the throat of a small cat. The question does get answered in GFW, somewhat covertly. Rob is mentioned but never seen, although there are some characters who may seem familiar to players of the RB series.

In case you missed it first time with your stupid eyes, here's the page for the game. And go easy on the bandwidth, Nate has to pay for that.

- Yahtzee

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18/7/05: Great Balls Of Ire

If there's one thing the world has a shortage of these days, it's balls. It wasn't too long ago that we were overflowing with balls, balls visible in every direction, some people with great huge, powerful balls that dangled from between their legs like sacks of watermelon and caused them to walk in a foolish, waddling manner. Nowadays, though, the balls are all but died out, to be replaced by people who run crying to lawyers every time someone calls them a fuckwit.

I will say this, though. There are still people who have balls. It's just that they all work in the film industry.

It was while sitting in the cinema waiting for Batman Begins to start that I found myself ruminating on how filmmakers and cinema managers have been steadily cultivating their balls ever since images were first printed on celluloid. Back in the olden days, when audiences were still flinching at films of trains, filmmakers' balls were of convenient, manageable size, no more noteworthy than the balls of all those around them. But as time wore on and the average size of balls began to decline, it was only the filmmakers whose balls grew.

These days, of course, we are used to cinema concession stands having the balls to charge five bucks for a watered-down small coke, and having to sit through so many previews that the film's reported length doubles, but I wonder how slowly these practises came into being that none of us noticed before it was too late.

Back when Casablanca was coming out, I honestly doubt that film showings were preceded by advertisements, because that would probably have caused monocles to go flying and a thousand handlebar moustaches to bristle in fury. But look at what we've got these days - ten thousand adverts before each film, the cinema managers slipping one or two more in every year or so as their balls expand by another inch.

I think it came from gradually allowing adverts of increasingly narrow scope. Check it out next time you watch a film - as you go through the ads, the intended audience becomes gradually wider. Right before a film come the previews, for films being released internationally. Before then there're the usual adverts like you see on TV, for national products. Before then come adverts for local businesses, starting with ones usually in or near the cinema complex, but first of all are usually still ads (so that those crafty twats who turn up twenty minutes early have something to look at) advising that coke and popcorn be bought from the very cinema in which you reside. Thankfully it seems that adverts can become no narrower in scope, unless they want to start advertising the businesses and services of people sitting next to you.

And the less we complain about the sheer unrelenting ballsiness of the people who bring us films, their balls will only get bigger and they will only try to take more and more of the enjoyment from cinemagoing. If no-one protests some new element of fuckery, that's it - it's here to stay. So, if fifty years from now going to the cinema involves having your eyes pinned open and adverts for every sinister evil mega-global corporation with deep enough pockets flashing subliminally throughout the adverts of other sinister evil mega-global corporations, we've only got ourselves to blame.

A brief aside to this ranting:

"I think we should have, like, hologram cinemas. That would be great."
- some guy who was sitting next to me

Of course, if the balls of filmmakers are allowed to continue expanding for another fifty years, there's a good chance mother nature will find a way to stop them from going past a certain point. Perhaps, when filmmakers' balls grow too large, they will become too cumbersome to move, and the filmmaker will just have to sit there and suffer the bitterest irony of being unable to reach the big bowl of gravy that his ill-gotten gains has bought him. Or perhaps some new species of seagull will appear that feeds exclusively on swollen executive bollock.

Have you ever wondered why, in the olden days, they played the National Anthem after a film and everyone had to stand? They don't do that anymore, and do you know why? Because our balls have become so small and wimpy that we no longer inadvertently sit on them, and as such no longer require a period of standing to rest our aching gonads.



I've nearly finished a new game I hope to release soon. It's in no way related to the Twelve Days A Slaphead games. It's a space game. In keeping with my obsession with finding ways to make games other than adventure games with AGS, it marries adventure gameplay with other genres. And it isn't Poseidon 12. It's being tested right now but it should be ready for release pretty soon. That's all you're getting.

- Yahtzee

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