Iron59 Plays Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

With all my fascination in gaming, it’s quite ironic that I haven’t tried Dungeons & Dragons until a week ago. Thanks to my former colleagues in Anino, we had a really fun D&D session. For those of you who weren’t curious enough to search about D&D, it’s a  fantasy tabletop role-playing game. As players, you take the role of a character with a specific class as you typically see in a RPG like Barbarian, Wizard, Rogue, etc. Players will be gathered as a party to take on quests in a story and universe created by the dungeon master or DM for short. The DM should be knowledgeable enough with the game’s rules and mechanics as stated in the player and DM handbook. He/She will weave the story and all the possible outcomes depending on the result of the players’ dice rolls. I’ll go into further details as I write about my experience, from the preparation to the actual game proper. Here it goes…

Creating a Character

Prior to playing the game, you should make a character first. If you will read the player’s handbook, the character has lots of customization options from race to class. I was a bit overwhelmed at the start when I’m trying to create one since each class and race are rich with details that could really affect my character’s skill sets. Good thing our DM is ready to assist us with the creation process. Since I’m a big fan of Martial Arts, I decided to go with a Monk. Just like in other RPG’s, your character has stats, and each class focuses on specific parts of your stats. For Monks, the skills depend on Wisdom which is needed to read people and situation, and Dexterity for agile movement and quick reflexes. There are other attributes like armor class and initiative, but I won’t delve too much into these stuff since this post is not meant to be an in-depth guide :P. Instead, I recommend that you watch this video to know more about the character creation.

The video guide above is considerably long, but that’s because the character has much depth in D&D. It may seem a bit tedious if you do it by hand, but once you laid out the necessary info, it will be easier to follow through. For our group, we use the mobile app 5th Edition Character Sheet. All you need to do is plug in the values for your character profile, and it will lay down the info for you. The premium version of the app lets you level up your characters and update the attributes accordingly. It even has its class-specific options like for my Monk, it lets me choose the Monastic Tradition and the skills that I want to increase from this choice. It’s very handy, especially during the actual game session. By the way, I chose the Way of the Four Elements for my  monastic tradition so that he will resemble the Avatar. Just sayin’ XD.

5th Edition Character Sheet mobile app

5th Edition Character Sheet mobile app

Beyond the stats and skill sets, I also created a backstory for my character. With a few tweaks to blend with our DM’s created story and universe, I was able to complete my character’s profile. I can’t share the story here since it might spoil our DM’s plans for the next session :P. Besides, being role-players that we are, we behave based on what we know about the other characters. Actually, one of the players is suspicious of my sudden appearance (this is just in-game, no personal conflicts whatsoever, LOL).

Game Proper

Our D&D session plays every end of the month, so that there’s enough time for our DM to create the next part of the story and the quests that go with it. I attended the fifth session, so our DM had to update me of what happened during the first four episodes. With all the confirmed players present, we proceeded to Moonleaf + Bunnies Cafe for our D&D session. This is a boardgame cafe, so customers can try their tabletop games like Cards Against Humanity (*chuckles*). They offer different types of milk tea and pastries.

Our D&D Session in Moonleaf+Bunnies Cafe

Our D&D Session in Moonleaf+Bunnies Cafe

The game starts with the party discussing what items to bring for the mission. A story character has been kidnapped, and it’s up to the party to save her. I’m amazed with the amount of detail that has been put to each scenario. Even the part wherein another story character is being consoled by the players involves a chance roll, resulting to one of the players getting a ‘failed’ attempt. The character interactions are really fun to watch. Yes, I’m watching on the first part since I’m not in the scene yet.

The game reached a point wherein the party has to save some people from a burning tenement. The creative ways on how to rescue these people were such a feat, like how our wizard created a floating disc while he’s on the other side of the room to carry some of the people to safety. Enemies stormed the place. Some of them were caught in surprise when a hooded monk appeared in the place and knocked two of these goons out cold. That hooded figure… is me 8)

We proceeded with the combat sequence. Turns in combat are determined by the character’s initiative. Player roll a D20 for a dexterity check. Turns will be ordered from highest to the lowest result. When enemies attack you, you roll a D20 to determine if you can dodge an attack. We’re using another application called Initiative Tracker to speed things up.

Initiative Tracker mobile app

Initiative Tracker mobile app

When an enemy attacks you, the attack can be dodged by rolling a D20 and achieving a minimum value depending on the enemy’s stats. Failure to do so will have the DM roll a specific dice to determine the attack damage. If it’s your turn, you will roll a D20 to determine if the attack is successful. A result of 1 will lead to critical failure while a result of 20 will lead to critical hit which gives the you twice the amount of damage that you will inflict to the enemy. My first dice roll in our session resulted to a critical hit. What a good way to start my combat. Our DM asks us to describe our attacks, so I use moves based on fighting games and martial arts movies with some inclination to brutality (some Monk I am, haha).

My first dice roll for the session.  Critical Hit!

My first dice roll for the session. Critical Hit!

The quest was really enjoyable. We even have a minigame wherein we cross the sewers with multiple paths. We had several Perception checks to determine how much of the place can we exploit like hidden traps and switches. The actions that we take for each scenario that we’ve been through will affect our later encounters. For example, because our party saved this particular child from the burning tenement, we got a warning about the methane gas that is present in the sewers. If we’re not aware of that information, we could have ended up igniting the entire place and alert the guards of the final dungeon. We encountered different combat challenges like the continuous spawning of sewage monsters and a giant rat that bleeds a swarm of small rats. The quest ended well with a quick-time-event type of sequence where we have to perform the final attack to the last boss for this quest. Good thing we got high dice rolls, so we defeated the boss enemy as we aimed for. After the quest has ended, our DM discussed the loots that we got for the entirety of the quest. There was a revelation for one of our players related to his back story, but more questions still need to be answered.

We started the session around 3 PM and ended at 1 AM. Yeah, it was a pretty long session, but we really had a good time. Good thing the cafe accommodated us until we finished our session. I have yet to utilize the specialty of my class since it’s my first time to try it in an actual game, but it made me think of the possibilities for the next episode. Hopefully, I can join the next session if my schedule permits. For the meantime, I’ll take a look for more tips on how to effectively play as a Monk. ‘Til next time! (~^_^)~

 

Special thanks to Brian and Nikka for the pics and Ej for organizing the sessions every month. V(^_^)

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Dev Diary: Fate Marks the Spot – My Global Game Jam 2015 Experience

Another global game jam has been concluded last January 25 with 518 jam sites, 78 countries, 28,000 jammers and 5,438 games. It’s my fourth time to join this annual game dev fest, and from what I observe, the event just keeps getting bigger every year. It’s nice to see that more and more people are getting interested in creating games, students, professional developers, and hobbyists alike. I was excited to see what types of games will be made for this year’s jam, but I was more excited on what our team will be able to make this time. I teamed up with my former teammates in the last year’s jam Aileen (Artist) and Dino (Designer) together with Ej (Designer) and Simon (Sound Designer, Ej’s brother).

Friday, January 23

I arrived in front of the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Rizal Library around 3 PM. My cab was in between two cars, which happen to be Synergy 88’s representatives for the game jam. Talk about full-force. They were carrying mattresses and bags, ready to spend the next two nights in the venue.

I must say, this is my favorite game jam site so far. It’s a lot more spacious than the past places that I attended. I hope we stick with this venue for the succeeding years, haha. By 4:30 PM, the program started. I was eager and anxious to see the theme for this year. And so, this video was presented…

What?…. WHAT DO WE DO NOW? That’s exactly the question that filled the minds of the participants. The theme is quite broad, but I like it that way because it gives more possibilities for game ideas. Like the past game jams, members are separated into tables to be grouped with other jammers to do some brainstorming, sharing ideas based on the given theme. Perhaps, to seed creativity and to encourage everyone to mingle with their fellow game developers. The ideas presented were interesting. My favorite would be the Angry Wife simulator where you need to perform actions to calm down your wife while she’s getting mad on reasons you don’t know.

After all ideas were presented, time for the real deal. We had a fairly hard time thinking of a game idea. I was actually interested in Aileen’s idea of a first-person game that has a pair of players controlling two characters with the objective of meeting at a certain spot. After all, I always want to implement something new for the game jam, and a network game is something that I rarely do. Squeezing more ideas, I suggested a tile-based puzzle game wherein creatures will spawn at certain spots, and the player must navigate the creatures by placing arrows in a tile to fulfill specific objectives (e.g. triggering a switch, escaping a room, etc.). Dino pondered on the idea and tweaked it so that the mechanics will involve a specific number of moving characters that are placed in the stage before the start of the round. Everyone agreed on the idea. The initial theme we had in mind was an office space, but we figured that a love story would be much more fun. It ended up combining the core mechanics with Aileen’s game idea during the brainstorming session. And so, Fate Marks the Spot was started.

Ej and Simon couldn’t make it for the first day, so they were online in Skype to discuss the idea with Dino. Aileen started looking for art pegs to use for the game while I code the preliminary parts of the level editor. It would be more efficient that way since our game’s fun factor heavily depends on the level design, so providing the tools to the designers will speed up the process. After adding the functionality to generate the stages, it was time for me to sleep. I need to reserve my energy for the next day, when the big bulk of the dev time is allotted.

 Saturday, January 24

It’s an early start. Ej and Dino are discussing the level designs. Simon is preparing the music and sound effects. Aileen starts with the preliminary assets and character designs. I continue to implement the core mechanics namely, character movement, path obstacles/blockages, and placing of arrows for redirecting the paths. I was about to finish my implementation when suddenly, my laptop died. I looked at the outlet, and it turned out that my laptop was unplugged. I was cautious enough to save often, but it gave me a momentary stress, so I rested for 10 minutes to relax and wait for my laptop to load again. The improper shut down caused the startup to run slower than usual.

By 2 P.M., I showed my teammates that the basic features of the tool are ready for use. Quite earlier than I expected. Now, for the level design. The plan is to have three stages, one tutorial and two main scenarios. However, the scope was bigger than I expected. Now there’s a trigger the thief to get rammed by a scooter. The rivals can be directed to a certain spot to start a fight, and the main character can be caught in the middle. Each level produced several unexpected possibilities that are difficult to implement within the given time. In the end, we had to trim it down. For instance, the scooter idea was scrapped in the tutorial level. Its conditions have some instances that will possibly divert the player from doing the ideal scenario and learning the basic gameplay. Dino laid out the basic level using the tool that I created in Unity.

Fate was made using Unity3D.

Fate was made using Unity3D.

For the tutorial, I just wrote a handler class where each step is separated by functions. The functions have corresponding Key Events that are thrown by different parts of the code for the tutorial scene. Lots of dirty hacks, here and there to speed up the coding process and move forward to the next stage. It took longer to implement than I expected. Tutorial system is my least part in coding a game, because it holds a lot of special cases that you have to insert in between the core features that you carefully constructed. Quite bothersome for me, but it enhances the gaming experience, so I get on with it.

After more than a couple of hours, the tutorial stage was tested. Bugs here and there. Fixes here and there. Rinse and repeat. After that, it was time to implement the next stage. Meanwhile, the art assets are still in-progress. The expansion of the scope affected the necessary objects to be placed in the scene as well as the characters. I’m not an artist, but I know that this won’t be “a walk in the park”. In any case, I’ve worked with Dino and Aileen in the past year’s game jam, so I know they will push through. It was past 12 A.M. The entire team is still awake. We’re now considering the possibility of excluding the third level if we run out of time. I wanted, to finish the game as planned, but reality bites. We have less than 24 hours to wrap up, and we still have some asset integrations to do. I slept around 2:30 A.M.

Sunday, January 25

It’s the last stretch. The animations are done for the tutorial level characters, so I integrated them accordingly. I needed to trim the colliders of the character sprites since there are cases wherein the character collisions were too sensitive that they are triggered even at a considerable amount of distance. Updating the tutorial was fast enough, especially that Dino got used to manipulating the tool and levels. Too bad, this wasn’t the case with the second level. The tutorial level only requires the referenced sprites to be replaced. Add the environment objects and it was good to go. However, the second level uses a different set of tile images, so the level had to be reconstructed. I should’ve prepared the level for such requirement, but I was tired to make the adjustment. I still regret that I haven’t done that, but time is running out, so just utilize what we have.

Tutorial Stage of Fate Marks the Spot

Tutorial Stage of Fate Marks the Spot

Ej and Simon were preparing the game page needed for our entry. With less than an hour left, the second level was constructed. Just when I thought I can proceed with the win and lose condition prompts, Dino observed a bug. The collisions were not working at all. Darn, what do we do now? I was cursing like crazy trying to figure out what’s wrong. Are the colliders set to Trigger? Yes. Does each object have a rigidbody (technically only one of the colliding objects are required to have such, but what the hell)? Yes. I’m running out of ideas. Out of desperation, I looked at the sprite collection of our characters, and there I found the culprit. Not all of the animation frames have a pre-defined collider. I immediately updated all the involved sprite collections. The losing conditions are now working, but the winning condition, still to no avail. Have to ignore that part since the important thing is that the level is still playable. I just have to tell the players that they’ve accomplished their goal.

Less than 15 minutes left, and I’m struggling to implement the win and lose prompts, as well as the necessary scene transitions. 3… 2… 1… I stopped coding and began to build our game. I finished the code, but I haven’t tested it at all. It was a make or break moment. If the prompt doesn’t appear or the scene transition is not triggered, the game won’t present all the levels, and worst case, we have to present it with a Unity editor. The build was created. I ran the game and the tutorial ran properly. Now, time to trigger the losing condition. After 1.5 second, the prompt appeared. Thank goodness. We proceeded with testing the winning condition. The prompt appeared. Wait for it… the second level faded in. I exhaled a big sigh of relief. That last piece of code wasn’t tested at all. I’m so thankful that it worked when we needed it most.

Post-Dev Proper

It’s time to showcase the games. They all look interesting, spanning various genres. Since time is limited for the playtests, I just played them at home. For the demo, I made a build for laptop and Android tablet (multi-platform made easy, thanks to Unity). It never fails to make us happy when we see other people enjoying our game. The second level was hilarious since the obstacles involve two rivals and an ex-girlfriend, and the players have unlocked different scenarios, some of which had totally surprised us. Shortly after presenting the games, the fun awards were given and then proceeded with some talks from the event sponsors.

I was more tense compared with my past game jams due to that photo-finish coding moment, but a midst the stress, pressure, and lack of sleep, I seriously had fun. I’m proud of our game and proud of our team’s effort. To Team Eat ‘N Run V. 2, good job guys! (~^_^)~

Our Game: Fate Marks the Spot Download the game here – http://globalgamejam.org/2015/games/fate-marks-spot

Team Eat ‘N Run V. 2

  • Ej Lim (Level Designer)
  • Simon Lim (Sound Designer)
  • Dino Diaz (Level Designer)
  • Aileen Martin (2D Artist)
  • Felix Palabrica (Programmer)

Rocksmith 2014 – A Faster and Fun Way to Learn Guitar

A few months ago, I bought Rocksmith 2014 to fill my basics in guitar playing. My initial thought is that I will be able to practice while also playing a game (for the gamer that I am), and I was not disappointed. It’s fun as a game, but it also borders as a guitar learning software. Here are some of the features that made this a faster and fun way to learn guitar.

  1. Tracks – When you start a new game, you’ll be asked to choose which track of guitar playing are you planning to learn. The three options are Bass, Lead, and Rhythm. Each option will affect how the practice songs will be presented to you. The rhythm will be more focused on strumming the chords. Lead will be heavy on plucking. And bass will play the bass guitar part.
  2. Lessons – This is my favorite part of the game. The lessons’ options are made up of a lot of items ranging from the most basic things like Picking 101 to Advance Chords. I thought I can skip to some of the lessons since I can play several songs, but after performing poorly in the power chords lesson, I was obliged to run through each lesson until I completed it to 100%. This feature is really useful since it made me aware of my wrong habits and practices in guitar playing. The lessons are usually divided to three parts:
    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    1. Lesson Proper – The concept will be taught to you in a video lesson so you can imitate it with your own guitar.
    2. Trial Playthrough – Here, you’ll play a segment of musical notes that focuses on the chosen lesson. For example, if the lesson is about slides, then you’ll encounter notes that prompt you to slide from one fret to another.
    3. Practice – The last part will let you play a longer segment of musical notes. If you performed well by hitting around 90% of accuracy and technique, then the segment will transform into a more challenging sequence. With this, you will need to repeat the lesson (you can skip to the practice part) until you reach the lesson completion to 100%.
  3. Learn A Song – This is one of the features that make this an authentic video game. The format is just like the rhythm games you play in the arcades like Guitar Freaks and Rock Band except that it’s displaying the fret board of a guitar and not the orthodox three to five buttons. The camera moves accordingly so the transition from one note or chord to another is smooth and not obtrusive to your gaming experience. There are also more notations to remember since you’re dealing with chords, slides, pulls, hammers, etc., but you’ll get the hang of it if you go through the lessons. It also has tool called Riff Repeater. It lets you select a segment of the song that you want to practice. You can adjust the difficulty which will determine what notes you are going to play for that segment. Basically, the 100% difficulty is the actual chord of the song. The lower difficulties will transform it to an easier chord (e.g. barre chord becomes a power chord) or to a single note for the lowest setting. You’ll play this segment again and again until you hit all the notes right. After this, there’s an optional setting to increase the difficulty and replay the segment or proceed to play the next part of the song. To know more about the feature. See the guide video below.
  4. Guitarcade – These are minigames that practice the different parts of guitar playing. One game might test you in playing the scales while another game will test in regulating the volume of your strum. All games are presented in 8-bit retro style which is a lot of fun to play. It has leaderboards that submits your score via UPlay account. If you need a break from the lessons and songs, this is a good diversion while still practicing your guitar skills.
  5. Missions –  This is  your main guide on what to do next. It will also show the features that you possibly haven’t explored yet. There was one mission that required me to use the riff repeater, and from there I got my resolve that I could really learn each song because of this tool. This feature is also aided with markers that stick with the game’s menu items. If you see the Rocksmith logo beside the session play, then it’s part of your current mission. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirement, the logo will be removed. It makes the entire learning process more intuitive. However, there are times that the mission may still seem unclear and will leave you wondering what you need to do. Don’t fret (pun-pun-pun). You can go to the forums and seek some advice. Chances are, that part is already resolved by your fellow players. If not, the community will be there to help you.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith's features and learning path.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith’s features and learning path.

Some Clarifications

  • What do I need to play the game?
    • You need an actual electric guitar, a copy of Rocksmith 2014 game, and a Rocksmith™ Real Tone Cable. If you buy the game on game shops, the copy is already bundled with the cable. If you buy the game from steam, you’ll have to buy the cable separately.
  • Can I use my Steam account if I purchase the game from a game shop?
    • Yes. The copy also comes with a key which you can redeem from steam. After installation, it will be added to your account’s library. You won’t need to insert the disc again.
  • Can I use my acoustic guitar?
    • YES. As long as it has a pickup where you can plug the Real Tone Cable.
  • What guitar brands are supported by the game?
    • Technically, it should support any brand, but I suggest that you use a mainstream brand like Epiphone. I’m currently using Yamaha EG112C.
  • Can I plug other types of instruments?
    • NO. You can only use a guitar. There’s actually a feature called  Session Play that will let you play with a wide range of accompaniment based on the notes that you play, but all of the sounds will be provided by the game and not from an actual plugged instrument. The said feature is pretty impressive, and you can create a lot of possible combinations.

I won’t claim that this is the best way to learn because I really value the importance of an actual teacher. However, if you’re someone who wants to play the guitar and is looking for other options to learn, then I suggest that you give Rocksmith a try. It has a 60-day challenge program that will boost your current skill level. You can even share your experience with fellow players. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next great rockstar of this generation. Enjoy playing and rock on! (~^_^)~

My Sources for Free Legit Games

It’s nice that video games have gone a lot cheaper now that piracy is becoming more and more of an impractical thing. A lot of gaming platforms are offering seasonal sales, especially during the last months of the year, but you know what’s better than those discounted games? Why of course, free games! I’ve been keeping track of some sites and services that offer these sweet giveaways. There was actually a time that almost everyday, I’m sharing a new link of a free game. With that, might as well just share my sources with you.

EA Origins – On The House

Origins is the gaming platform powered by EA Games. Much like Steam, but as you would expect, it caters EA published games. One thing that is special about this app though is that it has a section called On the House. Usually refreshed every month, Origins gives away a free game for all registered users. No catch, no kidding. Currently, I already got my 7th free game. They’ve given popular games such as Dead Space, Plants vs. Zombies, Battlefield 3, and Dragon Age Origins. Their download speed is pretty fast, so you don’t have to worry about installing large games in your library. Occasionally, they also give free games through a special code. That’s how I got the complete bundle of Sims 2. It may be two iterations behind of the Sims series, but given that all expansions and packages given away for free? It’s still a good deal for me! 😀

Indie Game Bundles

Indie Game Bundles is a site dedicated to bundles, sales, and of course, free games! It seems that they closely monitor all the game merchants out there from applications to bundle websites. They have a section dedicated for free games. Just carefully read the instructions on how to get them since some sites will require you to register or download their provided platform. Sometimes they also run electronic raffles for steam gifts. Raffle entries include following them at twitter, joining their steam group, and re-tweeting the raffle. Pretty good strategy to increase their popularity, but with the great deals that they’re giving, it’s just right for other gamers to learn more about them.

PC Gamer

PC Gamer is more focused with the entire PC Gaming industry.  This site is tied-up with the game magazine of the same name. They have reviews, news, and other articles about everything related to PC gaming. Like Indie Game Bundles, they share deals from other sites and platforms. Just take a look at their news section. If you’re active in facebook, then it would be better if you like their fan page.

Bundle Sites – (Humble Bundle, Bundle Stars, Indie Gala, etc.)

Bundle sites are not just for discounted prices anymore. Every once in a while, they also give free games for promotional purposes. Usually, you’ll see that at the store’s home page where the only requirement is your email address where they can send you the link or key to redeem the free game. To be honest, the two websites mentioned above would probably lead you to the bundle stores so you need not to visit that often, but I think it’s worth mentioning because if you’re a fan of bundles like me, then might as well take a closer look and maybe you’ll find a pleasant gift, waiting for you to claim. 🙂

I’m not sharing this to bloat your backlogs (though this is what’s happening to me right now LOL). It’s more of giving you alternatives, especially if you’re short on budget. This will also make you more conscious when purchasing games. If you don’t want it that bad or if you’re not playing it anytime soon, then it would be nice to re-consider your purchase and probably wait a little longer. Who knows, may be it will get a lot cheaper by the time you’re ready to play it, or better yet, it will be given for free. Until then, game on! (~^_^)~

My Reasons on Why I Chose to Purchase-Lock on Games

Video game sales and bundles have made games more accessible and affordable to players than ever before. A lot of  gamers (guilty as charged) wait patiently for the next sale extravaganza of our favorite app store and hope that the games on our wishlist will be discounted enough to be bought in one purchase cart. With this, it may seem inevitable that our purchases will continue to pile up until we have a lot more games than our free time will allow. We can rationalize that we’re just availing this sort of “rare” deals that we don’t want to miss the chance to buy these great games, regardless of when we’ll play it (i.e. if we ever get the chance to play it). We can also say that we’re doing this for charity. I just hope it’s part of the real purpose. For such reasons, I just reached the point that I don’t want to give excuses just to succumb to my pleasure of getting more and more bargains without enjoying my purchases.  I stopped buying games since January except if the game is part of my research or part of a game engine bundle which I consider a good investment as a game developer. Here are some things that motivated me to have my purchase-lock.

As a Game Developer, I Want My Games to be Played

This is the top reason that really struck me. I’ve experienced the hardships of being a game developer, but I strive and continue to do what I do for this is my passion. This is with the hope that beyond materializing my ideas, gamers will notice and appreciate what I’ve made. I read this article from polygon where it was mentioned that:

The only thing worse than paying less for a game on sale is to not pay anything, and even if you don’t play the games you buy you can comfort yourself by saying you’re helping to fund the creation of that company’s next venture.

Point taken. The company really needs the funds to keep the operations going, but depending on the monetary support alone will prove to be ephemeral in terms of its expansion, let alone survival. More than finances, the company needs followers and loyal supporters who will continue to play the games and spread the word of the quality that the developers deliver.  With more and more games getting released everyday, it is essential to make a mark with your game and create a reputation from there. And it is not achieved by merely pulling off a money-shot trailer or good webpage synopsis. People have to play your games in order to recognize that it’s good, and they get their money’s worth. Who knows, maybe it will make them buy your next games at full price since you’ve already earned their seal of approval.

My Money is Better Spent on Something Else That I Will Enjoy or Consume Sooner

Sure, you’ll get discounts on buying these games, but I can’t consider that money as actually saved if you don’t get to play the game at all, you basically just threw it out (again, unless you really did it for charity). I apply this principle in everything that I buy. If I won’t use it soon, then might as well keep it in my budget instead. I’ll never know when I’ll need the money for other stuff like emergency bills, vacations, meetups, or even game dev materials that I treat as a valuable investment. Besides, most of the best games  reappear in future deals, sometimes with a cheaper price than the previous sale.

Secure My Savings While I’m Still Operating on Active Income

I only got my first ever credit card last year. Actually, it’s a debit card, because I don’t want to have unsettled bills hanging for a while. The interest rate may go crazy if you don’t pay attention. The ease of online transactions made anyone susceptible to splurge on online shops. The next thing you know, you’re already in a big debt. To be honest, my purchase rate for bundles were quite high for the first couple of months of my debit card. The online transfer of funds really made it convenient for me to avail such great deals. Good thing I’m keeping records of my personal finances and I observed the sudden spike of expenses. I knew I had to halt at one point. Then I read this article from Kotaku which motivated me to start my purchase lock. I even sold my PS2, Nintendo DS Lite, and PSP since I just have too many games to play, and I wasn’t able to play them as often as I used to. Maybe I’ll loosen myself on spending if I acquire passive income that pretty much covers all my expenses. How to do that is reserved for another blog, but for starters, you might want to check out Cash Flow board game, created by the prominent businessman, investor, and self-help author, Robert Kiyosaki.

I Just Want to Enjoy the Games That I Bought

Well, I have to admit; this is just me being me. I’m really bothered of the pile of games that are waiting in line for completion. Sometimes, it affects my enjoyment of playing my current lineup of games. I skipped some secret parts which are difficult to discover or consult the FAQ when a challenge becomes too time-consuming to accomplish. Fez for example, had a lot of beautiful puzzles, but solving them through context clues scattered in separate worlds takes considerable amount of time to figure out so I had to consult some guides to solve it. I’m quite torn with this, because you shouldn’t care that much on how long you play a game if you totally enjoy it, but I always say that there’s a vast sea of great games waiting to be played, and as a gamer and game developer. I even check the site How Long To Beat just to have a rough idea of how much time I will consume on the next game that I will play. Again, this is just me, if you really enjoy staying on a single game, then by all means do it. Don’t compromise with what you enjoy. 😀

There’s a TON of Free Games

Who doesn’t want free goods, let alone free games? I observe that this is not just the era of bundles and sales, it’s also the era of FREE games. This is not limited to indie games, but also to old AAA titles. EA Origins have started their On The House section that gives one free game each month. They also gave the complete Sims 2 game and expansions for free. Other gaming platforms like GOG and Steam are doing the same. All of this also stack up to the pile of shame, and even if it’s free, it’s far from something to be ignored. Fallout, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead 2 are just some of the titles that were distributed free of charge. All you have to do is monitor the corresponding sites to keep yourself updated with the latest deals. I’m actually putting them in higher priority above some of my purchased games. On top of that, mobile games have spewed more and more free to play games that will take a lifetime to try it all. If you’re not very particular with games and all you’re aiming for is to keep yourself entertained, then you can get that without spending a single penny.

I wrote this just to give readers something to ponder on. I share the enjoyment of availing the discounted games, and it’s a lot of fun when you’ve played one that you know is far more valuable than what you paid for. Just remember though, your money is well spent if you actually enjoyed what you bought. I believe the game industry doesn’t just rely on monetary support. It’s the continued patronage of gamers that moves the industry to continuously evolve, as new hardware are developed, new concepts are explored, and new realms are created. In the end, I hope you guys buy the games that you will really have fun and at least get your money’s worth. If you do, it doesn’t hurt to write to the developer on how much you love the game. Seriously, the developers appreciate that. Until then, happy gaming! (~^_^)~

 

 

Old School RPG With A New Twist – Prologue: A Guardian Story

I’m enjoying the strong presence of the indie game developers in the industry. They provide more choices, cheaper games, and unique takes on a wide span of genre. Prologue: A Guardian Story combines the mechanics of an old-school, turn-based RPG with an unorthodox narrative and feel. Made by Senshilabs, this game was made to fund a major project for their studio, but don’t think that this is just a bootleg game. You get a decent amount of content for $2.99 spanning 6 to 9 hours of gameplay depending on how much of a completionist you are.

Prologue Title Screen

Prologue Title Screen

This game has a different approach on presenting its story. It takes place in a University, something you don’t commonly see in other role-playing games. The protagonist goes by the name of Beam,  a university professor and an Alchemist. She needs to use her skills to defeat a mysterious group of cloaked minions who invaded their school. Sounds serious right? Well yeah, the plot does portray a hero’s quest, but Prologue delivered it with a balance of action and light humor. The story is written with catchy dialogues ranging from typical villainous punchlines to geek memes. It was intentional and was made to poke some fun out of the JRPG cliches. You’ll also control a rich variety of characters with different personalities. You will even have a cat to join your party, and we know that any game with a cat is a must-buy, right? Right!

Talk about post-fight punchlines.

Talk about post-fight punchlines.

Handsome Man.. Hmmm how suspicious...

Handsome Man.. Hmmm how suspicious…

You even have a chance to fight with a cat! What an offer!

You have a chance to fight with a cat! What an offer!

Even though the play time is quite shorter than a typical RPG, it doesn’t fall short when it comes to details. By exploring the different areas of the map, you’ll discover various places that make up a complete University like Library, Colleges, Gym, and Infirmary. Reading  the books give you a closer look on the history of St. Claire, the Saint from which the university was named after. You can also learn about the different regulations of the school such as faculty ranks.

The difficulty is pretty balanced, giving you a fair amount of challenge at the start of the game, but be watchful of your lifebar. Some of the enemies may die with just one hit, but they pack a punch if you give them the opportunity to strike back. Other than the basic attack and magic, you will also have Special Skills, which is performed using your SP Meter. The said attribute increases as you take damage, much like the POW meter of Samurai Showdown or Ultra meter of Street Fighter IV. This may turn the tide of the battle, but only if you live long enough to execute your skill. Grinding is inevitable but rewarding for dedicated players, for there is an optional boss that only a party strong enough to withstand its attacks can beat.

This boss is susceptible to Beam's water attacks, but one successful Triple Shot from her  spells "Game Over".

This boss is susceptible to Beam’s water attacks, but one successful Triple Shot from her, spells “Game Over”.

Enemies have weak points based on the attack's element

Enemies have weak points based on the attack’s element

Trivia: A lot of characters here in Prologue were based on real-life professors of Game Development, Multimedia Arts, and Mass Communications

Trivia: A lot of characters here in Prologue were based on real-life professors of Game Development, Multimedia Arts, and Mass Communications

Overall, this game is a good treat for both casual and hardcore RPG-players alike. Engaging storyline, intuitive gameplay, and well-written script all made Prologue a fun game. As a last note, you need to craft the ultimate weapons in order to unlock the true ending of the game. If you feel like getting lost, or you want to make the most out of your playthrough, you can check out this strategy guide written by the author herself. You can purchase the game on itch.io or Desura. Keep supporting the indie game devs! Enjoy! (~^_^)~

A Delightful Board Game Treat: Sweet Sabotage

Last week, I had the chance to play-test a board game created by my two former colleagues, White Ravens’ Charles Cue and Ellie Licuanan. It’s called Sweet Sabotage. Basically, the object of the game is to earn the master’s favor by satisfying enough number of customers through serving their ordered desserts.  We did the playthrough in Tobey’s Game Cafe, a place where you can dine and play a wide variety of board games. Just the place we need. The video below gives you an overview of the core mechanics. Now who goes first?…. the hungriest player. :3

First-time players will have a slow pace at the beginning since you need to track several elements like the customer attributes and dessert  ingredients, but don’t fret. With just a few turns, you’ll be able to grasp the flow of the game and have fun for the rest of the time, especially when players are starting to sabotage each other. LOL.

Ellie Licuanan (Artist of White Ravens) explaining the core mechanics of the game

Ellie Licuanan (Artist of White Ravens) explaining the core mechanics of the game

Actual Play Test: When Player Put Their Game-Face On, Prepare for some Sabotage : ))

Actual Play Test: When Players Put Their Game-Face On, Prepare for some Sabotage : ))

Notable Stuff That I Like About The Board Game:

  • The unique theme of the game. I never thought that I’ll enjoy the role of being a butler.
  • The anime/manga art style. Nuff said.
  • The Sabotage mechanic itself. This adds twist to the game turning the tides for those who are about to win. However, this is not to be abused, for some cards work against your favor.
  • Packaging. All the parts were presented like it came from an actual cafe like the cake box, daily specials, and the menu booklet that is distributed to each player.
  • Not too simple and not too complex. You’ll understand the game soon enough to have more time enjoying the competition for your master’s favor.
Fun game and good food wit hformer colleagues and boardgame enthusiasts!

Fun game and good food with former colleagues and boardgame enthusiasts!

Right now, White Ravens is running an IndieGogo campaign to push the project to full production. Visit the link to see more details about the game and the talented people behind it. If you find it enjoyable, why not give your support? They have a wide variety of perks to choose from. Let the quest for the best maid and butler begin! (~^_^)~

Photos Courtesy of: Ellie Licuanan and Sao Menguito