Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ten Hours in -- Walking Dead Onslaught

I have arrived, folks! I got my 10 hours of play in Walking Dead Onslaught just like I predicted I would, and I feel pretty great about that. Even better, this game got me to start watching the Walking Dead series, of which I'm now solidly into Season 3. And now I really know who the heck Daryl Dixon is. Now I'm pretty happy to get scavenging missions from Michonne and also know how cool it is that I can wield her Katana. Now when I select Rick Grimes as my player avatar, I know who that is and not just "the male option." I get it.

Now if I just had two chained up, jawless and limbless zombies walking behind me

So there you go, can a game from a network series get you to watch the series? Yes. I'm that guy. Ok, so let's talk a bit more about this VR game, and why I think it's pretty great. 

First off, the weapon armory is pretty remarkable. They give you 18 weapons and a bucket full of makeshift stuff to slay zombies with.

Choose yer poison!

Each of these weapons has 4 upgrade options that make them all play a bit differently. At first you're thinking, really . . . a meat cleaver vs. a machete? how different can they really be? At first you'd be absolutely correct in that thinking. Insert blade into zombie skull, done. In reality the cleaver is more of a vampiric, health leeching weapon and the machete is more of a armor piercing and stun weapon. You just have to upgrade them to be that way.

A necromancer's favorite weapon

Personally, I think the best melee weapon in the game is your basic hammer. It literally knocks the heads right off of zombies without much effort, and each time you do it (and once you've upgraded the hammer) it also finds wood resources off of zombies when you kill them.

The easiest way to find ALL the weapons in the game is to simply get to chapter 7 and make sure you search all the upstairs areas. In one there is a weapons cache that has every weapon possible in the game. Once you equip a weapon and complete a mission (whether that's story or otherwise) you'll unlock that weapon in your weapons rack. Having 18+ weapons in a game like this almost seems excessive, but I'll take it. Messing around with various weapons is part of the fun.

There's also achievements (which I'm still hunting for) for using all the weapons and for upgrading all the weapons. 

Second, the embodied actions of the game were seamless and interesting. Pushing doors open felt great. Grabbing handles and pulling sliding doors open made sense. Slotting, pulling, and tugging . . . it was all there and at a couple points I even thought to myself, wow . . . this seems like a lot of work for a puzzle that's only used once in the game, but it made the game so much more fun that it was there.

A pull cord to start a generator! Awesome!

Third, it was really good game sense to have Daryl's story missions unlock based on the number of survivors you had discovered and brought into your town. You never actually eat food in the game, but you find a ton of it . . . and that's ok because food is actually what draws survivors to your camp. Not only do you need survivors to unlock missions, but you also need them to operate your town's buildings. It's just nice to see interesting game design choices like that. I was happy with it.

Alexandria has her fully upgraded windmill. Life is good!

It does feel like they left a lot of space for a DLC, and because of that, it feels like the game is missing a few things. Namely, you need a boss fight with the leader of the Gold 99 faction you're learning about in Daryl's missions. While the final chapter of the game does have some epic zombie herd killing action, you're left at a cliffhanger in the game, and that feels disappointing. A DLC would have answered that call.

The Gold 99's calling card . . . I want to fight their leader!

It also would have been nice to have one more synergistic game loop that involved all the buildings you have constructed in town. Special missions unlocked by the buildings would be a perfect addition to a DLC. Unfortunately since the game was released in 2020 and it's now 2023 . . . I don't think it's going to happen.

I still have 15 achievements left to earn. Most of those are to play through the story mode on Veteran as well as the two weapon achievements I listed earlier. A couple of them are very confusing and will require a bit more research to see how to complete them. I'm shooting to get them all though! 

I'm glad a random post in Blaugust got me to play this game and give it a shot. After earning my achievements, I'll probably hit the Saints and Sinners games next. (Come to find out, I already had them in my game library and didn't realize it)

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Game Portfolio -- Battle Bows

Battle Bows

  • Release Date: July 2023
  • Current Availability: Oculus and Steam (Playstation in work)
  • Release Credit Category: Design Credit
  • Company: WIMO Games
  • Business Model: Paid Game
  • Category: VR 
  • Genre: Wave Shooter Defense
Personal Development Notes
  • Fun Fact: WIMO gifted all employees a fun plushy based on the Speedster character in Battle Bows. They handed us these really cool gifts as a part of a company-wide fun day at a nerf gun arena. Good times all around!

  • Job Highlights: I transitioned out of working on outsourced mobile games to strictly working on VR games in March 2022, and then full production hit in late 2022. Things went much faster with an entire dedicated team and some funding behind it. 

    Besides working on Pitch Deck Creation and presenting the pitch to both internal and external audiences, I was also responsible for GDD creation, level design, enemy design, game balance, and more including daily playtesting and feedback.

    I had a lot of fun being this game's internal cheerleader at our company All Hands Meetings where I was able to update the WIMO team on monthly status during development. 

  • Best Memory: I had the honor to be part of the initial team that led the charge to experiment with WIMO's first VR game, and yeah, I absolutely look back to those days with fondness. There's nothing quite like shooting a white polygon noodle out of a controller like it's an arrow. 

  • Other Comments: The game turned out great and has been polished and optimized with a lot of care. The game also considers those that may get sick in VR with some built in accessibility features -- you won't have to move around much, further minimizing VR sickness. With its accessibility, multiplayer, and fun style, we're hoping it makes a great party game that the whole family can enjoy. Our first major update to the game is coming soon!

Sample Gameplay

As a part of the launch I was asked to make a developer video showing players some tips and tricks on how to do well in the game. 

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Blaugust Cliff Notes: Thanks for reading!

And here we are . . . another Blaugust comes to a close. It's pretty great to get fresh views on your site during the month and also get to read a bunch of great blog posts from other Blaugustians -- new and old! I've had a lot of fun clicking on all the links in our Blaugust Discord server. Unfortunately the month has also been pretty busy for me, so I haven't been as chatty as I typically am. (I tend to drop my social presence when things get busy -- my D&D buddies were worried.)

Just as a review, when Blaugust kicked up I was still in full Diablo IV mode, playing the new season and earning my seasons reward track. I was writing about quests in Scosglen and unlocking all my renown on my Sorceress. Probably my favorite post of the Diablo series was when I was listening to my wife watching Housewives while I was playing and ended up in a fevered-dream Diablo/Housewives crossover episode.  

Truly Trouble in Paradise . . .

Then Palia hit, and it was mega-fuel for the entire month! Almost half of my Blaugust was spent exploring this new world and just fishing up random stuff to try and impress Einar, my lovable robot boyfriend. It was so bad that even MassivelyOP noticed that I couldn't control myself and gave me top billing in their community Global Chat post last week. *blush* I usually don't get top billing there.  Felt pretty good, and I'm hoping Einar hears about it. (Thanks for helping me look good for my robot, Massively!)

pubescent caterpillar is still my favorite line in the game

Real life was definitely on my mind as I talked about my birthday and a trip to the new Meow Wolf in Grapevine, Texas. I'm still getting fuel from that visit, even making new trippy art for a psychedelic project over on the HITRECORD site, which is my new social media of choice lately. Also, my kid headed back to school and that flipped my schedule so I had to post at night instead of in the mornings. Also, speaking of psychedelic, the Beck/Phoenix concert was a laser light extravaganza!

I'm making weird art for HITRECORD from my pictures from Meow Wolf

I also talked about a few more cancelled games in my game portfolio posts. I still have one more left I could talk about believe it or not. Yeah. That's working in mobile games for you! It's such a highly competitive space. This site says there are 3,379 new apps a day on the Android store, which seems too specific to be true, but its heart is in the right place. Your app can drown in visibility very quickly.

Getting to storyboard these game comics was a job highlight I failed to mention

And finally I got to talk a bit about a few VR Games that were gaining dust in my virtual library. As it turns out, I typically don't have a burning desire to play exercise games and zombie/monster shooters -- go figure. Glad I got to "exercise" my typically not-seen side and shoot several things in the face. I actually have many more VR games I need to review that I've never played, and also VR games that I HAVE played but NEVER talked about on this blog, like A Fisherman's Tale (what a fun puzzle game that is) or Paper Beast (a trip into the wild and weird).

Didn't see myself doing this when Blaugust started . . .

Outside of all that, I mentioned how much I appreciated the band Low . . . and that there was the month of August in blogging. 

Unlike some who get the fire in them to keep it going well into the following months, now that a habit of posting has been established, I'm likely to take a bit of a break . . . but now I have some great ideas for things to write about! It's been a good month, but also quite busy. Mentally, it came in like a lamb and out like a lion for me, which typically happens every Blaugust. It's weird like that. All is well though. No worries. Just glad I made it through with a post every day.

Thanks for reading and as always . . .

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

VR Game Library Delving -- Walking Dead Onslaught

Hello, fair reader. I'm back with yet another blood and guts zombie game today from my un-played VR game library. Just a heads up that you will see pictures of, you know, me stabbing a zombie in the head. If that is something you don't want to see, you may want to skip this post. Just sayin'

And with that out of the way, can you believe it? Blaugust is almost to an end!  Today and tomorrow and that's it. Glad I'm able to end this month of posting with yet another VR game that I just spent the past hour or two playing. I figured I better stop now so I can write about it before it's bedtime and I have nightmares of zombies coming after me.

Today's game is Walking Dead Onslaught. Apparently there have been a few Walking Dead VR games. Today's game and then there's also Walking Dead Saints and Sinners 1 and 2. All I know is that the game I have in my library came to me as a part of a bundle from like a year ago, and I've never played it until today.

The picture should feature more knife and less crossbow and gun.

Quickly flipping through reviews, it seems like Saints and Sinners had a bit of a better reception than this game, but I gotta tell you, compared to the zombie wave shooter I played yesterday, this has a lot of potential to be pretty cool. They have a base building aspect to the game. Weapons can be upgraded. There's a story mode. There's a mission mode. It just feels more complete as a game that will give you multiple hours of replay-ability.

The tutorial walks you through the basics like how to grab a zombie by the throat and stab it. This is actually a very important maneuver because they definitely don't give you enough ammo to just kill everything with a gun. Side note, I really wish they gave you enough ammo to just kill everything with a gun. Then again, the rag doll physics of grabbing a zombie by the throat and flailing them around is pretty funny. I think the developer really liked the stab in the head action.

The Walking Dead throat grab. It's a thing.

After the tutorial the game puts you into a prologue mission where you encounter Daryl Dixon and work your way to a van to escape to your new home base. Now . . . I never watched the Walking Dead series. Oh my goodness, I just heard a collective gasp from like 3/4ths of you reading this blog post. I'm sorry. What I do know is that Daryl is one of the main characters from the series so it makes sense you get to play through his story, to which I believe I'm reading there are 7 chapters.

Chattin' things over with Daryl

The story is pretty much on rails, but you can miss items if you don't look around at all the corners and edges of the map. As you reach certain points, Daryl chimes in like a Dungeon Master talking about things you just encountered or were about to encounter. It's a good way to do story telling in an action game. No complaints here. (In fact, it seems like most of the complaints were that there just wasn't enough story) 

Daryl is all "Took you long enough!"

Story mode is fun and all, but these survival missions are pretty crazy. You are outnumbered and it's basically a dash and grab to try and get as much stuff as you can and then fight off a horde until an escape route opens up and you can make your way to it. I failed the first one twice until I found a happy medium between killing zombies, grabbing loot, and running away from zombies and finally won.

One bullet left and a horde of zombies left to go. fun.

Once you return to camp, win or lose, you'll use any loot you've gathered to upgrade your weapons and build out a town. I honestly can't wait to find a haul of better weapons. Again, not that knife stabbing a zombie in the head doesn't have some entertainment value in and of itself, but a crossbow or a shotgun would be nice to have.


Anyway, I liked my time in the game, and I could see myself returning to this one to play through the entire story and build out my town. Feels like I could maybe get 10 hours out of it, which isn't bad for a VR game at all!

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

VR Game Library Delving -- Propagation VR

Hi. I typically run a family friendly blog, but ya gotta know that I'm looking at a FREAKING ZOMBIE KILLING GAME today, so there's your warning. There's gonna be pictures of zombies and blood and stuff, so . . . um . . . sorry. (But, since I used to talk all the time about 7 Days to Die and no one complained, I doubt anyone is going to complain -- just being upfront here.)


Continuing my look at games that I haven't played from my VR library, today I'm offering up a little horror wave shooter game known as Propagation VR. It originally released in 2020 and apparently it warranted a follow on game known as Propagation Paradise Hotel just this year!

The grabbing hands, grab all they can. All for themselves after all, it's a zombie-ish world!

In Propagation VR, you're thrown into a subway tunnel and asked to survive waves of zombies (and other things) swarming your position. You have your fists, you have a handgun, and you have a shotgun. That's it. That's the game. OH wait, there is a story to it all as well. After you finish a bit of killing, you get a bit of a respite while your "saviors" come to the rescue. You're a cute civilian with an unlimited supply of ammo, and they're in full gas-masked getup. 

I did find a quick way to end the game here by the way. All you have to do is shoot one of the friendly NPCs, and they give you one free Game Over screen. How can anyone resist not shooting these guys in the face?

How did the NPC survive a gun shot to the face? HOW?

Wave 1 is not bad. It's a mix of standard run-of-the-mill zombies . . . a couple fast ones . . . a couple that like to shoot you back . . . a bunch of slow hobblers. You know, zombies. of all kinds.

Zombie Meat Chunks EVERYWHERE!

Reloading is pretty simple, you grab a cartridge of bullets from your side and slot it in your pistol or you load your shotgun pellets one by one. OR, you go into the options and make it so when you press A it loads for you. Took me a couple times through the first part of the game to figure that out.

Pressing A is great, but I actually like the feel of loading shotgun shells, putting the shotgun behind your back, grabbing the handgun from your waist, loading a cartridge of bullets, and backhanding a zombie if they get too close while you reload. It has a nice rhythm and feel to its death march.

Shell goes into shell slot. Got it. Gotta quickly reload those shells while you can!

Wave 2 features these, featureless human meatbags that like to get down on all fours and skitter toward you once they take damage. It's . . . not pleasant looking. Pro-tip, turn up the Gamma so you can actually see these things, or keep it low if you like being spooked by sounds. At the end of wave 2 you're greeted by a couple of the army NPCs that ran ahead and got ate, now returning as military zombies.

Bloody fleshed-over-eyes buddies!

Wave 3 is all about the spiders -- giant ones and small ones that pop out of the giant ones! Lots of creepy spiders all around you. Shotgun works wonders here. At the end of the Wave, a MEGA spider comes out and claws you with two of its legs. As Dory would say, "Just keep shooting, just keep shooting, just keep shooting." (Well, Dory if she was in a zombie apocalypse that is.)

Big jumpy guys with eight tiny eyes!

Wave 4 is simply a boss wave. A big ol' creepy man jumps out of the corpse of the giant spider and we get to have a great session of pop the boils on his back, stomach and arms. The most terrifying part of course is when he attacks you from above. Eventually you shoot him in the back and he falls over on to the subway tracks, getting run over . . . and you win with a scoreboard tallying just how horrible you did on your way to victory.

He needs those boils lanced and everything will be fine. 

. . and that's it.  There's nothing more to it other than to up the difficulty and try again for a better score. I guess if it's Halloween and I have people over who want to play a spooky game, Propagation VR fits the bill, otherwise it feels a bit like a once and done experience. Not bad though.  I think it may actually be free now that they have the paradise hotel version

If you want to play it co-op with another player, they have a $10 DLC you can buy though.  It could be fun playing back to back with someone, although I did ram my fist into the desk once trying to swing at a zombie's head.  Co-op would be dangerous if you were actually back to back. Best not do that.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, August 28, 2023

VR Game Library Delving -- PowerBeats VR

Whew . . . ok team, I need to catch my breath here. I just got done playing a few rounds of PowerBeats VR and I'm all hot, sweaty, and tired. Oh man . . . did I tell you I mostly lead a sedentary lifestyle over here? I  mean, yeah, I go walking with a little Pikmin Bloom and some Peridot, but this is cardio I just got done doing! *catches breath*

Ok, check it out. So, PowerBeats VR is another game I got in a bundle about a year ago, and I've never fired it up, UNTIL TODAY! WHY?! I'VE GOT A BLAUGUST POST TO WRITE! I told you all a couple days ago that I'd go delving into my un-played VR games, and so here we are.

She needs to watch where she's swinging!

The rhythm game slash workout is a perfect game for VR. Ever since humans could swing a beat saber, we knew it was a thing. PowerBeats VR is an ok rhythm game, but an absolute knock out of a work out. Instead of swinging a saber effortlessly to the beat, you are punching balls that come flying at you, ducking under and to the side of pillars, and following a golden rope up and down on a path.

(Btw, the balls that come flying at you are a bit of nightmare fuel for me since it channels an old childhood reoccuring dream of pushing back giant balls ala Sisyphus.)

If you'd like to laugh a bit, watch me trying this expert level for the first time.  I get a B-. :(

The game comes with three environments and a leveling system where you can unlock new hands/weapons as you play. I've put about an hour on the game now, and I think I'm about halfway through level one. Next level I get a hammer. If only I unlocked the song Hammer Time when it happened . . .

Probably the coolest feature of this game is its completely open music library option. You can pick any song in your computer's library, and PowerBeats VR will generate a workout for you based on the parameters you set. Of course, being a songwriter type myself, I had to play a couple songs of my latest release: Rotted Leisure Rooms.

Here's a swing at beginner level workout with my song Wyrd Beard using the Egyptian desert environment.

. . . then I take it up a notch to an Advanced workout with my song Clear Plastic Game Boi, which actually works pretty well as a workout song.

If I were to spend an additional $3 for the DLC to this game, I could also open up a whole slew of new backgrounds to play in, and the ability to load in my own 360 photos to view while I work out. I was actually tempted by this since you know how I love to take 360 photos. There's working out, and then there's working out with some fun 360 photos from Meow Wolf in the background.

Anyway, glad I tried this. I prefer the stylized drumming found in a game like Ragnarock or swinging sabers in the one and only Beat Saber, but this was still pretty fun. I was really happy to find that there actually is a level editor for the game if I wanted to truly make something that matched my songs. 

Who knows, maybe this could be my new workout when I'm not walking my Peridot. Glad I delved into my VR Game Library to give it a shot.

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Palia -- All that and a gaggle of glow worm fish

I haven't had a chance to play as much Palia these past few days, so I thought I'd check back in and report a bit more on my Blaugust progress.

First things, I've got my aquarium room all sorted out and it's looking pretty good.

Largest on stage right, Mediums on stage left, and smallest on the upstage.

Second things, I dinged level 11 (only 9 more to go to get my extra cool fish tank).

It's one better than 10!

Because I've been away from the game for a bit, my glow worm farm chugged out a lot of the little yellow guys for me to use all over Palia and score a few new fish that I haven't shown off yet. So without further ado, here's the new crew!

The Bahari Pike

From a Bahari River and not Pike Place Market

The Black Sea Bass

From the Bahari Ocean and Not the Black Sea

The Blob Fish

It objects to the term blob and prefers spherically challenged

The Cactus Moray

When a cactus hits your eye and it hurts like a stye that's a cactus moray!

The Crimson Fangtooth

It's a Crimson Fangtooth, not a fun colored Lanternfish

The Fathead Minnow

Not fond of slurs like fathead.

The Honey Loach

Honey Loaches are the bees knees

The Hypnotic Moray

When you get hypnotized by a fish of this size that's a moray!

The Indigo Lamprey

*hangs head* I missed the cool New Fish screenshot on this one . . .

The Midnight Paddlefish

It's got stars upon thars!

The Swordfin Eel

Answering the question, what if a sword fish and an eel had a baby?

And after all that I STILL haven't caught all the fish that are available in Palia. It's kind of crazy. Hopefully someday I'll be able to check them all off my list and proudly say I'm done, but today is not that day.

Happy Dueling!