Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Arcade UFO in Austin Texas -- Chunithm and Jubeat mania!

 As you can tell from my previous post about Rhythm Games . . . my family is pretty into them in general, and because of that, we all were super psyched last month when we found an arcade in Austin that featured some pretty rare and exclusive machines. Welcome to Arcade UFO!

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE!

To be honest, if you're used to a giant megaplex arcade like Pinballz or Main Event, you'll feel pretty crowded when you get inside.  It basically feels like a corner shop gas station that's been converted to an arcade featuring two rooms of games.  But, here's the thing . . . the games inside are a rare treat. You don't go there for the fine restroom accommodations (believe me, you don't), but you do go there to play games you can't find anywhere else.

That said, the owner seemed to be a super sweet guy that kept checking on our family of 5 during the visit.  The kids were instantly drawn to a game called Chunithm. The whole family ended up standing around the two Chunithm machines watching each other play.

We were all masked up of course. You'd be a fool not to in these cramped quarters

My sons were absolutely in love with the game. My youngest kept raving about how he would love to have one of these arcade machines in our house. About that time, the owner once again dropped by and let us know that . . . well . . . these two machines are half of the four total machines you can find in the US.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it seemed legit.


The great thing about this game is how you use an entire mini-keyboard to play and not only is it sensitive to finger tap, but it can also sense when you lift your hands off the keyboard and wave them above. Meaning, it has some kind of crazy sensors that look for hand motion above the keys.

The other game we were drawn to was called Jubeats. it features 16 touch sensitive squares that you tap to chase the beat.


There were a slew of other rhythm games in the place, but we didn't spend much time outside of playing these two games. You can see their full games list here.

So if you're looking for a unique rhythm game experience in Austin, do yourself a favor and head to Arcade UFO. It's a college dump that reeks of anime fans and rhythm games in all the right ways, and I'm sure if you got to know the crowd there, you could even join in their weekly competitions.

Happy dueling! 

Happy May 4th -- Knights of the Old Republic

I took some time yesterday to look back at an old classic, Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor). It felt like the time was right, seeing as:

1- Yesterday was national "May The 4th Be With You" day.
2- The original Knights of the Old Republic game was on sale for super cheap at Steam.
3- Jack Nightingale from Twitter had already asked me if I was interested in playing a little of the old Kotor series.

Why wouldn't I play as the guy with the soul patch and a scar over one eye?

Funny enough, I love Star Wars, but I've never even touched these games, which honestly seems like an oversight on my part. 

Anyway, I chose to play as the loveable scoundrel type of character, and . . . be still my heart.

*whistles* HEY THERE SEXY!

Oh yeah, I'm a charmer alright. Those 2003 graphics never looked finer. 

The first part of the game was a little bit of tutorial hell, and it seemed a little strange that the ship I was on was literally plummeting out of space, but the guy who came to check on me spent a good 10 minutes talking me through how to use the WASD keys and check my inventory.

Hurry to an escape pod, but first . . . let's talk about how to move your legs!

After finally making it to the escape pods, the real game started to unfold. I was crashing down on the planet Taris. Taris is one of those big city planets that Star Wars absolutely loves. (Coruscant, am I right?) The top layer of Taris is where the wealthy peeps chill, and as you go down into the lower levels, people get poorer and more authentic -- or "mutanagenic" as the case may be.

The Sith are in charge on this planet, and wouldn't you know it: a Jedi that was on the ship with you, and she had also jettisoned down to the planet in an escape pod. It was probably because the famous "Bastila" the Jedi was on board with you that y'all got blowed up.

The game let me know that Bastila had a history with one Darth Revan, who, by the way, used his/her evil Sith powers to cause a ruckus last week on Twitter because a Star Wars fan was using the name of Darth Revan as a gate check into the Star Wars community. 

Before you knew it, I was out and about running the streets of Taris like a madman on a mission!

Not a bad looking city scape!

It's not weird at all that I'm the only one running around here . . . let alone with two swords in my hands. Not at all! Things *did* get a little weird though when I took on a side quest to help a dancer in a cantina who just wanted to get hired there.

Super Awkward . . .

Apparently my incredibly smooth moves worked and she got the job.

Eventually I went deeper into the underground and the sewers only to encounter a pretty difficult string of encounters that required me to stop and save the game often.

An all together too familiar sight

A life spent hunting for trapped Wookies and stolen swoop pod parts is not easy, friends.  Eventually I warped back up topside and spent some of my hard earned cash on a double-bladed sword and some health packs.

Darth Maul eat your heart out

I'm not sold on this weapon being all that good, but it certainly looks cool!

So despite all the old oddities and quirks, I am having some fun playing this game! In fact, it's the oddities and quirks that seem to give it its charm. Back in 2003 I think I was too busy playing Everquest to give games like this a shot.  Glad I get to change that now.

Thanks again, to Jack for the great game suggestion! It was a really fun way to celebrate good old May the Fourth.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

What is it about Friday Night Funkin?

Back on the topic of Rhythm Games . . . I had a long conversation with my son last night about Friday Night Funkin. Again, it's another one of these rhythm games that he's kind of lost himself in, and yet when you look at the game you're thinking . . . what? It's just some dumb free flash game from Newgrounds? But no! It's more!

Nice

That's a successful kickstarter for the full game to be produced, and that also gives you a glimpse into the adoration their community has for this game. My youngest son even had a Friday Night Funkin video of his go somewhat viral and garnered 110k views.

He's playing a mod of the game, and that is probably the core of why this game is so successful. Their community has invented a way to change the opponents and the songs and catalog a long list of mods

Another one of the core reasons this game is popular has to be the music. It is catchy and features a lot of call and response melodies in the voice of "the boyfriend" and his opponent. In fact, the first time I was introduced to this game was during our crazy power outage incident. At one point our boys put on an amazing half-an-hour long show where they just scat-sang those weird boyfriend sounds back and forth at each other. My wife and I had no idea what was going on and it sounded hilarious like they were just making up weird melodies, but no, it was the actual songs from the game.  Kawaii Sprite, the artist behind the music, has them all up on spotify for you to listen to.

My oldest son actually asked me to create a song using "the boyfriend" sounds and some sounds for his woop character so he could make a mod for the game. It was hard to do, but I actually made something for him to work with. He constructed the sprite sheet for it and now . .. the difficult part . . . editing the xml, which I'm afraid he'll be stuck on for a while.

No purple skinned beat box monster will best me!

And lastly, part of that success has to have come from that art style . . . it's a little like graffiti art meets a chibi-esque super deformed art style characters that battle against each other in a fighting game style. And . . . I have to admit, there is one piece of humor in this game that's a little crude for my tastes, but, again, that crude humor is probably part of the formula that makes it an underground hit.  

All in all it's an interesting formula for success in this rhythm game, and somehow it all works . . . and my kids are listening and playing along. 

Happy Dueling

Monday, May 3, 2021

Loop Hero -- Enter the Necromancer

I should have probably looked more closely at the buildings you can build in your town before, but they really only seemed to matter when they matter -- but oh man, this building REALLY mattered (at least to me).

Enter the Crypt of the Necrodancer, I mean Necromancer . . .

Yes, building the Crypt unlocks a brand new class and one that is already near and dear to my heart: the necromancer. FOR I AM THE FRIENDLY NECROMANCER!! HAHAHAHA! *cute dark lightning storm sound effects*

The first play through the loop with the necromancer was awkward and difficult to play. I wasn't really feeling the power. He couldn't use the regular gear that the other classes use, but instead he only has a grimoire, 2 rings, and an amulet.  On the second play through of the loop though . . . yup, it's my new favorite class in Loop Hero.

Get them my minions!

The necromancer is all about surviving up until the moment he can conjure a swarm to destroy the bad guys. His health bar is overlaid with something called "magic hp." Magic HP is your personal forcefield of goodness because you're going to take a few hits while you summon your army, but after that . . . forget it . . . ALL WILL FALL TO YOUR MIGHT!

Check out how full I got this map while I was playing the Necromancer class.

I couldn't place any more land cards down.

It was also while playing the Necromancer that I beat the second expedition boss and opened up the third expedition.  Come to find out the second boss is a master of mirrors that also is a spiritual leader of some sort. I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I won't tell you what he's doing there and why his appearance is pretty important plot wise.

I will say that after I defeated him, a space dog thing gave me a good howl from outer space . . . also, I discovered a weird bug. 

Look at that beautiful game presentation!

Yeah, if you let your computer go to sleep mode while playing and come back to the game, it comes back shrunken like the above. It's highly annoying . . . especially egregious since this is an idle game where leaving the computer should be expected. Anyway, a quick restart fixes it, and you can still play while it's shrunken down like that. It's not the end of the world, and in Loop Hero the end of the world already happened at the start of the game . . . therefore . . . let there be bugs!

So there you go, I've beaten chapter's one and two now in Loop Hero and have established a pretty nice town. I finished 3 more achievements and continue to enjoy playing this game! I'm still uncovering surprises now that I'm 16 hours in.  Good stuff.

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Loop Hero -- All the stars go out

 Welcome to Loop Hero . . . 

Goodbye Stars!

I'm reminded of some lyrics from the 70's band, Bread. 

If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die,
I'd spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out,
Then you and I would simply fly away

Except we don't fly away . . . what we do instead is travel an infinite loop where monsters spawn endlessly and we attempt to rebuild the world and equip ourselves with super cool gear so we can kill a lich.  

So that's what made the stars all go out . . .

Loop Hero is a pretty fun game with that good, old school aesthetic. I'm no stranger to the idle combat genre, but I have to say that this is the most ACTIVE idle game I've ever played. It could be I just haven't got to the part where I can walk away from the computer yet, but as you travel the loop over and over and defeat more and more monsters, the game naturally spits out cards, which you use to rebuild the map, and gear, which you use to upgrade your hero.

As this happens, you're earning resources.  Once you pull your hero out of the combat loop or are forced out of the loop by death, you take a portion of those resources back to town. The size of that portion depends on where and how you retreat.  

Can we build it? No we can't!

As you build new buildings for your town and place them down, you start to get new personalities in your town like this crazy, old herbalist lady. These new buildings start benefiting your play by providing you advantages when you're running the loop.

She's more like a sweet old lady . . . but something about those eyes says "sinister" to me.

After running the loop a bunch, you will eventually (and I'm not exactly sure on the particulars of how this happens) "level up" in a sense and unlock a temporary buff. This is presented to you in kind of what I call "an archero" style, where you are given a choice of three buffs and you choose one of them. Some buffs affect combat in interesting ways, or some affect resource collection.

Then after some time of circling and building up your character and map, BAM! You summon the first boss of the first map. To be honest, I'm not sure what it is that caused me to summon the boss. I simply had tipped over some threshold and put down enough cards that he came back to fight.

Au contraire squelette!

The lich is no pushover the first time you encounter him. One of my three deaths in game came from this guy.  Anyway, after defeating the lich you're then presented with the option to keep looping and restoring the map or heading home with no resource loss. You also unlock a new class (because this whole time you've been traveling the loop with a warrior) and unlock a new chapter in the story where things get much more difficult.

The most I've ever filled my map

I'm 5+ hours in on Loop Hero and really enjoying it.  If I was to make a guess of where I am in game progression, I'd say I was maybe a third to a fourth of the way through? I say that based on the steam achievements I've earned thus far and the space for adding more chapters on the home screen.  It'd be nice if I was wrong because this is a game I could put a lot of hours on.  It's super easy to play and well worth the $15 I paid for it.

Thanks to Tipa from Chasing Dings and Team Spode for the great game suggestion! It's like she knows me and the games I like to play very well! I guess playing together for multiple years does that to ya. ;)

Happy Dueling!

Monday, April 26, 2021

How does Dungeons and Dragons Work?

 A cool follower of mine on Twitter, named Guardian Eatos, asked me if I could explain how Dungeons and Dragons works.  I can do that!  

Ok, so . . . a little bit of background to D&D. As I said on my blog back in 2009 when Dave Arneson died

"So Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax are the fellas who came up with the Dungeons and Dragons game back in the 1970's, and I'd have to say, really, all RPGs in general owe something to D&D for their origins. All of you young wizards out there, thrusting yourselves into dungeons and using such things as 'hit points' or 'health,' have no idea that Wizard101 and all RPGs owe a lot to the roots laid down by these two fellas. You want high health on your character? Well, Gygax and Arneson invented the concept of health on your character!"

Since the 1970's there have been several different versions of the game released. The latest release is D&D Fifth Edition.  Fifth edition has been pretty great ever since it came out in 2014. The real question here is when will the 6th edition be released?  There haven't been any recent announcements that I know of, so you should be fine investing in 5th edition materials. It's going to happen sometime, and when it does, you can be sure we'll all be buying new stuff. Typically old versions don't mix well.

Don't be like me and buy the old edition the week before they publish the new edition.

So, the first thing I'd recommend doing for any new player is to head over to D&D Beyond. This website is great! The New Player guide they have is great. Here you can make an account and even roll up your first characters from the comfort of your own computer.

The second recommendation is that you decide how you want to play this game . . . do you want to play virtually or in-person?  In-person has been a little rough lately because of quarantine, but may I just say that in-person D&D games are about 1,000 times better than virtual games.

Option A -- So, if you're playing in person, I'd head to a local game store that sells D&D supplies and purchase a standard set of dice.  They come in a little box or bag usually and have a 20-sided dice, a 12-sided dice, a 10-sided dice, an 8-sided dice, a 6-sided dice, and a 4-sided dice.  You'll want to have all these for your first game.  


Be sure to get a set that's easy to read!

The next part involves asking around. If it's a good game shop where you bought your dice, I'd ask the guy at the counter if they ever host games for new players.  If yes, the guy at the counter will give you a time and a date to show up and maybe even a flyer if you're lucky.

If not, that's when you'll need to recruit some friends to play and one of you is going to have to be the dungeon master . . . and that's when you start laying down money for books.  As a player, you really only need the Player's Handbook.  As a Dungeon Master (DM), you'll need the DM guide, a Monster Manual, and a Player's Handbook. So, we're talking a good amount of money for all those books just so you know. (You can also find free pirated versions of the books online, but you risk getting a virus and out of date information.)

Option B -- If you're playing virtually, I'd go make an account on Roll20.net. Be sure to read through the Getting Started page there so you know what you're getting into. 

Again, I'd probably try to convince a friend of mine to go into a game with me so I have a buddy. It always feels better to have a buddy with you when you do something for the first time like this.

Next, find the perfect game for you by using the search function to see what's out there. Be sure to click on the Advanced options and select that you want to play "D&D 5E" and fill out all the options you'd like to find in your game, and hit search!

Tons of options to narrow down the game you're looking for

Hopefully the game will be a lot of fun and be a good introduction to D&D! 

There are a lot of strange controls on Roll20. Hopefully the DM will talk you through them all or you've read all the introduction materials to familiarize yourself with them.  People are generally chill.

~~

As for how the game works . . . Basically a DM runs the game and sets the frame for a story where you and the other players are the heroes of the story.  If it's a good game, it'll last several days over several weeks, you'll make great friends and have fantastic stories of clutch moments where you saved the day.  It doesn't always work that way, but that's when you know it went well. :)

My wife recorded a little bit of the last adventure I ever DM'd before quarantine hit, and I got some really fun emotions out of my players when their favorite NPC fell overboard in the middle of a storm on a ship.  Good times.


If you give D&D a try, let me know how it goes! I miss playing on the regular.

Happy Dueling

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Wizard101 -- Weekend Fishing Overload!

It's been a couple days and my fish collection continues to grow. Last time I posted, I was at 13 fish just starting out, and now I'm up to 68 fish.  YEAH! FISH COLLECTION!

Space is filling up fast!

I filled up the bottom level of the entrance after the second day and then today I started filling up the top tier (as pictured above).

Fishies!

What I really wanted to do was use the advanced housing placement feature, but I found a bug. You can only move and adjust the position of one fish. The moment you try to adjust the placement of a second fish with advanced placement, the position of the first fish resets. :(  I guess they're all bottom feeders for now.

Although all these fish fit in this house without fishtanks, it's very "underwater dim" in this house, so . . . I dunno. It's not an ideal presentation. Ah well.

I can tell already that there are two fish in particular that are going to give me fits. I gave up on the Pompeiino fish in Aquila and the Goldfin-ger fish in Mooshu. Each of those took a full batch of energy trying to summon/winnow the fish and I still didn't find them.

Along the way I've discovered that I didn't complete the fishing quests in Mooshu.  Finishing those will be super helpful since you can get a winnow rank 2 fish spell from completing the quest.

I keep thinking in the back of my mind . . . if I was a designer given the task of improving fishing in Wizard101, what would I do?  Speeding it up and adjusting the resulting gold you receive per fish would probably be the first thing on the agenda. Unfortunately these fish don't have run, attack, jump, and swim animations, so although turning them into in-game pets seems to be a win, it's not, It's a huge lose.  Anything you do with fish has to involve idle animations and that's it.

I'd probably then focus on the collector aspect of fish and make a checklist of fish more forward facing for the player. 

Making pet snacks out of fish seems to be a win, but these fish have such personalities that it almost seems morbid to do so. That said, it is very easy to end up with several duplicates of fish when you're participating in a fishing tournament or fishing for an epic rarity fish. Fusing duplicate fish or trading duplicate fish as currency could be pretty great -- then it's just a matter of the result from fusing or trading.  What could you get in exchange? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that fishing is probably one of the least used side systems in the game. If I could trade fish in exchange for potion buffs, I might do that; for example, I'd trade 12 charred decoy for a minor fire damage boost potion. Using Alchemy as a side system that ties in to fishing could be pretty interesting. Minecraft ties fish into alchemy doesn't it?

As it is now, fishing is more just a chill activity that gets you a lot of gold in game. There are the fishing tournaments and the fish of the day, but that's pretty much it. I mean, you get a fishing experience bar and fishing badges, but that's to be expected.

Back in the day, I remember pitching a fishing app for Pirate101, but that pitch didn't go anywhere.  In my mind it was where you would come to a fishing node in your ship, and then the game would sync to your mobile app where you'd play a mini-game and get the resulting fish in Pirate101. I always felt fishing should have been in Pirate101 before Wizard101. It just made sense.

Anyway, none of these interesting questions are mine to tackle. I'm just here to collect as many fish as I can and write blog posts about it. ;)

Happy Dueling