ON!VG! EPISODE 140: Laura’s Apprentice

Posted by Mat on 18th August, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
sonic

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This week we’re joined by Sam, who’s 17 and honestly hanging out with Laura this week for School Reasons. That’s so cool.

This beginning of the show this week serves as a bit of advice for aspiring podcasters on how to get started. We hoped you’d all find kinda interesting knowing how this show comes together even if you’re not looking to try and make your own.

PLAY ATTENTION:

Her Story
Rocket League
Day Z
Sonic Dreams Collection
Volume
Hearthstone: The Grand Tournament

RAD LINKS:

Arcane Kids Manifesto
The Sun

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Patreon Theme

ON!VG! EPISODE 139: Who Ate The Potato?

Posted by Mat on 10th August, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
hamb

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Honestly. How good are Chicken McNuggets though.

PLAY ATTENTION:

Hearthstone: The Grand Tournament
Yu Gi Oh: Dungeon Dice Monsters
Attack on Titan 3DS
The Swindle
Disco Zoo

RAD LINKS:

Girlchan In Paradise

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Patreon Theme

ON!VG! Episode 138: Arm Wrestling Fish

Posted by Mat on 27th July, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
KO

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Mat got a job with a Chocolate Company and can’t actually eat any chocolate. It’s a bad scene. Laura asks us about arm wrestling some fish. Hey: Maybe watch Bojack Horseman.

PLAY ATTENTION:

Final Fantasy 14
Beyond Good & Evil
Tusks / Old Man Club / John Cena Sexy High School
Serpentes
Rocket League
Quiplash
Spyfall
Hearthstone: The Grand Tournament
Card Hunter
Agar.io
Hack ‘n’ Slash / The Magic Circle

RAD LINKS:

Monster Factory
Laura’s Playing Some Beyond Good & Evil
CMRN KNZLMN’s video about Adaptation

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Back In Time To A Previous Feature Theme
Patreon Theme

Episode 137: Joel Schumacher? More like Michael Schumacher!

Posted by Mat on 2nd July, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
knight

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Find out how to Beat the Heat on this week’s show, See if Laura’s twitter accounts pass the Bechdel Test and learn some facts about Paul Bunyan.

We’re gonna talk about Her Story in this! We talk about it spoiler-free and there’s a some in-depth stuff after the rest of the episode has finished. Stick around if you’ve played it!

PLAY ATTENTION:

Her Story
Bishi Bashi / “Game where I had to flip a table at the screen that was from japan”
Tenya Wanya Teens
Big Pharma / Infinifactory / TIS-100
Batman: Arkham Knight
The Witcher 3 / Dragon Age
Bloodborne
Axiom Verge / Toki Tori 2
Lego: Lord Of The Rings

RAD LINKS:

Google’s Neural Network
Extra Credits’ Dark Souls Series

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Back In Time To A Previous Feature Theme
Patreon Theme

Here’s: Big Pharma

Posted by Mat on 29th June, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.

Mat and Simon design some pharmaceuticals in their free time. Pop open a Lucozade and join us as we ask: do you believe in life after love?

I Like: Big Pharma

Posted by Mat on 29th June, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
screenshot_23_40_13 28-06-15

When games use theme and mechanics to criticise Big Business, mate, I love it. I get to occupy two cartoonised depictions of 2015’s cultural dichotomy at once.

I get to enjoy the cutting satire, the mischievous take-down of those corporate fat cats. This game about manufacturing pharmaceuticals is the next step toward the revolution. I’ve named my fake company “Glaxosmith-CRIME”, right? Yeah?

But also I get to enjoy them entirely straight-faced without any self-examination. I can be the important man in the nice suit. The one who says it doesn’t matter that our company produces a facial cream which gives people nightmares. It’s too expensive to fix this.

Think of the Profit Margin.

I’m too good at the latter. I’ve internalised too many Jack Welch aphorisms from the motivational poster at my work. “Take a seat,” I say, to a weary Liz Lemon “Let me tell you a thing or two about Dave Brailsford’s Aggregation of Marginal Gains theory.”

Starting a game of Big Pharma means taking on an overall goal. Make enough money by a certain date or produce enough high-grade anti-anxiety medicine or some such, then get dropped into overseeing a massive factory with only one room initially available and a bit of start-up cash to buy automated conveyor belts and equipment. I have my Starcraft-like opening build totally figured out: I check which of my starting ingredients is cheapest to turn into something that’ll give a consumer a slight tingle and then I build a few production lines pumping out pill after pill of that.

It’s so difficult not to overextend. In my first few games I blew all my pocket money investing in researchers that can reduce the cost of production or devise new machinery… before I was making enough consistent profit to afford them. Don’t do that. That’s a little strategic advice from me.

Since then I’ve learned that you can’t be in the red too long or you’ll never get out, you can’t invest too much without leaving yourself a little bit of “oops I have to fix all of this immediately” money, but you also can’t be too scared to allow yourself a spending spree every now and then. Bringing in too much cash without re-investing it means your company is never going to grow any further.

In my games now the early profit line is rising above and below the surface like we’re on the opening screen of Ecco The Dolphin. I’ll have a little bit of money in reserve but until the nerds in the lab figure out a way to make the pills $3 extra at the point of sale and how to spend 10% less on Quartz then we’re not going to be building a production line for gout medicine any time soon.

It’s so difficult to find the right balance, I’ve gone from elated, buying up more factory space to make another production line, then learning a competitor has just released a better version of my existing wares and I’m practically out of business.

So inevitably the game incentivises cutting corners, say, choosing not to dilute your pills down quite as far. If the machine adds $10 to production but doesn’t make as much back in profit? Don’t do it.

No solution in Big Pharma is elegant, if the pills are good it’s probably a happy coincidence. The machinery’s expensive and floor space is in short supply so the less of it the better. Each machine used to alter concentration spits out its result in a different direction, so designing a path from reagent delivery to the “get this medicine out of here” shoot is never a perfect crow-flies route.

At best, the series of conveyors and machines takes up as little space as possible. Until you have to redesign the entire path to make the resulting chemicals better formulated for more specific tasks, turning painkillers into migraine relief, requiring a totally new set of machines and messing up your tidied pathing in the process.

There’s still a lot of missions I’m nowhere near skilled enough to go near yet. My hope is that I’ll discover the game that I truly want. I’ve bought it hoping that I’ll be able to write my own narrative of selling medicine with a side effect, while also selling medicine which cures it. I’m horrible.

I’ve yet to see any “Potentially Fatal” side effects. I hope I do. I hope my factory gets shut down. Because of course I’m not going to fix that. It’ll be too expensive.

Big Pharma is still in Beta, you can get it Here for $19.95

Episode 136: The Episode Everyone Remembers

Posted by Mat on 14th May, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
royal cube

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We’ve recorded so many episodes it’s impossible for us to remember what happened on any of them. This one, though? This one’s the episode you’ll cherish in your quiet moments.

Buy Tickets to see us live on Saturday June 20th! Oh gosh!

Support the show on Patreon!

PLAY ATTENTION:

The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS)
Greed Corp
Splatoon
Invisible, Inc
Domestic Dog SimulatorChatChat

RAD LINKS:

Tom Smith Legit’s First Appearance

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Patreon Theme

Episode 135: Everyone Loves A ‘Sclusie

Posted by Mat on 3rd April, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
steven

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Mat watched Wrestlemania for the first time in a Decade! Everyone else watched a whole lot of Steven Universe! Did we manage to find any time for video games? An hour of audio content suggests… possibly?

Buy Tickets to see us live on Saturday June 20th! Oh gosh!

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PLAY ATTENTION:

Steven Universe: Attack The Light
Drop Wizard
LASER HUNDO
Xenoblade: Chronicles 3D
Captain Forever Remix
Mark Ellis: Train Bridge Inspector
Dyscourse

RAD LINKS:

Most Illegal Move In Wrestling
Is The Jig Up Yet?
Shower With Your Dad Simulator: Power
Our Steam Curation Page

Music Credits:
Quiz Theme
Patreon Theme

I Like: Dyscourse

Posted by Mat on 31st March, 2015 | There are no comments on this article.
dys

I don’t think “Dyscourse” is a good name for the video game it’s been affixed on. The post-it slapped to the game’s box with “Dyscourse” scrawled over is barely affixed, about to come loose and drift slowly down like a fluorescent square leaf in a humid ketamine autumn. Underneath there’s the placeholder title: “It’s A Game About Crash Landing On A Desert Island But We Don’t Know What To Call It Yet”.

I get why Owlchemy would have settled on this name and presumably gone to a late lunch immediately afterward. Dyscourse. Discourse. There are conversations in the game, but they’re… bad? And the ensemble cast is on a “course” somewhere else, but instead they’re stranded after a plane-crash. Everyone in the story makes a “course” of action in order to try and survive the next day and hopefully get home, but maybe that also doesn’t go as intended. It’s clever, but it’s not very evocative of the setting. A game with the name Dyscourse could be set anywhere. Richard Hoffmeier could have called “Cart Life” Dyscourse and it still would have technically worked, but wouldn’t have felt any more appropriate there than it does here.

Maybe call the game “I’ll Land”. Like… Island, but… it’s referring to a helicopter pilot there to finally pick whoever’s left up at the end of the story. Maybe it’s also like how cats will always land on their feet; suffering through adversity but you eventually make it through unscathed.

See? That’s also terrible. It’s difficult to name something. I don’t begrudge the team for settling.

Dyscourse is a decent overlap of Telltale-style narrative-point-and-clicks and wildly careening choose-your-own-adventures. It’s very silly, which is at times charming and at others totally dissonant. It’s a ridiculous romp with jokes and mascots and comical irony, but it’s also a fairly serious game where characters die in gruesome circumstances. Then, usually, barely a moment passes before the next lighthearted quip.

The inaugural choice in Dyscourse is which of two people who’ve appeared on screen for the first time should be saved from minor grazes from an attack by angry crabs. That’s pretty funny, right? That’s some Monkey Island-type shenanigans. Some naughty crabs are having a cheeky nip at the shins of two poor lads down by the beach until they’re scared away by a barista holding a frying pan as a weapon. We know what we’re in store for in the rest of the story, right?

But… later on, depending on narrative branches, a choice could be “which person should distract a predator, knowingly being mauled to death so that others can escape”. Moments after that, maybe the choice is “should one of the injured and hungry survivors give up looking for a chance to send a radio signal and maybe just lay down and die”.

Dyscourse’s narrative branches are too short, failing to get enough light, blocked out by the bulbous overhead Thistle of limited game development budget. The scope is too wide. In emulating recent narrative adventure games it’s let down by its lack of ability to characterise its cast in limited time and the uncertainty over narrative path can lead to wildly veering tone.

The Walking Dead’s the gold standard in this genre now. It allows full five episode seasons of two hour long games to properly introduce the cast, display their motivations and have them plucked away unduly. Telltale also decided to keep the decisions largely maintained to limited narrative quirks. A character remembering your reaction and later having dialogue based on your choice leads to a story tailored enough to your decisions and also reigns in the narrative, prevents some choices veering wildly into an area that would require more development effort than absolutely necessary.

Dyscourse is a different game. Playthroughs are short, intending that the game should be played multiple times in order to see everything available. Most decisions can make the narrative go in wildly different ways. These veering turns have meant a lack of focus and direction, an inability to ensure that a certainty of character development arc exists and it leaves the main cast feeling one dimensional. Telltale’s fairly linear narratives and episodic structure work in its favour when developing tonally consistent words that allow for levity but are largely grim over all. They know that a horror beat occurred moments before and can write around it. Dyscourse’s total playthroughs are a little too short to feel like every character is properly given time to develop, and especially too short to ensure there’s enough of a buffer between tragedy and a quick gag.

The developers have said that there’s a novel’s worth of dialogue written for the game and though that’s an impressive statistic, it’s fairly worrying in implementation. Inevitably some paths are better produced and considered than others just as a reality of game development’s struggle against deadline.

After completing the first playthrough a tool for rewinding a day is unlocked and this can be used to savescum out a more preferable result or just see all of the other branches. I mentioned Cart Life earlier, a game that made similar decisions about terrible things happening to its protagonists and it also benefited from retrying after an initial completion with knowledge that couldn’t have possibly been obtained in the first attempt.

Cart Life was using this difficulty and lack of understanding to say something about adult life without a financial safety net. That being in this situation is perilous and would inevitably lead to sacrifices and misery for reasons utterly disconnected from your own actions. I don’t know what Dyscourse is saying other than it’s a game where you can try and save everyone the second time if you’re perfect at deciding which day is best to go gather food and when you should try and get some water.

And still, all of this in mind, I quite like it. Cute character moments in the face of adversity are charming, though the cast rarely feel like cardboard representations of their initial appearance, they’re fun to speak to while setting aside the assumption they’ll have any growth. The game’s strengths are in its silliness, dragged down by a setting and tone which doesn’t benefit it.
I wish the team was making a different game, one which actually plays to their strengths. Something as ridiculous as Dyscourse is attempting to be without being brought down by an inconsistent tone.

An ON!VG! Podcast Special: Watch The Skies – Global Conspiracy

Posted by Josh on 29th March, 2015 | There are 4 comments on this article.

wts2

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Josh, Patrick and Tine did something very special and fun: they went to play Watch The Skies: Global Conspiracy, a megagame!  So they decided to do a recording of what they thought of that.

Thanks to Jim Wallman of the Megagame Makers for creating and hosting Watch The Skies: Global Conspiracy.  Sign up for the next one here!

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