The Gamer’s Guide to Australia Day

On Australia Day 2017, I thought it might be nice to look at some Australian games!

Australia Day. It’s a day to reflect on The Lucky Country. To fire up the barbie, set up the stumps for backyard cricket and listen to the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown. It’s a day to decide whether to eat a lamington or a pavlova for dessert, and whether a Tim Tam slam counts. It’s a day to reflect on our culture and multiculturalism. It’s a day to recognize the men and women doing their best to improve our country and the world.

Many Australians are gamers, and we’ve had a weird and wonderful history with games. I thought it might be neat on this day to point out a few Australian games, in case you need something Australian to do to escape the heat. So smear a Weetbix with Vegemite, pour yourself some Milo and wander through these games made in Australia or by Australians.

Caveat: In this multicultural and multinational society, what’s Australian and what’s not is hard to define. I figure these examples are close enough.
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The Day After Dev Report #11 – Hedge Maze

Have you ever found a note written by yourself months ago? How it’s unmistakably you, but you have no idea what it means or why you felt it was important at the time? That’s basically the living reality for inhabiting any long-term, big project. It’s that curious combination of familiarity but novelty, like walking through a hedge maze I’m regularly surprised by Past Brett when writing The Day After, and mostly in a good way. It doesn’t make the progress swift, though.

Symonds Yat Maze

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PAX Australia 2013

PAX Australia 2013 kicks off this Friday and I’m a little bit excited. Folks have asked for recommendations on things to see. This is a little biassed towards my own proclivities – I’m all about indie game dev, tabletop RPG dev, gamer culture and don’t really care too much for the bigger industry stuff because I’m mostly on top of the news. To be honest, I haven’t been to a PAX (or large con) so your mileage may vary. Continue reading “PAX Australia 2013”

Steam Sales Recommendations

The Steam sales have kicked off again. Here’s a very quick list of things I’d recommend – get them when they hit a price you’re comfortable with:

Bioshock Infinite
Possibly as good as shooters are gonna get for a while now. Go for the shooting, stay for the story.
Intentionally brain-bending puzzle game made by an Australian. The game design for the earlier puzzles is sublime.
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Fun, little creative game if you can get it cheap.
Hotline Miami
Horrifically violent game with a great hook and cool music.
Cool isometric beat-em up with some of the best narration ever.
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Super-dumb but hilarious surgery simulator. Even though it’s short, there’s lots of little easter eggs within.
A platformer MOBA without the life debt you need to pay to play Dota 2.
Chaos in space. Lots of depth for a simple game.
Payday and Payday 2
Heist simulators that are pretty cool, except for some slightly rough edges.
Rogue Legacy
Castlevania platforming with a constant upgrade ability.
Starseed Pilgrim
Arty, meditative platform puzzler.
Walking Dead
Fantastic horror game with great writing that will smash you like a sledgehammer.

If you have any hidden gems, let me know!

Steam Sales

Just a real quick post here. The Steam “Summer” Sale is now on and there are some interesting deals to be taken advantage of. If you haven’t already, check out:

  • Portal 2 (a steal at 75% off)
  • Terraria (also 75% off)
  • Legend of Grimrock (60% off)
  • Walking Dead (25% off)
  • Binding of Isaac and SpaceChem (each 50% off – merely $2.50 each)
  • a flash sale of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is 75% off for a short time

Interesting stuff, and it appears they are going to be plugging the Steam Greenlight stuff, which is cool. Also interesting that they aren’t doing the achievement thing this time.

On the downside, the sales keep perpetuating the insane prices that are foisted onto Australians. After a year of being out, and 50% off, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is now $50 AUD. Which is basically the American initial release price.

Max Payne 3 is 30% off, which is interesting for a fairly recent game. Still pricey though. If Saints Row 3 goes on sale, get it!

Recent Games Round-up

After the explosion of triple A games late last year, I’ve finally cleaned through them and started playing a wider variety of games. A bunch of friends have recommended some awesome games, that I thought I might share with you.

After the explosion of triple A games late last year, I’ve finally cleaned through them and started playing a wider variety of games. A bunch of friends have recommended some awesome games, that I thought I might share with you.

  • Legend of Grimrock: Old-school dungeon crawler with some modern graphics. You run a band of 4 adventurers thrown into a dungeon carved into Mount Grimrock. You have to descend to try to get out and solve the mystery of the Legend of Grimrock. Some of the interface takes getting used to, but it’s a neat game with lots of fighting, puzzles and secrets.
  • Gemini Rue: An adventure game that is a gentle blend of sci-fi and classic noir. Kinda like a less fluorescent Blade Runner. Great atmospheric music and sound effects (the opening scene was pretty awesome). Voice acting is quite good and extensive for an indie game. The puzzles are fair, action actually quite gripping and the story not too bad.
  • Lone Survivor: A survival horror adventure game that messes with your head. While I wasn’t really happy with the visual style at first, it grows on you. The special spooky effects are quite awesome. I think I understand the game loop so far, but have little idea where I’m moving to -for good and bad. There’s certainly a lot of mystery and weirdness going on, but I’m finding the main day game loop is getting shorter and shorter. Definitely recommended though, especially while it’s only $7.99 on Steam.
  • Analogue: A Hate Story: Spartan but efficient anime visual novel game. You’re bouncing through log messages, trying to figure out what’s happened on this space ship, whilst interacting with an AI with a secret or two. The story is great, with expert drip-feeding of mystery and information. If you stand back, there’s not a lot to the game, but it really makes full use of its interface for gameplay and story. Recommended if you don’t mind a gentle pace and lots of reading.
  • Orcs Must Die!: Yet another tower defence game, but you are part of the real-time defence! There’s a lot of character in this game, and I liked all the different traps. As it goes on it becomes more of a puzzle game since you definitely don’t have enough resources to make the default setup trap-laden. In the end you have to guide the flow of orcs into your much cheaper (and hopefully more efficient) meat grinder.
  • Dear Esther: If you want to be gaming literate, you need to play Dear Esther. It’s far removed from being a traditional game but still excellent and definitely suited to its gameplay. You can’t run, jump or shoot. There’s no inventory. In a sense there isn’t even a straight story. But it’s excellent and some of the visuals are breathtaking.
All of the above are available on Steam for $15 each at most.

If you didn’t catch all the triple A games from before, I heartily recommend (in order of recommendation) Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, Saints Row 3 and Skyrim. Serious Sam: BFE is good if you’re nostalgic for that sort of thing, but after a while I found it an adrenaline-filled game that was somehow simultaneously boring.

Do you have any recommendations for lesser-known but still excellent games?