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Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostTue Feb 24, 2015 3:24 am
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charbile wrote:
Getting over a sudden fever. Was so bad it turned into a ohr game making fever. I'm no barnabum, but I did enjoy reviewing this batch of games and figured I could show you. I could show you how much. I enjoyed. them.

Could this final review be a 'video game' review?

Who would be so irreversibly insane? so insane to invite you into their lovely home

screw comic reviews, this is the new thing we all need to do

Charbile, you're scaring me.
Ps. I love my wife
Metal Slime
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 PostTue Feb 24, 2015 4:01 am
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if you think that's scary, should join irc sometime. we just had a rousing discussion on dnd beholder sexuality.

you guys were there don't deny -- but seriously. it's good to explore these things as it really adds to character building of exotic alien races. quirks, conflict; was all professional.

also this just in, there will be parallax cause i can't understand why spoon doesn't want to use it in a sidescroller platformer whatever you want to call it. what's up with that? Spoooon?
Metal King Slime
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 PostTue Feb 24, 2015 4:07 am
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You're the best, Char.
Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostTue Feb 24, 2015 7:22 am
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I believe parallax backgrounds distract from the gameplay in sidescrollers. It's not a popular opinion. Thankfully, this is a personal game I'm making and not a group project so I can do whatever I want. I might just make 7 beard levels of various shapes and colors.

As for beholder sex, I hear it takes place above the sheets.
Metal King Slime
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 PostTue Mar 10, 2015 12:14 pm
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Uh oh! The deadline for the contest is two days earlier than I thought it was! I better get started early!

Review of Dragons! (from last year)

I had to get Giz back for writing a review of Dragons TWICE as long as my already excessive review, so I outdid him on the next game:

Review of Invasion of the Mantle Dwellers

I won't be keeping that up.
Metal Slime
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 PostFri Mar 13, 2015 5:52 pm
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The contest technically closes today, but I won't be shutting the thread down and posting the post-contest thread until some unspecified time on Sunday for people in fruity time zones.
Metal King Slime
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 PostFri Mar 13, 2015 7:04 pm
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SDHawk wrote:
The contest technically closes today, but I won't be shutting the thread down and posting the post-contest thread until some unspecified time on Sunday for people in fruity time zones.

That means you, Ralphie!
Metal Slime
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 PostSun Mar 15, 2015 5:52 pm
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so tmc, how's that lovely samanthuel review coming?

i'd hate to be the only person to say they'd review it to then not to Hurr
Metal Slime
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 PostSun Mar 15, 2015 10:25 pm
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I even kinda ripped of FF4's final dungeon for this!
The Location

This was the... kinda ill-fated project bmr and I worked on for last year's collab. It was a combination of us both underestimating what we could get done in the time we had and some poor communication that led to there not ending up being all that much in the end - which is a shame, since I think we both kinda liked the idea of what we were going for.

Upon starting out, bmr suggested some sort of trading game, while I suggested that something (the combat) be added to give something else to the game. After all, he had his strategy combat system already, and it might as well go to use here... right?

But yeah; a lot of the things I drew - mostly all the non-space stuff, apart from the space truck's interior - never ended up getting used in-game, and the trading portion didn't actually make an appearance (and not just due to the spaceship dropping you off at 0/0; going to where you'd actually trade stuff just brings up a script error).

All in all, it's a bit of a shame this completely fell apart and in hindsight just the trading bit would've been fine. Oh well - at least I can just lift the things I made for this and use their designs elsewhere.
Metal Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 2:30 am
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Do I go with pictures that reflect the game at the time of the contest or the game at the time of writing?
See? Alternate text!
Winged Realm

Harpy game began as something I was going to do for that Ultimate Challenge contest elektrix hosted last year. Obviously I missed the deadline for that one by months, but the general idea of a challenging game persisted.

It didn't start out as harpy game, either. For the first day or two, before I actually started putting anything down, the three main characters were going to be midbossy enemies in an early-game dungeon; I think I had plans to recycle a character from some other game I never got anywhere with. Being someone who has a harpy fetish who really likes harpies, though, I thought that just having the 4 harpies in the game (3 + some random encounter one) would be a lost opportunity, and so saw fit to make the entire game centered on them.

Some of the other things I feel are worth mentioning:

- I'm actually pretty happy the extreme verticality of at least the first dungeon was so well-received, seeing as having a 10-floor dungeon as the first thing in a game is usually considered a bit much.

- I'm not sure what exactly was my initial reasoning behind having in-battle healing be relatively rare (beyond revival, which can be stolen from pretty much every field enemy encounter). I'm going to say it's to stop battles from dragging out way too long.

- After being hesitant with actually drawing them out, I slammed out the backgrounds of the side rooms on the last day before HotOHR entries were due. The idea of mixing that sort of side room with DQ/FF-style dungeons actually came from Megaten 2, where the first dungeon of the previous game was presented in that general format as a game within a game.

- Turns out being vague with the whole vaulting thing and just hoping people would figure it out from Pleyane (the red harpy that's on the top floor of the first dungeon) doesn't really work, and that I should actually show that yes, you can jump over flat things.

- There's a few cases where there's some additional dialogue depending on who you have out in front. None of it's particularly important, but it does give a tiny bit more about the main characters.

- The three MCs names are all traditional names for the harpy sisters, although here they're not actually related. The other harpy names, fittingly, are all mangled Greek.

Although progress on the game this year hasn't been quite as fast as I hoped it would be, I have started on a bunch of things on the presentation side - portraits and changing up the walkabout palettes - that should make things read a bit more in general. Still pretty happy about winning hotohr, but that's no reason for me to rest on my laurels now.
Metal Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 2:50 am
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can't wait to read over that commentary, but have to figure out how to upload games again...


ok, thanks hawk and giz. it gets me every time

big stupid 20 page review of samanthuel's lovely home:
Metal King Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 3:09 am
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Go to the games forum (Not Game Discussion, mind. The one that's on top of reviews, I think) and click NEW TOPIC
Metal King Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 6:03 am
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Picking the exact pixel width and height of the walls as well as the offset of their top and bottom was a quite time consuming decision, important not just for style but also for effects on map generation, obscuring of items on the floor behind the wall,
The backgrounds of all the boxes in the game are achieved by overlapping 2 or 3 rectangle slices with different fuzzinesses. I really should create a short thread about that.
At one point I considered having separate element gauges for the hero and their weapon. The idea was that you could charge up your weapon by whacking enemies of the appropriate element, adding enhancements to it.
I tried to shorten this one by cutting much of it.

Carcere Vicis: Developer Retrospective


<tmc> I've always found that game contests are the only thing I can really focus on completely

Because the 2014 Random Collab Contest ran for two weeks (Feb 15th to March 1st), this was my most ambitious contest game yet. Ridiculously overambitious; I'm still amazed that I managed to produce something somewhat playable (until you hit the bugs), and I had to put a crazy number of hours to get that far and release only several days late. I know I have this horrible tendency to write code instead of actually creating a game, while overpromising, and it sure happened here.

Honestly I didn't know it was that buggy; I really did think I'd fixed the major bugs. Unsurprisingly given the actually highly buggy and unpolished state of the game, reviewers pessimistically treated it as an attempt to win a contest by showing off another tech demo, rather than a serious attempt at a game with its own merits. In fact, Master K and I always wanted to ensure it would be worth playing (and worth continuing after the contest) by working in unique features that would set it apart from other roguelikes; that appeared to be the ambitious part at the time. That was also part of our downfall: the phase shifting and soul collecting mechanics were done in a far too complicated way that was difficult to balance, created a lot of work and worry, and was difficult to convey to the player.

<tmc> so
<tmc> do you have any ideas for a game?
<tmc> I'm getting rather sick of always entering tech demos for contests
<tmc> might be nice to do something more traditional... bnut I would still want it to be unique in some way
<tmc> I think that if we try to avoid RPG cliches whenever we notice them, we would naturally end up with something rather unique

How it happened

I didn't have to be this way. I started off without a plan, and offered to draw graphics -- I enjoyed making most of the graphics for Ortega Colonies.

<tmc> maybe a roguelike?
<MasK> Oh!
<MasK> A roguelike, yes
<MasK> I love roguelikes

Oh. I'd wanted to blame this one on K. Well, he started telling me about an idea for a RL he already had. Over the the contest he designed up with the dungeons, enemies, items, and npcs and I mostly left him to it.

<MasK> Dungeons could follow a sort of theme
<tmc> that could be nice, if deciding which dungeon to go into is an interesting strategic decision

For a while I was against even having a hub town, to save on work:

<MasK> Are we gonna include, say, overworld areas?
<tmc> sounds like it could be unnecessary
<MasK> At least a hub town
<tmc> though even that can be replaced with a shop menu!

The first hint of the elemental plane stuff was due to Master K, who suggested shrines in the dungeons (an idea that had to be cut; they might still be nice, but depends on whether we make other changes to the elemental system):

<MasK> I got the image in my head
<MasK> Of say
<MasK> Stealing an enemies soul/life force
<MasK> Sacrificing it to something
<MasK> And recieving something based off that
<MasK> Like an uncommon drop from an enemy

But I still wasn't happy; I was quite serious about creating a unique game.

<tmc> sure it might not have been done on the OHR before, but it's sounding like a fairly standard RL without much differentiation so far
<tmc> really, I would love to create an RL that feels like it's a living world; I'm not so much interested in hack and slash

Faced with this self imposed requirement, I twisted Master K's soul-collecting idea into elemental "charge" which directly increase the player's power, allowing getting rid of a normal level-up system.

<tmc> I came up with a quite detailed idea for moving between elemental planes/dimensions
<tmc> I know shifting between different planes has been done by several RPGs (one of the zeldas?), but I haven't played any of them
<tmc> seems to be relatively unexplored in RLs anyway
<tmc> I asked in #rgrd and a couple people said they'd seen a couple experimental RLs that have a light and a dark dimension
<tmc> (one of them set in a pysch ward)

<tmc> if it literally acts like charge you could charge up your sword with "ghost" charge by hitting lots of ghost-type enemies
<MasK> Oh, now that's cool
<tmc> (on that note, i don't think xp and a levelling system is needed at all if there are other methods of building up stats/abilities)

How to design a game

Planning a collab game is a game where one person suggests something and the other doesn't say no!

<MasK> Different classes of characters for the player to chose from?
<tmc> sure
<tmc> well
<tmc> the alternative is to build your character during the course of the game

<MasK> I had the picture of aiding an injured hero out of a dungeon
<MasK> Random events would be awesome
<tmc> yes, only problem is that they might be a lot of work to design
<tmc> prehaps not much work to actually implement though

(Didn't happen except for quest items.)

<MasK> How about dark dungeons?
<tmc> my shadow casting script is for line of sight only; a lighting system could also be added

(Master K was keen on lighting but it turned out to be technically difficult.)

<MasK> Will players be able to upgrade weapons?
<tmc> sure, could be fun

(There are enchantment scrolls)

<tmc> I will definitely script custom menus

<tmc> hmm I hadn't given much thought to random map generation, but I think it won't be too big a part of the project, if I don't go overbouard


<tmc> multitile enemies may actually not be very hard to implement

(you know what... maybe he's right!)

<tmc> we could list the equipped weapon too
<tmc> and maybe print the names of any visible enemies
<MasK> That would be neat
<MasK> I could easily write up small bios for enemies
<tmc> that would be nice

(The bios are actually in the game but with no way to access them)

<tmc> I think the graphical inventory is one thing to ditch

(Who needs a graphical inventory when you can just drop everything on the ground and look at it there?)

The decline

Master K quickly drew most of tiles in the first few days, while I worked on a bunch of general scripting without I think that this time I spent much less time working on OHR features/bugs and my script preprocessor than I did when making Ortega Colonies with Hawk. I focused early on items and the inventory system, and I think that's the only thing that was actually working in the first week. Turn-based movement, enemies, and melee combat weren't working until late in the contest. and the map generator was put off until even later, so there wasn't even a game to play until the last few days (possibly already AFTER the deadline).

I didn't even commit to using random map generation for quite a while, knowing it would be a huge time sink (it was) but tried to figure out the easiest way to do it. In the end generating rooms and corridors wasn't too bad, while placing furniture and special rooms, decals, items, enemies and stairs added up to lots of complexity, and I wasn't happy with it.

Feb 23 <tmc> so, needless to say, we're kind of in trouble
Feb 23 <tmc> I'll try to get the thing somewhat playable today though
Feb 23 <tmc> maybe if we scrapped MP, and made all spells single use scrolls...

Comparing the feature list that we wrote up for the game and what was delivered, most features that didn't get scrapped early were actually implemented. Ranged weapons and most of the planned spells were removed, as did attack animations, which was definitely a problem because simply bumping into enemies gets old and limits tactical choice. Other big scrapped features were shops and sacrificing elemental charge. Yet a number of stupid "bonus" features made it into the game, like being able to pick items up from an adjacent table.

Design flaws

Unfortunately the main thing that didn't make it into the game was playtesting. Whenever I tested the game I would immediately encounter bugs, so I'd be debugging rather than playtesting, and Master K couldn't play the game either. The attempts that I did make to balance it were sabotaged by incomprehensibly complicated calculations for damage, hit chance, equipment damage, and even item drops.

Given a quantity to decide (e.g. melee damage) I would think of things that should affect it and then proceed to give each of them an additive or multiplicative bonus, and then stupidly made them stack in complicated nonlinear ways; for example the bonus for of your virtus stat might be doubled if you were doing melee combat in the virtus plane. This kind of nuance is pointless if the player doesn't know how it works so can't take advantage of it. I think I actually had the idea that the player should have to work out the elemental plane-specific effects themselves. Well, I suppose that's OK if they're obvious enough, but terms in equations don't fall under that. (Really, it should only be used for game aspects that fall under 'exploration', like the behaviour of the ghost realm; I'd like to move more in that direction.) Since most of the inputs to these functions were already unbalanced (how much virtus should living statues drop?) the net result was just nonsense. The biggest problem might have been that there wasn't a proper stat (or ability as in DnD) system to abstract away what a character's strengths were, instead the elemental charges replaced stats and inputs had direct effects on outputs, rather than indirect effects via stat/ability bonuses. Additionally charges just keep going up and up over the game, meaning you can't use them directly. Levelup systems in RPGs solve this problem by enforcing diminishing returns, but we'd also ditched levels. This is definitely one thing I will rewrite, by adding a set of visible ability/stat scores with bonuses broken down. (Another lame reason we didn't have stats because there was no room for them on the screen.) The ability of equipment to be damaged in combat was another disaster, causing many bugs and usually resulting in your weapon falling to pieces in no time flat.

Charbile complained about catching himself in a fireball. Sort of intentional...

<tmc> sophisticated magic effects like polymorph and area effects are intersting because they have strategic values and tradeoffs (like the risk of catching yourself in a fire)

Well, aside from the fact that you couldn't aim the fireball (it targets the nearest enemy).

There are all kinds of other, obvious flaws (like too much spam in the message log)
which I'm not going to discuss because they're apparent to everyone,
and caused by the contest deadline.

Tech stuff (may as well...)

JSH wrote "[outside a contest] there's no reason to make a game like this in the OHR". I agree other people should think twice, but there's an obvious reason that I push the boundaries of the engine. It's to encourage me to remove them. Unfortunately, most of the scripting in this game was accomplished by the help of a script "preprocessor" utility (which I'd already used for several other things) to make HamsterSpeak less painful by adding shorthand notations. This is married to an awfully complicated system for storing "objects" in global variables or slices and allocating and deleting objects and strings. I always regret doing this sort of thing. Time spent working around engine limitations is usually better spent on fixing the limitations. It also turned into a horrible mess in places because it wasn't thought out, so after the contest I told myself I didn't want to do that anymore, and should add those features directly to HamsterSpeak before continuing with this game. (A couple days later I was back working on it anyway.)

I did however implement several small features (and many bugfixes) during the contest, most significantly being saving slices in savegames. This was the first OHR game to use a resolution other than 320x200, but that wasn't a feature added for this game. It sure got a lot of debugging though. There were several new script commands including "string sprintf", which was absolutely needed to keep me sane when doing all the string manipulation. SDHawk actually also used this command in his entry, Dungeon Cards.

<tmc> to be honest I'm probably a little too keen to use higher resolutions just as a help in debugging the engine

For fun I ported some Python code I'd written for sentence generation for another game. Here are some examples. ($"text" is expanded by the preprocessor to $ns="text where "ns" is a script that returns an unused string id. Looking at screenshots of error messages, you might notice that this system broke down when it ran out of unused ids.)

say($"the", attacker, $"knocks you over!")
you($"snapped up", tostring(count), plural($"item", count))
# (In original Python: you("snapped up", count, "item") )
say($"arcs of electricity shock you as", $"the", attacker, $"strikes you with", $"a", attackerweapon, $"!")
say($"the", weapon_owner, $"'s", weapon, verb, $"as", PRONOUN, weapon_owner, $"parries!")

When "a" or "the" occurs separately they get turned into "a"/"the" or nothing depending on whether the following item is uniquely identifiable or not ("the royal guard", "the Invidia", "a greatsword") or has a proper name ("Somniatus"). 'attacker' and 'attackerweapon' aren't string ids, but actually global variable ids pointing to object descriptors. The final example shows even more complicated rewriting rules: PRONOUN, weapon_owner can get translated into "he", "she" or "it".

I also ported Eben's (squidlib's) recursive shadowcasting field of view code from Java to HamsterSpeak (I should put that on the wiki), whch was relatively a breeze.


I consider the contest version a prototype of the elemental charge and elemental phane features we dreamt up. However it's still hard to tell whether these will work because the game is too unbalanced and unpolished. So the current plan is to put in the work (a couple of major releases?) to try to make the game as envisioned during the contest as playable and fun as possible, e.g. by adding a status screen to explain elemental and phase-shift effects on your stats, and making differences between phases simpler, more obvious, and more interesting. I anticipate that'll show that a lot of the stuff really doesn't work well together, so the next step will be scrap major parts of the mechanics and remake the game. Honestly, I WANT to scrap parts of the game even if they do seem to work, just so I can try something different: if I'm going to create a game, I want it to try something new.

My regrets would be, firstly, not prioritising things differently so that basic combat could have recieved real playtesting. It would also have given Master K more to do; I was the bottleneck at all times (he works fast!), which is certainly regrettable. However he did contribute in many ways: design, graphics, music selection, the story (including text and dungeon designs), npcs, and most of the item and enemy designs. Trying to give him more to do I asked him to draw various tiles and animations that I never had time to use. Finally, I definitely regret not releasing a significant update to the game which was nearly ready a couple weeks after the contest, and which fixed not just bugs and (some of the) balancing but other complaints as well. After the contest there were complaints that allowing large bug-fix updates to the games would be unfair, which I agreed with. However even after voting was over I stubbornly didn't release it because it still wasn't entirely bugfree, and anyway once you release a demo motivation can plummet. Also, I didn't really want to encourage people to play what is still very broken version of this game.
Metal Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 6:04 am
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The contest is over! Don't post anymore reviews. Results thread is here.
Metal King Slime
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 PostMon Mar 16, 2015 6:07 am
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My conclusion: it's lovely and beautiful.
The game summarised in one image.
Breaking expectations.
(Heavily extended and edited)

Samanthuel's Lovely Home

First of all, I thought this game was fantastic, but I'll be derailing this immediately, skip to the end if you hate pretentiousness.
This game doesn't have much in the way of "gameplay". You walk around and examine items in your house and outside until you reach the beetle at the end of the forest path which causes time to pass, so that you can go to bed. However, that is a description of the game that fails utterly to capture what it's actually about.
It's a very heavily abbreviated day in the life of Samanthuel.
There are just two decisions to be made (aside from the inconsequential ones of where to go and what to talk to): whether to crawl back into bed immediately (which quits) and whether to put on your clothes.

What is a game?

This doesn't really include any of the aspects of a game aside from agency, being fun (or just pleasant??), and an incredibly thin amount of interactivity. (I'm not going to bother actually looking up definitions of a game, sounds like a time-waster to me.) Is that enough? Agency is a pretty big item and this has it 100%. However there's no challenge or goal. So prehaps I should call it an 'experience', since 'game' is a bit strong.

In fact I think the term 'game' is a horribly limiting description of what our medium is about. I think that limiting terminology is a problem, becaus eit shapes how people think about it. Redefine the language and you redefine thought. So maybe a categorisation would be useful to try to explore the limits of the medium a little bit. There's plain-old games, recognised by their elements of goals and challenge or adversaries; there's sand-box boxes which do away with the goals; there's things like empty tech demos and OHR Typewriter that have some of the relevant aspects but fall somewhere outside; there's "arty" games that attempt to convey some message or theme through their mechanics (like Passage) while often replacing usually important aspects like a goal for something like insight into the theme; but there's also things like this that try to show you something but don't involve decisions for the player. It seems that the term "interactive art" doesn't fit.

What is art?

A game where you simply walk around and inspect objects is essentially an identical experience to walking around an exhibit in an art gallery of individually simple items meant to be vieed as a whole.

A lot of people seem to actively dislike 'art games'. (Hawk suggested that they don't just down want indie games heading down this route en masse.) "Art game" is a problematic term that gets people mad, and I think one reason is that it includes the word "game" even when the thing in question often isn't a game so doesn't seem to have much value as a game. Viewed in this way they could be considered lazy, like post-modern art (which is basically what you get when you stretch definition of art). However, it's really still that same medium, which is where the term really comes from. That could result in people who should otherwise be neutral about art games (do they hate art galleries too?) declaring that they hate art games. It annoys me that people are ready to put down or ignore such uses of our medium. I guess that shouldn't be expected, since many of the people here were probably (originally) attracted by the ability to turn their daydreams in maths class into RPGs. That's fine if you want to do that, but I'm not very interested in those.

What's this game about anyway?

So I purposefully ended up with a philosophical discussion of the medium instead. But that's the meta-game: the fun is in trying to analyse the author and the message of the game. It's impossible to play this game WITHOUT wondering deeply what brotoad's attitude all about. It might even be the point, a sort of adovacy. Likewise it's impossible to review this without trying to make sense of this using language that isn't the language of game reviews. Of course, author and playable character of the game are the same, so it's not surprising that the author becomes the focus of debate.

I'm in agreement with JSH's review on this game. I think it's mostly intended for a different audience than us, so that people seem to be reading unintended themes and intents into the game (brotoad said exactly that in her replies to some of the reviews). It sure can be fun to speculate wildly, though. It often seemed as if serious Literature is about unfounded speculation anyway.

If you look at brotoad's tumblr you'll see that the entire thing is written in the same style as that tumblr, which makes it completely obvious that this game isn't aimed at us: it's aimed at the people who read that tumblr (which seems quite sincere to me), and uploaded here as an afterthought. On the other hand, it's possible that the entire style is meant to provoke. SDHawk pointed out that the game is presented as a series of minor relevations about the main character (and their self image and sexuality) which are quite reasonable to percieve as provocative, which seems to be the author's trademark style.

Skip to here

However, I have to speak out. None of the other reviews of this game have said much about this as a experience (and I mean now the experience of a walk in a forest in the mind of a character).
This 'game' is an excellent example of an 'experience', and that's part of the reason why I think this is one of the coolest things to have been made with this engine. As a game, I would say that it's very well polished with gorgeous graphics in a very well performed uncommon art style. Once again, a low number of colours and a good palette win the day. As an art game/experience, I can say that it's rather unique and will probably be something quite unexpected for the people who try it, similar to walking around an art exhibit.
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