Monday, December 23, 2019

Commentary: Top Ten Videogame Music Tunes

By Cyfir

Most gamers have an opinion about what their favorite video game music is and in this article I will list ten of mine. Of course, you may not agree with this list, but music and sound in general are always a subjective experience. This list was compiled from games that I’ve played and owned. So if you don’t see your favorites here, that’s probably why.


10. Wave Race 64 [Nintendo 64]

Let’s be honest, the music in this game is a big reason for why it’s so memorable today. It’s mellow and fits perfectly with the gameplay and aesthetic of the game.

9. Streets of Rage 2 [Genesis]

Just listen to the opening theme of this game and you will know why. This game is widely regarded as having great music and I would tend to agree.

 8. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core [PlayStation 2]

I just recently picked this game up. There are other versions of this game but this is the one that was available at my local retro game store. I may not be a big fan of the final boss, but I am a fan of her theme song. It’s not often that I fire up a game for the first time and am immediately blown away by the music, but it happened with this game.

7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty [PlayStation 2]

Hideo Kojima is known for making games which play out like movies, and the soundtrack in this game definitely makes you feel like you’re playing a movie. It’s one of the first games which made me feel that way, and the opening track is still great.

6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Sega Genesis]

I could have put the original Sonic the Hedgehog here too but I believe that the second game in the series is where everything came together both gameplay wise and musically. 

5. Super Mario 64 [Nintendo 64]

I played this game so much as a kid that the songs are still stuck in my head, forever resurfacing and playing. I’m not complaining.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Nintendo 64]

I might actually make some people mad by putting this game all the way down at number 4 on this list. While this game is a favorite to many, I actually have a love/hate relationship with it. However, there’s no denying that the music for this game is widely regarded as some of the best music that Nintendo has produced. There are many songs in this game that are unforgettable.

3. Final Fantasy IX [PlayStation]

I’m not an RPG fan at all, but there’s something about this game that grabbed me. The characters are just great. The music also helped. Sure, there are other Final Fantasy games with similar music, but this is the one I played and still play.

2. Rocket Knight Adventures [Sega Genesis]

From the moment you start up Rocket Knight Adventures, the action never stops until the end and the catchy music doesn’t as well. This is one of the better looking Sega Genesis games and one of the best sounding as well. I’m still amazed by how many sound channels they were able to utilize in the compositions on a system that was made in 1988.

1. Night in the Woods [Multiple Platforms]

The music in this game takes my number one spot for just how incredibly haunting it is, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The compositions will stay in your head long after you’ve finished playing it. Unfortunately, the brilliant composer of these tracks is no longer with us for reasons that I will not get in to due to how complicated the unfortunate situation was, but his music will live on in this masterpiece.


So those are my personal top ten video game soundtracks. I do find it a bit interesting that I ended up choosing games from only a handful of systems. I didn’t plan it that way but it probably has to do with the systems that I grew up with. So what are your favorite video game soundtracks? Did I miss out on an obvious choice? Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Subnautica Revisited

By Rita Mariner

I have played SUBNAUTICA now for one game shy of 6500 hours.  You might ask how can you play a game that much and it not get boring?  Simple, the game is never the same, each time you play it.  The developers mix things up, each time you start a new game.  While the basics stay the same, they do like to move some of the elements around to keep you guessing.

The game still has the four basic game modes of play. Survival, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health. Freedom, where you only have to watch your air and health, they figure your automatically watching your food and water.  Hardcore, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health, but you only get one life and if you die, you start over! Ouch.  Creative, you don't have to worry about anything, you get all blueprints from the start and build everything at no cost. Basically you ignore the storyline and just explore for fun.

Since I have been playing, there was a huge update to the game and they installed a new graphics engine, which is suppose to make the textures pop more.  It might have, but it also caused havoc with the game, tossing bugs in everywhere.  Which I constantly ran into and reported and they have seemed to have fixed most of them. I still run into new ones, or at least I think they are bugs. They might have changed the story slightly.  Who knows.

The best thing I love about the game, is building.  Make your builder tool, collect all the blueprints to all the base modules and elements and go to town.  What you can create, is limited only by your own imagination and how much time you willing to devote to collecting the resources needed to building your dream home.  I have come up with a design that works wonderfully for me. It does take several hours to collect the blueprints and then the resources to build it.  Followed by zipping around to various wrecks to loot them for collectibles, to decorate my base. There are toys, posters, lab gear, caps, dolls all waiting for you to discover, grab and put on display in your new base.

Then we have Time Capsules.  These little surprise gift packages are what other players leave behind, when they depart the planet in their escape rocket.  They can put in a few items, a picture and some comments who comes across it.  You never know what will be in the capsule.  Could be some good stuff, could be useless stuff, but to open one, you will need at least six open spots in your inventory.

There are also numerous different biomes in the game and each is unique.  Not only in how they look, but in the flora and fauna that dwells within.  I have also learned hat each of these biomes specializes in one or more resource.  For example.  The Jellyshroom Caverns, are brimming with Gold, Lithium and Magnetite, but not much else. Unless you count Crabsnake trying to eat you.  The Lost Tree Biome contains Nickel, Crystal Sulfur, Lead, Silver, Titanium, Copper, some Lithium, some Magnetite, but also a rather unfriendly Ghost Leviathan and a bunch of nasty River Prowlers and Blood Crawlers.

The last biome you need to tackle is the Lava Zone.  Here you need to go to collect Kyanite to finish construction on your vehicles to complete the game.  You you also run into WARPER Central, LAVA Lizards and the Sea Dragon.  If you remember the old saying, busier than a one legged man, at a butt-kicking contest.  This is the place it can happen, and it isn't fun. If they all gang up on you, RUN and try to fix your PRAWN Suit and heal yourself ASAP.  You will have no place to go otherwise.

The Thermal Plant is in the area, once you collect enough Kyanite, find the entrance on the mountain. Go through it to the Thermal Plant, get the needed date inside.  Make your up grades. Come back, then head to the Primary Alien Containment Faciltily a short walk away to meet the Sea Emperor, help her out. get the cure, turn off the cannon (important), then blast your booty off the planet.  Simple enough.  Not really, the last few items will take you about three hours, if you know what you're doing and if you have the resources to make the potion on hand, add a few more hours, if you don't.  Isn't Subnautica fun?  I love it!

Rita Mariner

Monday, December 2, 2019

Video Game Collecting: Part Two - How To Cheaply Start Collecting Video Games

By Cyfir

In my last article on this subject, I wrote about why I started collecting physical video games again. In this installment, I’ll be focusing on how I acquired 100 physical games and 11 systems in under a year without breaking the bank. With video game collecting being the equivalent of comic book collecting in this day and age, how did I do this?

As I mentioned in the last article, I’m far from rich. In fact, I’m quite the opposite at this point in my life. However, I’m fairly thrifty, so I’ve been able to find some pretty good deals and obtain many of my childhood games and systems back. The first place I started was Nintendo Entertainment System games. While I had an Atari 2600 in my household growing up, it wasn’t until the NES that I started to gain an appreciation for video games. It just so happens that many great titles for the NES are dirt cheap, usually selling at retro video game store for more or less $5. Of course there are more expensive titles, but my most expensive NES game was $25. Another system that is super cheap to collect for now is PlayStation 2.

Now, I wouldn’t rely on just retro video game stores. They usually want to make a profit, and their prices often reflect that. You can sometimes find good or fair enough deals in them, and I do believe that it is important to support them as they provide a valuable resource, but you’re not going to find everything or always get the best deals there. I would also check out local flea markets, thrift stores, and even Facebook Marketplace (but please use caution when meeting strangers from FaceBook and making deals with them. They may try to scam you or you could end up in a dangerous situation.)

My area doesn’t have a ton of games at Goodwill, but I’ve heard that it’s different throughout the country. I’ve had much better luck at flea markets and my area has a handful of them. In my experience, pawn shops don’t have the best deals. They want to make as big of a profit on their inventory as possible, but your mileage may vary.

Before you head out, it’s important to have a list of all the games and systems you’re looking for and check the fair prices on those items. I use an Android app called Gameye to keep a wishlist as well as keep track of all the games and systems that I already own (and accidentally buying duplicates is a thing that happens; trust me.) I also use a site called PriceCharting to make sure that I’m not overpaying too much for a game.

Never be afraid to buy a game or system that looks dirty or has something internally wrong with it, as long as it’s at a fair price. Many games and systems are decades old and it’s unfair to think that you’re going to find something in pristine condition all the time. Cleaning and fixing games and systems is actually not a bad way to get in to a new and fun hobby and could end up saving you a ton of money. For instance, you could find a Sega Dreamcast that doesn’t play discs, and the person selling it is offering it for $5. You could get a disc drive assembly online for around $15 and open it up and replace it. Now you have a Sega Dreamcast for $20 when they’re going for upwards of $60 or more. There are plenty of YoutTube videos and tutorials out there on how to clean and fix games and systems. If you’re new to it, I would take your time, take pictures as you go, and keep track of all the screws. Also, when screwing things back together, turn counter clockwise first until the threads slip in properly. Most of the plastic on old games and systems are old and brittle and are prone to strip or break.

In conclusion, it’s not enough to do any of the above if you’re just going to go crazy and buy everything you see. Be strict on yourself. I only allow myself to go game hunting once per payday. Keep a budget in mind as much as possible and try to avoid temptation. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but we’re adults now and we should be able to maintain a budget. Finally, collect what you enjoy. I would never recommend going out and buying something just because it’s valuable. Sure, if you find a copy of a rare and expensive game for $5, grab that, but don’t go out of your way for it. I personally only collect what I have nostalgia for or what I want to play. After all, that’s what it’s all about.


Friday, November 15, 2019

News and Commentary: More on Blizzard's China Controversy

By Bixyl Shuftan

Last month, Blizzard stripped a Hearthstone tournament winner of his prize money and suspended him from further matches for a year following the gamer from Hong Kong using the short time he was given for an interview to openly proclaim his support for the protests there. The company stated he had violated one of the rules by "engaging in an act that ... brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image." The company also dismissed the two men who were doing the interview. At first, it appeared that the two men, independent contractors whom were not directly employed by Blizzard, were dismissed for no reason. But it turned out they knew what the gamer they were about to interview was up to. The reaction of a number of gamers in Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and other games Blizzard owns, was to cancel their accounts and call for a boycott.

Since my first article on the subject, the story has continued to develop. A CBS story on October 10 stated the stock price of Activision/Blizzard had fallen. Access Now, a group aimed at protecting peoples rights online, called out, "Blizzard demonstrates a lack of respect for the human rights of its users." Some US politicians also spoke out against Blizzard's actions.

Blizzard eventually gave Blitzchung his prize money back and reduced his ban to six months. It would also reduce the ban of the two broadcasters, whom were in on the protest the gamer was about do. While Blizzard's President Allen Brack admitted they had acted too quickly in response to the incident, they insisted they had to act to keep gamers focused on games, The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. ... I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

There would be another protest, and suspension. On October 16, Blizzard banned three players over holding up a sign, "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizzard" during a livestream a few days before. Despite that banning, and stories about people being banned from the Blizzard forums for bringing up the Hong Kong controversy, there were talks about mass-protests at Blizcon on November 1. While Blizzard had canceled a scheduled launch event for it's Overwatch game, it couldn't just up and cancel it's annual convention.

Players have continued to express their disapproval, such as a commentary in Massively, "The Blizzard I Knew Is Dead." Tyler Edwards would write, "... the theme of fighting to overthrow tyrannical governments has come up again and again. Suramar, Mists of Pandaria, Battle for Azeroth… The face of StarCraft is Jim Raynor, a character who spent most of the franchise fighting for freedom against oppressive regimes. And now Blizzard has actively aided and abetted oppression by a real world dictatorship. When one of its players spoke up in favor of democracy, Blizzard helped silence his voice, at a time when democracy is under fire all over the world – all to protect business interests in mainland China, a country that makes up only a tiny fraction of its global revenue. It’s wrong, and it’s cowardly, and it goes against everything Blizzard is supposed to stand for."

Other protests included artistic ones. The character Mei of Blizzard's game Overwatch, was drawn by numerous people protesting the company as being a sympathizer of Hong Kong's resistance. There was also at least one online cartoon, Sandra and Woo, in which the artist mocked Blizzard for pretending to stand for human rights while submitting to China's demands.

Finally came Blizzcon, which had the company President Brack appear on stage for the opening ceremonies. And at one point, he brought up the controversy and apologized, “When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, it’s really two things. The first one is we didn’t live up to our high standards that we set for ourselves. And the second is, we failed in our purpose. And for that I’m sorry, and I accept accountability."

While Brack got a standing ovation for his apology at Blizcon, checking the responses to the apology in the article, most I saw were negative saying the response was inadequate. There were some saying this was either as good as they could expect from a corporation to that there was nothing that could be done about Hong Kong, "I feel for the peeps at hong kong, I truly do... I wish them nothing but the best... but I'm still going to play their games. I believe no matter what phrases we say, it wont change the way China is." Nydia Tungsten of the Furry Gamers Group in Second Life would comment the apology reminded her of a child chastised by it's parents that was saying "sorry" only because it was ordered to.

Blizzard would go on to introduce the next expansion for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. And in the game itself is having it's fifteenth anniversary. But the controversy is a dark cloud over the occasion. As a similar controversy has been hounding the NBA, it seems what happened with Blizzard/Activision is part of a larger problem. American companies love Chinese money so much, many if not most will compromise their principles to get it.

For yours truly, I ended up getting back into the game just before Blizzard banned the gamer from Hong Kong for calling out for his city being able to keep the freedoms it's people enjoyed. That the company, or at least it's President, went out and apologized makes me feel like I can stay in with a clean conscience. But why did it have to get in this mess to begin with? As some friends are sticking around, I will too, at least for now.

 Sources: CBS, Tech Times, Vice, Tweaktown, Massively, Kotaku, IGN

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Video Game Collecting : Part One - Why I Collect Physical Games

By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

In Second Life, everything is digital and on Linden Lab’s servers. If Linden Lab’s shut down Second Life tomorrow, everything that you have in your inventory and everything that you’ve built up in the virtual world would be gone. Is this likely any time soon? No, but this scenario isn’t unheard of in today’s age. All that needs to be done is for a company to pull the plug and everything that you’ve worked towards in a social space or game is wasted time and this is why I like to collect physical media. If everything else shuts down, I can still plug in my Nintendo 64 and play some Cruis’n USA. Or I can plug in my Wii and play a complete $3 copy of Ghost Squad with the Wii Zapper and relive my time in the arcade playing lightgun games like Time Crisis. Or I can start up my original PlayStation and steam roll through Metal Gear. You get the idea.

I don’t have a huge collection at the moment. There was a long period of time where I swore off playing video games in favor of doing things that I felt were more productive with my spare time, such as helping out communities in Second Life and elsewhere. It felt more fulfilling than beating a game for seemingly no reason. However, that started to change as I fell out with the groups that I was part of and I found myself needing a hobby. So I fell back into video games. I found myself regretting getting rid of all the great games and systems that I had as a kid, especially since a handful of those are rare now.

Some might think “why not just get a raspberry pi and emulate all your favorite retro games. Well, for one. I’m a huge fan of original physical hardware. I’m a hardware geek. I love how owning a physical system and cartridge is kind of like owning a mini arcade board. I love to mod my Gameboy Advance and open up and fix old games that aren’t working. It’s just another aspect of the hobby that’s right up my alley. If I wanted to emulate games, I would just do so on my PC. You don’t need another physical box to do it. I’ve also not had the best experiences with emulation. Sure, emulated versions of older systems like the Playstation and Nintendo 64 look tons better thanks to modern technological advances and modding, but they’re also prone to game crashing bugs and glitches that haven’t been ironed out in the emulators. I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time via emulation, and the game suddenly crashed and I found myself realizing that I hadn’t saved in a while and I lost hours of my time in the game. I turned around and bought the port of the game for 3DS and that issue was eliminated. I just prefer the reliability of the actual legit hardware and software.

Now, I’m not rich. In fact, I’m the opposite, so I can’t just go out and buy all the old video games I want. However, I could have gone out and found a big lot of really cheap games and I could have had hundreds of games by now. However, I just don’t see a point in that. I want games that I actually want to play, that holds nostalgic value to me, or that I just think looks cool. At the moment, I only own 79 physical games since I started collecting again. Surely, getting 79 good games in nine months would be expensive right? Not really. In part two I will be covering how I’ve built up my collection so far and different ways that you can do it.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

News and Commentary: Blizzard's Removing Hong Kong Gamer From Tournament Sparks Calls for Boycott, Debate on Free Speech

By Bixyl Shuftan

I had hoped to make my next article related to Blizzard about it's upcoming version of World of Warcraft in which the heroes go up against a horrific enemy of the likes one sees in a Lovecraft novel, and there are a couple new player races to choose from, the half-machine Mechagnomes for the Alliance and the foxlike Vulpera for the Horde. With the latter, some Second Life friends were looking forward to going about as fluffy-tailed folks and wisecracking jokes like, "What’s a Vulpera’s favorite dance? The fox trot." Some of us whom had gotten out of the game due to both lighter interest and it's subscription fee got back in. This included yours truly, whom last week returned and signed up for a few months as some good gaming friends would be spending time there, so I thought.

But there's been some news in the world of gaming that has given some of us second thoughts about adventuring in Azeroth, and it isn't about the content of the game, but the actions of the company that owns it, Blizzard, concerning another of it's games, Hearhstone.

Last weekend, there was an Asia-Pacific Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament. Among those taking part was Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung of Hong Kong. He won, and when interviewed afterwards, he declared his support for the protests going on in the city, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time," wearing a mask and goggles much like what some of the protesters have been wearing. For those who haven't been paying attention much to news from Asia, over time the government of China has made a number of demands on the autonomous city of Hong Kong which many of it's inhabitants feel break the promise it made of letting them govern themselves when Britain ceded control of the city over twenty years ago. This includes that anyone running for office there has to be approved by China's government. Months ago, Hong Kong's council was set to vote on a bill that would mean anyone in the city charged with a crime by the Communist government would be subject to arrest by local police and deportation. Since then, many of the people of the city of 7.5 million have been protesting in the streets. Over 2300 have been arrested so far and over 2000 injured. There is no end in sight to the protests.

Blizzard responded by taking down the video of the interview (though copies of it can be seen elsewhere), and on Tuesday October 8, the company stripped Ng of his prize, and banning him from Hearthstone tournaments for a year. They stated that he had violated one of the rules of the game, "Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD ..." Blizzard also fired the two commentators whom did the interview, Mr. Yee and Virtual (real name unknown). Virtual would later explain neither he or Mr Yee were told why they were dismissed, and about half of his income comes from broadcasting the tournaments, "If Blizzard bans me from casting any Hearthstone tournament, it will really hurt." Neither worked directly for Blizzard, but were independent contractors.

The result was a backlash from a number of gamers, whom began cancelling accounts to Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and other games owned by Blizzard. Some expressed their comments on a "Boycott Blizzard" Twitter feed. One posted his response to when Blizzard asked his reasons for canceling his subscription, "I have been a loyal WoW player since 2007, spending literal years of my life on Azeroth. However, I can no longer support a company whose corporate policy considers speaking outu against human rights violations constitutes a "breach of contract." I'm still rooting for all the talented developers, artists, and writers working at Blizard but I will no longer support the company until these oppressive practices change." A thread on the topic in the Blizzard forums would get over 7300 responses as of the writing of this article.

Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with the company's reaction to the incident. A small number of employees did a walkout at the main office, gathering at it's Orc statue. Some had umbrellas, a symbol of the protests in Hong Kong. One employee would comment online, "The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising. Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values."

This incident comes at about the time of two other high-profile ones involving business, free speech, and China. Last Friday, Daryl Morey, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets made and later deleted a Twitter post in support of the Hong Kong protesters. Despite the team owner speaking out against the comment, and that the tweet couldn't be see in China as it is banned there, the Chinese Basketball Association suspended all cooperation with the team, and events by the team would no longer be broadcasted by China's top station. At first, the NBA, which after investing years and millions in China gets about ten percent of it's revenue from the country, distanced itself from the comment. But when a number of Americans complained, including several politicians of both political parties, on Tuesday October 8 NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated they would not censor players or team owners over remarks about China.

The other incident was the 300th episode of the "South Park" animated comedy show, "Band in China." The show poked fun at Chinese censorship and American companies bowing down to pressure from the Chinese government in order to do business there. The result was the show practically vanishing from the Internet within China. The response from the show's two creators was a mock apology, "Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. ... Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"

These three incidents combined have reignited debate nationwide about how much should American companies compromise their principles in order to do business with a dictatorship that controls over a billion people. But Blizzard's move also presented an ethical dilemma to some of my gaming friends in Second Life. For Nydia Tungsten, the head of the Furry Gamers group, as much as she relished the idea of going about Azeroth as a bushy-tailed vixen, Blizzard's move led her to cancel her account. She would post the following.

My friends and I were all looking forward to this, but due to Blizzards actions we as well as the gaming groups we belong to have canceled our subscriptions, the only way to get a companies attention is to hit them where they will notice it, their wallets. They MAY have appeased China, but can they be supported by China alone? I don't think so, spread the word and take your money from their wallets.

"I am not leaving the game forever," Nydia would also state, "but I DO want Blizzard to feel the backlash of their actions." Not everyone in the Furry Gamers went along however, notably some longtime players of World of Warcraft, "I am refusing to get drawn into a political flame war. I'm going to keep playing because I've spent far too many years in this damn game to stop doing it over politics."

For yours truly, the timing of Blizzard's move happened just after I'd gotten back in World of Warcraft. Since a number of my friends were either ramping up their time in Warcraft or getting back in, and Ark and Rust were getting laggier and crashy, I went ahead and bought the latest version of the game *and* subscribed for the next few months. I intend to go ahead and get what I paid for. But unless Blizzard makes some kind of amends, I might as well cancel my subscription as well. So where will I and the white vixen be gaming next? We'll find a place.

Sources: Kotaku, Blizzard forums, Ars Technica, PC Gamer, CNN, Vulture,

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 7, 2019

Game Review: GreedFall

By Nydia Tungsten

The game is set in 17th century-styled fantasy setting, and was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox GreedFall is an action role-playing game developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interax One on September 10, 2019. Wikipedia”

That is how Wikipedia is describing it, and on their own website they say :

The Old World is dying. The continent is polluted, overpopulated, and plagued by a deadly, incurable disease. Its weary population grows desperate.

But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon – an Island, remote and hidden, has been discovered. Teer Fradee... a land spared by the Malichor plague, a haven of life, wild and untampered by mankind. It is the promise of riches, but also represents the best hope for mankind to find a cure to the Malichor. On the hunt for the cure, explore a fresh new world as, alongside settlers, mercenaries and treasure hunters, you set foot on this remote island seeping with magic.

In GreedFall, situations are not always resolved by spilling blood. The wits of you and your companions are just as important as your prowess with a blade, and wise diplomacy, stealth, science or a well-used skill may negate the need for combat.

The world of GreedFall is home to numerous factions, each with their own beliefs, territories, goals, allies and enemies. You will forge and break alliances, weaving your way through an intricate reputation system. Every decision you make has the potential to please or anger these factions and their leading figures, as well your companions. Your ability to handle diplomatic encounters, the two party members you choose to bring to encounters, and who you will decide to help or fight, will ultimately impact the geopolitical landscape of the island.

That is all from their site. Now let me tell you “my” experience.

 I am not a hard core gamer by any means,  but I think that most of us aren’t. So with that in mind, let me tell this from a point of view most of you can relate to.

The voice acting is done really well as is the story, very easy to follow along and be taken into it.
There are six different factions - The Bridge Alliance, The Coin Guard, The Congregation of Merchants, Theleme, Nauts, and Yecht Fradi. Each one of them has its own views.

And you will find they are easy enough to follow who they are and what their goals are and be taken in to the point that you really want to help, or you would really love to see them wiped on the earth and not just the island.

So just for the joy, and anger, the story brings I will give it high marks and love it……. If only everything was so grand….

I am maybe half way through it, and have found a lot wrong with it, the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired. Some of the speaking animations  kind of remind me of someone trying to talk with a leaf blower blowing into their mouth.

The citizen NPCs AI’s are bad… not just bad but God awful, they will either stand still in the street, or walk back and forth in a 10 foot radius, or 20 foot if you are lucky. And in the buildings in is not unusual to see on go stand in a corner  after you speak to them.

 And sometimes when you speak to some of the main arc characters in a convo they glow, not sure how or why but they do, and it tends to draw your attention to it.

Also, the clipping, you will see a lot of the outfits that are worn, and not just the NPC’s but sometimes you as well, you will notice bodies clipping through the clothing. And it takes a lot out of the immersion from the story.

Something else I have found just distracting as hell is when you are given something, there is no animation for it, none. The screen goes black then comes back up and you have whatever it is in your inventory.

Something else I have noticed, there are only maybe a dozen faces being used in the entire game so far, you can get an NPC with the exact same face as one of your followers.

 And if you get into a fight in town, 99 times out of 100 none of the citizens will react, they just walk on by and sometimes through it.

They have lock picking as a skill, and I wonder why? I think it was just to add something to the skills tree, of which there are 3.  You point a point into it and you can pick anything up to the next level of lockpicking. And if you are in a NPC’s home, you can lock pick their chest right next to them and they don’t even care.

As for the skill trees themselves I find them very confusing on when you get points into what. You gain a level, but only gain one point in one skill, and they don’t even alternate. So you never know what skill point you will get when.

The UI isn’t very clear either. It took me a while to find out how to switch from using spells to using a sword, and I still haven’t a clue on how to draw my gun. I go into options or settings and it tells me nothing, so if you know how, please let me know.

 The Graphics are great in some areas and severely lacking in most of the others

See the hairy starfish, that's supposed grass. I have not seen something  like that since the first “Everquest” game

As you can see in this next picture, that is what grass  should look like. By the way that shot is from Skyrim, the first one, which is over ten years old, and they got the grass right.

If you hate invisible walls as much as I do, I am sorry to say you will become as frustrated as I have. You will be exploring, looking for resources then BAM were it looks clear you just can't go any farther for whatever reason. I hate that part of it.

This is an example of them just standing in a corner or against the wall

Now while it does have a great story, the feeling I get from playing it is that is is still in alpha, unfinished and sorely lacking in many areas and I certainly hope the devs will fix this “Rush job” of a game with updates ASAP. because right now, if I am being totally honest, Skyrim is better.

Would I recommend this game? Hmm… I would have to say yes, because of the storyline, but only when it is on sale for at least %50 off.

 I hope I was able to help you with your choices and as always


Nydia Tungsten

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Rust After Five Years

By Bixyl Shuftan

It's been over five years since my friend Nydia and I found the survival MMO "Rust." And over the years, the game has evolved and changed much as we've had our share of adventures and misadventures. Long gone are the game's first days when all the structures were on a circular road and you had to watch out for zombies and mutant animals. While much has changed, the objective remains much the same, starting with nothing but a rock and a torch in a place where so much wants to kill you from the animals to the weather to other players, you build tools, weapons, clothes to survive and a base to protect your stuff and yourself when not playing, and as the game goes on you improve what you have. In PvP areas, you also have to defend yourself from raiders. Timid players tend to miss out on opportunities. Aggressive but sensible players tend to do well. And reckless players tend to have a hard time keeping the loot they gathered before making it to a place of safety.

When we last looked at the game in Dec 2016, they had just introduced it's "component system" and introduced junkpiles which you find along the roads and at places such as the metal towers. It was about a year later in January 2018 that the development team announced they were leaving "early access," which basically stated they had determined the general course of the game and while they would continue to make updates there would be no more greatly radical changes such as the short-lived XP system. Still, a lot has changed.

Starting up is much like before. Upon appearing on the map, always on the beach as if having washed up on shore, the first thing to go is gauge your surroundings, and if there's nothing threatening nearby, look around nearby for some materials such as hemp to make some basic clothes, stone rocks for stone, and trees for wood. You'll need to make a stone hatchet, stone pickaxe, wood or stone spear, bow and arrow, floorplan, and hammer. Check the map with the "G" button to see where nearby roads, mountains, rivers, and permanent buildings are. As before, you'll need to make a base. But different locations have different advantages and disadvantages, especially in PvP servers. Ideally, you'll want a place not far away from places where you can get scrap, components, food and water, and mineable rocks. But in a PvP server, you'll generally want a somewhat out of the way location that won't be found too quickly, generally. Some players like the challenge of frustrating raiders (more on that later). And unless the server is modded, all builds are taken down at least once a month in what's become known as the "wipe."

Going back to the component system, going through the boxes and barrels, besides finding complete items, you'll also find scrap and components, such as empty propane tanks, gears, metal pipes, metal blades, springs, and more. Some items need just one of these components, such as salvaged hammers which need one metal pipe. A few need two or three kinds of components. Components can also be broken down at the recyclers at a number of locations, such as the mining outposts and supermarkets, into raw materials and scrap.

From the start you'll be able to make a number of items, such as sheet metal doors, code locks, small furnaces, primitive one-shot pistols, leather boots, and a few other things if you have the materials. When going through crates and barrels, you'll occasionally find blueprints for items such as water storage barrels, planters, and furniture. But for many items, the only way you'll be able to build them is to find the item and research it. This means finding the item to begin with, putting in in a research table, which you can either build or use the one at a few locations such as the Satelite Dish monument, and use the amount of scrap needed, which you find in small amounts going about smashing junkpiles and looting boxes. Some items need a small amount, such as leather gloves which require 20. Most will require more, such as the metal hatchets and pickaxes and the pistol bullets which need 75 scrap to learn how to build. Some items need a lot, such as armored doors, demolition charges and assault riles which take 500 scrap to research. Once an item is researched, it's used up whether it's in good condition or poor (I haven't tried researching a broken item). One can also use an amount of scrap to experiment to create a blueprint, though the results are random.

While many items you can just make anywhere if you have the materials and items handy, some need you to be next to a workbench. A level one workbench cost some wood, metal, and a little scrap, and are needed to make things such as metal hatchets and pickaxes, gunpowder, and pistol bullets. For some items such as basic rifle bullets and automatic pistols, you'll need a level two workbench which needs 500 metal, 20 high quality metal, and 500 scrap. Plus you need to be at a level one workbench. The most powerful items need a level three workbench, which needs 1000 metal, 100 high quality metal, and 1250 scrap, plus being near a level two workbench.

There's another reason to research items besides building them. With a few exceptions, unless you know how to build an item, you can't repair one in a repair bench, even if you have all the materials.

Probably the biggest change to the game since our last review is the addition of NPCs, the scientists. Identifiable in their blue radiation suits, they're found patrolling near certain junkpiles, or a few certain places like the Military Tunnels, and will shoot any player who gets too close. This means even in Player vs Environment servers the most dangerous thing out there are no longer "ninja bears" and wolves. And armed with automatic weapons, they can make short work of a poorly-prepared player. Probably the best way to take them out is a bolt-action rifle with a scope, though quick players with meds and some armor can engage them closer up. But not every NPC is hostile, at least not always. There's a Bandit Camp and a Scientist Compound that will let you in, *BUT*, you need to keep your hands free of weapons or tools that can be used as one. So much as showing a hatchet for more than a few seconds near either location will get you shot at. The Bandit camp has a gambling area in which you can wager some scrap in a chance to get more (though possibly lose what you have). The scientist camp has a vending matching in which you can trade various amount of scrap for various items.

Besides the infamous chopper, there's also a Bradley Armored Personnel Carrier. But not everyone sees it as it supposedly stays close to the Rocket Launch area and possibly the new Excavator Pit. Like the chopper, it will attack anyone in sight, and besides it's rockets and machine gun has a cannon. But it has blind spots, and a sneaky (or lucky) player can take it out with two demo charges.

Also after our last review, a new aspect to the game was introduced: maintenance. No longer will bases decay only because you're not logging on every day. They will slowly start to degrade shortly after being set up. They way to stop this is to put a certain amount of wood, stone, metal, and hi-quality metal if there are any armored parts, in the tool cabinet. The amount used up every so often depends on how big the base is and how much wood, stone and metal were used in making the floors, walls, and doors. This means that a build-minded player can't just simply keep making the base bigger and taller, or keep adding "honeycombing" to discourage raiders, but has to keep in mind much raw materials he or she can keep getting. There are of course modded servers with no decay or low decay enabled. But for most, you're going to have to keep maintaining what you build. Otherwise the place will soon decay to the point people will be able to sneak in and get your stuff, and eventually it collapses, or "rusts," away. On the plus side, if you need to be gone for several days, you can just load your tool cabinet with the needed materials to keep it going.

There are some ways of getting around besides on foot. There are motorboats that can be found about on shore. They can be pushed into the water, and require low-grade fuel to operate. Once the fuel runs out, the boat stops. They can also be used to store a few items. Boats are not indestructible, and after taking some damage will be destroyed. There are also small one-man choppers that can be found in places. They also require low grade fuel to operate. I personally found them tricky to fly, and from what I've heard can only take a few hits before they explode and the player plummets to his death. But a skilled player can use them to get to places that would otherwise be difficult. It should be noted that unless used, small helicopters will gradually decline in hitpoints until they hit zero and explode. I've had one go off just behind me when going about. While I haven't heard of anyone being hurt by a small chopper exploding this way, what can happen in a PvP area with a number of armed and nervous players nearby is obvious.

Another option for air travel are the hot air balloons lying around. They take 15 fuel to fill, and more to keep going. They also have a limited storage capacity. Once the fuel is gone, they float down. But be careful where you land as coming down on a place full of razor wire or NPC scientists will end you. For those planning on using the latter two to raid bases, there are now Surface to Air Missile batteries that can fire at player-controlled aircraft. In unmoded public servers, it won't fire on the NPC chopper, though.

The more recent way to get around is on horseback. While horses have been in the game for years, only recently could they be ridden. As of the writing of this article, all horses are approachable and have saddles. Press "E" to mount up, and spacebar to dismount. You can speed them up for a gallop, but this drains their stamina bar. If they're low on health, you can feed them pumpkins and corn for them to regain it.  For the fun of it, you can press "control" for the steed to neigh and rear up. Like boats, horses despawn after a few hours of nonuse, but you can build a hitch to keep one around. Do not put a horse indoors as it will soon die. Don't expect things to stay things this way for too long as the developers are working on a way to capture wild horses, and presumably you'll need to craft the saddles.

Temperature can be a complication as overheating means you'll dehydrate faster, being cold means you'll burn up more food, and really cold can start to lower your health. Being wet will make you even colder, and it cold areas wet clothes don't dry so quickly unless you make a campfire. Temperatures also drop at night, so if you're going through a cold area when it's sunset, you may need to stop soon and make camp. Oh, and if your swim out into deep water, temperatures will drop so you'll start to take cold damage if you're in there too long.

Speaking of water, there's now scuba gear available, facemasks, flippers, wetsuits, and the air tank. You'll need at least the air tank to go down deep without starting to drown while the masks help you see underwater, the flippers help you swim faster, and the suit helps you keep from getting too cold in the water. With the suit, you can dive down to wrecks and loosen up crates there to float to the surface and get the loot from them. There's also floating debris which you can go out either on a boat or swim out with the wetsuit, and get the loot from any boxes or barrels there.

Some of the changes are for Player versus Player aspects. In the past, the only way a raider could sneak on top was to be able to make a raid tower close enough a base, which couldn't always be done. Now there are ladders than a player without build permissions within a tool cabinet's zone can place and climb up to the top of a base and break in from the top down. No longer can builders just build high and assume their stuff stored above will be relatively safe.

Fortunately, defensive minded-players now have a defense against players: more and better traps. In the past the only traps available were wooded spikes, bear traps, and land mines that could be evaded by raiders and could end up activating on their builder. Now there are shotgun traps, flamethrower turrets, and auto turrets. The shotgun trap requires 125 scrap to learn the blueprint and 500 wood, 250 metal, two gears (less in some servers), and two ropes to make near a level one workbench. It uses the makeshift handmade shells that before were used for the simple waterpipe shotgun and eoka pistol. While it fires only directly forward, it can be placed on walls and over doorways. Flamethrower turrets use low grade fuel to spew fire within a short range, which means you can't place them in a wooden part of a base. They need 75 scrap to research and 10 hi quality metal, two pipes, two gears, and five empty propane tanks. They do make a noise when active, so a raider can hear them nearby.

Of the three shooting traps, the auto-turret is the hardest to make and research of the three, requiring 500 scrap to learn to make and needing a level three workbench to assemble the 40 hi quality metal, 1 tv camera and 1 targeting computer. But these are the deadliest and most versitile of the traps, with a long range and a 180 degree field of fire that players can use as outside defenses. They also have a "peacekeeper" mode that keeps them from firing on players without weapons showing, showing a green beam instead of a red one when this is so. While deadly, it does have some weaknesses. Close up, they also make a distinctive noise, potentially alerting raiders .With it's high rate of fire, it can run out of ammo quickly, and if a raider manages to get behind and up to it, they can just turn it off. With 1000 hit points, raiders may need rockets or explosive ammo to take them out.

Also to help slow down raiders is a new kind of door, the garage door. It takes twice as much metal to make than a sheet metal door plus two gears. But at 600 HP it has more than twice the hitpoints.

To help you get some raw materials faster, a couple tools have been added to the game. The chainsaw, when it works, will rapidly turn trees and fallen logs into wood for you.  And for anyone even remotely familiar with a few slasher movies, it's use in PvP combat is obvious. I imagine it could also be used to scare enemies away, especially if you're wearing a facemask. I say "when it works" as I have yet to get one of the darn things to work for me. What I have gotten to work is the jackhammer. This handy tool will rapidly chip away a mineable rock into ore or stone, and automatically finding the weak spots as if you were hitting the shinny spot. In places where there's a lot of rocks such as caves, a player can get a lot of material in a short time, which can come in handy in building up a base faster, or getting the material to maintain one. Players can't research jackhammers yet, but they can be repaired.

One of the more recent changes to the game is electricity, or rather electrical components such as switches, batteries, timers, pressure plates, etc. Players can keep their system powered with windmills or solar panels. While they can just be used to allow doors to automatically open, and in the future there may be sorting systems for storage. In PvP servers, a more obvious use of this is making elaborate traps. One example is a pressure plate that when stepped on opens a nearby door with a shotgun or flame trap behind it. I've seen videos made by players luring raiders to a trap base, watch as the raider realizes he's been tricked, then delivering the finishing blow. Sometimes the results are hilarious as it's pretty satisfying to see a "salty" or "toxic" player get his due. For more information on electricity in Rust, you can read this page: .

With PvP servers pitting tactics of raiding versus strategies of defense, I've seen some designs of bases made to be good at resisting raiders, or at least make the cost of doing so much more effort than what's in the storage crates. Deception has also become a strategy. I've heard of players building over a hollow spot in the ground, storing stuff underneath, and making the top part look like an abandoned and decaying base. Another strategy is making a large and visible base that isn't difficult to find while making a tiny base in a more remote area hidden by trees or rocks to stash the more valuable items in. Not much is more frustrating to a raider than having spent dozens of rockets and/or demo charges and hundreds to thousands or rounds of ammo, possibly dying once or twice, only to find a loot room that's practically empty (and possibly with a note that says "Sucker!"). Raiders sometimes call these "troll bases," though more defensive players have a different idea who the trolls are.

For those wanting to know more about the game, there are plenty of youtubes about various aspects of gaming from how to build a better base to solo raiding a clan building to which server to choose (some PvP ones have somewhat less aggressive ones than others) to various details such as the monuments. You can also check out the blog at for both the latest updates as well as a glance at how the game has changed over time. You can also check out the Rust Wiki at . While Rust isn't for everyone, over time it's emerged as one of the more popular and distinctive survival MMOs.

Some pictures by Spooked Dreamscape

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, June 3, 2019

Reader Submitted- Game Review: Super Animal Royale

By Aegis J. Hyena (Xymbers Slade)

Recently I saw a couple of my friends playing a game called Super Animal Royale and decided to try it out. It's a free game on Steam, in the genre of battle royale games. You take control of a little animal and wander about the map picking up weapons (a shotgun, machine gun, assault rifle, pistol, or magnum, with a desert eagle added in the most recent update) and go on to shoot the other 63 animals that are in the map along with you. Weapons are color coded for rarity, with higher rarities having faster reload times, rate of fire, and the like. There's three tiers of armor, which can be repaired by finding duct tape scattered about the map and in boxes, and you can even run over enemies in hamster balls although it has to be in a dead-on hit as far as I can see.

Matches are short and fast, so this game is excellent for killing some time with friends or just chilling out rather than being truly competitive (at least, as far as I can see). The "free" version is no different from the paid version (about $13) except you can actually equip clothes for a basic appearance -- there's no microtransactions to fast-track yourself to be better than someone else.

After each battle you gain "Animal DNA" that is used to unlock other appearances. You start with Fox, Bear, "Skullcat", Tiger, Cat, Dog and Songbird and there's more varieties every 5 levels (although I think you have to upgrade to the paid version to actually be able to use anything other than the beginning animals). No animal has advantages over another -- it's strictly an appearance choice.

Currently the matches are full of bots because the game is still getting off the ground. Lobbies before a match can hold 64 people, and if there are less than that in a lobby it populates with bots (I've seen as many as 26 people in one lobby before). You can play solo, or duo with another player; only the paid version can invite friends, if I remember right. The devs have said they'll unlock squads fully where four players can play together once more people start playing and the lobbies fill.

As of this writing, squads are open for the weekend in an attempt to drum up some interest.

If you upgrade from the free version to the paid version everything you've earned as drops for appearance editing carries over.

I like it for its cutesy style. It's a refreshing change from all the realistic gritty battle royales out there like Apex or PUBG, and I think it has the potential to be a real gem if the devs (who are active in their discord) approach it right. The community also isn't as toxic as most of the other battle royales I've seen (well, yet... this is the internet after all). I'm going to give it four dragon hoards out of five here, if only because I can't tell if it's a mobile game ported to Steam or not. It looks simplistic enough to be a mobile game, and I'm no fan of mobile games.

Addition: Aegis would later say,  "I've learned it's not a port, but I'm keeping it at four out of five to give 'room for improvement'." He would also say the four-person squad option was closing later today, so it'll be limited to solo play and two-man teams.

Aegis J. Hyena

Monday, May 27, 2019

Anthropomorphic Influences

By Nydia Tungsten

 If you look at the games of the past you will find very little in the way of anthropomorphic influence anywhere other than cartoons of the late 60's early 70's. But then it faded just a bit, then exploded, but again it was mostly confined to childrens' cartoons, you would have the rare commercial, but even there it picked up.

But in the last 15 years of gaming you can see the influence grow, I think the first mainstream MMO to introduce a character would be “World of Warcraft”with the “Dranei” also refered to a “Space Goat” by more than a few. Then they introduced the “Worgen” which were “furrier” anthros and drew some complaints about the lack of tails. They have a very angry werewolf appearance and a great back story. Then WOW added the cutesy “Pandariens” the panda race with the strong Asian influence.

  Each time they released one of these you could hear the anti furry rhetoric screamed from the rooftops! But.... the fanbase for them were there, and NOT just the furry fandom.

Then came more and more Fur based games “Amerillo” “Nekopara” “Elderscrolls Skyrim” just to name a few, and then we get into the mods available. Skyrim, one of the most popular single player games ever made, has the Khajeet right out of the gate. But with the right mods you can be a deer, a fox, a wolf, even a rabbit.

But not just Skyrim can be modded , “Left 4 Dead 2” “Minecraft” Even the game “Ark Survival Evolved” offered you a mod to be something OTHER than human. There are many many more game that are full Anthropomorphic or have partial anthro capabilities and of those that don't have available mods to suit your taste, there are more and more getting those abilities.

 And let's not forget “Second Life.” I myself belong to one of the largest furry communities, and the choice of avatars is staggering, and yes, each one has mods available. So people choice is almost limitless.

So keep an eye on future games, and see which ones you think may have got some inspiration from the furry fandom. If you know of more games not mentioned here please feel free to mention them in the comments for others to find and maybe enjoy, either way, Have fun with what ever you play and remember “I's only a game and meant to be fun so...


Nydia Tungsten