The Lost Reviews – Turmoil

3 08 2016

Turmoil (Gamious - 2016)

What is one way to get an insight into other forms of work while also enriching your television viewing experience? Why none other than the Discovery Channel. For many years now the channel has been a showcase for many varieties of TV shows which depict ordinary people exploring other avenues of work that you or I probably would not consider, other than possibly to get rich and famous as quickly as possible. Shows in this line include of course Deadliest Catch, to more recent programming like Gold Rush and Gold Divers. Now while it may not be the case that you or I would consider going down these routes of work, I have recently been playing a game on Steam that I find is very similar. There is no war, no guns, no racing; just lots and lots of Oil.

Turmoil 3

Turmoil (by Gamious) is a cross between a tycoon simulator and a puzzle game, where you play one of four characters who are trying to get rich quickly in the Wild West by drilling for oil. To begin with, you are given some cash and a free plot of land to drill for oil. Initially you can only work for a few months before the level ends. As time goes past however you may work many more months in the game to a whole year. As the game progresses further you will experience different areas of land such as snow and desert, and realise that there are other resources than simply oil to dig for.

Turmoil 5

The game is relatively simple to play; it uses a nice combination of mouse and hotkeys (if you prefer) for controls, while each level is a flat, 2D image of a plot of land. To begin with you only have a few resources, and have to rely on Dowsers to find Oil, when they have found a spot, they jump for joy and tell you where you can roughly find the spot. From here it is up to you. Initially you will need at least one horse-drawn Wagon of which to transport your oil to prospective purchasers, and will also need to construct a Rig to get the oil out of the ground (one or two Silos probably wouldn’t go amiss either). From there it is up to the machines to pump it out, and the wagons to collect the oil. On each side of the map there is a factory, to whom you can sell your oil too. But be careful, for if you send the oil to them when the price is low, you are not going to get much for it. As the level progresses, prices go up and down, more oil can be revealed, and more money can be made, but once the level is up, that’s it! Any remaining patches, or oil you did not sell is just wasted, and fines can be charged if you spill any. Once a level is up, you are provided a summary of how much money you made, to which you can use in the local town to bid for more land, buy improvements, bribe local dignitaries, and much later on, buy out some of the town.

Turmoil 4

Turmoil is a nice simple little game to play and is nicely presented in an aesthetically pleasing, yet simple 2D interface. It takes away the need for a full 3D game where you will exhaust hand power having to move around some mining camp. Instead, it’s just a simple case of point and click and manipulate what you want to achieve as thus. The real joy to this game is that at heart, it is a game about drilling for oil and making as much money as possible. You don’t need to worry about building anything else other than the resources needed to pump and store oil. The upgrades you can purchase are easy to implement once purchased, and come in real handy really quickly. The levels themselves are rather interesting to look at, particularly the depiction of the pockets of oil, and it can be fun to see oil be pumped out of the ground. The reality of the game gets no finer than the experience of sheer joy when you find a large pocket of oil, one you believe in whole honestly that, that is where your fortune lies. It’s a shame then that the game does have some short comings.

Turmoil 6

At heart, Turmoil is a game about drilling for oil and making money. If it was just left to that it would be a nice little game with plenty of energy to keep it going. Halfway through however, the game introduces a second dynamic, which then just takes over, and becomes entirely about taking over the whole town by purchasing stocks/shares. It just gets irritating, that while you plan out what upgrades you want, and what area of land you are going to purchase next; that before you can get to drilling, you need to take part in a stock auction you don’t really care about. That is until you discover that is how you win the game at all. By that time it’s too late, and then you need to take an interest the next time you play in order to win. It’s just annoying, as I would rather have the game be about something else, and only include that in some form of multiplayer, which the neither has nor needs, as it’s perfectly pleasurable by itself.

Turmoil 2

Any other issues I have with the game come down to minor bugs that more come down to PC performance issues and miss clicking. Most of these though come down to human error as the game finds ways to trick and deceive you into a false sense of positivity, making you think that you are making money, where as you could be making more if you kept a more careful gaze. Quite a lot of the time you will find yourself clicking on the speed up button, but as a level starts, this is only natural as you want money fast to get more later.

Turmoil 7

Altogether, Turmoil is a nice fun little game that can be either played briefly or for longer periods. It boasts a pleasant graphical view while also providing you with simple yet easy to use controls that can be used in more than one way. More than that though, it provides an enjoyable insight into a resource rags to riches tale that’s really immersive and makes you feel like you are there, and enjoy your success while also regretting your failures. It’s just a little 2D game, but it has a lot of Heart.

Turmoil 8

GENEPOOL





The Lost Reviews – Hook

19 05 2016

HOOK (Rainbow Train - 2005)

I have always loved those puzzles where you had to make a route from one side to another. You know the sort of thing, where you might have to direct a flow of water from the tank to the tap, but there are obstacles in the way; like those hacking puzzles in Bioshock. I just love the technical aspects of such puzzles plus the stress of getting it right first time (plus the fun of getting it wrong…on occasion). Well Hook is sort of like those puzzles, except instead of building a route; you need to completely demolish it.

HOOK 3

Hook is a 2D puzzle game where you have to click on switches, clear routes and send messages, all for the purpose of clearing the entire level of obstacles. Sound confusing, well it is. To play the game all you need is your mouse, and in turn you will be clicking on a black button to send a message to remove some sticks from a big maze of sticks. Some sticks though are blocking others and you will need to remove those ones first to remove the others. Once all the sticks in a level have been removed, the level is complete and you progress onto the next one. It’s sort of a mix between Pick up Sticks, and Kerplunk. As the game progresses, further little bits are added to increase game difficulty, ranging from circles that need turning to connect routes to one another, as well as wireless/Wi-Fi like messages to remote routes not connected to the main puzzle.

In terms of the game’s difficulty, the first few levels are all pretty easy, but by the end they are extremely complex. To begin with you don’t need to worry about making mistakes. Eventually though lives are added. Once all your lives are depleted, you have to start the level all over again. Hook’s graphics are simple yet effective. It’s a white background with dark greyish lines showing the routes and sticks. Nice and simple, but not at all confusing. Great work has been made to make them look nice and crisp and not jittery or block like. It’s a smooth looking game, and the animations are just as smooth. Even little things like sticks overlapping each other, to the sending and receiving of signals are nicely made. Hook does not really have a soundtrack as such; it’s just the sound of blowing wind. It’s like imagining yourself at the O.K. Corral. This lack of music though is nothing too bad, as the lack of sound really does help you to concentrate on what is happening. It’s not exactly peaceful though, as the level of silence and the occasional gust of wind can really increase the tension and frustration, the good kind.

HOOK 1

The only real problem I have with this game is that it’s a bit quick. The first few levels are nice and easy, but it takes a while for the levels to get harder, which is what you want. It’s a puzzle game; it’s meant to be tricky. It’s only really into the second half of all levels that it gets any trickier. These levels take more of your time to play, but the level of difficulty, gameplay, not forgetting the frustration, is what you want in a puzzle game. But as soon as you finally get these levels, the game is nearly over, and once you get the hang of everything, that’s it the game is over. All levels are completed. I have no desire to replay this game either. It was fun; it could just have been longer. The lives system is fun, but a higher level of consequence would have been nice too.

HOOK 4

Hook is an addictive game, and you will find yourself unable to do or think of anything else other than play Hook continuously until you have finished. It lacks achievement though; there is no real reward for playing a game that’s just too easy and too quick. At best, it’s a casual little game to play when you have a lunch break. On the other hand if you have a whole day off; I would suggest playing Borderlands instead, at least there is more to do in Borderlands, and it’s longer.

HOOK 2

GENEPOOL





The Lost Reviews – Timberman

17 05 2016

Timberman 2

A wise man once said “I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay.” Well after playing this game I can say that I am a lumberjack, but after playing on Multiplayer mode, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say I am okay. Timberman (Digital Melody - 2015)

Timberman is an arcade style, casual flash game for the PC where you play the role of a Lumberjack chopping down trees as quickly as possible without dying. The game has a simple interface and control scheme. You are represented by a lumberjack avatar, and you have an axe. When the game starts, all you need to do is click away furiously to chop down as much tree as possible. You will need to alter which side of the tree you chop down to avoid the large number of killer branches. As the tree falls with each click, branches come down with it, and if a branch falls on you, you die. Controlling which side you chop on is very easy, all you do is change which mouse clicker you are clicking with. You will also need to be aware of a timer above your head counting down the amount of time you have left until your imminent death.

Timberman 3

Personally I prefer to avoid games that are made specifically to look like pixellated arcade games from the pre mid 1980’s; Timberman’s graphics however are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. They are not blurry nor cause any worry for potential photosensitive seizures. They are in fact very nice to look at, plus it makes the game easier to run, which is especially useful on computers not designed for playing heavy games, and easy access multiplayer battles. A neat little feature the game is that when one game is finished, and you decide to play another, the time of day changes. So from a nice autumn day, to a dark night, to a nice summer’s day. Timberman also comes packed with dozens of Timberman characters too. Some of these are beneficial to unlocking others, which is very useful if you are not the most hardcore of lumberjacks. These can range from simple characters like the basic Timberman with a different coloured shirt, to ridiculous characters like Father Christmas, a Bear, a Snowman, Jason Voorhees and Barack Obama.

Timberman 5

At best; single player mode is just a way to hone your tree cutting skills and unlock new characters. It’s Multiplayer mode where this game really comes out to shine. Now if you’re anything like me and play mostly on your laptop, it can be hard to play multiplayer games especially those of big graphically powered games. The number of times I have decided to play Left 4 Dead on Multiplayer, and found my computer and connection so slow that I have had to reposition myself in the hope of getting a stronger signal. Due to Timberman’s increased accessibility though it is so easy to connect and play without any interruptions. Multiplayer takes the form of a battle/race to chop down as much tree as possible without dying. It follows the same gameplay methods as single player, but this time you find yourself lined up with up to 3 other lumberjacks. These battles play over several rounds with scores being taken from each round. Whoever has the highest score after 5 rounds, wins. With winning such battles comes the opportunity to have your skill level and rank increased, so you can show off to the entire world (or at least those who play this game) how good you are at chopping down trees.

Timberman 4

Despite some of its good points however, the game does have a few shortcomings. Single player does not have much longevity to it other than to unlock new skins. This though is relatively minor to a bigger gripe I have. Timberman does not have a Tutorial mode; neither shows any information on how you play it. The first time you play you are at a complete loss to understand how on earth you are supposed to play it. It sort of expects you to know, thinking that the relative simple understanding will be enough. It reminds me of the seaside side-show game Whack-a-Mole. All you get is a mallet and have to hit moles with it. Timberman as a concept runs along similar lines to this, however as you are not actually holding the axe in your real hands, there is no way of knowing how you actually swing it. Then the issue of dying from branches comes up where you learn that the hard way after several games of not looking, thinking you just keep on clicking. The Red bar above your head is self-explanatory, but in your first game you could very easily die without knowing how you do anything. The Soundtrack is pretty cool. It has an early arcade game sound to it which when mixed with the pixellated graphics is a nice added touch. But it’s just endless and can get pretty boring after a while. It’s just a shame there is not any variety in the music compared to the changing of the time of day.

Timberman 1

Timber man is a rather fun game. It’s a nice cool, fun concept. It is an easy game to play (once you know how), the graphics are rather neat and the inclusion of customizable lumberjacks and the ever-changing day and season calendar is a nice little add-on. While it does include some issues such as the repetitive music, lack of a more diverse single player mode and the irritating non-existence of a tutorial mode; Timberman is worth going through some of these issues just to play in multiplayer clashes.

Timberman 6

GENEPOOL (another thing that is missing is the quaint stroll through the wood like there was in Rashomon).





Building The Raid

4 05 2016

TR3

For over a year now, it has become evidently clear that there are 2 things I really like. One (given by the status of how much time I have played on it) of them is the PC Game Prison Architect (by Introversion Software). The other one (given by how much I have talked about it) is the Indonesian Action Film The Raid. As a fan of both I thought it might be fun to combine the two. Now, for those of you who know what the two things involve, you may be wondering how I combine a game about building Prisons with an Action film series that mostly takes place in an urban setting. Well, that answer is pretty easy to answer as it happens. Quite a lot of the first act of The Raid 2 takes place in a Prison. Basically, during the first act, there is a fight in the prison yard, when taking a look at the shots surrounding the yard, such as the shape of the prison surrounding the yard, plus the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) is inside a prison cell, such small details like that gave me plenty of ideas as how to construct a prison in Prison Architect to look like that Prison.

One of the main ideas with a game like Prison Architect is to let your mind flow and almost make a work of art, but seeing as building the prison is only half the battle as you get caught up in prison Management and Administration also, I thought that building a prison based on a Prison I saw in a film would be a good idea. I thought that such shapes and designs could help me come up with something relatively basic, but also help me in the running of a prison on the Large Map game setting. Well after 3 attempts; I have come to the conclusion that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. Let me explain. Designing prisons based on ones in either real life or even a film as it is probably a real prison, does not mean that something in the real world is going to work in a game, not to forget that it’s just a design, and that it does not mean also that it will equate to the management and administration of a prison too. Those kinds of things come down to service quality, not bricks and mortar.

Prison Admin

On my first attempt to build The Raid, I started out normally. By this I mean I started designing out the look and shape of the prison using the in-game planning tool. This acts like something as like a blueprint sketch, where you can plan out where the walls and objects within your prison are going to go before you start building them. As I wanted to get it right, that was the best Idea. I planned out where Cells were going to be, where showers, solitary, yard, canteens, and other various rooms were going to be, and then I gradually built it bit by bit. In the game, you can acquire grants that provide you with money for completion of a task. It’s a useful feature as the first few prisons you build in the game are likely to have the use of them as money to begin with is short. When a prison is complete you can then go and sell it, and receive money in aid of constructing your next prison. Well, having done quite a few prisons by this point, I had quite a lot to use. In the end, when I did complete the prison, I was nearly out of usable grants, but from what I remember I still had plenty of ownership of my prison. One other way of making money you see is to sell shares in your prison for large amounts of cash, this will reduce your overall ownership of the prison, but it’s a great way of making a lot of money really fast. The other way of doing it quickly is to open your prison early and receive cash injections for the arrival of inmates. Anyway, by the time I thought it was complete; I had near to no money at all or ways to get money. And then things got worse. A fire broke out, and it just engulfed an area of my prison that was strangely made out of rock. Prisoners now had an easy escape route, plus I had no money to fix it, so I abandoned that Prison in the hope that one day I would learn from my mistakes and build a better version.

The Raid 2

Well, recently, back in about February, on the final night of BBC Three as it happens, after a while of not playing this game, I decided to re-install it. After a few games and time to try out some of its new elements such as women prisoners and a finally working Execution facility I decided to try and rebuild The Raid. I went through the same old thing again; design then build bit by bit. One thing about this time I remember though was that I was able to secure a large amount of money and get a lot done before opening it. However, I have sort of forgotten what happened, but given the pictures I took, I believe it had something to do with a Riot. If you look at the canteen area on the below picture, you can see a large area shaded Red, that shows that in that room a riot is taking place, so it’s sort of more like The Raid films, but not exactly great for prison designing. And given by how much money I had, I can bet I was not able to survive. I think in the end, I gave up. I did not stop playing or uninstall the game; I just deleted that save file and start all over again.

The Raid 2 Riot

So, with my having yet another go at building The Raid, I played a few more games in the hope of building up to that again, well I have had one more go. I did things differently this time however. Given by the success I have discovered in imprisoning women as they appear to not riot as much as Men, I thought I would give it a go as a women’s prison. Same thing again, designed it by sketching it out, and then built it from the ground up. This time however, I did not have as much money, so I had to be quick when I did have money. I slowly but surely built up the first bit, and it was going relatively ok.

The Raid 3

Then a riot broke out, and another if my memory is correct. It became clear, that building The Raid was never going to be an easy task. Over the last few games I had actually come up with new ideas on how to design a prison and those ones actually worked out ok, but as the design for this one was so much different, it was not going to be as straight forward. I tried to do things differently by having two separate large canteens instead of one big one, but it was becoming ever clearer, that this Raid was going to plummet before it was even near finished. So just before I wrote this post up, I sold it, and deleted the save before uninstalling the game. Well, I have played on it for nearly 200 hours now (189 to be exact, my most played game on Steam), so maybe it’s time to move on and try something else for a bit. I am not a sore loser or anything, it’s just clear to me that building The Raid time and time again is probably not going to work.

The Raid 3

If anything, this project has taught me, never to design anything in a game based on something in real life. They are two different realities, life and video games, and it’s clear the two are not meant to mix (not unless I get re-inspired when The Raid 3 comes out). Thinking about it, the signs should have been clear. I mean, how many times Video Games and Movies mixed…..have and came out positively. Not to sway your opportunities if you want to try to build The Raid, give it ago, let me know how you get on.

The Raid 3

Now, let’s end on a reflective piece of music.

GENEPOOL (please have a read of my review of The Raid).





Timeline Of An Empire

9 12 2015

Age of Empires 2

I recently picked up a copy of Age of Empires II HD on Steam. Upon hearing that many of you are probably thinking: “What, have you only just played it” or along those lines anyway (or possibly even; “What is Age of Empires II HD on Steam? Well, click the above links). No, it is not the first time I have played Age of Empires II. It must have been when it was first released that I played it for the first time. I remember when it first came through and on that evening playing the tutorial mode with my Dad, and my Dad noting the bad attempt of someone from America trying to do a Scottish accent. Anyway, I have played it before, but purchasing this copy on Steam marks the first time I have played this version of the game (which comes packed with previously unofficially unreleased extras), plus the first time in a long time I have played it. And it has been fun. I enjoy playing different skirmish games, attaining new trophies in Steam and just generally having fun playing this game again. I am not too fussed by playing the campaign mode, I played the Tutorial again a few weeks ago, and was so bored, but general Skirmish games I find rather fun. I also find it rather fun playing Empires that I did not necessarily use before like Byzantines and Franks as well as old favourites like the Japanese, Teutons and Koreans. My one hope at this time though is to hopefully have a multiplayer game of it at some point in the not too distant future.

AoE Score

Anyway, why am I talking about this game in the first place? Well, one thing I rather like about this game comes in the end of game stats, the ones that show you statistics of how the game went. Now I am not really all that fussed by Economy or Military stats, but what I am interested in is the Timeline functionality at the far right of the menu choices.

AoE Timeline 1

I like this feature because it features a very detailed colour coordinated graph showing how your empire in the game, and those of the other players fared, and these can be very detailed. Take the above picture for example. It shows the names of the players or AI, what army they were, when they advanced to certain stages, when there was a battle, when a Wonder was built and when a Wonder was destroyed. Doesn’t seem like all that much to gawp at I know, but looking at the way that colour can take over the chart is something in particular to behold.

AoE Timeline 2

When a certain colour/nation fills the chart more than any other, it shows who at that time the strongest empire was. These strengths of colour increase and decrease throughout all the way to the end of the game as it stands (so either as overall victory is achieved, or when someone decides to quit) come the end. Some of these colours of course begin to decrease down to a small-scale as the end draws near for that empire; however abdicating is simply not enough. I have found that even if a nation abdicates; i.e. Loses, the empire can still carry on, on the timeline even if it is just a small slither across the screen. This comes in the form of leaving their buildings and some villagers and ships alive and not destroy them when they give up. Thus to end an Empire outright, and take over the chart that little bit more, you will need to make sure there are no survivors, either people, ships, or buildings. This will cause that Empire to be wiped out and disappear altogether from that moment in time, similarly to real past ancient empires of this world.

AoE Economy

I know it’s something to do a weird post about, but it’s a nice little feature in the game that I wanted to point out and mention. You can be someone who ignores the impact of ancient empires, but something like this can show, at least in a fictional video game stance how powerful an empire can become, but similarly also how it can simply disappear and be forgotten, as other greater, mightier empires forge their own future, quashing competition in their stead.

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

GENEPOOL








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