Tag: Gaming

The CageBox


This week Zed Games round table is lead by Hazel, with Paul and Peter sitting on a wall. Then comes the regular Gaming News from Maylee, with the team talking the Tomb Raider relaunch and the Xbox rumour mills. Paul swings to win in the full release of Phantom Abyss. And the team chats the massive demo drop of this Feb’s Steam NextFest.

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Dual at Mt. Skullzfyre Review

Designer: Rob Heinsoo, & Cory Jones
Artist: Nick Edwards
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Release Date: Feb 2012
Genre: Party Card Game

Are you sick of boring games involving strategy and money and stuff? Do you just want to mercilessly kill your friends over and over until you’ve asserted your dominance while cackling from your throne of broken promises? Then maybe… just maybe you’re hard enough to …

Welcome to … EPIC SPELL WARS OF THE BATTLE WIZARDS: DUAL AT MOUNT SKULLZFYRE!!! … Now where were we….

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is a series of games with an art style reminiscent of an evolution of Robert Crum’s work through the looking glass of Superjail and Adventure Time… think a 90s version of Adventure Time cross Mad magazine and you’re getting close. The artist is Nick Edwards and I thoroughly recommend looking him up for more of the strange. The edition we will be talking about today though is the first in the series and came out in February of 2012 … IT’S A DECADE OLD!? Yup and filled with humour suitable for all those fart gigglers out there.

Inside this hardcover box there is no board to speak of, rather a cardboard cut-out standee of Mt Skullzfyre to battle over, several last wizard standing tokens, because once you get a taste for the mighty magic duels you endure, you too will want to replay this with all the benefits that lie therein. Some skull tokens… and all the following;

  • 8 EPIC wizard cards to choose your player from ranging from Pisster the Pissed Wizard, Krazztar the Blood’o’mancer to Princess Holiday and her FURICORN.
  • 8 wild magic cards
  • 25 dead wizard cards with 8 different effects of various rarities and benefits
  • 5 different magic types
  • And 25 totally different treasure cards… the ultimate powerhouse of buffs, charms, and sensual loot. And really the only strategic advantage you can get in game. So HOARD THEM LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT… because it surely does.
  • And lastly the cards that you will use as components to cast your epic spells of destruction of which there are 20 each of delivery, source, and quality to choose from.

Now for the bit where I run through how to play.

Choose your wizard wisely and put your skull token on your life counter (20 to start with) and deal each player 8 spell cards. From those cards you create your spell… each spell contains UP TO 3 parts. A source, quality, and delivery. And on your delivery card you have your initiative. “But I don’t have one of those” you say in your whiny baby voice. Well play what you want, I’m not your dad. If you do play less cards you get to go first with the initiative of the delivery dictating again who goes first. And if you don’t have a delivery card? You fancy pants, go last!

Now it’s time to read out your spell and rain destruction on your foes. Each component of the spell has text describing what it does, which can range from returning precious life points to your board, gaining treasures, randomised effects, treachery, or just plain old hell fire damage. And who wouldn’t want to scream epic spells into the void such as Pam and Hecuba’s Ritualistic Nuke-u-lur Meltdown, or Ben Voodoo’s Wild Magic Bedazzlement… oh yeah, wild magic. Basically, you draw cards until you find one to replace it… RANDOMNESS MAGIC! Now should your spell not contain one of those qualities fear not, create your own words to describe it, you’re the wizard after all.

After draining your foes of their life points you, oh mighty evil one, receive a last wizard standing token while they, the losers that they are, receive a dead wizard card with the attached buffs to mitigate their weaknesses when facing you. Then, like your many skeletal minions, everyone rises from the dead and resets their health pool and the war begins afresh. And you continue this until you run out of energy to manically laugh at your foes as you grind them beneath your heel.

This is one of the few games I regularly get out at gatherings because there is little to no strategy to winning, and losing gets you buffs to balance and give you the win in the next round. So I would call this more of a social game and advise you to leave your ‘must win’ feelings in the strategy game box where it belongs. So just have some fun and to make it extra special, a personal favourite home rule of mine is to choose a role-playing voice and go hard for the whole game (thanks Wil Wheaton).

The crazy visuals, names and pure randomness make this very enjoyable and with other settings and new mechanics introduced in stand-alone expansions, Dual at Mt. Skullzfyre is a great place to start your journey with Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards.

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Dual at Mt. Skullzfyre was created by Cory Jones, Designed by Rob Heinsoo and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment.

A Mortician’s Tale Review

Developer: Laundry Bear Games
Publisher: Laundry Bear Games
Composer: Halina Heron
Platforms: PC, Mac via steam and itch.io, iOS
Release Date: For PC & Mac 18th October 2017, iOS 22nd November 2018
Genre: Story-Driven Management Sim.

A trigger warning for this review. I will be talking respectfully about the processes that take place within a funeral home from washing a body to the process of cremation. If these things may trigger you, please skip this review.

A Mortician’s Tale is a game that introduces you to the intimate and confronting world of what happens to your body after death. You play the black-haired, tattooed Charlie, the newest funeral director in the family-run “Rose and Daughters Funeral Home”. Charlie has managed to land on her feet with a boss who eases her into the swing of things, with her first job being a closed casket funeral. So, to show your respect you are asked to wash the body to prepare it for the funeral, and then attend the funeral. After changing into a “respectful” outfit, covering your tattoos, you reminisce with the attendees, listen to their qualms, and take a moment to stand by the coffin and process the death yourself.

The gameplay has a very simple loop. Go to your computer to check your emails where quite a lot of exposition lies. You will find your Monthly Newsletter with handy dandy tips and tricks, your job for the day, and correspondence from friends and co-workers. Then you will follow the routine of attending to the client’s requests in the preparation of the body and attending the funeral. This can range from open caskets to cremations with all the tools and steps you would normally take simplified for the gameplay. However, the real gem of this game is the story inbuilt under this.

 

Each loop takes place about a month or so after the last. By reading the emails you follow the ownership of family-run business doing the best it can for their clients where the head wants to retire and slowly move into the hands of a larger conglomerate. In this business the model is to push for sales and exploit the grief of families for higher profits and at the crux of this game, a few real issues. Do you respect the last wishes of a person, or go for that commission? Where do you stand when a family member wants something different to the person who once inhabited the body in front of you? Is processing this body worth the environmental impact? Is a funeral worth going into debt for?

The soothing, yet eerie background tracks composed by Halina Heron are a perfect accompaniment to the repetitive procedures, email reading, and funerals you attend. While the track’s loop isn’t very long, the tracks provide smooth loops and transitions between scenes. When it comes to sound effects, the ticking of the embalming fluid machine, the rumble of the cremation, and such can be quite confronting starting off, but quickly become routine. Other sounds are quite soft with the cremulator making a sandy hush that may be disconcerting for entirely different reasons.

A Mortician’s Tale is a simple story, in a simple point and click game, that hit quite close to home. I played this shortly after visiting a local mortician who had recently sent off a friend’s father and we sat and chatted for a few hours about many things, including the idea of being death-positive. I thought I knew the basics of what happens after someone dies and the processing of a body, but at the age of 38 this game taught me about new procedures, things that made me feel uncomfortable, and about not having a will which would leave it up to family or friends to deal with.

Overall, I recommend taking your time and playing A Mortician’s Tale. Not because it’s an amazing visual extravaganza, but if like me you haven’t thought too much about your post-mortem corpse disposal process, it will hopefully make you seriously reconsider the last impact you will leave on this earth. While also having few easter eggs to dig up for good measure.

A Mortician’s Tale was released in October of 2017 by Laundry Bear Games and is currently available for PC & Mac through Steam and Itch.io, and for mobile on iOS. I received my copy in a Humble Bundle.

100% Glitch, Pokemon Heist, and More Layoffs

Oops! All Done!

Let me set the scene for you. You’re super excited for a Suicide Squad game, and early access has just opened. You might have cleared the evening for this, you’ve got your snacks and you’ve settled in. You let the game install and update while you were at work, so it’s ready to go. You fire it up and! You finished the game?

Rocksteady, the developer of Suicide Squad, had to take their game offline less than an hour after opening, after a number of players booted it up for the first time only to encounter a glitch that auto-completed the game for you. These players had purchased the Deluxe Edition, which is more expensive and grants players access 72 hours before it officially releases on February 2nd. But they got $20 of in-game currency as an apology.

Layoffs This Week

1,900 Activision Blizzard and Xbox employees are being laid off by Microsoft, while Mike Ybarra, Blizzard president, steps down.

“As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business… As part of this process we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce” says Microsoft Gaming CEO, Phil Spencer.

Allen Adham, Blizzard’s chief design officer, is also stepping down. Microsoft has selected Johanna Faries as Blizzard’s new president, who used to be head of Call of Duty esports.

 

In other-layoff-news, 61 Sega of America employees will be laid off in March.

 

In-funnier-layoff-news, one dev at Blizzard was able to utilise his employee perks to get himself World of Warcraft for free until 2033. Adam Holisky, former Blizzard employee, used all the subscription codes he hadn’t activated in Keyring before he got axed. Yay?

-TEAM ROCKET THEME-

That’s right, a Pokemon heist! Or rather, Pokemon cards heist, with three intruders managing to grab over 35,000 Pokemon cards from a collectible store in San Jose, called Tofu’s Trading.

The thieves were able to slide through the side doors, despite the doors being blocked by a fridge. The motion detectors were faulty and without the alarm they were in and out in 10 minutes. They were also able to grab Magic: The Gathering booster packs, and the shop’s WHOLE cash register.

Amy Simpson, the owner, believes it wasn’t targeted as the thieves “didn’t know what to take”. She’s taking it in good humour, making fun of how committed to crawling around the thieves were, all captured on security cameras.

News Nibbles!

Universal in Florida will be presenting ‘Super Nintendo World’ next year, adding a Nintendo-themed theme park to their ‘Epic Universe’, which is supposed to contain five worlds.

Embracer Group cancelled a Deus Ex game, but a group of former Volition developers, who were shut down by Embracer Group, have formed their own studio; Shapeshifter Games.

Nintendo are planning on making 10 million Switch 2s by March 2025, to hopefully prevent a shortage problem upon launch.

 

And now for some upcoming games!

February 1

  • Granblue Fantasy: Relink – PC, PS5, PS4

February 2

  • Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
  • Persona 3 Reload – PC, XSX, XBO
  • Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League – PC, PS5, XSX

February 6

  • CLeM – PC, Switch

That’s it this week in gaming news!

Palworld Tops, Game Devs Down, and Some Game Bytes

This week in gaming news: Palworld tops the gaming charts and rumour mills, a dismal prediction for Game Devs in 2024, and some special gaming bytes.

For those living under a rock, this week has been dwarfed by the unexpected boom of Palworld into the gaming stratosphere. The monster collecting survival game Palworld, has not only beat out opening week records set by Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring and Hogwarts Legacy, selling over 7 million copies in the last 5 days since release, but it also has beaten Valve’s own Counter-Strike 2 All-Time Peak player count, becoming the second most played game of all time with over 1.86 million concurrent players. However, this has not come without hiccups. The game has released in early access on steam and game preview on game pass, so bugs are to be expected, but steam and Microsoft are publishing different versions. Each with their own bugs and server issues that have required emergency meetings with Epic Games backend, and individual updates with expectations that they won’t coalesce until crossplay is established in the future. Until then, Microsoft players will have to deal with the lack of dedicated servers and slow updates, and the quality of life updates seen with steam users.
Internally, developer Pocket Pair has had to deal with a slew of press and player accusations with Community Manager and CEO reporting to have been receiving death threats, “slanderous comments, and outlandish claims.” Some of these being claims they “ripped off Pokémon” and utilised AI to either create the monsters in the game or that GenAI is used in the game. The CEO Takuro Mizobe has responded to at least one claim, stating that “We have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies.” But not all are convinced, with former head of Pokémon’s legal team Dan McGowan saying the game “looks like the usual ripoff nonsense that I would see a thousand times a year when I was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon.” And not without cause, with a mod already released and removed that not only put Pokémon into Palworld, but also Ash, Misty, and Team Rocket. Creator, Toasted Shoes, put out a statement after the mods removal.

“Nintendo has come for me, please leave me in your thoughts and prayers”

The 2024 Forecast for Game Developers
After more layoffs Game Devs are facing a hard reality this week with Riot laying off 11% of its workforce. That’s 530 people losing their jobs with the blame being put on management’s decision to rapidly expand after the pandemic. And it’s not the only one, with the trend continuing in more studios. 2k’s 31st Union is cutting team members even after the “momentous” move to California. Embracer Group is trying to find a buyer for developer Piranha Bytes. And the developer of recently released VR game Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem, WIMO Games, has announced they’ve closed their doors with around three dozen staff left out in the cold.
With one third of developers being impacted by layoffs in the last year, and more than half of developers concerned about their futures we can see there are challenges to face in the future. Experts are increasing the worry with expectations the gaming industry will face challenges possibly into 2025 after the abundance of games released in 2020, and 2021 pushing unrealistic release schedules. Despite this, industry leaders are optimistic of the long-term survivability of game development, leaning of the industries resilience and potential growth in the future.

And now for the Gaming Bytes:

  • Awesome Games Done Quick is back with AGDQ2024 streaming over 135 speedruns and raising over 5 million us dollars for The Prevent Cancer Foundation during the week-long event.
  • While earlier this week it was rumoured BulletStorm VR was to be removed from the PS5 Store and auto refunded… it has come to light that only Japan and South Korea will be receiving this golden ticket with the rest of the world left to fend for ourselves.
  • And for those people looking forward to the game Indiana Jones and the Great Ciricle, Harrison Ford is NOT voicing Indiana Jones, rather Troy Baker the voice actor behind The Last of Us’s Joel, BioShock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt , and many more.
  • OH! And the finalists for the Freeplay Awards for 2024 have been announced. If you don’t know what they are, it is the world’s longest-running independent games festival with the awards ceremony to take place on the 29th of February in Melbourne. These awards focus on Australian and New Zealand indi grass roots game artists and developers with this year’s nominees to include Unpacking from Witch Beam Games, Wayward Strand from ghost pattern, and Dap from Melting Parrot, plus many more. For the full list of nominations CLICK HERE

And now for the upcoming game releases.
Friday the 26th brings us two new releases with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth coming to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox, and Tekken 8 coming to PC and Next Gen Consoles.
On Tuesday the 30th Rugby 24 to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox.
Wednesday the 31st the DLC for 2021’s Eastward, Eastward: Octopia DLC and is coming to PC & Switch
And lastly, Thursday the 1st of February, Granblue Fantasy: Relink comes to PC and PlayStation.

Rapid Fire Reviews

This week Hazel leads the round table with Zahra and Peter to talk Gaming News (from Cam) and the impact of AI. Zahra goes mobile while reviewing sandboarder Alto’s Odyssey developed by Snowman. Caroline then goes digging and gets stuck in(to) the early access game Below the Stone developed by Strollart. And finally Zahra jumps back in for an extra review of mobile creative Let’s Create! Pottery 2 from Infinite Dreams.