Monday, March 9, 2015

BREAKARTS: Digital racing robots

So, the CosmicBreak 2 kickstarter hasn't been doing to well and I think the best outcome for the long run would be for the project to not reach their goal by the time this campaign ends. From my perspective it seems like whoever running the crowd funding campaign complete mishandled the execution and management of the kickstarter. If it gets funded during this project it would justify their decisions, but failing will prompt them to review the project and potentially revive it in a much better form. However, this is just a recap to followup the previous post so lets move onto the main topic.

While doing my usual indie game crawl across the internet I found an article on the Japanese version of Playism for BREAKARTS, a racing game with battling giant robots. For people from my generation this is reminiscent of IGPX with a look similar to Armored Core. Back in the day, and actually a few weeks ago, IGPX aired on Toonami and as advertised it involved  giant skating robots that fought each other while performing laps. An interesting thing about IGPX is that it actually had two versions, a pilot miniseries and a full TV series. The premise of the series was slightly different from the TV series, the tournament was purely combat and it was switched to racing for the TV series. Even though it's a pretty generic premise as far as giant robot shows go, I preferred the the standard tournament from the miniseries. Call it an old-school preference, but that's just what gets the blood pumping when watching robots brawl. Putting nostalgia aside, BREAKARTS appears to be for mobile devices and they successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign that ended with 559,000 yen. I have a hard time telling exactly what is happening from the gameplay videos, but I would compare it with F-Zero due to having negative consequences when exiting the track boundaries. Since I haven't played it or anything, the main purpose of this post is to mention it since it looks cool. Definitely a title to add my "games I'd play if I owned a smartphone" list, hopefully someone notices the game and translates an English version. Here's a link for the official website.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Spur of the Moment

So, something strange occurred today. Actually, it was more unexpected than strange. I originally planned to finish my nanotechnology homework today, but I ended up distracting myself by focusing on a kickstarter. While my interest in kickstarter projects is nothing new, this is the only project I've written a 2.5K word essay about.
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I posted the essay over two posts within the comments section of the kickstarter since the character limit prevented it from being one post.
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I also emailed a link of the google doc version to the feedback system on the creator's official website.
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I've done strange things before, but I don't recall ever writing an analytic essay just because "I felt like it." Interest and passion are mysterious sentiments, the motivation they provide can result in uncharacteristic behavior. Like an initial domino in a Rube Goldberg device that ends with an atheist preaching of theology. If I see someone doing something that I agree with, I'd prefer it if it was done correctly. This is my first post in a while, but it feels appropriate considering how much I've already written today. Nothing on this blog really qualifies as coherent since there isn't an overall theme or focus, most of the posts are just a collection of links and images so I have no idea why I originally posted them. If I ever seriously develop this blog the primary focus would be either video games, me and if I somehow get motivated enough, stories.

Getting back to my original story, this all started on February 14th around noon. Everything was occur business as usually until I decided to skim kickstarter for the latest game projects. What I found was CosmicBreak 2, a sequel for the multiplayer online game CosmicBreak. CosmicBreak's main appeal is toward anime and robot enthusiasts, the core game revolves around customizing characters for PvP combat.With hundreds of characters with unique abilities and part, the interest it garnered from its target audience is pretty clear. My memory from back in the day is pretty hazy at this point, but I believe I originally found CosmicBreak though an ad I saw on a homepage of a Japanese flash game creator that I followed. While I didn't play the Japanese version that much due to the language barrier, it left a lasting impression as a mecha game with deep customization. I don't have the slightest memory of how I learned about the English version of CosmicBreak, but I heard about it just in time to get into a couple of the beta periods and I kept playing well after the official release. Even though my interest to play eventually waned I kept checking in from week to week just to see the new characters. Fast forward to yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a sequel was being developed and was looking for additional funding. The graphics have been significantly improved, but that's to be expected since the original Japanese version came out in 2006. The gameplay appears faithful to the original while also having significant differences in order to focus on the use of character specific abilities. Overall CosmicBreak 2 presented itself as a valid successor to CosmicBreak, but the presentation of the kickstarter concerned me.

Although the kickstarter for CosmicBreak 2 started on February 13th, I only found out by chance on February 14th while browsing kickstarter. While I consider myself far from being up-to-date on everything CosmicBreak related, I check enough through common channels to hear important announcements when they've been posted. Since I don't check facebook in general, the announcement wasn't posted in any of the usual places. That an announcement for CosmicBreak 2 wasn't posted on CosmicBreak's official website left me dumbfounded. While the excuse could be CosmicBreak's staff not working past 7PM on Friday, it's not an acceptable excuse if their kickstarter was posted that same day. There are two important times for a kickstarter project, the first day and the last day since a large amount of funding is generally earned on both those days. To botch the execution of the first day through lack of advertisement is utterly ridiculous, they should have simply started the kickstarter at the beginning of a work week after properly informing all potential backers. Starting from here after reading through everything on the kickstarter page I was convinced that someone had to at least attempt to inform the creator of my concerns. Since the internet as a whole is general unreliable when expecting people to help each other, I analysed the data from their previous successful kickstarter project and compared it with the data for the current project so far. This eventually lead to the 2.5K word comment on the kickstarter page. I'd explain my concerns with the kickstarter itself, but it's late and this has already become my largest blog post to date. I'll provide additional details later if I feel like it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ideas

A concept that intrigues me is the marriage of uniqueness and inspiration, that a product can be particular in what it can offer as a result of referencing those that already exist. By reaching a threshold of quality it cannot be considered a imitation trying to usurp the original's audience through deception. This dawned upon me when seeing GHost93 for the first time, a doujin game by BlackBastard (not racist).

The game has 2D stealth-platforming that is supplemented by first-person shooting and 2D perspective manipulation. While I think the game looks fun and interesting, it seems a lot more difficult than something I would actually play. For me, it appears to be too much processing for someone who isn't good at Capcom titles. For the same reasons, I find SwarmSweeper Prototype rev.2 and REVOLVER360 RE:ACTOR amazing in their own right. While SS isn't a finished product yet, the swarm AI is mesmerizing. RR peaks my interest in using 2D perspective manipulation in a side-scrolling shooter situation, a very impressive first that I've seen. While I can't say for certain if the perspective changes are manual or automatic, having the changes integrated with play make a treat to watch.

Lately, I've felt a bit of fatigue in how there is such a large variety in video games while still not having anything available that fit every mood. While I can't say that I always know what type of game would fit the moment, combining ideas seems to be the best fit. To an extent, it is true that no new ideas arise if the same areas are always focused on. However, innovation is most significant if it becomes painfully clear in hindsight. Games with dynamic moving backgrounds have been present for over a decade, but why do so few consider changing how the background is viewed to directly impact play? Why having processing and graphics improved to the point of rendering hundreds of characters on screen at once, but nothing is scaled to the point of feeling like an ant in a tornado of bees?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

World Building

After a few conversations with a co-worker about his disdain for certain fantasy tropes, I asked for an interesting world. I didn't ask for an entire story set in his ideal fantasy setting, simply a world that would be interesting for a story to exist in. It's been a while since that initial conversation and he's pitched interesting ideas, but I've just realized that all of them take place in a science fiction setting. Although I never mentioned that the world had to have a fantasy theme, it's what I was expecting. Due this and recent events, I'm dabbling in a bit of world building to vent ideas.

As a starting point, I'm defining some of the inhabitants of the world. I'm not sure if these would be considered races or a specific culture of a species, but they're definitely the people involved. While the descriptions are vague and don't state this, people defined so far impress upon me a notion of a Western fantasy realm that has been built atop the post-apocalypse of a futuristic world. It's not exactly how I wanted it to turn out, but it'll work out somehow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Change of pace or format?

It has been a while since I last posted anything, but I don't plan on giving up writing a mini-review of The Little Battlers. However, I haven't had sufficient free time or interest  write anything for a while now. Inspired by a co-worker, idea posts might be just the thing to help me out of this slump without demanding too much investment. As a supporter of the theory of morphic resonance, I'm more interested in spreading concepts than gaining recognition.

I recently discovered an interesting store that sells indie books, or dōjin, while checking the website of an artist that I follow. To my surprise a few of the artists that I follow also sold books through this store, even one using a pen name. Although the language is foreign to me, the visuals expressed are familiar.

After successfully expanding my display/storage area, my desire to build models was renewed. Even though this was the most passion I've had in a while, it was only enough for me to window-shop rather than build anything. I've always been enamored with the Frame Arms series for their emphasis of customization.

The video game front has been a bit strange for a while, like an estranged relative. There isn't a lack of material to spend my time with, but nothing garners enough interest for extended play. The only consistent entertainment for a while have been podcasts and books, which became a sort of weekly TV show that I turn into every week. However, there are prospects in the horizon to revitalize.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Little Battlers: Episode 2

Although this is only the second episode, quite a few developments are made:
  • Building up existing characters
  • Introducing new characters
  • Establishing the current objective of the antagonists
Comparing this episode to the first, there is a large difference in the amount of content. In relation to pacing, this is a good choice since we've already been introduced to the main characters and the basic premise of the show. In shows where too much occurs on the first episode, the audience has a hard time enjoying themselves since effort has to be put into learning the context of the world and its characters. By dedicating the first episode as an introduction without too much progression, the opportunity to create episodes that constantly push the story forward without bringing up too many ideas for the audience to handle.

As expected, the action sequences are just as good if not better than those in the first episode. While the first episode had part of a 2 on 2 battle and all of a 1 on 3 battle, this episode's 3 on 3 battle is much more dynamic in its choreography.

An interesting aspect that seems to be a staple so far is the constant employment of themes and tropes. Although most people regard these negatively as a sign of a lack of fresh ideas, sticking to common anime points, I find them quite amusing. By building upon a common ground, it's easy for the audience to relate this series from those they've enjoyed in the past while being able to poke fun at the older ones.

Looking though these two episodes, it's probably safe to say that what's to come will follow the same formula. For those who have enjoyed these two episodes, the future is looking quite bright for this series as a source of quality entertainment.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Little Battlers: Episode 1


"Inside lies both humanities hope and despair," a very accurate description of The Little Batters in general. From this first glimpse of the series, it is easy to tell if you will watch the rest. An important point to consider when watching the first episode is to ask, does this first encounter let me know what I'm in for? In this case, the answer is "Without a doubt." The route that's followed is a short peak at what's to come before focusing on how this begins. Through this, we are able to see exactly what to expect as the show advances while creating a contrast with how things start.

If you're interested in checking The Little Battlers out, you'll need to satisfy the following points in order to enjoy the series:
  • Have an interest in robots/model kits
  • Have a tolerance dramatic plot-twists
  • Enjoy competition/fighting
  • Understand the seriousness of the cast
Without meeting at majority of these criteria, it is likely that you won't enjoy this series. The creator of this series is LEVEL-5, resulting in many similarities between The Little Battlers and Inazuma Eleven, an earlier series they created. Watching the first episode, I can guarantee that this series is of the same breed as Inazuma Eleven. If the soccer series involved cyborgs, gods, aliens and super soldier, what will happen in the series about model kit robots?

The designs are unique; that's a key quality to have in a series. Although simple in design, each character's style is very distinct with clear personality. The LBX themselves don't lack in originality either, reflecting their user's persona while sporting memorable features. All of this is presented in colorfully bright combination of animation and CG. While animation mainly occurs on the characters and CG on LBX, the melding is so smooth that the transition awkwardness that plagues other series is nonexistent. The overall feel of the animation style is very bright and cheerful, pleasing to the eyes and attention grabbing.

As expected, the action sequences are quite good. Without a strong opening show, there wouldn't be much hope for views to stick around for more. However, the tease mid-episode was quite disappointing. I found the references made during these action sequences to be quite amusing as well.

All in all, this was a good first episode since:
  1. Introduced the story
  2. High production values
  3. Established the format
  4. Drew the viewer's interest