Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, The Last Man on Earth, GM’s Day Sale, NXT , Tom Francis’ GameMaker Tutorial Series, Built to Spill
In case you haven’t picked up on it already, I’ve gone to a dedicated Tuesday – Thursday schedule for Futile Position. I’m striving to consistently bring awesome things to your attention, so I hope you’ll come back and check out what’s going on.
Trails in the Sky Second Chapter
I have not finished the first Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. I admit that I was, at first, turned off by the incredibly generic title. I mean, Legend of Heroes? That does not sound like a thing that I would want to spend my money on. However, when I finally went in on it late last year, what I found was a a very compelling, deep and interesting JRPG. Of course, being a JRPG, that also means that it has a history of long play times to live up to, and it currently weighs in right around 40 hours over on HLTB. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the folks over at XSEED are in the process in the process of bringing over the game’s sequel, appropriately-titled Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter. There is a really interesting blog up over on XSEED right now about the game’s localization and general progress. It looks like it is about twice the size of the first game (10 chapters, versus 5 in the first), so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on for those looking for a good, PS1-style JRPG. Second Chapter was originally released in 2006 in Japan and there is also a Third Chapter, so hopefully the whole thing makes its way over eventually. Now to make it through the first one.
The Last Man on Earth
I enjoyed the first two episodes of Will Forte’s The Last Man on Earth. This write-up will have some spoilers for the first two episodes, so steer clear if you don’t want that. I’ve had my eye on it for a bit, but I admit that I wasn’t that enthralled with the first trailer that they showed of it (or, at least, the first one that I saw) a while back. Still, the show has a very different pace than most network comedies and (spoilers) as of right now only has two characters: Will Forte and Kristen Schaal. Forte and Schaal are great together, and I like the idea that the last two people on Earth, at least at first, don’t have anything in common and don’t like each other that much. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, Forte’s character begins the series searching the United States for any remaining humans after a virus wipes out humanity. After leaving signs that he is in Tuscon (not where I would have picked) Forte consigns himself to his life along. Of course, what starts off as an awesome life of car bowling ends up with giving up entirely, as he was in the middle of trying to kill himself when he sees the smoke from Schaal’s fire. Their relationship gets off to a rough start, with Schaal being disgusted by Forte’s, well, disgustingness but things are already thawing by the end of the second episode, so I’m curious how long the show can maintain its momentum and if there is another big twist in the future. I actually like that it’s 30 minutes, and that will probably keep me invested longer than it would than if it were stretched out for an hour, although I’m not sure it’s a show I could see doing a 20+ episode season order. Of course, Forte could prove me wrong. You can check it out over on Hulu. Or on ‘TV’ if you still watch such things.
3/4/2015 NXT Recap
You can really tell that NXT is in the middle of a reboot of sorts. Adrian Neville is gone and Sami Zayn is all-but-absent, so the top of the card feels a little light right now. Kevin Owens is great, but they’ve got some work to do in the next three weeks to get more invested in Owens – Balor. Right now, I’m more interested in Owens – Alex Riley, which took another step forward this week. I didn’t watch wrestling at all during Riley’s main roster run, but he seems to be a solid talker, and they’ve done a good job of giving him legitimate beef with Owens. It was a promo heavy episode, with Enzo and Cass doing a nice job, as well as a solid promo with Emma and Bayley, with Emma questioning if Bayley can be a success while still being so nice. Most of the matches were short, although I thought Bull Dempsey – Solomon Crowe was solid until Crowe’s finisher which looked incredible weak, at least this time. Dempsey continues to spiral further down. I wonder if it’s going somewhere or if they just aren’t interested in him right now. Sasha Banks – Charlotte was easily the best night in a night of short matches, with Sasha going over with her feet on the ropes. It was not their best match, but they did a good job of making it a little stiffer and a little more personal this time. Oh, and I actually really enjoyed the flash we saw out of Angelo Dawkins, even if it was in a jobber-y role against Blake and Murphy, who are quite good in the ring, but I have zero investment in. NXT is developmental, so I’m not concerned about the vacuum at the top, but certainly the show feels less compelling in Neville and Zayn’s absences. The beauty is that someone else will get to step up (plus it looks like Rhyno and The Brian Kendrick may stay for a while, which will help) and the cycle will start again. But, then again, it’s just starting.
GM’s Day Sale
A bunch of companies are doing a GM’s Day Sale over at DrivethruRPG. It originally caught my eye because of Cubicle 7, which has made a number of roleplaying games that I have a great fondness for, including The One Ring, so I figured that I would pass along that they are doing a GM’s Day Sale, with 30% off several of their products, including the aforementioned The One Ring, the Doctor Who RPG, the World War Cthulhu setting for Call of Cthulhu, and the Norse-inspired Ygdrassil. The retro-inspired Rocket Age looks pretty swell, too. It and Ygdrassil are the two things that are really catching my eye, personally, as well as some of The One Ring supplements (I’ve never gotten to play it, but the core book really just nails the Tolkien thing). The Firefly Roleplaying Game, Shadowrun 5th Edition and ICONS (each from their respective publisher) also bear mentioning.
Tom Francis’ GameMaker for Beginners Series
In all seriousness, if I had to pick one thing that was taking up all of my free time right now, it would be the Make a Game With No Experience Youtube series from Gunpoint designer Tom Francis. Francis is immediately likable and relatable, but also does an excellent job of quickly getting you to the point in Gamemaker’s free Studio verison. In all seriousness, the odds that I would ever stick with learning a proper coding language long enough to get something workable is extremely unlikely, but with following along with this series, I manage to feel at least marginally competent quickly, even if it is really Francis’ own expertise instead of my own. A very nice way to get into making a game with no experience. I’ve embedded the first episode above. If this sounds gushy, well, I’ve watched like 11 of these in the past week or so, which means I’ve spent basically all of my leisure time, so I’ve found it very worthwhile. He’s up to episode 16 so far, so I’ve got a few more to go, as well. That is what I will be doing once I finish writing this blog, likely.
Music – Built to Spill “Living Zoo”
Okay, that was all a lot of words. Seriously, much longer than I expected it to be. So, to wrap things up – as I do – I bring you music I quite like: This week it’s the new song Living Zoo from Built to Spill off of their upcoming album Untethered moon. It’s got fuzzy guitars and tempo changes. I usually avoid songs that start with almost a minute and a half of instrumentals, but I really find this one quite compelling.
Battle Chasers returns, Curious Expedition, Atomic Robo Comics Online, Plaid Hat releases How to Play Specter Ops, Blur
Battle Chasers from Joe Madureira Returns
Back in the late 90’s, there seemed (at least from my perspective) to be a rise in comics drawn in a very (again, at least at the time) contemporary way. One of the comics that stands out most in my memory was Battle Chasers from Joe Madureira. I mean, it had all of this stuff: Like, some sort of crazy golem and a dude with a massive sword and an older dude and a kid with crazy magic gloves. I haven’t gone back and revisited it in quite a long time, but it only ran nine issues, which was always a bit of a bummer, having created a bit of an open loop in my brain. Luckily, that made me all the more excited when I saw Polygon report that Madureira was bringing Battle Chasers back as both a video game and a comic book. I’ll be honest, I’m mostly excited about the comic at this point and I’ll worry about the game if it turns out to be worth worrying about. No release date yet, but always nice to have something on the horizon to be excited about.
Over the weekend, I came across a game that I don’t believe I have ever heard of called Curious Expedition. It’s a pity I’ve never heard of it before, because it’s actually pretty rad and reminds me more-than-a-little of NEO Scavenger, although with a higher emphasis on exploration and a much lower emphasis on only-owning-a-trash-bag. If you lack that frame of reference, well, basically you have a party of adventurers who have unique abilities and explore a hex-based world and try to find treasure and bring it back home safely. There was a free weekend last weekend (which you would have totally known about if you followed me a on Twitter) and I had a good deal of fun with it, even in its current Alpha state. You never know when you’re going to regret trading that rope for that ancient artifact. I like how, when you complete expeditions, your lead adventurer gains new perks. And then, in my case, promptly dies on the next go. Such is the life of an adventurer. The game (including access to the Alpha) runs $12.
Atomic Robo is Online
Also, somehow I missed that one of my favorite comics, Atomic Robo, is now (at least in part, although eventually all of it will be) online for absolutely zero dollars (or your local currency). You really should read it if you haven’t done so before and is currently into the fourth volume, so there’s a pretty good amount of material there for you to read already. They have it supported by a Patreon account, so I guess that bears mentioning for your consideration if you enjoy the comics. It’s close to $2,500 / month now and if it reaches $3,000 all of the backers get the first four volumes in PDF (I actually own all of those in trade paperback version, but it’s still a good deal if you are not me) and at $5,000 they’ll create a new spinoff series to provide to backers first.
How to Play Specter Ops
I haven’t gotten to watch the entire above-embedded video for how to play Specter Ops from Plaid Hat Games, but I’m definitely interested in checking it out. Specter Ops is probably the game I’m most interested in coming up, mostly off some previous big hits for me from the company (Mice & Mystics and Summoner Wars both rank highly for me). Still, while I look forward to getting my hands on the game (and I have pre-ordered it), I do have some concerns. My previous experience with hidden movement games (Fury of Dracula) was pretty miserable, but I really love the theme and graphic design of this one and the approximately one hour play time seems about right. Once the game is out and I’ve had a chance to see what I think, I’ll let you know.
Well, it may not be super-indie or unknown or whatever, but at least it’s good music. For your consideration today, I give you the new song from Blur: Go Out. I quite like it. I like how it kind of drones and sounds a little bored, but is still weirdly dance-able. I like how it is oddly set to a video of a woman making ice cream without explanation.
Homeworld Remastered Collection, 2/25/215 NXT Recap, Duck Tales Returns, Humble Bundle, Bundle of Holding, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
I saw that the Homeworld Remastered Collection has finally been released. I missed Homeworld entirely back in 1999, as well as its sequels in the early aughts, although I know that they are well loved. Also, I had been under a long misconception (which is to say basically until this game was released) that the Homeworld games were space exploration games along the lines of Freelancer (which is a game that I loved dearly). Instead, it is apparently a real-time strategy game and I admit that, after reading all of the recent coverage and checking out some videos (like the release video, above), I am thoroughly intrigued. The collection is $34.99 for remastered versions of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 and is currently rocking an 89 Metacritic score. I’d love to give it a try at some point. On to the wishlist with it!
Pretty good episode of NXT this week after a lackluster Fastlane pay per view this week. Match-wise, Bayley vs. Beck Lynch was probably the best match on the card, plus Bayley is super-over. I’m interested to see Dillinger and Jordan get some screen time, although it was an odd choice to feed Dillinger to Baron Corbin immediately after starting his feud, but I don’t guess it hurt him, either. After having Corbin go through Bull Dempsey, I wonder who you put him against next. Rhyno, maybe? As an aside, I like some of the old mid-carders coming back through NXT, and The Brian Kendrick and Finn Balor put on a good match. The Kevin Owens stuff on commentary was just awful, overall, and I don’t feel any heat with Owens and Balor, but they’ve certainly got time to develop it. I also like seeing the continuing of Breeze – Itami, since they have great chemistry together. A lot of setup this week, but still a solid episode with two good matches and a lot of things put into motion. Maybe not the best episode in the series, but I’m interested in seeing some of these stories advance, and I’m hopeful that ever a little more meaningful in ring action next week.
I also saw that Disney is bringing back DuckTales, arguably the best of the Disney Afternoon shows (sorry, Darkwing Duck) on its Disney XD channel in 2017. The old episodes actually hold up pretty well, but I just hope that they can keep the high adventure feel of the original series. It may be a long way off, but it’s something that I’m excited to see continue on for the next generation of viewers.
There are also two bundles worth taking a look at, in my opinion. The first is the current Humble Bundle. I don’t recall how much I paid for Sleeping Dogs, but it was worth $15. I’ve also heard nice things about Tomb Raider, although I haven’t played it. Although it didn’t review that well, I actually enjoyed the time that I have spent with Thief, which I got during the Steam winter sale, and Startopia is a personal all-time favorite in the simulation arena. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Directors Cut is also a game that I think highly of. Although I played further into the original version of the game, my understanding is that they cleaned up several of the boss fights in this version, which I thought was a very nice update of the classic game. Also included are Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light, Supreme Commander 2 and Hitman GO for Android, among others.
The other bundle I would point you to is the Bundle of Holding, which includes a bunch of material for Robin D. Laws’ Hillfolk and Pelgrane Press. It’s not a game that I ever got to the table, but I certainly enjoyed reading it. It does a lot of interesting narrative things encouraging the group to tell a story that make it interesting to explore, generally, regarding what makes a good story and how we create drama in roleplaying games.
Here’s today’s music: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, a seven-piece band from Australia. Described as “unpredictable psychedelic music” by Pitchfork. I heard of them when the name caught my eye when looking at the Bonnaroo lineup. I present for your consideration Muckraker, which is not off of their current album, but is probably my favorite song of by them that I’ve heard to this point: