alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Which is to say, I was VERY WOOZY for some of these.

Games (mostly from the currently ongoing steam sale):

Scribblenauts Unlimited (windows only): Solve people's problems by creating/editing objects. Fun, but you play as a guy saving his sister, and everytime you finish a level you gain another sibling as a possible avatar and ALL FORTY OF THEM are male. I checked! WHY NOT MAKE HALF OF THEM GIRLS. OR EVEN ONE OF THEM. They're not even compulsory so dude players wouldn't have to play as a girl, but girl players could! This annoys me so much I have stopped playing. IT'S SO UNNECCESARILY SEXIST. (Non binary/ungendered characters would also be good but if they can't manage girls)

Grim Legends: the Forsaken Bride: a Hidden object game from Artifex Mundi, only just started. Graphics are a bit uncanny valley but it's a nicely immersive Olde Worlde village setting. So far you're a woman rescuing your sister.

Higurashi When They Cry: Stalled on this completely. It's not bad, I just find it hard to keep up momentum with kinetic novels (like a visual novel but with no real choices)

Message Quest: a puzzle game about a lazy messenger in a fantasy world trying to avoid doing his quest. Has occasional simple turn based combat and I got stuck on a battle, but was enjoying it until then and will use a walkthrough to get past it at some point. Has some things that made me :/ about gender but is ultimately good hearted. It's a bit weird having to poke a lazy character who "just wants to sleep" when you have cfs, but he really is just lazy.

Audiosurf 2: Crashed on both windows and Mac :/
Books, manga, anime )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells: Fantasy about a middle aged priestess who's fallen significantly from grace facing Supernatural Shenanigans with wry resignation. Reminds me a lot of Paladin of Souls, except set in a tropical country (loosely based on...a mixture of Tibet and North Africa maybe??) A little underwritten but otherwise really good. The 30 something pale skinned foreign swordsman who would be the hero in most books is just the love interest, and happy to let the heroine take the lead :D (He's on the cover of some versions of the book anyway because BLAH PUBLISHING INDUSTRY) Normally "friends with benefits" relationships don't work for me but they have a really nice friendship, plus makeouts. And the worldbuilding is interesting and feels real. A lot of it was very predictable if you've read the right kinds of fantasy, and all the twists were heavily telegraphed, but it all made sense and came to a fairly satisfying conclusion.

Color and Light by James Gurney: A non fiction book on painting by the guy who made Dinotopia. I am reading it VERY SLOWLY but it's been interesting and I've definitely learned some stuff I will use for my art.

From the Humble LGBT Book Bundle, which is ongoing for the next few days:

Wuvable Oaf: A big hairy gay man with a sweet nature looks for love. Cute for what it is, but too indie-comic-weird for my tastes, I didn't feel connected to the characters and found the art style and occasional grossness off putting.

Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale. First gay Archie character! It’s otherwise a typical Archie comic eg kinda bland, and I got bored and stopped.
games and music )
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
Felt randomly inspired to play another character through Stardew Valley, and it was more fun than I expected! Knowing how everything worked made it much more relaxing, instead of feeling like I had to hoard and do ALL THE THINGS I knew what to focus on to have fun and achieve my goals.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: me in a graduation outfit (doctor!)
Mild spoilers.
  • there's no time limit on anything, so you can be as slow and inefficient as you like, though sometimes it can be frustrating if you, say, just miss a Spring-only task and have to wait 3 "months" before you can do it again.
  • it's pretty forgiving: you can't fail, just progress more slowly. And past a certain point most players will have more money than they know what to do with.
  • there's flexibility in what you focus on, but it's hard to completely avoid any of the main types of activity (farming, mining/combat, fishing, socialising, gathering). As I said in my previous post I managed to largely avoid fishing, also pretty early on I spent the money/resources to create sprinklers so I could stop having to remember to water things. I only really got into raising animals and making social connections pretty late and that's been ok.
  • Love interests won't get past 8 hearts (and thus progress the relationship) unless you hit on them. On the plus side taking so long to figure this out encouraged me to get to know the others better.
  • If you don't talk to people for a week their points go down.
  • asides from the romances being player gender neutral, it's a pretty heteronormative world. One of the girl love interests has a female ex but I don't know if that's because my character is female. It would be hard to play as entirely non binary, you're not gendered all the time but there are definite You Are A Girl Moments beyond pronouns.
  • what dialogue and plot there is gets pretty repetitive, though befriending more people over time adds the odd cute little cut scene. There's no overarching plot.
  • the grumpy wheelchair using old man is exactly the ableist stereotype he appears to be, and several scenes for other characters involve telling him to be less grumpy :/ He is sympathetic, at least, and has some mild character growth.
  • Check the tv for new recipes every Sunday! Repeats are on Wednesday if you miss any, and the cycle repeats entirely every 2 years.
  • Shop stock varies. The caravan on Fridays and Sundays is different every time, Robin and Pierre sell mostly the same things but their house decorations vary. There's also two unlockable shops which vary by day of the week.
  • lucky rabbits feet are kind of a pain to get, unless the algorithm's been tweaked, and you need them for the community centre. If you see them for sale, buy one.
  • Don't donate the prismatic shard or dinosaur egg to the museum until you've had the chance to duplicate them. They're useful and rare!
alias_sqbr: (up and down)
I am slowly winding down on Stardew Valley, checking in every now and then to play for a few days (15 minutes long, but you can end them early) to try and finish up the few things I want to finish but mostly done. I'm at like 150 hours played and will probably play a whole new character through at some point.

Cam installed Paralells on my Mac so i can play Windows games, and then was like "Uh...should I not have done that..." when he saw how much I was playing. He also pointed out that, for example, chopping trees sounds like popping bubble wrap and is such a satisfying sound it made him want to play and chop trees himself. There's a nice mix of things to do, with enough structure that you're not aimless but enough flexibility that if you feel like spending the whole day doing something you can.

Read more... )
alias_sqbr: pretentious quote over a seascape (naughty shell)
So I really like Stardew Valley but I hate the fishing, and the various guides I've seen aren't aimed at people who want to avoid it. So here's what I've figured out! To be updated if I figure out anything new.

Non spoilery summary:
1) Fish are useful and necessary for a bunch of non-fishing-related things most players will want to achieve, so while you can mostly ignore it you probably don't want to entirely.
2) There are vendors who sell fish and fish related products
3) Certain fish can be gotten through other non-fishing methods
4) Fishing gets much easier as your fishing level rises, and there are ways to gain fishing exp without having to actually fish.

More spoilery information under the cut, but this game doesn't really have a plot to spoil, it's just things like what rewards completing certain achievements give etc. I found out a lot of this via the official wiki, which is pretty good.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Things I was recced:

The Swancon community is apparently 37% male, 50% female and 13% non binary. The registration table this year offered neat little pronoun stickers to put at the bottom of your badge and there were unisex toilets.

Stirfire Studios ran a demonstration of a game they're writing for the HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset/controller, I was one of a long line of people who got to play it for a few minutes. It was SUPER FUN, very immersive. They got me to stay in my wheelchair to see how well that could work, the answer being "not very well" (I couldn't reach anything high up) but that was fine just for playing around. Also I was longer at the front than the system expected so I banged my footplate into a wall before the "stop walking!" warning grid came on. I've had a few interesting conversations with them about accessibility, am curious to see where that goes.

I only stayed for the very beginning of the masquerade and had no costume but everyone else looked great.

I did a clay animal making activity in the family room which was HEAPS of fun, I was a sought after artisan of little eyes since the children had trouble making them neatly.

Non Violent Video Games
So You Want To Make A Video Game

Various Jane Espenson notes, Science Doesn't Work That Way, Trailer Park, Queer characters: Tokenism, realism and support )

Hustle Cat

Mar. 4th, 2016 12:38 pm
alias_sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Hustle Cat is really cute fluffy dating sim about 19 year old Avery (of unspecified gender with a range of pronouns, skin colours, and presentations!) who ends up working at a cat cafe where all the other workers (2 women and 4 men) turn out to be cursed to turn into cats. You get to know them all and then have a romance with whoever you get along with best. The romances are all really adorable and the end of each path is thrilling and satisfying. I LOVED being able to choose my pronouns and presentation, and the love interests/romances were nicely varied and avoided annoying/sexist romance tropes while still wallowing in good ones (grumpy butch women and shy dudes and tsunderes and... omg my heart). The writing for the protagonist tries to be unisex which was really refreshing even if it didn't always quite work. I loved EVERYONE and EVERY romance (even Reese, who I didn't like at first), which is almost unknown for me and dating sims or ensemble casts in general.

There are a few issues: It's so fluffy it ends up glossing over points of conflict in ways that can feel shallow and erasing. The darkest any of the characters get is light brown, and the "brown" characters mostly have light eyes/hair and generically American names. The writing and art for Avery attempts to be unisex but sometimes felt like it was assuming I was a boy/girl in heterosexist ways, especially when you encounter the One Strawman Sexist (who treats you like a cis dude while you're romancing a girl) The "unisex"ness means you can't be femme which some women may feel limited by. There is literally one choice after you get on your love interest's path, which would be less annoying if the choices Avery made without asking weren't so frequently TERRIBLE. It all turns out ok but it shouldn't, and Avery is especially overbearing on the girls' paths :/ The 2 female/4 male gender balance is annoying, why not three of each, or 2 women/2 men/2 non binary? And there is zero diversity of body type or disability, asides from some fluffily presented implied mental illness.

But I still REALLY ENJOYED playing a woman romancing a hot grumpy butch lady, and then a dude romancing a shy guy with an implied anxiety disorder, and then a male presenting non binary person romancing a mysterious goth dude :D Also the cat versions of the characters are ADORABLE (nb there are no sexy scenes with cats)

Note: most of the paths are easy to get onto if you're just especially nice to that person, but the last one is SUPER TRICKY without a walkthrough.
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
I've been playing and enjoying the dating sim Hustle Cat (you can be male/female/non binary and there are male and female LIs! It's also really cute and fluffy!) I started making a walkthrough then discovered this official walkthrough, but mine has a very different structure (question by question rather than path by path) so thought I'd update it for anyone who's interested.

This is one of those games whose first part plays the same every time, then it picks a path based on whatever love interest you have the most points with. I'm only going to talk about the choices before the path split, so there's no real spoilers for anyone who's played the game up to the (fairly easy to recognise) point where the love interests' unique paths begin. And if you haven't done that, have a go before you start looking for help ;)
Spoilers if you haven't played the game at all )
alias_sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
(These are some initial notes for a panel I'm planning on doing at Swancon in March.)
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
Since he is laaaate hooome ;_;

Julia Among the Stars: An interesting, plotty Czech science fiction puzzle game with some of the feel of a hidden object game. You are a (female!) scientist on a space probe trying to figure out what happened to the rest of your crew with the help of the ships's (also female!) computer. Some of the dialogue was clunky, possibly because of the translation, but overall I liked the characters and story, it was about your average Dr Who/Star Trek episode level of scifi. The puzzles were mixed but overall enjoyable. Has some moderately dark/depressing/gory moments.

Amnesia: Memories: My first proper Japanese dating sim that's not about pigeons! Bought because it was on special and I heard one dude liked maths. I really enjoyed it, but (a) Cam is away, so tall, glasses wearing, mathsy dorks are very appealing right now (b) a fair proportion of that enjoyment was horrified laughter. The premise is that you are an 19 year old Japanese uni student and have lost your memory because a spirit basically collided with your head and got stuck there. You end up in one of several alternate realities trying to regain your memories with the help of the spirit, who is a lovely ally in sometimes scary and lonely situations, but whose existence means you can't just tell people what's up. In each reality you turn out to be dating one of the dudes, and you are motivated to get to know him to learn more about yourself. So even on paths where I didn't like the dude I enjoyed it as suspense/mystery, but it gets QUITE SUSPENSEFUL, culminating in a surreal and kind of meta final path with SEVEN DIFFERENT increasingly violent bad ends where you die in various ways (and 2 happy endings where you don't die ;)) The love interests are basically: tsundere, playboy, spock, technically-not-your-actual-older-brother, ????. You have to be prepared for some sexist douchery from even the nicest love interests on the good ends and some AMAZINGLY awful behaviour from the less nice ones on the bad ends. Like, trigger warnings ahoy, though there's no sex scenes of any kind which limits the inevitable consent issues. There's some "craziness" handled about as badly as it usually is. Also, the maths dude makes you solve actual algebra problems (The answers are online though :))

The Bridge: I enjoyed the first two levels of this Escher themed puzzle game but then there was a thing that can kill you and it stopped being fun :(
alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
Stuff made by me:

My new best friend CASHEW CREAM. I kept seeing dairy free recipes using it and finally got around to making some, and it was as easy and creamy as they said. Just cashews and water in a food processor! You have to soak the cashews first but there isn't any complex straining etc like with almond milk. I've put it in pasta sauce, salad dressing, sandwiches, and on frozen fruit with sugar and vanilla essence, and they were all great. It's like a cross between ricotta and tofu: very bland, but a good base for other flavours. I used up my first batch and have another soaking to try ICECREAM :D

Second: The demo for Northanger Abbey: the Game, which I can objectively say is the best video game ever produced in the history of the world. And it's not even finished yet! So you should all play it and tell me what you thought. Criticism welcome, assuming you can deal with the responsibility of helping create an even better game.

Other people's stuff:

Neko Atsume: The cute cat based phone game everyone's playing. You put out food and toys to attract cats, who then reward you by playing adorably and with currency you can use to buy better food and toys and thus attract rarer cats. Impossible to lose and a little pointless but adorable enough that I'm still enjoying it. Free, with the option to buy in-game currency with real world money, but I haven't needed it.

The Room: a puzzle game for phones, where you try and unlock a multi-part locked box. I haven't gotten very far but it's enjoyable enough. Requires a payment of about $1.50 once you get past the free intro.
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Including a bunch of very cheap games still on sale on Steam, unless the sale is done.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
I've reached a point where I'd really like feedback on the game, if anyone would like to give some! Any sort of feedback is good, whether it be about the gameplay, characters, dialogue, art, etc, whether you're familiar with the original or not.

Download the game for Windows, Mac or Linux:

It's a visual novel based on Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, where you can choose the main character's name, gender(*), and behaviour. Depending on your choices you can (in the full game) form romantic or platonic relationships with five love interests: two men (John Thorpe and Henry Tilney), two women (Isabella Thorpe and MYSTERY LOVE INTEREST NOT SHOWN IN THIS DEMO), and one non binary (Eleanor Tilney, though she doesn't come out as non binary yet) If you behave exactly like the book's main character the book's plot unfolds unchanged, but if you don't things start to get quite different!

If you're familiar with the book, it stops just at the point where the main character gets invited to the Abbey (or doesn't ;)).

Current plans for this section of the game:

  • Neaten sprites, redraw any expressions lacking whites of eyes etc
  • Fill in all the dialogue currently marked ???
  • Add expression changes to some scenes which are missing them
  • Backgrounds, title screen, menu screen, pretty user interface (the current backgrounds are all going)
  • Music

(*)You can choose to be a man, woman, or non binary, choose to be afab, amab or intersex, and choose to present as male, female, or genderqueer. The 19th century is a very gendered society so this lets you be, say, a trans woman who crossdresses as a man to dance with women, but still thinks of herself as a woman and is referred to as one by those close to her. Eventually you will get the chance to come out to your LI, if relevant, and probably change your gender presentation again. Setting this fluidity up was easier than I expected and made writing the game much more interesting. Amab non binary "Catherine"/Henry Tilney is my new unexpected otp :D I'm cis myself, though, so feedback from trans people of all types would be very much appreciated!

There's less control over your sexuality: canon Catherine is attracted to pretty much everyone and develops a crush on Henry Tilney, and to begin with the main character is much the same because it got too hard otherwise. I need to edit to allow more flexibility, both for MCs who don't like Henry in particular and for those who don't see themselves as into men at all.

EDIT: updated with some suggestions and corrections!
alias_sqbr: (up and down)
This pile of links got so big I got intimidated and just... forgot about it. So it goes back a while. There was a broken link to a post that seemed to be about "missing e" (what we used to fix tumblr before xkit). And then I decided half of them weren't worth keeping, or belonged elsewhere, so in the end it's not even that big!

Given What You Now Know, What Would You Have Done Differently With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

Colloquial catchy statements encoding serious mathematics

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How to Code

Self-help for Anxiety Management I used this a few times, it didn't do a lot to help but might work for someone else.

What Sanguinity Likes (and dislikes) About Mathematics

Visualizing Algorithms

​A Beginner's Guide To All Things Dragon Age

Hapax and Heyer, Austen and Irony, or, What I should have said The differences between Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen

PAX Australia And The Strange Catharsis Of Video Game Violence
alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
Did I mention I'm going to the Perth Gaming Festival? I'm even exhibiting (from 3-5) and being on a panel (at 1).

My rough panel notes for Diversity in Gaming, feedback welcome!

October 2017

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