Monday, 27 July 2020

Non-Games and utilities in the 'Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

So I got this bundle, and after downloading a handful of the obvious 'better known' games, I started to noticed a few asset packs and non-game applications in there.
Being the curious type I Googled for non-games software in the bundle, and came up with... well pretty much nothing! And that's where I left it for a while.

It was only after discovering that a full version of Pico-8 was in there that I began to become a bit more interested in finding out exactly what other games creation type software may be lurking in the depths of the bundle. Around the same time I watched a YouTube video where they were reviewing four or five different asset packs from the two or three I had initially noticed, and they commented that they may have missed some, they had.

By this time I had pretty much decided to trawl through the whole thing (so you don't have to 😉) and find out if there was anything interesting in there.
It turns out that some stuff was pretty much as expected and some wasn't.

That YouTube'er rewed a handful of asset packs, see below for a list of the ones I found:

Asset Packs:
Kenney Game Assets 1 20,000+               Game assets for use in your games!
CanariPack 8BIT TopDown               8/16BIT 16x16 Tileset, Animated Sprites, Music,SFX
HUGE pixelart asset pack                1500+ Tiles pack, characters and some animations
Heroic Asset Series: Overworld        Tiny animated 16x16 tileset with 64 colors!
HPS Cartography Kit              Hex tiles for custom cartography. over 400 map tiles
Multi Platformer Tileset                Various 2D side-scrolling environments on pixel art
Pixel Art Medieval Fantasy Characters        Pack of high-quality fantasy pixel art characters.
Pixel Art Infinite Runner - Pack       Make a Infinite Runner Game!
RPG Items - Retro Pack             591 retro styled item RPG items
Top-Down - Interior Tileset               A versatile interior tileset for your top-down game
CanariPack 1BIT TopDown               1BIT 16x16 Tileset, Animated Sprites, Music and SFX 
Tiny Adventure Pack Plus              Asset pack for game development.
Lava Caves - Fantasy Pixel Art Tileset     Fantasy Lava Caves tileset
Lil' Dragon - Pixel Art Tiles                             Top Down tileset inspired by old RPGs
Gentle Forest "Mana Seed" Pixel Art     A fully featured RPG forest, hills, rocks, and water
Heroic Asset Series: Buildings Pack       Tiny animated buildings pack with 64 colors!
Heroic Asset Series: Icon Pack     Tiny 16x16 icons with 64 colors!
Dungeon Tileset - Top Down RPG                A pixel art dungeon tileset.
Pixel Art Platformer Painted Style                   A live painting in Pixel Art!
Heroic Asset Series: Creature Pack     Tiny animated creature pack with 64 colors!
Low Poly 3D City Builder              Royalty free 3DGame Assets .
Deep Forest - 16 Colour Tileset      Limited 16 colour palette tileset
8bit Overworld Tileset       A retro flavoured topdown tileset 
Glitch Brushes: Dithering & Text Digitally paint with the power of glitch (photoshop)
Glitch Pixel Brushes II                Digitally paint with the power of g᷾l̶᷾i̝t̴̠ch̃᷃! (photoshop)
Glitch Brushes Maze & Organic Textures Digitally paint with power of glitch
Pixel Button Prompts Tile Set                        Keyboard and Gamepad
Extended monster pack          48 different monsters
PIXEL ART METROIDVANIA                         Asset Pack with tiles and animated sprites
Photoshop Inkers                     Photoshop Assets
Photoshop Real Pencils             Photoshop Assets
Relaxing Ocean SFX - Audio Asset Pack Relaxing ocean SFX recorded in Scotland
Kawaii Game Icons                                        50 Kawaii Icons
BearFX Explosions Pixel VFX Pack    High quality pixel art explosion effects
Three Red Hearts  [Music Assets]              24 seamless Chiptunes
Pixel art Forest              Make your own forest!
Japanese City Game Assets              118 static (32x32) tiles + 8 animations
PIXEL FANTASY RPG ICONS     87 different sized icons for fantasy RPGs
Low Poly Auto Racing Car Pack       Royalty free 3D Game Assets
Paid RPG Pixel Art Assets 2              A downloadable asset pack.
Medieval Town and Country Bundle      Interiors and Exterior town tiles, characters, more
PVGames Sci-Fi               Sci-Fi tiles and characters
8-Bit Sound Effects [100+ SFX]       Perfect for retro games, game jams, mobile games
FunkyQuadZ - 3D for Construct 3 Funky QuadZ - 3D Sprites and 3D Camera Control
SC: Monster Pack 1 - DELUXE EDITION 40+ monsters, 5+ variants each, over 1000 files
Essential Pool Billiards Table Asset Pack Royalty free 3D Assets for Virtual Reality Games.
Lo-Fi Stellar Skirmish             A starship-themed asset pack
Modular Cartoon Dungeon           Props and Tileset Pack. 3D RPG game assets
RPG Town Tileset                     32x32 Tileset for RPG
PIXEL SPACESHIPS           Shoot'em Ups Assets [HD]
SNES Original Soundtrack Collection     A collection of 9 SNES like tunes 
Flappy AirShip GF/X Asset Pack     Fantasy AirShip GF/X Kit (2D)
Mini Loops                     5 second music loops for games
Old Man Character Sound Effects             A collection of 'old-man' sound effects
Medieval Chibi Cartoon Character Pack      Character Pack for Fantasy Games (3D)
Gothic/Haunted Castle Tileset      (32x32) Character Pack 
Classic JRPG Music Pack /Medium Pack Music for RPG projects
Swords Pack x6              The pack contains 6 types of swords
Voxel Currency             9 voxel art currency symbols
Swords and Daggers Pack            The pack contains 6 types of swords
Platformer SFX            Classic Retro Sound Effects
Cassette                           Play. Pause. Rewind. A library of tape sounds.
Modular Walls Asset Pack            Tile-able Walls, Ceilings and Floors (textures for 3D)
DungeonGameAssetPack             Castlevania inspired
Outdoor Adventurer Tileset              Pixel grass and dirt path tiles, stage characters, cat
Forest zone bitsy tile pack             Make your own forest zone
models of a retro dog and scene in Blender Blender Assets

The content of these packs vary wildly in styles and genres, but the average content is good to high, and certainly can lift a bar to the beginner developer as far as graphics and sound goes.

Next I looked for non-games programs in general, but particularly for Game-Creation based utilities. It turns out there were a few apps, but this was pretty much a mived bag. There were five utilities that could, at least loosley, be described as games makers: PICO-8, PQ93, Make your Adventure, DragonRuby, and ADLENGINE. The rest being a hodgepodge of add-on modules to existing products, database, and graphics utilities.

Mu Cartographer                       Experimental Colourful Exploration Machine
Hex Kit                   Hex Mapping tool for table top RPGs
DragonRuby Game Toolkit            An intuitive cross-platform 2D game engine.
Tape                    Project management for artists and designers
PQ93                     A fantasy console for making small games
PICO-8                   A fantasy console for making, playing and sharing
Electric Zine Maker           A print-shop and art tool for making zines
Construct 2/3 Pseudo 3D              A pseudo 3D system made in construct no plugins
Snapshot Shaders Pro (Unity)      23 image effects for Unity HDRP and URP
VR Drum Studio             A VR Drum Studio IRC Interface for GameMaker Extension to connect GameMaker Games to Twitch
Make your Adventure                 Turn your idea into a game, without programming
ADLENGINE                  Roleplay / Text Adventure Engine
mMcFabs's Texture to SkyBox Converte Convert flat horizontal textures to sky-boxes

And I would say that's the bulk of the game-design assets and utilities. Some, like PICO-8, are very good, and this also gives yo acces to a vast range of 'virtual cartradges' many of which are remakes of older games, and many are ndw, or prototypes of games that have since had a full indie release made.

Around a third or so of the bundle, is made up of non-computer table-top and RPG/LARP type games. This is an area I know little to nothing (well nothing really) about. So it's probably best to leave that for someone else to talk about.
The other small bunch of things I did, rather more surprisingly, find were books, comics and zines. 
I haven't looked through much of these, and have tryed to lump all non-computer based 'Written Word' works into one category, but I think it's fair to say this is a rather diverse (to say the least) group in both style and content. 

The Written Word:      (Books, Comics, Zines, & Tutorials)
My Friend Took Me To A Feline Therapy Place For My Anxiety And I’m Starting To Wonder Where The Cats Are?
  -  An illustrated light novel about dealing with anxiety, cats, 

The Stellar Beacon: Hope-punk Issue
  -  Zine with optimistic sci-fi adventures and essays on pop culture
  -  A zine detailing the life of an animal people, living inside a mail slot.
Dirty Town Quick-starter Zine
  -  A ttrpg Zine about Pigeons. Wait, really? Yes! Get ready for their corny adventure
I Signed Up To Be The Substitute Familiar Of A Struggling Witch To Pay My Bills And I'm Just Now Realizing...   
  -  An illustrated light novel about magic, witches, familiars, and gender feels
Avery Chase - EP1 : Apparition Avery Chase EP1
SOULS & STRIPES UT/DTR comic anthology
SINS - The RPG - PDF                     Award-Winning Supernatural Post-Apocalyptic RPG
Philip K. Dick's Tony and the Beetles The war. Always the war.
Fall Diary Diary comic collection.
Blind Men A boys' love visual novel about a supervillain and the spies that try to stop
Okay, Hero A series of essays on the Metal Gear Solid games
Hitboxes and Hurtboxes Learn how to setup hitboxes and hurtboxes in GameMaker Studio!
Gourmet Street: Fantasy Street-Food Adventuring A zine about bringing the greasy beauty of street food to your urban rpg
Worlds Without Master Issue 3 A PDF magazine of sword & sorcery tales, games, and comics. Includes Swords Without Master!
Penicillin Issue #1          Weird RPG Zine
Penicillin Issue #2          The follow up to the acclaimed first issue of Penicillin
Penicillin Issue #3          The third issue of the World's Other Only RPG Zine
Way With Worlds Book 1 Crafting Great Fictional Settings. A helpful guide to world-building
Skill Points         An RPG zine about learning through play.
The Watching Book A zine of oracular culture, and an rpg to play with it.
Procession         A short zine about the miracles and monstrous 
HG101 Presents:         The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures

There are a few other things scattered around the bundle, that defy any of these categorisations, and the Table-top/RPG games are also very diverse. There are also some Paper based utilities for defining this type of game. All of which I feel that I don't know enough about to judge

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Shenmue 3 - Finally being made after 14 years.

 Not too long ago in a land far far away, a not-so-simple
games-maker called Yu Suzuki produced a rather unusual
& often misunderstood game named Shenmue

And so the saga begun...

Nowadays it's become a bit of a thing to say how awesome and historically important the Shenmue game is, or was, to the current gaming industry. But this wasn't always the case...

I remember picking up the boxed sets of Shenmue One and Two for the Dreamcast from a second-hand games store, for around ten UK pounds (17ish US dollars),  a good few years ago. They were both in good condition and had all the original packaging intact. In fact, it looked like they were hardly used!
Of course that was before the game had really began to gather much of a 'cult following' status, and definitely before it became mainstream, or in vogue, to know about and 'like' the Shenmue franchise. Remember that this is a game that cost more than any other to make at the time of its release, and then (more or less) bombed in the high-street stores!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Artsy, not Fartsy...

In the Beginning...
There has always been an element of 'art' that has existed, and grown, alongside but generally separate (or underground) from mainstream computing, long before the computer games industry was invented. Likewise the 'can computers make art' debate has existed from the very beginnings of the medium.
Even the early Teletype operators used to send text generated pictures to each other.This was the beginnings of what became knows as ASCII Art, arguably the first true 'art' produced solely by using machines. Arguable, because some still say it was nothing more than akin to computer graphite. Is graphite art? Well that's a question for a different blog...

Sticking with computer generated art, Conway's Game of life was possibly one of the first computer programs that could ever be considered a true form of computer art - rather than 'traditional' art made on a computer. The 'game' was based on a cellular automaton thought experiment originally devised  by John Horton Conway, a British mathematician, in 1970. His 'game' had no user interaction other than the placing of the first cells in a grid. These cells ether 'lived,' 'died,' or 'reproduced' on each turn of the game, based on Conway mathematical rules.

The rules to 'Game of Life' were few and simple, but many intricate 'living,' evolving designs could be made from the placing of the original 'seed' cells.

This zero-player 'game' was typically written for most of the 1970's mainframe, and mini, computer systems.

During the 1980's it was a typically included in various how-to programming books and listings magazines as a teaching program for most 8Bit micro computer machines.

Friday, 19 June 2015

AR v VR.

Are we now seeing the next step in console evolution?

I'm writing this in the aftermath of an E3 conference that definitely had a very real tendency towards Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) gaming.

Now, both of these technologies are hardly new, Ether in concept nor in, largely failed, real world implementations. Although we now we seem to be at a place where the technology; and equally importantly, its cost; has caught up with consumer expectations, making large scale VR and AR devices not just commercially feasible, but viable in mas-produced marketplace, perhaps for the first time...

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Fictionally Interactive Oddity…

…Or, why the death of the text-adventure has been greatly exaggerated.

What is a text adventure?

There are those that would dismiss text-adventures as gaming-dinosaurs that rightfully died out decades ago.
And to be fair I suppose it is now possible that a generation has grown up without ever seeing, let alone playing, the genre.

Or perhaps you only know them as their latter-life nom-de-plume of ‘Interactive Fiction:’ a name that a lot of purists loathe with a passion, and although I wouldn't place myself firmly in that camp, I must admit that I do prefer the name ‘Text-Adventure.’

So what is it? Well, it’s essentially a story-based text only puzzle game, where you communicate with the computer by typing in common-language phrases and the computer responds. This response may be based on any number of conditions, not least of which may be your location, items you are carrying, objects or characters that share your location, things you may or may not have already done, or how you have actually phrased your commands.  And if all that sounds confusing and dull, you may be half-right. Confusing – undoubtedly, but dull? Like anything else that entirely depends on the player. There are people, like me, who began playing text-adventures in the early to mid-eighties, and still occasionally find something interesting in them now. But there is also a dedicated core of people still playing old and new text-adventures, and there is no shortage of new interactive fiction being written. So the text-adventure is still very much alive and not an extinct dinosaur medium at all. Hopefully this blog will go some ways to showing you the how, why, and where’s of this…

Sunday, 6 July 2014

When is a TV not a TV?

...When It's a Vectrex.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Vectrex. The worlds one and only vector graphics bases console. 

Now you may think you have seen vector graphics on everything from old home-computers right up to modern day browser based games. 

But the chances are you really haven't. What you probably have seen are line-based games made up of pixels, on a CRT rastascan or LCD matrix based screen.

Ah, you say, but all computer graphics are made out of pixels. Well no actually, vector systems displays aren't, and only a handful of Arcade cabinet games from the eighties, and the Vectrex console; by Milton Bradley, no less; have truly been capable of proper vector graphics.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Revolution Has Been Televised...

My grandparents remembered a time before television. My parent talked about a time where only one or two houses in their street had a TV... Black and white of course, with a whole three stations. I myself remember the hype when a forth station was added to this lineup only to be followed, some years later,  by a fifth. By this time our family TV was a whopping 28" and in colour with almost twice as much stations as it used to have, and not only that... I could also plug my VIC-20 computer into it and actually play games on there as well. Surely we were now truly living in modern times...

Oh how long ago that seems. Now here I sit in front of our modest 42" flat screen HD digital TV watching SKY and wondering if theres anything more interesting on NetFlics or LoveFilm, whilst typing this into one of our three tablet devices, and checking for e-mails and tweets on my smart phone. But if my teenage self could suddenly jump from then to now all this would be secondary, amazing, astounding, but secondary... Because underneath the TV sits a PS3. And there's an Xbox 360 and a PC in the bedroom, and what would I think when I switched ether of these, now aging, devices on - well, what would I think after wiping the drool away from my gaping mouth, that is?