Game Review: Endless Legend DLC: Shifters, and the others

So, a little while back I posted a review of Endless Legend, a 4x-type strategy game by Amplitude Studios. Well, they recently released a new DLC pack for it, called Shifters, so I thought I’d throw in my tuppence-worth…

The title screen for Shifters neatly includes silhouettes of all the cool new things included in the DLC.

The title screen for Shifters neatly includes silhouettes of all the cool new things included in the DLC. Highlighted, from left: The Allayi’s skyfin unit, an Altar of Auriga, Allayi armies and Pearls of Auriga.

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Video Game Review: Endless Legend

From the Oxford English Dictionary entry for “epic”:

adj. 2 Heroic or grand in scale or character:

  • his epic journey around the world
  • a tragedy of epic proportions

adj. 2.1 informal Particularly impressive or remarkable:

  • That gig last night was epic

“Epic” is an adjective that gets bandied about with irksome regularity these days; just this morning I overheard a colleague rhapsodising that the fish and chips he had last night were “epic”. So it’s a nice change of pace to actually be able to use it appropriately.

Look at the little dragons and armies! =)

Endless Legend’s Splash image from the Steam Store.

Endless Legend is a 4X strategy game (of the ilk of the Civilization series) made by a firm called Amplitude Studios, and set in a science-fantasy universe, with asymmetrical victory conditions and unique player factions. It is, quite frankly, epic, both in the sense that it is grand in scale, and in the sense that it’s really quite impressive. Continue reading

Awesome music video: The Speed of Light

Hi Internet! Regular readers will know that here at AddAltMode we like video games and heavy metal. This means that the video for “Speed of Light” from this year’s new Iron Maiden Album The Book of Souls is extremely relevant to our interests:

Wow! First impression: this video is pretty fun. The way it begins with nostalgic nods to the old-school and works its way up in sophistication to the present day, whilst staying engaged with the same broad themes, is actually a great metaphor for Iron Maiden’s musical career.

Secondly, the video is amazingly dense with in-jokes and references for Iron Maiden fans. I had a merry old chuckle at dozens: I spotted visual references to the covers of the albums Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast, Powerslave, Live After DeathNo Prayer For the Dying, and A Matter of Life and Death. There are posters advertising Trooper beer in the city, and the names of band-members in the high-score the arcade machine lists. I’m sure there are plenty more that attentive viewers can find.

And she's got no feelings, they died long ago. Don't she care who she let in?

And what’s the betting that this lass’s name is Charlotte?

So yeah, this video is pretty awesome, especially if you’re already a fan of Iron Maiden. Not an Iron Maiden fan? *Sneers* Get out, we don’t need your kind here.

Mismatch: A figure custom inspired by Transformers Universe: Part 3

A long time ago, I posted about customising a toy into Mismatch, the cannibalistic Decepticon from defunct MMO Transformers Universe. I’d been too involved in other projects to make much progress, but recently I’ve been back to it. Here’s a fresh picture before I go into the final stages.

At the back, you can see another TFU-related project underway...

Mismatch in car mode, mostly painted. Inset: Mismatch’s custom head.

Mismatch in Car Mode, from his trailer.

Mismatch in Car Mode, from his trailer.

Actually, it’s been a bit of a struggle to get all of the yellow parts covered: Not all of them are easily accessed without extensive dismantling. Some customisers prefer to do this, and I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this method.

Another thing that became apparent when as I worked on this project was that I could have made a better choice of starting figure: there was a black re-deco of this mould released as “Night Shadow Bumblebee“. If I’d planned better from the start, I’d have picked up one of these along side the yellow mould that I did get, and used the grey parts from standard Bumblebee with the black parts from the Night Shadow version, I’d have only needed to paint the green bits. Still, this was my first heavy customisation project, so it has been educational.

Mismatch is well on his way to completion: I’ve just got to paint a few more areas, ink in a few details, push his new head into place and give him a faction symbol (sticker) a quick coat of lacquer. I’m hoping to finish him in a couple of weeks.

Facts About Goats I Learned from Goat Simulator

Simulators are strange. That they stand at the crossroads between games and educational tools isn’t weird in itself, many games do that. What is odd about so many simulators is that they occupy this particular mental space by choice.

A screen-capture from Framing Simulator 2014 by GIANTS software. Inset: Screencaptures from Dovetail Games' Train Simulator 2015 and Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

A screen-capture from Farming Simulator 2014 by GIANTS software. Inset: Screencaptures from Dovetail Games’ Train Simulator 2015 and Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

Whilst a simulator can be used as a training tool when used with a well-designed set of exercises, it can also allow people to experiment and explore situations without consequences when users simply play around with it.

In the recent Steam Summer sale, I was intrigued that Goat Simulator by Coffee Stain Studios was available for a trifling £1.74, so I laid down my money and decided to learn what I could about goats, and about Coffee Stain’s native country of Sweden, from this fascinating piece of software. This post might get a little bit outré, so don’t read on if you’re easily disturbed. Continue reading

The Polar Opposite of a Weapon: Part 2, Cerrian/Starstream Beam-Gun

Hi blogosphere!

Brief post today: I just realised that in my post describing my model Cerrian/Starstream Beam-Gun (the healing ray-guns wielded by Autobot medics from Transformer Universe) I didn’t put any photos of the completed and painted model, so I thought I’d better correct that glaring omission.

It still looks really heavy.

The grumpy old Medic should look more pleased: he could just shoot this through the Ground-bridge, and wouldn’t even have to leave the base.

This post is pretty much all pictures – so skip it if you’re not into that.

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Geek vacation: a visit to Berlin’s Computerspielemuseum

We’ve just got back from a fantastic holiday in Germany which included some time spent in Berlin. We’ve made overnight stops in the city before but this was our first chance to spend a whole day there and begin to explore it properly. Berlin has a great vibe, and there’s so much to see and do: from the powerful experience that is visiting the remains of The Wall and reading its history at the Checkpoint Charlie exhibition, to admiring the iconic architecture of the Brandenburg Gate, soaking up culture on Museum Island, or laughing at the procession of animal-print styled Trabants belching out fumes as they drive in procession through the centre for a hilarious “Trabi-Safari.” But while we made time for many of these well known tourist experiences, we here at AddAltMode simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to enjoy a slightly less famous Berlin attraction and – in doing so – to cross off another wish from our geek bucket list. I’m talking, of course, about paying a visit to the Berlin Computerspielemuseum (Video Game Museum), also known as Geek Heaven.

museum, exterior

Ooh heaven is a place on earth

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The Legend of Metal

If you don’t know what The Legend of Zelda is, then you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of decades. As I’m sure all of us non-troglodytes are aware, the first game in the series had a fantastic soundtrack by Kondō Kōji:

Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I think Kondō is a genius. He managed to wring epic grandeur out of the NES’s little Ricoh 2A03 sound-chip. Various orchestras, bands and solo muscians have been inspired by his work. Today I want to talk about some of my favourite versions of this track. Versions that raawk!

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When Physics Grads Overthink Video Games

Time for some maths! Who likes maths? That, or “Who likes math?” anyway was a question that Jonathan Coulton asked the crowd when R and I saw him in Bristol a couple of years back. It was, of course, a prelude to his song ‘‘Mandelbrot Set” but it was a surprise – to me, and I think to JC – to find that I was almost the only person in the crowd to call out an enthusiastic ”yeah” in response. But I like maths a lot, which occasionally leads to trains of thought like this…

Game Spoilers ahead: when the players beat Skullmageddon in Double Dragon Neon, they knock him off a ledge where he falls for a long time (3 minutes, 32 seconds), singing the end credits song. The question occurred to me: how far does Skullmageddon fall?

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The Polar Opposite of a Weapon: Healing Ray-Guns

I strongly suspect that a large fraction of AddAltMode’s readers might have played Team Fortress 2. If you haven’t, then go and play it now: it’s free on Steam, which is also free. You only have to pay for the hats. One of the things that TF2 introduced me to was the Medic’s Medigun – a blunt and tubular ray-gun that shoots healing rays.

The “healing gun” is a popular trope in first-person and third-person shooters with a team element. It’s tidier and easier (and way less gory) than having a field medic perform realistic battlefield surgery. Your team’s medic just has to shoot you with his healing ray, and your health bar is filled right up – the heal ray is the very opposite of a weapon. Of course, this makes much more sense in games with heavy fantasy or hard sci-fi element… Continue reading