Spandex For All! KarjaSoft Announces Spandex Force: Superhero U

July 16th, 2011

Indeed, the day has finally come! So, go check out the game right away at www.spandexforce.com. The official press release follows below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spandex For All! KarjaSoft Announces Spandex Force: Superhero U

Stockholm, Sweden — July 16, 2011 — Independent game developer KarjaSoft proudly announces the release of Spandex Force: Superhero U, a tongue-in-cheek puzzle game with RPG and adventure elements.

Spandex Force: Superhero U is a superhero-themed puzzle game for Windows and Mac that lets the player create his or her own hero and attend the prestigious university Superhero U in Vigilance Valley. The game features many different kinds of minigames, including, but not limited to match-3 battles against teachers, other students and nefarious villains threatening the school.

Other minigames let the player rescue old ladies in distress, collect the precious metal Absurdium, or focus on physical, elemental and mental training. Three different match-3 mechanics and a large variety of puzzles are available, and everything is presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner that pokes fun at superhero cliches. The player can also customize his or her hero with different accessories and weapons, choose from various superpowers and develop the hero further by collecting experience and reputation points.

Screenshots:

http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss1.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss2.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss3.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss4.jpg

“Spandex Force: Superhero U is definitely the best superhero RPG-puzzle-adventure game currently on the market,” says Miro Karjalainen, owner of KarjaSoft, not in the least bit deterred by the fact that the only two such games available are Spandex Force: Superhero U and its prequel, Spandex Force.

More information, screenshots and downloads can be found on the official webpage:

http://www.spandexforce.com

About KarjaSoft:

KarjaSoft started developing casual computer games in 2006. The first release was the fluffy arcade game Sheeplings in 2007, followed by Spandex Force in 2008 and the adventure/pet raising game Wildhollow in 2009. Current plans involve world-wide market domination in superhero puzzle/RPG games by 2012.

Contact:

Miro Karjalainen
KarjaSoft
info@karjasoft.com
http://www.karjasoft.com

Now I’m going to watch the new X-Men movie to celebrate!



What’s My Next Game Project?

June 10th, 2011

My superhero puzzle RPG Spandex Force: Superhero U is starting to get semi-finished, so I’ve started thinking about my next game. I purchased a copy of Monkey that will enable me to develop games for Windows/Mac/Android/Flash/iPhone and/or XNA. In other words: if I play my cards right with regards to different resolutions, my next game can target a lot of different platforms and I’m thrilled about starting a new project. The problem is what to develop.

I’ve previously talked about my ideas file for different games, but I’ve revised that list and added some new and interesting prospects. I’ll go into the details soon, but first of all, here’s a nifty poll where you can decide (sorta) what game KarjaSoft should start working on:

Note: Err… It seems that my custom theme for WordPress didn’t support the polls plugin. It should be fixed now, so feel free to vote! :)

 

What game project should I start next?

View Results

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Some brief notes about the different options:

  • Daily Sudoku – a sudoku game that gives you one puzzle per day, and you match your time against all other players. You collect points depending on your time, there’s a leaderboard and all that jazz. This one is obviosuly aimed at smartphones primarily, but an online version would work well too. A very quick and easy project to try out Monkey with.
  • Exploration Game with Quests – I like The Wager. The combination of exploration, upgrades and a very interesting NPC to play against makes it fun. But I want to make an exploration game with randomly generated quests that are generated from randomly generated relationships between quirky NPCs. Explore a world, talk to silly people, do quests, run into encounters and upgrade your ships.
  • Superhero Princess Maker – Princess Maker 2 is completely awesome. And since I’ve already made two superhero games and have some existing characters to use, this might be very interesting. The basic concept is: you have one year to make a common loser into a superhero.
  • Fantasy Parody City Builder – When I was young…er I had an idea for an RTS called Gully Dwarves that would feature reluctant subjects. They’d constantly bicker and sulk when you gave them orders. I’m thinking of expanding that idea into a city builder game instead, in a fantasy mileau, featuring tongue-in-cheek pokes at the genre.
  • TV Show Producer – Not much of an idea yet, but I like the setting. Management game with minigames to create TV shows.
  • Shampires – Adventure game with ridiculous vampires. I have some cool ideas for this, and most center around geeky goth wannabe vampires and a parody of Twilight.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Jules Verne – Jules Verne wrote a lot of amazing books. But what no one knows is that those aren’t fiction: Verne himself went through all those adventures! I’m thinking of something like a multi-episode puzzle adventure game.
  • Tigris – A city-state builder game. Start at the dawn of civilization and expand your culture, your city and your territory. Yes, I’m a Civilization geek, why do you ask?
  • Futhark – Odin was a god of wisdom, and he gave humans the runes. (Futhar is the runic alphabet.) So, I’m thinking of a viking puzzle game where you’re a human trying to unravel the mystery of the runes. Solve puzzles, talk to the gods, do quests for them, and so on.

Anything that sounds like fun? Let me know by voting in the poll!



Storage Woes – Go Dropbox and Bitbucket!

April 12th, 2011

This last year has given me a slight memento mori; made me think about the vulnerability of data storage. For a couple of years I have taken some reasonable precautions: double backups of most important things on different hard drives, plus a backup on a RAID-ed Qnap NAS. This has proven to be effective and suitable for my needs. Up until recently.

I moved to Stockholm less than half a year ago, and in that move I “lost” most of my electronic infrastructure. Well. Technically, I still have a couple of computers and hard drives and whatnot in boxes in the cellar, but since I’m now living with a semi technophobe I’m not allowed to have unsightly and noisy machinery lying around in the house. Instead, I’ve come to rely on a single laptop and my Qnap NAS (that’s hidden in a closet).

The problem is that my NAS started making angry noises a couple of weeks ago, signifying that the hard drives might be getting a bit old and tired. Like me. So, I had to re-think my storage solutions.

What type of storage do I need?

  • Short-term media storage – stuff I intend to consume and then remove.
  • Long-term media storage – rare TV series, bought apps and games, and so on.
  • Old backups – gigs and gigs of music, drawings, photos, game projects, app projects, and much more.
  • Game project storage – non-version-handled files that take up a lot of space. Art, designs, music mixes, and much more.
  • Code repository – I previously had an SVN repository on my Qnap. Something with version handling is needed.
  • Documents – various documents that I need to access.

After a lot of tinkering I’ve come up with a solution that seems to work fine. If anyone feels like drinking from my experience and avoid messing around with various dead ends, here’s what I’ve decided on for now:

  • Short-term media storage – Laptop
  • Long-term media storage – ZyXEL NAS
  • Old project backups – ZyXEL NAS
  • Game project storage – Dropbox
  • Code repository – Bitbucket
  • Documents – Dropbox

In other words, I have four different locations to place data:

  • My laptop – great for instant accessibility, but not much space.
  • ZyXEL NAS – good for storing stuff semi-permanently. A NAS breaks down sooner or later, so I have to make sure to duplicate the data from this one in a while. This is my weakest link right now.
  • Bitbucket – pretty awesome online code repository that uses Mercurial. Relatively easy to use together with TortoiseHG, the free account gives you a lot of stuff, plus I love how the meta files are NOT mixed with the checked out repository like in SVN.
  • Dropbox – I was a bit sceptical about this at first, but after trying out the free version (2 GB) for a while I upgraded it to 50 GB. So far it’s working great for always having access to my documents and game project files. I love how it synchronizes the files in the background without making a big fuss. And it’s pretty neat to be able to access my documents from my Android phone too.

As you can see, I’ve gone all online storage! Who would’a thunk it? The good think about both Bitbucket and Dropbox is that a perfectly fine local copy is retained. So, as long as I have two “checked out” versions on different computers plus everything stored online I think that I’m safe enough.

In fact, I’m so pleased with my experiences that I toyed with the idea of having everything I need stored online. Alas, that’s simply not feasible. Storing a few gigs online is just fine, but the common down and upload speeds are way too slow to make it feasibly for 500+ GB. So, I’m going to have to stay with a NAS as well for a few more years. Maybe until 4G is common enough to give reasonable speeds everywhere.



Top 10 Games of 2010 that I Haven’t Played

December 27th, 2010

It’s the end of the year, and that means loads and loads of top 10 lists of various kinds. Top 10 indie games of 2010, top 10 RPG games, top 10 porn movies, etc etc. I decided to go for something completely different: I’m going to list the best games of the year that I haven’t played…and why.

Let’s get on with it! Here’s a list starting from the game I’m most likely to play (but probably will not), to the ones I definitely will not pop into a console or PC.

10 – Minecraft

This weird little indie title has conquered the world. Everyone loves this one-man project that has sold millions and millions, and people keep making movies, build complete working ALUs (and CPUs) and generally muck around in this free-form 3D adventure game that doesn’t contain a storyline at all – instead it relies on emergent gameplay and the users’ imagination to create user-generated narratives.

Personally, I can’t be arsed with it. Yeah yeah, I get the idea: it’s fun to build with LEGOs, and this is essentially LEGO but with monsters, collecting things and exploration mixed in a gigantic bowl. The possibilities are endless. There’s countless hours of fun in this game. And that’s the problem for me. I don’t want countless hours of fun – I want a nice and entertaining game that won’t take too much time off my hands. And I definitely don’t want to learn how to play, or spend time finding out what exactly I want to do with all the possibilities in the game.

However, since it’s PC based and seems to be fairly easy to get into I still might, just might, try it sometime. I highly doubt it, though.

9 – Limbo

Limbo intrigues me. Who wouldn’t like an artsy black-and-white game about a little boy that gets stabbed to death and ripped in pieces over and over again? To me it sounds very much like the concept of experiencing the same day over and over again, until you figure out what you need to do to break the curse. Always liked stories like that. They contain a lot of subtext about guilt and punishment, as well as atonement.

However, from what I can see in the screenshots this game looks like it requires a lot of dexterity. I’m getting to old for that stuff – I’m not going to play a game that requires split second timing while solving puzzles and avoiding giant spiders and whatnot.

Not to mention that reviewers seem obsessed with that giant spider. As an arachnophobic, this game seems like a horror game to me. And not in a good way.

8 – Starcraft II

I was pretty excited about Starcraft II a while ago. I loved the first one; I liked the story and the general polish of the game, and the thought of a sequel made me smile. But once the sequel came out I found myself…disinterested. It’s like I know what it’s going to be like without having to play it.

I’ve loved RTS games, from Dune II to Warcraft to Total Alliance, Command and Conquer, World in Conflict, and many many others. But maybe it’s all come to an end, because I simply don’t feel like building another base, clicking and selecting a bunch of troops, and marching them off to their mostly-certain doom. Been there, done that.

I like strategy games, but turn-based ones are much more appealing to me. That’s why you don’t see Civilization 5 or King’s Bounty: Crossroads in this list of games I haven’t played.

7 – Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect was a nice game. Good dialogue, cute quests, nice gameplay. I thought I’d be playing ME2 as soon as it came out. But hell no, they’ve gone for a real-time approach in the battles. “We’re trying to reach a broader range of customers”, “we’re trying to appeal to both RPG fans and shooter fans”, “today’s games require a more intense experience” – whatever, I’m not playing it.

There’s simply no way that I will spend time on a game that requires motor skills. I even ditched Fallout 3 because it was too shooter-like for me. If I’m going to invest time in a game I demand that it rewards me with fun most of the time – not hard work and frustration. I guess I could go for a game that had auto-aiming and auto-hiding. A game in which your character’s attributes determine whether you hit or not, and whether or not you’re getting hit. And that would include not being able to aim better than your character – otherwise the difficulty would automatically be upped in order to compensate for most players’ agility.

But Mass Effect 2 is not that game.

6 – Red Dead Redemption

Grand Theft Auto was pretty fun. You rode around this 2D city, stole cars, avoided the cops and acted as a glorified errand boy. Then something happened… I think there was a GTA3, and some sequels to that one, and then there’s this cowboy game that people refer to GTA with horses. Oh right, Red Dead Redemption. As you can tell I’m not one of Rockstar’s biggest fans.

Cowboy themes are cool but I don’t care much for sandbox games these days. It’s too much freedom for my taste. I’m certain that the story is excellent in RDR but I have a suspicion that it’d be like wading through frustrating and boring bits just to see bits and pieces of excellent dialogue. If I have the choice I’d much rather watch some Clint Eastwood flick.

5 – Super Meat Boy

I know surprisingly little about this game, except that the protagonist is a dude with no skin, he is fairly pissed (maybe because of aforementioned lack of skin?) and that it’s a platform puzzler. I used to love platform games. I got 100 exits on Super Mario World, yo. But maybe the honeymoon’s over and the magic’s gone.

This game interests me in the same way Braid did. It’s a game I’d like to play and would like to like. But I tried Braid and I couldn’t feel gripped by it. I have the feeling that it’d be the same thing with this game, so to save myself time and effort I simply won’t try it.

Beside that, it’s been way too hyped. “Ooh, look at this quirky little indie title! It’s a masterpiece!” Bah, I don’t believe in masterpieces. There are good games, there are bad games, but anything that people try to sugar coat too much is bound to taste like crap when you get through the sugary outer shell.

4 – Rock Band 3

I’m not going to write a long piece about the qualities of this particular game. Instead I’ll just put it in four simple words: music games are passé.

Don’t get me wrong! They’re still awesome at parties and it’s still fun to mash buttons on plastic guitars. I just wouldn’t play it by myself anymore. And if I’m not going to play it except at rare occasions it’s not really worth buying, is it?

The songs are pretty nifty though. Everything from Dio and The Doors to Metric. Good setlist.

3 – Halo: Reach

Cinematic space opera shooter. A lovely combination of words. I think they’re relatively applicable to Halo: Reach. Unfortunately there’s one word in there that I don’t like. Can you guess which one?

Indeed, shooter.

It’s not that I don’t like action games. I do like them! And I do like the satisfied feeling of shooting down an enemy or watching a big explosion. The problem is just that they’re suited for the next generation. Sure, there are people in their 30s playing these games, but those people have been playing them continuously for years and years. I was pretty sucky at Quake 2 but I did play it online a bit. I played Unreal, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Half-Life 2 and many other games. But they’re all just too hard for me – I flail around like an epileptic with my mouse and send off rounds into everything but the enemies I’m supposed to hit.

I’m sure that I can train my skills if I put my mind to it. But why would I want to? I play games to relax and have fun.

2 – Call of Duty: Black Ops

Come on, after writing about Halo, do I really have to write anything at all here? Yes, come to think of it, I think I do. I can mention something about run-and-gun, cover-based gameplay. It’s natural to let shooters evolve into cover-based games, requiring you to add some strategy and planning into your gunning. The problem with that is that developers seem to assume a very high entry level skill.

Let me make an analogy with driving a car. I never got a driver’s license when I was young; no money, no one to drive with. Later on I was simply too lazy and didn’t see a need for it. Now, at the ripe age of 32, I’ve finally gotten my license…and I’m noticing an interesting thing: people who’ve been driving for years have no understanding about the problems a new driver have.

Driving a car requires a lot of coordination, decisions to make, and things to notice in the surroundings. I’ve had my license for some weeks but I still get…confused…if there are too many things happening all at once. Especially if I’m upset or irritated too. It’s pretty much like that with action games: people who’re used to the concepts of running, aiming and looking for cover all at once see all these things as natural, but for me it’s like trying to juggle while tying my shoelaces with my toes. Bloody hard, is what it is.

So, no thanks to Call of Duty. I have enough work, learning to become a better driver.

1 – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

I tried WoW for a couple of days because my ex had a trial account and nagged me into giving it a shot. I created a shaman, killed innocent creatures, got killed a few times, met some annoying people and got my character up to level 10. That’s when I thought things would start for real.

And that’s also when my ex told me that I need to start playing with other people to get anywhere in the game.

I like cooperative gaming as much as the next person. I had a lot of fun in Gears of War (even though I suck), and I like the thought of grouping up to kill large horrible monsters. But WoW seems way too planned. I like the Diablo 2 multiplayer: get online, check for an open game, and go mess up Diablo’s rear end. Quick, simple, no socializing. In WoW people seem to want to talk about things and join guilds and plan raids and….snore.

Wake me  up when Diablo 3 gets here.



Extra Extra! Productivity in Sweden Plummets

December 15th, 2010

Yesterday I posted a link to Damn You, Auto Correct on Facebook, and it was received by quite a few comments on how that afternoon suddenly became less devoted to work, and more devoted to giggling at hilarious auto corrections.

Here are a few examples:

I love that site!