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Humble Bundle – Have fun. Pay whatever. Help the world.

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Have you ever wished you could live in some crazy type of world? A world where you can pay what you want for amazing games? A world where you could say, “Hmm.. this iteration of Call of Duty looks like it’s worth 40 dollars, so that’s all I’m going to pay.” Well Humble Bundle and their open ended pricing system may someday usher that in.

While this is based purely on the rose colored speculation of a liberal mind, Humble Bundle has laid down some interesting ground work for a world where you can pay what you want. All the while, raising money for charities like Child’s play, Electronic Frontier Foundation, charity:water and American Red Cross. The buyer of each bundle can choose how the money from their purchase is split. If you see fit it can all go the the charity or the developer. Humble Bundle has earned more than $50 million dollars, $20 million of which have been donated to charity.

Humble Bundles are different collections of entertainment, primarily video games but not exclusively, where the customer can choose what they want to pay for the products. Humble Bundles last two weeks, over the course of the sale games are usually added making the bundle even more valuable. Don’t worry if you’ve already purchased the bundle before the other games were added you will still have access to them for no additional charge. In order to gain access to everything included with the bundle, you need to pay more than the average, which is often times around 5 dollars. Paying over average will land you additional games as well as other goodies.hib_quick_montage_768_sharp-1

Humble Bundle offers some amazing games, but I personally think their most exciting bundles are their Humble Indie Bundles. In fact, everything about humble bundle screams indie. They are free of connections to big game developers, and take freedom of pricing to a new level by allowing you to set it yourself.

Humble Indie Bundles have been around for a bit and just finished off it’s 9th bundle. Some amazing indie have been offered in these bundles, including Braid, World of Goo, Cave Story + ,Super Meat Boy and most recently Bastion. These bundles don’t end with games, that would be far too simple. Bundles often-times come with goodies like sound tracks, or prototype games from developers such as double fine or team meat.

If are looking to buy some really fun games, and to help raise money for charity all while on a tight budget, be sure to check out humblebundle.com . They are currently offering up their second Humble Mobile Bundle with cool games for your android phone or tablet.

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Ouya: The games.

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The OUYA boasts a sizable game library considering how relatively new it is to the market. With its open source library and how easily it can be rooted, Emulators have found a permanent home on the OUYA. In fact, when you look at the top selling games for the system you’ll notice that a good number of them are emulators. While it imagescan’t play current gen games, it is still fun to see your old school emulators back on the television where they belong.

The biggest challenge the little system faces is finding support from developers. While the OUYA is a very interesting option, with none of the muck that can drag down an indie game on a big console, it still looks less lucrative than the big consoles. What it comes down to is the fact that PS3,Xbox360 and Wii have much larger audiences and have been on the scene far too long.

Even in the shadow of the 3 major systems OUYA still has some support from big names. Some believers.  Robert Bowling of Infinity Ward Announced an OUYA Exclusive game even before the system was released.  Bowling’s Human Element is set to be released in 2015. The game takes place 35 years after an event involving a zombie apocalypse. The game had so much online buzz that it was announced that there will be episodic prequels to the game on the OUYA, detailing the events up to the actual game.

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While Bowing’s studio, Robotoki, is one of few exclusives other major studios also took heed to the OUYA. Square Enix announced that FFiii would be made available as a launch title for OUYA. Namco Bandai also said they’d be bringing several games to the system. While these aren’t exactly exclusives the support of major developers is still a great stepping stone for the OUYA.

The biggest barrier between the OUYA and success is it’s game library. You can never have to many great games on a system, and thus far the OUYA seems to be suffering from a lack of them. WIth enough support from developers OUYA can, and will go very far.

Stay tuned for information about how OUYA is helping developers make great games for them.

 

Ouya: Whats inside

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At only 99 dollars the tech in the Ouya is nothing to be scoffed at. The tiny titan boasts a Quad-core 1.7 Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore and Nvidia Geforce ULP. While you aren’t going to see the amazing graphics and performance you get from the big three, it is still formidable considering the price point.

If the 8 GB of internal storage out of the box aren’t enough, you can always expand it with removable storage. Ouya displays via HDMI to a television and can support 1080p, 1080i and 720p depending on the games. A lot of reviews have complained about the quality of the remote controller, luckily the Ouya can work with XBOX 360 or PS3 controllers. The only catch is that the developer must allow it in the game.

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Ouya isn’t only for playing, every system can be used as a developer’s kit. The 2.95 inch cube can also easily be taken apart, since the screws are right on top of the device.

Although the system isn’t cutting edge when it comes to technology the price point is hard to beat. Most other devices with similar hardware run anywhere from $199 to around $400, and these devices aren’t dedicated gaming systems.

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Stay tuned to learn more about the Ouya, its games, and what it can offer to developers.

Ouya : The Indie Console

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Gaming has been around for around 40 years, starting in garages and basements as early as 1947. Video games didn’t really reach mainstream popularity until the 70’s and 80’s and has been growing ever since. Much like movies video games quickly became a part of everyday life for many different cultures. Also much like film, there is a very distinctive sub genre of gaming, indie gaming.

Indie gaming culture is rapidly growing and becoming a significant part of the very intricate gaming industry. Ouya has the unique opportunity to play a critical role in the Indie Gaming revolution. With no one to answer to but the fans, Ouya can flourish if they play their cards right.

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imagesOuya was created with two things in mind, indie games and developers. Ouya hit Kickstarter as a campaign to try and gauge how many people would be interested in the project. Over 29 days the console raised around 8.5 million dollars on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, being the second most successful campaign in the websites history.  Ouya holds the record for the single best first day performance of any project ever hosted on kick starter, the little console attracting a backer roughly every 5.5 seconds.

Ouya’s charm comes in the form of just how open to creativity the entire entity is.  It runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it can be rooted very easily. Julie Urman , Ouya’s founder, made it a point to stress the fact that the system is made to be modded. Rooting or modding the console is completely covered under the systems warranty.

The Ouya is freedom. Freedom for developers, freedom for modders, and freedom for gamers.

If the Ouya can overcome the big three and carve a niche in the indie market, it can grow into a force to be reckoned with.

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Lowkey Gaming will be focusing on the Ouya with a series of articles highlighting the system, it’s games, and some of the unique opportunities offered by Ouya.

Stay tuned for more information about Ouya.

Indie Game Review : Knights of Pen and Paper

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Knights of Pen and Paper puts an interesting spin on classic role playing games of both the table top and video variety. You start out at a long table and an odd looking man standing on one side of it. Across from him sit 5 empty chairs.  In Knights of Pen and Paper you are playing as a group of friends who are playing a table top RPG.

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Character creation is pretty standard, except for the few things that make it extremely weird. You get to choose the person playing the character and the class that person chooses. Here’s an example to help shed some light on the situation. The Grandma character gets 10% more threat due to her Loud passive, this has great synergy with the paladin tank class. So I currently have a very loud, very old woman playing as the tank in my game. There are a lot of other character types to choose from, each one having different in game perks covering everything from +10% experience ,for the new guy Mr. John,  to 50% discount on blacksmith upgrades for Paris the compulsive shopper.

One pretty bad thing about Knights of Pen and Paper is that there is absolutely no explanation about anything. You don’t know how threat works or how spell damage works. You don’t know what buttons do what, you’re just thrown blindly into the game. Albeit a very simple concept to pick up, it can get annoying at first.

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The art in Knights of Pen and Paper is what initially drew me to it. Classic 8 bit sprites with interesting environments. The battle animations aren’t too flashy, sticking to the theme of a classic table top games. I particularly enjoy the world map. It is reminiscent of the map in Super Mario 3, nothing to detailed just an odd picture and a surprise when you arrive.

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The music in Knights of Pen and Paper is nothing to be scoffed at either. Both the battle and world screen music is fun to listen to and helps to keep things moving along. I particularly like the music that plays in the tavern.
There is an entire other layer of game to Knights of Pen and Paper. The game room. You use gold earned in game to buy things to decorate the room or snacks for your party. Decorations have permanent effects to things like gold earned or damage done while food has similar effects that last some where around 15 minutes. Using room decorations and snacks are very important as you progress in the game, I don’t know what I’d do with out sushi.The simple to pickup, but hard to master battle system in Knights of Pen and Paper is a wonderful call back to classic RPGs with one big difference. Strategy is king. While often times as a child I could simply attack my way through crowds of beasties, Knights of Pen and Paper takes some real planning.

knightsofpenandpaper2First of all, if you don’t build threat on your tank your entire party will die pretty fast. Even with your Paladin tanking and your healers trying to keep him alive, if you don’t mitigate a good amount of damage your tank will die. To do this you need to pay attention to move order and try to lock down as many of your opponents as possible. This takes a decent amount of strategy as you try and maximize your damage output and keep your team alive.

Knights of Pen and Paper is a very fun game and defiantly worth a look at. It is available on both Android and iOS along with steam for your PC.

To the Moon…

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“To the Moon”
Kan Gao
Freebird Games
http://freebirdgames.com/to_the_moon

A game like nothing I’ve every played before. While most games avoid topics like autism, mortality, growing up and regret “To the Moon” embraces them. Kan Gao, the games director and composer, tells an airtight narrative, even with the varying timelines the games story is perfectly executed.

On the note of autism, two of the characters are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. One of the characters is diagnosed early in life and the other later in life. Treatment is hinted at as are some of the symptoms. The game almost gives you a peek into the life of some one with Asperger’s syndrome, from an outside perspective. TTM1

“To the Moon” takes place a little bit in the future, where on your death bed Sigmund Corp. can use technology to go into your mind and make one of your dreams come true. In the game it seems it is common practice among people, creating a fake life where all of their dreams came true. “To the Moon” highlights one specific case tackled by Dr. Niel Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene of Sigmund Corp. Johnny Wyle, an elderly man on his death bed, has one rather vague wish. He wants to go to the moon, when asked about his reasoning he is unsure why.

Your time in the game is spent hopping deeper and deeper into his memories. With each leap your learn more about Johnny’s life. Eva and Niel use a rather simple method to fulfill the patients dream. It involves planting an idea early in childhood, that idea becomes the sole focus of the patients life, growing until that dream is eventually fulfilled.

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The game plays like a point and click adventure. You explore Johnny’s memories, collecting colored orbs from significant things about each event. Interestingly, background people in the memories are represented as human shaped blobs of static. To leap between events there is a simple puzzle mini game. There is no way to lose the mini game, only a counter telling you the least possible moves the puzzle can be completed in.

The music, composed by Kan Gao, is adds another amazing element to the game. While mostly, simple piano tracks they evoke copious amounts of emotion. Further more, 50% of sales from the official soundtrack of to the moon get donated to charities for autism.

The true magic comes as you watch Johnny’s life unfold in front of you.  Backtracking through the life of an elderly man from his deathbed to his early childhood, you truly see how life unravels. As you play through the game and start to make your own connections about the story it can become bitter sweet.

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I would truly suggest trying out the game, the story is something everyone should experience. Keep in mind it is currently part of the steam summer sale, going for $3.74.

Indie game review : The Yawhg

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Wyverns The Yawhg is a choose your own adventure game with some interesting RPG elements. In The Yawhg you are living the life of which ever character you have chosen, going to one of a few places. Every time you visit and choose a task, you gain certain stats. After gaining your stats, one of many randomized events happen. Everything from being attacked by leeches to being asked to help the king with his marital issues.Unknown

On the surface the game is very simply fun, kind of like watching a movie or reading a book. As you play it a few times you see some situations that come up and basically measure your stats. For example using your magic to quell an army of leeches heading for the city’s water supply.

If your magic is too low, you will not be able to destroy the leeches and they will disappear into the water. While this doesn’t sound like a big deal, you will notice as you play through the lives of other characters, that the leech event effected the entire games world.

imagesAfter the leech scourge is released into the world, you are always in danger of feeling its wrath. When you go into the forest to chop some wood, you might find a man being devoured by leeches. When you go to work in the fields leeches might attack you by the waters edge. In all of these events you stats are measured and the out come of your choice depends on your stats. This makes for some very interesting gameplay.

When you are faced with a situation that you don’t have enough stats or wealth to deal with, you want to get there again with the right stats. The beauty of it is that you can only get there with a healthy serving of luck.

It is very fun watching as your decisions throughout the game help decide the fate of the story for each character. Some times you spend your life as a doctor then The Yawhg comes and you end up being mauled by a were wolf in the forest while running away from the pain of dead patients.

UnknownThe only downside to the Yawhg is the fact that it is sometimes repetitive. You see similar situations and can predict what will happen with decent accuracy. This has a large impact on the replay value of the game. If they added some more variance to the games situations, it would be an overall better game. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very fun game but it can get old pretty fast.

Even if you’ve beaten it several times, it is still fun to watch your friends play it and watch their reactions. Some of the situations in the game are very dark, so keep an eye out for them they happen to be my favorite.

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The art in the The Yawhg reminds me of a childrens book. The colors are simple and the visuals are not too detailed, but the art still has the refreshing quality of nostalgia. It almost reminds me of one of those old paper back books sold at dollar stores with golden binding. The music is very fitting for the game, very simple but nice to listen to.

All together, I would say The Yawhg is a game every one should take a look at. It could use some improvements, but as it stands it is very fun and refreshing to play. Though short, it is a lot of fun going through the story with some one, or alone. Gather 10 dollars with some friends, and see if you can survive when The Yawhg attacks. Available on PC.

Indie Game Review: Storm

Now, I have to mention that, I absolutely love it when it rains and when we get a bit of thunder and lightning. It shows that mother nature can be a force to be reckoned with while still retaining her beauty. I used to love playing puzzle games like, Columns 1-3 on the Sega Gensis when the weather was gloomy. It was kind of a zen moment for me, even if that moment lasted between 10 minutes and 5 hours. IndiePub actually put two of my favorite things together to create, Storm.

This game, let me just say, is ABSOLUTELY breath taking in both graphics and sound. The music is also a key element to just putting you in a completely different world. The moment the start menu appeared, I just stood looking at it. I remember seeing the trailer to this game a while ago and saying to myself, “Wow, I think I need to own this game.” If you’ve ever played Bejeweled 3, not the crappy 1 minute game on Facebook, but the actual game, there is a “Zen Mode” where you play the game in different styles to address you psyche and release all stress from previous events in your day. THIS IS BETTER!

You use the power of the elements such as, Wind, Rain and Lightning to move your seed from tree to fertile soil and grow more trees on that same level. You are given a certain amount of trees to grow using the seed that grows from the tree that you planted, this of course, not counting the tree that starts you off at the beginning of the level. There is no time limit unless you play the challenge modes so you can easily take your time to embrace the beauty of this game all while figuring out how to complete the level. Using the Wind, will move your seed around the level. The Rain, can fill up trenches to make logs float so your seed can roll through the board rather than falling into the ditch, and the Lightning make the seed jump. Strike the seed from the left to make it jump right, strike it right to make it jump left.

Storm is such a captivating game that you will have a VERY hard time putting it down. If you pay close attention to the background, you will see that the elements are also affecting the level. The Wind will make the background clouds move in the direction you force the wind to blow, Lightning will turn the background dark, as if it would like a real thunderstorm and the Rain obviously wets your screen, you will see the drops race down your screen as it clears up.

Take time away from calling grade and high school kids various, disgusting names on Call of Duty or Halo and put some time into Storm. If you’re into puzzle games or games that make you use your brain, then Storm is definitely for you. I recommend it to all enjoy the puzzle genre and I welcome you to the wonderful world that is Storm. Available on Steam, PSN and Xbox Live.

Til next time. \m/

Indie Game Review : Awesomenauts

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Ronimo Games’Awesomenauts is the perfect cross between an old school platformer and a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA. Awesomenauts is a 2D MOBA where you spend your time doing one of three things, killing minions, killing towers or killing other players. If you haven’t noticed, the game is all about killing stuff. Killing stuff and having awesome amounts of fun!

AwesomenautsWinChart1You kill masses of droids, as you defend your tower from their onslaught. These droids drop the games currency, solar. Solar is used to buy upgrades for your characters skills, and you use these abilities to destroy your opponents. The overall goal of each match is to eventually make it into your enemies base, and destroy their drill.

While it sounds like your average MOBA, it has a certain charm that helps it stand out among better known MOBAs, like League of Legends and DoTA. First off, as you wait to respawn there is a small mini game, where your character gets dropped in and you get to gather some solar. This helps the character stay competitive even after dying a few too many times.

The second major asset to this game is it’s very fun platforming. It literally adds another dimension to the play, even while you are shooting and chasing you need to keep in mind your opponent can jump out of the way. If you don’t master platforming in Awesomenauts, you are going to die very often.

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Then theres the upgrade system. While in other MOBAs there are a bunch of items to learn about and optimization to figure out, in Awesomenauts, things aren’t nearly as complex. Each characters abilities are enhanced by items in a very straight forward kind of way. If an item is going to enhance your characters attack speed, it will simply say it, no stats to figure out.

All of these mechanics would be pointless if they weren’t brought to life with the games interesting cast. The art and music for the game reminds me of old school WB11 cartoons. Everything about the game is pretty polished, especially the cool music for each characters selection screen.

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For around 10 dollars on Xbox,Ps3, PC, Mac and Linux this game is a whole lot of fun for some one prefers a little more action from their online PVP games. Anyone interested in fast paced platforming or MOBAs should give Awesomenauts a chance.

Indie Game Review: DLC Quest

Today we dive into Going Loud Studio’s, DLC Quest where, to me, it mocks another game company such as *cough* EA Games *cough* for its bad habit of releasing an incomplete game and selling you the rest of the game later by calling it, Downloadable Content (DLC for short). But that’s enough about this Bad Company. HAH! Saw what I did there? Bad Company is a game released by EA Games and I’m calling… them a… *ahem* Moving on.

DLC Quest literally is like, an hour long game at most, forty five minutes at best, but it’s nothing short of entertaining. This cutesy, pixelated  platformer will have you going around the level collecting DLC packs and coins, which is the ingame currency to buy the DLC. Stuff like, Jumping, animation effects are all DLC. Surprisingly the NPC’s gave me quite the laugh with it’s quirky dialogue.

You also get achievements, or as they call it Awardments, throughout the game and you guessed it, they don’t do anything for you. Even though this game is very short in itself, I really have to say that it was quite the treat to play, and again, I really enjoyed this one! For $4.00 on Steam and Xbox Live, you really can’t beat that price, especially when it comes with a second game.

Live Freemium or Die! is the next game and this one is a bit longer (I have yet to beat it though). This time, you have more choices for DLC with stuff that really improves your game. Isn’t that what DLC is all about? I’m looking at you EA! So go on ahead guys, and give it a go, seriously, this game is really fun!