Kickstarting ReElise

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Justin Fox is a longtime friend I met through Theology Gaming University (TGU). He just launched a Kickstarter for his game, ReElise, a Hip-Hop RPG. Justin hopes to not only fund his dream but start a movement.

How did your values influence your game, ReElise?

The game started out about race. Mostly a coming of age story. Just exploring culture and how people deal with them. When I got saved (gave my life to Christ) the story completely changed. It became a story about how God can make dry bones live again. However the theme of race still plays a role in that it serves no real role in the story. The main character is a black female…. that is all. Sometimes, it’s just not important in contrast to the big plot, and it shouldn’t always be a plot to insert a person’s views on an almost ageless problem so they can be the guy who “figured out how we can get along”. It’s a problem of classifying people as ” those people ” and that’s not going away. Ever.

ReElise

What exactly is a Hip-Hop RPG?

There’s a lot more to the culture of Hip-Hop than violence, money and abuse of women. There’s dancing, style, language, AMAZING art, and some would even say theology that’s not focused on quite as much. It was supposed to be fun in the early days. I like fun things. A Hip-Hop RPG is a game that  leans into the dopeness that is Hip-Hop. I love it. I wanted it in there. I’m indie… so I do what I want I’m grown and sexy.

How long have you been working on the game and what have you learned?

Steadily for 4 years. I’ve been tinkering with it for roughly 7, but those were entirely different builds.

For me, it’s been the power of belief. Believing that something good can come out of an idea that’s not really been done before, and seeing how the power of that belief carried me through for 4 years. It’s a crazy thing. Not to mention how drastically my belief in Jesus changed the core of the game. Belief is really something else.

ReElise-Hip-Hop-Battles

Engage in epic rap battles.

What would you like to say to anybody thinking about backing ReElise on Kickstarter?

This is more of a movement than it is about just one game. Traditional gameplay but with very non-traditional stories as well as concepts (I mean this is a 2D, hand-animated, Hip-Hop, turned-based, Mature Christian RPG… with sprinkles… definitely unconventional). I’d like to subtly offer deeper things to my audience. I’m giving my audience the chance to simply play a great game, and offer them a deeper story that I truly hope will be beneficial to their lives if they care to look. We’ve just gotta get the colorists, programmers, editors, travel expenses, and advertisements out of the way for this project first. That way we can make this first project everything it needs to be!  There’ll be much much more to come with the support of backers.

Thanks, Justin, for giving us a slice of ReElise pie. We can’t wait to get a taste of your Hip-Hop RPG goodness.

If you’d like to back Justin’s work, check out his Kickstarter page.

Throwback Thursday – Game Mechanics: Unnecessary Checkpoints

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Growing up, I lived in a valley that was hedged in by foothills and mountains. The south end of the valley featured a Border Patrol Checkpoint. Set up to combat illegal aliens and drug smuggling, the checkpoint was situated roughly 70 miles north of the Mexican border. Unnecessary? Politics aside, I think so.

Recently, I have been playing through Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen on the Nintendo DS. As the games title insinuates, DQIV is broken into chapters or side stories. The first 5 chapters focus on what turns out to be the support characters. Chapter 6 unites the support characters with the hero of the game, you.

Dragon Quest IV marks my first entry into the Dragon Quest series. While I have enjoyed the 20+ hours I have spent in the game so far, I do have a minor gripe, the unnecessary leveling checkpoints.

20 year old gameplay mechanics aside, Dragon Quest IV commits the sin of the invisible wall. Every few levels, these invisible checkpoints force players to stop and grind (level up) until they are at a sufficient level to proceed in the game. Dungeons, monsters, and bosses are some of the most common level checkpoints found in the game. While I know that this is a common RPG mechanic, I have never been so aware of it. Perhaps this is due to the age of the game? I’m not sure.

Grinding is one of those bite-the-bullet game mechanics. Properly instituted within a game’s design it can be a mechanic that one barely notices. While I am enjoying the time spent with Dragon Quest IV, I can’t help but wish that a more organic type of leveling system be created. However, I do find some sort of twisted comfort in level grinding. The old and the familiar, right? Until next time.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

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I have a 3 year old. He likes to play video games with his daddy. Anytime the PlayStation 3 chirps to life, he comes running into the room asking what we are going to play. We? Yes, we.

In the haze of Thanksgiving evening, my stomach stuffed with Mexican food, my wife and I headed out to Walmart. Walmart was having some early sales and we wanted in. Walking into the store, my wife and I separated. She went to wrestle for a bike for our son; I went to buy an Xbox 360 bundled with Skylanders for myself. Sounds fair, right?

Skylanders

Skylanders

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is the game I wish I had growing up. Developed by Toys For Bob, Skylanders integrates action figures, NFC technology, and good old fashioned RPG mechanics. My son and I have spent hours playing the game. In fact, we have one more level to complete as of this writing.

Being 3 years old, my son has a hard time controlling games that use a 3D plane. So, we have worked out a system where he sits on my lap, I control the character, and he controls the fire button. Perfect solution. I will note that this solution crumbles any time Skylanders decides to become difficult (ANY boss fight). During those times, I take over and kick the crap out of Kaos.

Overall, I have enjoyed the game. Playing with my son has given us an activity for “Boy’s Club” and has certainly improved his video gaming skills. Skylanders represents the first game we will have beaten together. How cool is that? There is nothing better than sharing your hobby with your kids.

The Old Republic

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Yesterday, the State of Texas celebrated it’s 174th birthday. Happy birthday Texas!

Speaking of other old republics, I started downloading Star Wars: The Old Republic last night. As of this moment, my download is almost done! My plans are to create a Han Solo type character–hey, I’ve always called myself a scoundrel!–. I am really looking forward to playing the game and comparing it to my other BioWare experience, Mass Effect 2.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. The high today, here in East Texas, is 62 degrees. A nice change from the 80 degree weather we have oddly experienced this past week. Until next time.

RIFT Impressions 1.1

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"Nirvana is coming, the mystic portal awaits."

Ah, the smell of a new MMO! The joy of playing through starting content and actually seeing fellow human players running around completing quests. I had forgotten what this feels like.

During my first play session last night, no matter what, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be playing World of Warcraft instead. I mean, there is nothing inherently wrong with RIFT. I fear though that years spent in the refined lands of Azeroth somehow set a mental bar in my head. Why should I play anything less than the perfection that is WoW?

After leveling to level 4, I called it quits last night. That is, until a few minutes later…when I sat down again and played some more. Call it the MMO pull or the relaxation that mindless tasks (kill ten mystic dudes) bring, but I continued to play until I hit level 5. By then my laptop’s fan was screaming and the base of the computer was super hot.

The last time I really dove into an MMO, besides WoW, was with Warhammer Online. Warhammer had something special going for it. At least I thought it did. The public quests, dark art style, and a land perpetually at war drew me in. Heck, the fact that it was something other than World of Warcraft was enough for me. As I progressed through the levels however, I soon came to the conclusion that Warhammer was a shallow affair. My friends quit shortly after the first few months and I did too. Warhammer was fun while it lasted.

I‘m still not sure what I think of RIFT. Can’t tell if it is just more of the same or if something “special” is just over the next horizon. Like I said in my first post, I’ll keep you updated. Until next time.

RIFT Impressions 1.0

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I love the dark castle lurking on the horizon.

Perhaps I am totally burned out on MMO’s, but RIFT seems like more of the same so far. The combat, storyline, and level progression are all things that I have experienced over the years. I will note that the soul system could prove to be interesting… but do I really want to commit to playing “another” level grinder? Something to think about in an age where Lord of the Rings Online is free-to-play.

In my first session of play I have managed to hit level 4. With 6 days left on the free trial, I am going to continue to give the game a shot. Say hello to Waldcelter on the Greenscale shard if you think about it. I could use some friends! More impressions to come!

RIFT Free Trial

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For months now I have heard @Syp talk about the wonders of RIFT via his blog. Being burned out as I am on MMOs, I had decided to take a pass on this one. That is, until I found out that RIFT has a 7 day free trial. Free being the goodness that it is, I think that I may have to take a leap and see what all the talk has been about. Care to join me fellow burnouts?