Stardew Valley Tips for Your First Year [Pixelkin]

Helpful tips and seasonal guide for your first year in indie farming sim Stardew Valley.

Read the full tips and guide at Pixelkin

Stardew Valley is more than just a farming game. It’s also a dungeon crawler, a dating sim, and a fun exercise in planning and management. The constantly ticking clock and wealth of content can be overwhelming, particularly when starting out. I’m here to help you make the most out of your first year in Stardew Valley.

General Tips

  • Nearly every activity will level up the relevant skill, from fishing to fighting. If you find the fishing mini-game particularly challenging, keep pecking away at it to get better (and eventually buy better rods).
  • Rainy days are a godsend. Early on much of your time and energy is spent watering crops. Rainy days are freebies that let you focus on fishing or getting deeper into the mines. It rains most often during Summer.
  • Never have a tool selected if you’re not using one. Every miss-click swing of the axe or hoe drains precious energy. And never have bombs selected while walking around your farm…
  • Watch TV every day! Clicking on your TV gives you a couple options depending on the day. Weather Report lets you plan for a rainy day. Fortune Teller might hint at lucky loot drops. The Queen of Sauce teaches you cooking recipes. Finally Living off the Land gives you general tips for the game.
  • See those odd little dirt patches with worms sticking out? Use your hoe to find clay, plants, or even missing library books. The worms crop up most often during Winter.
  • While clearing out your farm try to save up wood to finish the bridge at the beach. It takes 300 wood but is well worth it. The tide pools to the East offer large amounts of coral and sea urchins every few days which sell for a tidy profit.
Read the full tips and guide at Pixelkin

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Carmageddon: Reincarnation

Frustrating controls and frequent crashes prevent this nostalgic remake from stepping out of the shadow of the original 90s car-smasher.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Stainless Games

Publisher: Stainless Games

Release Date: May 21, 2015

Carmageddon-Reincarnation

In the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm (paraphrasing): just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes that applies to remakes of classic 90s video games.

I was a big fan of Carmageddon back in the day. The violent destruction derby combined standard racing with large, fully explorable zones. Racing through checkpoints was only one of three ways to win.

The others involved either destroying your fellow racers, or running over every poor pedestrian that wandered into range of your four-wheeled death machine. It was silly, over-the-top violence that was very 90s and very fun. An expansion pack added more fun, while a middling sequel suggested that the magic may have already died a bit.

Skip ahead to our current Kickstarter-addled, nostalgic fueled age. Stainless Games bought back the rights to their beloved car-smashing series and jumped onto the Kickstarter bandwagon back in 2012. An official remake was in the works.

Carmageddon: Reincarnation was finally released three years later after a hefty dose of time in open development via Steam Early Access. The result was a buggy, poorly optimized mess that I initially shied away from, despite being a Kickstarter backer. Thankfully a few months of post-launch patches and support have stabilized the gameplay and the result is a briefly nostalgic, but ultimately forgettable experience. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Carmageddon: Reincarnation”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint

Rewiring security in this 2D stealth-puzzler is a blast, but it’s too short to fully embrace more advanced levels.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

 

Developer: Suspicious Developments

Publisher: Suspicious Developments

Release Date: June 3, 2013

Gunpoint-title

There’s an old joke that all critics really want to be creators – game critics want to be designers, film critics want to be screen writers, music critics want to be rock stars, etc. Occasionally a critic does successfully make that leap. Even late film critic Roger Ebert wrote an odd X-rated pseudo-sequel to Valley of the Dolls in the 60s. Former PC Gamer editor Tom Francis may not be a Roger Ebert, but his one-man stealth-puzzle game Gunpoint is a triumph of simplistic but effective 2D puzzle design.

Gunpoint stars Richard Conway, a private investigator that lives in a pixelated world full of guards, security cameras, and breakable windows. During the opening sequence Conway witnesses the murder of a potential new client while trying out his new Bullfrog brand Hypertrousers. The pants allow you to charge up super jumps, breaking through windows and falling from any height. This allows you to concentrate on the puzzles in each level rather than any tedious platforming.

Conway is suspect #1 in the murder investigation, and the story follows a funny tale as he’s hired to first erase the data by one party, then try and recover it by another. The story unfolds through a simple text-based dialogue between a pair of pixelated faces. It’s a rudimentary as you can get. Thankfully the writing is particularly amazing. I laughed out loud throughout the unfolding noir drama that maintains its self-aware snarkiness. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint”

Review – Mushroom 11 [Pixelkin]

A unique, fun, and very challenging puzzle-platformer in which you guide your amorphous blob through a gauntlet of hazards.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Walt Disney once said “Get a good idea and stay with it.” Many modern puzzle games have utilized a single brilliant concept to fuel the entire experience. Mushroom 11 is the latest of these innovative puzzlers with a unique and challenging growth mechanic.

In Mushroom 11 you play as a self-replicating amorphous green blob. A fungus, if you will. The blob constantly tries to stay the same size. It also needs to touch the ground or a suitable object in order to grow. Left click erases large chunks for rapid movement. Right click allows for smaller shape-building. Using these simple mechanics you guide your fungus through a gauntlet of platformer-style traps and hazards.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

New Article – Survival Games Without the Horror

Exploring a new genre on the rise – single player Survival Games that emphasize exploration and crafting instead of hordes of monsters or other players.

Read my full article on Pixelkin.org >>

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Minecraft’s incredible popularity and unique gameplay mechanics have spawned entirely new genres of games. Some games, like Terraria and Starbound, take the world-crafting and multiplayer aspects of Minecraft in new directions. Others focus more on surviving against the world by discovering resources and building your own tools.

Survival games rarely explore the human vs. nature conflict. Most first-person games pit you against hordes of zombies, aliens, or the occasionally terrifying zombie alien. Your survival is directly proportional to the floating gun in front of you. Thankfully the genre has grown and expanded to include a variety of experiences. All use gameplay mechanics and concepts birthed from Minecraft. One quick glance at Steam’s store reveals dozens of options that rely more on surviving against nature than hordes of undead.

I’ve found two that are particularly intriguing. Stranded Deep and Subnautica are indie games that are part of the Early Access program.

Read my full article on Pixelkin.org >>

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Portal 2

I’ve finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

It’s tough to make sequels to beloved games, especially clever puzzle games with an intriguing, mysterious world that’s peeled back over the course of several hours. I loved Portal when I first played it last year to kick off Season Four of Rogue’s Adventures, and now I began Season Five with the even more beloved Portal 2.

Portal 2 shoves you, the mute protagonist that might as well be Gordon Freeman (side note: I find it funny when Chell is propped up as a great heroine, she has zero lines or personality, and same thing with Gordon Freeman as a hero – both are simply camera lenses for the player), back into the massively underground Aperture Laboratory. You’re given a rude awakening by new character Wheatley, who’s eventually revealed to be the personality core you forcibly removed from GLaDOS in the first game in a funny bit of retconning.

Wheatley, fantastically voiced by the very British Stephen Merchant, serves as your initial guide in trying to escape the lab. The illusion of the lab as anything other than a creepy science prison was shattered in the first game, so the story delves further into the history of Aperture and lets us see even more of the cool behind-the-scenes machinations that were teased so effectively in Portal.

Read the full Final Thoughts on my Game Informer blog >>

2014: My Year In Gaming

Two Thousand Fourteen! I spent most of the year editing and writing for gaming site Leviathyn, got through another two seasons of Rogue’s Adventures, did a ton of live streaming and video content, began freelance writing for multiple game sites and finally bought a Wii U – all while still blogging here on Game Informer (I also started my own personal blog at roguewatson.wordpress.com).

2014 was a weird year for games. I predicted a huge year with exciting new franchises a la 2007, but instead we got mostly middling disappointment and sequels. However the indie game scene is stronger than ever, and thanks to platforms like Kickstarter and Steam Early Access, more and more developers are finding success making some really wonderful games. And I played a ton of ’em.

I’m also a big organizational nerd, which is to say I love making charts and lists, and this end of year recap is the grand daddy of them all. Or rather, it’s the love child of a year’s worth of note-taking of games I acquired, played, beat and/or 100% completed. Sites like Raptr.com and Backloggery.com help immensely, and you can see my year-end breakdown from Backloggery below:

That’s 68 New Games versus 50 Beaten and/or Completed ones – Not great! Interestingly I beat almost the same number of games as last year, but I acquired many, many more. I’m presuming it’s a combination of steam sales and review copies. Either way, despite playing through my backlog dutifully via Rogue’s Adventures, I ended up adding even more onto the pile. What a terribly glorious problem to have.

Anyway, let’s get to the month by month breakdown! As always I’ll give a brief rundown of the games I played, as well as the backlogged games I finished for Rogue’s Adventures (as well as links to my written Final Thoughts).

Read the full month-by-month breakdown over on Game Informer >>