Tag Archives: Valve

Early Access: Avalon Lords: Dawn Rises

20160530112031_1 Avalon Lords: Dawn Rises is a multiplayer-only, real time strategy (RTS) game in Early Access. When I say multiplayer, only I mean that there is no single player story mode. There are only single player practice rounds. At the start of the game you choose one of five factions to join, each of which gives you a slight bonus to things like starting gold and reduced resource requirements for certain units. From here you can play three separate types of games:

1. Empire: This is the largest. It pits you against other players or AI for control of the world. You battle over different regions in the name of your faction. There are a lot of teams on the board and this game can take a while to play through.
2. Conquest: This is the standard match. You start with a castle and a few peasants who can build or harvest for you. You slowly build an army and take on other players or AI in practice.
3. Battle: You create an army list by choosing from several units, then you just send your army after your opponents.

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Playing against the AI is a huge pain in the ass, especially for someone who has rarely played RTS games. The AI builds much faster and more efficiently than you do. It can create huge armies very quickly and wipe you out by the time you create your first few units. I’m sure someone with much more experience in this genre could deal with the enemy a lot easier. However, since there is no way to change the AI difficulty, new players are for the most part shut out pretty early on. Playing the practice modes was about as much as I was able to do. Every time I tried to get into a human match the game reminded me that there were only 4 people playing. I waited in a queue for a while but was eventually unable to find a game.

In terms of game play, there really isn’t anything new or interesting here. Everything Avalon Lords does has been done already (and much, much better). The tech progression is fairly bog standard. You build buildings to get different units. You upgrade those buildings to get better units. You can build places that will research buffs for your units, or what have you. You have a central focus on gaining resources like iron, gold or wood with peasants in order to build. There’s really nothing in this game that you wouldn’t find in any other RTS. On top of that, the generic medieval theme has been done to death.20160531112829_1

The controls are finicky and unpleasant when you try to drag over a bunch of units to select them, or try to move the map to get to where you want. You sometimes end up on the complete opposite side of the map from where you intended. The developers have recently announced that they are making the game free-to-play. So in the future be wary of this game not only being out-shined by other RTS games (including many free ones), but also being filled with micro-transactions. This is speculation, so we’ll just have to see.

The most fun I had with Avalon Lords are the short battle games. Here you just choose units for your roster and send them out against your opponent. I found it was best to send them all in one large clump, since that’s mostly what your opponent will being doing. Here you just watch them all fight and die. Then the game ends, nice and simple. No resource management or building nonsense; just a quick fight. You can choose the configuration of your list so that you can have all archers or crossbowmen, or all weak sword guys, or heavy shielded guys…or any combination thereof. It’s over in under five minutes, and then you can do something else with your time.

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-Jordan Kamm-

Tech Review: Facerig

review-facerigFacerig is a very unusual program where you can actually have a lot of fun. So much fun in fact, That I have literally spent a few hours alone on it, just talking to myself and learning the software so I can make some funny videos later.

However, I’ve found a few notable problems with the software and after a quick Google search I’ve learned that they are either still working on fixing them, or that the developers have stopped caring about fixing them.20131215151557-FaceRig_alpha-stage_03_-_Copy

When I first tried recording with the software, I was met with a loud hissing and static noise that made it impossible to hear my own voice. The problem was that the software doesn’t auto-detect your microphone/headset, rather it sets its own default (even if it’s disabled). This was odd, but regardless I set it to my headset and moved on. But even after doing that, recording with FRAPS was also pointless because it still detected the audio input according to the earlier settings.

But after trying LoiLo I was finally able to clear up the audio for recording and it was pretty great. I really enjoyed it overall, however after restarting the program I found out that the software does not save all of your settings and you must manually reset your microphone and headset each and every time you want to use the software.FaceRig Games

Now this is what I meant by the developers not fixing the issue yet after a quick Google search I learned that this has been a persistent problem for the software and even after a year you think they would fix it but they haven’t so far.

But let us move on to the actual software, it does have a lot of variation and once you do get your webcam working and microphone working for lipsync the animations you can do are incredible, however this all goes without saying that you got to make sure its all probably being detected by the software each and every time you use it.

Their exporting feature also for video and audio is a little disappointing which is the reason why I am relying heavily on using Loilo or FRAPS for the software to get better results, they even have a green screen feature for the software which is amazing for editing the images into other videos but if you are using AVS or other software it won’t be as good as you would hope.maxresdefault

All in all by its own right the software is remarkably fun and I have literally killed a bunch of time on it and the bugs I have encountered although widely known has not stopped people such as myself and others from using it.

I recommend you pick up the software and give it a try sometime it’s really amazing.

-Daniel Clatworthy-

Haven Review: Super Ubie Island REMIX

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Super Ubie Island REMIX is a side-scrolling platformer about a little alien who crashed his ship and must recover its broken pieces. That’s about all there is to the plot. There’s an evil brain in a jar flying around, creating creatures for you to fight. The game starts off in an over-world. Here you can view your ship, go into levels, and visit different shops. Each level is locked until you beat the previous level. The game’s style is very cartoonish, with large characters and bright colors.

The levels arsur5e laid out similar to other platformers. Enemies patrol, although none of them give chase. They just move back and forth along a set path. When you kill them they respawn after a few seconds. Getting hit by an enemy will knock off one of your hearts instead of kill you instantly. Your various moves include double jumps, wall jumps and a floating mechanic. The movement, including the frames of animation for the character, are a little imprecise. But for the first few levels they felt as though they meshed well with the style of platformer the game was going for.

The first “land” (set of levels) was fairly casual in its layout. The platforming wasn’t too difficult, and with the heart system even a minor slip-up with enemies meant you could keep going. The second land was drastically different. It introduced more precision into the platforming; relying on tighter timing and perfect jumps. The levels by themselves are interesting and well designed. I feel like this is where most of the love went. In these later levels enemies became fewer, while hazards like spikes and explosives became greater. Getting hit by one of these didn’t remove a heart; it killed me instantly. Upon death you’re taken back to the over-world and must enter the level again. This whole process slows down the flow of the game immensely. With precision platformers you know you’re going to die a lot and want to get back into the action as quickly as possible so as to keep your momentum. With Super Ubie Island REMIX, you don’t. It’s frustrating to waste time getting back into the action.sur3

This game is all over the place. With some mechanics it feels like it wants to be a casual platformer, and with others it feels like it wants to be a hardcore precision platformer. These different sets of mechanics don’t meld well at all. It’s trying to do too many things, and nothing seems to come together in a coherent way. The loose movement mechanics don’t go with having to wall-jump off an explosive crate and land on another one as they’re all exploding. The health system doesn’t really work when you only lose a heart every once in a while. Returning to the over-world doesn’t go well with the game’s pace. When everything does come together (which is seldom) the game feels good. Everything is copacetic. But those moments are few and far between. The game is disjointed, the bosses are lacking in any real substance and there’s nothing unique or interesting to the concept.sur4

Apart from the game itself I’d like to talk a little about some technical issues. Upon closing Super Ubie Island REMIX, the game shuts down but Steam continues to think it’s running. This happened every time I closed the game. You can’t subsequently exit the game from this state, since the game is closed for everything but Steam. And you can’t close Steam because it thinks the game is still running! I had to open Windows Task Manager each time, close Steam there and re-open it. You can play other games on top of that, so it’s not a huge issue. For me however, it was extremely annoying and I just want to make sure everyone is aware of this issue.

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Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

-Jordan Kamm-