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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parnautical Activity Scandal

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Yesterday the PC gaming world had a bit of a scandal pop up involving the newly released game Paranautical Activity by Code Avarice. Story after story began popping up on gaming news sites, and blogs. While I wanted to write about the situation I actually sat back and watched. My reasons were that everyone else was producing the same story, and well......everyone was more or less bashing this indie company into the ground for the remarks that were made and I wanted to see more develop before I spoke on this. So here is what went down, and my opinions on the situation that has severely wounded this company.

Yesterday was supposed to be an amazing day for Code Avarice as a indie gaming company. Their new game released on steam and was featured on the Steam Store front page which would have (hopefully) netted them thousands of dollars due to the front page exposure. Instead, the worst nightmare of these up and coming developers came to be. There was an error on steams end, which marked the game as still being in "early access" an error which Mike Murderbeck, one of Paranauticals developers who had worked long and hard on this game took very personally. What followed was a tirade of insults against steam on his twitter feed questioning the "Monopoly" steam has over the PC game market as well as accusations of them being Incompetent. While his frustration was totally understandable at this point minus being a bit unprofessional his outburst was pretty harmless. However moments later this seemingly normal rant would get a lot more serious when he would post a "death threat" against the owner of Steam "I'm going to kill gabe newell. He is going to die". To question the business policy, as well as the hold Steam has on PC gaming is one thing, but to issue a public death threat against anyone seems to have crossed the line. Soon after the post popped up, it was deleted.....but so was Paranautical Activity" from steam. Valve made the decision to pull the game from steam, while leaving the community page up as well as allowing any updates to people who have already purchased the title.

Since all this has happened there has been a whole lot of bad press, and comments from the gaming community. Some of Code Avarice's hardcore fan base claim that steam has overreacted and since steam is the only worth while distribution platform for PC gaming that their decision is ruining the careers of everyone involved. However the majority of comments that I've seen are more along the lines of "Don't bite the hand that feeds you". In his defense, Mike Murderbeck has apologized for his outburst, and openly admits that it was a stupid decision. Earlier today Mike announced that he is stepping down from Code Avarice in this blog post. Later an official apology was released on the companies website to Valve, and Gabe Newell.

Gabe Newell

What is next for Code Avarice? This is a good question. Travis, another one of the developers, and owner of Code Avarice has stated that he will not kill the company and start over. So it will be an uphill battle for sure. The company is no stranger to bad publicity and outbursts like this. Mike has been known to verbally attack critics of their games, and according to other developers and bundle release platforms a "Nightmare to work with". However, despite the bad reputation I have to say that since he has stepped down from the company I think it is possible for them to make it back onto the steam platform. I'll go further to say that I do feel bad for Travis, and the other developers who worked long and hard on a game, and did nothing wrong to be punished for the actions of someone else now that they have left the company. I understand steam removing the game and cutting ties with a company who issued threats against them. However with the person now no longer associated with Code Avarice I think the right thing to do would be to give them a second chance. I contacted Code Avarice on twitter and asked if there were plans to get the title back on steam.


I think PA is done with Steam. I am in no hurry to deal with it. I will just move on to the next title.


If you are interested in playing Paranautical Activity though, the good news is that you can head over to http://codeavarice.com/ and click "Buy Paranautical Activity" to purchase for $9.99.

Psi's conclusion
I feel like Monopoly is a strong word to describe the hold steam has over the PC market. There are other distribution methods out there and honestly it is not Gabe Newell's, or Valves fault that the other methods are lackluster to say the least. However, there is a good argument that for an indie developer steam is almost needed to succeed into today's market. Sure, some developers such as Adam Ryland has built a sturdy fan base off of his Total Extreme Wrestling simulators and does his publishing through http://www.greydogsoftware.com/. However this is a rare exception, and to be fair Adam has been building his fan base for years with his EWR titles. I also feel that blaming an entire team of developers and company for one persons outburst is totally unfair. Was a death threat out of line? Of course it was. Nobody, even Code Avarice is claiming it wasn't. However the situation has been dealt with, apologies have been given and people are now moving on, and so should we. Myself and everyone who helps with Ragetrip Gaming wish nothing but the best for Code Avarice in the future, and as fans of indie gaming I hope that this developer continues to release games for the fans of their work and the entire PC gaming market.

~*Code Avarice Links*~
 Code Avarice Official Website
Code Avarice Twitter

Will I Rage? Recettear: An Item Shops Tale Review

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When I first heard of the game "Recettear: An Item Shops tale" I had mixed feelings about it. I always thought that it was an interesting idea, but how could they pull it off without the game being incredibly boring? However even though I've slept on the game for awhile I decided to pick it up, give it a play through and write up this review. So here it is....my review of the indy RPG title "Recettear: An Item Shops Tale".

In the beginning...
Upon starting the game I noticed 2 things right off the bat. First is from the graphics, to the Anime style characters the game has that old school RPG feel to it. This is NOT a bad thing though, it suits this title well. The second thing that I couldn't help but notice is while the subtitles are in English, the few words that the characters actually speak are not. Not a big deal, but slightly amusing to me. In this first scene you kind of get an understanding what is going on. I am not going to give away the plot, but I will say now that I actually really enjoyed the storyline of this game. Now here is my first gripe about this game (if you can really call it that). The tutorial seems to drag on forever. You can click Escape to move past each part but if its your first time playing that could possibly leave you confused as hell. However, it's nice to have that option for the future. I'm not saying the tutorial isn't needed because it is. I'm just saying that for a gamer with little patience (which sadly I see more and more of these days) it may be too much for them. Another good thing is, this game is compatible with any Windows recognized controller (including your 360 controller!) which is how I decided to play it since the original key bindings suck (x,y,z Asian setup).

The joys of owning your own shop
Once we get passed this awful tutorial we learn it is our job to buy items to stock our shop from either the Merchant's guild or the market, both of which have good items that you should always stock up on. Also after a few levels, we find out that we also buy items from customers, which we are able to haggle on. The main goal of this game is to buy items, and sell them for a profit so that you can pay back a weekly debt. If you fail to pay it back the game ends and you start over at "Day 1" again although you keep your level and items accumulated. This Debt rises every week also, which keeps things difficult. After a few more levels, you'll get the option to do "Orders" for customers where they will return in x amount of days to pick it up which is a neat little addition to mix things up a bit. Each time you open your shop, you must run through several customers who you need to haggle a price with, and make sure not to anger them too much so that they don't storm out of your shop. In a weird, fantasy RPG way....you kind of get to live out your Pawn Stars dream! After you've played for a bit, "News" also begins to happen, trends, and certain items sell for more on some days, and less on others. So make sure to keep up with that, and restock your shop accordingly. That's another little addition that keeps it from getting too dull.

Adventures?
Now, for you who are gawking at the screen wondering "what the hell? Where is the combat!".....This section is for you. Another aspect of this game is "The Adventure guild!". With this game you have to manage your time, so its not always best to go on an adventure, which is more or less dungeon crawling. The reason being, it takes up your ENTIRE day so your shop is closed that day, where restocking in town only takes up one 4 blocks of time (almost like a pie chart. Opening shop takes 1 piece per time, shopping in town takes 1 piece from the time you leave to the time you return to your shop, and the adventure guild takes 4 pieces (the entire day). So use your time wisely. Adventuring can be very profitable though seeing as if you are successful and don't die in the dungeon you get to keep all the loot you find to sell. If you do die, you get to choose only one piece of gear to bring back out of the loot you found. Just make sure you balance out your dungeon crawling, restocking, and the actual running of your shop or you will be in trouble.

Shop Customization
As you slowly gain merchant levels (level up) you unlock certain abilities. The ability to change the floor, wallpaper, counters, Carpet, and generally upgrade your shop. I personally wish that there was MORE customization options available. It feels like they rushed on that aspect, which could have added a little more replay value and personalization to the game. It is there though, and good enough to keep you comfortable with it so I won't complain too much.

The Bad
I will start off with the default controls for the game. I had to actually "look up" how to click on "options" or "start game" in the menu. I could move up and down with the arrow keys, but enter, spacebar, nothing was working. Apparently it was either x,y, or z (I forget which). If you are going to port a game from Asian standards to the rest of the world, you need to set the default controls to what they know. Luckily as soon as I did manage to click "start game" my 360 controller was auto recognized so I didn't have to deal with odd keyboard controls and configurations. If you don't have a controller you may though.

Another thing that I thought could be a lot better is the customer AI. Once you get a feel for each character type, its easy to remember exactly how low or high you can haggle them. For example the child is really broke, the old man is super stingy, and the dude in his 20's - early 30's is a bit less so. If they randomized each customers buying/selling habits it could have made the game a lot more interesting.

This isn't just a knock at Recettear but at most all games now. I really wish the storyline had of lasted longer. The storyline isn't super complex but it does its job to keep you interested and I feel that it ended far too soon. However AFTER the story is over, you can keep playing for as long as you can pay your payment each week, which becomes increasingly harder and harder each week.


All in all I have to admit while being skeptical going in, this game far exceeded my expectations. It's unique in a market that's overflowing with clones of popular titles and dares to be different. Are there aspects of the game that need work? Yes. But the game is polished, fun to play, and has some replay value as well. I know it isn't a new release but I still hope to one day see a sequel made to this game. I think it has A LOT of potential.

 Rating
3.5 out of 5

While the game is very fun, has decent replay value and has amazing levels of originality going for it there is a lot that could be improved upon as I've mentioned above which is why I gave it the 3.5 out of 5. Hopefully one day we will see a sequel with all those things fixed. Still an amazing game as is, and I'd suggest it to anyone who is into single player "Old School" style RPGs.