Blaugust Prompt #8.5 – Characters that tell something about me

Just yesterday, we talked about mascots and our favourite protagonists. The latter was the prompt that Bel gave to Tessa, though she then modified it.

Her slightly modified prompt was “Share characters that tell us something about you!”

But I don’t think that this prompt is too different from my previous choices. At first, I wanted to go for the unmodified prompt by Bel and then post a follow-up later on the prompt by Tessa since my taste in books is usually somewhat depressing. I love tragedies and horror stories and some other plays and anthologies. Hence if I were to talk about book characters that “tell something about me”, I’d end up not really knowing who to talk about.

One of the characters that I could mention would be Eeyore, the donkey from A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Now, I love this book to bits. It’s one of the less gloomy books I own, probably since it’s written for children… but at the same time, all the characters have mental health issues and some of the stories are really philosophical and… it’s way too much fun to talk about some of the stuff in there while, uh… high.

Eeyore, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a rather melancholic and pessimistic donkey – and I always kind of liked him. I often get listless and don’t want to move or be productive or leave the house and when I have those pessimistic, lazy, and depressed phases, I identify quite heavily with Eeyore, I guess.

Franz Kafka’s “Die Verwandlung” strikes a similar note with a character called “Gregor Samsa” who suddenly turned into a giant bug. He has become listless and can’t control himself. He’s treated as a monster by his family members and employers while still being expected to work like a proper human being…

Another character that I really like that may tell something about me would be Ernest/Jack (haha…) from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Ernest”. It’s one of my favourite comedies and honestly, a very well-written socio-critical play. Jack is the legal guardian of Cecily but doesn’t really want to take care of her so he made up this persona of a younger, adventurous, and troublesome brother called Ernest who lives in London. Hence, he often travels there to take care of him when he’s in jail or needs help in other regards. Once he’s in London, he then pretends to be Ernest himself, living a lazy life with his friend, Algernon. There is also a lot of other stuff happening and a lot of Bunburyism going on, making the story somewhat ridiculous and confusing at the same time while also rather funny and amusing but that’s not the point of this post.

Jack aka Ernest is essentially playing two roles here. While in London, he’s lazy and playful, adventurous and always up to no good. While he’s in the country, he’s got to take care of Cecily and other duties. I kind of see myself in there with not being able to be “me” when I want to be “me”. Wherever I go, certain expectations of me aren’t necessarily in line with what I stand for or what I think.

And then there’s also the issue of my mere identity, I guess. Having a migration background, I always was “the foreigner” in my hometown. Having been born and raised in Germany, however, I’m also “the foreigner” when visiting my distant relatives. In both of these sides of the world, I’m expected to behave certain ways and when I don’t do that, people tend to get disappointed.

My distant relatives think of Germans – and ultimately of me – as people that are very rich and generous while also polite, strict and boring. If I don’t pay for their meals or whatever, I’m “just like the Germans” – who of course are also cheapskates. If I want people to call before coming to visit, I’m “just like the Germans”. When I don’t want to go out every day, I get told to “not be like the Germans”.

And in my hometown, some of the people that I talked to every day had some issues as well where they would talk of “foreigners” like me as barbaric and lazy people that steal their jobs, earn more than them, and who never work. They also never learn the language, are very bad at school and don’t put any effort into anything they do. When they noticed that I was good at school, worked my ass off and that I was better at German than most Germans, they called me “the exception”, which is not better at all. Suddenly, I was not German but also not one “of my own people”. When stuff didn’t go as planned with me, I was “just like the others”. When it was of use for them, I’d get picked by teachers as “a great example for successful integration” even when the same teachers would scream at me in their office for “not integrating myself” whenever I got bullied by others and whenever they started fights.

Value-wise, I’d also stand on two horses with being quite liberal and open and accepting of anyone while my parents and my distant relatives aren’t accepting of gay people or share other values like that. Racism is a thing all over the world – and even if it’s understandable to hold a grudge against your “enemy” that killed so many of your family members, I never was a fan of hating Serbian people for what some of them did 21 years ago. Showing weakness and emotions as a man is considered stupid and gay and whatever. Equality is not that advanced either. I hate it.

The fact that I’m in love with someone who’s not Albanian, is very controversial. That’s also one of the many reasons why I don’t really have too much contact with a lot of my relatives. My older cousin who used to be really close to me turned into a garbage human being who’s greedy, horny and just toxic. Similarly, an uncle of mine is always being childish while oozing with toxic masculinity. I just can’t stand it.

Alas, Ernest Jack from the Importance of Being Ernest is potentially the most fitting character to tell something about me. He’s playing different roles, just like I have to pretend that I like my distant relatives and just like I behave differently in different circles. Jack moves to London to escape this dreary existence in the country to live his life in London. On the same note, I moved away from that 6k population town to this 350k city since I don’t want to be that person that everyone knows for science fairs and plays and whatever. I don’t want to be the exception to the rule and I don’t want to be within the rule at all. I don’t want to be a foreigner in my own country and I don’t want to be one of the racists that call themselves “proud” or “worried” members of society. In the city that I live in, I’m a nobody. Nobody cares about where I’m from, usually, and it doesn’t matter what my migration background is. In the end, I’m one in 350k.

I’m a nobody. I like that. It’s my escape, I guess.

And if we move on to video game characters, you can see that a lot of my favourite protagonists from games are actually more of the opposite of me. Athena and Alloy and 2B are brave and strong and strong-willed, for instance. With video games as a medium to “escape reality”, I feel like it’s somewhat important for characters to be different from us “normies”. There have to be characters that are more extreme than us so that we can not identify us with them but rather live this power fantasy or be someone who we are not. I’m anxious and worried and have way too many fears, so I enjoy playing these tough, brave, strong characters in games, just as much as I enjoy playing “real” characters that are empathic and soft and weak.

Zagreus from Supergiant Games’ “Hades” is quite similar to me in the sense that he has to leave home to find himself and his destiny. I had to move out/away to be able to live my life properly and actually find what I’m cut out for. So, I kind of identify with that.

In the end, I feel like most of the book characters that I’d like to mention aren’t good options for this prompt as they don’t tell anything about me. The narrator from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour from Outer Space” for instance is a character that I really like… Max Frisch’s “Andorra” has a character called the “Jemand” (Engl. the “Someone”) who is specifically named as “a person” and not just “someone” and who is looking at situations from the back row but not really getting involved in them. That character has nothing to do with me at all and I just like some of his witty remarks. I love Patrick Süßkind’s “Das Parfüm”, though, the characters in there are just ugly and don’t say much about me either. There is also a poem in Milk ‘n Honey that I really enjoyed and that I can identify with to a degree but I have entrusted my copy of that book to someone and didn’t receive it back, yet.

I mostly read books and poems and plays that depict dystopian times or tragedies. I love the setting of overly negative, pessimistic or tragic worlds with characters that go through a lot only to die at the end. Lovecraft, if you look past all the racism, has a lot of stories like that, so I really am enjoying those.

Luckily, I was able to still write about something after all. Hope you enjoyed this post. You can find my original post on the prompt over here. Tessa’s post can be found here. The next post in line would be Paeroka’s, so check theirs out.

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

Indietail – Sea Salt

Spooktober and Lovecraft? Sounds alright to me. Today we’re taking a look at Sea Salt, a dark reverse-horror action-strategy-game by YCJY Games who I’ve interviewed at this year’s Games Com in Cologne!

Developer: YCJY Games
Publisher: YCJY Games
Genres: Strategy, Lovecraftian, Reverse-Horror, Action, Indie
Release Date: October 17, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy received from the Devs

After getting denied what they owed you, you’re desiring for revenge which is why you, the Old God Dagon, send out your Apostles. Those Apostles will summon unfathomable horrors to blight the human lands and make them pay for their greed and treason!

For everyone who doesn’t know all that much or maybe even nothing about Lovecraftian Horror, it’s basically a sub-genre of horror that emphasizes on the so-called “cosmic horror” and the unknowable or unknown rather than gore, splatter or the like. It’s named after H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) who has created tons of weird and terrifying horror stories, all bundled up in the “Necronomicon”. I really recommend reading some of his stories! My favourite is The Colour Out of Space, a short story about a meteorite that crashed into the “blasted heath”. That meteorite has a strange colour that begins to change the lands and people in those parts of towns! A lot of Lovecraft’s stories feature “The Old Gods”, like C’thulhu or Dagon.

Anyways, this post isn’t about Lovecraft himself or any of his stories but rather about Sea Salt

Sea Salt plays similarly to “Rightclick to Necromance”, as you control your “minions” or “summonings” with one stick (or the mouse in Rc2N’s case) and attack with another button! Controls are very intuitive, which is something the devs really cared about, as they mentioned in an interview I did with them. You basically try to surround your enemies and innocent citizens, attacking them from all sides, while avoiding enemy-attacks and fire.

It’s an action strategy hybrid where you summon an army from the seas to punish those that defied you. The most important thing is that this game distinguishes itself from games like Overlord by not making you a hero utilizing your minions to wreak havoc – instead you’re actually controlling your swarmers, crabs, worms and other minions yourself, utilizing their strengths to the fullest while trying to make up for their own flaws.

Every minion feels differently! Every minion has strengths and flaws!

By seeking altars or collecting enough Gold, you’re eligible to summon more minions. In the beginning, you start with The Swarm. These minions are fast but lack health. They come in packs of 10, making it rather easy to surround enemies and increase your horde’s size by a great amount! Later you unlock The WormThe CrabThe CultistThe Fishman and other units as the game goes on and as you complete more of the story. While The Cultist has high range and damage, they are slow and don’t pack a punch! The Crab is rather tanky and also resistant to fire but doesn’t deal as much as damage as The Worm for instance. 

The Apostles you select at the beginning of the runs, also have different starting units and different abilities like Aghra De Pesca, the Apostle you start with, who has stronger Swarm-minions, starts with 25 Swarmers and can let his Worms explode. I found this one rather enjoyable as he makes The Swarm stronger and as I like the whole idea of one Swarm growing and spreading horror among the lands, just like in Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm but in a pixel-style with more gore and more Lovecraft in it! I also enjoyed just taking crabs upon crabs.

The bosses are quite fun to play against!

At the end of each area, you’ve got to face off against a boss of sorts making use of new mechanics you learned earlier. At first, you’re fighting against the captain of a ship you’ve boarded, surrounding him with your swarmers while dodging his bullets. Some of the bosses and minibosses are rather easy to fight against, depending on your units, as one of the Flamethrower-guys who had to face off against my crab army (I could add Noisestorm’s “Crab Rave” here but do I want to?). 

Minibosses appear as normal enemies later on, too, creating a higher difficulty the further you proceed. While the whole idea of controlling a swarm of minions and killing innocent humans can seem rather easy, you actually die quite often if you don’t watch out. You don’t want to know how many times I died against Wharfmaster Glenn!

There’s a total of 16 different units to unlock, a bunch of different Apostles with unique abilities and quite a lot of story to uncover as you spread horror among the lands! Also, you can try to aim for those 19 Achievements or even bigger rewards in the game’s Arena, for all those completionists among you. 

The game really shines when it comes to the presentation!

The game uses a dark colour palette with a lot of dark-blue-ish and green-ish colours that really capture that feeling that I got from other games like Call of C’thulhu: Darkest Corners of Earth. When I think of Lovecraft, I kind of think of those kinds of colours. The dark seaside with its grey to green colours in the sea, the dirty wood among the houses and the fog and shadows that are crawling over the lands. The game is very detailed and stylized, offering a lot to see in between human-slaying! Once you finish an area off you may explore and find small animations that you won’t notice if you wouldn’t look. 

The animations are fluid, the special effects like blood and fire look nice while adding some sort of contrast to the dreary environment, and overall I really liked the whole presentation art-wise. 

The music fits quite well and offers a lot when it comes to variety! The sound-design also fits quite well with all the sound effects coming off your crabs, worms and swarmers. 

But let’s get to some flaws. 

Overall there aren’t many flaws apart from some tweaking that the game still needs when it comes to the A.I. Sometimes your minions decide to take quite a long way to get to the same point as your other minions, which is rather annoying as they don’t avoid fire anymore when you press the attack button and may end up getting a few of your creatures killed by accident. 

A different issue I had was the fact that there are no save files. You start a run with one Apostle and continue playing that specific run until you end up quitting. When you want to play more, you either click on Continue or New Game. If I wanted to play this specific Apostle later but wanted to try out a different Apostle I’d have to start a new game, losing all of my progress in my previous campaign, which I find rather annoying. I mean, the missions aren’t that long anyway, but you still need to skip all the dialogue and go through the tutorial and play the earlier and easier levels again from the getgo, which feels rather tedious to me. 

I wanted to test out the Arena mode just a few minutes ago and ended up playing until Wave 15 where I ultimately died. Then I thought I’d try to play more of the Campaign before finishing up the review, as I really enjoyed playing Ivan Dorovich XIII just now and wanted to test out how many crabs are too many crabs. So, I hit Continue again and… I’m back at Wave 15 of the Arena mode. Really annoying! A quick little update or hotfix probably will result in this issue getting fixed and save files of sorts getting added to the game. If not, that’s a bummer but it doesn’t bother me personally too much.

Last but not least, the Conclusion.

Overall I’d say that Sea Salt is a highly enjoyable and quite challenging game that lets you be the bad guy once again – which I really like about games – while working with Lovecraftian themes and Eldtrich horrors to create the perfect game for in between during Spooktober. 

I hope you enjoyed this review! Feel free to leave feedback or comment on your favourite Lovecraft story. 🙂

Cheers!

Edit: Fixed a typo and removed one picture.

The Stray Sheep #21 – GamesCom-Interviews #3 – Sea Salt and Elden: Path of the Forgotten

Today I started my job at a nearby school which is why today’s Stray Sheep may be a bit later than usual – but then again, I don’t have fixed times for my post anyways, apart from daily during Blaugust, so it shouldn’t matter.

In today’s post, I’ll share the next two interviews with you. This time we’re featuring Y/CJ/Y’s Sea Salt, an action-strategy-hybrid based on Lovecraftian horror stories, and Onerat Pty Ltd’s Elden: Path of the Forgotten, which is Hyper Light Drifter but in a lot more brutal and featuring eldritch creatures! I enjoy both games and, well, I’m also a Lovecraft-fanboy, so let’s see what the devs had to say!

In Sea Salt, you’re playing as Dagon, one of the eldritch gods of the sea, and you are in control of a horde of minions and monsters. You kill humans, get upgrades, increase your swarm, get better units with different benefits and so on. It reminded me a lot of Right click to Necromance, which is also quite a lot of fun! 🙂 For this interview, I talked to Christopher Andreasson, the programmer of the Swedish duo behind Sea Salt. The C in “WhyCJWhy” consists of Christopher, who describes himself as “little below average” on their homepage, and Joseph Martinovsky, the “kinda tall” Graphics-guy.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“Well, we started making this game on a game-jam in Sweden and by then we loved Bloodbourne. I mean, we still really love Bloodbourne. So, for the art-style that was our heaviest inspiration – and Bloodbourne is in parts inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work as well, so… it’s a huge inspiration by Lovecraft in the game. And at the game-jam, I wanted to do something with path-finding and A.I., so the idea of controlling a group of minions was something that we wanted to do there. Then I looked at games like Pikmin […] and Overlord but we didn’t want [the player] to control a hero character who’s using the minions as tools but instead, we wanted the player to control a group of minions, creating a path of death, fear and destruction.”

What was the most fun in the development?

“I think since it’s quite a unique way to control the game, I had the most fun at making the controls as intuitive as possible. At the start, we had a bunch of different buttons and the idea to activate different minions in a lot of different ways. I like how we then kept it simple, with the controls on one stick and a button to attack basically.

That made it easy for people to just pick it up and play. Like, we showed it to a bunch of friends and other developers and stuff. […] Making the tutorial for the game was also quite enjoyable, as we had a tutorial at the beginning that was very poorly made. As we showed the game to other people we always had to explain the same things, so now we just put those things into the tutorial. We also made a boss for the tutorial which is a lot cooler now.

When we were done with the tutorial, I was quite proud of it and overall I think this game was the most fun [whilst] developing it.”

Since you’re a smaller studio with only a few games developed so far, do you have any role-models that you aspire to be like?

“[…] My favourite would probably be Miyazaki […]. I also aspire a few other Indie devs whose names I can’t recall right now. […]”

In Sea Salt, you control a bunch of different creatures. What’s your favourite to control?

“Usually it’s the latest one we made, but now that we haven’t made one for a while I think the runner-up for the favourites is the Worm which is like one of the most basic minions in the game and it feels like a sleeper-hit because it’s super-strong but it looks so weak. It’s the first minion you unlock in the game.

But I think that my absolute favourite is one of the creatures that you unlock later into the game, the Toad. It’s just a massive toad that will jump to nearby enemies and they die in a huge explosion. It’s so satisfying when the toad jumps into a huge crowd of enemies and they all just die. Yeah, I think that’s my favourite!”

Okay, now we’ll continue with the previously mentioned “weird questions”.

“Yeah, sure!”

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right? (I just had to)

“No. (laughs) No no, not at all.”

I just won’t mention that, jk. So, since One Punch Man has a game now, also with a booth at the GamesCom, I’d like to ask this: If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name and superpower be?

“I think I would like to stop time – and I know that wouldn’t work because of time-travelling and space-time and stuff. But like, just stopping it, pausing time. I would use it to sleep more, get more rest.

Oh! Maybe I’d chose teleportation instead. That’s so much better. Yeah, I’d chose to teleport!”

I mean, it’s quite similar, isn’t it? If you stopped time, walked somewhere and then unpaused it, it would be like teleportation, right?

“Nah, I would choose teleportation. Like, instead of standing in line here, I would just teleport home, to my apartment, go to the toilet there, and teleport back. Yeah, I’d be toilet-man!”

So, that’s the interview with Christopher! Quite a nice lad, apart from the Dr Pepper thing… oh well. Sea Salt will be coming out this year! Look out for that or maybe even wishlist it on steam!

But let’s talk about Elden now! Elden: Path of the Forgotten is quite a nice game, too. It’s a medieval, eldritch fantasy game that is relying on non-traditional methods to tell its story, which is also known as Environmental Storytelling! You are thrown into this world and can learn more about the story by reading books in foreign languages with pictures and the like in them. There’re also cut-scenes without voice that tell it, so a lot of the story is left to you, the player. I really enjoyed its combat and the art-style. So, for Elden, I’ve interviewed Dylan J. Walker from Onerat Games.

What was the muse for this game?

“Oh, well, obviously a lot of Lovecraft and things like Dark Souls… Or rather Bloodbourne, since, as well, more Lovecraft! And it’s the fear of the unknown, which is one of the best elements of Lovecraft.”

While we’re at it, what’s your favourite Lovecraft-story?

“Uhm, probably, just the Dunwich Horror. It probably has the most parallels to the story in the game.”

My favourite is actually The Colour Out of Space.

“I haven’t read it yet! I really need to. I have it on my phone, with me, and I wanna read it on my flight back.”

[At this point, I wonder if he has and how he enjoyed it. If you’re reading this, tell me! I’d love to hear! :D]

What was the most fun part of the work on this game?

“Probably working out how to tell the story with only visuals because I’m not a big fan of menus and that sort of thing, so there’s not a lot of menus in the game. There’s no text. So we need to bring it across without any of that. It’s been a really big challenge to solve the story with just that. But this bit of a challenge definitely was the most fun part!”

In your opinion, what’s the most fun part of this game’s combat?

“I tried to make it really reactive [so that] you can’t just stand there and click and expect things to die. You constantly need to be active and moving around. That for sure was the most part of it, for me personally.”

Okay, so now I’m getting to a few weird questions because I don’t want to sound like a professional. I’m only an Indie Blogger, hehe. So, if you were a superhero, what would your name and power be?

“Oh, you’re trying to put me on the spot! […] Well, super power.. it would probably be something like telekinesis. That’d be pretty nice, just controlling everything using my brain.

As for the name… I’m the worst in finding names. It took me two years to get my gamer-name.”

How about the name-finder then? After you capture the villains, you give them new names, so that they can start a new life after being punished and having been in jail and stuff.

“That works. I like that.”

If you could meet one video-game-character from any game and spend a day with them, who would you like to meet and what would you do with them?

“Oh, these are really hard questions. You really like putting me on the spot! […] Well, usually I like playing RPGs where it’s more about creating your own character. […] I’m thinking… I can’t think of the name. It’s from Metro 2033. Khan is also quite good but it’s not the one I’m thinking of right now… but yeah, I’d like to take control and [tell] people [to] do the tunnel-stuff!”

Okay, for the last and most important question: Dr Pepper is the superior soft-drink, right? (I know, I’m a fanatic, don’t mind me, I thought it’d be fun.)

“Yes! I actually completely agree with that! In Australia, where I’m from, you can’t get it anywhere but in America, when I go there, it’s like everywhere! And it’s very good! It’s bliss!”

Okay, so that was the Interview with Dylan from Onerat Games. It’s been a lot of fun and, well, Elden: Path of the Forgotten is coming out soon, too! Release in 2019! 🙂

While my job was quite exhausting and while I’ve got to head out soon as well, I found it quite relaxing to finish this post first before real life is trying to mess with me again. This could count as my contribution to Blaugust’s “Staying-Motivated-Week”: Don’t let your Offline-stuff mess with you. Fight it head on and write about it or escape from it and write something! Writing is great to escape but even better to treat wounds.

Anyways,

Peace out!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.