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February 19th 2015

More than a decade ago, just when we had bought a new PlayStation 2, we - that is my girlfriend Auri and I - were looking for games to play, and in Auri's hometown there weren't any big game stores that you'd expect from other cities. Instead, we paid a visit to a little electronics shop that featured a small section dedicated to games. There were the usual hits like Final Fantasy X, Tekken Tag Tournament and various sports games. Auri picked up a game that looked like this:

I basically said, "Why would you want to play this? It looks like crap."
She insisted on buying it, saying she had a good feeling about it.
Turns out, she was right. Shadow Hearts was amazing and keeps inspiring me to this day. Though I wouldn't realize that until a few hours into the game.

The first time we booted it up, I was confused. The game used 2D pre-rendered backgrounds, something I thought I'd never see again on the PS2, since, you know, it was the future and all. 2D backgrounds were so 1999.
Also, the game's initial battle surroundings looked kind of blocky, unfinished; I was used to Final Fantasy IX battles at this point, so my expectations were kind of high. The music drove me crazy with that annoying eerie MIDI voice.

However, I slowly started to notice the little details. The protagonist was able to transform into monsters with special powers, which was kind of like summoning creatures in Final Fantasy. Turns out, he's a total bad-ass, but still had troubles handling it all. The girl in his party whacked monsters with her book, which was hilarious.
The story was creepy, engaging and still didn't take itself too seriously. All in all, the game grew on me. But I discovered more that would make me fall in love with it.

The Judgement Ring

Usually, in RPGs you select an attack and the hero strikes the enemies, and in most games there's a hit chance, which means the computer rolls a die for you and if you miss, you miss. Not in Shadow Hearts!

The Judgement Ring gave you control over your luck and turned it into a skill-based mini-game. When you chose an action, the judgement ring would appear in a variety of forms. In the image above, you can see three yellow hitzones. The green line moves clock-wise (starting north) like a radar, and you press X whenever the green line is within the hitzones. Each hitzone you hit results in your character kicking the enemy with a combo (in this case up to three times). If you miss a zone, the combo gets only executed the amount of zones you hit. If you want to take a higher risk, you can try and hit the red edges, which would turn your attacks into critical hits. High risk, high reward! (Here's a perfect judgement ring run from Shadow Hearts 2.)

But that's not all. The Judgement Ring was used for all kinds of things, like opening chests and pushing buttons. It could be adjusted with equipment items, for example changing the speed of the green line or the size of the strike areas. Not only do you level up your character, but you yourself get better at hitting things the further you are in the game.

The Music

At first, as I described above, it freaked me out with its MIDI voices, but then I noticed, hey, the soundtrack's actually not that bad, in fact it's pretty damn good and catchy! It certainly fit the mood of the story.

The Protagonist's Transformation

This may seem like a really small thing, but it had a huge impact on me. You might have already seen it, but in the early stages of the game, when Yuri transforms he cries out in pain, holding his hands against his head. Look what he does near the end of the game.

Bad-ass! Imagine an MMORPG; you get a spell at level 1 with a really wild casting animation. Wouldn't it be better, if at level 50 you'd cast those lower level spells with just a snap of your fingers? And at level 100 you'd just casually wave a hand?

The Enemies

The monster designs were something entirely else too. I mean, look at these adorable abominations. Don't you want to hug them?

The Totally Serious Ghost Story

Close your eyes and hear for yourself.

Shadow Hearts 2

Shadow Hearts was one of the most charming game's I've ever played. The good news is that Shadow Hearts 2 was even better in almost every way (the music was still pretty good.) The bad news is that Shadow Hearts 3 was crap and the company got dissolved.

Oh well.

January 13th 2015

Thanks to Dmitriy for the sadistic christmas wishes.

Happy new year 2015 everyone!

If anyone is still on the fence about making a remix for Halfquake Sunrise - Trap in Progress (90 BPM), don't hesitate and send the results to me. I plan on remixing all remixes in February. I got new programs to experiment with, so don't you guys leave me hanging!

As for me personally, I've been on vacation for more than two weeks. I did get some writing done, and I finished playing through the game Danganronpa 2. There were some pretty Halfquake-ish scenes in there, which is probably why I enjoyed it a lot. And probably because it was similar to the games 999 and Virtue's Last Reward, both of which are two of my most favourite games.

I'm itching to make another game (now more than ever), but I simply have to finish my book first. Thankfully the December stress is behind me, so I should be able to write more often now.

Here's to a great year 2015, hope you're all having a good time.

December 19th 2014

Alex Corruptor created a video to Insane Migraine using Open Hexagon and 500 lines of code (Lua and JSON files):

WASD 06The new WASD 06 is here, featuring an experimental interview with me (in English, even though the book is in German). I received the questions and was allowed to change whatever I wanted, and even modify the questions for the next interviewee. If you're interested in seeing how it all turned out, support the bookazine and buy a copy.

Some of you may remember Retention made by my friend Pinkerator, in which he also used songs from our collaboration project Keratordash. In any case, the game just got greenlit on Steam after roughly 830 days!

And last but not least, all Meadow Mayhem Pure Awesome editions have sold out now. Now to sell all the Pure Pawesome editions of Rotten Melody!

December 05th 2014

Yet another beautiful song by Inconnu Flettn - here's Farewell breeze, which was partly inspired by Farewell (from the album Remains).

(Thanks again to Niles, who handled all the communication!)

While making Halfquake Sunrise, I started several tracks that never got finished. One of those tracks actually got pretty far (full length drums line) and maybe one of you wants to try and add some instruments to it or remix it in any other way; you may do with it whatever you like: Halfquake Sunrise - Trap in Progress (90 BPM)

You can send your works to me via email. If I get enough submissions I will try to mash up all samples/remixes into another remix.

October 06th 2014

Here's a Vain Attempt Cover by Inconnu Fletnn (thanks to Niles for contacting him). The original can be listened to here.

And here are new screenshots for the Postal 2 mod Useless Soul.


I've had a sort of breakthrough in the last few days and been writing a lot for my new book. It's still difficult to say when it will be done; if I take a look at my mental roadmap, I'd say I'm close to the end of the second story arc, and there's still one arc left to write.

It's hard to convey any sort of progress with a book (or music for that fact), but since I'm used to game development, here's a work-in-progress screenshot. If you don't know yet, the book's called Walter's Deal and it tells the story of a scientist, who invented teleportation in the 1990s, also involving a salesman who's trying to connect the world with Walter's technology. And yes, there are Star Trek references early on, but then people die and the actual fun begins.

Last time I said I'm never bored, and the book is one of the reasons. There's just so much to do, and even when I'm not writing, there's enough content out there that can be consumed at any time that it would probably last a lifetime or two. I've thought about boredom a lot, and it seems it usually affects people who aren't used to being alone and can't quite figure out what to do when nobody's around to tell them. Maybe it's due to the fact that our senses are constantly overcharged by being connected all the time or it's because there's so much content available; the brain is over-stimulated and becomes insensitive, and thus becomes bored, as nothing seems interesting anymore.

I don't really know, it's definitely a strange state to be in. What I do know is that I'm used to creating and when I don't create anything for a while my brain longs for that sort of fire again. I actually get frustrated when I can't work on my stuff for several days and whatever I do - I can't stop thinking about continuing with my projects and nothing else interests me. I guess that's a form of boredom. Or is that the sign of addiction? Can one be addicted to creating?

I know I was high on updating PHQ for a while. It was a quick fix for my brain; I got lots of stuff done in short bursts of time, I wrote lengthy satisfying news articles and watched people try out the new stuff I made. I sought attention and found that compared to huge projects that took years - PHQ resulted in instant gratification.

If boredom means not getting enough attention, maybe I create because I'm afraid of being bored. And maybe I like to entertain people because I want to return the attention I've received and don't want anyone being bored.

Are you?




The Farm