Sundry Sunday: Homestar Runner 2000 Halloween DLC!

It’s new Homestaw Runnew, and it’s vaguely game-welated, so hewe it iiis! You see, I did it in Homestar’s voice. As sorta-human embodiment of capitalization Strong Mad would say: I’M A REFERENCE!

It’s a cartoon from the early days of the site, before they had codified how their Halloween comics work-that is, it’s a Halloween-set story with every character wearing a costume that’s a delightfully unexpected pop-culture reference, and at the end they refer to the characters and Homestar humorously fails to understand what the others are dressed up as. With this special DLC upgrade, the characters have new costumes, and the gags are somewhat different! IT’S META!

Revival of Glitch: Odd Giants

Some years ago there was Glitch, an innovative MMORPG whose client ran in the web browser, and offered non-violent and whimsical play. The land of Ur in that game was overseen by eleven sleeping Giants, and players could create customized characters to roam around, explore, collect things, complete quests, earn achievements, and generally have fun. While there were still dangers (in the form of The Rook, a horde of malicious crows that occasionally attacked) it was mostly pretty chill. It was essentially a platforming world, but there were fun twists on the formula.

Glitch had some beautiful locations to find and explore

They hired on Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy, and later on Wattam, and although they closed before many of his ideas could be implemented they did manage to release the area Shim Shiri, which was kind of a shortcut hub for the game’s world. Scattered throughout the world were the mouths of gigantic creatures, you see, which you could dive into, zip down their digestive systems, and be pooped out the other end in Shim Shiri. Then you could go to another creature’s butt, jump right up it, and emerge elsewhere! His ideas were recorded on the Glitchipedia on the Glitch game’s website, which is still up.


Glitch was never very popular, but it gathered a passionate fanbase. I started playing Glitch, as often happens with me, right after it was announced that it was closing permanently. I could see, even in the limited time that I was there, that it was special.

Glitch was run by Tiny Speck and created by Stewart Butterfield, who founded Flickr, and afterward went on to create Slack. It’s rumored that Slack’s humble beginnings were in Glitch’s communications code.

All of these locations are still listed, pictured, and mapped-out on the Glitch website, just as if the original game were still operational

If you get the feeling that you missed out on something cool, well, you did. But not forever! Metafilter user fiercecupcake recently informed us of a couple of Glitch revival projects. Tiny Speck thoughtfully contributed all of Glitch’s assets to the public domain soon after they shut the game down to aid in others who wish to revive the game. One of these, Odd Giants, is currently in alpha and playable! It’s implemented as a Unity stand-alone application instead of running in a web browser, and it is a fairly substantial download at around 1.3 GB, so keep that in mind. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

It tends only to have a small number of people online at any given time, but perhaps there lies the seeds of something great? Well, likely not, it is a fan recreation of a dead MMORPG, but perhaps, just perhaps….

News 10/28/22

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Pretty light this time out. Jordan Carroll at Polygon tells of how Games Workshop is fighting fascists trying to use Warhammer 40,000 to promote their odious worldview. WH40K’s Earth empire began as an over-the-top parody of fascist dystopias in fiction and games, then when they decided to really push the grim darkness of the setting and toned down the jokes, it started to look a lot more like they were justifying fascism. In an article on their website, Games Workshop says the Imperium is driven by hate, Warhammer is not, and they state in that article: “Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.” No word yet on if the exorbitant cost of fielding an army of Citadel Miniatures is one of the satirical elements.

Games Workshop also says Hello Kitty is not a part of Warhammer 40K.
Who’s this guy again? A mirror universe Flash?

John Walker at Kotaku brings us more news of the dissolution of ZA/UM, developer of indie hit Disco Elysium: one of the writers that had been “forced out” of the company is suing its remnants. Hard information is still difficult to come by, with some allegations that control over the franchise is being sought by the game’s UK investors. Read the article for more, I don’t feel like I have a good grasp of the situation with my gelatinous brain.

Andy Chalk at PC Gamer tells us that Terraria has become the first “indie hit” to break a million positive reviews on Steam. Seems like a worthy milestone!

Back at Polygon, Ryan Dinsdale reports of Black Adam being added to the cast of Multiversus… oh, and the addition of a new Arcade Mode. I think they may have buried the lede on that one, if they added an Arcade Mode I might have to consider playing it! Can we field amiibos too? Probably not? Darn.

Blaseball is Back

When last we left Blaseball, that crazy simulated baseball league with horror elements, deadly weather, necromancy, an evil peanut god, etc., the concept of money had been destroyed and a black hole had consumed the universe. Well that’s certainly a turn-up!

It’s been nearly a year since the rather apocalyptic outcome of the previous era. Now, according to an interview with IGN, producers The Game Band are about ready to restart the game once more. Recognizing that it had become rather impenetrable to people who hadn’t followed it for a while, they’re trying to reinvent Blaseball to follow more of a monster-of-the-week format, which seems as appropriate for a Halloween-season post as anything.

They’re also hoping to make it more sustainable by not relying on corporate sponsors as much, instead offering paid accounts to players, offering cosmetic modifications in the game’s social space. Wait, Blaseball had a social space? Is that new?

Blaseball is hilarious and unique and bizarre, and we wish it the best, provided that wish isn’t somehow corrupted by its fell gods and revisited upon our world, which happens like all the time nowadays. We wish it provisional well, how about that?

If you’re unfamiliar with Blaseball, somehow: it’s a fake baseball league. A bunch of fake teams filled with fake players with weird stats play a game that is 90% Baseball in a computer simulation run on the game’s servers.

The simulation is entirely textual. There are no visible players running around. The simulation is run in discrete units, as a series of pitches and plays. Baseball is uniquely suited to be run in this kind of simulation because of its almost turn-based nature. Other than stealing bases, everything happens in brief bursts of activity, and game states can be represented pretty cleanly: which bases are occupied, which players are in which positions, how many outs, strikes, and balls are there, and, where in which inning are we.

Real sports are essentially drama generators, something without real meaning that people can follow along and support as if it did, and Blaseball, which calls itself a splort, takes that one floor deeper into the rabbit hole.

Because it’s entirely fake, it can do weird things. Like, host random kinds of weather during which players can be incinerated or affect the game in other ways. Or have magic baseball-related items that players can be granted.

The real participants in Blaseball are fans, who during social distancing latched onto it and idolized particular players, like Jaylen Hotdogfingers, who was brought back from the dead through a bit of database-related trickery by fans. Fans can also vote on rule changes, advantages for their favorite teams, and other things. Fans can bet, using fake money, on the outcome of the fake games, and that fake money can be used to buy more votes.

If sports are a drama generator, then Blaseball’s is exceptionally dramatic. Enough so that new fans were finding it increasingly difficult to understand. Blaseball’s previous era ended in an intentional exercise in excess, with the evil (fictional) entity that was running the league adding in feature after feature.

Now it looks like Blaseball will be pared back again. It remains to be seen if this will allow new players to join in easily, or if old fans will return, but it’ll be entertaining to watch at least.

The official Blaseball Youtube channel hosts a number of entertaining videos that recap the events of prior seasons. Here they are:

The Discipline Era (10 minutes)

Peace and Prosperity (16 minutes)

Live Bait (17 minutes)

Negative Influence (16 minutes)

Win(Win) (18 minutes)

The cataclysmic events of the final seasons are not recapped, but presumably will be soon.

Romhack Thursday: Dragon Warrior x10

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

The early days of JRPGs contain many games that are kind of difficult to play today. The genre was just getting formulated, and while there was a lot of ingenuity and interesting ideas being played with, there were also many games where difficulty, and grind, were the entire point. When a game as simple as Dragon Quest, known first in the US by its localized title Dragon Warrior, had to justify its sale price, it had to present players with an experience that would be as long as a challenging NES platformer, or longer, within its limited memory space, and it did so with grind, asking players to accept fighting hundreds of monsters one-on-one in a basic menu-based combat simulation as fun enough to make up for most of the game.

At the time, in Japan, it worked, but it’s telling that Dragon Quest II has much deeper combat, and many more kinds of monsters, than its predecessor had. Dragon Warrior had a tough time breaking into the US market because of its simple gameplay, enough so that eventually Nintendo, who published the game in North America, resorted to giving away copies as a subscription premium for Nintendo Power.

What was a tough sell to Western players even then is much more difficult to enjoy now. Compare it to the much deeper, not to mention longer and better animated, titles made later in the series. It’s mostly enjoyable only for nostalgia factor and historical interest.

I’m not going to claim it fixes everything the game, but this hack improves its play a lot by decreasing gold prices and experience requirements ten-fold. It decreases costs: changing the earn rate of these quantities would very quickly hit Dragon Warrior’s fairly low variable caps, since the game stores both in 16-bit values. You can take the 120 gold you get from the King’s chest, buy an 18 gold Copper Sword in Brecconary, then run to the north-west to Garinham and buy the sturdy Half Plate armor for 100! With these items, even at low levels, you should be able to vanquish all of the enemies in this section of the map, except perhaps Magicians, whose Hurt spells bypass armor. But it only takes defeating one Slime to reach Level 2, two more for Level 3, and two more than that for Level 4. Slimes won’t suffice for long, but by that point you can munch on much stronger foes. This greatly reduces the number of fights a player must win to complete the game, and makes it possible to finish in less than two hours.

You can very quickly rise to decent levels of power in the starting area! You’ll still be humbled if you try to rush late-game enemies, but you don’t have to spend long building your character at all.
This guy is the Magic Refill Wizard. Don’t pay those exorbitant Inn prices, use your Heal spell repeatedly and talk to him!

Preserving some modest amount of challenge, the gold costs of Inns are left the same, making them effectively ten times more expensive. Inns were never very expensive in the unmodified game, so this makes staying the night to restore your HP and MP more of a strategic choice. A tip: remember there’s a guy in Tantegel Castle who will restore all your MP for free!

If even a two-hour Dragon Warrior is too much effort for you, you could watch this playthrough of the hack on Youtube, which is about an hour and a half in length: Dragon Warrior – 10x Experience and 10x Gold

Indie Game Archive Stream (9/28/22) Edition

This is the archive from our nightly stream on Game-Wisdom. If you would like to watch them live, I stream nightly starting around 9:30 PM ET on

Games shown:

  • 0:00 Squad 51 vs. the flying saucers
  • 44:46 Temple of Starlight
  • 1:12:15 Turbo Kid
  • 1:44:12 There is No Light
  • 2:29:41 Taiji

@Play: Angband Variant, Zangband

@Play‘ is a frequently-appearing column which discusses the history, present, and future of the roguelike dungeon exploring genre.

I’ve been lagging behind a bit with @Play, which I apologize for. There are a lot of Angband variants, and even just covering important ones, there’s a lot to go over, and I’ve suffered from many distractions lately. So I figured I’d just take a more leisurely pace for a bit, which works out because many variants have quite a bit to say about them. So let’s start out with what’s probably the most important Angband variant of them all:


Lineage: PC Angband 1.3 > Angband– > Zangband

First released in 1994. Last update 4/2003

We could consider Zangband to be the first major Angband variant. It forked directly off of frogknows, but contains modifications to Angband dating after that. Its list of maintainers includes Angband maintainers Ben Harrison, and Robert Rühlmann, who took over as lead maintainer Zangband from Topi Ylinen. Of note is that he stopped being the maintainer of Angband at around the same time that Zangband entered stasis, and previous Angband fansite Thangorodrim went dark. Maybe Morgoth finally got him.

The standard Angband starting town can be shapes other than rectangular, have a wilderness outside its walls, and if you go far enough you can find other towns, with other kinds of shops.

It’s a tradition to name Angband variants with some variation upon its name. The Z in Zangband stands for Roger Zelazny, the author of the Chronicles of Amber series, and contains monsters and items from that series. Cribbing from fantasy literature has long been a way that roguelike authors have paid homage to their favorite stories.

An interesting aspect of Zangband is its version of the Angband character auto-roller. Instead of going until it hits minimum stats that you specify, asks you to “weight” various stats on a scale of 1-100, and then rolls 500 characters and picks the best one rolled as judged by those weights. This means you can’t just set your character to roll dice indefinitely until you get the perfect character–or at least, you can’t do that automatically. Nothing stops you from killing the process if you don’t get a character with stats you like and trying again, as many times as you like. Statistical cheese has, after all, long been part of the flavor of rolling up character stats, dating back to all those D&D house rules groups used to make characters more powerful/interesting than typically produced by the old roll-3D6-six-times-then-assign system.

Standard dungeon levels look like classic Angband for the most part.

In addition to adding a lot of new character classes and monsters based on the Amber books, and other sources as well because why not, Zangband opens up the world outside the starter town. You can step past the walls of Angband’s town and see the outside world! That world works rather like a horizontal dungeon: instead of diving down into the earth, you can explore outward in all directions through the wilderness, which is filled with varied terrain kind of in the style of Minecraft. A new character can die very quickly that way, however; unexpectedly, the first levels of the main dungeon are rather easier to survive than just outside the town’s gates. If you have a means of defeating strong monsters, though, it’s possible to gain levels very rapidly without traveling too far from the starting town.

Some of the overworld terrain elements can also appear in dungeons. These green marsh plants do damage if you wade through them.

Out in the wilderness there are other towns to find, some of them with their own entrances into the dungeon (which work just as if you had entered it from the main town). As you progress out further from what we might call Point Zero, the monsters found in the wilderness get more dangerous. Some towns have special kinds of shops that are not to be found in the starting shop. The game’s bosses, which have been changed to the Amber-flavored Oberon on Level 99 and the Serpent of Chaos on level 100, are only found down in the dungeon.

In addition to various kinds of room template designs, sometimes you find a whole themed level, like this huge swamp area.

While it did pick up some of Angband’s later advancements, it still halted development nearly two decades ago. Angband has changed a fair bit in the time since Zangband became frozen, so to speak, in Amber. Playing it requires getting used to the many little things that Angband has abandoned in more recent years, like having to actively search for secret doors and traps. If you’re playing a magic-using class, it’s possible for your starting spellbooks to get incinerated by a fire attack, then for you to head back to town and find that it’s not for sale. Once you’re alert to the danger of this, you’ll know to buy extras when you can and keep them in your house. It’s the kind of affliction that affects most players exactly once, which is a common enough experience in the world of classic roguelikes.

We’re back to classic Angband rules here, so selling things you find in the dungeon is an important source of money.

Zangband is notable for itself inspiring a bunch of variants, in fact a lot of Angband variants get those genes through Zangband as an intermediate parent. Its inclusionist philosophy of adding a whole bunch of monsters and things, and its inclusion of a persistent overworld (which it originally borrowed from Kangband) might explain the attraction.

While Zangband hasn’t been updated in nearly twenty years, its website persisted doggedly until just earlier this year, at Sadly, it has finally succumbed to linkrot, and now can only be found through the graces of the Internet Archive. Its Sourceforge repository still exists however, meaning you can still obtain the game through a living site, at:

In NHL 2022, Secret Base makes the most violent NHL team of all time

EA Sports says you must accept this. EA Sports says this is your god. Your malformed football god.

Jon Bois has been an internet favorite ever since Breaking Madden, his series where he strained mightily to upturn all of the assumptions that the Madden football games make to present reasonable game experiences, and in so doing revealed those games are made out of cardboard and paste.

Modern EA has long been on the outs with me, but discovering that this company that has locked up the exclusive rights to make official games for multiple sports, for decades now, makes terribly buggy, broken product, has caused me to see them as a force for evil in the world. If you want to play with NFL teams, it’s either the Football Fetus (see above), or nothing. I know, capitalism sucks, but this is a particularly egregious example. But that’s beside the point.

(The only reason I’m not linking to an explanation for what the above thing is, is I’m saving it to post later. Keeping up a daily gaming blog is a marathon, not a sprint, and there is no reason to wind myself.)

Jon Bois and sitemate Kofie Yeboah now hold their game breaking adventures over at Youtube channel Secret Base, which also has a homepage. They mostly work in the medium of video now, which I can kind of understand? Youtube ads probably pay more than web page banners. I still miss their text output though. But that’s also beside the point.

What is the point? They have a new video where they tried to adjust the stats on an AI team in NHL 2022 with the sole purpose to get them to the end-game shootout, which apparently happens in the NHL in the primary season if overtime ends with a tie score, as often as possible. In the process they incidentally cause and win an epic number of fights and eventually take the Stanley Cup. And in the process, in typical EA Sports fashion, game bugs cause players to slowly skate with the full speed animation and sometimes put a spurious extra player on the ice in overtime for no discernible reason. Here it is:

Watching these videos and reading their old articles almost make me want to forget about my long-standing disdain for both EA Sports and pro sports games in general and get one just run crazy experiments like this. But only almost.

Nextfest 2022 Showcase (finale)

Cab Ride

This is something that a few of you may have seen before, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from bumbling around the internet for… geez, it’s been nearly 30 years now, it’s that most things could always stand to have a few more eyes looking at it. So it is with Cab Ride.

Cab Ride is a free project that uses the Pico 8 engine. It gives you a first-person view from the engine car of a train as it travels between procedurally generated stations, and plays jaunty chiptune music. It’s a game only in the barest sense. It does rate you on how well you stop at each station. There’s no penalty for doing badly, and no conclusion. From the title screen you can activate Very Chilled Mode, which disables what little scoring it has.

The down arrow key (a little unintuitively) increases the throttle and increases acceleration, while the up arrow decreases. To play normally, you want to stop when you’re close the platform (when the number in the upper-left is as close to 0 as you can get it), then open the doors with Z. If you’re playing with a controller, that button may be different. Press X (when playing on keyboard) honk the horn, which is not required for anything. You can hold the left arrow key to announce the last station, which is the only in-game way to conclude a session, or right arrow to active “Express Mode,” which basically runs itself (but won’t stop to pick up or drop off anyone).