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Articles about game design, games journalism, the games industry or maybe just games. Chill takes over hot takes, every time.

Free Points: Space Funeral – Surreal Comedy/Horror RPG

Free Points: Space Funeral

Space Funeral by thecatamites is a fairly vintage game in the set of surreal RPG maker games that have popped up over the years. As you might have noticed, this peculiar subgenre is a favorite of mine! Due to it’s short length, relative popularity, and good sense of humor, it’s hard not to recommend Space Funeral among other surreal RPG Maker games.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

I get paid $10 every time I say BLOOD in all caps.

What Is Space Funeral?

Title: Space Funeral
Release Date: 2010-09-17
Price: Free!
Developer: thecatamites
Languages: English
Fan Translations: Russian
Length: ~1.5 hours
Platform: PC (Gamejolt, DRM Free)
Genre: RPG
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Mild horror/blood
Supplemental: I streamed a full playthrough of Space Funeral you can watch here

Space Funeral follows the story of Phillip who seeks the legendary City of Forms to restore the world, and his pal Leg Horse who is a Leg Horse. There will be BLOOD SWAMPS, BLOOD CAVERNS, and many other sources of BLOOD.

Explore a rather miserable world and beat up pretty much anyone who gets in your way, and don’t forget to say hi to Dracula. Cry at enemies until they die!

I think he’s some sort of crime man.

Why Play Space Funeral?

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Free Points: OFF by Mortis Ghost

Free Points: Off by Mortis Ghost

OFF is actually the game that originally inspired me to have a “cool free games” sort of section on this site, so it’s no surprised I’m posting it early! This one’s a real treat for fans of more existential games like OneShot and Undertale, and just a really interesting gem of a free game.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

What Is OFF?

Title: OFF
Release Date: 2008
Price: Free!
Developer: Mortis Ghost
Languages: French
Fan Translations: English, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish
Length: ~5 Hours
Platform: PC (DRM free)
Genre: RPG
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Mild horror/blood, disturbing themes, existential crises
Supplemental: A YouTube Playlist of my playthrough of OFF, and an incomplete video walkthrough of mine

OFF is a mildly horror-themed RPG (tending more to the surreal and intellectual horror, rather than visceral gore and jumpscares) created by Mortis Ghost. It’s a game that makes a very strong and layered impression with its distinct and occasionally discordant visual and musical themes.

In the English-speaking world OFF first gained popularity through Starman.net, an Earthbound fan site due to its similarity to that series. The Batter’s choice of weapons and the game’s propensity toward getting Meta (and even letting the player name themselves) evokes some strong Earthbound vibes.

OFF gameplay clip

Combat in OFF

Why Play OFF?

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Free Points: Yume Nikki

Free Points: Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is a game you’ve probably at least heard of, and quite possibly even played a game at least in part inspired by it. In fact I debated on whether this was “too mainstream” to kick off my series of free game recommendations, but it’s hard to talk free games without acknowledging Yume Nikki, so let’s start with one of the best.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

What Is Yume Nikki?

Release Date: June 26, 2004
Price: Free!
Developer: Kikiyama
Languages: Japanese, English
Length: ~6 Hours
Platform: PC (Steam, DRM free via Uboachan (sorry, it’s a .RAR))
Genre: Exploration
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, Walking Sim, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Horror, pixel depictions of death & suicide
Supplemental: A YouTube Playlist of my explorations in Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is an RPG Maker game, but it’s certainly not an RPG. Rather, the engine was used (quite effectively) to make a series of dream worlds that the protagonist, Madotsuki (窓付き), will explore.  Worlds vary from the macabre to the beautiful, from the dingy to the stunningly surreal.

Kyukyu, rubbing the banister as always

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YouTube’s “Not suitable for most advertisers”: How To Appeal Demonetized Videos

Demonetized Youtube symbol

Has Youtube marked your seemingly squeaky-clean video as “Not suitable for most advertisers“? What’s that even mean? Well, here’s how to appeal your Demonetized YouTube videos and how to best avoid getting them flagged in the first place.

If you’re here, you’re probably already aware, but YouTube recently started flagging certain videos as “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. This process is entirely automatic and is a process run on all YouTube videos automatically akin to Content ID. Here I’ll share the best information I’ve found on how this process works and how to work with it.

Note that YouTube’s process for this is highly variable and opaque; I meant to publish this weeks ago but only recently am I confident that the methods outlined here actually seem to work. Expect variation in your specific circumstances.

Tap Into YouTube is a series of articles from the perspective of a gaming YouTuber, covering both the use of YouTube and how to effectively work with YouTubers to promote your game.

What Does “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers” Mean?

When you get the yellow dollar sign symbol a video is “demonetized” or in youtube’s vernacular “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. Despite some conspiracy theories this does not mean YouTube is “skimming” your ad money; when demonetizing videos no ads are shown, meaning YouTube gets no ad money either. YouTube gets no inherent benefit from a demonetized video.

Despite the “limited or no” advertising, as far as I can tell no or effectively no advertisers actually put videos on “unsuitable” videos. You should consider a flagged video effectively demonetized entirely. It’s possible this will change in the future if advertisers choose to opt in to this class of video.

Find Demonetized Videos

If you had a backlog of videos before the “Not suitable for most advertisers” stuff started, you might have videos demonetized without knowing. There is a search filter you can use to find them immediately; this is where you’ll want to start your quest to re-monetize as many as you can. 

However, I’ve noticed that in some rare cases videos (unlisted ones in my case) did not show in that search filter, and recently re-monetized videos may still show in that view until monetization is turned off then back on for that video.

Demonetized Youtube Videos

The infamous Yellow Dollar Sign icon is the telltale sign you’ve been Demonetized

How To Get a Video Re-Monetized

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Finer Points: How To Make Loot Boxes and Gachapon Not Suck

Making Loot Boxes Suck Less by Sir TapTap

Loot Boxes and Gachapon are all the rage these days; both the literal and figurative meanings of ‘rage’ in fact. While I frankly despise the practice and think they should absolutely never be in any game in almost any form, there’s a hell of a lot of ways they could be better and as a designer, it bugs me that even free Gachapons are usually done terribly.

How can we make such an inherently abusive and exploitative mechanic better? Here’s all the considerations.

Update 2018-02-19: Added “Speed It Up”, a section on how even a “good” gacha can waste your time.

Finer Points is a series of Game Design/Game UX articles by Sir TapTap focusing on very specific gameplay elements and the major impact on a player’s experience they can have.

It’s Gotta Be Free

Here’s the thing. Monetization influences game design. This is why Mobile games have a bad rap; most of them are F2P, and that heavily influences game design.

You simply cannot objectively and ethically design a gambling system when exploiting the player will earn you more money. Even if you did, you would be designing a game you couldn’t profit from. The only way to ethically include a luck-based system for earning items is if it has absolutely no tie-in to your monetization model. This is simply non-negotiable.

“But wait, I’m not one of those bad designers—” you sputter before I gently place my index finger on your lips with a gently “shush”. Granblue Fantasy’s designers no doubt thought they were “one of the good ones” as well.

The issue with bias is you’re not always aware you’re doing it.

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Fan Art: TapTap vs the trees of Grow Island, by Cremexbutter!

Fan art by Cremexbutter based on Sir TapTap's Grow Island let's play

This fan art is by Cremexbutter, based on my Grow Island Let’s Play! Thanks a lot💚!

Don’t ask. The trees…the tees had it it coming. I love the happy TapTap in the top too. Probably thinking about destroying trees.

The Let’s Play is below, the Grow Series of Flash games is a blast. Rated T for trees, contains Mild Parker Interruptions.

Read More »Fan Art: TapTap vs the trees of Grow Island, by Cremexbutter!