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Forum » Game Review: Notrium

Game Review: Notrium

Reaper005 8 years ago
Me and a buddy have begun Codename: CRUMBLE, a blog dedicated to delivering reviews and information on indie games. Our very first review is on Notrium, and we definitely need some feedback. Anything you guys can think of, comment about it! Flame if you need to, 'cause we will take everything to heart. We aim to please! You won't need to sign up for anything to comment, simply type a nick name and your thoughts.

Site: Codename: CRUMBLE
Story URL: http://codenamecrumble.blogspot.com/2008/01/review-notrium.html

Thanks again, everyone!
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Idiota 8 years ago
I read the review. I'd say you cover most of the game just about the same way I feel about it. I take it that your main focus will be reviewing freeware, or did you have bigger game reviews in mind?
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Reaper005 8 years ago
No. There are enough IGN, GameTrailer, etc sites around, not to mention the hundreds of blogs that do the exact same thing. Indie game reviews were harder to find, and I wanted to get some experience in writing, so I chose to review games.

The next game I'm reviewing is Frets on Fire, which is an open-source Guitar Hero duplicate. In addition, I'm probably posting a guide to making a Guitar Hero/Rock Band guitar work better with that game, including pics and other details, so I may be dipping a bit into GH/RB. Otherwise, I'll be sticking to lesser known games.

Was there anything specifically that you wanted to see in a review like this, or something I should have avoided adding? Even knit-picky stuff would be great.
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Crazy 8 years ago
Hah. That's cool stuff, man.

...and i never knew you could plug a GH controller into FoF.

EDIT: Eh, you want nitpicking? There's more than just 5 members on the ship (made rather clear by playing), the marine is not exactly "retired" and when describing the races you didn't quite display the entire gamut: The Human and Android play relatively similar (standard top-down shooter stuff), the alien is much more fast-paced and savage (can't use weapons) and the psionic is just something completely different (for starters, you can't even pick up items).

Put eh, that's just nitpicking.
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MM5 8 years ago
Nice review! Thorough and descriptive. It felt as you were reading my mind when I first played Notrium!
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MageKing17 8 years ago
"Idiota" said:
I take it that your main focus will be reviewing freeware, or did you have bigger game reviews in mind?
"Reaper005" said:
No. There are enough IGN, GameTrailer, etc sites around, not to mention the hundreds of blogs that do the exact same thing. Indie game reviews were harder to find, and I wanted to get some experience in writing, so I chose to review games.
Indie game != freeware. Ever hear of Starscape? It's not exactly an unheard of game, true, but it's still Indie, and it's not free. Same with Mount&Blade and Blockland.

If you want a suggestion, though, Noctis could always do with another review.
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ville 8 years ago
You know, you'll definitely need to have screenshots in your review. At least I always look at screenshots before deciding to get some game. You might also want to think about the score ranges, is 0-7 a standard your readers can easily understand. It's a nice review of Notrium, you've really played it for the review and it shows.

Is the weapons arsenal really lacking in vanilla Notrium? Could someone count the weapons?
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Redemption 8 years ago
Well written. You should mention the moddability though.

"ville" said:
Could someone count the weapons?
28.
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Reaper005 8 years ago
"Crazy" said:
Hah. That's cool stuff, man.

...and i never knew you could plug a GH controller into FoF.

EDIT: Eh, you want nitpicking? There's more than just 5 members on the ship (made rather clear by playing), the marine is not exactly "retired" and when describing the races you didn't quite display the entire gamut: The Human and Android play relatively similar (standard top-down shooter stuff), the alien is much more fast-paced and savage (can't use weapons) and the psionic is just something completely different (for starters, you can't even pick up items).

Put eh, that's just nitpicking.

Yep, you can plug everything into the computer. PS2 and PS3 controllers have PS#-to-USB, and Rock Band's 360 USB peripherals work flawlessly. Not sure how well the 360's wireless and other peripherals work, but they should be similar.

As far as the nitpicking goes, I didn't totally mean nitpicking. We know we didn't cover everything we wanted to, and I realize that my review isn't completely accurate because of it. Thanks for the corrections though, it's much appreciated. I played around with the various characters, and only know about the 5 (6 if you count the second stowaway, now that I think about it). I agree completely that the character descriptions were somewhat bland, and we may end up making a list of strengths and weaknesses for each instead of trying to explain it all in a few sentences. With the marine, I thought he was retired based on the paper in the house. We never pursued the marine ending, 'cause we were having so much fun blasting the crap outta everything and finding new ways to set up bases and survive.

"MM5" said:
Nice review! Thorough and descriptive. It felt as you were reading my mind when I first played Notrium!

Thanks much!

"MageKing17" said:
"Idiota" said:
I take it that your main focus will be reviewing freeware, or did you have bigger game reviews in mind?
"Reaper005" said:
No. There are enough IGN, GameTrailer, etc sites around, not to mention the hundreds of blogs that do the exact same thing. Indie game reviews were harder to find, and I wanted to get some experience in writing, so I chose to review games.
Indie game != freeware. Ever hear of Starscape? It's not exactly an unheard of game, true, but it's still Indie, and it's not free. Same with Mount&Blade and Blockland.

If you want a suggestion, though, Noctis could always do with another review.

You're absolutely right. In my mind, I consider the big beefy game companies and their over-priced software to be non-indie, and everything else to be indie. One problem I had when randomly picking games in a long list (which eventually lead to finding Notrium), most of them were either unfinished or had a stupidly small pricetag ($1-$5) that seemed to be there only to annoy people.

To be specific, we will be reviewing freeware games. As much as I'd like to support indie developers, I'm a college student and can't afford it. Once we get some reviews under our belt, we may pool together some dough and purchase a few of those almost-freeware pieces, but we're definitely happy with how things are going now.

Thanks for the list of possible games for review. We already see a problem with picking games randomly from a list, and having a few good leads goes a long way.

"ville" said:
You know, you'll definitely need to have screenshots in your review. At least I always look at screenshots before deciding to get some game. You might also want to think about the score ranges, is 0-7 a standard your readers can easily understand. It's a nice review of Notrium, you've really played it for the review and it shows.

Is the weapons arsenal really lacking in vanilla Notrium? Could someone count the weapons?

We really wanted screenshots for this game, and an attempt will be made to acquire screenshots for all reviews, with the appropriate credit and links back to their site. However, we really want to get permission from the developers before we start using their material. I'm sure the Fair Usage Policy includes that, but I'd rather wait to hear from them first to avoid any complications. If anyone's savvy about this and could offer up some law stuff, it would save us a ton of time (which we don't have a ton of at the moment).

With the grading standards, the 0-7 range is the system that goes along with the bad-to-excellent rating system. I can definitely see your point about the confusion though, so we might simply stick with the b2e system and leave the 0-7 behind the scenes.

"Redemption" said:
Well written. You should mention the moddability though.

"ville" said:
Could someone count the weapons?
28.

28? HA! Goes to show how much we know about the game. That actually brings up a good point, though. We weren't sure whether or not we should simply play the game before a review, or if we should get into every tiny nook and crany. By exploring every possible detail, we thought that it would hinder our perception of how fluidly the game moved, and that a standard review should be done as if we were someone just picking up the game. This is obviously inadequate, especially for this kind of game, so we will need to modify our methods a bit.

Modability: Crap. When I was writing the review, I knew I missed something. Even though we only played vanilla, I was aware of the various mods. It seems we need to re-touch on this game already, beyond just editing parts of the review. Once we finish a few more projects, we will take a week to look back and finish up anything we didn't get to before.



Amazing. You guys are a great help. There seems to be a lot of things we need to iron out, but it looks like we're making some great progress. Keep the praise/criticism coming, and don't forget to drop a comment on the review page!



EDIT: After a bit of digging, I found a very useful guide for copyright stuff. The people at University of Texas made a great site, including [urlhttp://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/intellectualProperty/copypol2.htm#test]this guide[/url]. If I have some time, I'll add a few screenshots in the review, though we still need to figure out how they should be placed.
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Crazy 8 years ago
As far as the nitpicking goes, I didn't totally mean nitpicking.
...well. You sure have an odd way of expressing yourself, then.

I played around with the various characters, and only know about the 5 (6 if you count the second stowaway, now that I think about it).
Most intros do little to imply a larger crew, but the psionic one seems rather blatant. (though i don't have the files on hand at the moment. But that's how i remember it.
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MageKing17 8 years ago
The impression is definitely that there is a sizable crew. I think even one or two are explicitly mentioned (someone getting into a fight with the Psionic, as I recall).

If you need more game suggestions, I've played plenty of freeware in my time, so if you need an obscure, free game, I'm sure I can come up with some for you.

As for the Notrium review, screenshots definitely fall under fair use, and Ville no doubt doesn't mind use of them anyway, so I think you're safe there . 28 weapons seems slighty high to me, though to be fair modified versions of weapons probably count due to the difference in uses (e.g. Pistol + Rapid Fire Pistol + Sniper Pistol).

...Excuse me, something shocking just happened that I must post a new thread about.
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Idiota 8 years ago
"MageKing17" said:
If you need more game suggestions, I've played plenty of freeware in my time, so if you need an obscure, free game, I'm sure I can come up with some for you.

As Amarth would say:

NETHACK DANGIT!
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Amarth 8 years ago
NETHACK DANGIT!
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Narvius 8 years ago
Interesting review, liked it.

I prefer (Z)Angband / ToME. Partially because I simply suck at Nethack...
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Quanrian 8 years ago
"ville" said:
Is 0-7 a standard your readers can easily understand?

There are seven deadly sins Of course I would be the one to point that out. I think it's nice to see a non-standard amount being used. I typically see either 5 or 10 being used, but quite frankly they use the score in such a biased non-sensical way they mine as well have it 1 to 1,000,000 and it'd not be any better in my humble opinion.

By the way I left a comment, but you might find it a bit scathing. Not mentioning me at all, didn't exactly start you off on the right foot. Most of the people on the forum already are aware of my hang-up with this, so I wont get into it much.
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E_net4 8 years ago
Hey. Interesting review you have there. I give you good luck for the next ones.

You might want to take a look at Stranded and StrandedII, by Unreal Software. They're also nice survival games.
Note that there ARE english versions, not just german.
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Reaper005 8 years ago
I need to post what Quanrian left as a comment. We seriously messed up, and only now is it apparent. There was much more to cover in the review than gameplay alone (which alone was badly covered in the review). The game itself and our readers are important, we severely swung out when it came to covering the developers and their contributions; without them, we would have nothing. We apologize for the bad review, and we will definitely work to make things right with you guys and the developers.



Michael Quigley AKA Quanrian said...

Firstly, you forgot about the other guy, me. I wrote the story you seemed to love and I was a bit putoff by the fact you didn't even regard me as I did a large chunk of the workload for Notrium after 1.11. This is quite typical, and frankly why I've given up reading reviews about a game I worked on, but got little to no recognition for. This may seem harsh, but there are only two names listed for the game, Ville's and mine, and I don't see the big deal in listing us both.

Were this a larger game it'd be quite excuseable, but there were only two of us, so it shows you didn't do much research. If you want to be taken seriously as a reviewer for Indy games, you've got to realise that the teams are small and for every person you leave out, you've stepped on. I'm not really that bothered, just critical.

There were some curiosities as well, like the weapons, which were easily on par with most first person shooters. Adding to the fact that most of the weapons were modular, I never saw a reason to expand the selection more. Now I realize that the Werivar mod added a ton, but that's only after we put out our version. In fact, I kind of wished we didn't have so many weapons and instead allowed for them to be customized more.

I agree with your comments on the sounds. Most people don't realize we had issues with using copyrighted sounds. So the fact we were limited in the sound department. This is one of my regrets, but not as much as not including the other half of the content that never got in and likely never will (unless there is a sequel).

Wow, amazing. You're right, I could have did a little research. Not only did we need to delve a bit deeper into the details of the game, but I never thought of Ville Monkkonen as anything but a "company name", I didn't realize that it was the name of one of the developers. There will be a major rewrite on this review once we finish up the review on Frets on Fire. A second week may be put into it in order to cover some of the mods too, and this time were going to focus on the nooks and cranies instead of just playing.

We need as many critical comments as possible. I had a feeling that our first review would be horrible, or atleast far underpar when compared to our promise to deliver excellent reviews. The harder the criticisms, the better our reviews will be in the future.

Thanks a ton man! Keep an eye out for the rewrite, we hope you'll be pleased!
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Quanrian 8 years ago
"Reaper005" said:
Wow, amazing. You're right, I could have did a little research. Not only did we need to delve a bit deeper into the details of the game, but I never thought of Ville Monkkonen as anything but a "company name", I didn't realize that it was the name of one of the developers. There will be a major rewrite on this review once we finish up the review on Frets on Fire. A second week may be put into it in order to cover some of the mods too, and this time were going to focus on the nooks and cranies instead of just playing.

We need as many critical comments as possible. I had a feeling that our first review would be horrible, or atleast far underpar when compared to our promise to deliver excellent reviews. The harder the criticisms, the better our reviews will be in the future.

Thanks a ton man! Keep an eye out for the rewrite, we hope you'll be pleased!

If you really want to support games like Notrium, you need to support them fully. Indy isn't just about making money, heck most of us don't make any money at all. What Indy is about is pulling people together that enjoy the same things without forcing money out of their pockets. We take things a bit more personally because it's not just a tiny piece of our work out of a hundred other people, its our time and effort for years at a time for little to no reward.

So what can you do to improve your review of Notrium ? Well firstly, it wouldn't hurt to mention in a bit more depth about its modular nature, and maybe even review a few of the mods as branches off of the main Notrium review. By reviewing the mods as well, you can show just how diverse the engine is and how downloading the game doesn't stop at the Vanilla, it goes well beyond it with mods like Werivar.

You've got to realize for new gamers to Notrium, who read you review, they wont realize it's modular. The new gamer also wont likely know what you mean by Vanilla, you might want to explain terms when you use them at least once using brackets like (it helps people get on the same page as you when you use brackets to clarify) these so people can follow you more easily. Once you mention the game is modular, it may stir interest in the game that otherwise wouldn't be there, and it's one main component of the game I saw many reviews failing to mention. Ville had to completely rewrite the code for 1.3 and he did it so the game would be more modular, you've got to take things like that into account. On my front I redid how all the races worked so they were more unique and even wrote brand new storylines for them that interweaved so you wouldn't get the full thing until you played them all for 30 game days.

Now you've got an advantage here, both me and Ville have commented. Normally you wont get any feedback from a developer, they might not even notice your review or bother correcting you. Reviews are supposed to be unbiased, without favor for the developer, but you should still respect that went into each project you review as if it were your own. I might also suggest doing some actual interviews with Indy developers, so you can get a clear idea of just what 'we' do compared to the mainstream. If you want a contrasting view in one person, that would be Ville who 'has' also done professional development, and it was quite different.
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Amarth 8 years ago
About the moddability... It's impressive, but... There's not that many good mods out there, right? Now, don't get me wrong. Notrium wouldn't be in its current version without the modding and the work that Quan did with it. But what, exactly, do we have? Vanilla (which is impressive, agreed), Werivar, Wazzal 2 for a while, Aleryon Betrayal, Pete's Nameless mod (seems to be dead now). To be fair, I haven't played the last two ones, but from reading the topics, they seem pretty good.

But we also have an *extreme load* of unfinished mods.

I stand by my point that modding Notrium is hard. Too hard, in fact. Yes, go on about people not getting into it hard enough, etc, etc... If modding Notrium would be anything like something else, people could use prior knowledge and feel at home, instead of having to lose loads of time looking up every number in a pdf file.

This is *not* a stab at Ville or Quan. They have expressed similar feelings, and I remember Quan saying they'll be doing otherwise for Cormoon. Good. This is just a remark to offset the "Notrium is all good and shiny because it's soooooo moddable" opinion. It is, indeed, a very flexible engine. But the power is locked away behind a pretty obscure way of modding the game.

[edit]Forgot to mention Quan's Impalpable Eidolon. Definitely worth a mention. It takes a top-down survival game and punches it into a platformer. Yep, that's a really flexible engine.
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Idiota 8 years ago
Modding isn't hard at all, Amarth. I don't quite agree with you there. The thing is, it's horribly time consuming, and once you have the hange of it, spending more time to expand your mod gets really boring. That's the reason I never finished my own Tribal Warfare mod.
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Amarth 8 years ago
"Idiota" said:
Modding isn't hard at all [...] it's horribly time consuming
Yes, that. Of course it isn't hard, it's just changing a bunch of numbers in text files. But it's slow and error prone. Some things can only be accomplished with hacks, like invisible bars for variables or secret inventories for collections of objects. It doesn't scale well. Etc, etc.

I don't want to give the impression that modding Notrium is impossible or something. With enough time and motivation, you can do very impressive things. But I find it to be a bit more discouraging than it should be. Just my personal opinion.

Anyway, reviewers... Spend a couple of hours in trying to mod the game a bit, and form your own opinion.
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E_net4 8 years ago
I must say, I agree with all your previous sentences about modding. It requires some lots of encouraging to proceed with a mod for some long time. Even UberWaffe quit on the Werivar mod after version 0.7, which tells if modding was a "happier" form of scripting, he might have proceeded. In fact, there were many unfinished artifacts, such as the storyline.
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Reaper005 8 years ago
UPDATE: Sorry about how long it's taking to rewrite the review. I've got a few things going on right now, and haven't had very many large chunks of time to sit down and work on it. Believe me when I say that it will not be posted until we are 100% convinced that our rewrite covers everything that it has been criticized about. Minor edits may be made afterwards, but I'd like to do one large re-do that is as fluid as possible instead of simply editing the existing one which would blatantly show where the new info was just plugged in.

Until then, please post as many "scathing" comments as possible. I was hoping to hear a bit more from Ville, especially after how much Quanrian has added.
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Quanrian 8 years ago
"Reaper005" said:
Until then, please post as many "scathing" comments as possible. I was hoping to hear a bit more from Ville, especially after how much Quanrian has added.

I'm not sure if that's a compliment or what, but I've always been the more vocal one, for better or worse.
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Idiota 8 years ago
Veiled anger will never do anyone anything good, better to let loose the tempest.
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oblivionknightmare 7 years ago
I don't know if you closed the blog, but I can't get on the site...
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