ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved

Summary

Learn to survive on an island full of dinosaurs. Hunt creatures, gather resources, craft items, and build structures. You can also tame, breed, and ride dinosaurs in this open world sandbox game.

Review

ARK is an Early Access Game, but it already feels like a complete game. It has a huge community of players, gets updated very frequently, and can keep you entertained for hours upon hours. There is even an alternate play mode called Survival of the Fittest, which is essentially The Hunger Games in a world with dinosaurs.

My biggest complaints are that it is a resource hog (the developers are actively working on improving the game’s performance) and that the world is a fixed map and not destructible (not a big deal, but it would be nice).

I was really skeptical about ARK at first, but it’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended!

Taming Penelope
Taming my first dinosaur, Penelope the Parasaur
Character Screen
The character screen
Riding a Trike
Nick riding Timothy the Triceratops

You might like this game if you like…

Want to play?

$29.99 on Steam (Early Access)

Pickle It Updates

Since I published the Don’t Starve Together (multiplayer) version of Pickle It two weeks ago, we’ve already updated it several times to add new features. We also back ported our changes to the Don’t Starve (single player) version of Pickle It.

Pickle It additions since release

  • Pickle sword! A fairly powerful sword that eventually spoils. You can eat it if you get desperate, too.
  • Golden pickle! Pickles have a rare chance of turning into golden pickles when pickling, which provide better stats than regular pickles.
  • Potatoes! Potatoes have a totally unique mechanic. Wild potatoes must be dug up with a shovel and you have to use potatoes to grow more potato plants.

We’ve also made a lot of less interesting changes to improve balancing and fix minor bugs.

Pickle It additions
Some of the new additions to Pickle It

Subscriber feedback

Feedback has been really positive so far. Players have been happy to see the Pickle It mod get updated and ported to Don’t Starve Together. We’ve gotten some great suggestions, some of which have worked their way into the mod already. We’ve also had some totally invaluable comments like “derp” and “pickle it.” 😛

One comment I liked was: “oooooh XD i got this mod very early in dont starve and i just thought that beets and onions were already in the game! I was wondering why i didnt see any in dont starve together…” I’m so happy our mod integrates with the game so well that people think it’s part of the actual game!

We’re currently up to over 34,000 subscribers of the Don’t Starve version and over 5,000 subscribers of the Don’t Starve Together version, including both Steam and Klei. Not bad, especially since Don’t Starve Together is still in beta. We also have 100% positive ratings on both mods, which I think is really cool.

What’s next?

We have some more ideas for Pickle It, which will hopefully show up in updates soon. We’re waiting on art for now (*nudges Sean*). We also have ideas for several more mods, so we’ll be busy for a while. 🙂

The Reign of Giants DLC from Don’t Starve is going to be integrated into Don’t Starve Together soon. Klei announced a public test of the RoG content over the weekend. Pickle It shouldn’t have any compatibility problems with RoG in DST, but we still need to test everything. We even have pickling recipes for some of the RoG foods in the mod already.

Pickle It: Don’t Starve Together Mod

Pickle It IconLast night, we released Pickle It for Don’t Starve Together! Pickle It is a mod that adds a pickling component to the game, making it last longer.

Don’t Starve Together

Don’t Starve Together is an early access version of Don’t Starve that supports multiplayer. It is an open world survival crafting game. The goal is to survive in the strange world as long as you can while maintaining both physical and mental health.

Pickle It

Pickle It is a mod I made with my husband (Nick) and our friend (Sean). Nick and I designed the mod and did the coding, while Sean supplied the art assets. We initially made it for the original Don’t Starve game and knew we had to port it to Don’t Starve Together.

Pickle It adds a pickle barrel that lets players pickle their food to make it last longer (especially useful in winter!). It also adds new vegetables, some of which can be found growing wild in the world. Others have a random chance of growing from generic seeds.

It was important to us to balance the pickle barrel so that it wasn’t overpowered. While it makes food last longer, there is a trade-off with the pickled versions of most foods.

Pickle It: Version 1.3.1

The code for Don’t Starve Together changed significantly from Don’t Starve, so it took almost a complete overhaul of Pickle It to make it work in DST. Adding multiplayer support was tricky, but eventually we figured it out. There isn’t a lot of documentation out there for making mods for Don’t Starve (at least for our mod, which was unlike any other mod out there when we released it), so it wasn’t easy making it work.

We added Xbox controller support, fixed a few things that had gotten broken in game updates, and tweaked the food values.

Since I uploaded the new version of Pickle It to Steam last night, 155 players are already using it. 🙂 I hope it will be even more popular than our original Don’t Starve version, which currently has 24,301 people using it. It’s so cool to have so many people using something I made!

Pickle It mod for Don't Starve Together

Future Plans

We want to back port our changes so they work in the original Don’t Starve version of Pickle It. Unfortunately, it seems like Don’t Starve is still using an old version of the code, so we don’t foresee it being easy.

We also want to add some new things to the mod: more vegetables, new pickled foods, pickled food recipes, pickle equipment, and new craftable items.

Get the Mod

Please check out the mod at the links below and rate, favorite, comment, subscribe, etc. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Updated Don’t Starve Together version of Pickle It:

And here are some links to the original Don’t Starve version of Pickle It (which didn’t get updated):

TUG Early Access: Alpha 0.8.2

TUG is an open-world sandbox crafting game that I funded on Kickstarter. It’s been a while since I last played it, so I wanted to see how the game is coming along. TUG is in early access, so of course the game is still very much a work in progress.

TUG: Stone furnace

Current version (Alpha 0.8.2) feedback

TUG: Smooth caves
Smooth, curvy caves

The good:

  • The world is large and fun to explore, with many different biomes.
  • Crafting is interesting and complex.
  • When mining, it leaves smooth, curvy caves that look a lot more natural than mining large voxel blocks.
  • Goats!

The bad:

  • Still no tutorial or tooltips, but the wiki is helpful (especially for crafting).
  • Controls are a little wonky and unintuitive.
  • There is a 3rd person view (press “x”), but it doesn’t seem as usable as 1st person.
  • Shortcut bar only has 4 slots.
  • No character customization yet.
  • Fires don’t last long enough.
  • A saber cat ate me. :'(

Version 0.8.2 trailer

Want to play?

$19.99 on Steam | $9.99 (for now) on Humble Store & developer’s website

They Breathe

The Steam Summer Sale is going on and with that comes gifts of weird games from my friends. This time around, one of those games was They Breathe.

They Breathe

Summary

They Breathe is an action adventure game with a dark story and hand-drawn art. You start the game as a frog, floating above the water on a log. Once you dive below the water, though, it’s a mad scramble to get enough air bubbles to stay alive, especially because you aren’t the only creature under the water.

Review

There aren’t any instructions. It’s up to you to figure out the controls and how to play. The game is pretty simple, though, so it works.

They Breathe Moose
What is a moose doing underwater?!

The game is really short — about half an hour long. It also auto-saves, so that if you die, you don’t have to start over from the beginning. Well… unless your game glitches like mine did and your frog ends up off-screen somewhere between life and death. Frog limbo renders the game unplayable without ever reverting to an auto-save. I had to close the game and start over from the beginning. 🙁

Like most people, I thought the game was… strange. I think it’s worth the $0.61, though, especially since it has Steam Trading Cards.

P.S. There is a twist to the creatures that you’ll probably discover by the time you get to the bottom.

Want to Play?

$0.61 on Steam (69% off during the Steam Summer Sale)

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir was originally self-published in 2012 until Random House picked it up and re-published it in February 2014. I kept hearing praise for The Martian after the re-release, so I was excited to read it myself. I actually finished it a month ago, but I’m behind on blog posts right now. 😛

Summary

A fierce dust storm causes the crew of the Ares 3 mission to evacuate after only 6 days on Mars. As they’re leaving, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is impaled by an antenna. Assuming Watney has been killed (and unable to verify it because of the storm), the rest of the crew is forced to leave without him. By a stroke of luck, Watney survives, but he’s left alone on Mars with limited supplies and no way to contact Earth.

Review

loved The Martian. Loved it. It had me hooked from the first sentence: “I’m pretty much fucked.” It is thrilling and hilarious and a great blend of science and adventure.

Mark Watney is in an impossible situation, but his sarcastic sense of humor and MacGyver-like problem solving skills keep the book lighthearted in spite of the danger Watney is in.

The Martian is definitely my favorite book I’ve read so far this year and I’d probably list it among my favorite sci-fi books ever. I highly recommend it!

Shelter

I got Shelter as a gag gift from a friend. Shelter is a survival adventure game in which you play a mother badger, protecting her cubs. I spent 20-30 minutes playing it this evening.

Shelter Menu

My first impression: wtf they made the menu super hard to read.

Once I was in the game, I assumed the role of mother badger with 4 cubs. There was a 5th cub who was greyed out and not moving (sick, maybe?). I found some sort of root vegetable nearby and fed it to the greyed out badger cub, which made it start following me like the others.

Shelter Family Portrait
Badger Family Portrait

I found my way out of the linear tunnel and into the open world (welcome to the game; here, do some walking for a while). Once out of the tunnel, it showed me how to headbutt apple trees to make them drop apples for my cubs. I wandered around the world for a while headbutting apple trees and picking root vegetables for my cubs, unsure of what that was really accomplishing.

One annoying thing about the game is that the tree tops often got in the way of the camera, making me temporarily blind.

Shelter Fox
Badger Cubs Eating a Fox Corpse

Eventually, I encountered my first wild animal: a fox. I leapt forward, killing the fox, and my cubs devoured its corpse. Then, I got to an open area with a large, artsy bird shadow moving around. Before I realized what was going on, the fracking bird dove in and carried off one of my cubs. :O

Shortly thereafter, I tried to mess with the settings, but accidentally ended up exiting the game (like I said, the menu is hard to read). There was no apparent way to save the game and evidently saving wasn’t automatic either. When I relaunched the game, my progress was gone and I was prompted to start a new game. Bah.

So… I wasn’t really impressed by Shelter. Graphics weren’t very good, the camera had issues, and there wasn’t enough direction in the game. Run around a mostly uninteractive linear map headbutting trees and hiding from birds? Sorry badger cubs; you’re on your own.