The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: The Two-ish Year Anniversary

Reflecting on Eight Months and Twenty Pages

Is this the same screenshot, or a different one? I’m… actually not sure anymore.

Welcome back to an overview of the overviews.

Some might be saying “Hang on, it has only been eight months, the heck is this overview doing here?”. The answer is quite simple; we have achieved the second milestone of the nearly sixty pages.

Due to many circumstances — some thanks to the bundle itself — I’ve been completing pages within two weeks or faster. That would have been unbelievable had you told me that would be the pace back in the earlier pages. This would have made comparisons a bit more difficult to do without some serious maths and percentiles. Instead, I figured what better way to ring in the lovely spring weather than to coop myself up indoors, program some graphs and document my findings?

It’s been quite a journey getting these blogs out, but these past eight months have signaled many different changes. For starters, this blog is published! The editor of The Ugly Monster approached me to include my findings within their publication, and it was hard to say no to including my blog with many others writing reviews of various media types. Who would have guessed that? Definitely not me, so I thank The Ugly Monster for letting me spout my game design nonsense to many, many more people.

As last time, it is good to remind everyone why I started this bundle overview. Racial Justice and Equality continues to be a topic of contention throughout North America. With the sheer volume of global issues going on right now, it is hard to remember that the attacks on Palestine and the marches against police brutality have all happened within the span of the pandemic.

We as game developers make games, something that does not necessarily have massive political weight in the world. But that has not stopped many of us from coming together to make pieces that highlight these atrocities or assist in raising funds for relief. We’re part of the globe too, after all.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

Part 1: Data

Thanks to the framework I had created for the previous overview, I was able to plug my new numbers in to get graphs that would help visualize the data all over again. Unfortunately that ‘automatic detection’ that I had been hoping to implement continues to look like a pipe dream. Entering each page and discovering if there are PDFs in the downloadables doesn’t always mean that the title is not a video game. Many titles included PDFs or other files for a variety of reasons. I still had to manually implement all of the data myself, but this time I wanted to get a bit more creative. After all, I had an entire data set that I had crafted, so why not use it?

I’ve linked the Google Sheet below that I use to organize the title, blog, store page and a few unique modifiers. This is the forward facing sheet however. I keep all of the rough data collection on a separate sheet, along with some other unique modifiers for my own personal interest.

Let’s begin with the same graph we had last time, but with this news data set instead.

Small notice: Medium does not like to co-operate when it comes to embedding Google Chart interactive images, so I’ve included links to interactive versions of the graphs for your enjoyment.

Click here for an interactive version.
Click here so that it becomes much more visible, because Medium wouldn’t let me make a bigger one…

That’s a lot less blue than the last time, no? Surprising to many — myself included — the second set of twenty pages was much less populated by traditional ‘digital’ video games not even breaking 50% of the 600 total. Much of this space has been absorbed by the tabletop games, quadrupling in numbers from the first twenty pages. Unfortunately we lost one category along the way, as there were no ‘Game Engines’ included in the second half of the bundle.

When put side by side with the original chart, it becomes so much more visible the differences between the two are. It also explains how I was able to get through the next twenty pages so much faster than before.

There are a lot of theories and speculation as to why this may be the case, such as wanting to put the video games near the front to attract more people. My assumption is much less organized, and is the byproduct of the order in which people added items to the bundle. This means that those in the first couple pages were approached first by the bundle creator, or jumped on the train before others did. A more organized approach would be combining the two, with the first few pages shoving the ‘highlight’ titles to the front but as the bundle grew it would be impossible to keep it up.

Here’s another variation on the above graph in bar chart form to highlight sectional differences. Link here.

What does this tell us? Well, it dispels many of my predictions from the first overview, specifically the continuation of ~80% of each page being digital video games. As highlighted above, the drop of 30% of the twenty pages puts the video game section at about 14 digital games per page. This becomes even more interesting when you account for the numerous titles that have been permanently removed from Itch.io entirely. If accounting for the three games that had been deleted, plus those that could be identified as ‘both’ then the number above is even lower at 281 ± 3 instead of 287.

Average Entry Per Page Grouping of 10. Pages each have 30 entries. Link here

With this trajectory, it would not be out of place to assume that digital titles will continue to ‘decline’ in numbers as the bundle marches towards its finale. However, I have my doubts that it will drop by another 30% by the time of the next overview. The only groupings replacing digital games are tabletops and reading material and it is hard to fathom their growth ballooning even more.

It was only the last 10 pages in which the average of the Tabletop titles was higher than the Video Games average. To follow the 21–40 curve created by the graph above, Video Games would be only 3 of the 30 titles by the end, which seems highly impractical. I could be proven wrong, however, which will definitely make the bundle a bit more awkward to overview when I’m unable to play most of it ‘properly’.

If we look at the bundle as a whole, however, traditional video games have ‘lost’ their current percentile and are now sitting at roughly 64%. This implies that of the bundle’s 1742 titles, roughly 1115 would be video games. However, since I also have the exact total of games played so far at 770, this means that within the next 19 pages there need to be 345 games, or ~18 per page. That average seems a bit too high, and based on the graphs and data above I could see this get chunked down to 50% by the time the bundle ends. Only time will tell, but seeing as the pattern aims downwards I would lean towards the 50%, or maybe even farther at 45%.

How are those multiplayer games hanging in there?

See here for a more expanded version.

Unfortunately the decline of digital video games took its toll on multiplayer-centric games. The total number of multiplayer titles decreased from 61 to 30. The total number of titles also decreased, but with that 50% loss, the grouping of pages from 21–40 only had about 11% of their digital titles as multiplayer-enabled, down from the 14% from before. This can be explained with the size of the general projects being ‘smaller’, as the majority of titles were created by small teams or solo developers as the bundle continued. Multiplayer titles are still locally focused as before, since networking and server overhead cannot be sustained by small studios. Most notably, there is a browser game that is permanently online, which is definitely interesting.

Link!

The split between the multiplayer-enabled games has skewed the other way this time, with 22 of the 30 being competitive focused. Dominated by arena brawlers and shooters, it’s a relatively easy mechanic to execute upon and iterate in the design process to make fun. Make no mistake, however: that doesn’t make them any less unique or interesting.

While my prediction from the previous overview is not technically possible — 21 of the 24 is no longer possible due to the average dropping so much — the percentile was spot on. Single player titles continued to keep roughly 87–88% of the video games, and while the average is only ~14 games per page, single player-focused titles would be about 12–13 of them.

There is another section however that is not visible, and that is the N/A section. This is due to the 4 titles in the second half that no longer exist. While I can ascertain what they could be, I would rather leave them out of this specific dataset since they cannot truly be interacted with.

Graphs can be deceiving… Link here for interactable

As I did in the past, removing the digital titles allows for better clarity of the other titles included in the bundle to give a perspective on what is available. The big thing to take in to account for this ‘non-video game’ edition is that the total has exploded in size. Previously, this group only made up 117 titles, whereas the second half has skyrocketed to 313, an increase of 260%. This explains why some of the percentages look a bit wonky when the data is parsed.

What’s ‘missing’ here is Game Engines, although this is not shocking. Even before, I predicted that we would get 1–2 more, but did not take into account the fact that there are not many smaller engines left. Larger engines would most likely do their own donations or events, rather than donate to the bundle.

With that out of the way, let us dive back in to the data of each individual section.

If you would like more information on the breakdown of what these section titles mean, I encourage you to go back and read my 1 Year Anniversary post, as it explains what titles I grouped where.

Tabletop Games

Tabletop games thrived the longer we went on, doubling every ten pages until the last ten pages were so heavily pen and paper focused I started questioning which was taking longer to document. Journaling and solo games started becoming commonplace, rituals and LARPs started appearing every other page and hacks of other RPGs found in the bundle earlier made their appearance. The amount of systems put on display is staggering, with RPGs ranging from new-player friendly to extensions to D&D 5e and complex campaign settings. If you could dream it, someone had made a TTRPG for it here.

Now it is quite impossible for this trend to continue in its exact format — doubling every 10 pages is a feat already, but the last ten pages were starting to average a bit above 15 per page. Unless we get an entire page of TTRPGs (30 entries a page, after all) I do not see this trend continuing. If it does, I’m going to have to rethink everything. Instead it is most likely that the trend will settle in to a slight plateau or dip after conquering more of the bundle, settling in somewhere around 18–20 a page instead.

Asset Packs

The bastion of continuation, the pillar of the bundle; asset packs have continued to keep a steady amount of resources within the bundle for anyone to utilize. It appears that Asset Packs have shrank due to the TTRPG ballooning. In reality, there were nearly the same amount of assets given in these last 20 pages as there were in the first 20.

My previous prediction was that there would be 112 asset packs by the end of the bundle thanks to it being 33% of the non-video game titles. However, even though the second half of the bundle has more than 50% non-video game titles, Asset Packs remain at roughly the same amount of each grouping even though it does not look like that percentile wise.

Going by the entire total, Asset Packs have made up ~6.5% of each grouping of the bundle, averaging about 1–2 packs per page. With my previous guess of 112 and the current number at 76, we would need roughly 36 more packs. This actually tracks as a definite possibility, so I’m excited to see if I can at least get a single prediction right.

Reading Material

The only other grouping that could match the insane growth of the Tabletop titles was the Reading Material section. It more than quadrupled in size to 36 total from the 8 that it had at the end of page 20. This made it take up 9% of the 20 pages when looking at just the software, a decent increase compared to the ~7% the last time. Using the entire bundle thus far as the reference instead makes it out of 430, which puts it shy of 8.4%, which is an increase of 1.6%. Taking into account this possible growth to 10%, I could see another 25–30 titles added to round out the remaining 550 titles of the bundle.

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous, true to its nature, is an enigma that is hard to explain. It added 16 titles to its namesake, with many of them being OSTs which had somehow not shown up in the bundle so far. These are not categorized as Asset Packs. Unlike the audio assets these were officially made for a specific title and do not contain a license to use for other games. There were a few applications that could not find a home as well, and a strange webchat simulator for use in movies and short films.

Since this section is made up of the ‘odds and ends’ that just don’t fit within the other sections, it is not possible to predict how it will grow, even with the data that we’ve been given. It went from 0.8% of the first 20 pages to 2.7%, making up 5.6% of just the software section alone. This growth could imply that it could continue onwards, but that would also imply that there are going to be that many OSTs or other applications that cannot find a home, which seems farfetched. I would be content in predicting a fluctuation of 1% ± 0.5%, but this could drop by just as much.

Part 2: Favourites

I know I should never pick sides when doing overviews, but I did it last time so I’m going to keep doing it. How else can you create arbitrary rankings and manufactured bias?

Below are my personal recommendations per page, which has become somewhat more difficult as the bundle has gone on. This is not because of a dip in quality per say, but more so the shrinking number of digital games per page. It makes things difficult when I have fewer options to pick from, but I still appreciate these titles for what they are. At least I don’t have to keep the previous need of ‘finding the smaller titles’ since many of the games on these pages are much more obscure than the games that came before. If the trend continues and the digital games become even more scarce, I might just have to drop the arbitrary ‘recommendation per page’ requirement. I should’ve probably done that by now, but I’m a sucker for keeping a tradition.

Just as a reminder, these were my personal favourites; hopefully you’ve been able to find your own.

Page 21 started off difficult, but it is hard to avoid the allure of blowing up your friends. Bomsy turns the classic Brick Breaker formula into a competitive arena brawler, throwing bombs at each other and removing the only safety they have; their platforms. It’s colourful and bright, with exciting tunes and tons of characters to enjoy as you needlessly blow everything up.

21’s Honorable Mentions: Idioctopus, Four Sided Fantasy

If I told you that this was a story game, you’d be confused. But that’s exactly what BasketBelle is. Transforming the simple act of putting a ball through a hoop into a medium to narrate, players will follow a touching story that has an older brother trying to help his sister. There’s a lot going on, especially when you start being able to fly and are fighting off giant blob monsters, but the combination of mechanics with story works wonders.

22’s Honorable Mentions: forma.8

Vincent: The Secret of Myers is everything I could want in a murder mystery. There’s murder, there’s mystery, and there is a combination of point-and-click adventure with visual novel to make it all work. You’ll find yourself in the company of the suave Vincent, trying to piece together the protagonist’s connection to a megacorporation while secretly trying to uncover who Vincent really is. Decisions have weight thanks to the numerous death flags, creating so much tension that the story feels even more exciting by proxy. It’s a bit shorter than I’d like, but there are more chapters incoming according to the update so I’m excited.

23’s Honorable Mentions: Akurra (best sliding puzzle game ever) American Election, Marie’s Room, and B.O.O.M. — You Win [Early Access]

National Insecurities has delivered again, bringing a murder mystery from the Wild West and and in to SPAAACE with 2000:1: A Space Felony. You’ll be jumping back and forth between a space station and the interview after the fact, trying to uncover what happened to cause the radio silence. It’s writing is stand out, bringing the obvious 2001 references with comedic timing that we saw from them in previous titles. If you know the influences its predictable, but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining.

24’s Honorable Mentions: Path Out, Wild Woods, Petty Puny Planet, Fidelity

River Tiles is what you get when a puzzle game goes fully minimalistic, yet is somehow able to tell a story. You try to keep as many villages alive as possible from the impending flood, using long grass to create barriers and ensuring they each have a field of food. Thing is, you don’t get to choose which tiles you can place next as it is more like a game of timed Solitaire. It’s extremely quick to pick up on dozens of devices, and it only takes a few minutes. But in that time, you’ll make tough decisions and see if you can win before doing it over and over again.

25’s Honorable Mentions: Hive Time, Dorfromantik (Prototype), TimeOut, and Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (Long title, brilliant game).

By far the hardest page for me to pull a favourite from, but it was hard to compete against a massive exploratory universe. J.U.L.I.A Among the Stars wakes you up along with only a robot companion, searching from world to world for those that were in cryo sleep with you. Each planet is full of breathtaking artworks and lore-rich information to pore over at every turn. The banter is brilliant between the AI JULIA and Rachel (the protagonist), and it’s fully voiced for even more immersion.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for spacefaring narratives.

26’s Honorable Mentions: Order A Pizza: A Visual Novel (excellent cyclical story telling), Neon Blight: Final Demo, Feud, Whipped And Steamy • Cosplay Café

Let’s break away from the intriguing and go right back to the explosive. WaveCrash!! brings puzzles back to the neon lights and explosive action. The gameplay mixes Match3 and Tetris in a combative sense, as those very blocks will be what you send at your enemies to attack them. Each character has their own abilities, and everything comes in a pixelated aesthetic that matches its energy and whimsy perfectly. Win or lose, you’ll be back to block another.

27’s Honorable Mentions: ‘What Isn’t Saved (will be lost)’ (a depressing tale of what it means to be you)

Ok, I Have Low Stats But My Class Is “Leader”, So I Recruited Everyone I Know To Fight The Dark Lord might be a bit hard to explain, especially with a title like that. This hilarious game is all about ripping on the nonsensical nature of JRPGs that have you recruit so many people that it becomes a bit ridiculous. So instead of just putting them all away in a magic dimension, you’ll use every single one of them simultaneously to fight evil. The best part? They train behind you at all times.

The fact that this exists at all makes me happy, and I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time. That was good enough for me.

28’s Honorable Mentions: A Snake’s Tale, Keep It Together

I keep selecting space-themed titles, but this one is definitely unlike the rest — sort of. Eye of Ra has you isolated in a future space station manning a massive laser, and the entire goal is to shoot down meteors before they collide with colonies. This sounds somewhat dull, but it is far from it. The entire game is presented in a corporate overworld, where you’ll use an interface eerily similar to Windows 95 to search coordinates and read emails. There’s layers of subplots hidden within each exchange, building on the world in ways that drive curiousity. It looked so simple, yet I haven’t been this enamoured with a console window-looking UI since I learned how to search my own IP address.

29’s Honorable Mentions: STOWAWAY

Reaching the 30s is a big milestone in life — this isn’t a bundle about life in that context, but Golden Treasure sure is. This gorgeously painted survival game will have you becoming a dragon in an ancient time, slowly building yourself up over years while exploring the vast world that you inhabit. You need to find food by hunting other animals while charting the stars to understand your purpose in the world. It reminded me of the Warrior Cats series in a way, a world drafted around the views of another species that has its own understandings and beliefs. It’s a massive title, so you will get much out of a single try.

30’s Honorable Mentions: Spring Falls

Are you tired of traditional dating sims? What about shaking things up, breaking the mold, and breaking up with everyone. Yes, Heartbreak High is an ‘anti-dating sim’, and that fact alone made me more excited than it should have. You are way too popular for your own good, and need to break up with all of the people you are dating in high school. Thing is, their different personalities means that you can’t just bring them in to a room and announce your resignation, so one by one you’ll figure out how to let them know you aren’t swinging with them anymore. Good luck, because I failed twice and I loved every second of it.

31’s Honorable Mentions: 12 orbits

One thing this bundle let me in on about myself was my desire to play more thematic ‘simulation/management’ games, and The Lost Art of Innkeeping made sure to remind me of this new passion. Inheriting a mansion is expensive work, especially when in debt, so Elinor turns the entire place in to a local Inn. Instead of just trying to expand on the inn and pay off debts, you’ll have the ability to unlock quests for the different local people, gain new perks from different rooms and fix up the mess that was left behind. It’s a touching story, and that’s just the ones related directly to Elinor. With all the people that can come through, you’ll find more things to discover as you go.

32’s Honorable Mentions: The Quiet Sleep, Backspace Bouken (Typing Adventure GAME)

You might recall a similar game back on page 10, a game that was so cute the only thing I had against it was it being a platformer (that’s a personal problem, ok). It’s sequel, Cats are Liquid — A Better Place, dials up the cuteness to the point of becoming terrifying, and leaves our lovable feline scared and alone as her friends move on without her. Hopefully you’ll find them for her, and truly get her to that better place.

33's Honorable Mentions: Word After Word

Puzzle games thrived throughout the pages, and Micron went one step further and added in some funky rhythm mechanics. The ball needs to be bounced in to the exit, and all you have to complete the circuit is a set of directional panels. The ball’s colour can determine which walls it can go through, and the music sets the timing of when each ball is launched from its starting point. It allows for you to pull off some funky moves thanks to the continuous balls. It’s colourful and fun, not sure what else I’d want.

34’s Honorable Mentions: Factory Hiro

Planet Diver asks you a question: can you bullet hell without bullets? The answer is apparently yes, as you take on the role of a thrillseeker taking on her next bit hit: diving in to the core. You’ll be able to dodge out barraging obstacles, dash through enemies, and arguing with your copilot robot. Upgrades are available to make the dives even more smooth, and challenges exist for spicing each dive up. It’s like an arcade game with so much flavour and excitement, and so many new planets to dive through!

35’s Honorable Mentions: Season’s Beatings

Relaxation takes another backseat as you’ll do one of the worst things ever: attempt to board a plane within a short time frame. In An Airport Game, you’ll try your best to jump through all of the hoops that airplane security will put in front of you, trying to keep all interactions to a minimum in the hopes of making it just in the nick of time. Or, perhaps you’ll help out a bunch of people along the way? All I know is that it emulates the feelings of being rushed but cannot be hurried perfectly.

36’s Honorable Mentions: Bold Blade

I really like murder mysteries, OK.

The House on Holland Hill has you follow the life and times of a simple pizza delivery man, witnessing the move of a new couple on to a hill. Each story beat is told during the deliveries, so you’ll only get glimpses of their life at certain moments in time. The order alone does wonders for telling you how their life is going. This helps draw you in, fill in the blanks where you can, and then break in to the house-wait. Yes, the other fun aspect is that the story branches based on your actions, so you can sneak in to the house on that hill at certain times, refuse to enter when asked, and more. Find out just what is happening, and hopefully you get some good tips.

37’s Honorable Mentions: Silk (massive trading explorer)

Haven’t seen many roguelites that drew me in deeply on this half of the bundle, but Alfal’s Grove did the trick with its first person Risk of Rain style approach. The world is strange and wild, and you’ll need to kill things and trade their hearts in for seed upgrades if you want to keep moving forward. Thing is, you’ll also need those hearts to get between levels, and enemies will keep respawning until you die. The soundtrack is fantastic, and the action is fast; everything you need for a game that can go ‘forever’.

38’s Honorable Mentions: Super Ledgehop: Double Laser, There Will Be Ink

Philosophical debates are hard to have in interactive media types, as it can be immersion breaking if the world itself doesn’t match up with the arguments made. Stars Die fixes this by creating a strange future world where a black void will swallow us all. All you know is that your protagonist is tied to this whole mess, and you’ll find her on a strangely alive island to uncover the truth. It uses the narrative tactic of timing, as not visiting certain areas in time will cause people to leave for their next destination; after all, you are not the only one here trying to find answers, and they cannot wait forever. What follows is a debate encompassing the meaning of life and our actions within it, and how you choose will slowly unfold this unsettling tale.

39's Honorable Mentions: Wizard Battle, The Death of the Corpse Wizard

Let’s end on something a little more suave, no? El Tango de la Muerte came straight out of left field, a rhythm dancing game set in Argentina during the 1920s. You’ll move across the stage to the tango, pulling off combos while avoiding missteps, all while following a drama about a young Luciano trying to be with his beloved. It’s over the top, but that’s exactly the point. The music is a tango-modern fusion by an Argentinian band, and helps set the mood so perfectly as you glide across the stage.

40’s Honorable Mentions: Rakete

Part 3: Resolution

Well, that was a lot.

I’ve learned a lot about streamlining the process, while also uncovering the negative side effects that crept in. Initially I was worried that I would need to speed up the bundle pace, but with the decline in digital games (my specialty) I’m not certain I really need to change anything. If the current pace is anything, the bundle will be complete somewhere between 26 and 38 weeks, putting me roughly near the end of this year or in to next. It’s daunting to think about it coming to an end, but at the same time it’s also terrifying to think that I’m still doing this.

It’s definitely been an interesting ~8 months though. I’ve learned more about certain styles of titles, delving in to their design philosophies while solidifying many of my own. I’m still bad at platformers and horror games, but I can at least ‘play’ them now.

If you have any questions about the bundle, want one of the data sets/lists that I’ve created or just want a list of games to play, feel free to use the spreadsheet or contact me directly.

Again, thanks to The Ugly Monster for publishing this blog and supporting me throughout these past few months, and I’ll see you all at the start of page 41.

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Fandom | Gaming | TV + Movies | Sci-Fi + Fantasy | Other Indecent Pursuits

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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