The Oil Blue

The Oil Blue is an indie action sim by chubigans of Vertigo Games, where you drill for oil and sell it on the world market in order to remain profitable, as well as completing missions for your employer, the United Oil of Oceana Company.  I picked this one up in the Indie Royale’s Xmas Bundle, along with a few other games.. they’ve now added greenTech+, an earlier game by Vertigo Games which has you save the world from global warming using a hurricane!

The tutorial shows you how to use your first drilling machines: the Groundwell and the Oil Derrick.  Keeping the Groundwell running seemed easy enough.. strike a balance between speed and power consumption, and keep an eye out for flat batteries.  The Oil Derrick was a bit more complex..

While the drill is working, you get oil signatures coming up on the right hand side.. these are revealed as either pockets of air or oil.  When you see oil, you have to slow the drill down, move it left or right to position it above the oil, pump the oil, then re-start the drill until the next pocket of oil appears.  You also need to watch the Pressure and Stress gauges.  Pressure can be vented at regular intervals, and increases more quickly while the drill is slowed down, while Stress accumulates through use, until it reaches critical levels, where you have to shut down the machine and go for repairs.  Pressure also increases Stress.  Not venting pressure leads to the machine breaking down..

Repairing the machines involves mini-games.  In the tutorial I saw two types, one to keep a laser within a moving red circle, and another to make a set of four target lights come on simultaneously by turning on different adapters and switching between different levels of lights until you hit the correct combination.

Once in the game itself, “Rotary Misfire” came up as my repair mini-game three times; I managed to complete the puzzle by chance on my first two attempts, but I couldn’t get it the third time.  This puzzle requires you to hit the spacebar just before the lights complete a full circle.

I had to actually come back to the tutorial and have this puzzle appear in the set of three to see the instructions.. whether they were obscured by previous messages on the right.. or whether they just don’t appear all the time, I don’t know.

The next two machines, the Pumpjack and Drill Rig, were unlocked as I played, with brief tutorials showing how to use them.  The Pumpjack requires less interaction than the Oil Derrick, with plenty of time during setup or calibration, where you can check on the other machines and the market.  The Drill Rig follows a path you plot for it onscreen, and will gather oil as it travels over it.  To get all the oil from a bubble, the path has to be set to go back and forth over it: two options here, then.. to be efficient with a short path over a bubble to maximise oil collection, but have to watch the machine while it does it, or plot longer paths and be able to flick back over the other machines.  As the Drill Rig is a rare machine, it doesn’t appear on every island.

On the islands I played, my set up was a Groundwell, an Oil Derrick and a Pumpjack.  I started up all the machines, then parked myself over the Oil Derrick because of the pressure release requirement, as well as needing to catch the oil pockets as they were revealed.  This was also the machine I found most likely to blow up, as the pressure led to stress if I wasn’t fast enough in venting it.  In fact, I found the Oil Derrick needed so much prodding that I kept missing the Pumpjack’s window of drilling opportunity!

I can see it getting even harder to adequately manage when there are more machines,.. although they level up with use.  When a machine levels up, parts are added or replaced, improving performance.. an example being the Groundwell’s additional batteries which allows you to go faster.  The improvements are only effective per mission.. you leave the machines behind when you move to the next island.

You do keep your own rank though, which increases as you sell oil and unlocks more machines and different challenges.. You also get some funny titles as you increase too: eg the Rank 40 title: “Useful Bum”! 🙂

The Little Big Bunch

The latest in the line of indie bundles arrived today: the Little Big Bunch, with five indie games on the usual pay what you want scheme, with money being split between developers and Games Aid as you wish.

This one has a minimum price.. something I’m glad of after seeing a guy taunting one of the indie devs on Twitter this afternoon.  He was bragging about only having paid 1 cent for the game.. less than a penny.. which would have been bad enough without the taunting!

I already owned one of the games: Mode 7‘s strategy game Frozen Synapse, so this one is going to Tim, and maybe we’ll get to play together at some point 😉

Also in the bundle are two platformers, one with destruction: Explodemon, by Curve Studios, and one with aliens: Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee.  Finally there’s New Star Soccer 5, a football career sim, by New Star Games.. which isn’t really my type of game.  The one I’m most interested in here is 2d platform shooter Serious Sam Double D, from Mommy’s Best Games, and supported by Croteam through their Serious Sam Indie series.

Serious Sam Double D is via Steam code, while the rest of the games are available via Get Games‘ download system.  I have to say I much prefer Steam, knowing that I can download the games as many times as I want, and that updates will be applied as they appear.  Get Games’ FAQ says that the number of activations per game vary between publishers.. while I don’t mind if I lose a cheap indie game after a couple of reinstalls, I’d be wary of buying anything I forsee playing over and over again.