Specific & Peculiar Recommendations

I‘d love some recommendations for 2 very specific things. They didn’t seem to fit elsewhere so I thought it might be cool to keep the thread general and open for any obscure or specific requests. More than just “I like RPGs and I've played these, what else is good?” is what I think I think I‘m thinking. Imma lookin’ for the following:

  • 1.

    I‘d like to start learning Japanese. Are there any games that would be good for someone starting at absolute zero? I’ve seen Tim playing that Hiragana Pixel Party on YouTube but that may not be the right place to begin for such a noob. Even if it's not a game, is there a progression you could recommend?

  • 2.

    I'm only a couple years into having an interest in game development so outside of Insert Credit and YouTube I really have no clue what's out there in terms of tools and platforms. I've messed around in Dreams which really opened things up for me and led me to spend some time in UE4 on my Mac. I have a good sense now of how I could plan out and realize a project so I want to start messing around and building some skills.

    Where would you go from here if you were me? What programs are valuable to learn? What's a waste of time? More specifically, I'd love to mess around with some SEGA, NES, 2D type platformer or Zelda-like stuff. Should I look at sprite editors? Tile editors? Lay it all on me. I'm eager to learn!

  • Thanks for any help! Looking forward to more requests for recs as well. I didn't deliver much in the way of peculiarity here but I'm sure someone wants something for some cool reason.

    For the first question I don‘t really think there are any Japanese games that are particularly suited to a beginner, let alone someone with zero knowledge of the language. Honestly, I think the best way to learn Japanese is to just crack open a textbook. Learn hiragana and katakana first, utilizing whatever memorization system works best for you. Some kind of physical or digital flash cards for example. Anki is popular and also useful for vocabulary/kanji practice at later stages. Then pick a textbook and stick with it. I think the most popular beginner textbooks are minna no nihongo and genki, either will likely get the job done. Also, don’t be afraid of kanji, try to learn the simple ones in the textbooks. Later you can do a more systematic study.

    Actually, I think the best way (aside from moving to Japan) is probably to take lessons with a teacher who can guide you through the textbooks and explain/correct your mistakes, but I assume that self-study is the aim here. Many people online seem to spend more time and energy discussing the best and most efficient way to learn Japanese, rather than just sitting down and doing it.

    Those are my two cents, anyways.

    I do have a recommendation for intermediate Japanese learners, however, if anyone is interested. I've recently played the first two Ace Attorney games (or 逆転裁判) in Japanese, having never played them in English before either. These games are not super difficult language-wise (although definitely for intermediate and up), but some specialized words related to court and crime proceedings are required. The reason that I think they are good for language-learners, however, is that they essentially test your understanding organically. In order to move the story forward, you need to actually understand the details of conversations and item descriptions. Also they are a lot of fun!

    Not fluent but learning myself and I have spent money on some stuff that worked well and other sruff that didn't at all so take this as you will.

    Seconding what people here are saying. Games either don't have enough language content or have far too much to be helpful learning tools unless they are designed specifically for helping you learn a language and there aren't many good ones for that.

    On the textbook front, Japanese for Busy People and Genki are the best intro ones I know of. JapanesePod101 has a ton of listening content and a lot of their content is free. As far as apps go iKnow.jp is far and away the best, but a lot of their content is replicated in Anki. Duolingo isn't really built for non alphabetic languages, but it's not terrible, just a little content-lite. For listening practice go for rom coms, dramas, or reality shows over anime and gangster flicks. You want to talk like a normal person not a yakuza or a teen that pilots mechs. Pimsleur is expensive and doesn't take you far, but it is very effective for the little it does teach. If you can find it for free somehow use it, if you're going to pay hundreds for it, don't. Rosetta Stone on the other hand isn't even worth the trouble of pirating imo.

    Your goal should be to learn Hiragana and Katakana as fast as possible, they're quick and get you a long way and let you use furigana to learn pronunciation rather than romaji. After that try to learn vocab from apps with audio like iKnow, kanji from Anki or another flash card app, and grammar from books. Tae Kim's free online grammar guide is pretty good if you can't get Genki http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/

    For game development, you could:

  • - start by making maps in mario maker, RPG maker, or any of the other editor-oriented games
  • - do a branching narrative game in Twine (the first twine is easier to use, I think, vs twine 2). It's incredibly easy to go from installation to making something and seeing how it works. Lots of good guides out there too.
  • - take a further step by messing around with Game Maker, which is less complex to get started with than something like Unity, and which devs like JP (Minit, Disc Room, etc) have used for ages for real products (including at vlabmeer). Catacomb Kids is probably the most complex game made in Game Maker if you want to look at that.
  • - finally, if you really just want to be like "I'm doing this all the way!" you can just choose unity or unreal and start working through tutorials, but it won't be very fun.

  • that's what I've got!

    For game dev: Love is a pretty good Lua based framework that's free and open source:



    I've also messed around with game maker and it's fairly easy to get going. Has a built in sprite editor too. Sometimes goes on sale on Steam:

    @copySave#6864 Harvard has a intro tutorial based in Lua and Love2d that builds Zelda and Mario likes and such.


    Funny because I was thinking about opening a thread asking for tips for learning japanese applied to videogames (being finally able to play those eternal untranslated games would be my main goal), but then didn't and downloaded LingoDeer and Kanji Study and have started messing with those. Wish me luck and a safe journey!

    Lots to work with here. Thanks all!

    Highly recommend diving into the Gamemaker tutorial projects. Within like 4 hours it will have you build a scrolling shooter. Its very fun and not at all too difficult! Download a pixel art app for your phone or tablet and you can draw your own simple sprites to use too!

    Bitsy and Môsi are two really nice and similar programs that make it easy to just draw some stuff and make a game with it. You could also use the same description for Flickgame, though it works very differently.

    Making games can be really fucking tedious, so like others have said it's great to use tools that let you see results and have something to play with quickly. I think game making is less about making a design document and more about playing and tweaking and iterating and adapting--

    Recommendations! Okay I‘ll bite. Here’s what I like.

    Salvage games. Space, underwater, the desert, whatever. Games where you are picking through the ruins or a derelict husk of something for scrap.

    Games with 1:1 interfaces. Stuff that looks like you're using industrial software. I love that kind of immersion.

    ("Duskers" is an example of a game that does both of the above)

    Running on a rooftop with a sword. (Katana Zero was the last game I played that fit this bill)

    Recommend me shit like this.

    ("Hand of Fate" is the first modern example of this kind of thing that comes to mind. Speaking of, I love games with unusual "deck" or "card" mechanics but theres a lot of that out there it's hard to put into words what about it I like, I just enjoy seeing "deckbuilding" used in unconventional ways/settings, like Metal Gear Acid.)


    Also: tonfas. I love tonfas. Show me games with tonfas or something similar to tonfas. Soul Caliber's Talim is not enough to satiate me.

    Picking through underwater ruins: Shinsekai Into the Depths. A bit more of a ~vania but you're mostly exploring an underwater world with odd movement mechanics that feel weighty.

    Rooftop with sword: have you played the valis games!? Also, the shubibinman series, though you have a gun.

    Tonfa: Last Bronx

    @Squit#6848 I've made a few games and my usual recommendation to new developers is to do it in Game Maker but I would start by going through some tutorials until your figure it out. That being said I do all my stuff with C#, Visual Studio, and FNA - https://fna-xna.github.io/. I usually use existing sprites and pay someone else to make the new stuff once I get close to completion. Also, I use Tile Map Editor -https://www.mapeditor.org/ to make my maps.

    For intermediates I had forgotten this the two DS Zeldas allow you to tap any kanji to see the reading of it and I could falsely say that helped me understand and learn.

    but really it was going back after years and taking intensive Japanese courses meant for kids to into Japanese Universities. But I am a terrible self-teacher.

    games are a hard medium for this because what a textbook teaches you and actual application have such a gulf. For the record here are some games I played in Japanese years ago though I wouldn't say I understood them (now I would (lol): Mother 3, Ryu Ga Gotoku 3, Final Promise Story, The 3rd Birthday, Dragon Quest IX, Zelda Phantom Hourglass

    Honestly Undertale is now in Japanese. That is not a terrible option. I think replaying something you already know (and is shorter) is better than trying to play 25 hours of Dragon Quest V.



    @Moon#7072 In Suikoden II the main character uses tonfa

    @Squit I completely agree with the suggestion that you take a class, just to keep you on track. I remember taking my first Japanese class in college and going in thinking "I've learned some hiragana, I'll probably have a leg up" and I was like the worst student in the class. I definitely would have quit had the class not forced me to keep going.

    It's sooo easy to learn now as compared with even like 5 years ago. The app [Japanese](https://www.japaneseapp.com/) comes with vocab lists separated out by the different levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and you can study them spaced repetition style, with example sentences, all within the app. You just hit study and it shows you flashcards. This is amazingly convenient. Someone mentioned the app Anki; it may also do that, although when I was using Anki many years ago I still had to make my own flashcards for it, which blows.

    As with anything, just putting in the time day in day out is what matters most. If you are just starting, try to set an achievable goal of doing like 20 cards a day and working from there. In a year you will make so much progress. An unfortunate aspect of learning Japanese is that at some level, you have to cram huge quantities of vocab into your brain to even be remotely functional. Not sure how much time you have, but realistically, playing a text-heavy game in Japanese is probably a couple years away. I second the advice that you play a game you already know well. The first game I played in Japanese was Dragon Quest V on the DS, and while I got through it, it was a huge slog. Japanese RPGs in particular are filled with vernacular and slang that were a big challenge, at least for me. Playing a game you already know and like will help you get through those parts easier, is super fun and will help you build confidence.

    This may be a bit of a long shot, but I need recommendations for…

    Books (whether fiction or non-fiction, but honestly especially fiction) that straddle the line between borderline-supernatural paranoia and military history and espionage a la Metal Gear Solid.

    I found [this list](https://medium.com/@Brett_Fujioka/the-literary-source-material-for-metal-gear-solid-5ae96314cf73), but I've already read most of the Japanese authors on there, as well as Baudrillard. So I am curious to check out P.W. Singer's work.

    Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I'm not looking for _Kojima_-ness per se, but a combination of those fictional flavors he combines so well. Please give me a shout if you have any ideas.

    @whatsarobot#7295 yeah that‘s a tough one but see if any of these fit what you’re looking for:

    _Cyclonpedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials_ - Reza Negarestani

    _Buddha's Little Finger_ - Victor Pelevin (also translated as Clay Machine Gun, and Chapayev and Void)

    _Ubik_ - Philip K. Dick (not military but corporate/tech espionage)

    _Numero Zero_ - Umberto Eco, would also recommend _Twenty Days of Turin_ by Giorgio De Maria for a more oblique approach to similar subject

    I guess the ur-example would be _Gravity's Rainbow_ but that might be more elliptical than you're looking for, and even worse, I don't seem cool for recommending it

    Maybe also _Europe Central_ - William T. Vollman (a guy so weird the FBI just assumed he was the unabomber for a while)

    And if you just want the cold war paranoia straight dope there's _NATO's Secret Armies_ by Daniel Ganser (available at no charge! https://libcom.org/files/NATOs_secret_armies.pdf)

    Not really @whatsarobot is looking for but I know a very good book that has miltiristic themes, paranoia, and is a sci fi story based on real theories. It is The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts (he won a Hugo Award, that‘s my name!). It’s a fairly short story but follows characters over millions of years in a single setting (a lot of cryo sleep is involved).

    I read it in the lockdown back in April? May? and it's one of those really enticing books that made me feel ill from the sense of sci-fi dread (I felt it deals quite heavily with mortality and how long someone should naturally live). It's the first book I have read that made me deeply question what humanity would be in far distant future e.g. 100,000 years.

    I get that same sense of dread from Death Stranding's world, especially the rain, so maybe Kojima would read it.

    Well heck, @yeso, @Syzygy, @beets. Those are all solid recommendations. Thank you!