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Epic Campaigns Apleanty

My fun in XCOM2's War Of The Chosen expansion has more or less petered off.  It was a really good time while it lasted, but I find myself re-encountering a problem I had with the original Firaxis reboot of the series: the difficulty level is either too easy, or too hard.

This week, I finished an "Ironman" mode Veteran-difficulty run.  "Ironman" meant I was not able to save scum, each and every move was final.  However, after I unlocked the third tier of weaponry, all the difficulty of the game largely vanished.  The three "Chosen" were effortlessly defeated, and I was pretty much able to wipe out every pod of aliens encountered on the same turn they found me.  The tension was gone, the last half of that campaign felt rather monotonous.
I started over on "Commander" mode, the difficulty one level higher, and the excitement had returned.  But I found myself rapidly tiring of the futility of the brutal war of attrition I was up against.  …
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If there is anything sure to interrupt my own game development endeavors, it is already-released games that are really, really good.

Freshest of these experiences being yesterday's release of the extensive XCOM 2 expansion, War of The Chosen.  Adding a heady mix of personality to an already-riveting tactical combat experience, I spent the entire day feeling taut with an equal mix of caffeine and adrenaline.  And then there's the newly-added feature of creating your own propaganda posters...
...which rankles of the nauseating taint of social networking, but is not entirely without entertainment value.  Though I found myself assigning cruel taglines to my XCOM propaganda posters for the sheer schadenfreude, the game itself is crueler yet.  I had thought this game's virtual GM would cut me a break or two, as it did in past installments of the Firaxis reboot, but it's developed a mean streak where it would land fatal one-shot critical hits on squaddies dutifully cowering i…

Returning To The Universe

Got to hand it to Hello Games.  Despite No Man's Sky being a major thorn in their side of public ridicule, they kept patching and improving it.  It's quite a bit better than it was at release.

Is it perfect?  Well, there's still the annoying texture pop-in, and it's pretty much a grind of getting more minerals to power your equipment and build a lot of blueprints.  Space travel feels pretty weak, too, especially if you put it next to something like Elite: Dangerous or even Descent: Freespace; space travel in No Man's Sky is very rudimentary.  But this is about the worst I can say about it.

What No Man's Sky excels at is being a chill walking simulator of a practically infinite universe.  As such, most of the time you just walk around a procedural generated planet, scanning rocks, flora, and fauna.
Your backpack's resource needs are never off your back, so nearly everything you can scan is also able to be broken down with your mining beam (although the f…

My Oculus Arrives

Funny enough, my first exposure with a motion-tracking head mounted display (HMD) was back in high school, about 20 years ago.  Of course, there was not nearly as much graphical firepower for PCs of the day, but the technology was still accessible enough for my high school tech teacher to be able to invite over some graduate school geeks to show it off.  A lot of time has passed since then, and it's safe to say that VR is now something that nearly every consumer can finally get their hands on.

To these ends, if Facebook was hoping to increase the consumer base for its acquired Oculus Rift hardware by running a summer sale, subjective evidence from my house indicates they may well have succeeded.  By dropping the price of headset and touch controller a full 33%, to $400, they convinced me that it was now accessible enough for me to take the plunge.  What's $400 in 2017 money anyway, a month of fast food?
So far, I'm somewhat glad I splurged.  I say "somewhat" beca…

Two Be Frank

Despite the fact that Dark Souls is probably all the game I would ever need, I found myself distracted last week by two things: a nasty tension headache, and Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.
Off The Record is basically a non-canonical spinoff game of the original Dead Rising 2 where the protagonist is replaced by the protagonist of the first game, Frank West, a hard nosed war journalist who is a bit of a likable jerk.  The canonical hero of the second game, Chuck Greene, was a former motocross champion and a more sympathetic single father with a sick kid.  Sorry Chuck, Frank was just more fun, and I guess that sentiment was strong enough for this spinoff to happen.

Of course, the real star of the game is the zombies.  Dead Rising is a series very much about navigating seas of the walking dead.  Perhaps the foremost feature of the series was putting hordes of them on the screen at once.  Tens of them in the foreground, with several times that in effective imitators shambling about in the …


If I have been quiet lately, perhaps it is because I am content. Dark Souls is a lot more satisfying than anything else I have been playing lately.

What is so satisfying about this game?  Perhaps it's the intricate attention the developers have paid to the idea of medieval swordplay, where a wide slash in a narrow corridor does not work for obvious reasons, and an armored warrior has inertia enough that they control a bit like a tank on legs.  But if you drive this tank closer to hit an enemy with your sword, you had better be ready to block or dodge, because everyone in this dark world has forgotten how to pull punches.  Yes, I think it is the difficulty I enjoy most of all.
Given that modern gaming has been inundated with casual friendliness, a truly challenging game feels like an impossibility.  Yet, here is a game that makes you walk everywhere across its tight, treacherous expanse.  Here is a game that not only has no quicksave, it spaces its save points like oases in a merc…

Thoughts On Overcoming Game Development Analysis Paralysis

I am not really any good at this, either.  But I have developed two-part theory on how to get over it.

Part 1: Keep the game development habit going.

My #1 problem with game development is that I get derailed constantly.  It's partly because my immediate family is apparently addicted to drama and can't seem to avoid making messes to needlessly complicate my life nearly every week.  But I'll take some of the blame as well: even left to my own devices, I am often prone to distraction, perhaps an inevitable consequence of being a lifelong computer gamer.

The obvious consequence here is you get rusty at game development and completely forget everything about your project, leaving them half-completed messes.  How did this happen?
Lately, I have learned of the power of habit, probably thanks to motivational speakers who literally name their book that.  But the simple point is basically this: human beings are creatures of habit, and if you slip out of the habit of doing something…