Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2007

Mine Games Runneth Over

One of the benefits of writing a Blog is that you begin to recognize patterns. For example, at about the point where I say, "I'm considering buying...", I've pretty much mentally cut the check. Space Empires V narrowly escaped this fate through sheer ineptitude of its Artificial Intelligence, but Geneforge 4 had no such excuse. (At least I got caught up with my homework... well, most of it.)

The registered version of Geneforge 4 is unfolding nicely. It has 80 zones, each telling a story that makes up a part of the big story. It's not linear, and traveling back to old zones is the only way to overcome certain challenges. At about 20 hours played, I estimate I'm less than half way through the game. I've just unlocked shaping (creating) Drayks, which are like dragons: look out, world!

I'm tired: Warioware Inc Mega Microgame$ has been keeping me up too late at night. Like a good book, taking Warioware to bed is a surefire formula for insomnia. Th…

Forging At Life

Out of the blue came GeneForge 4, another excellent independent gaming product of Spiderweb Software, which kept me up late Saturday and ate up much of my Sunday. Here's a gem worth talking about.

Spiderweb Software's RPGs have a few things in common.
They're tile-based, played from a top-down or isometric perspective.They feature turn-based combat on a good old school RPG mechanic.They're open-ended, allowing players to explore a large world.They've also an interesting story. Exile (and I believe Avernum) take place in an underground world where prisoners (including yourself) are exiled. Geneforge involves a world where the very stuff of life is magically tinkered with to create biological tools and beings. In either series, you're a rebel who can decide who to side with over the course of the game, resulting in multiple endings.There's both PC and Macintosh versions available (I suspect they're developed on Macs).Finally, they're all shareware …

Zen and Heroic Indecision

Though I did conduct a few investigations into coming up with a better hero, my alt-a-holism in City of Heroes seems to be abated, for now.

The seeds were planted yesterday. I compared the hours played for my Scrapper and Controller and was surprised to see it was less than a 1/10th total difference. If the Controller's damage was really so piss poor, why did he have a level lead and such a small gap in time played?

Playing my Level 33 Spines/Dark Armor Scrapper this morning against Unyielding difficulty Freakshow missions, I was sent to the hospital twice. A single Metal Swiper Freak's three-hit combo could take off over half my health. It was satisfying to defeat them, but this made them dangerous to solo.

Returning from classes today, I fought those same Freakshow again, this time with my Controller. It was much safer, thanks to having summoned pets around to take the damage for me from most foes, and monster control powers to take care of the rest. My Controller co…

Time Warp to Paragon City

Citizens of Paragon City, it's been slightly over two months, but I have returned. In their first day returning to the patrol, the Nanites (my level 32 Spines/Dark Armor Scrapper) was invited to join what turned out to be a good group. I ended up making level 33 before my adventures of the day were over.

My drive towards level 50 was going well, but then I decided to give my other heroes a chance. Unfortunately, giving them all a test run just made the problem worse: each character has roughly equivalent potential. Now, I don't know what character I want to play.

It was time to cut my alt-a-holicism's potential for harming the continuity of my MMORPG experience further. I deleted from the server several lesser heroes to reduce the temptation to play them. I couldn't bring myself to deleting a certain Scrapper alt, but that is likely a mistake. I promised myself to create no new characters until I've a level 50 hero, but we'll see if I can keep that promi…

Creating the definitive Oblivion

It's been a creative weekend in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Through regular dabbling in the Elder Scrolls Construction Set, I've made dozens of awesome tweaks that genuinely improved the game for me in many ways. My Oblivion module work now includes plugins for:
Revised stock spells that make maximum benefit of the existing spell balance while offering interesting choices in which spell to useAdditional monsters and tweaked spawn tables that introduce a greater variety of foes at higher levels.Tweaks to the Atronatch birthsign, Monks, and hand-to-hand combat to render them more viable.Various small fixes.The overall focus has been to improve the balance and base functionality of Oblivion, and I think it has been successful along those lines.

A few more revisions and I'll try uploading it to a module database website. I also found The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages which is a great supplement wiki to The Elder Scrolls Constuction Set wiki.

Because I've played Elde…

Back to Oblivion

In light of the recent Gamespot coverage of the Shivering Isles, I reinstalled and started a new character in Elder Scrolls Oblivion.

I had finished the original campaign with an Agent months ago, but then the world lost momentum. Having run out of content, history stopped moving forward, and the game world died. The promise of a full expansion coming up promises to solve this little chronological problem, at least temporarily. In the meanwhile, there's the Knights of the Nine campaign.

As much as I'd like to say Vanguard has good graphics, lets face it: Oblivion blows it away in just about every way. It even has physics.  This time around, I'm playing a "pure" Mage. Compared to my Agent, the Mage has a lot more flexibility and power, but starts off weaker. Considering the potential power of higher level spells, I'm feeling somewhat interested in running through the official campaign for the second time.


A little math determined what the problem was with fighters in Space Empires V: The maintenance was 1/10th that of a ship unit, but the actual parts are considerably more effective. I could easily adjust that in the retail version. However, I decided that my fixation with a game this broken isn't healthy... I might give it another spin in a couple months.

Aside from that, I played a little Vanguard and Rogue Galaxies. Very good RPGs for very different reasons. However, it seems I've discovered I'm a Strategy gamer at heart.

A Broken Obsession (Space Empires V)

I've still been wasting far too much time playing the demo of Space Empires V, a sorely broken game with what feels like great potential. My latest bout has me hacking the demo files to implement some of Captain Kwok's fixes. The developers astutely prevented me from doing most of this, but not the AI files. I noticed improvement in terms of diplomatic interactions and AI ship designs, but the good Captain has much to do before SEV's AI would be what I'd call remotely challenging.

While Space Empire V has its issues, the robust combat engine is capable of supporting hundreds of custom-designed units, leading to a truly satisfying strategy game experience.

To be fair, Space Empire's AI is being put under a severe test. First, I'm no stranger to space empire games. For example, I know that the initial land grab is vital, and so if the AI lets up even a little here I'll end up ruling it for the rest of the game. Second, I'm playing with a somewhat hos…

A Story of Strategy

My ancient race of lazy energy beings, the Procrastini, were interrupted from their colonization program by their first encounter with alien life: the Amon'krie. No sooner than our communication channels were established did these slimy lizards begin to initiate intelligence attacks against my empire. Against this onslaught of espionage we were largely defenseless thanks to our previous complete focus towards rapid colonization.

Insulted and infused with an irrational desire to vengeance, I struggled to maintain a cool head in dealing with these villains. Arrogantly, the Amon'krie beasts ignored my repeated diplomatic treaties and other demands to cease their spying. I grew tired of these insults, and gave my diplomats instructions that set in motion the transformation of the cold war into a hot one. Procrastini factories ceased producing peaceful colony ships are started producing deadly fighters and carriers. I would confront these beasts and force them to yield!

As th…

Hypocritical Hypothesis

Well, after taking all the time to talk it up, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite: I haven't played Vanguard much in days. It isn't really that I bored of Vanguard so much as I allowed it to be crowded out by what was, for me, more rewarding game experiences. I may yet return to Vanguard once I bore of my diversions.

Rogue Galaxy has revealed the kinds of features I'd expect from the same development company that made Dark Cloud 2. Excellent artistic direction, solid and reasonably deep game mechanics, a weapon upgrade system, a grid-based building system, an inventory that gets saturated with useful junk, memorable characters, and more. Games like this both make me glad I own a PS2 and resentful there's not enough of these kinds of games on the far more open-ended platform that a PC should be.

The Space Empires V demo (version 1.25) instilled in me cravings for strategy games I didn't know I had. Compared to the lead competitor in the genre (Galactic Civilizati…

Rogue Weekend

Vanguard's coming along swimmingly enough but I've found myself pining for a game that isn't so much an online world commitment. To these ends, I've been dabbling in both Zelda: Twilight Princess and Rogue Galaxy.

In Twilight Princess, I think I've reached the point where the developers want me to explore this open-ended world they've created. I've been unearthing and subsequently donating a massive horde of rupees (the resident currency) as I leave no rock unturned unexploded. The Twilight Mirror yet evades me, but the elusiveness of the hunt is part of the charm.

I decided to go ahead and shell out $40 for my very own copy of Rogue Galaxy. I had spotted this game about a year ago and was eagerly waiting for it. Given recent financial concerns I was considering just renting it, but reconsidered when I saw the $40 price tag and considered how much of a value Dark Cloud 2 (made by the same company) was. In the 2 1/2 hours I played today, I I haven'…