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Showing posts from December, 2007

Runes and Zombies

Well, when I'm not brooding over my differences with jackhoblins, I can always stave off my boredom with gaming. Two interesting titles I've been mucking around with lately are Rune Factory and Zombie Panic.

"Rune Factory" is a Nintendo DS Harvest Moon clone that takes place in a fantasy world. Apparently Harvest Moon, originally a 1996 SNES game, has spawned dozens of progeny but most of them stay true to the original concept of working on a farm. It sounds boring, but it turns out that the day-to-day dealings of trying to keep your own virtual farm running can really establish a great feeling of gamer's flow. Each new version has added additional complexity to the farm game - even romancing for a virtual spouse has been introduced.

Like many fantasy farmers, you'll spend your mornings watering cucumbers and your nights exploring dungeons.

Rune Factory enhances the formula further by introducing dungeons to hack and slash your way through when you're …

Gametapage: Disciples II

Yesterday, I tried out Disciples II: Rise of the Elves on Gametap.

The interface in Disciples II is gritty and medieval-feeling, reflecting expertly the tone of the rest of the game.

Compared to Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, the artistic direction in Disciples II was significantly more profound. There was a heavy gothic motif to everything. There was a nice dynamic musical score that felt alien and depressing, but in the right way, as though here is a fantasy world that is down on its luck. The individual units were detailed nicely with giant, eye-popping sprites.

So it was with some disappointment that I found the game itself to be lacking. It's not a terrible game, exactly, but it does not have a whole lot of depth to it. It was modeled more after Heroes of Might and Magic than it was Master of Magic, but it's even less deep than the former game. Building structures in the cities are restricted entirely to three units which offer vital in-game functions and all the rest…

Frugal Indulgance - Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic

It's about the point where I find myself gnashing my teeth about City of Heroes characters that I need to realize that I'm once again getting bored of the game. I keep coming back to it later, but I need to take some time off from it once in awhile. As they say, "Too much of a good thing..."

Garage Hero's second form. The plan is to change his appearance every 10 levels to seem more and more hi-tech.

Fortunately, I've two powerful channels of frugal-minded indulgance to dilute my over-saturation of City of Heroes: My GameFly subscription gives me access to all the new console games I could want, while my GameTap subscription gives me access to quite a few old gems.

Lately I've found myself dumping an absolutely amazing amount of time into Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, currently on GameTap. A really good turn-based strategy game like this can rivet me like a good book where I just have to see what's on the next page. Just recounting the events in t…

Scratch

"The Garage Hero's tale is an inspiring one to many of the blue-collar workers in Paragon City. As an ex-military mechanic, he had retired to run his own repair shop, but soon grew restless at the crime running rampant in the city. It was then that he decided to turn his formidable skills of tinkering into his own personal plan of vigilante justice.

His initial inventions were crude, mere modifications to assault rifles and sewing armor plates into jackets. However, as word of his heroic deeds increased, so also did his access to high tech contacts and the influence to get better and better equipment. Every few security levels gained, he returns to the drawing board, and his crime fighting potential increases exponentially. Much to the chagrin of Paragon City's villains, his plan seems to be working.

So it was that, with a combination of bravery and ingenuity, a unlikely hero was born."

The Garage Hero is born.

When it comes to making decisions, logic can be a…

Blastomutation in Paragon City

I've been savoring my between-school-quarters freedom for a total of 3 days now and already I'm feeling like I've had too much time off. Only another 24 days to go. Lately, I've been re-examining the City of Heroes balance through the eyes of somebody with far too much time on his hands.

These council "Mech Men" may think they have me surrounded but, unfortunately for them, this situation is to the advantage of the awesome offensive and defensive capacities of a mid-level "Scrapper".

Just a few days ago, I was excited to be playing a "Scrapper" customized to be a slippery, short-ranged, damage machine. However, the December 11th patch has revamped the balance by tweaking the defensively-weak offensive powerhouses, the "Blasters", to no longer require taking damage to get substantial damage bonuses.

It's a good change and I'm glad they did it: it's silly to provoke an archetype to take damage when they're not b…

On Tap

There's such a thing as too much of a good thing. For example, while I was having a ball in City of Heroes, playing that for days on end proved a tad monotonous. I needed something else to do, and dodging the various vices the Internet had to offer, I somehow ended up over at Gametap. It was free, at least some of the games were, so what was the harm in trying it out?

I found Twinklestar Sprites to be a delightful, not only because of slick gameplay, but also in a tooth-rotting sweet, kitschy anime sort of way.

After dabbling with a few of the free games, both old and relatively new, I found myself enthralled with just how many cool games I've missed. Second Sight, Twinklestar Sprites, and Metal Slug was some of the exceptional games that stood out. It wasn't long until I began to dabble with their game database and notice that there were many interesting masterpieces just out of reach...

Is there such a thing as too much of everything at once? For $59.95 ($10 more th…

Thoughts on Game Development for the Niche Market

City of Heroes, a relatively small title, is remarkable in that it has had me play for over 900 hours now. Yet, I loathe World of Warcraft as being little more than a streamlined EverQuest clone.

This lead me to realize that one thing that has become increasingly clear about MMORPGs, yet another reminder that they don't break the rules of general game development, and that is that you can either make a game that pleases as many people as possible or you can make a game for a certain niche of players.

Now, maybe this won't impress anyone that already works in game design, or maybe it will floor them, as I don't know what those oddly proactive folks do when crafting the magic that I live for. However, I had some interesting considerations along these lines.

Consideration #1: Casual games suck, but they're the only way you can afford a big-budget game.

If your game costs 50 million dollars to make, you're going to need to have 10 million people paying 50 dollars …

Hardcore Satisfaction

My entire weekend went quickly to City of Heroes. I don't think Thich Nhat Hahn would be impressed with my frittering away my life in such a way, but the inner gamer is thrilled: In this age of casual gamer cash grabs, it's hard for an advanced gamer to find a game that can consume a weekend so effectively.

Dual Blade's "Vengeful Slice" is a work of art.

Yet, in City of Heroes is a game I already invested 800 hours in. How can I find any enjoyment in it at all? I owe it all to three things: First, I'd taken a vacation from it for a month. Second, the new Dual Blades power set. Third, dumb luck allowed me to strike it rich.

Speed. That's pretty much the thing that impresses me about playing my character who wields Dual Blades and has Super Reflexes as his secondary power set. The Dual Blade power set itself is the best twitch action set in the game thanks to fluid animations, short recycle/animation times, and combo system unique from any other pow…