Skip to main content

Terraria and S.P.A.Z. are awesome

This week, two extremely fabulous gems dropped out of the sky upon me, the significance of such being as though the Gods had descended from on high to apologize for that whole "casual friendly" butchering of the gaming medium and make up for it by heralding a new golden era of PC gaming all in the same week.


The first was Terraria, a procedurally generated world that allows you to live vicariously in glorious 2D. It features a digging and building mechanic very similar to Minecraft. Unlike Minecraft, Terraria actually feels like a game, and a large part of that has to do with a subtle switch in balance and content:
  • In Minecraft, you spend days digging hoping to find a diamond block or a chest with a record in it. The greatest thing to do in Minecraft is to build elaborate 3D fortresses out of blocks, and the occasional creeper is just a speed bump.
  • In Terraria, you can build a little city inhabited by various merchant NPCs that come if you fulfill certain conditions, meanwhile digging for ore and encountering cool artifacts that grant you special powers, heart containers for more health, mana, and so on while encountering steadily nastier monsters.
In terms of sheer entertainment value, provided you can get over the fact it looks like a budget SNES title, Terraria is probably the best $10 you'll ever spend as it offers hundreds of hours of play, if not thousands.

Space Pirates and Zombies is almost the game I've been waiting for my entire life. I say "almost" because my dream game would be more in the vein of a procedurally-generated Starflight meets Sentinel Worlds, but I guess if that's what I want I'll have to make it myself sometime. Like Terraria, the unfortunately acronymed S.P.A.Z. features a procedurally generated world (universe) in which you can live vicariously in 2D, but that's about where the similarities end. It's actually an open-ended top-down action space combat adventure game, sort of in the vein of Escape Velocity Nova but significantly different in several key facets:
  • You control several ships which you can switch between on the fly while the rest are controlled by autopilot.
  • The combat is a lot tighter feeling, an extremely fluid action game with just enough depth to make you think.
  • There's less emphasis on trade. Instead of having to muddle through hundreds of components and hulls, all you need to buy is technology blueprints and your mothership fabricates ships on the fly.
  • Destruction of your ships is common and they're replaced easily as long as you've enough REZ on hand.
None of this can really tell you how great the game is. I advise giving the demo a spin. It's a really brilliant game for one developed by two chaps out of British Columbia.

Perhaps the best thing about both Terraria and S.P.A.Z. is that they're both fully playable works in progress. So, in addition to be fairly awesome in the present, there's a lingering promise they will be even awesome in the future.


Popular posts from this blog

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Greasing The Grind: Adding Lasting Appeal To Virtual World Sandboxes

Game design, being about entertainment, is not as much science as art.  We're coming up with interesting things that the human mind likes to chew on that "taste" good to it.  Different people find different things, "Fun," and a game designer is tasked with coming up with fun, appealing things.  As pertains to virtual world sandboxes, I identified three of them.

Challenge Appeal.

Dwarf Fortress and Fortresscraft Evolved have the same end game appeal preservation mechanic: wealth equals threat.  The more money your Dwarf Fortress is worth, the bigger the baddies who will come for you, including a bunch of snobby useless nobles who do nothing but push dwarves around and eat.  The more energy you make in Fortresscraft Evolved, the more and bigger bugs come to shut down your base.  Rimworld does something a little different based off of which AI Storyteller you choose, but it generally adds time to your wealth accumulation when deciding what kind of threats to throw a…