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Third World Gaming, Firsthand

My desktop computer's broke.  I'm currently using a Toshiba Satellite A205-S6808, and the system specs include an Intel G965 graphic card, 2 GB of ram, and a Core 2 Duo 1.66 Ghz processor.  Replacement parts for my desktop are in the mail, and (I mention out of respect to an actual third world country denizens) I acknowledge I am fortunate in that regard.



Until then, modern games are out.  For the most part, I find myself limping along with titles on DosBox because, if there's one thing this rig can handle well, it's games made years before it.  Although there are a few recent games that work fine as well, due to low graphical requirements.  Some of the better games currently at my disposal are:
  • X-COM: Apocalypse.  I didn't like this game much when it first came out because I was expecting turn-based strategy and this game has a rather poor implementation - real time mode simply plays better.   Today, however, I find Apocalypse to be the best of X-COMs released yet: the equipment management is better, the game flow is smoother, and the environments more detailed than before.  About the only thing that the previous games did better was convey the idea of being woefully under-equipped to handle the alien invaders: this X-COM takes place in the future, the invaders are actually a lot closer to being equals, and your squaddies aren't so hopelessly doomed this time.
  • Fortune Summoners.  Hey, if I can like My Little Pony for being a clever cartoon despite it being somewhat targeted to little girls, I can like Fortune Summoners for the same reason.  Don't let its cute exterior fool you: the game is a challenging side-scroller with an advanced combo system that is intelligently staggered with additional moves and magic as you continue to play.  The story is somewhat novel in that it does not deviate far from grade school, but other than that is fairly standard JRPG stuff.  (Blah blah, four elements elemental spirits, blah blah, cast of characters, blah blah, save the world.)  While restricted to my single-display laptop, I actually have a unique opportunity to enjoy the game, as it has slowdown issues with many users who have a dual-monitor setup, including me.
  • League of Legends.  The best "multiplayer online battle arena" game out there, bar none.  Well, okay, I like to qualify the word "best" when I use it, and in League of Legends case it comes down to a tight balance that rewards skillful play while being a moderately easy to learn game that is tough to master.  DOTA is comparatively much looser balanced, is even tougher to learn due to its massive item inventory, and the power curve gives good players too much leeway to stomp newbs.  About the only bad thing I can say about League of Legends is that their huge online community has far too many asshole kids who like to chew your ear off for jeopardizing winning the match (even if the problem is simply that the other team is better) or just playing in ways they don't understand.
  • Legend of Grimrock.  For awhile, I was thinking about installing Wizardry 8 but, when I failed to hunt down my installation disks, I realized I had a pretty good indy-made alternative in Legend of Grimwall.  Granted, Wizardry (like Might and Magic) eventually took its quasi-turn-based, party-based, RPG out of the dungeons, but there's something to be said for a well-designed dungeon crawl.
There's also a few games that surprised me by not actually being runnable despite not looking like they require all that much computational firepower:
  • Minecraft - I have to run it at "tiny" view distance to get a decently playable FPS out of it.  I had thought that Java did most of its work in the CPU itself, thereby waiving the necessity of the GPU, but this processor is only 1 Ghz slower on the one core the game allows itself to use, so I guess it does actually make a lot of use of the GPU after all.  Technical issues aside, I miss the procedurally generated fun of Minecraft and wish I could start playing it again, but I'm afraid the burnout runs too deep.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light - Mind-bogglingly, considering I can play some 3D games on this laptop, I only get about 1-2 frames per second when I try to play this wholly 2D game.  A low framerate would be playable, but unfortunately this lag slows the very game logic, too.  My guess is that the developers used some kind of GPU-driven engine to create FTL. Tough break!  FTL is one of the few games I really want to play right now.
Technically, I've got a dusty old Playstation 2 and a Nintendo Wii over here, with some games I haven't played a whole lot of, but I'm sort of out of the habit of playing console games; I'm really more of a PC gamer.  Don't ask me why: most of the big name talent has jumped ship from this platform years ago.

Truth be told, I don't feel like playing a whole lot right now.  I get the feeling that, after I fix my desktop computer, I'll do the same thing I was doing before it broke: stare at my desktop, not feeling like launching anything.  It's not a good feeling for a lifelong PC gamer to have.  Hopefully I'll get employed soon, so I'll have less time on my hands to get desensitized to everything good in gaming, and more money to afford cutting-edge games. 

Speaking of cutting-edge-games, it's no coincidence I'd been dabbling with X-COM Apocalypse: the revival of this long-dead series, XCOM Enemy Unknown, is due out in a couple weeks.  I may be burned out from gaming in general right now, but everything I've heard about this particular game suggests that it might just be deep and challenging enough to hook me for awhile.


Aside from that, it seems as though I'm good and tired of everything under the sun.  It'll be quite some time until Starbound, 0x10c, or Clockwork Empires happens.  Even if I fix my desktop computer, and once again am able to run just about anything in PC gaming, I'll still be plowing through monotonous crap in my attempts to digitally stave off boredom.

You know, after I get my desktop up and running again, I should really get back to work on my own development projects.  As I've mentioned before, once you've started making your own, settling for other people's games simply isn't quite as interesting.  Pity that making my own is hard.

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