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Showing posts from January, 2014

RimWorld First Impressions: Dwarf Fortress Meets Firefly

On the heels of my coming to grips with what I wanted in a game, I went ahead and bought into the RimWorld alpha to see how close it came to realizing my desires.   Bear in mind that this is just the "Alpha 1" version I'm playing, so it's far from the release state version.  I'm basically commenting on having played a solid foundation, but little else.

RimWorld is a game that caused me pause when I first heard about it because it's something I started to create myself in the past, somewhat "Dwarf Fortress if it were focused on a space colony instead."  But having an idea is easy, it's the plethora of smaller details that truly make it yours.  Tynan Sylvester (developer of RimWorld) did many things quite differently than I would, and I am very impressed with his choices.

The particular type of Sci-Fi he chose to represent RimWorld is somewhat reminiscent of Firefly.  While there are occasional references to high technology, it feels much more lik…

Thoughts On Producing The Ultimate In Computer Escapism

So I put some thought into it, and basically the game I want to play is the game everybody wants to make.
It should have the following features:
Open-endedness to the extent that players believe they can do anything because, after all, that's a core component of escapism.

Minecraft or Starbound are penultimate examples because the geography potentially goes on forever (or large enough that it's as good as forever) and you can change every square inch of the game (although eventually you'll reach unbreakable bedrock).  However, the overall sophistication of the parts could be a lot greater, as mods like Buildcraft demonstrate.An ongoing narrative that absolutely rivets the player with the awesomeness of taking part. 

While we all may have played roleplaying game that had great stories that kept us riveted, I am thinking of a scope that is significantly longer lasting than static content.  In other words, procedurally generated narratives that are actually intelligent enough …

A Zero Sum Hedonism Hangover

I sort of feel as though the last few weekends have been a disaster.  Minecraft and SimCity are both sandboxes that permit to try to create something of worth within them but, though I was able to motivate myself to invest a considerable amount of hours into them both, the net result has not been enough.
 Since the last entry:
Indeed, I was forced to start over in Minecraft, and that fact that it wasn't my own indecisiveness that was at fault makes me trust this platform all the less.  (It's not exactly Minecraft's fault; I can't blame Notch for a heavily modified game.)

Still, I played a new game long enough to build an Archemedes' Ships airship.  It took bloody forever to collect all the cotton I needed to build it from Natura plants.  I'm halfway glad I built it, because it is really cool to fly around, but I found  my destination (a village to pointlessly lord over) a mere 300 blocks away.  Now, I have nowhere else worthwhile to fly.  (At least with Galacticr…

SimCity, Plain And Forestalled

True to my word impulse buying habit, I did indeed spring for SimCity, at full price, the original "digital deluxe" download-from-Origin-only version that included the Heroes and Villains expansion because my extended playing of City Of Heroes made me a sucker for that sort of thing.
By being fashionably late to the party, I managed to avoid becoming a casualty of all the bothersome drama related to Origin's decision to make SimCity an online-only game, only to force legitimate customers to face a server bottleneck that prevented them from playing.

Speculating why SimCity's was online-only, despite you throwing a fit about it.

Is it really true that the online mode was easily rectified?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm inclined to side to a middle answer on the subject: Origin needed SimCity to be online because piracy on the PC is too easy to do, so they needed some kind of DRM.  But the pimply-faced geeks that make up their prime customer demographic don't like DRM i…

Why did I even bother to buy other games?

Having sweetened my mod mix to include a great deal more overall building capacity, it was time to begin another game in Minecraft with Large Biomes enabled.

After a couple false starts (I sort of regret not sticking around that jungle start), I found myself in a nice forest biome.  I explored it briefly, whacking a few cows along the way because, after all, I need to eat.  It was then that I hit paydirt for a starting player: a nice deep ravine.
Ravines like this are great for starting characters in Minecraft because they are laden with lots of visible mineral riches.  I built an ugly-looking hut out of wood to hide from the monsters in at night and, after a few visits to the bottom of the ravine, I had recovered enough iron to have a full suit of armor. 

Now I was heavily armed, well fed, and ready to explore the surface world, and even the monsters wandering at night were unlikely to be a problem.  Where to go next?

Looking upward, I could see a benefit of the Natura mod, some kind…

My Minecraft Mod-O-Holcism Rages On

Contrary to the issues I had earlier, I'm getting bored enough of Minecraft that I'm warming up to the idea of cutting corners.   However, I don't want to straight up cheat because the lack of challenge is sort of boring.  What I'm going to do instead is change my mod mix to be less survival/balance focused and more building focused.

Frankly, I've maneuvered myself into a corner, here.   I do most of my work in Steve's Carts, and am finding that I need a means to intelligently load and unload the content from the cargo managers in order to have more complete factorization going on.
Still, I like Steve's Carts enough to make it the new standard in which I'm setting my mod package balance.  It's a mod all about building nifty custom minecarts that can do everything from digging their own tunnel to milking a cow.  I really enjoy that, although I do have one point of complaint: you can't disassemble the carts you've already built, and this inevi…

My Minecraft 1.6.4 Mods Of Choice

It's all a matter of personal preference, really.  Here's the Minecraft 1.6.4 mod mix I came up with:

GUI Enhancements:
NotEnoughItems - Mostly for the crafting recipe access.InventoryTweaks - Keeps the item spam to a minimum, reloads used up stuff in my hotbar.Damage Indicators Mod - I like to know how much damage I'm doing.Optifine - A complete rendering engine overhaul, but I just want increased view distance and merged glass blocks. I'm passing on Rei's Minimap this time because I'm going for increased immersion.  For that matter, it might not be a bad idea to swap out NotEnoughItems for CraftGuide if I'm concerned about immersion.
Gameplay Enhancements:
Millenaire - Adds smarter villagers with a goal to grow their towns, ultimately bringing some semblance of purpose outside of the player character's own aims.  There's also some quests to do, if one so deigns.  I find having some reasonably smart NPCs around helps you to not feel so alone when pla…

Callously Grading Freely-Given Labors Of Love

Well, that didn't work out very well; I'm already ready to bail out of my new custom 1.6.4 mod package, and the reason is actually pretty obvious in practice:  Each mod you add to Minecraft will only add the functionality of that mod. 
So the question is, "What functionality does this mod add which actually makes my game more worthwhile to play?"  Being a bit of an armchair game designer, my senses are too acute to ignore that a lot of what those mods add actually seems to make the game a bit worse, in some aspects.  They are, after all, created by Minecraft enthusiasts who are pretty good at JAVA, and not necessarily good game designers.

Lets just go straight down the list of what I've got installed here:
Rei's Minimap - Rei's Minimap adds an overhead map and a waypoint system to a game designed to support neither.  A pretty cool mod, it includes other nice features such as the ability to see blips on the map to represent various kinds of entities.

The ma…

Experimenting With Minecraft 1.6.4 Time Sink Potential

Like any good game, Minecraft is a terrible time sink.  The sense of flow settles in, you enjoy yourself immensely, and before you know it the entire weekend is over.   This leaves an overall question lingering of, "Was the lost time worth it?"

In some games, the answer is overwhelmingly negative, because the game was not all that fun and getting at the fun was perhaps obfuscated by a massive hurdle of progression mechanics.  This is the problem with the typical massively multiplayer online game, as that giant virtual space begets the developers really want the players to move in and keep paying those monthly subscriptions.  Consequently they'll pull every trick imaginable to keep the players playing, even if the game itself rapidly runs out of much enjoyment.

In Minecraft's case, I'm not entirely sure whether my time is invested well or not.  In the past, I've noticed that Minecraft has no real overriding purpose to play, but lately I've been thinking pe…