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Exploration Over

(Please pardon that this is the third repost of this entry.  I have been using an Android app to perform edits, and keep accidentally hitting the 'save as draft' button instead of the 'publish' one.  Whose wise idea was it to make the 'save as draft' button look like a 3.5" disk?  I keep thinking "save changes" when I see that.)

Now Playing: Lots Of Stuff, Maybe...

In a few hours, the Steam "exploration sale" will be over, an event that went from November 26th to December 2nd.  I am fairly certain what they set out to "explore" was the depths of my wallet.  Since I already have so many games on Steam that I require a day planner and an abacus to get around to playing any of them, I kept my purchases pretty moderate this time around:

I don't care if this is YouTube bait, putting a goat in a tudexo and tophat is worth a few bucks to me!
Goat Simulator - With the additional content provided by the "MMO expansion," this half-baked deliberately buggy silly game has become a fully-baked deliberately buggy silly game.

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World - Civilization V is one of those games that proves to computer gaming cynics that turds actually can be polished to diamonds with enough time and effort.

It released in 2010 a rather buggy mess that played coherently but suffered from performance issues, spotty artificial intelligence, and lacking in many vital features we came to expect from prior games in the series.  Over the next couple years, they patched out the greater bulk of the bugs and left us with a thoroughly alright game.   Major improvements were released with their first expansion in June of 2012, Gods And Kings, which also introduced mechanics for religions as well as brought back the missing feature of spies.  Then, in July of 2013, they released further improvements in Brave New World, which brought back the missing feature of trade caravans as well as revamped the "cultural" victory condition to be a bit less arbitrary. 

In my limited experience with this latest expansion, I will say that Brave New World makes the game a whole lot more interesting because all those trade caravans mean a lot more gold income, which means you can maintain a lot more of a standing army.  During peacetime, this is necessary to protect your trade routes, but this doubles as epic resistence potentional for when diplomacy fails, and basically just a lot more units for mischief in general!  A very welcome change overall.

Moonbase Commander - A 2002 game from Humongous Entertainment that remains among the best strategy artillery games ever made.

Might & Magic X - A 2014 fan indie revival of one of the biggest names in the turn-based, first person dungeon crawl genre, X has harnessed modern day technology to make things compellingly 3D, but stays relatively true to its roots, and is as brutal as any Might & Magic game ever has been.

Thief (complete series) - The first Thief game was released shortly before the turn of the century, and breathed life back into the first person shooter genre by taking the focus off of spastic gunplay and instead shifting the focus towards stealth, where our light-fingered protagonist is a poor fighter who needs to avoid being seen or heard.  The resulting series has delivered some of the most atmospheric experiences ever to grace computer or console, thanks in part to a setting that combines magic with steampunk.  The last two installments, Deadly Shadows (2004) and Thief (2014) fell a little flat compared to the original two, but this nevertheless remains a rather cool series in many gamers' minds.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch - A goofy physics game of far greater production values than most of the genre, this one casts you as a octopus trying to pose as a human without attracting too much notice.  Much hilarity ensues as even the most basic landlubber activity is rather difficult for a octopus controlled with a very literal control scheme.  Even more incredibly, our protagonist is quite worthy of sympathy, he's just trying to be the best octodad he can for his human family!

Dragon Age: Origins - When this game came out, it was so slickly done that it looked like Bioware had successfully revived and modernized the kind of real time strategy roleplaying game they did much to invent with the Baldur's Gate series.  Dragon Age: Origins remains a glorious game, thick with lore and quality gameplay, no doubt about it.  Unfortunately, its sequel was a massive disappointment to fans by largely failing to hit the same notes, and that makes it hard for me to want to get involved in playing this one.

Planetary Annihilation - Latest game from the creators of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, I always found this formula of no-nonsense energy and metal generation to lead to a real time strategy experience every bit as good as StarcraftPlanetary Annihilation is the product of over 2 million dollars of crowd funding and years of development.

How did it turn out?  I played one campaign map against the AI... the AI commander built about a half-dozen structures and stalled, so I spent 48 minutes carefully building my way across three planets, expecting resistance at any time, only to find there was absolutely no opposition.  Apparently this "finished" game does not have working AI. Really?  REALLY?  Oh well, I got it for 80% off, I can't complain too much.
Really Big Sky - A surprise favorite of mine, Really Big Sky is a gloriously psychodelic side-scrolling shoot em' up rife with special effects and clever gameplay innovations.  It's the kind of game I would make if I were to take Clickteam Fusion 2.5 and try to implement every trick the engine gives me into a single game. Incidentally, this was indeed the engine the game was made in, and the result really says something for its capabilities!

Gimbal -  I mostly snagged this one because I often see my brother playing it and it was on sale.  Well, okay, it's a top-down space shooter where you build your own ships from prefab parts, with some allowance for real physics so you need to have your ship control realistically, a pretty decent start. 

Unfortunately, all you can do with the designs you have built and tested is participate in old-fashioned multiplayer arenas, a grossly obsolete form of gameplay.  When you get there, you are probably just going to run up against a guy who found a way to mount dozens of guns and blows you away because there is not a whole lot of balancing factors in the game to prevent them from pulling stuff like that. 

Good thing I got it on the cheap, as games like Gimbal tend to taunt me by being really cool core ideas that are being leveraged ineffectively.

Now Developing: Something In This Fancy New Engine I Bought.

The last thing I bought on this Steam sale was a personal license for Clickteam Fusion 2.5.  There was quite a bit of cognitive dissonance behind this choice.  

Recall that, on the heels of my last entry, I had decided that I needed some good "prototyping" software to help me iron out my designs.  (From there, I could move on to realizing a finished version on a more specialized custom engine if needed.).  It is quite possible that Construct 2 is better at prototyping overall due to having more pre-programmed behaviors and a slightly more user-friendly development (its methods are very similar to Clickteam Fusion 2.5, but a little more advanced).  However, it was also quite possible that a given design might need performance in order to be an effective prototype, and Clickteam Fusion 2.5 puts out optimized games that put the opposition's performance to shame (except in HTML5).

In the entry before the last, I did a more thorough breakdown of comparing the two engines.  It was a very close battle between these two products.  Performance is important, flexibility is important, and the difference in ease of use is minor enough to be no tiebreaker.  At the end of that entry, I had speculated that I may well end up choosing the one that went on sale first.  
Well, Clickteam Fusion 2.5 was on sale for 50% off this "discovery," Steam sale, Construct 2 did not deign to be on sale at all during this time, so we have our winner!   In retrospect, I feel I made the right choice because, with Clickteam Fusion 2.5, I am not only getting an IDE that is almost as easy to use as Construct 2, but I am also getting one that has been proven to realize some extremely capable games.  Construct 2 has yet to prove itself outside of the HTML5 platform.

In fact, Clickteam Fusion 2.5's performance is so good, I may well not require another engine after the prototype is complete inside of it.  Who knows?   Maybe I will end up buying Construct 2 on sale for the purpose of prototyping a game to make in Clickteam Fusion 2.5!

I am all out of excuses now; okay, Mr. Hotshot Wannabe Indie developer, you got your engine, now you need to try to make things.

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