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All Over The Place

A whole lot of nothing continues to be accomplished as I struggle to overcome this damn cold.  It is not quite as severe as the one I had back at the end of October (about 3 months ago) which had me bedridden for an entire day.  Instead, this one leaves me feeling energetic enough to think maybe I can go to work, only to wrack me with miscellaneous dysfunctions.  It's like this cold is not serious, it just enjoys screwing with me.

It seems the only effective means to fight such a sneaky devil is to play defense, drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest even if I think I am fine, or else it will stab me in my back.  Currently, it feels as though it has made its last holdout in my sinuses, the jerk, and not a member of this household has been spared infection.   Suffice to say, while undergoing this kind of assault, I am not getting a whole lot done.

Still playing: Fantasy Life.

I am at the mid-to-end of this game right now, and I am not sure there's too much to say that I have not already.  I have mastered another five Lives (professions), am now character level 49, and my Life standings are at:
  • Mastered - Paladin, Mercenary, Angler, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Alchemist.
  • Expert - Hunter, Wizard, Miner, Woodcutter, Cook
  • Adept - Tailor (sitting there alone, looking rather useless, which it is, as this profession produces almost entirely cosmetic things).
As I mentioned in previous entries, the Master rank is not the real end rank, there are still the Hero and Legendary ranks, and an additional God/Creator rank if you buy the DLC.  However, the game acts like you have accomplished something major once you have reached the Master level, throwing you a little party with a (usually goofy) custom song for celebrating the mastery of that Life.  This suggests to me that perhaps the developers expected most players would have mastered one Life and then forget about the game and go do something else.  Not so for me, a hardcore gamer.

I would probably be complaining Fantasy Life is a bit of a grind right about now, but the variety of activities helps to alleviate this.  The five crafting professions, three gathering professions, and four combat professions deliver five distinct forms of gameplay between them: melee fighting (Paladin, Mercenary), ranged fighting (Hunter, Wizard), crafting (Blacksmith, Carpenter, Alchemist, Cook, Tailor), node harvesting (Miner, Woodcutter), and fishing (Angler).  It would have been nice if each Life played distinctly differently but, instead, they just copy the mechanics from these five forms of gameplay to achieve the given aims.  Oh well, better five half-assed gameplay mechanics than twelve quarter-assed ones, I suppose.

Between these five core gameplay activities is the meta-game activity of either advancing the main adventure (which unlocks new areas) completing item requests for townsfolk (sometimes crafted items of quality, sometimes just a fetch quest), or just messing around at your leisure.  To the latter ends, you can deck out your houses with furniture, but I honestly don't see much point to it, as a decorated house does not seem to have much gameplay impact.

I could very well end up mastering all the Lives wholly by accident; it is really not all that hard to advance ranks, it is merely a matter of accomplishing a set of tasks, each of which earn "stars" with the guild master.  Getting access to another portion of the map means you can go over there and grab a pile of new resources.  Access to new resources means access to complete tasks.  Complete enough tasks, get enough stars, and your rank goes up, which unlocks another set of tasks.  So you basically rank up Lives just by messing around in new areas... little wonder I managed to Master so many professions.

Now that I have almost Master-level gear and skills and am nearly level 50, I could probably beat the main story mission easily enough.  However, I worry this might rob the game of a much impetus.  Meh, might as well risk it: I have given the game a solid 61 hours of play, that's forty bucks worth by my measure, and I could put it down right now and not regret it.  Even having bought it at full price, Fantasy Life has already vindicated its dollar per hour investment as a more solid purchase than most things I bought 75% off on Steam: well done, Level5.

Briefly played: Eden Star (early access v0.0.1)

I had seen some earlier gameplay footage of Eden Star, and found myself quite impressed with the overall implementation of what they have here.  It is indeed a first-person buildy constructy survival thingy, like everybody else who wants to jump on Minecraft's ludicrously successful coattails, but here we have a fantastic Sci-Fi presentation that includes a lovely physics implementation, right down to a power glove that allows you to pulverize trees and rocks and digitize their materials for building like some sort of futuristic ascended demigod of a man.
V0.0.1 as released on steam does not have waves of attackers, as in this video. 
Instead, it is an open sandbox environment with aggressors coming at you
dynamically as your hub increases in power.  Cooler, if not for the crashing.

After dabbling with it for a few hours, I wrote a little Steam review on it that goes like this:
As of v0.0.1, Eden Star has a tendency to crash on my system at the frequency of roughly 1 hour into the game, and there is no means to save, so there's no real persistence to my efforts as of yet. Still, it's a pretty solid start to a really cool take to the whole construction-survival-sim.

Core to the coolness of this game is how you are wearing a suit that lets you break down trees and rocks in a realistic fashion, they pop and break as you work, the power of a micro singularity at your fingertips, so you can scoop the matter up in some sort of matter digitizer and take it back to your Eden platform in order to build construction blocks, turrets, and weapons. This suit can also be upgraded to become a full on grav gun, picking up and throwing enemies and other objects, as well as a rail gun upgrade. It's a great platform to play with 3D engine physics, although it keeps everything above ground (no digging) and it's mostly just rocks and trees and aliens right now.

Making progress involves upgrading your Eden platform by converting resources into energy but, the more energy your Eden platform has, the more attention of the hostile wildlife it attracts. As there is nothing to do but upgrade your Eden platform, in theory, things will slowly but steadily ramp up from being a leisurely walk to a desperate fight to hold your ground. In action, it's very barebones right now, the attacking wildlife comes in slowly, sometimes not at all and, just when things are starting to get interesting, the game crashes or locks up (your mileage may vary; my system might be less compatible than yours). Lacking a means to save the game, I am sent back to the beginning.

But it is certainly a pretty interesting tech demo for as long as it lasts, and I hope the developers see through their vision instead of losing motivation, pocketing the early access money and running as some do.
So yeah, the game is not quite ready yet, but hey, the developers didn't say it would be.  Further, at only $20, it's a fairly reasonable gamble.  Still, I would be disappointed if they don't see it through, as it really is a lovely start to something great.

Considering Development: Still mired down in a choice of platform.

Man, I want to like GameMaker Studio, it would seem to allow me a great deal of freedom to program in addition to being an already-made game environment.  But the interface still remains rather ponderous to use, especially its really awkward room editor.  One of the main hangups is just having some nice placeholder content to develop with.  This is something that Clickteam Fusion 2.5 does very well by actually having an integrated media library in the main interface, well-populated with placeholder assets, where as both GameMaker Studio and Construct 2 have you import them in a less-smooth manner from the file system.

Scirra has pulled a couple of pranks on me.   I waited about two months for Construct 2 to go on sale, but I guess I should have waited four months, because it finally went 30% off when it was too late.  However, that's not the worst of it: they've decided to move on to Construct 3.  While this is generally good news, because Construct 2 has limitations to overcome, it's bad news for any poor sucker that recently bought Construct 2 because that whole "free upgrades forever" thing just took a foot to the balls.  With any luck, Construct 3 will come with a hefty discount for Construct 2 owners, but we'll see.

It has me thinking maybe I should just use Clickteam Fusion and say whatever platform limitations it has are my challenge to overcome.  This is because it produces more efficient applications than Construct 2 (especially on the Windows platform which is my preference) and is considerably easier to use than GameMaker Studio, and the integrated media library unique to Clickteam Fusion is just icing on the cake.  Finally, I know I could always try coding my own Clickteam Fusion extensions using the free SDK if I want, although I would lose a bit of platform independence by doing so.

Going with Clickteam Fusion sure looks like win/win/win on paper, doesn't it?  Yet, it won't take long for me to over-think myself out of this position.  I think it is mostly my hangups on tilemaps (which are not native to Clickteam Fusion) and my love of procedural generation (which is tricky to do without hard access to coding) which makes it hard for me to commit to this platform.


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