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When More Of The Same Is A Good Thing

In my mind, I had put off blogging for a couple weeks, so it's quite a surprise to see the last entry here was four weeks ago!  You know what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun."  It's been a good time to be PC gamer.

I completed X-Com 2 on the "Veteran" difficulty level, then restarted it on the same difficulty but in "Iron Man" mode because I think my constant save scumming really undermined the challenge.  This game is supposed to be a fight against desperate odds with setbacks looming around every corner, so reloading every time something goes wrong really undermines that.

I then moved on to Factorio.  Though it largely plays the same as it did for me in 2014, it's been greatly streamlined and perfected, new parts added, campaign extended, and a better balance instituted.  It is still not finished, but I am glad its recent Steam release in early access refocused my attentions on it.

Speaking of games which are becoming more excellent while in Steam Early Access, I also played a bit of Clockwork Empires.  The premise is as great as it's always been: a colony management game with Victorian Steampunk colonists rubbing elbows with Cthulhu horrors in a fairly zany manner.  What fun!  However, the overall complexity of putting together a good colony management game is a real challenge, and I admire that Gaslamp Games have shouldered poor initial reviews and doggedly worked to put the disparate parts of this behemoth together.  As of today, I pronounce it a fair waste of time with potential to be an excellent waste of time if they keep it up.

The same thing has happened to X: Rebirth, a game that I tried very hard to like back when it was released in November 2013, but ultimately had to admit it was unlikable.  Well, it's been two and a half years, and I can now report it is... just above mediocre.  On the upside, they have added four major version overhauls and a couple of expansions, performance has improved, it's reasonably stable, and better balanced.  On the downside, it's still a sack of terrible ideas that rendered it a major step backwards from the previous game in the series, and I was significantly disappointed when I discovered enemy ships can still drive through station walls and get stuck there as that bug should have been quashed years ago.

Catching up to the present now, there's Stardew Valley, a one-man project that was released feature complete, none of this "early access" malarkey.  Speaking as somebody who has played at least five different Rune Factory games, I am inclined to believe that the Rune Factory series has had a lot more practice making this kind of game.  However, Stardew Valley is nevertheless wonderful and has unique strengths of its own, not the least being I can play it on my PC.   I get the feeling that I will be staying in Stardew Valley until I complete it, and at the rate the game is going that's looking to be about 200 hours of play time.

So this is basically what I have been up to the past four weeks: replaying one AAA game, visiting three indie products I'd played before to see how well they've improved, and finally ending up good and hooked on another indie product.  I have had plenty to occupy my free time... oh, wait, I was supposed to be doing something productive, too.  Whoops!
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