Boxed in

January 10, 2013

I bet you are wondering why I’m blogging less huh? Yea, I figured you were.

Darkfall NDA is mostly to blame.

MMO genre being a pile of crap is another factor.

I mean, not only is there not a title out right now that I bother to waste time on (other than playing EVE Offline), but nothing is happening in the genre worth blogging about, and those that are blogging are not posting anything I need a response post to. It’s that bad.

So I fill my gaming time with random titles. 10 hours of FTL, a few hours of Witcher 2, beating Xcom, playing Civ V multiplayer, playing some Endor while waiting for its graphically updated version, trolling Steam in desperation, and right now, playing Skyrim again with some DLC and mods.

Skyrim is blog-worthy, but I’ve already done that, and other than stating once again that the amount of content in that game makes something as ‘content rich’ as GW2 look like pong, I don’t have much.

As for the rest? A post at most really, and I personally don’t even find those all that interesting to write or read. Just not much debate to “hey, FTL is fun for 10 hours, spend the $3”.

So while racking my brain for something to blog about, I’ve realized that if a game is not blog-worthy, it’s also not that memorable or ‘important’ to me. Take Xcom. Great, great game. I would recommend it to everyone. But I’d trade in Xcom for Heroes 6 and all its horrible flaws 10 times out of 10. Why? Because Heroes 6 stuck with me longer, left more of an impression, and I walked away with more thoughts about it than Xcom. Xcom was what it was, and I moved on.

I don’t know if that means Heroes 6 is better. I know it’s not better if judged hour-per-hour (in a pound-for-pound kind of way), but I was done with Xcom far sooner than Heroes, and in ‘total enjoyment’, Heroes wins.

And if I apply that thinking to the MMO genre, it explains why flawed yet deep games like Darkfall last for me, while ‘perfected’ shortness like GW2 is ultimately disappointing and a waste. Because unlike FTL, I’m not looking just to waste 10 hours in an MMO. That’s not my expectation. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s expectation if you are playing an MMO ‘correctly’, with a guild and digging into the social aspects and caring about the world rather than just your own person experience. For all of that to happen, you need way more than 10 hours.

Of course that last part is basically impossible in so many ‘MMOs’ today. SW:TOR is the poster child, but GW2 has a personal story as well, and so many of its praised design decisions help turn everyone into a helpful yet silence NPC/bot. Awesome for 10 hours, entirely forgettable long-term. It’s the reason the ‘new hotness’ in the MMO genre is just selling you a box. That’s all you get. The content in the box. Play it, finish it, move on. Other silent drones will replace you. Or not. It doesn’t matter to anyone but you (and the soon-to-be-laid of devs).

So until the drought ends, or the NDA drops, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here. Dark times indeed.

Civilization V multiplayer is good

August 9, 2012

My friend and I have finally moved on from playing Heroes 6 multiplayer, primarily due to the AI. On most maps, it’s just terrible, and even at the highest difficulty you simply can’t get a decent game out of it. We can’t play just 1v1 because that gets boring quickly, and playing Heroes with anything more than two people is asking for a marathon of mostly waiting.

During the last Steam sale, I gifted him Civ V Complete and he picked up the Gods and Kings expansion. This is his first exposure to Civilization, so he has a lot to learn, but he is enjoying himself so far and we are about halfway through our first multiplayer game.

Dear god is Civ V multiplayer enjoyable compared to Heroes 6. Simultaneous turns are so incredible and yet basic I still don’t understand how Heroes 6 shipped without them. The turns being far shorter also keeps the pace up, while at the same time allowing you to casually chat in vent about what’s happening or how something works. In Heroes we always felt pressed to finish a turn rather than talk because we knew the other person was waiting.

It’s also helpful that overall Civ V is a superior game. Far better balance, great AI (compared to H6), random maps, more civ/faction choices, more ways to win, etc. If you have been considering playing with someone but feared the general length of one game of Civ, I’d highly recommend giving it a try. It’s more enjoyable than I initially imagined it being, and makes for a very deep, relaxing bit of gaming.

My other C5

June 25, 2012

The Civilization V expansion, Gods and Kings, is a very nice EXPANSION to the game. How rare these days… A nice overview of the two main additions, religion and espionage, can be found at Mashable.

I’m only one game and 300ish turns in, but I like what I’ve seen so far. The new take on religion seems far more ‘natural’ than what was done in Civ IV, as well as being more gamey. Getting to design your religion’s bonuses not only makes the whole thing have more impact, but nicely skirts the issue of making one religion ‘better’ than another in terms of bonuses. Now if you make Islam awesome and Judaism suck, you are the terrorist and not the devs.

While religion is an important factor, espionage seems to be pretty minor. It’s allowed me to steal a few technologies, and see some cities, but it’s not been nearly as important as religion. Perhaps further into a game or with more experience this will change. That said, it’s a welcome layer to an already deep game, so its addition is positive overall IMO.

I’ve also noticed a fair amount of UI improvements, all of which (so far) are very nice. Performance-wise the game is better, although I’ve never been one who had major issues with the original game.

More civilizations is also always nice, and I feel like the new additions expand the strategic options well, rather than just adding civs for the sake of adding them with generic or non-unique units/buildings.

If you are a huge fan of Civilization, I’d recommend picking the expansion up. It more than adds enough to the game to rekindle interest and get you hooked. If you can wait, and don’t have Civ V with its DLC, indeed wait for the inevitable Steam bundle to save some cash.

Son of a…

June 1, 2012

Didn’t want those weekends anyway…

Crusader Kings II power balance

May 10, 2012

As I play more Crusader Kings II, I’m noticing that outright defeat, while possible, is rarer than in games such as Civilization, and that the balance of power is more dynamic.

For instance, in my current game I had carved out a nice little kingdom of 9 territories on the Spanish peninsula. My current ruler was just 31 years of age, and I had plans to capture more land while upgrading what I already had. Then, randomly, my rules died of disease and his 10 year old daughter (no sons) inherited the kingdom. Sensing a new, weaker ruler, a few of my lords rebelled. On top of this, a Muslim nation also sensed weakness and declared war.

If I was playing Civilization, this would basically be a game-over scenario. One by one my cities would fall, and I’d be wiped out. In Civ, you are either moving forward or you are dead. It’s almost impossible to play a weaker nation and just maintain for long, and it’s also very rare to have a major setback and recover from it.

CK is different. What ended up happening is that the Muslims looked to conquer some of my territory, but they picked the now-rebelling lord’s area to do so. The two-front war for the rebels meant I could fight them back and reclaim some land. In turn, the Muslims captured some territory and declared victory. Once I stabilized the kingdom and recovered a little, I plotted when to recapture the Muslim lands. As fortune would have it, they soon engaged in a Holy War against a different Christian nation, and with most of their troops fighting others, I declared war and began my assault.

While initially I did not face much resistance, soon the Muslim army began its defensive march towards me, and their army was much larger than mine despite already taking losses from the Holy War. I spend most of my remaining funds to hire a mercenary company, and combined the hired soldiers with my army to fight off the defenders. Once that battle was won, I sieged and recaptured all that I had previously lost.

What is really interesting is that although my section of the map looks the same, the people behind the holdings and their relationships with each other are very different. Hard to identify if overall things are better, the same, or worse, but they most certainly are different. That alone makes CK a truly interesting game that has me very enthralled at the moment.

Civ V, The Witcher, M&B:W, and Rift beta

December 28, 2010

Some random notes for today:

Played two games of the scenario included in the first DLC for Civilization V, very entertaining. It’s rather short (limited to 100 turns), somewhat easy (the other sides don’t play with the sense of urgency needed for a 100 turn game), but it’s a nice ‘time period’ scenario. It’s all about the new world, and you can play either the European powers or the natives. If I had paid for it (plus the two new civs), I’d feel a bit cheated, but for free (D2D pre-order bonus) it’s good stuff. Still need to play a full game with the latest patch, but the massive Steam sale, Darkfall, and League of Legends is making that difficult right now.

Speaking of the Steam sale, I picked up Mount and Blade: Warband for under $8 today. When that’s going to get played, I’m not sure, but I’ve heard enough good things about it to have it on my account in waiting.

I am playing the hell out of The Witcher though, and man, so good. My memory of it from last time is a bit hazy, but I have noticed a few things different this time around thanks to some of my in-game decisions. The game does a fantastic job of keeping a general path, yet making choices ‘matter’ beyond it feeling like total fluff. Is it a 100% perfect game all around? No. The combat is not for everyone (I’m cool with it), some of the animations are wonky, as are some voice lines, and loading every little house over and over can get on you, but none of that (for me) ruins what really is one of the best interactive stories in an RPG. The setting, the pace, the grit, the occasional humor, it’s all just so good. Come Witcher 2 time, I’m going to be drooling for its release.

Finally, the Rift beta 3 event kicks off today, and Aria and I are patched up and good to go, so expect some posts about that in the near future.

Patch giveth, and patch… not giveth as much?

December 16, 2010

The bad news is that today’s Darkfall patch did not deliver the items I was hoping it would, and instead ended up just tweaking a few things for balance purposes along with adding in the holiday update. Still nice, and good to see Aventurine releasing smaller patches rather than bundling everything up, but not all that I had hoped for yesterday. Reason to ragequit? Nope, but it will make the wait for the Q1 updates seem just that much longer.

The good news is that Civilization V finally got its long-awaited patch, one that addresses many of the communities concerns. I’ve been itching to play Civ V again for some time now, but knew this patch was coming, so have held off on starting a new game. Time to jump in now! Double bonus that the first DLC pack is now available on Direct2Drive, and since I pre-ordered Civ, I get it free. Two new civs can’t hurt, and hopefully the scenario is fun.


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