I realize it’s been a long time since my last update. My apologies; sometimes it turns out life gets totally and completely amazing, and things like non-paying gaming news blogs fall on the backburner over things like, y’know, working on things that actually pay me, prepping for Burning Man, and generally having the time of my life. You understand.
It being the Fourth of July, I’m of course writing this in my swim trunks on the shore of Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, sipping on a Corona in the shade. I hope all of you in the US are enjoying your holidays, and all of you outside of the US are wishing you were here, blowing shit up and being patriotic. Suck it.
That said, there have been a lot of developments in the gaming world, and I’ll do what I can to at least touch up on some of them real soon. In the meantime, here’s a snippet from a review I had sent in to The Escapist for publication after PAX East that didn’t get printed. No idea why. Oh well.
Either way, if you have an iPad, check out this game – it’s pretty awesome.
It ain’t easy being an indie game developer. Even with major strides being made in terms of digital distribution, there is still the question of market exposure. With a massive event like PAX East, it’s common and understandable for major industry players to dominate the scene. They have the money and the sway to purchase vast display booths in prominent locations, as well as the marketing clout to seed the minds of the general public, and thus exert a certain level of control to guarantee at least some press coverage.
In recognition of this, I made sure to check out the various indie games abound at PAX East this year. In doing so, I managed to find some of the more clever and enjoyable games I’ve seen up for release this year.
One of my favorites was New World Colony, an iPad turn-based strategy game coming from Cambridge, MA-based 82Apps. It’s considered a mash-up of Settlers of Catan, Risk, and Civilization, drawing on the unique benefits of all three to fill in the holes left by each. The board is a randomly generated hex pattern of land types, and the tiles are arranged in such a manner that no player will guarantee themselves an opening advantage. Each turn, players will seek to obtain and defend various resource types and then use said resources to build establishments (granaries, mines, shipyards and the like), defend, and attack.
The game contains a fairly interesting Market system, in which players can barter their own resources in exchange for others. The kicker in this is that the system is a starvation economy – there are only so many of any given resource available in the game. True to supply and demand, the less of a resource there is, the more expensive it becomes – going so far as the per-trade level. This allows a clever player to starve out his opponent of a given resource, possibly turning the tides in a battle.
The game is playable on a single iPad, and will recognize player orientation around a table and adjust its display according to who’s turn it currently is. “I want it to feel like a board game,” says Erik Asmussen, developer and founder of 82Apps. It can also be played online via game center integration.
New World Colony has three game modes – Normal, Pacifist, and Warlord, each catering to a different playstyle. 82Apps is tailoring Player Vs. Computer games to be somewhere between 20-30 minutes, with a little leeway with solely human players.
All told, the game looks engaging and promising. My only complaint, as expected, is that I can’t get it on the Android platform, and as a result, I can’t really play it (I don’t see myself buying an iPad anytime soon).
New World Colony is purchasable from the iTunes app store for $0.99.
Portal 2 is out! Review incoming, just as soon as I spend the next God-knows-how-many days of my life playing through it. Stay tuned!
Oh, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who purchased the entire Potato Sack and found all of the Potatoes, grats on your new complete Valve Collection! And by grats, I of course mean die in a fire.
Here we are, at the end of another PAX East, alive and whole (well, save for that little empty space in our heart of hearts that we feel at the end of PAX). I have a lot of thoughts to unload, but to form them in a reasonable and legible fashion tonight would be an effort in futility, so you’ll all have to wait.
“But wait,” you may ask, “for what are we waiting?” (See what I did there? Bite me, dangling prepositions.) Well, today I decided to approach the day (with the exception of checking out the Portal 2 video) from the angle of seeing, playing, and learning about games that I didn’t know about before PAX. I hit up a lot of the indie and/or first-release games on the floor, completely forsaking the Sunday panels. A few highlights:
- Super Giant Games‘ enchantingly beautiful role-playing action game Bastion
- Trapdoor‘s hilariously bloody Warp
- Does Nintendo’s 3DS work with people with Strabismus?
- Retro Affect‘s clever and addictive Snapshot
- 82 Apps‘ lovely Civ-meets-Catan-meets-Risk-like iPad game, New World Colony
- last but certainly not least, Owlchemy Labs‘ Smuggle Truck, an iPad physics/accelerometer game about smuggling immigrants into the US (no shit.)
I look forward to filling you all in on what went down over the weekend, uploading pics, and getting some discussion going. In the meantime, what were your favorite parts about PAX this year? Least favorite? Why? Let me know!
Quick post from the PAX East media room – Day 2 has gone smashingly well thus far. A quick list:
- Got some good interviews in (keep your eyes peeled!)
- Didn’t come close to getting into the Rage demo (damn you, insane lines!)
- played Ubisoft‘s new Kinect-centric Child of Eden (beautiful)
- saw some really great cosplay (super cool stuff, really)
- didn’t get enough food (need to remedy that soon)
- snagged an invite to the Bioware meetup (heading to that in mere minutes)
I’ll keep updates coming as I have them! Stay tuned! Also, if you’re at PAX East and want to meet up/get drunk/know of a good party, add me on Twitter and say hi!
First and foremost, my apologies for the long silence – I spent the majority of the last several months as the primary news editor for WarCry, which kinda ate up most (read: all) of my spare time. The downside: that job is now gone. The upside: I have (a little) more spare time. That is neither here nor there, however. Far more important (and relevant) is the fact that our long wait for Boston’s new annual gaming convention is back!
That’s right everyone, PAX East is finally here! I’m there once again (living in Boston, I really have no excuse) and will be reporting on the event and all its glory for The Escapist, and whatever I write that they don’t deem fit to run, I’ll post here (a guy’s gotta make a living somehow, yo). I’ll also post links to what does make it to The E. I’ve got some cool interviews and demos planned for tomorrow (more on those later), so stay tuned for some more updates!
I will warn you all now – the next two days may be a little “burst-y”, but it’s either that, or “when I get around to it”, and I’d rather give you content than not. A few teasers of what’s to come, however -
- Thoughts on Friday’s keynote from Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
- Demiurge‘s new indie game, Shoot Many Robots!
- Gamers Doing Good – How We use Games to Make Life Better for Others panel
- Portal 2
- 3DS hands-on from someone with a lazy eye (behind the curve on this one, I know, but hey, time’s tight these days, and I gotta “see” it for myself, ba-dum-CHH)
- wtf is it with all those damn Magic cards-as-swag at every fucking con ever????
- and MORE!!!
You know you love it. If you want to meet up sometime over the weekend at PAX East for a game of Fluxx (I *always* have a deck on me) or a beer (or three), tweet at me or something; all my social media contacts are on the right sidebar. I’ll leave you with a rad photo of me taken by Averna over at NerfThisDruid:
God I love my life.
Is anyone else as in love with Monday Night Combat as I am? It’s odd; I sheepishly admit that not only did I avoid playing DoTA at all back in the day (nothing personal against it, I just never got into it; I dunno), but I also have never been very good at FPSs, and as such, never really got into Team Fortress 2. I have many friends who swear by it, and I’ve always wanted to sit down and learn it, but I admit that I hate the multiplayer learning curve of “get facerolled and teabagged for days of playtime until you learn the maps and figure out how to play” that is, in essence, the basis of all FPSs on the market. It’s just not how I roll.
On top of that, we’ve seen an increase in games that are primarily multiplayer-based, ranging anywhere from the solo-hero-centric Halo to the group-focused Modern Warfare and Team Fortress 2, which on the one hand will increase the “team factor” and make every player relevant in their own right (at least in theory), but on the other hand only increases the distress afflicted on new players to perform well not only generally but specifically, to master their roles immediately and fully understand all maps, all game and class mechanics, all aspects of wall hacking and the avoidance thereof, to make themselves impenetrable to the veritable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or at least in this case, the trials and tribulations of the onslaught of the sharp learning curve that is the multiplayer FPS industry.
With all of that going on, it’s hard for me to muster up the energy and effort required to learn a new game, let alone a new style of play. I enjoy playing team games with my friends, but the task of finding a frequent and mutually agreeable timeframe in which to play team games with my friends is something that I often find nearly impossible. I think this is the primary reason that I never really got into Left4Dead; I had a lot of friends who played it, but when combining my schedule with theirs, I found it shockingly difficult to find a time in which we would all be around and able to play, which kills the “playing with friends makes the learning curve easier to handle” angle right off the bat. As a result, it never really took to me.
I’m currently fortunate in regards to Monday Night Combat in that I have a crew of friends who play it on a fairly regular basis (read: 3-4 nights a week), and what with Wrath of the Lich King truly winding down as everyone prepares for the 4.0 patch and begins serious prep for Cataclysm, I’ve found that my normal Monday+Wednesday raiding schedule is a lot more open (ok, there’s actually a lot more than the end of WotLK keeping me from raiding, but I’ll post about that next – hint: it involves awesome things happening because of that whole RealID thing – it’s so awesome, just you wait). This has allowed me to actually get some good xbox live time in with my friends, which has done wonders for my entry into this crazy-awesome team-based 3rd person shooter/escort game.
Is anyone else playing this game? Drop me a line!
Once in a while, I find myself in the uncanny situation of being just ahead of the curve on some type of breaking news or situation. The moment something happens, I’ll be right there, in the thick of it – “on the ground”, so to speak. Last week was just such a time.
Other times… well, other times, I find myself wondering how the hell I managed to go this long without seeing this movie/playing this game/eating a scorpion. Hell, sometimes it’s even stuff that I should have instinctively known about, like this game that has a gun that shoots sharks instead of bullets.
Hold on, hold on, I can explain. With Midnight Run, well, y’know, I just never got around to it. I mean, it’s in my netflix queue, that counts for something, right? Right? Please, stop hitting me. Ow, ow! And the scorpion, well he was in my tequila last night. Was I supposed to just let him get away with that? Hell no! I did what any badass would do – I ate the fucker. I have no excuse for not knowing about the Land Shark Gun game; I totally dropped the ball on that one. Dragon Age: Origins, on the other hand… well I blame that one on Microsoft. That’s right, I call foul on the achievement system.
Don’t get me wrong – I love achievements. I mean, I don’t live and die for them, but if I can do something that’ll only take me an extra hour or eight and it’ll net me another hundred or so on my gamerscore, am I gonna go for it? More than likely. It is for this reason and this reason alone I have several games that are better played on PC for the Xbox 360 (I’m looking at you, anything-FPS!). How could I resist buying Borderlands on the 360, when so many of my friends already had it, and playing it there would rack up my achievements on xbox live? I’m not some robot programmed to not care about friendly obsessive competition, you know.
So Dragon Age: Origins comes out and I’m totally going to buy it. But then I have many friends tell me “hey, it’s so much better on PC”. Freeze. I do some research, and the word sounds the same all around. That’s not to say that the 360 version isn’t good, just that it’s not really, well, the same game (controls, graphic limitations, etc. can really change a game experience). So I’m immediately torn. Obviously, I want to buy the game on the 360, rack up my gamerscore, and show off all my points to my friends. On the other hand, I really want to experience what is considered by many to be the “real” experience of the game (sprawling real-time tactical RPG on a controller doesn’t sound so awesome to me). So I stall, and stall, and stall. Days turn into weeks; weeks into months. Eventually, I just sort of write it off as one of those limbo games that I’m never going to buy (NOTE: do not confuse this with the game Limbo, which I plan to purchase the very MOMENT it is available – seriously, I demoed this game at PAX East and it was un-freakin-believable).
Then Steam (oh, Steam, how far you’ve come) goes and unleashes their “OMG THE OUTSIDE WORLD IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU; HERE ARE ALL THE GAMES YOU EVER WANTED, ALL ON SALE; BUY THEM AND STAY INDOORS AND SAFE!” summer sale (definitely one of the best promotions I’ve seen in ages), and I pick up a boatload of new titles for rock bottom prices, Dragon Age: Origins included. Hooked immediately.
I’m maybe 30 hours in or so and I love it so far. I had intended on just playing it all last week until I beat it (stay-cation, remember), but then that whole “omg the Blizzard sky is falling” thing happened (remember that? those silly kids), so I got a little sidetracked. Even still, I’m loving every moment of it so far, and I can already foresee myself starting over once I’m done just to try it another way. Although, I suppose it would be good of me to finish the games I’ve started already before I got sidetracked (*cough*FFXIII*cough*Alan Wake*cough*), and then there’s that whole “guild” thing I run (not to mention, y’know, work), but hey – what’s a gamer to do? I’d rather have too many great games to play than too few.
Did you take advantage of the Steam Summer Sale? What games are you playing catch-up with at the moment? Most importantly, what do you think are some of the most underrated/unknown awesome games out there?