Hope never abandons you, you abandon it

games, sto, zoso 2 Comments »

After hearing Tim & Jon talking about Star Trek Online on the rebooted How To Murder Time podcast (and Patrick Stewart talking about space exploration on The Infinite Monkey Cage), I thought I might get the old starship out of mothballs and boldy go where quite a lot of people have gone before but I haven’t been for a while. Melmoth brilliantly captured the problem of picking up old characters, and between space and ground hotbars, bridge officers, tactical kits and whatnot, none of which I could really remember, I wouldn’t have stood a chance in a fight with a Clanger, let alone a Klingon battle fleet. Fortunately Star Trek Online has a few nice low-key ways of getting back into the swing of things, such as Duty Officer missions.

Duty Officer missions concern the day-to-day management of a crew of hundreds that the TV series generally glossed over, apart from the classic episode “Annual Performance Evaluation Reviews on the Edge of Forever”; calibrating shields and weapons, hosting ambassadors, granting leave, searching for contraband, that sort of thing. Pack the crew off with a couple of clicks, they return in an hour or two with loot, brilliant.

After a couple of days I thought I really ought to leave Earth Spacedock, though, so with a bit of helpful advice I at least got some decent Bridge Officers slotted up to give USS Hope some useful combat abilities, and took a refresher on Space Combat Basics (1: point ship at enemy 2: mash ‘fire all weapons’ button) followed by Advanced Space Combat (3: point ship away from enemy and repeat step 2 with aft weapons) and Extremely Advanced Space Combat (4: press all number keys then Ctrl-all number keys to see if your Bridge Officers can do something helpful like buff your weapons or debuff enemy shields). There are many tactics and manoeuvres in the Star Trek canon but none really capture my Extremely Advanced Space Combat technique, so I might have to dub it The Zoso Manoeuvre:

“Mister Herring! Attack Pattern Omega. Ensign Izzard! Polarise the hull. Lieutenant Osho! Auxiliary to structural, deploy repair parties.”
“Erm, sir… we haven’t actually received any damage yet.”
“I know. But we probably will. Ensign Lee! Dispersal Pattern Beta.”
“Dispersal patterns are for quantum mines, sir”
“Really?”
“Yes sir. We’re not fitted with mines.”
“Right. Well, if we were fitted with them, deploy them in Dispersal Pattern Beta.”
“Yes sir.”
“Right, I think that’s clicked all the buttons. Oh wait a minute, what’s this one with the little picture of the starship and the arrows coming out of it? That looks useful, do that.”
“That’s… Abandon Ship, Captain.”
“Really?”
“Yes.”
“Oh well, I’ve clicked it now. Off we go!”

And so it was that USS Hope II did a couple more days of Duty Officer missions before venturing into space again…

Posted by Zoso at 5:15 pm

Player of a murdered game, owner of a murdered characer, I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next

coh, games, waffle, zoso 2 Comments »

Van Hemlock tweets: “Good grief. “#AvengeCoH” hashtags… seriously? What is wrong with you people?” And of course it is a touch on the histrionic side, but then this is a comic book universe, so arch-enemies and pledges of vengeance aren’t entirely out of character. According to narrative imperative, a group of orphan players should now travel the world, ceaselessly training in MMOG-programming techniques in mountain-top monasteries (that nevertheless have excellent broadband internet infrastructure) before returning to civilisation in the guise of The Group Of People Seeking To Exact Satisfation For A Previous Event (note to editor: there must be a catchier name), unleashing a new superhero MMOG of hitherto unimagined quality, and attracting all existing NCSoft subscribers away from their previous games. There’ll be a climactic confrontation with the board of NCSoft, probably on the window ledge of a skyscraper in the middle of a thunderstorm (it’ll need to be quite a bg window ledge, perhaps with a conference table and lots of chairs), who will ultimately be vanquished, and good will have triumphed.

Until one of The Group Of People Seeking To Exact Satisfaction For A Previous Event turns out to be a robot from the future, and they all meet evil clones of themselves from a parallel universe, and their powers are drained and absorbed by an entity of pure energy from Dimension Z, and they get framed for crimes they didn’t commit and the public turn on them, and then they’re all killed, for a couple of weeks, until the deaths are retconned and then they get cancelled. Or something.

Posted by Zoso at 11:42 am

Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness

games, world of tanks, zoso 3 Comments »

Since they added British tanks to World of Tanks a month or so back, I’ve mostly been playing those. I started out focusing on the medium tech tree, as most of my current garage is occupied by Soviet heavy tanks and tank destroyers, and the Brits eventually get the iconic Centurion. The early tiers always fly past quickly enough, but things bogged down in Tier IV with the Covenanter (also known as the A13 Mk III (Covenanter Mk I (Cruiser Mk V)), presumably as part of a cunning disinformation operation to make the Germans think we had a lot more tanks than we really did by assigning them at least three designations). At that point I decided to start on the British heavy tech tree for a bit of variety, and to make the most out of researching common tank components; before too long I made it up to the Tier V Churchill heavy tank, unlocked the option of the 6-pounder gun for it, and also upgraded the Covenanter to a Tier V Crusader. Looking at the stats the Crusader is a nippy tank that relies on speed and manoeuvrability, firing and rapidly moving, not really my forte, whereas the Churchill ought to be a nice, solid heavy, comparable to the Soviet KV-1, more suited to my preferred technique of slowly trundling forward, pausing occasionally to shoot stuff.

Something rather odd has happened in practise, though. I think my Churchill tank is cursed. I’ve outlined my theories on the random outcomes of World of Tanks battles before, and my overall win rate continues to bobble along around 52%. In the Churchill, over the past week I’ve been on the winning side in 5 out of 21 battles, 24%. I’ve seen some amazing performances, spanning the whole gamut of losing. There were battles where the team decided to demonstrate that it *is* possible for a pick-up group to display incredible precision and co-ordination, by carefully lining up in single file and one-by-one advancing towards concealed enemy emplacements, each one pointlessly exploding just in time for the next lamb to be slaughtered. There were road-rage incidents where two or three players collided during the Parisian traffic chaos of the start of the round and hurled expletives in chat (one of the joys of a multilingual swearing filter is that even if you can’t understand Italian, Polish or Czech, frequent bursts of asterisks convey the general tone of a message), rapidly followed by shells; when your own side are that stupid, even I was rooting for the enemy. There were battles that seemed to be going well, our team having a numerical advantage and closing on the enemy base, until our opposite flank crumbled and the dreaded friendly base occupation bar appeared, our heavy tanks having no chance of getting back in time to defend it. There were battles where my tank was destroyed but our team still had eleven other tanks compared to six enemy, a position we couldn’t possibly lose from, so I’d log out and play another tank, only to discover on reviewing the results later that, sure enough, we had managed to throw away the lead.

On occasion, at the start of a battle, someone will give a stirring pep talk. Something that brings to mind Henry V at the siege of Harfleur or Francois Pienaar reciting Invictus, something like “come on guyz dont suck my last 4 teams have been loosers lets win this”. Hearing that you ponder what connection there might have been between those last four teams, what common thread could have run through them causing those losses… I don’t think the results are entirely down to me, though, over the same timeframe I’ve fought five matches in a KV-1, won four of them, and in 12 rounds on the Crusader I’ve been on the winning side nine times. Maybe that’s it, instead of the usual 50/50 allocation of luck, the Crusader has nicked half of the Churchill’s. Or maybe it’s just a quirk of random outcomes, especially over comparatively small sample sizes. Onwards and (all being well) upwards!

Posted by Zoso at 3:26 pm

Any Friday you want, so long as it’s black

waffle, zoso Comments Off

Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week is pottering along, and there’ve been a few gaming bargains; I picked up Rocksmith as part of a plan to finally get around to learning the guitar, though some would suggest that actually buying a guitar is perhaps the more crucial element of that plan. Half the fun, though, is seeing what other weird and wonderful items come up for sale, some of which are prime targets for the cult of spoof reviews; the BIC For Her Medium Ballpoint Pen “designed specifically for women” (on offer at 1.29pm this afternoon!) is a case in point, though 511 reviews is overdoing it slightly. I suppose it’s just conforming to the general internet rule of humour: if a joke is worth making, it’s worth making again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again until every last vestige of humour that might possibly have been present has been wrung so thoroughly from the dessicated corpse of the joke that it’s nothing but hollow, echoing words, at which point it’s gone so far past being funny that it’s become funny again as a form of peculiar meta-anti-humour, and then more people jump on and keep making the same joke pushing it past so-not-funny-it’s-funny into so-not-funny-it-was-funny-but-now-isn’t-again. Or something.

One danger of looking at random odd items is that it can make the personalised recommendations go a little strange, but, a bit like jokes, you just need to push things far enough, until the site says: “Inspired by your browsing history! Customers who viewed cricket spring return stumps, a slow cooker, a colour coded index chopping board set, solar garden spotlights, six water filters, a kayak, a food processor, a digital radio and radiator reflector panels also viewed… erm… god, I don’t know, a set of deck quoits? An ornamental hatstand in the shape of Reginald Maudling? I give up, I’m going to go and help this other customer over here who’s just bought a book by recommending every other book the author has written, I bet they won’t have thought of that…”

Posted by Zoso at 10:21 am

Silent Storm Sale

games, zoso 1 Comment »

If anyone, perhaps inspired by XCom, fancies a bit more turn-based action, GOG.com have a weekend sale on strategy & wargames. My pick of the bunch would be S2: Silent Storm Gold Edition, a World War II(ish) game without the strategic layer of XCom but with lashings of turn-based fun. There’s also the even more XCom-y UFO games, IL-2 Sturmovik for flight simmery and a few others.

Posted by Zoso at 5:26 pm

Innovation is the whim of an elite

games, zoso 2 Comments »

You wait all day for a Kickstarter revival of a classic space combat franchise, and then two come along at the same time… Though Egosoft’s X series has been manfully plugging away at galaxy-spanning trade and combat with regular releases since 1999 it never seems to have caught the imagination quite like Elite, so it’ll be interesting to see what Braben & co. come up with. I haven’t chipped in myself yet, as I have to admit to being a touch skeptical after the problems with the two Frontier games and lengthy gestation period of Elite IV (and I’m not sure about Dangerous as a subtitle; I would’ve gone for Elite: Competent, or Elite: Mostly Harmless for preference). Still, fingers crossed they pull it off.

Perhaps inspired by all the space-combat-ness, when I noticed GOG.com had bunch of EA games on sale I bought Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. Despite the first two being formative PC gaming experiences I’d never played the latter games in the series, so I thought I’d rememdy that, especially as the price of freedom turned out to be $2.39 in the sale. The FMV sequences haven’t aged too badly; sure they’re a bit blocky and low resolution, but in this age of YouTube, mobile phone camera footage and streaming video over not-terribly-fast broadband that’s not terribly jarring. The opening goes on a bit when you’re itching to get into the cockpit and fly (yada yada, retired, farming, bar-room thug, get on with it) but eventually you get into space, and at that point the graphics do rather show their age. Not just the graphics; spoiled by the ubiquity of tutorials in modern games, I’d forgotten than back in Ye Olde Days of 1995 you had these strange artefacts, “manuals” I think they were called, that somehow offered guidance in the forms of “words” printed on “paper”. Course I hadn’t bothered downloading the PDF versions of the manuals, but not to worry, I remembered an ancient technique practised by those who may, entirely hypothetically, have swapped games on tapes or discs without accompanying documentation: the art of pressing every key on the keyboard to see if something happened. And that, as I told the board of enquiry, is why, at the time of the attack by enemy fighters, I was looking out of the left window of the ship with the engines set to 25% power, the windscreen wipers going furiously, and the on-board drinks dispenser midway through producing a cup of synth-Bovril.

Eventually quitting the game (in prehistoric times the convention of pressing ‘Escape’ to bring up a menu hadn’t been standardised) I went off and downloaded the supporting bits and pieces from GOG.com, but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back. Despite the moment of madness in buying WCIV (at least I managed to resist getting the complete Ultima series at the same time) I’ve got a pile of games of more modern vintage to work through; British tanks in World of Tanks (a weekend of x5 XP and some bonus Premium time catapulted me through to Tier IV and a Matilda and Covenanter), Unity of Command (a well-reviewed operational level wargame that was recently added to Steam), Mass Effect 3 multiplayer challenges, Civilisation 5… Having finished one complete play-through of Borderlands 2 (and started a “True Vault Hunter” second run, plus a couple of other characters) I’ve decided to park it up and perhaps return to it once a few DLC packs are out, so I finally got around to the new XCOM game. In contrast to WCIV there is an extensive tutorial, taking you through just about every aspect of both the strategic and tactical game. It’s hardly “dumbing down”, though, the original UFO: Enemy Unknown had a step-by-step introduction in the manual that I can still (very dimly) remember, XCOM just integrates it into the game itself, and adds characters like your Chief Scientist and Engineer to present the information in-universe. Incidentally, with graphics technology coming on in leaps and bounds from the weird triangular people of the early 90s such that the visuals of cut-scenes no longer need the talents of Mark “Voice of “Luke “Christopher “Maverick” Blair” Skywalker” the Joker” Hamill and Thomas F. “Biff from Back “Todd “Maniac” Marshall” to the Future” Wilson, it seems a touch odd that computer-generated voices haven’t made a similar level of progress from the text-to-speech software that was so much fun with the original SoundBlaster; is it a much more difficult field, or just less costly to get someone in a booth recording dialogue so less impetus to the research?

XCOM seems thoroughly splendid, as most reviews have suggested a worthy update of a classic, and leaving it a while may have been a good idea as I haven’t hit any major bugs yet, possibly thanks to a couple of patches since release. Half the fun is always naming your squad after friends, family, bloggers, film stars etc.; so far I’ve gone with Ramsay “Chopper” MacDonald leading his cabinet from the Second National Ministry, 1st “Viscount” Hailsham proving a dab hand with a sniper rifle, and Philip “RightHon” Cunliffe-Lister extending his brief to specialise in live alien capture. I’m just hoping their rearmament policy isn’t too late…

Posted by Zoso at 2:44 pm

There is an inevitable divergence between the world as it is and the world as men perceive it

games, world of tanks, zoso 6 Comments »

Finally, the British have arrived in World of Tanks. In a conventional World War II game it would obviously be the work of a deranged madman to include non-existent French tanks before the sturdy tea-boilers of the good old UK, so World of Tanks is clearly an alternate history game. I reckon the point of divergence in the Tankiverse was that Britain and France didn’t declare war on Germany when it invaded Poland, so the Phoney War was the shaky preservation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact until May 1940, at which point Hitler strikes east instead of west, launching World of Tanks with its German and Soviet vehicles. Shortly after, the United States enters the war; this is where things get a bit tricky. Japan aren’t involved yet, presumably waiting until World of Warplanes and World of Warships to stage Pearl Harbor having ruled out the possibility of building a really, really long bridge to kick things off with tanks, so that’s not the catalyst. With elections being a bit topical and all, then: George S. Patton gets bored, secures the Republican nomination for the 1940 election, sweeps to victory, and decides to invade Russia. Via Alaska. Entirely plausible (for very small values of “entirely”). That gets us to the EU/US launch of World of Tanks, with added American tanks.

In this world the UK, rather than the US, adopts an isolationist stance. The French are biding their time, still miffed because they didn’t get Alsace-Lorraine back after World War I for terribly good reasons that I can’t be bothered to make up, eventually launching an invasion to reclaim their territory with a bunch of stupid prototype tanks in Operation: Patch 7.1 during January 2012 (or July 1941 by the Tankiverse calendar). Fighting a two-front war, the Germans formulate a cunning plan: elite Brandenburgers capture a French submarine and torpedo a convoy of Darjeeling bound for Liverpool in June 1942, a date that will live in leaf-infusion infamy. This is too much for the Brits, who kick out Chamberlain or Attlee or some bloke like that, elect Churchill, and storm onto the Normandy beaches. Voila! Germany vs the USSR vs America vs France vs the UK. Watch out for a Kickstarter campaign soon for the tie-in novel, “A Bunch Of Countries Fight Each Other For Some Reason But Only With Tanks And This And That”.

Posted by Zoso at 4:43 pm

It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other

games, zoso 5 Comments »

So Project Eternity has finished its Kickstarter campaign with $3,986,929 (plus a bit more via PayPal to take it past four million total). A spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale was never going to be a particularly tough sell (the most difficult part was probably not getting buried under an avalanche of cash) (well, that and living up to expectations set by some of the most beloved PC games of all time, but that’s still to come), but hitting the original $1.1m target in just over a day was still pretty impressive.

It’s not just Kickstarter that’s racking up money outside the conventional “buy a finished boxed game for $60″ model, Mechwarrior Online has raised $5 million through its Founder’s Program, a sort of pre-sale as it goes into open beta, and Chris “Wing Commander” Roberts is seeking funding through a variety of routes for Star Citizen. Gamasutra had an interview with Funcom’s Craig Morrison, touching on the problem of MMO launches in the current landscape,

And I think we need to get people out of that mindset, so that a game can start at like 100,000, or an indie game could start at 10,000. Because a studio game is going to want to have a decent place to start with, and wherever that level may be. But that a game can start, as long as it’s cost effective, as long as you budgeted your project to be in that ballpark and you know from the beginning, “Okay, we’ve set our budget, we’re aiming for 100,000 at the start.”

And then we need the gamers to not react with, “Oh, well. That’s a worthless game then, because it’s not going to have a million users.” We need the users to be, “Oh cool, this game appeals to me in my niche and my interests, and I want to see this game succeed, so I’m going to support it.”

And then if the game takes off and grows, then you can get that kind of organic growth.

Perhaps a funding model like Star Citizen can help with that, getting people (and their money) involved early, building the player base and game together, rather than hyping the arse out of a game while developing it in the desperate hope of making the money back before everyone buggers off. The traditional model can still work in a lot of areas, but with development times getting longer and costs getting higher the big companies tend to focus on the safe money, ever increasing sequels in a limited number of genres; not exclusively, this week’s UK charts have a new IP in Dishonoured at number two, and XCom at number seven reviving tactical combat, but they’re sitting amongst Just Dance 4, Resident Evil 6, Fifa 13. Sequels aren’t a bad thing per se, Borderlands 2 and The Elder Scrolls V are also in the Top 10, but variety is the spice of life.

Crowdfunding isn’t immune from the problem, though; as John Walker pointed out, the big success stories are rooted in nostalgia, the people and/or IPs behind Planescape: Torment, Wing Commander, Mechwarrior. Not that nostalgia is a magic wand, SHAKER, an old school RPG with impeccable pedigree, doesn’t seem to have caught the imagination like Project Eternity, and doesn’t look like it’s going to hit its million dollar target. Ironically, while crowdfunding may be a way of attaining more organic growth in a game’s player base, you need to get a good start in Kickstarter; the SHAKER project was originally titled “An Old School RPG” and didn’t have a whole lot of detail, perhaps dissipating the initial excitement needed to build up the head of pledge-gathering steam that powers further coverage.

I’m a little surprised we haven’t seen an MMO Kickstarter from big names, along the lines of Wasteland 2 or Double Fine Adventure. I’m sure we’ll see some come along, perhaps on other platforms or with different funding mechanisms, but for now a quick Kickstarter search for “MMO” doesn’t turn up very much. There’s Eric Heimburg’s intriguing Project Gorgon that sadly that isn’t even halfway to its target yet, and a few other (over)ambitious looking projects trying to invoke Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and the like that have secured even less. Come on, though, people, how can A FITNESS RPG have only hit $11 so far? “Finally, a deep-space survival MMO game to incentify fitness. Level, Earn and Battle.” That’s got to be worth a $10,000 pledge.

Posted by Zoso at 12:08 pm

Wot I’m Playing: Roundup

games, wot i'm playing, zoso 6 Comments »

It’s a busy old gaming time at the moment. MMO-wise, I’m still on holiday; I’ve popped in to City of Heroes a couple of times since they announced it was to close, though I feel I ought to give it a proper good-bye, maybe one last run of the Positron Task Force or something. Guild Wars 2 is patched up, just in case the mood strikes, but it’s been Skyrim fulfilling my recommended daily allowance of fantasy questing.

There’s something of a tension, though, between my general meandering around the world, resulting in an overflowing quest log full of all sorts of interesting sounding things to investigate, and my slightly completist/OCD side trying to get everything ticked off. Even when absolutely determined to finish existing tasks before acquiring any more, it’s hard to avoid picking up a couple of new quests for every three you finish. Like both Morrowind and Oblivion before I’ve reached a sort of mid-point where there’s an awful lot I’d like to do still, but there isn’t a single thread that’s really got me hooked to yank me through, so it’s easy to get distracted by other things. Like Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 2 is a worthy sequel to the loot-spewing RPG/shooter of MOAR DAKKA original. As an operant conditioning chamber it’s incredibly effective, I almost subconsciously now run up to anything with a green light on it and hit the ‘open’ button, useful in the game for racking up stacks of cash, ammunition, eridium and gear, but quite hazardous when crossing the road at traffic lights. Crammed with pop culture references, I particularly enjoyed a three-way stand-off in a graveyard as part of “The Good, The Bad and The Mordecai” (no prizes for guessing which classic Leone film it references) (“Duck, You Sucker!”, obviously); it worked especially well to the sound of Short Change Hero by The Heavy, the song used in the introduction of the game, a gloriously Morricone-influenced piece that I went and bought and have had stuck in my head for the past couple of weeks.

Away from frantic gunslinging action, I’ve also been popping back in to a bit of Minecraft. I’ve seen bits and pieces about updates and improvements over the past year or so and keep meaning to check them out, but had never quite got around to it until Shuttler started talking about multiplayer servers, so I hopped on for a quick look around. Then, y’know, you have to have a quick dig, so grabbed a bit of wood, made a pickaxe… and then it started getting dark, so obviously you need to build a quick house, and pop a chest in it for storing things, and then a second level, digging down for coal, perhaps a quick mezzanine, oh and a wheat field of course, and then once you’ve got the wheat you might as well grab a few animals to start a farm, and… well, it’s like Yellow Car. Just as you never stop playing Yellow Car, you never stop playing Minecraft, it just happens that sometimes you’re not logged in to it.

With similar longevity World of Tanks has been kicking around for the best part of a couple of years, and I still hop in for a spot of armoured combat now and again. There was a big update, version 8.0, a few weeks back, overhauling the graphics and physics within the game; previously steep slopes had a sort of invisible wall that stopped you crashing over them, now you have to be a bit careful around cliffs. Not just at the top either, from force of habit on one map I was hunkered down at the bottom of a cliff, where previously I would’ve been out of the firing arc of anyone above, and got a rude surprise when an opponent plummeted down in a death-dive… I’ve got a few favourite tanks in tiers II, V and VIII that I mostly play, no real goals progression-wise for the moment, I might pick it up a bit more seriously when British tanks arrive in version 8.1.

In the meantime there’s another multiplayer update to Mass Effect 3, Retaliation, that’s just come out. It’s a pretty major overhaul, adding a whole new enemy faction in The Collectors, a Challenge system of some sort and Hazard maps with additional dangers, alongside the usual new classes and weapons. I’ve been firing up ME3 for the fortnightly “Operations” that set challenges with commendation pack rewards that offer you the chance to unlock Yet Another Rank Of The Sodding N7 Eagle Pistol. Some of the challenges (“Achieve full extraction in a mission in under 15 minutes”) are absolutely fine; others (“Achieve full extraction in a mission with all four players as the same non-human race”) are much trickier. Not so much in execution, but the matchmaker has no way to specify that you’re trying to complete these challenges, so forming a compliant team in the first place can be terribly frustrating.

I’ll probably be playing Retaliation for a couple of days as thanks to slightly irritating staggered launch dates we don’t get XCOM and Dishonoured until Friday in the UK. Though Dishonoured looks deeply splendid in a Steampunk-Thief-Deus Ex-ish sort of way, with all the other games around at the moment I decided I’d only pick up one of the two big new games at launch, and the pre-order offers swung it. Dishonoured has (roughly) 904 different pre-order variants at different retailers offering slightly different perks, items and what-not; XCOM has, as far as I can make out, the same Elite Soldier Pack pre-order bonus everywhere, apart from Steam, which thanks to a curious tiered pre-order reward system also chucks in some TF2 bits, and a copy of Civilisation 5. As, shockingly, I don’t have Civ5 (absolutely loved the first game, back in the day, but just haven’t got around to any of the sequels), I figured I might as well go for that offer, making something of a mockery of the whole “too many games” business, but never mind. I’ve managed about four turns of Civ5 so far and really want to take a proper crack at it, should enough time somehow become available.

In readiness for XCOM I’ve been finishing off a run through Silent Storm: Sentinels, an excellent turn based tactical RPG in the mould of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown that recently became available on GOG.com It’s good stuff even if, like in the original, things go slightly downhill with the appearance of Panzerkleins. I don’t think I’m ready for the Ironman mode of XCOM with no reloading, though, I’ve been saving quite a lot during missions. Mostly when using grenades. Confronted with a basement full of enemy troops, a grenade seemed like the perfect solution, but a slight error in trajectory resulted in the grenadier lobbing the Mills bomb into the head of his own comrade, from which it bounced off, then detonated, taking out the three members of my squad storming down the staircase, the staircase itself, and most of the hallway and kitchen floor above, resulting in two more of my squad ending up in the cellar rather sooner than planned, slap bang in the firing line of four rather cross Hammer soldiers. That’ll be a reload, then…

Posted by Zoso at 4:00 pm

I’m a Metastarter, Wicked Metastarter

games, kickstarter, zoso 2 Comments »

Hey, you! Remember those games from when you were younger? They were brilliant, weren’t they? Especially that one, you know, the one that was totally your favourite and the best game ever, and you’d play it with your friends and times were simpler then and happier and the sun was brighter and the days lasted longer and everything was better not like these days I mean have you heard that modern music it’s all noises you can’t even hear the words and you wouldn’t dare go out on the streets after dark and you’re stuck in a dead end job and you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking racing around to come up behind you again the sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older shorter of breath and one day closer to death. If only games were like they used to be, everything would be better, but they don’t make games like that any more.

Or… do they? Through the power of Kickstarter a magic time tunnel has opened to the 1990s and every game you ever liked is getting a sequel, direct or spiritual, so KiaSA Productions are getting in on the act as well. Unfortunately we don’t have a solid pedigree of classic games to build on, so we’re launching a Kickstarter for Metastarter: The Nostalgia-Heavy Kickstarter RPG.

Create your party! Roll up a party of one to six game industry legends choosing from classes including Designer, Artist, Programmer, Composer, or advanced classes such as the Maverick Genius who receives a boost to the Add Innovative Features skill, but suffers a constant Wild Overpromise debuff.

Select your portfolio! Make deep tactical choices as you select the back catalogue of your team; did they produce a couple of mega-hits, or a long running series that was generally favourably received? Oddball cult favourites, or lots of mainstream sales but little longevity? With a limited number of Cachet Points you’ll have tough decisions to make.

Get Kickstarting! Once the team is assembled select a classic game genre that’s far less popular these days, and launch your Kickstarter! Set a target amount, create a promotional video, decide whether to include ‘A Secret Moonbase (on the actual moon) For All Players’ as a $2.4 billion Stretch Goal, and watch the money roll in!

Launching the Kickstarter campaign is just the beginning of Metastarter, though; fight for industry press coverage, try and create a buzz via social media, deal with trolls who still hold grudges over a patch that fixed an exploit on one of the team’s previous games in 1994, face the logistical issues of shipping the $417 reward level unique limited edition hand-drawn commemorative tea-towel and napkin set around the world, can you beat the $3,336,371 top score? Find out, in Metastarter: The Nostalgia-Heavy Kickstarter RPG, not coming soon to Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platform!

Also be sure to look out for the sequel, Releasing A Kickstarted Game To Inevitable Disappointment As Nothing Can Possibly Live Up To The Idealised Perfection Fans Have Had In Their Heads For The Last Ten Years, due in 12-18 months!

Posted by Zoso at 9:06 am
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