Thursday 30 January 2014

Home, where my thought's escaping

Star Wars Galaxies was renowned for looking past the central characters of the films into the deeper world behind them. Of the many and myriad computer games set in the Star Wars universe any number let you pilot an X-Wing, swing a lightsaber or wield a blaster, but if, while watching the cantina scene in Star Wars, you thought “what a fascinating glimpse into an alien culture; I bet the band confer some sort of buff, I wonder if they’re directly employed by the cantina owner who makes money from selling goods or if they play for tips from the patrons? I hope there’s somewhere you can go fishing nearby…”, Galaxies was for you. Luk3_Skyw4lk3r may have been disappointed that he couldn’t start out as a Jedi, but mastery of random professions would eventually unlock a force sensitive character slot, a slightly odd system with the potential to unbalance markets; then there was the Combat Upgrade, and the New Game Enhancements with simplified professions including Jedi, and L\/k3_5kyw4l3rrrrr34s in abundance, and this was obviously A Bad Thing, and then The Game came to a .

There is hope, though! A New Hope, you could say (LIKE THE SUBTITLE OF THE FIRST FILM, DO YOU SEE?), for in his recent AmA, John Smedley said “SWG PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now.” All terribly exciting! What could that next game be? Where might it be set? Personally I’m hoping they pick up another big IP for the setting; Alien, for example: you could have professions like miner, spaceship pilot, trader and cook, and cart millions of tons of ore around the galaxy, and then if you master five random professions you pick up a distress signal and get eaten by an Alien. Or The Terminator; a virtual Los Angeles with extensive waiter/waitressing opportunities and nightclubs for entertainment, and then if you master five random professions it turns out that either one of your descendants is the leader of the resistance against the machines in the future, or you’re a Terminator who’d been programmed with a human personality and you get activation orders to hunt down a regrettably non-specific target.

Actually… that could work…

Thursday 23 January 2014

Abscond - to move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another

Ah, the zany world of intellectual property law. As you’ve doubtless seen in the news, Candy Crush Saga developer King (I’m not sure which King, websites aren’t very clear on the matter; I reckon it might be King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, but that’s just a guess) are getting into a bunch of legal tussles over “Candy” and “Sagas”. No word on “Crush” yet, I think it’s still safe to be romantically infatuated with someone, but you might want to double check with an IP lawyer to be sure.

King have opposed an attempt to trademark the name of the recently released Kickstarter success The Banner Saga, possibly because they believe Stoic’s game is deceptively similar to their own, or possibly because they don’t believe that at all but have to say they do in case someone else makes a game that really is deceptively similar and they’re not allowed to say so because they hadn’t previously even though it wasn’t. Or something. It’s all frightfully confusing.

The Banner Saga, being a Nordic tale, seems rather more of an actual saga than Candy Crush Saga, but there was an episode of the frequently excellent In Our Time on Radio 4 all about Icelandic Sagas, and what really stood out for me was the section where a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Árni Magnússon Manuscripts Institute in Reykjavík described the common theme across all sagas of the protagonist, faced with a sea of brightly coloured confectionery, being forced to swap sweets until they exploded.

Also feeling The Wrath of the not-Lich King is a poor innocent developer who just wanted to make a nice little game with candy in it, and “never thought [his] app would be confused with Candy Crush in the least bit”. Perhaps I’m being appallingly cynical, but in my eyes that position is every so slightly undermined by the full title of the game: All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land. I thought Temere: Path of the Fall of the Exile of the Rise of the Time of the Shadow of the World of the Quest of the Hero was about the stupidest game title I could come up with by tacking a bunch of generic fantasy words to each other, but maybe it just wasn’t ambitious enough and the next Kickstarter should be for Definitely Not Key Words From the List of Best-Selling Video Games Article on Wikipedia Assembled in a Random Order (formerly Grand Call of Super Theft Sport Elder Brothers Auto the Pac-Hedgehog Kart Scrolls Duty)…

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Temere: Path of the Fall of the Exile of the Rise of the Time of the Shadow of the World of the Quest of the Hero

Our last not-Kickstarter project didn’t really take off, and after an extensive post mortem we decided it was almost certainly the poor rewards for potential backers that were the problem, so welcome to the not-Kickstarter for Temere: Path of the Fall of the Exile of the Rise of the Time of the Shadow of the World of the Quest of the Hero, a completely not-generic fantasy game with amazing features including:

  • Adventuring!
  • Fighting against things!
  • A story of some sort!
  • Words and perhaps even pictures!

Who wouldn’t want to play that game? Just select your backer level to get in on the action:

Pledge $1 or more: Grudging Thanks – Mrrrmmphthnksiguess

Pledge $10 or more: Whoops, I Clicked The Wrong Thing – No rewards whatsoever, but we’ll stick this in just in case people don’t read very carefully

Pledge $15 or more: Schadenfraude – Zero copies of the game, but a daily update from a random backer as their hopes, dreams and fondly nostalgic memories are slowly crushed by the reality of a game that can never quite live up to expectations

Pledge $16 or more: The Drama Llama – As above, but with a really angry backer who becomes progressively more furious, threatening to sue the developer, Kickstarter and the entire concept of “a game”

Pledge $20 or more: The Massive Game Backlog – A digital copy of the game if you ever really want it, but we won’t actually tell you when it’s available or keep pestering you with updates so you don’t feel guilty that you have no time to actually play it

Pledge $25 or more: The Should’ve Thought About This Before We Launched The Kickstarter Really – A digital copy of the game, and as soon as we can think of something cool then $5-worth of it

Pledge $25 or more: (New option!) Oh, Hang On, There’s Some Stuff In This Draw Here – A digital copy of the game, two biros (one with lid, one without), a stapler (no staples), some bits of string and… erm… I think it’s a plastic bit that came off a torch or something but I’m not quite sure

Pledge $500 or more: Hey Good Lookin’! – Using our finest 3D laser scanning system, YOUR face will be used as the model for an NPC in the game!

Pledge $5,000 or more: The Malkovich – Using our finest 3D laser scanning system, your face will be used as the model for EVERY SINGLE NPC in the game!

Pledge $5,000,000 or more: The Ultimate Package – YOU can design a quest for the game, and an NPC group for the game, and an NPC companion for the game, and write the backstory of the game, and in fact all the other quests and NPCs and companions and monsters, and the class system, and the world and… well, basically, you’re making the game now. Let us know when you’ve finished, will you? Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Wot I'm Playing: Roundup

Happy New Year, one and all! So, 2013 in review: stuff happened. Predictions for 2014 (and slightly beyond): more stuff will happen, but will eventually stop. That’s entropy, man. I ought to be a futurologist… Nothing terribly new and exciting to report on the gaming front, really. War Thunder is still going strong – another week or two and I’ll have been playing for a year, not a bad stretch at all. The most recent update has stirred up a bit of community outrage (Game Update Causes Community Outrage Shocker!), with planes being researched individually instead of unlocked in batches, slowing things down especially in higher tiers; it does seem to be a touch on the harsh side, but not worth getting too worked up over.

Most of my recent flying has been quite task-oriented, with a series of challenges starting in November offering a chance of a closed beta slot for ground forces testing followed by the current “Winter Magic” event, with two new planes up for grabs for completing various tasks. It’s a fun way of mixing things up, changing the type of aircraft you fly and the targets you go for; I haven’t got into the ground forces beta yet, fingers crossed as they add more testers, some nifty videos are starting to come out such as this fine biplane/flakpanzer teamwork.

Various holiday incentives such as bonus experience and plane discounts have been luring me into World of Warplanes as well, enough to get up to the Tier V Spitfire I; I even got World of Tanks patched up for the sake of a free tank, but couldn’t really adjust to driving again after all the flying.

Also coming up to a year played is PlanetSide 2, though I haven’t been playing an awful lot recently; I’d let my membership lapse before the recent announcement about changes, I was happy enough with the weapons and certifications I’d acquired, and though there’s always scope for player-created hat-type fun, as a first-person game you only really get to appreciate the millinery when changing classes. It’s still (usually) a blast, slipping slightly down the pecking order of Stuff To Play, but at least without a subscription the option’s still there every week or two.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Steam Sale, or at least Christmas wouldn’t be Steam Sale Season without a Steam Sale, and holiday trading cards added a bit of excitement this time around. Combining them into a badge also resulted in a cosmetic item for one of a variety of free-to-play games that could be traded or sold on the community market, so for a few pence you can pick up the more common snowflake decals for War Thunder aircraft, though that price may sharply rocket now that the holiday cards have melted away. I even bought a couple of those actual game-things during flash sales. Lots of people rave about Kerbal Space Program; I’ve only really run through the tutorial and it hasn’t completely grabbed me yet, but it certainly seems interesting, and Melmoth spoke highly of the new Tomb Raider game, so I picked that up and have got as far as downloading it, but not actually starting it up. I just about made it to the second level of Dishonoured, bought during a previous sale, before getting completely distracted by other stuff so I’m not sure when I’ll manage to actually buckle down and play it, but still…

On the mobile front, Doctor Who: Legacy is a neat little puzzle-type-RPG-sort-of-thing available for both Android and iOS, chock-full of companions and characters from the recent series plus a few classics with nice artwork, kills the odd ten minutes here and there quite effectively.

Finally, over in The Old Republic the newly added starfighter combat still hasn’t really clicked for me, but I’ve really been getting back in to the rest of the game, flashpoints, regular PvP battlegrounds and the class stories. I hadn’t been particularly hankering for good old hotbar style combat, it just sort of crept up; I’ve no idea if it’ll last long enough to properly pique my interest in WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online or EverQuest Next, or whether I’ll have burnt back out again by the time they launch.