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Posts Tagged ‘Steam’

To make this Operation: Backlog thing work, I’ve decided to put the handful of games I’ve been playing more or less on the shelf, as it were.  Slingshot Braves on my smartphone and Flight Rising in a PC web browser are what I think of as “chore” games, in that they have daily tasks to do, part and parcel of many free-to-play games.  I’ll probably still log into those and do a little bit here and there often, but that’s mostly because I play them with my kids.  Ditto for Minecraft, our family XBox 360 game.  We used to play on the PC, but the local multiplayer on the 360 trumped the PC’s moddability.

Other than that, I’ll be putting Smash Brothers (3DS), Professor Layton and the Last Spectre away for a while.  Batman Arkham City will also have to wait, as will Uncharted 3, Flower and Final Fantasy XII, though I haven’t played them for more than an hour or two each since I was downsized in April of last year.  They are just my “want to finish” games that are already on the back burner.

World of Warcraft will have to wait, but that’s fine, since I don’t want to pay a subscription anyway.  Maybe I’ll qualify for a scroll of resurrection promotion one of these days, or Warlords of Draenor will go on sale for under $10, and I’ll drop back in for a bit.  Yes, yes, I do have a “trial” account I can putter around endlessly and mostly uselessly if I really want a WoW fix, but since I’ve seen most places that I can in the lower levels, and I’m all about Exploring, it’s not really that big of a draw.

…we’ll see how this goes.  I’ll be playing with mouse and keyboard, only reluctantly using my wired XBox 360 controller when it offers significantly better usability.  Perhaps that’s the purist in me, since I didn’t have PC joysticks or controllers when most of these games were new.

This might wind up even more relevant when I dig into my GoG.com library, but that’s way down the list at this point.

I’ve decided I’ll also be giving each of these a rating of sorts, as follows:  Regret (uninstall and forget), Remember (uninstall but wish for more time), Revisit (leave installed for later) and Recommend (wish for more time to play this right now).  This is a squishy continuum of sorts, and deliberately imprecise.  This isn’t an in depth survey-and-review, it’s Spring Cleaning of my video game backlog.

First up on my trek through my Steam library, then?

A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda

AI War: Fleet Command

Aquanox

A.R.E.S.

On paper, I should love this game.  It’s sort of like MegaMan X, one of my all time favorite games, if the blue bomber could aim in any direction with the mouse instead of charging his shot, and didn’t have a dash or wall slide, but a double jump and shoulder roll instead.  OK, it’s not exactly like that, but that’s the high level impression.

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The art style is all over the place, the camera feels like it’s in a little too tight, the levels are too short, ARES feels clumsy and his grenades aren’t controlled well, but this plucky little game really wants to be a spin of the MegaMan formula, and I give it points for aiming high.  It’s very nice to be able to aim in any direction, though that’s something that I want to use the mouse for.  It’s almost like I wish I could use a SNES controller in my left hand and a mouse in my right to really get it working like I want to.

Level design is somewhere between MegaMan and Metroid, though I think it would have been better to embrace the “Metroidvania” aspect more to really give the game its own identity.  It’s a 2D platformer, gameplay-wise, but with 3D environments and some oddments, though oddly, the player character and enemies are more of a Spine sort of thing, animated from 2D images, perhaps derived from 3D toon renders in some places.

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It’s a fun little game, but it certainly needs polish (and an art style guide!).  I give it a rating of Remember only because I wish I had time to see more bosses and see if the game opens up later, and I think that a MegaManX Metroidvania sort of game could be really cool.  The initial phases of A.R.E.S. were competent but not all that exciting.  It feels more like a proof of concept from a freshman dev team than a finished game.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that I’d rather go play MegaMan X again and dream of what this game could be with more work.

AI War

Hoo boy.  This one is nigh impenetrable in 15 minutes.  It’s supposedly a Real Time Strategy game set in outer space, with plucky humans fighting a malevolent AI.  OK, cool.  I like that.  It’s just… there are so many moving parts and tons of little things to learn about.  It’s a game that I probably would have loved playing back in the day, after finishing StarCraft and when I got burned out on Master of Orion’s interminable endgames… but today?  Eh, I don’t have time for this.

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I managed to play the first of 7 tutorials, just getting a hang of navigating the User Interface.  It fought my Maya and Photoshop muscle memory, so I can’t imagine really wanting to master it, but it seems to be designed well enough.  The visuals are good, though the sheer volume of data involved in the game means for some small details in the UI that were just so much static at first glance.

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I get the feeling that this would be a good game for me if I had the time to dig into it.  I give it a Remember rating as well, since I want to check out some other reviews of it to see how the game handles itself beyond the tutorials… but there’s no way it fits into my schedule to actually play it.  That’s a bit of a pity, really, but hey, at least I’m left with a feeling of wanting to know more.  That’s a good sign.

AquaNox

This game really, really wants to be Elite/Privateer/Freelancer, but underwater, with a dash of cyberpunk and social commentary.  That’s not a bad working premise or goal.  It’s just… the first ten minutes of the Story portion of the game were talking (both the video and the dozen or so text-plus-voice bits you have to get through) and a mishmash of mixed up art, from FFVII-like 3D computer graphics to anime-ish portraits to grainy FMV proto-Bioshock underwater city… stuff.

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And talking.  So… much… talking.  I’d give them a pass if the voice actors were even passable, but, well… they are not.  I like watching Star Trek, the one from the 60s, and while all the cool kids rag on that show now for its kitsch and stage-like hamminess, it’s a masterwork compared to this game.  I never want to hear this game again.  (For crying out loud, they pronounce “Succubus”, a key ship in the game, as “Zuko Boose”.  Yes, Zuko was a good character, but that’s just… wrong.)

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That’s not a killer, though, if the play is worth it.  The two missions I had time for once I got through the backstory were a brief “shoot the underwater junk” mission to get a feel for moving a little and firing weapons, and a brief escort mission for a tanker that was trying to just bulldoze through a junk field.  I had to clear the way and shoot a bad guy that popped up.  So, nothing all that exciting, nothing all that bad, though it loses points in my book giving me an escort mission so early.  I hate escort missions.

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That said, I really like the feel of the controls, actually.  The sub drives a bit like what I’d expect, with good WASD controls (A and D sliding/strafing like Minecraft, not turning), augmented by using R and F to go “up” and “down” respectively for the full 3D movement.  Mouse sensitivity is a little high for my taste, but I could probably tweak that.  Shooting feels pretty good, targeting is solid, movement feels right for being underwater, with inertia and drag giving a good impression of actually navigating through something much thicker than the outer space sims I’m fond of.

The “I’m-actually-playing-something-finally” graphics are good, far better than the intro video and talky graphics would hint at.  Explosions underwater seem a bit silly, undermining the look and feel, but all in all, it could be fun.  If only they would… stop… talking… and get on with it.  I just wanted to go blow stuff up and zip around underwater.

I give the game a Regret rating overall, even though I do love the idea of an underwater game in the Privateer mold, one of my other all time favorite games.  This game just isn’t it.  I hear there’s a sequel, so maybe the game gets better, and maybe the sequel is even better… but I won’t be spending any more time to find out.

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So, three games out of… um… more than 100.  There are a few other minor grievances I dealt with, but out of the gate, I have to say that it’s about what I’d expected.  I’m a firm believer in style guides and making a good, quick first impression.  That doesn’t preclude depth, but gamers today have to be intrigued and having fun fast, or they will move on to another game.  These games just aren’t up to par.  They might be worth playing if you don’t mind their shortcomings, as none of them are actually bad, they just are behind the curve a bit.

We’ll see what these titles have in store next time:

AVSEQ

Back To The Future: Ep 1

The Banner Saga

…I’ll admit, I really, really want to like The Banner Saga.  I am not even close to unbiased on that one.  I love the music I’ve heard, and I love tactical and strategic games.  The Eyvind Earle art style is gorgeous.  I sort of want to give it a lot more than 15 minutes, but we’ll see how it fares with a nibble instead of a Viking feast.

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Yes, it’s my birthday.  BioWare must care, since they released Star Wars the Old Republic‘s free to play iteration today.

…but I probably won’t play it for a while.  I still want to give Guild Wars 2 a fair shakedown, but my computer is… not up to the task.  Maybe after I get it repaired.

…right after I sell some more of my older games on eBay so I can afford the parts.  (Turns out I need a new case, hard drive, DVD drive and Windows in addition to the new video card I got, which needed a new power supply, and the random crashes my computer still performed required that new motherboard, CPU and RAM that I got that don’t fit in my old case.  I thought I’d wind up with a Frankenstein mishmash of old and new components, but no, I’m just going to have a new computer built from pieces.  Stupid technology.  Don’t buy HP.)

…right after I finish painting the basement.

…right after I finish mudding and sanding it.

…right after I finish helping my friend with the sheet rock.

…oh, and if I had time, I’d write the first novel in the series I have had planned for years now.  It has something to do with this.  (Which I slipped into my Zazzle store a little while ago.)  Yes, I know it’s that NaNoWriMo or whatever, but, well, I’m short on time.

Project Khopesh

So yes, thanks, BioWare, for the birthday gift!  I might get to it next year.

…right after I finish playing all the games I got from Steam, Humble Bundle, Indie Gala, Indie Royale, GoG.com, OnLive and even Amazon Download.

…right after I finish Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSP.

…better make that 2015.

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Steam has had a fun little promotion going on for the holidays again this year.  I didn’t spend much money on games, since I already have most of what I want and far more than I have time for.  Still, it was fun to see what they had up for sale, and to try some of their challenges for their promotion.  I even wound up tying Sanctum (that I purchased a while back in an Indie Royale sale) to my Steam account to try for that Achievement, hoping for a useful coupon (I got the Solar 2 one that way).

Short story long, I now have a handful of coupons and a pair of games to give away, and nobody obvious to give them to.  (I’m keeping the lumps of coal.)

Steam Stuff

For the next few hours, Terraria and the Portal games are on deep discount (and I highly recommend Portal and Portal 2), so those coupons aren’t much use at the moment, but they will be someday.

So… how to decide who to give them to?

Well, for Cogs, a great little sliding tile puzzle game with delightful steampunky overtones, how about this?  Whomever makes the gearflake that my panel of elite judges likes the most will win Cogs.  Instructions for how to make a gearflake are in my Steampunk Snowflake post from a little while back, but don’t just take that pattern, try something new, a variation on the theme of “gears and snowflake”.

For World of Goo, a fantastic puzzle/building game, I’m looking for a good practical way to make some goo of my own, for some Zomblobs! promotional experiments.  The person who finds me the best recipe for homebrew goo suited for my use will win the game.  Specifically, I’m looking for some sort of goo that’s partially translucent, mostly gelatinous, but able to hold a shape well enough that it could be used as a board game piece, about the size of a standard chess pawn.  Sort of a stronger, more durable JELL-O, nontoxic, of course.  I’ll need to be able to put it into a mold for shaping, so it will need to be mostly liquid but be able to “set” and be removed easily from a mold (so the final surface can’t be sticky, and it shouldn’t stick to a plastic or ceramic mold).

As for the coupons, as specific as they are, it’s probably best to just say that whomever speaks up first for a specific coupon will get it.

Entries for the Cogs and World of Goo contest should be sent to my contact email, tishtoshtesh in the gmail system.  If you’re the first one to speak up for a coupon (speak up here first, then if you’re first, email me), please send your Steam handle to me at that same email, and I’ll get in touch.

For all of these, it looks like I’ll need to be logged into Steam and so will you to perform the trade (really just me giving you the widget), so it may take a few days or so to get the timing right, just because of scheduling, but I’ll do what I can, again, communicating via that gmail address.

Entries for the game contests have until January 15th, but the coupons are up for grabs immediately.

Happy New Year!

2012 should be a good year.  It’s either the end of the world or the release of Zomblobs! and either should prove interesting.  (I’m still formatting the rulebook PDFs for the Zomblobs! beta.  I meant to have it done last week, but circumstances prevented it.)

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I’m one of those odd sorts that plays a game like WoW as if I’m a citizen of a world (a role!), rather than as a race to the raiding treadmill.  I make up minigames for myself, or just go wandering around looking for the perfect screenshot (I still need to set up a Picasa portfolio for sharing, come to think of it…).  I even have a Goblinish trend, happy to tinker in the markets, which so far has been supplying the Horde AH with Deadly Blunderbusses with an Orc Hunter Engineering alt… nothing huge, but a fun little way to make some profit fairly easily at a low level.  (I’ll leave the misanthropy to Gevlon, though.)

So when a quirky little game like Recettear comes out and embraces a different aspect of these RPG things, in this case shopkeeping, my interest is naturally piqued.  Tipa mentioned the game a while back, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for a sale.  At present, it’s available via Steam and Impulse for preorder for $18ish, 10% off.  I’m sorely tempted to get it, but for now, I’ll be playing the demo.  Maybe I’ll get the whole game in the next few days, depending on how the demo goes.

Still, I applaud these Japanese indie devs for tackling something in a new way, and the intrepid localization team for bringing it to my side of the pond.

It also has me itching once again for some more interesting noncombat options for “careers” in MMOS… but that’s another article for another day.

Update: I went ahead and preordered the game through Impulse.  I think that’s the first preorder that I’ve ever done; usually I wait for sales.  I’m impressed with the game, and I’m even going to use it to teach my four year old a bit about capitalism.  Score one more for the indies!

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Torchlight Sale

Torchlight is on sale via Steam this weekend.

Half price for an already nicely priced game that’s good dungeon crawling fun?

That’s worth dealing with Steam for.

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X-Com Complete

Prowling around on Steam because of this little gem

Defense Grid

I happened upon another interesting offering:

X-COM Complete Pack

I loved the original and Terror From the Deep, though they weren’t perfect games.  Apocalypse didn’t work nearly as well for me, mostly because of the changes in the overland management layer.  Still, those three are worth digging into for archival reasons, if nothing else.  Each sells for $4.99, so getting the pack means picking up two extra games.  Not a bad deal at all.  (Though I’m not sure if those other two are any good… so I can’t speak to that.)

With my mind of late turning more to strategic and tactical gaming, perhaps these are natural fits.  I’d still like to see more tactical and strategic layers to MMO design, but for now, I’ll stick with these and that shiny old Tactics Ogre coming in the mail.  Yummy handheld gaming for this overscheduled daddy.

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