Best of Good Buys
I have decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Die2Nite, as the last-minute misanthropy bummed me out a bit. Hope those who've tried didn't think it was a complete waste of time, but feel free to talk negative or positive impressions in the comments (or in your own blogs, of course). I'm going to start it up again once I feel the urge, but like I said before, there is a bit of that timed-demand that sort of rubs me the wrong way, where I resent not being able to pause or step away until I die. My "soul" will be in limbo until I decide to go in again.
In the meantime, other than rediscovering non-game related stuff (books and old TV shows!, mainly) my gaming experience has been one of strange purchases. I bought a Red Baron compilation from GOG as part of a one-day promotion that helped rope me one of my favorite game manuals (and I'll be up for playing the game, too, since that means seeing it with the details cranked up for the first time. I love World War I aviation).
I also bought a game that I actually can't play with any sizeable degree of reasonable performance: Minecraft. Apparently Minecraft will, on December 20th, officially enter the Beta stage, which means doubling the price (10 Euros goes to 20 Euros), as well as changing the user contract, which means everyone who buys the thing after the closing date won't get updates for free necessarily. THIS is something not everyone knows, but I guess Notch is doing this to make sure his new company doesn't suddenly go bust when all the people who would have bought the game DID already, and the income sorta stops.
Speaking of Minecraft, this mod gets the game closer to one of my ideal game concepts:
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/17/promised-lands-minecraft-biometerrain-mod/ The concept being of the user exploring a random, computer-generated environment that makes some sort of internal sense and is actually fun and varied. The stuff in that link is straight out of a Roger Dean painting-- now all these biomes need is variable wildlife :)
Finally, I acquired a PC port of Golden Axe from Gamers Gate as part of a free, limited promotion discussed on gaming site Quarter to Three... except it wanted to update DirectX without my permission, which, with this graphics card, could spell serious trouble. So I have the thing on my hard drive, waiting... waiting. All the hoops I had to jump through just to have to stop made me wish it was on GOG :)
Guru Larry has a fascinating profile of Contra ports in Europe:
(I really do wish he would get rid of that interminable opening title music, though. Ugh.)
Through RPS I learned about one of the cooler (if not-yet completed) sword-duelling games I have ever seen (even though it looks damned crazy):
Nidhogg, by awesome weirdo Messhof.
And I think they were the ones that showed the reincarnation of the Humble Bundle:
5 Good games plus 2 causes to donate to, and you can pay what you like to whom you like using a bunch of sliders like you were setting starting statistics in an RPG. Pretty smart way to go about it, smarter than the linear "pay what you like" scheme that I think might be more likely to scare people off. If you have more control, it's easier to imagine the money going where you want it to, even if you're only forking out pocket change.
At the Homestead
I think the single most played game for me this week is Spelunky. It wasn't until this second massive playthrough (just unlocked all the warp tunnels) that I realized I like this game better than any Mario game I've ever played. I think the reward is greater when I beat a Mario level, because you get that rush of getting away with it/perfecting the level completion that you can't get when the levels are random like they are in Spelunky. But man, is Spelunky fun. I'm a bit iffy about its XBLA graphical facelift, so I'm happy with what I've got. The game is smooth, always fun to explore, always full of surprises and deaths that make me laugh (well, often enough) instead of making my eyes bug out. Even starting the levels over again isn't as big of a problem because I know that the randomization won't force me to do the same thing over and over again until I get it right; there are ELEMENTS I need to master, skills that I need to improve, but I don't have to memorize levels, don't have to time everything the same way like I'm being tutored to pass a test. Derek Yu is great.
Since we got the XBox running again, Gladius has been the game of choice there still. I saw that my old team was there waiting for me, including my best buddy the Yeti, who likes crushing things. One problem, though: our TV is sorta new now, and the graphics are a bit fuzzy. Anyone know how A/V cables work? Would I have to hunt down an old XBox cable, or are there universal cables out there that will still work with the old XBox?
My hand-me-down phone runs Symbian, and I've been trying to get software for it. So far I found a neat little open source flashcard teaching system with way too many options, and a live-updated star chart that includes planet positions (great for stargazing EDIT: except the Moon is in entirely the wrong place on this thing, so now I'm wondering if the planets are too). Naturally I want games, too, since all I got with this damned phone are demos (would it hurt you guys to let me play backgammon for free like on my old phone? O, Decadent Western Culture! DAMN YOU!!! (</irony>)). No luck so far as far as open source stuff goes, but I was happy to see that there's a version of ScummVM that actually works on Symbian. Crazy.
Finally, I'll leave you this week with a video of some multiplayer hilarity in Mount & Blade: Warband. I can't get over how Mount & Blade still looks like a better medieval combat simulator than just about everything out there (except for the lack gangrene and sucking chest wounds).