PSN/Alpha Centauri/Dragonsblahblah/Prospector

A few things:

Since PSN is saying that the credit card data was encrypted, there's a change there's not going to be as huge a blowup as there might have been, but no one is saying anything definite (maybe they can't say anything definite, maybe they never will be able to and have to leave it up to users and credit card companies to find out). This doesn't reduce the seriousness the personal data being stolen in my mind, though. An article about what may be going on behind the scenes: 

http://www.cringely.com/2011/04/sony-may-be-clueless-in-psn-hack/

I just bought/ordered Alpha Centauri for rather cheap through One-Breasted-Archer, after a cool piece about AC on Rock Paper Shotgun drew my attention to the very cheap edition I eventually bought. I've meant to get AC for a while now once I realized what was going on with it, with its refreshing approach to factions and a hader-science, human approach to science fiction that's frigging rare. I guess there are heavy elements of Civ games in it, to the point where some people look at it as a re-skinned Civ game, but since I've never played a Civ game the similarities, whatever they are, don't really bug me in the least. Looking forward to it.

As you might know I'm interested in Skyrim's development, so I'm a bit weirded out by the pod people coverage we've been getting from Bethesda's junket in Utah. Each piece on each site that I've read so far has been fairly straightforward since everyone got to see the same thing, but what creeps me out isn't the general gist, these things happen when all the information is coming from one location, but how everyone mentions dragons as though their particular readers were clamoring for them. You can tell if the writer is interested in what he or she is talking about by the WAY the information comes out (some just sounded bored, some layered on the detail and made critical distinctions), but when they mention dragons the quotes feel eerily similar.  *brr.* The bare fact that dragons are in the game isn't that big a deal to me, but if they're well implemented and fun to fight and watch fly around, that of course is a good thing.

Since our Dynasty Warriors fervor has died down (all campaigns cleared, opening edit unlocked (which is hilarious to mess with), many endings unlocked), I've been playing a roguelike called Prospector, which has you running a small ship with a crew, where you fly through space to explore planets, do survey missions, blast space pirates, and all kinds of weird, random stuff. It's totally fun, and it's got a lot of the elements I've wanted in a game like this, helping me ease down the throttle on my own thwarted design ambitions and just enjoy someone else's designs for a change. It's still got a bit of the old roguelike stutters, like having a lot of keys for different things rather than a more user-friendly action tree, but the amount of enjoyment I get from a huge new surprise pretty much eliminates any annoyances. I DID have some issues for a while getting it to run, so make sure if you have trouble to contact the creator so he can help fix them.

Have a safe rest of the week!

7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

A few things:

Since PSN is saying that the credit card data was encrypted, there's a change there's not going to be as huge a blowup as there might have been, but no one is saying anything definite (maybe they can't say anything definite, maybe they never will be able to and have to leave it up to users and credit card companies to find out). This doesn't reduce the seriousness the personal data being stolen in my mind, though. An article about what may be going on behind the scenes: 

http://www.cringely.com/2011/04/sony-may-be-clueless-in-psn-hack/

I just bought/ordered Alpha Centauri for rather cheap through One-Breasted-Archer, after a cool piece about AC on Rock Paper Shotgun drew my attention to the very cheap edition I eventually bought. I've meant to get AC for a while now once I realized what was going on with it, with its refreshing approach to factions and a hader-science, human approach to science fiction that's frigging rare. I guess there are heavy elements of Civ games in it, to the point where some people look at it as a re-skinned Civ game, but since I've never played a Civ game the similarities, whatever they are, don't really bug me in the least. Looking forward to it.

As you might know I'm interested in Skyrim's development, so I'm a bit weirded out by the pod people coverage we've been getting from Bethesda's junket in Utah. Each piece on each site that I've read so far has been fairly straightforward since everyone got to see the same thing, but what creeps me out isn't the general gist, these things happen when all the information is coming from one location, but how everyone mentions dragons as though their particular readers were clamoring for them. You can tell if the writer is interested in what he or she is talking about by the WAY the information comes out (some just sounded bored, some layered on the detail and made critical distinctions), but when they mention dragons the quotes feel eerily similar.  *brr.* The bare fact that dragons are in the game isn't that big a deal to me, but if they're well implemented and fun to fight and watch fly around, that of course is a good thing.

Since our Dynasty Warriors fervor has died down (all campaigns cleared, opening edit unlocked (which is hilarious to mess with), many endings unlocked), I've been playing a roguelike called Prospector, which has you running a small ship with a crew, where you fly through space to explore planets, do survey missions, blast space pirates, and all kinds of weird, random stuff. It's totally fun, and it's got a lot of the elements I've wanted in a game like this, helping me ease down the throttle on my own thwarted design ambitions and just enjoy someone else's designs for a change. It's still got a bit of the old roguelike stutters, like having a lot of keys for different things rather than a more user-friendly action tree, but the amount of enjoyment I get from a huge new surprise pretty much eliminates any annoyances. I DID have some issues for a while getting it to run, so make sure if you have trouble to contact the creator so he can help fix them.

Have a safe rest of the week!

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Alpha Centauri is kind of great. It doesn't quite get over the hump of everything taking forever (which is basically my problem with every 4X game like this), and it's kinda still Civ II in space, but it's different enough to make it a more interesting game for me. Certainly more interesting than Civ III, I'll tell you that much.

And yeah, you can tell that Dragons must have been a giant bullet point for that presentation in Park City. I couldn't care a lick about random encounters with Dragons, I just want to see some sort of extended gameplay footage even if it is totally controlled and edited in such a way as to cut out the part where the game froze or the developer got stuck in a wall.

Edited by ahoodedfigure
@ArbitraryWater:  With 4X games, my big problem is getting bogged down in too many simultaneous processes. Like with MOO2 I wind up neglecting my planets rather than subject them to autobuild or spend the time building everything, and naturally that means I'm going to fall behind a player or AI who is more meticulous. I wind up just being a Star General and designing and mobilizing fleets, but without a good foundation that doesn't work out too well and I wind up getting exhausted. Both me and my SO, though, like MOO2 enough that we have to hide it from ourselves and uninstall after a while, lest we play it too much.

Since I have zero experience in this particular type of 4X game (with the possible exception of the venerable Empire), I guess my impressions will be different than folks who already got burned out. Who knows.

Glad I'm not the only one who noticed that dragon thing. And yes, for all the descriptions it's not going to do a whole lot until us plebes get to see some sort of on-screen movement. I'm wondering about pop-in and bugs as much as the next Elder Scroll veteran. Since they keep rewriting or inventing engines there are bound to be some issues, but they're still talking about balancing features right now. I just hope they give enough time to stamp out major bugs so we don't wind up being beta testers. Since this is probably the game that will, if anything will, make me current-gen, I sorta want this to work right the first time.
Edited by Brackynews

Ahhh, Alpha Centauri is one of about 5 PC games I look for every few months on the usual suspects of digital delivery. Having traded it away æons ago.
And every time, it rings in my head the old Usenet ROM-sharing mantra of "they abandoned it, I can't buy it new so why not just download it for free and they're not losing money either way." ...Then in the early 2000s commercialised emulation broke in a big way on disc, cart, and download, and everyone left standing in alt.binaries.emulators.* was just a bloody pirate.

In some respects one could almost believe license holders don't want to sell things. Logically it comes down to the cost of ensuring old software runs on new systems is prohibitively more than the expected profit from an 8+ year old game. Not every title put out on GOG.com is fully compatible with Windows 7, even. (Thankfully there are now user lists to help keep an eye on things.) But Sid Meier... Will Wright... men with their names in their game titles do not even have their entire catalogues available to purchase. What dark void between software and lawyers prevents both of us from getting Alpha Centauri as part of a $70 Firaxis Steam Bundle? I don't even play Civ, and I would buy a bag of that shit to pick out the red bubbly allsorts.

Glad you found a copy anyway! Play a round as Prokhor Zakharov for me. Meanwhile, the hunt for the other 4 continues.

Posted by Brians
@ahoodedfigure: Alpha Centauri is one of those games I come back to every couple of years because I really enjoy the gameplay of the game. I continue to wish that the game and the sequel would show up on digital sale sites because I've had so much fun playing it in the past. The multiple ways of winning also seemed less complicated than something like Civ 5 these days.
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Briguile:  Still waiting for it to show up. Might write about my impressions when I play it. I bought it for dirt cheap at Amazon, but I know what you mean about digital sales because of the flexibility of those sorts of distributions. Looking forward to playing it, and I've read others' impressions that are still fond of the game, so it looks like they were on to something there.

@Brackynews:

I sometimes wonder if it's because when you get to be a big enough company, you can only do so many things at once, and you have some director with a vision who may not see game X or Y, and all the legal wrangling it would take to convince people who have a stake in the game to sign away their rights, to be worth the effort. Still other contracts, the ones where the game makers signed away their rights early on, still need some level of thought into how they can be sold. We on the consumer end think it's pretty clear, but there's a big barrier between us and them, and it's sort of like we're looking at aliens through a telescope as they try to figure out what feels to us to be a pretty simple puzzle to solve.

There's also that market saturation thing, where too many things on the market at once risks no one caring, but when they're not making money off of it anyway, and it could easily be sitting on some digital distributor and making more money than nothing, even if it's just in the money they received in return for a contract that they signed to give away rights. Ultimately, what some of this might be about, is territory. They own it, they see no big bucks use for it, so they sit on it.

"Glad you found a copy anyway! Play a round as Prokhor Zakharov for me. Meanwhile, the hunt for the other 4 continues. "


What ARE those other four, if you don't mind my asking?

And I tried a bag of all-sorts once. Some of them were good, but the combined effect of eating them after a while made me never want to eat them again. And I'm someone who loves licorice-licorice.
Posted by Brackynews
@ahoodedfigure:

Quite right. And I think all-in-all it's very rare to have a big businessman in charge that actually understands the passion people have to play these old games. Maybe in 30 years all the CEOs will have grown up with Mario, but the people that ascend to make these kinds of decisions probably aren't ones to make a lot of leisure time for themselves.
Doing something for no perceivable profit is probably worse than just sitting on a license, in the boardroom's view. Game publishers aren't about make-work projects, and they know for a fact that everything they release will be cracked and shared for free anyway.
What ARE those other four, if you don't mind my asking?
I started to link them, then I realized I'd only be linking the first 4 that came to mind. Also some top favourites have been fan-remade successfully so that doesn't quite count.
On proper reflection and a fresh search, those 5 PC franchises I'd like to rebuy and play anytime are: Alpha Centauri, Homeworld, System Shock, Battlezone, ST Voyager: EF. Notice a sci-fi theme? :) That didn't even include Grim Fandango or Full Throttle, but everyone wants to see LucasArts' entire back catalogue... even that sprite-based droid assembly line nobody remembers. (Not even in the GB database.)

Agreed on licorice. It doesn't need to be dressed up to be enjoyed. But again, why won't someone sell me a bag of just the red bubbly gumdrops? ;)