Wednesday, April 29, 2009

World of Goo, bitches. You should play it more . . . the game takes a new (significant) twist with each level. I drew vectors to map out the path a Goo-ball would take.
speaking of dominion, i don't think i'll be playing that game with martin and the crew again soon.

now dominion isn't a bad game. in fact, it's a great introduction to the whole 'european games' thing; it has a collection of resources that people share, everyone plays the game until the end and the rules shift as the result of players' moves. also it's really easy to learn, so it shouldn't intimidate people who are new to the genre.

what dominion has going against it is that it's like playing golf. you're chiefly playing the deck rather than the other players. each player surveys the game's offering (ideally re-evaluating this offering continuously) and makes a choice about their move. but this can almost be done in a vacuum. the moves you make have very little influence on the choices other players will make. apart from scrambling to get the best cards first, there's almost no influence players have over oneanother. further, there's nothing to do while other players are taking their turns. so you spend most of the game evaluating your hand and waiting to take your turn. since the most powerful (and therefore soughtafter) cards in the deck typically extend the length of a player's turn, this can make the game pretty boring as this waiting period gets progressively longer.

martin and i have speculated with others that this isn't nearly the last we've heard from donald x vaccarino. just like magic the gathering expansions, there's a small emblem on each card. we've hypothesized that this implies new collections of card coming available.

my hope is that future expansions will provide for increased interaction amongst players and the ability of players to perform actions during other peoples' turns. maybe when a player gains a victory card, other players are rewarded in some other way. maybe based on what they have in their hands. this is sort of how the council room works, the player using the card gets 4 new cards in their hand, but all other players get a 'quarter effect' of getting one new card in their hand. this could keep all players more engaged in the game rather than just chatting and waiting for the game to progress.

until such time though, i'll be sticking to puerto rico, settlers and other old stand-bys.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

According to Martin the blog misses me and I certainly don't want to hurt a blog's feelings. So, FoC blog, I'm sorry I never called. Also, I'm engaged.

In other news, Jenn was able to acquire an Ipod touch some time ago which I have just now started to play with. I bought my first app for $1.99 (or I suppose Jenn did as it was her account) which happens to be a tower defense game called Fieldrunners. This was my first tower defense game and I must say they are quite addictive.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

RE5 has gotten a lot of flak for not being a survival horror game (the genre that RE games helped define). After playing a little bit I think I know why:

The ability of players to hop in and out online seems like a cool idea, but it changed the level structure based on what a joining player starts with. Let me explain, I can join a person's 1 player game that is already going on. That can only happen at the beginning of a level, and when it does I come in with practically no ammo and only a pistol (in true RE fashion I only need a pistol and a knife [ . . . and this chair!]). This seems like a great idea because it allows people to play co-op without interrupting their original game. We already know that co-op makes a game (in theory) more fun, but in this case it breaks the single player game. If a person is going to jump in with no ammo, then ammo needs to be readily available during the game (otherwise the joined player would be pointless with only 10 bullets before they die). But making ammo readily available strips out one of the core principles of survival horror, ammo management. The first three resident evil games were great because Jason and I had to figure out how to maximize out ammo. After all, RE was about learning how to kill with one shot to the knee and then stabbing the zombie on the ground. Ammo management was even part of the level design since much of RE was in a house that offered multiple paths so you could avoid zombies in particular rooms. I distinctly remember that after the mansion became filled with Frogmen it was almost certain death to enter this one room because the camera angle was shitty and the Frog would be on top of you in no time.

SO because of the plentiful ammo it isn't a survival horror game. There are no big surprises that send your heart racing like a dog jumping through a window. The multizombie fights you get into have to be dealt with using guns, not the clever tactics of old. I really shouldn't be all that surprised. RE4 wasn't survival horror either, but we were all so stunned by the over the shoulder perspective and beautiful graphics on the Gamecube we didn't really notice.

Here is the other way that the game (like so many before it) fails. I have recently reached a point where me and my AI partner (Sheva) are in a tunnel that is dark. Luckily I found a lantern, which means that just like Crystal Chronicles someone has to be chalice bitch. Unfortunately, at first inspection it HAS to be me. My computer AI partner says that she is going to cover me . . . but it leaves me wondering why I am playing a game where I am going to light the way while the computer shoots people. If Jason were playing with me it would be no big deal, but his 360 red-rings so I'm left playing lantern-boy for the computer. So I put the game down for the time being. It is a shame.

I'm also toying around with My Japanese Tutor, Bully (360 edition), Lost Planet (sucks!!), and soon Dead Space (a truer survival horror). Lots to play for spring break.

This is Chowning and my 1 year anniversary! We spent last night having a wonderful diner at Rathbun's Steak. She headed up to Chicago today to attend a conference for work, while I am left here on spring break. It has been a great year, and we are looking forward to another next year.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Jeremy and I played 2 games of Dominion online last night. We used the client BrettspielWelt to play the games with a guy named Bobolicious. The client worked pretty well. I thought it was broken for a while, but it turns out Jeremy doesn't know how to handle a Beureaucrat (sp?). The games went pretty quick, and I struggled with keeping count of what was going on. Most of the cards out in the field were in English, and you could see how many were left by mousing over the pile. In both games Bobolicious destroyed us (I think the closest score was 48-28). I was clear that he knew strategies either for the card set we got, or that would work with most card sets. I didn't follow whether or not the card sets were random, but I imagine they were. The best part of the experience was having Jeremy up on Skype at the same time. I envisioned having 3 windows filled with Mike, Mark and Jeremy as we played a 4 player game of PowerGrid, all chatting to our hearts content. Sounds like we can get game night going again despite our busy schedules.