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Showing posts from September, 2008

Two Worlds - Initial impressions

Reviewers have compared Two Worlds unfavourably to Oblivion but to be honest it feels more like a game from the Morrowind / Gothic generation. Nevertheless I am having a lot of fun in this free ranging RPG. The new player experience is a bit off putting. The brief tutorial covers wasd movement, opening doors, how to hit stuff with a sword and nothing else. I was shocked when the tutorial ended abruptly and I was left to figure stuff out for myself. Having played this type of game I guessed there would be inventory screens, quest screens, spell book , character stats so I pressed button randomly till I found the sort of things I expected. It took me a bit longer to figure out the magic system: you can have three active spells which are assigned to number keys and/or the right mouse button. Spells even have their own power up slots where you can add artifacts which increase the usefulness of the spell. Neat. I was pleased to see that the starter character (no choices here) comes with

Conn Iggulden: Lords of the Bow

I have three problems with this book the second in Conn Iggulden's "Conqueror" saga a fictionalised account of the life of Ghengis Khan. 1. For some reason the publishers chose to put no indication that this is actually the second book in a series. Had I known I would probably have read the prequel "Wolf of the Plains" first. It is a minor gripe but this seems to be a worrying trend. Alastair Reynolds novels don't give any indication of the sequence either. 2. It is a given in historical fiction that authors will make up stuff to pad out the known historical facts in order to weave an interesting story. Iggulden goes one step further though. He actually changes known facts, particularly relating to characters and the timing of events, all to make a better story. Iggulden does add historical notes which explain what he has done and why but I am still uncomfortable with this. I didn't like it when I read Iggulden's "Emperor" books about Ju

Now Playing

This blog serves as a sort of personal gaming history but it has been a few weeks since I wrote about any of the games I am actually playing. To redress the situation I will do a quick round up of my gaming over the last month or so. Eve didn't survive long after my return from holidays. I found myself increasingly reluctant to log into my mission running main and only lingered on for a week or so playing low skill point alts. When my subscription ran out it was an easy decision not to renew. I notice that Warhammer online is getting very good vibes from the press and my fellow bloggers but I am not ready to plunge into another mmo yet. Real life and work (see what I did there?) are making a lot of demands on me at the moment and I can't make the commitment required to do the mmo thing. In fact the commitment that mmos demand is one of the main tenets of my "mmos are history" argument. After EVE I went to the opposite extreme and indulged in some Flash gaming for a f

Can Video Games Stand the Test of Time?

In 2004, ten years after its initial release PCGamer voted Doom the most influential PC game of all time. Coincidentally around about the same time a dose of nostalgia prompted me to re-install the game to see could I find the magic that enthralled me for so many hours back in the mid 90's. I could see vestiges of former glory. The gameplay is fast and furious but seen with modern eyes the game is over long and repetitive, the controls are awkward and it looks very ugly. So ugly in fact that playing the game for any period gave me motion sickness. I remembered then that motion sickness was a regular feature of my gaming experience back in the days. So much for nostalgia. Masterpieces of art, literature, theatre and even cinema seem to achieve a longevity that is denied video games. Why do classic games not endure? Is it because of the pace of change of technology? Is it because the medium of gaming is in its infancy and has not yet reached a stable plateau? Is it because of the t

Shattered Delusions: Mount and Blade

The Riesling drinking wine buff scorns the masses who have not moved beyond Chardonnay. We gamers also have our precious snobberies. We have our secret games that are too complex or too ugly for mass appeal but which we "in the know" hold to be superior to the mass market commercial stuff. I guess Dwarf Fortress is such a game although I haven't played it. For several years now Mount and Blade has been my secret game . I bought the game when it was in its seemingly never ending Beta. It was a perpetually half finished game that was missing big chunks of stuff that games are supposed to have. Yet it shone brightly because of its sublime horseback mounted combat. I fell in love with that combat. I fell in love with the thrill of riding down opponents from the back of a thundering war horse. The regularly updated beta earned a place on my hard drive and I would go back every few months for another adrenaline filled bout of medieval sword bashing. I hadn't checked the de

Google to buy Valve?

The internet was abuzz yesterday with a rumoured takeover of PC gaming institution Valve by Google . It makes sense. Nobody believes Google wants to get into PC gaming but Valve's Steam content distribution system is probably the best (from a customer perspective) system out there. It's funny when Steam first came as an unwanted accroutement to Half Life 2 I and many of my fellow gamers hated it . Yet through Valve's careful stewardship the platform grew into something that I (and many of my fellow gamers) now love. I think there is a very simple reason for this. Valve appear to have had a very clear philosophy in developing Steam that puts their customers needs and desires first and puts attempts to squeeze as much money as possible from those customers last. Paradoxically this approach has earned them a whole bunch of money from a lot of happy customers. Well, its no paradox really. It's just common business sense that if you treat your customers well they will treat

The end of GPUs

Ars has a great interview with Tim Sweeney of Epic games in which he discusses the implications of his prediction (which he has been making for some time) that general purpose cpu's will soon become so powerful that we will no longer need dedicated graphics cards to render our 3D games. I am not really up to date on the current scene in either processors or graphics cards but I find this suggestion both very credible and also very appealing. Despite all the 3D enhanced gaming pleasure that hardware accelerated graphics have given me over the last few decade or so I have to admit that a world without dedicated graphics cards would be a far better world for PC gaming. I remember a time when the only thing you needed to check on the box was whether your PC had enough megahertz to run a game. You could buy any half decent machine confident in the knowledge it would run every game out there. Contrast that to the situation today where the average PC bought on the high street has little

What does your crystal ball tell you about the future of drm?

I hate the limited number of activations thing that has crept into recent single player games like SPORE and Bioshock. I don't pirate games and I understand the need for copy protection but it looks like we are are moving into a regime where you pay to rent games rather than buy and I hate that. I want to own something when I pay for game. Something I can use again and again. Something I can share with my friends. Something I can sell on after I have finished with it. I want games to be like books or films in this regard. On the other hand just because an old fogey like me isn't happy with something doesn't mean it isn't going to happen. I get the feeling that younger folk than me don't care about ownership so much. They live in a world where content can be replaced at any time from the web so why bother keeping your own copy. Mind you these youngsters don't believe in paying for content anyway so I amn't sure if that is the basis of a sound business model.

Six things you should know about Monster's Den

Monster's Den is a fun little Flash RPG that has consumed most of my gaming timer over the last few days. If you haven't tried it I recommend it but there are a few things about the game that are not quite obvious at first so in order to ease you path into the game her is my helpful list: 1. There's a sequel only its not a sequel more of an expanded version . Monster's Den:Book of Dread actually includes the Monsters Den campaign plus two more campaigns. It also has an updated interface so you may want to skip the original Monster's Den altogether. I didn't -I am still only half way through the first game so anything I have to say is only guaranteed to work in Monster's Den itself. 2. If you don't want it, throw it away . There is very little reason to keep stuff once you have a better item. You can lose one item per character if you get killed but that won't happen after you have read these helpful hints, will it? NB NB This does not apply in Boo

MMOs - time to retire your healers and tanks

I learned something about mmo endgame last night from a single player flash rpg called Sonny . At the beginning of Sonny (review here ) you choose one of four available classes. As you progress through the game you level your character up with choice of gear and abilities according to your preferred playstyle. Then you hit the end game where the bosses have powerful skills and combos which must be countered in order to survive. Just as in an mmo the choice of tactics becomes much more limited at end game. You must figure out the trick to beating each boss and you have to employ it. Respeccing your character is essential (the game allows 5 respecs per calendar day). The character you have lovingly built up becomes unrecognisable as your favoured skills get thrown out to be replaced with whatever is required to solve the next puzzle. In truth you no longer play your character instead you play whatever role is needed to overcome the encounter. Sound familiar? Character stats vary widely d