I bought Cities: Skylines not long after it came out, having enjoyed 20 hours of Simcity 4 according to Steam - it felt like longer, in a good way. My initial impressions were good, but somehow I didn't manage to really get into it, though I played long enough to get near the final city size milestone (when you attain certain population sizes, you unlock new buildings, features and extra land to build on - in a nice touch, the game comes with a dev-made mod to remove this progression and unlock everything immediately if you so choose). Recently I made some time, being tempted by the recent-ish patch which added European style buildings, and have now got up to 25 hours, enjoying nearly every minute.
Since starting this blog, there have been a few times when I've started working on a game and considered writing a post about it. Perfectly fine in itself of course, but if there's no finished product to link to on the Games page, I wonder if it's really worth doing. My art skills leave much to be desired, and particularly early on during the creation of a game things are going to look extremely ugly and bare bones. In a few previous posts (here and here) discussing some WIP games, I also brought in other games, using screenshots from those for the title image and hiding my own stuff further in.
It's got me thinking as to when a game really becomes interesting, both for me as the creator, and potentially for other people. Fair warning: this turned out to be a bit of a rambling post really, maybe serving more as a place to collect my thoughts than anything else, but perhaps it offers some insight into my 'creative process', such as it is. And hey, it's written now, so up it goes :)
The early 20th century naval management and combat game Rule the Waves (and their earlier combat only game Steam and Iron) was first brought to my attention through one of Tim Stone's excellent Flare Path columns on RPS. I tried and enjoyed the demo of Steam and Iron, but the talk of designing, building and organizing your own fleet of ships was what really enticed me, so I settled down to wait for Rule the Waves. Another Flare Path column (which also captures what's so exciting about the game wonderfully) alerted me to the release, and so here I am in charge of the Italian navy from 1900 to 1925.
I played Splinter Cell: Blacklist for the first time recently - running through some coop missions with a friend - and he, having played it before, advised me to be a bit careful with some of the upgrades you can purchase for your character, since they can make the game far too easy. It's been a while since I played a Splinter Cell (the third in the series might have been the most recent one), and while things have changed a fair bit, the basic gameplay principles were easy to pickup, and we had a lot of fun. But even as a relative newbie, looking through some of the upgrades it was easy to see what he meant.
Since my last Vietnam '65 AAR back in March, there has been a large update which looks like it might address the concerns I had about difficulty - there's a new level of AI, fog of war, and bad weather, along with various other small changes that look good. So I'm going back for another engagement.
While looking through some old GameMaker projects, I came across a fun little coop game I made some time ago. It's a tough tactical side scroller, where death comes easily if you make a wrong move. You've got good equipment and the enemies aren't smart, but they are quick to launch ambushes and have numbers on their side.
NOTE: I am aware the game is not in fact 8 Bit in any sense of the term, but I still think it's a cool name. You can download it from the Games page.
I wrote about my experiences with Sunset; that I found it thought provoking and moving. Since then, the creators Tale of Tales have announced that they are giving up on creating games (at least commercial ones), after Sunset only sold a bit over 4000 copies as of about a week ago. Their full post is worth reading in my opinion. I'd summarize it as saying that they tried to make 'a game for gamers', along the lines of the more successful Gone Home (which I also thoroughly enjoyed), hired various advisors and PR people, and it all failed to produce sales. So they're unlikely to bother anymore, especially as funding for artistic games dries up in their home country of Belgium.
Lots of people have had opinions about this, and it ties into some interesting discussions about whether governments should subsidize art, whether their games were good, whether they were games at all (that endless debate), and so on. Since I am apparently one of fairly few people who have tried the game, and my opinion of it is so different to many other people, I thought I'd try and respond specifically to some of the criticisms I've seen of the game - not necessarily trying to counter them, but at least explaining why they didn't occur to me, or if they did, why I didn't think they mattered all that much. You could loosely consider some things below as spoilers.
Seeing both the Eastern Europe and Scandinavian DLC on sale, I couldn't resist grabbing it and spending a few hours trundling around hauling cargo. I've played a little bit of Euro Truck Simulator before, and it doesn't take long to get into the swing of things in any case. Taking these screenshots caused a slight pause each time, and since I've been driving with a keyboard and mouse combo (which can make it a bit easy to oversteer at times) there was a certain amount of risk involved every time I took a photo.
In my spare time lately I've been working on a game inspired (in a sense) by the rather addictive Compact Conflict. I love the simplicity of the game, the satisfaction in switching chunks of the map to your colour, the replayability of the random maps and the limited actions mechanic - here used to restrict army movement, but it's something I like in board games as well when used to make every action interesting and keep the game moving at the same time. But what really keeps me coming back is the interaction of the AI players.
I recently completed the adventure game Technobabylon, and thought it was well worth a post. I've enjoyed everything from Wadjet Eye Games, in particular the excellent Blackwell series, with the last game (the Blackwell Epiphany) being an absolute gem that I would probably nominate for best ending to a game & series ever. Based on this, I'd pre-ordered Technobabylon (actually I tried to pre-order it a second time, having forgotten that I'd already done so!) and wasn't disappointed.
What's All this then?
I like making and writing about PC games - mostly strategy games. Expect after action reports, thoughts about design and gameplay, and maybe even a few prototypes.