Restaurant Almost Done

This week, I will probably reach the end of Cook, Serve, Delicious! It is incredibly engrossing and establishes flow wonderfully. I have now done just about everything you can do in the game, with a few more achievements to go to round it out. I 100%ed the main game and have moved on to Extreme Difficulty new game+.

“This mode is almost impossible. It will likely destroy you.” It really is as difficult as they advertise, what with the big boost in buzz (number of customers) and 0 patience. Getting the “table snacks” upgrade that gives them any patience was a huge boost in Extreme Difficulty. I wondered how one could sanely get the “serve 15,000 customers” achievement when you need fewer than 10,000 to complete the main game. I am, however, really good by now, so I have a buzz well north of 100% and am just about keeping up, which nets you more than 200 customers per day. Around the time I complete the two remaining Extreme Difficulty achievements, I should have that one too. The hard part will be getting a perfect day once I can have six items on my menu. I can almost keep up with 4, and those are probably the 4 easiest. I think I need to intentionally tank one day to get a big buzz penalty, then I should be able to ace it in a time or two.

Oddly, I am well past 10,000 customers and have yet to see a robbery. The security upgrade must really work. To get that last achievement, I will either need to keep pushing in Extreme Mode (ouch) or start a new game, not buying the security upgrade and hoping someone tries to rob me. “Too few robberies” is not a problem I expected to have. Hey, robbers, my restaurant in the main game has about $100,000 lying around because I kept playing long after having bought everything. Take my money, please.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is scheduled for next year and available for your Steam wishlist. I hope it lives up to the original; I fear that it will get unnecessary complexity that detracts from its elegance.

: Zubon

Cleaning Out

I have been gradually cleaning out my basement, where boxes and files can sit quietly for years. I keep looking at old things and papers and thinking, “This must have been precious once.” I spent a couple hours digging through an old hard drive for anything worth salvaging. Ah, memories. I am right now going through old CDs, boxes, and manuals. Some old friends never to be seen again:

  • Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty
  • Asheron’s Call 2
  • City of Heroes
  • Dark Age of Camelot

I am still debating some old single player games. I have Bioware’s 2002 Neverwinter Nights, complete in the original box with the 200+ page manual and cloth map. Planescape Torment, I somehow have still never played that. My copy of WarCraft III came with guide books, those can go. (There are still game guides for sale in this internet era, my my. I don’t even buy physical disks for my games these days.)

I did keep the fold-out maps/keyboard controls for AC and DAoC. Some memories I need to keep.

: Zubon

Pantheon Wars: The Fall of Ra

Tesh, your friend and mine, is planning to launch the game he made next year. It is called Pantheon Wars: The Fall of Ra, and it is “an area placement game based on an alternate Earth history scarred by wars between different deities and demigods.” He has a print and play version online if anyone would like to be a late beta tester before it reaches its final version.

: Zubon

Greenland

I have been playing Plague Inc.: Evolved, which is pretty good, if a bit formulaic across the diseases in a way that makes differences seem like inconsistencies rather than variety.

Greenland, though. Man, Greenland. Greenland is the Madagascar of this game.

: Zubon

I can recommend the PC version. I do not recommend the mobile version, which is a bit heavily ad-ware, although maybe that goes away if you give them a dollar? There were too many screens asking me for money to skip things.

The Stanley Parable

I played The Stanley Parable, but “played” feels somehow both wrong and perfect. It is closer to an interactive story than a game as such, but unusually for that genre it has a branching story tree — a “choose your own adventure” walking simulator. It is also a deconstruction of games in ways that I will avoid spoiling, but the comments section is fair game for all spoilers.

I will note that even the achievements are deconstructions. Three of the achievements are meta-commentary on achievements, one of which is literally “unachievable.” One achievement is to leave the game running for all of a Tuesday, another to log off and not come back for five years. 7% of players have that one on a game that has been out for less than five years, and 4% have the literally unachievable achievement, so I am wondering if cheating on those is meta-meta-achievement commentary. But for some reason only 1% of players have “leave the game on for an entire Tuesday,” despite that being something you can do AFK.

: Zubon

Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest

I have been playing a bit of M:tG-PQ (punctuation adventure). Puzzle Quest is basically good match-3 gameplay, even the version drowned in F2P2W, and this is another entertaining implementation. Matching gets you mana, mana summons monsters or casts spells, knock out your opponent to win. Pretty standard.

It is more Magic-themed than an implementation of magic. The five colors of mana exist, and they influence what spells go with your planeswalker and how much mana you get for matches. Any mana powers your cards, you just get more for certain colors. Planeswalker abilities exist, enchantments go on gems and last until they are matched X times, and some monsters block but most just attack your opponent. The elements that are borrowed from Magic seems fairly deft.

It is a F2P game. It is hard to fault something card game-based for selling cards. That seems almost entirely in the RMT currency, with the free currency being used to level up planeswalkers. I have no idea what level of P2W exists in the (standard asynchronous) PvP world there; I do not expect to play that far.

One of my main impressions is how random the game is, between cards and gems. I have several times lost a fight, restarted it, and won it without taking damage. Some games I cannot summon a monster, others I completely control the board, even when that “other” is against the same opponent. Maybe that goes down at higher levels, when higher hit points and better customization options mean it averages out, but then maybe you just get bigger, faster snowballs at higher levels. I do not expect to play that far.

Briefly entertaining, and a good commercial idea, but I cannot say that I can recommend it strongly.

: Zubon

Thanks to AEG Customer Service

Obviously everyone knows I like board games, but one of my favorite things about the hobby has always been how good the industry treats its customers. In a world where most companies are looking to take you for as much as they can, board game companies almost universally have great customer service despite the fact that a lot of times they are not making a lot of money per unit sold. They’ll replace missing pieces, cards, etc, often at no cost because they want you to enjoy their product and continue to enjoy their product.
— Haen, gamer

I picked up a Smash Up box at Gen Con. It was missing a card. I e-mailed AEG customer service, and they sent me the card.

That is not much of a story. It rarely is when things work properly. Customer service worked well, and now I have a full set rather than saying, “Pretend this card is a Collector.”

: Zubon

Flavor of the Month: Tastes Like Burning

Spellstone is still rolling as my current online card game. For some reason I always have one going. “Flavor of the month” is part of its design with “battleground effects.” Battleground effects last two months, and they give a boost to all cards from a particular race, faction, whatever. This is a not-horrible way to keep decks changing and to encourage people to spend money on new cards and upgrading cards. Unsurprisingly, the cash shop cards follow the flavor of the month, including introducing new high-end cards for that faction.

This month is an elemental defensive effect: elementals get a flaming aura based on their hit points, and anyone attacking them gets set on fire. “Scorch” burns out after two turns, except that if you get a new source of scorch it stacks and starts the two-turn counter over. All elementals have a scorch aura for two months, and a fair number of creatures have a scorch effect on their attack.

There is an event every weekend, usually an asynchronous PvP tournament. NPCs do not change their decks to follow the flavor of the month, but players do, and this is the first time to fight a large number of players who have switched over to elementals. PvP this month is just running around shouting, “my frogs are on fire and my dragon is on fire and the fire is on fire and everything is burning, aaaugh!”

: Zubon