As you might know by now, LucasArts has been shut down.
I’m not gonna go into the specifics. You can read those in the link above or elsewhere around the net. I’m also not gonna chastise Disney about what they do or don’t with their stuff just to score brownie points with my inner sense of nostalgia.
I just think it’s very hard to be a gamer with some amount of years behind you and not have come in contact with any of LucasArts’ productions. Whether you enjoyed them or not, they were always part of the landscape over the years. Always there.
Myself, I’m pouring a forty because of TIE Fighter, which I abused for many years, as well as the delightfully off the wall Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders(*) and the several Monkey Islands. Those are mine. If you have your own bottle to add to the pouring, feel free. Comments are all yours.
I wish all those devs affected negatively by these news my sympathies and wishes for an immediate recovery. And if there were any old guns still hanging around…. o7.
(*) Yes, I’m showing my age.
Use tools like boards and springs to guide a little girl through uneven terrain with dangerous bugs.
Lucidity was part of Steam’s Swedish Indie Pack, and I thought I would try it despite the Metacritic reviews. This was a mistake. It never became fun in the first half-hour, which is about as much benefit of the doubt as I could spare it.
You are guiding your one lemming through the level. Instead of working from a limited pool of resources, which usually gives you a lot of information about how to solve the puzzle, you get an endless stream of tools randomly generated from a small pool. An early level might have just one or two, but that grows. Avoid the enemies, walk through the fireflies, reach the end of the level.
I presume that some levels have actual puzzles, and collecting every firefly would involve some creativity. Just getting through the levels: dodge the bugs, span the gaps, and you’re done. That is occasionally frantic when the pieces that come up are not optimal, but that seems to be the whole of it. There are reportedly a few hours of gameplay, probably a few more if you want to get 100%.
The art is lovely and the music is gentle. The text snippets at the end of each level seem appropriate to the setting but irrelevant to everything else. Maybe they build to something if you get more of them.
The lack of atrophy is a virtue of online gaming’s illusion of permanence. While enemies may respawn in a few seconds, the ratchet only goes one way on character and story advancement. You need not hit the gym to keep your points in strength from fading. Your house never gets dirty, and maintenance of everything you own is streamlined to a few clicks. You can wear the same clothes continuously for months, and you never need to iron the cloth armor in your vault. Your armor is always shiny and your sword is always on fire. Cooking and eating are optional, and the thousand stuffed cabbages in your backpack never rot.
Monsters and dungeons more closely resemble your floors and bathrooms. You can clean them out entirely, but you’ll need to do it again the next time you look.
I’ve been playing the Warframe open beta (available on Steam). Out of a weird impulse I decided to try it and I’ve been pleasantly surprised, despite these games not being my usual cup of tea.
The elevator pitch: Warframe is a third-person shooter in which space ninjas in configurable, upgradeable combat armors (the ‘warframes’) battle against enemy armies throughout the solar system using configurable, upgradeable weapons.
Yes, I know. But I can tell you there’s actually a good amount of gold in them thar hills. The action is always satisfying and fast (well, bordering on twitchy at times), combat is rewarding, feeling like a cross in spirit between Assassin’ Creed and Mass Effect and the visuals are just plain pretty. The spine of the game, that being the place where people like us get our addiction to progression satisfied, comes of course from the above mentioned upgradeability and customization of the different warframes, weapons and skills. The modding system used for this is not immediately intuitive but works when you pay attention to it.
It’s not all roses, of course. The play areas do feel repetitive after a while and there are issues with player guidance through these maps as well as with enemy spawning. The overall difficulty could use some tuning as well and progression seems to advance at a snail’s pace. However, this is still in beta so kinks are to be expected.
I felt Warframe, in its curent state, works admirably well in delivering high amounts of very satisfying fun in small chunks or play sessions. There comes a point where the inherent repetitiveness gets to you and the game spends little effort in trying to camouflage this sameness. Then it’s time to put it down for a while and do something else. But until then, it’s gorgeous and fantastic.
Verdict: Yes, definitely give it a spin. It’s free, supported by microtransactions for unnecessary stuff.
Yesterday we discussed the tendency of a new option to expand to all potential uses. Facebook was a digital whiteboard but now you use it to share family pictures and invite people to events. I want to discuss the failure to expand in two ways.
“The gimmick” is when it does not proliferate. They tried it once, it failed to spread, and it became quietly ignored outside its home. The blade itself is lost in the back of a drawer. In MMO-land, this is usually update- or expansion-specific, the neat new idea that never went anywhere. Will LotRO have mounted combat outside Rohan? You go through a zone and need to learn a new mechanic, but you will never need that mechanic again. Sometimes that is intentional, to give each zone its own gimmick.
“The forced feature” is when it proliferates but reluctantly and only by including it whether it makes sense or not. Developers may not have a use for it, but management said that it goes in everything. The Wiimote comes to mind: it may not make any sense for the game to involve wiggling the controller, but the Wii was sold around its innovative controller, and the games must justify it. Maybe every dungeon must have a physics puzzle or use the conversation mechanic or include a trap or have a secret door with a bonus treasure behind it. You learn to recognize when you have reached The Obligatory X Scene
These two go together really nicely. In the new expansion set, every single thing must incorporate the forced feature, and then it will not be seen again until someone uses the gimmick five years later in one boss fight as an intentional callback.
If you have better terms than “gimmick” and “forced feature,” comments are open.
The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.
— Homer, The Odyssey, although I cannot find a translation online that uses that exact phrasing.
It is not a slippery slope argument to say, “Developing the capacity to X makes X much more likely.” Beyond the tautology that you cannot do X if you cannot do X, we find that humans are more likely to pursue options that are readily available. Once you have the ability to do something, you start finding occasions for it. This is a driver of progress and source of anguish.
[Warning: there are some TV Tropes links in here.]
I have confessed to contributing to self-fulfilling prophecies: if you do not commit to something/one because s/he/it may not be around for long, s/he/it probably will not be around for long. So how do you invest yourself in something when the producers have a left a wake of unfinished and canceled projects?
I’ve been re-introducing myself to The Secret World since their Issue 6 update. I have been burning through the Savage Coast with righteous fury following some build I didn’t understand. Understanding builds are critical in The Secret World because the game is difficult enough that it will punish players with slapdash loadouts.
I personally hate making builds in any game. I don’t mind tweaking them, but I am just not of the build-making mentality. So after feeling that I liked blood magic in the pick-a-weapon area, I found what I thought was a decent build for that based on affliction/penetration. It sucks. It doesn’t feel right, and I did more digging and… Continue reading
About a decade into the MMO genre, we have started seriously discussing MMO tourism and have settled on the idiom of a “three-monther,” which implies how long you will stick with that game. Of course, as in most online game blogging, Jessica Mulligan wrote about it years ago in Biting the Hand: the four-month point was where games either died or took off. I am wondering about Sturgeon’s Revelation: a game you can happily play for years is an outlier, and most games you play for a few months then move on.
My college gamer friends almost perfectly followed that pattern. Single-player games you typically played through once and put away, and multiplayer games lasted almost exactly three months. An expansion pack could buy you another three months, so there were two three-month stretches for the original StarCraft. Asheron’s Call? Three months. Several Age of Empires games? Three months each. I think one of the Monster Rancher games was stretched to three months as people experimented with builds, strategies, and CDs that yielded special monsters. Our group skewed RTS, but I think that speaks to the consistency of the time frame.
The longest lasting game was Settlers of Catan. That never gets old, even with multiple games per night: extreme outlier. We played some pen and paper games. How often did we shake up campaigns or change game masters? Every three months or so.
The structure of American academic life lends itself towards that, and the large number of student gamers contributes to trends. Semesters last about four months, so you have a couple weeks to settle in, your group plays, and then you have a large break for exams and vacation. It is a natural stopping point; your momentum is spent, so switching to something new is easier. If you are not a student, you might be a parent to students, and their schedules affect yours. If neither, there is probably still some seasonal variability to your life, peaks of business or of outdoor activity. Our planet is conducive to three-monthers.
It was not a good morning to wake up to news that an online tool I rely on every day was being put to rest a few days before my birthday. On July 1st, Google Reader is going to be shut down. Syp and the commentators at Bio Break already have said everything I could, but I feel the need to echo it in some sense.
I rely on this integrated tool. Yes, I realize there are decent alternatives, but I have used Reader as part of my Google suite of tools. I have amazing brand loyalty because of these tools. I feel Google is harming this brand far more by shutting this down and pissing off many internet vocal people rather than jut getting some menial data and keeping Reader open.
I guess I have a few months to find a better RSS home.