Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Geek Moments

Ramblings Post #50
Every now and then, I geek out. I get into a Star Wars argument about story elements or rebel strategy, want to talk about holes in Star Trek story lines or go off on X-men, Spiderman or Batman tangents. If you have never caught yourself discussing the meaning of the gender roles in the New Battlestar Galactica, you have no idea what I'm talking about. And since I started messing with computers back when you had to bring your own DOS ( it's what makes the system work for you kiddies ), I get geeky about computers too.

I don't play a lot of video games because I don't have the time.

I bought the last Grand Theft Auto because I needed something to fill the time during Christmas break. It was enjoyable until you figured out it was really a large puzzle and not the sprawling free form do whatever game concept that online journalists touted. The two or three "decisions" merely added a tint to the already set color of the game.

From the Legend Series #5
By Patrick Brown

And so oddly when I do play a game over and over, the ones I play are sometimes years old.

For instance one of my favorite games is a little gem called Tropico. It must be a decade old, but the concept was simple. You're a ruler in charge of little island nation...go forth. Sure they have a few basic scenarios, such as get elected for 30 years without ballot stuffing, or build a tourist economy... but if you wanted they would just lean back and let you go forth. You could be the ruthless dictator keeping wages low while appeasing your pet faction, or you could be the happy ruler making sure everyone was well taken care of. Over the course of the game you could watch a child born, grow, take on a job, go back to school and start a family of their own. You could also bribe political rivals and build a police state that had to fight off insurgent attacks.

I shudder to think what this game could have been, or could be if someone put a little effort into an update. The game lacked a bit in that you had to build every structure yourself, and their were never any cars or trucks to speed up the process. A little more diversity of structures would have been nice too, but still...keeping a populace happy while trying to sell cigars and keep the Russians at bay and the religious faction happy is hard enough just the way it is. The update was introduce a pirate flair, which reduced the game from a new concept to a system simulator. Genius.

I won't go into how much better Alpha Centauri was compared to the newest iteration of Civilization. Someone needs to remind developers to put the money into the game play and not the graphics on occasion. If the customer isn't buying a shoot'em, you can skimp a little on the graphics, that isn't what they're paying for.

Case in point I purchased Total War: Empire to get through this little lull between summer school and the fall classes, and quickly found that the system requirements were so graphic intensive, the computer I bought last fall will barely play it. Supremely intense a strategy game? What it took to get it loaded on my system aside, passwords and confirmations and all, just getting around to watching the waves undulate on the graphic sea, the smoke float from the plumes, wagon roll, and the little men representing armies marching about brought so much depth (insert sarcasm here). It might have helped a little to include a manual that actually taught you how to play....

Just once I want to see a game that devotes as much to the diplomacy side as the combat side of war.

As it is I won't have time for this nonsense in a matter of days as school looms. And I need to re-apply myself with a vengeance if on the other end of this process I'd like to be able to say I went to law school. I mean even now I can say I went, but I'd kinda like a degree on the other side. Ya' know.

So the games mostly suck because the designers are pushing the graphic element above game play, Han shot first, Grand Theft Auto games are really just big puzzles where you get to shoot, you don't need great visuals if you got a great game. Is that everything?

Barkeep. I need something to give me 50 manna points, the evil Lord Hukka's men approach! Huzzah!

No comments: