State of the Game: Revival

Here were are again, we have come full circle. I started a weekly column called ‘The State of the Game” last fall because as a long term blogger, I had hit some road blocks. Over the course of the years I had periods of inactivity but I was never willing to let this blog die. This column was a tool I used to get me on track, having a set day every week where I would do a round-up post of the games I’d be playing among other various updates. It served its purpose, in that it got me back to writing regularly, and I even started posting more than just that once a week that I held myself to. After several months, my blog was back to life and I felt that I didn’t need the weekly round up anymore. Part of this reasoning was due to the fact that I was posting several times a week; as a result the round-up posts felt like I was rehashing the same content. I didn’t want to let go of round-up posts, but I didn’t want to be struggling to fill them. I thought it would be better to drop the scheduled column and just write round-up posts when they made sense (as filler between more dedicated posts). Bullet time was born of this though process, but I think because I no longer had a schedule to adhere to, it was easily forgotten. Also, I chose to use a bullet list format, and that is somewhat limiting. As such, I am reviving The State of the Game, though this time around I’m dropping “the” off of the title. I’ll probably keep to the numbered order, or I might do individual titles like this one. I am also going to aim for posting the round up on the weekend, as that makes more sense. Due to the fact that I felt the need to do this introduction, and because I haven’t done a round-up since the beginning of this month, be aware that this post will be lengthy. I’ll try to keep it concise.

May has been a crazy month. With the Newbie Blogger Initiative in full swing, many different gaming opportunities have arisen, along with writing challenges as well. Here’s a small recap of things you may have missed:

You’d think I wouldn’t have time for much else, but in fact there are quite a few gaming experiences that I haven’t blogged about, for whatever reason. Recently a new game called Transistor released, from the same developer as the game Bastion. No, I didn’t get a copy of Transistor (yet) but I did end up with a copy of Bastion via my brother-in-law. He got it through a Humble Bundle purchase a while back, and I had tried to run it on my laptop a few months ago, and it didn’t run all that great. Yes, that laptop is a piece of shit. Seeing as how I’ve had access to a better computer for a couple of months, and because Transistor released, I was reminded that I wanted to play Bastion. It runs great on this computer, and I am pleased to say that it’s a great game! I’m not sure how long it is, but I’ve already gone through quite a few levels. Reportedly Transistor is a short game, so I’m not expecting Bastion to last much longer. Still, I love the graphical style, I was pleased to see that the game has full controller support, and as action RPGs go it’s one of the best. The story line is a little skimpy, but intriguing enough. The combat is fun and twitchy which I enjoy, and the narration is hilarious. I’m smashing crates looking for loot, and the voice is like “Kid just rages for a bit.” Seriously, everything you do is narrated, and it’s very entertaining. I’m sure I’ll blow through this one quickly enough, and I look forward to getting Transistor in the future.

Another new game in my library is The Binding of Issac. Another Rogue-like; I can’t seem to get enough of this genre. I love the way that you can simply play for a few minutes or a few hours and though you might die many a time, the game is still fun. The thought of never really having to finish these types of games to get your money’s worth is awesome, and I’m drawn more and more to this genre and arcade style games. Not only do they remind me of my childhood, but also of a simpler time where you played a game and didn’t necessarily complete it. I was gifted this game a while ago when it and its expansion were on sale for $1.50. BoI is different from other Rogue-likes that I’ve played recently because it plays more like The Legend of Zelda. The graphical style is cartoon-y, and disturbing. The story-line is anti-religious, and that also sits well with me, being a non-religious person. Also, instead of being turn based, it is action packed. You “shoot” your tears at the enemies, and there are various power ups you’ll pick up along the way that make you more powerful. I actually have a longer Rogue-like post in the works, so I won’t go any further into this one.

The ever amazing J3w3l has been running another ongoing event for the NBI, a series of games on Kongregate. High scores determined the winners each week, and though it doesn’t look like I’ll be the best at any of them, I’ve still tried. Flash games are not something I usually play, but some of these that she picked were pretty fun time-wasters. The first week’s game was “Pixel Purge,” and that game was right up my alley. A simplistic space shooter with upgrades, I thought I did pretty well with my very first attempt:

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That score was trumped almost immediately. I played it a few more times but never came close. The second week of the event, the game wasn’t one that I was fond of. I don’t remember the name off hand, but it had to do with collecting music notes and meh. Just meh. This week we’ve been playing in the “Dojo of Death,” and man I love this game. I thought for sure I was going to win this one, but I have since given up on the idea. My first high score was in the 60k range. My next was around 80k. Finally, I got to this level:

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That seemed amazing, until someone more than doubled it. I was spent. I still play it here and there but I doubt I’ll be able to top the 300k mark. I’m looking forward to seeing what next week’s game will be.

I’ve been playing my usual standbys just about as much. Hearthstone has become a little tedious, and I’m basically letting dailies pile up and then doing them all at once. From there, playing arena matches. For a time the arena was driving me nuts, I simply couldn’t get more than a win or two. I seem to have cracked that code though, as my last several runs have been 5+ wins, which really ramps up the reward. When I completed a new personal best run of 9 wins, the reward was a pack + 270 gold. Needless to say, if you do well enough, you can skip the normal/ranked play and just do arena runs, which also count towards your quests. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last week, although I’m down to no gold again, and haven’t gotten past 9 wins either.

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My interest in League of Legends has been renewed since the NBI event, and I’ve been playing more ARAM mostly. I’ve also taken J3w3l under my wing and had several matches with her, my brother-in-law, and other NBI peeps. I’m hoping that I can keep them interested so we can continue to play semi-regularly. Everything is more fun with friends. My bro picked up the newest champion, Braum, and is loving him. We hadn’t played together in months, but he participated in my NBI event, and has come back to the game. I introduced him to the Team Builder mode (it was also my first time with it since it was in beta), and it was nice to be able to choose to lane together. He was always my support when I played nothing but ADCs, and so naturally he wanted to try out his new character (who also happens to be a support). The game was epic. We actually should have lost because our mid laner decided to afk for about half the match, but we dominated our lane and so did our top laner, so by the time mid came back, we were well ahead. The surrender came before we actually finished the match. I am currently sitting on a pile of IP that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with. I usually main support when playing Classic, so I’m thinking of just waiting til I have 6300 to get Braum. We’ll see.

I’ve had a bit of time off from Civilization V, although I still have a game in progress. I had started a new game as Japan, and I have grown my empire to encompass most of the island that I started on. I’m nearing modern times, and of course I’m going on the world conquering path, because I love combat. It’s been a while since I played that game, but here’s what my empire looks like right now:

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Those pesky Ottomans in the bottom right corner have got to go.

I’ve been itching to try the multiplayer aspect of the game for a while now, and talk of that went around the NBI forums with little results. One day I caught Doone on Steam and we gave it a go. Another blogger, Maligma (who was also part of my LoL night) joined in. Doone set up the game and made the decision to use a turn timer, along with a limit of 100 turns, so the game was short and sweet, but it left much to be desired. We advanced along typical paths, but no wars were started, we didn’t do any diplomatic stuff, really it was kind of a waste of time. But, it was a great way to test out multiplayer. We all agreed that having a timer was a bad idea because towards the end of the game we weren’t able to properly control all of our units. It was also decided that future games wouldn’t have a turn limit. I can see where it can be a great multi-session game, and I look forward to getting into it again soon. Here’s what the map looked like just prior to turn 100:

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I was Germany (grey) and I don’t remember who Maligma was, but she was the red area. We never saw Doone, he was presumably somewhere to the south. The blue bits are Napoleon, who was spreading like a disease, and who ended up winning in the end. Fuck that short bastard.

On the Playstation side of things, I haven’t done a whole lot. I have been playing Awesomenauts here and there with my roommate (along with playing solo on Steam, having only played enough to check out the newer champions that have been released recently). Otherwise, just checking out free stuff that has come from Playstation Plus. Skullgirls is a 2-D fighting game that’s a fun little time waster. I’d compare it to Street Fighter in terms of controls, but it’s more like Darkstalkers in character design. It’s probably something women would be irritated by, as the women are mostly busty and scantily clad, but there’s only one male character I’ve seen so far, so perhaps that’s a nice offset. It’s fun but nothing overly innovative. This week the new game was Puppeteer, which I had read good things about, but it’s kind of meh. Graphically it reminds me of Little Big Planet, but aside from being a platformer it doesn’t play much like LBP. The gist is you are a boy turned into a puppet and the game plays as if you are on a stage in a puppet show. There’s a whole whimsical tale about it, but it’s still just a platformer when it comes down to it. Castle of Illusion is better, in my mind. Still, these are jump in and waste some time kinds of games, so in that respect they have their place.

Finally, on the Horizon: I started my play-through of Shadowrun Returns and I intend to see that to its end. The 4th episode of The Wolf Among Us releases on Tuesday, so I’ll promptly blow through that and make the obligatory post. I intend to gain access to Nuclear Throne within the next week, because it’s a Rogue-like from a company whose games I already enjoy (Vlambeer). I’ve been watching videos of the game and it really looks like a blast. I will also be continuing to play Rift, as it is my MMO of choice for the time being. Last but not least, J3w3l has hosted a Terraria server and was nice enough to gift me a copy of the game, as she had a spare copy on hand (presumably from a 4-pack steam deal). I had mentioned playing it in the past on my PS3, but from the little I’ve looked at it, it appears to be another case of the PC version of the game is better. I never really got anywhere on the PS3 version because it was kind of boring to play solo, and none of my friends had the game. Via the NBI group, it appears that problem will be solved this weekend.

Sorry for the length of this post, but there was a lot to cover. Further editions of State of the Game will be back to their usual length. See you next weekend!

#roundup #stateofthegame #multigaming