And when people are political, they are machines–ruthless, uncompromising, even blind. And our political nature can undermine our attempts at heroism.
*** SPOILER WARNING ***
So, I finished Ex Machina #50 and, thus, the series. And by the last page, I realized how well it works as the story of one man, of human nature, of politics, of hero worship, and of a society, specifically America. At the risk of trivializing the story, it shows how good people are corrupted by their intentions, as good as they might be. There’s no external machine or system that is responsible for the evil that people do. Sure, conditions can make evil more likely, but in the end, that turn begins and ends with each of us.
The main character Mitch Hundred has the ‘right stuff’ to be a hero, which is what he wants. He even saves the universe from an invasion from a parallel dimension. But, in motivations that ring so very real of many in America, he develops a palatable fear of that which he saved the world from. It dogs him in sleepless nights, to the point that he will do what is necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen. Vaughan exposes to a vice of heroes–not an obsession with the limelight but with the obsession of saving us. On a much smaller scale, I liken it to people who feel that the company depends on them and without their working crazy hours, the project would fail. Outwardly, this is noble, virtuous act, but, for the corruption of the person’s sensibilities and even guilt, it’s vicious.
I don’t think Brian K. Vaughan is simply condemning heroes/America/politics. He is condemning the seed of what corrupts our good hearts and intentions, a lesson that has been made so childlishly clear in a movie series called Star Wars. Fear. And difficult to practice are the simple lessons.
At first, I thought this last issue suffered from a rushed change of character. Where was the buildup to his corruption? Where was the foreshadowing? Then, I realized . . . that’s our expectations of a story, but life is not, in truth, a story. Hundred had ambition to help others. At first, he did so by becoming a super hero called the Great Machine. Then, he did it by becoming non-ideological, pragmatic politician. This isn’t a man corrupted by politics, as something outside himself. He is a man corrupted by his fear, by himself, by his political nature. Hundred realizes this:
When I turned forty last year, all I could think was, maybe I’ve live too long. I mean, there’s a reason most of the people we admire died young . . . they never got a chance to fuck everything up. Maybe there’s a world where I . . . . died doing good for the people I love. But that’s not the world we live in, is it?
We see the seed of his willingness to do whatever was needed to achieve his goal, as a reporter discovered how Hundred used his powers to get elected. Still, as wrong as that is, it is not evil. We see the rapid conversion to evil, instead, because he develops a consuming fear.
Vaughan has a few somewhat humorous points, often at what would seem the darkest moments. It’s not bad writing but purposeful, showing how incongruously people can act and talk, how we can be somewhat likable as we’re doing bad things.
As America deals with lies and phony issues about ground zero mosques, death panels, sharia law in America, the terror of socialist black men, I found this comic relevant and too real. The surpise twist seems to beg us to see how John McCain might have acted heroically at one time but now has succumbed to fear mongering and lying, hardly a hero to anyone. And, yes, for any conservatives reading, Vaughan doesn’t let Obama escape this criticism either.
My mother has a saying, one she’s been forced to adopt sadly because of things some of her children and grandchildren have done–you don’t hate the person, just the things they’ve done. Likewise, I don’t think Vaughan is cynical about heroism, but that we have to love the hero acts and not assume the hero is always a hero. A hero is fixed in a time and place, not some quality that necessarily existed before, like some latent ability.
What makes this issue and Hundred’s fall painful to read is that I had expectations, that Hundred was and is a hero. He saved a universe. And he would go to do great things. But like my country, like our leaders, I have found my expectation, my perceived rightful expectation, frustrated and wrong.
I have a Starcraft 2 story, one of a youthful lad, his female companion, and a magical three-legged cat . . . no, wait, that’s not right. Ah, it’s a story of game balance, wonderful game balance. By the time our game was over, we had played for 1 hours and 22 minutes in which we came back from certain defeat, as summarized in the map below.
A map of our comeback victory
balance in games means that they can have a certain unpredictability while not being wildly unpredictable, possibly the kind of game that goes back and forth. that means you can feel like you’re doing well one minute and feel certain of loss the next. and if the balance is really good, it works for almost any skill level. advanced civilization would be my touchstone for a balanced game because a player in last place can leap ahead, thanks to the game’s mechanics, such as calamities, or to the decisions that other players make which give you an opportunity. [while i prefer the board game, you can check out the pc game at abandonia.]
For some background, I don’t play a lot of RTS games and never really played Starcraft, but my brother and nephew played it a lot over the years. I picked up Starcraft 2 mainly to have something else to play with them. I’ve played 5% of the single-player campaign and maybe 5 melee games against AI opponents. I’ve focused on the Protoss race so that I can learn them really well, reading a few articles with tips and strategies–although I have a handle on them, I still don’t know all the different units that well. Like most beginner of strategy games, I have a basic plan–build some basic infantry for protection, create 8-10 colossus, build 4 Void Rays, and then attack. It’s been a good plan against Terran enemies so far.
Last night, my brother and I played as Terrans and Protoss, taking on 2 AI enemies. The good thing about Starcraft 2 to help with balance is that you have two ways to configure the AI, as shown in this figure.
Set how hard the AI is.
Set the handicap, which reduces the hitpoints for units and buildings.
Also, you can set the game speed, which can adjust the game to the player’s skill. So, we played at normal speed against 2 Zerg AIs, one set to medium and the other to easy with no reduction in hitpoints.
My brother and I perhaps too defensive in our gameplay, but we were doing well for quite a while. I had expanded to 3 bases and build a good army of 4 colossus, 15 zealots, 2 Void Rays, close to my goal for an attack. I was in the middle position on the map, which I thought was weak because there were three ramps up to my first base, giving me different positions to defend. We suffered about 3 attacks but beat them back, with increasing casualties each time. My brother’s marines helped the third attack from wiping out my main base, where they managed to take out my first Nexus. Still, I had two others and managed to rebuild my forces. But I was concerned–their mutalisk units seemed to do a lot of damage. I wasn’t sure what was the best counter. Then, as I built back, they sent a small attack at my brother while the largest attack so far in the game came around my backside.
It was a devastating attack, both on my morale and units. My entire first base was destroyed. My second and third Nexus buildings were destroyed, as well as most of my production buildings. Worst, my workers were destroyed while trying to escape. That meant that I could gather no more materials and I had no way to create any other building. My brother and remaining forces finally destroyed the Zerg attack, however. He lost his entire second base, and I lost my primary base and most of my second and third bases. I decided to build what I could with my remaining resources, but a lack of vespen gas meant that I would not build very powerful units. I managed to get out a couple more more powerful units, the rest I spent on creating Zealot grunts.
This about 40-45 minutes in the game, and I was left with this for an army:
2 Immortals (one of which was probably half health)
It was a far cry from the army I had at one point, and further from my goal. I felt utterly defeated. My brother had a similar force, though he had a couple of medic units, about 4-5 aircraft, and upgraded marines. The computer then attacked us again with a much smaller force, but it had a demoralizing effect. I then told him it was time to go down in glory like in a Sam Peckinpah movie. Though he was reluctant, wanting to try to rebuild, I told him that I couldn’t build or gather anymore and that we were at our strongest for the rest of the game. So, we left in unison, going for the base that we thought was the weakest.
It was a path that skirted their main force, but we hit the weaker player’s main base. At that time, player 4 had not created a second base. We then moved to Player 3′s base 4, as shown in the map above.
At this point, our confidence surged because we did, in fact, attack at the right time–the AI had sent a lot of their forces in the three recent attacks. We briefly debated what to do next, but we decide to charge the main base, again with the idea that we were at our strongest. We had lost few units but several were weakened. And we pulled off a destruction of their strongest base. It was a costly campaign thus far, with my losing 2 Void Rays, both Phoenix units, 1 Immortal, 5 zealots. My brother had similar casualties so that we were probably at 40-50% of our original force. At this point, we stopped to heal, though I was nervous about the remaining bases gathering forces. But we healed our strongest units and then moved on.
afterwards, we lost few units and pulled off what I thought was a great comeback, one of the best game experiences I’ve had in a long time. In the graph of the game, my resource gathering was trending upwards for half the game and then dropped to zero. Player 3 and 4 were flat in resource gathering until the very end, whereas my brother and I had a pretty sharp increase in the first half. But at the point where we lost bases and my ability to gather and build, even the graph showed a game that seemed over with. The unit graph, though, showed a slightly different story, one that gave us a chance with our last ditch attack.
Starcraft 2 might not have many features of other RTS games, but I think the balance in the game makes up for much of that. Without a doubt, this one experience has sucked me into the game.
One way of looking at gaming is where it occurs. The mapping of gaming at our house at different times tells a story about our family, about roles and embedded rules and boundaries. It’s not a particularly unusual and even interesting story to any one other than me. But I find the effort to make the map and tell the story interesting.
I’ll assume a simple definition of gaming–places where we play computer, board or card games. I was tempted to look at it with Edward Soja’s work on spaces or Denis Wood’s work on maps, but I think that type of analysis works at a larger cultural level. But it’s at the back of my mind because 1] a family has its own micro-culture and 2] the larger culture is still in play in our homes. A home, even before we move into it, has its own map–a dining room, living room, bedrooms–and we have ideas what goes on in those rooms and who does it, ideas often formed by our culture. For example, when we were looking at houses, our agent constantly tried to direct my wife’s attention to the kitchen, even I do probably the majority of the cooking, especially then. Even though we explained that I’d have a much greater interest in the kitchen, the agent [a woman] continued to call my wife to the kitchen in each house.
Gaming Before kids
The first map shows the gaming spaces in our house before we had kids. Our computers were in separate rooms, and my wife played computer games though rarely. We played several board games between ourselves and with friends at the dining table. The significant point is that little of our common space was used for gaming, and the primary game spaces were separate from each other. These computers notably faced the wall so that the gamer’s back was to the rest of the room. We didn’t own a game console at this time.
The game spaces reflect our marriage at the time–having married in our mid 30s, we still needed and pursued our individual interests, but we made time to come together. You can almost see that in the map as the place where we played games together was between where we gamed separately.
Game spaces before kids
Some parts of the house were undefined in that they had little or no purpose, except as maybe storage. The common game area was meaningful in that it’s one area where we developed our relationship as a couple. Even though I can’t say that we developed our roles through gaming significantly, I think our playing games together reinforced our relationship as one of equals.
Gaming In my childhood home
This is a map of gaming in the house where I grew up. [I grew up in several houses, but this one differs little from the others.] It’s similar to our pre-kids home in that there is little game space, and little of it in a common area. For the most part, we gamed in our rooms–on the bed, floor or desk. I didn’t have computer or video games growing up, although I graduated high school in 1982. Besides not being a wealthy family [I didn't dream of asking my parents for a video console], I was more into playing sports and reading. In later years, when I was in college and met the family for the holidays, we did play games at the dining table–card games mostly but also some traditional board games. Our kitchen, dining area, and living room were almost one room, broken up by visual dividers, such as a sofa splitting the areas.
The kitchen and dining area was always the focus of our houses growing up for many reasons, and our holiday gaming emphasized it all the more. It was loud and the center of activity. Players changed seats, new ones joining as other took breaks. Although my parents didn’t play much, they did come over and watch and talk with those who played. At that time, I developed a love for gaming because it felt good, a way to interact with family. In a sense, gaming removed the familial roles because in a game, everyone plays as equals. And as most adults find, it’s hard for their parents to allow them to grow up. For me, gaming was a way to do that. For example, my mother tends to ‘mother’ me because I’m the youngest, usually by telling me what to do although I know what needs to be done. It’s can be very irritating, as you might imagine. But when the family played games, she was no longer telling me what to do. The games wouldn’t allow her to do that.
So, although the game space here looks similar to what my wife and I had, it was much different because of how it changed roles among parents, siblings, and children.
Games spaces in my parents' home
What does our house look like now when mapped with gaming? Significantly different than before. Because my wife and I now work at home more frequently, I’ve included those spaces as well. I’ve also included the more common areas we play portable games–my wife on her iPhone, the kids and me on the DS.
Games spaces after kids
Unlike pre-kids when my wife and I were more isolated in our individual gaming, no one really games alone, even if on the DS because someone is going to ask what you are doing or even sit beside you to watch or help. That doesn’t mean no has privacy because we believe that if you ask for it, you should be able to have it. It’s that no one really asks for the privacy or complains.
I rarely play PC games anymore for many reasons, but one is that when I played PC games, I was cut off from the family. My wife commented on it, feeling that I was literally and figuratively turning my back on the family. I gave up gaming for a while, but realized that I enjoyed it too much. I thought a console might be a compromise, so I purchased a PS2 and initially focused on games to play with my son, like Teen Titans. I eventually played my own games, but the difference was significant. My wife can now talk to me while I play, and I can easily pause the game and interact with others. Sometimes, my wife watches and even helps. For a while, she played console games with my son, too.
My first reaction to seeing this map was ‘wow, we play a lot.’ But maps don’t tell time or duration, just a perspective of space over time. I think the map has two significant stories.
Our kids are important to my wife and me, and we spend a lot of time together. And we have so many more game spaces because of the children. The different platforms might seem an obvious reason for the variety, but I think that is secondary to the interests and to the children.
Similarly, the spaces reflect the parenting approach that my wife and I take, which is to foster as much openness and sharing as possible. None of spend much time in our bedrooms. Instead, we play [and work] in open, public places. Not to be critical of other parents, I know that others have a very different approach where children are more encouraged to be alone or, at least, separate from the parents.
As a result, we have a shared interest in gaming, too, a context in which we create and share stories. For example, my son has recently thrown himself into Assassin’s Creed 2, and he has been telling his experiences, even though we have seen and heard them, even if only piecemeal. My son loathes timed quests in games . . . hates them with a passion. But, rather than give up, he persisted until he completed the task. He told the story about himself, how he kept trying different strategies to complete the task and then telling the game’s story as well. Games are a kind of water-color talk for the family.
Another effect is a kind of self-censorship, particularly on my part. Because I primarily play on consoles, I don’t play games that might inappropriate for my kids. Sometimes. I’m not particularly interested in violent games, but I’m interested in some horror games. But when I played Doom 3 on the 360, my son watched and was really unnerved. Now, I could have asked him to go to another room, but I choose to turn it off, to find something in which I could include rather than exclude him. Now, I play Silent Hill – Shattered Dreams only when the kids are not home. I don’t even play it late at night because I don’t want to turn down the sound.
The boundaries are fuzzy as well because so much of the house is public and open for gaming. The kids have their rooms, which my wife and I respect as their areas. But I don’t see a ‘mother’ room or ‘mancave.’ No one establishes a territory. The house space is not gendered [that I can tell], which is again something of a conscious effort. My daughter doesn’t feel excluded from any of these game spaces because games are not treated as a male hobby.
I know that we’re not unique. We know a couple of parents who have a similar home, where parents and children share. We don’t even call the rooms ‘the den’ or ‘living room.’ Instead, we jokingly call them now the ‘Wii room’ or ‘big tv room,’ even the ’360 room.’ But the truth is that it’s a changing map, and, now that I’m aware of it, I’m watching what we do where and how the space affects us.
And with that, I’m going to end here so that I can play some Rock Band with the family . . . wait for me!
Okay, I find this trailer pretty enticing, even though it’s not entirely original.
Yet, where do gamers fit into this story? Are they in the dark future world, or do they play in the pre-Braniac world? Either way, gamers are playing as their own character creations. That might be a strong appeal for RPGs, but comic book games are different. I’ve watched the game trailers for DC Universe Online, and while they look okay, they don’t entice me the way this trailer does. The fact is that I want to play that story setup, not whomp on some thugs to gain control of my powers.
I think moreso than normal action or role playing games, MMOs are repetitive, which is a fault of the genre although some MMOs make that repetition fun. But, as noted before, comic book games suffer even more than most games from repetitive gameplay because comics books are interesting for their character development and the stories. Anyone who wants to play DCU Online after watching that trailer will be assuredly disappointed because of the game design. How does this game being a massive multiplayer make it better than a limited multiplayer game?
Imagine a much smaller scale for a multiplayer game in which gamers play one of the named villains or heroes–100 or so players per game instance. There’s no leveling. Instead, there’s a sort of endgame design, but one with many of permutations. Multiple paths, multiple endings. Gamers can play their individual game so that they don’t have to all be logged in at the same time, but the characters play and affect the game world so that when the other games log in, they have to deal with the changes, maybe reversing or furthering the change. When that particular instance reaches a conclusion, maybe you then go find another and play it, to see a vaguely familiar game that is very different. In that way, it’s not about identical repetition, as in most MMOs. Instead, it’s more like iterative gaming.
Do the gamers manage to change the world or not? It might even be that there are ambiguous endings. The focus on playing is to resolve that objective and deal with the impediments. It’s not about delivery or rat killing quests. It’s about meaningful interactions, finding ways to change the world.
Badly needing a break from work Wednesday night, I asked the kids if they wanted to play another adventure from the Star Wars game that we started. They bolted from the computer, ‘yes!’
I told them the name of the story [Building a Better Dreadnaught], which obviously gave away what was going on in the game. Grace exchanged Ahsoka for a much more powerful Aayla Secura. Overall, this was more of a role-playing adventure session with no combat. I was trying to teach them while in game about what they could do, so I was giving them a few hints, like searching places. They tended to focus on talking to characters as the main means of getting info, as opposed to looking for themselves. They are still trying to gain their confidence and to look at alternatives rather than the first idea that comes to them. Again, I feel that I was trying to get them to talk with each other and agree on a plan, not arbitrarily but for good reasons.
Also, I had a planned story around their undercover attempt, which would fail. But the kids had the dice rolling their way all evening. So, I was scurrying for a plan when Gage provided me a great opportunity.
I thought this session was too talky for them, but, no, they assured me that they really liked the game. They wanted to play more and looked forward to the next one.
The game starts on the Nelvaan snowy plains. Secura and Fisto are wearing the uniforms of the assassins to try to get into the separatists’ base on Nelvaan. I tell that their assignment is to 1] find out what’s happening on Nelvaan and 2] find out where the separatists are building their weapon.
The kids have the Delta Squad clones and Captain Rex with them. I ask them to place their characters and ask them to think what clones, if any, are going with Secura and Fisto and where the others are. At first they wanted to take 3 clones with them into the base, but I mentioned that the Separatists might not want all of them and kill them except for one. The kids talk and decide to take only Sev. The others are in cover further away and track Secura and Fisto. They approach a cave they think is the base and indeed see a T1 loading crates onto a small ship with two commando droids, a chameleon droid, a separatist commando, and a Techno Union Warrior.
Sep commando – ‘Halt! Who approaches? Take another step, and you’re dead where you stand!’
Secura – ‘We are the assassins!’
commando – ‘What assassins? What are you talking about?’
Fisto – ‘We were hired to kill Lem Garon. And we were told to come here.’
commando – ‘Urm. Hold on.’ [summons droid to guard and then leaves for the cave. He returns moments later with General Loathsom.]
Loathsom – ‘What assassins . . . are you?’ [speaks in a halting gutteral, aggressive voice]
Fisto – ‘We killed Lem Garon as hired. Our comm device was damaged in the fight–’
Loathsom – ‘Fight? What . . . . assassins get in a fire fight . . . on Coruscant?’
Secura – ‘There were two Jedi with him.’
Loathsom – ‘And you . . . escaped from the . . . Jedi?’ [His tone is very incredulous.]
Fisto – ‘Yes. I mean, no, we killed them?’
Loathsom – ‘You killed . . . Jedi? You two? Impossible!’ [He orders more droids.]
Fisto – ‘Yes, but we snuck up on them and hit them with grenades.’ [I ask Gage to roll for persuasion. I set Loathsom's doubt very high at 19. Gage rolls a 20.]
Loathsom – ‘That is . . . interesting. Who is the clone?’
Secura – ‘A prisoner.’
Loathsom – ‘Kill him. We need . . . no prisoners.’
Fisto – ‘But he’s a member of the famous Delta Squad. We could possibly get valuable information.’ [Again, I ask them to roll, and Gage throws another high, 19. I'm wishing he could throw my d20 at games.]
Loathsom – ‘Well . . . then, you are . . . in time. We have loaded . . . and are leaving. Your next assignment . . . awaits.’
[We switch maps to a ship interior. Sev is put into a detention chamber and the assassins are told to rest for the journey to Concordia. The NPCs go to assigned stations to pilot the ship, check the engine, guard the prisoner, and man the one canon onboard.
Gage then talks aloud, to both me and Grace, proposing two options--1. Try to take over the ship by throwing the droids in the air locks, or 2. explore the ship for clues. Grace wants to fight, but I remind them of their objectives. Secura and Fisto decide to split up and to look for information.]
Secura [approaching the commando at the reactors] – ‘Can you tell me what’s going on here?’
commando – ‘What? We’re going to Concordia? Do you know how to stabilize reactor cores? If not, you need to leave this area.’ [Secura leaves.]
Fisto – ‘T1, I need to know what were you doing on Nelvaan?’
T1 droid – ‘Sir, all procedural routines are accessible in my data logs. Please refer to the T1 version 683 user manual for access to those logs and any other functions. This T1 unit has completed its routine and is shutting down for hibernation until the ship arrives at Concordia.’
Secura [going to the Techno Union Warrior/scientist, who took something from the crates and is working in the small workshop on the ship] – ‘What are you doing? Can you tell me what is going on?’
warrior – ‘What? Why are you asking such questions, assassin? You have your job and I have mine. You do not look smart enough to put a slave bolt on a droid.’
[Secura leaves and heads for the bridge, going directly to Loathsom. Meanwhile, Fisto addresses the commando who is now in the hangar.]
Fisto – ‘So, we are headed to Concordia? Can you tell me what is the crates?’
commando – ‘You assassins ask a lot of questions.’
Fisto – ‘We can’t be too careful. Besides, I do not trust Loathsom?’
commando – ‘What?! What are you saying?’
Fisto – ‘I’m only saying that I do not–’
commando – ‘You had better be careful what you say. Why are you suspicious? You are a hired assassin anyway.’ [He puts his hand on his blaster.]
Fisto – ‘I am only saying that I do not think killing Lem was wise. We should have –’
commando – ‘ah, I see. A separatist general want-to-be. We all question sometimes what we do, but these generals have a bigger picture. They know things you and I do not. Stay in your place and keep a low profile.’ [He walks away, still somewhat suspicious but needing sleep.]
Secura appears on the bridge.
Loathsom – ‘What are . . . you doing . . . here?!’
Secura – ‘I wondered if you could tell me–’
Loathsom ‘Tell you nothing!!’ [His anger is intense. Gage then Grace, 'Leave! He's getting mad!' Grace isn't quite picking up on the verbal cues as I thought she might. But at Gage's urging, she leaves and then heads to the cannon manned by a droid. She takes the droid and throws it in the shaft. I stop her and explain that if she really wants to do that, I'll be forced to react. She retracts the action and goes back to the rest area where the Techno Union Warrior is asleep.
She picks up on it and goes to the area where he was working. I ask to roll for all three work areas, and she, too, has the god of dice with her. She finds nothing at the first two stations but at third, the display shows the following message that I give them on a slip of paper:
Gholyhu wr Pdod Ydglwk rq Guxfnhqzhoo
Gage immediately sees it for what it is and begins to work on breaking the code. He tries a couple of Caesar codes but they are wrong. I then tell them to hang onto the message. They might find a clue later. But they still fret about solving it.
The ship then lands and we use a third map. I ask what has happened to the other clones. They say that they have followed at a great distance and are on the other side of the planet, where they are monitoring.
When Secura and Fisto exit the ship, I position a host of powerful characters, including Durge, to discourage a possible fight . . . for now, at least.]
Durge – ‘Loathsom! Finally you are here . . . I want off this moon before I can no longer resist killing all the Mandalorians here. You brought the slave circuits?’
Loathsom – ‘Yes. We were able to use Nelvaan’s low gravity and extreme cold to remove traces of the Hive Virus.’
Fisto – ‘Hive Virus?’
Loathsom – ‘Yes . . . it can drive one . . . insane in a few hours.’
Durge – Who are you?’
Loathsom – ‘Oh, these are . . . the assassins we sent after . . . that talkative Lem Garon. You should like them . . . Durge. They killed 2 Jedi.’
Durge – ‘You two? Jedi killers?!’ [I ask Grace to roll . . . and their luck is with them still because she gets a 17 with a +5 bonus. I might have to rethink my checks and saves.]
Secura – ‘The Jedi did not see us and we threw grenades that killed them both?’
Durge – ‘Tell me you were not so scared that you forgot to get their light sabers!’
Secura – ‘We did not have time . . . others were coming.’
Durge – ‘Well, then, it is good to have more than 1 Jedi hunter in this tin pile of an army’ [He laughs and Secura, Loathsom, and Fisto laugh too, where it then becomes a silly laughter.] ‘And what is this clone trooper? Why is he not dead?’
Secura – ‘We thought that he might be questioned, to reveal more of the Republic’s strategy and plans.’
Durge – ‘Highly unlikely. I have questioned clones before, and they are too well trained to succumb to threats and torture.’
Fisto – ‘But what if we infect him with the Hive Virus and send him back?’
Loathsom – ‘Durge, I believe we have found someone cunning enough to match you!’
Durge – ‘That is a good idea . . . we could leave a small group here while we leave with the slave circuits. Then attract a republic ship.’
Fisto – ‘On second thought, that might not work.’
Durge – ‘No, it is good. In fact, you two assassins will stay here with the droids.’
At this point, I stop the adventure. I really wasn’t sure where to go with the adventure for a while. I expected their undercover attempt to fail, but they had those 3 very high rolls that prevented their discovery. The plan was to imprison them all and then have Delta Squad report their capture, leading to another adventure in which two more Jedi join Delta Squad to free the prisoners. But Fisto’s idea was a good opportunity.
However, Gage is very anxious. He wants me to play on their side, but I explain that I will take care of things. He starts talking about a very complex plan for the next time, but I remind him of Durge’s idea–to leave a small group behind. And I point out that their group already includes 3 very powerful characters in Rex, Fisto, and Secura. He then sees where I’m going and he relaxes until he remembers the coded message. ‘How are we going to solve it?’ I tell him that there’s still more to come and they might find a clue for solving it . . . if they pay attention and remember to look around.
Even though my son and I have enjoyed playing Star Wars miniatures, I’ve wanted to adapt for it a while, to make it more like an rpg. Now, you might ask, why not play a straight-up rpg?
We have a lot of star wars minis, not to mention some 10 maps. Many of these characters aren’t very useful in a normal Star Wars mini game, but in an rpg, they become very useful.
The Clone Wars offers very good, strong female characters that my daughter likes.
The Star Wars universe, especially the Clone Wars, is really quite rich in existing characters, plots, and intrigues. It provides both ready-made resources as well as room for creative ideas.
The kids know these characters and can play them while adding their own touches. We don’t have to spend gobs of time creating characters and stats.
Though lacking the subtlety of d20 RPGs, adapting minis allows for simple but flavorful checks and rolls. The story and the interaction are the most important parts of playing while the checks add some element of chance but do not dominate the game.
My kids love stories and role playing, so giving them the chance to interact in the game in ways other than fighting is a sure success.
I’ll briefly describe what I did to adapt the game and then describe our first session.
Adapting the minis game
I explained to the kids that they could talk to each other, could interact with anything that was logically on the map or on fallen characters, and could take whatever action they wanted as long as it wasn’t impossible or unreasonable. For example, the kids wanted to immediately leave for a planet and started pulling characters to include in their ship, but I reminded them that they couldn’t simply recruit without going through the proper channels, which was the Jedi Council in this case.
Star Wars minis have only basic numerical traits–hit points, attack, defense, and damage. I broke down skills into basic types: physical feats, computer hacks/repairs, stealth/tracking, dialogue/persuasion, demolition/traps. Anyone could roll a d20. To figure bonuses, I used the characters’ attack bonus but only if it made sense for the character to have that bonus. For example, Sev is a sniper and would have stealth or tracking abilities. Fixer, on the other hand, would have computer hacking, repairs, and trap bonuses. Jedi always get dialogue/persuasion bonuses. To make it work, I found that using 1/2 the attack bonus worked well. For example, if Ahsoka was trying to convince a character to talk, she would get a +5 persuasion bonus on her roll–her attack bonus is 9, so half of that is 4.5 which I round up. If a clone trooper tried to persuade, he would get no bonus. [Yeah, there's threaten, but I consider that different and would use it, if the kids called out that specific action.]
Death and dying are a little tricky. Normally in minis, a character who loses all his or her hit points is removed from the game. I adjusted this somewhat but only for major and secondary characters–once they lost all their hit points, they were unconscious. If their surviving party members won or even retreated, the fallen character lived to fight another day. Fallen characters cannot be revived during a battle, however. But I think I need some way to allow the players to render an NPC unconscious, particularly a grunt who might give up information. I think a simple option is to allow them to say they are shooting to maim or stun, not kill, before an attack.
Other than this, I stayed with the standard rules for Star Wars minis. [Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast no longer has the Star Wars license, and they have removed the minis products and downloads from their site, so I have no active link for the rules. The closest that I have found is this Word doc at the Kansas City Star Wars Minis site. You can still find starter sets and boosters on Amazon for decent prices.]
The result? So far, it’s working wonderfully. It’s fairly easy to get up and running, and the kids really wanted to keep playing it today in our first session. I may tweak it, but I think it’s a great intro to tabletop RPGs without getting bogged down in the details that put off young kids who just want to play. In fact, after we finish our little campaign, I might create something like it to use with my son’s friends. I love the idea of a house full of kids playing some tabletop games, especially if they played together when they’re older.
For those who don’t want to read the following, I really enjoyed when my daughter suggested taking the uniforms of the would-be assassins and pretending to be them to go to the next planet. I wasn’t expecting that at all and it forced me to rethink the next adventure somewhat. It was exactly the sort of thing, though, that I was hoping for, the bit of creative thinking.
As we put up the game, my wife says, ‘You’re making up a story for them? They are really enjoying that.’ Even my 87-year-old mother watched and listened for a while.
Indeed, as we played, we had a time quite unlike any that we’ve had playing any other game. It’s that experience in which we sort of let go of parent-child-sibling roles and interacted with each other as gamers. We didn’t forget those familial roles, but, for an hour, they were less important than the ones we played. I’ve played a lot of video and other board games with my kids but none of them were like this experience. And I think the reason is that the face-to-face gaming had something to do with it, a lack of a screen. But I think it was as much the fact the kids had only a few rules but lots of room for creativity. When my kids play games like Lego Batman, for example, they enjoy just running around and doing their own thing. I’m reluctant to call this minis RPG adventure a sandbox. It was much closer to an improvisational performance. I don’t want to exaggerate what we did, but it was different than games that I’ve played with my kids in the past, except maybe when they were very small and we’d play with figures in some ad hoc adventure and conversation.
But gone were the typical frustrations of computer gaming, of trying to deal with awkward controls, bad cameras, and poorly implemented cooperative action. I can’t tell the number of times someone gets upset about the other going a different direction. There was none of that frustration. Similarly, my daughter normally hates playing the minis because it’s all about moving and combat. But she likes the characters and will occasionally play with them, acting out some scene on the coffee table. This time, she was into the game. More importantly, she had a couple of really big moments that made her feel good and gave her a reason to brag.
I’m no Wil Wheaton, but here it goes. To set it up, my daughter is 8 years old, and my son turns 11 in a month. My son and I had been talking about playing some miniatures for a while. We were at my mother’s with a subset of the minis when I had the idea for a story, something to get both kids to play. I spent the night before thinking through the details of the intro part and the first adventure, collecting my cast of characters, choosing the maps, and figuring out the locations of key characters and objects on the maps.
My brother and his son have been amassing the game consoles. When his daughter moved out, they converted the bedroom into a tacky game room. I don’t have a separate game room, using our tv family area as the gaming center, which I limit to the Wii and 360. So, I’m showing his instead, which includes these consoles:
Atari Pong Bentley Compu-Vision [1983, one of the last pong consoles made]
Xbox 360 [downstairs]
The video doesn’t serve the room well because it’s pretty comfortable. Their Xbox 360 is connected to the tv downstairs, but my 17-year-old nephew and his friends spend most of their time either in this upstairs room or in their computer room, where they have 3 computers set up for LAN gaming. Earlier in the year, after completing a tough school project, they played Modern Warfare and Halo for a while and then asked about playing on the computers. His friends had never played Diablo II or Starcraft. For the rest of the year, his friends came over regularly to play those older PC games. Several times, he had game parties with friends gaming on the PCs and upstairs [often with Starfox]. My brother and sister-in-law got into the game nights, cooking hamburgers or whatever for the kids.
I’ve been trying to get my son’s friends together regularly for gaming, both board and video games. It is a fun time because, not only is it nostalgic, the kids’ excitement is infectious. When we visited my brother’s family a while back, my kids loved playing Starfox, although it was difficult, especially for my daughter. New multiplayer games are fun, but some of those older multiplayer games have a visceral experience that makes them great even among HD games.
The great thing about all those consoles is so many excellent games to play. Tired of StarFox 64? Then play Champions of Norrath or TimeSplitters 2 on the PS2. Or Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles or Toy Commander on the Dreamcast. Or Bomberman Blast and Mario Kart Wii. Those boys even fire up Pong on occasion.
‘Nothing is worse than having an itch you can never scratch.’
–Leon, Blade Runner
I’ve now had my Nexus One phone for about 5 months, and I’m giving mobile games a spin, though I’ve been skeptical. Overall, my experiences aren’t making me less skeptical, but I see the potential. As far as Android games go, the problems are that, in spite of the potential, 1] the hardware is too diverse, 2] Google isn’t encouraging and helping developers enough, and 3] Android updates are somewhat unpredictable.
First, games sales are improving for Android. And January and February of 2010 saw 1200 new games in the Android Market.
Android games are seeing higher-quality games, but it’s still dominated by casual games. Gameloft recently announced some new games for Android devices, and many look good, at least.
But Gameloft isn’t currently selling these through the Android Market, though they said that they would.
Games like Crusade of Destiny holds promise as a 3D RPG with some interesting controls.
Another bit of good news is that, with Android 2.2, owners can play Flash games on their phones, and sites like Kongregate are prepared to support them. In fact, I have an early version 2.2 and have found the Flash games to work well, at least for those with appropriate controls for a handheld.
The fragmented OS and hardware is known. But here are other significant issues.
The Android Market has too few gaming categories: Action & Arcade, Casual, Brains & Puzzle, and Card & Casino. Can you say ‘casual gaming’? The lack of meaningful categories alone makes browsing games daunting. Sure, you can sort by ‘top paid,’ ‘top free’ and ‘recent,’ but still you see either the same titles from week to week or titles with no comments, reviews, or screen shots.
the android gaming community is almost non-existent. You’ll see an Android gaming article here and there, when there’s a big player. You’ll see mostly the same games in searches for ‘best android games.’ There are some Android game sites and blogs, but they tend to post infrequently or sparse reviews. Other mobile games sites seem to see nothing but iPhone. It’s a circular problem–without a good community, it’s hard to know what’s new or interesting. But without good games and good support for them, it’s hard to develop a community.
Too many games are ports or tweak PC or Flash game mechanics and design. Like the Wii and DS, gamers have seen that when developers create games for the platform, mindful of its advantages and disadvantages, they can create good games that stand out. But so far, I’m finding that DS homebrew games are more interesting than what I’m seeing for Android phones. I bought de Blob for Android. While it is a beautiful game, the controls seemed awkward. I couldn’t get the hang of the tilt controls, and using my finger just got in the way of seeing the screen.
Android uses Java programming, something that is familiar to many. The Android SDK is even free. Yet, I’m not seeing the kind of passion that I’ve seen in homebrew and indie gaming. The comments on this Gamasutra article illuminate some of the reasons for that.
so, now what
While gaming might be one reason to buy an iPhone or the iTouch XL, games are not really a selling point right now for Android phones. True, you can find a few that you can play, that are nice to have.
I’m not giving up my phone anytime soon, so I’ll continue to explore Android games. The fact remains that Android phones are becoming a larger segment of the phone market and that the Android app growth continues. I’ve come to read Android Game Reviews and Droid Gamers on a regular basis, and I hope to see more such consistent, dedicated sites. Recent game releases like the Gameloft games, Art of War 2, Mystiqueare encouraging, not just for their graphics but their depth.
Do games affect and change us? Do they define us? For the most part, gamers [and game's critics] have wrangled with that question through the proxy topic of violence and gaming. And for most gamers, the answer to those questions, particularly the latter is ‘no.’ But violence is just one aspect of us, and it doesn’t allow other, perhaps more subtle and less controversial influences on us.
Other areas have been dealing with how what do, where we live, what we consume influences and defines us in different ways. Gaming seems like both an environment and a medium–something we live in and live through. It’s also an object. Sociology and contemporary philosophy has shown and argued that the things we act upon, the places that we act in wind up reacting and acting upon us. Because I’m lazy and because I don’t want to write a dissertation, I’m going to leave that history and discussion at that simple but functional summary.
For a while now, I’ve tried to write on this topic in a personal way, most of the attempts stashed away as drafts in WordPress. Part of it is all the baggage that this sort of discussion invokes. But a lot of it is that it’s a constantly changing target. I’m changing. Games are changing [in ways that could have an impact on gamers]. My relationships are changing. So, I’ve flailed at trying to nail down how I’ve changed through gaming. I’ve talked before about how I’ve played games in ways other than intended. And sometimes, like good movies, games have manipulated me. Even though we vehemently deny that violent games make gamers violent, there’s no denying that games, in fact, affect us. Just a couple of accessible examples:
Games affect us emotionally. I think just as we go to movies to be scared, amused, or stimulated [take that in whatever sense you want], so we do the same with games. For example, for many gamers Fallout 3 affected many gamers emotionally, such as looking out on the vista of a destroyed Washington, D.C. [I'm reminded of Hitchcock's technique of getting audiences to react emotionally by framing action scenes in locations that we associate with security, such as a national monument or a church.]
Games change our skills. This is obvious but worth pointing out, such as the research on strategygamesdeveloping critical thinking.
It seems that we want to make general statements about how gaming affects us. Yes, I believe that some people do become more aggressive as a result of playing violent games, but not most and certainly not everyone. I think the point is that we should be intelligent gamers, just as we should intelligent consumers of news and other media. We should not assume that we’re always the agent, just we should not assume that we are passive receptacles for whatever message a game has. But I find generalizations to be less useful, more debatable, so I’ve been thinking about specifics, which, as you might expect, center on me or my kids. I’ve touched on this topic a couple of times, talking about how my daughter uses games and comics to establish her identity.
For example, recently, I have found that gaming has been reflecting me in a different way than I have perceived myself. I’m the youngest of 6 children, with 24 years between me and the oldest. By the time I was born, in fact, half my siblings were already married. And my mother in particular always introduced me as ‘the baby’ of the family. As a result, I’ve always thought of myself as a kid, even into my 30s. Honestly, even into my 40s. I didn’t think of myself as immature or necessarily young, but I had this self-image of a kind of kid. And I don’t mean the Peter Pan thing either. It’s different than that.
But many things have been chipping away at that image. I started getting gout a couple of years ago, something I’ve associated with old people. I sprained my wrist skating, and it took me nearly 4 months to recuperate.
My eye sight getting worse was one of the bigger blows because, besides being the youngest, I was also the only one among my parents and siblings who didn’t wear glasses. Besides never having a cavity, it was something that I was proud of. I used 1600 resolution on my computers . . . until about 2 years ago. Then, my eyes got worse and quickly. I had headaches while reading paperbacks, and I had to start using reading glasses.
But it’s been gaming that finally toppled that self-image. I was never great at FPS games, but I held my own. Now, I sit firmly at the bottom . . . the last kid that no one wants to pick for the team. When I play with my kids, they see things well before I do. Platformers that I played fairly well are frustratingly tough. And I don’t have the free time or even the endurance to play for hours. For example, I truly enjoy Monster Hunter 3, but I’m having a hard time seeing and reacting in fights with monsters. I’m still enjoying games, but I’ve had to reset my expectations. I no longer think of myself as a kid, as ‘the baby in the family’ in any way now. I’m a middled aged gamer. And that’s not a good or bad thing . . . it’s quite simply different.
It’s rare that a single game influences me to think differently. That’s not to say a game doesn’t make me think or challenges me. But there’s no watershed game that really changed me. [Monster Hunter 3 or World at War are memorable games in how I viewed myself, but they were almost more like highlights in a progression.] Rather it’s the experience of gaming in general. In a couple of future posts, I want to explore this topic in more specific ways because perhaps more than affecting me in isolation, gaming in general has affected my relationships.
As I read various gamers’ tweets, I can’t help but wonder how they have the time to play all these wonderful deep games. So, as some informal research, check out the poll over on the right about what activity do you sacrifice the most to make time for gaming? If it varies, select your current situation.
I’ve avoided rants against companies who annoy me. This isn’t one. It’s a warning–don’t go to the gameyeeeah site.
I’ve never ordered anything from them, but I remember considering a purchase. [I think I might have actually put something in a cart for purchase but backed out of.] That was more than a year ago. About 5 months ago, they’ve been sending me spam mail. When I try to unsubscribe, their service says that my email is not registered. I’ve sent gameyeeeah multiple emails with no response. So, avoid this site, unless you like spam.
At some point about 5 months ago, Capcom put something in my food.
That’s my theory at least.
You see, for some inexplicable reason about 5 months ago, I became very interested in Monster Hunter Tri. And I’ve never been interested in the series before. True, the visuals grabbed my attention at first, but the more I read about Tri and the series, the more interesting it seemed. Having a static character with no leveling has been one of my highly desirable features in an RPG. Yeah, doesn’t seem like an RPG if that’s case, I know. But I think the point should be that the characters get better with a specific thing by using it repeatedly. [Muramasa had a similar approach where you leveled up by choosing different swords.]
Monster Hunter isn’t exactly that, but it’s somewhat close. After playing Tri now for 10 hours offline, it’s more or less what I expected, and I’m enjoying it. The starting few hours are basically a tutorial, but the gist of it is that your character improves weapons and armor to take down bigger monsters. To improve armor and weapons, you need to collect different ingredients.
One significant draw for me is that the game requires that you pay attention to what you’re seeing, especially in fights. And thus, the game is known for being difficult. For example, it has no lock-on while attacking, but the reason is that where you hit the monster is important, as the graphic below illustrates. A lock-on target system would take away a part of the strategy and skill of the game.
monster hunter tri cut damage reference chart
You have to mine, fish, farm, forage, and, of course, hunt to collect the ingredients. Reminiscent of my Everquest days, the monster might not drop the needed ingredient every time, so I might need to defeat it a few times–as in tri, tri, tri again. And some fights with monsters might take most of the 50 minutes you have to complete the quest, especially if you’re soloing.
But the fights–that’s where the game shines. You might spend a bit of time preparing for a fight–maybe upgrading your weapon or armor but also collecting materials for health and stamina, for traps and bombs to use against the monsters. So, you have less urgency and the game somewhat slows down. But when you take that quest, the timer starts and the pacing changes. You have to hunt the monster, you see. Isn’t that clever? The map is divided into several zones, and, unless you have particular armor, you might not know where it is. And once you find it and weaken, it can run to another zone, requiring you to find it again, unless you hit it with a paintball so that you can now track it across zones.
This isn’t a hack and slash, though. You can’t stand there and attack a monster. You might spend as much time dodging as swinging. And there’s no health bar to tell how much damage you’re doing. No flying damage numbers with each hit. There are indicators for you and your weapon, but for the monster, you have to pay attention. Is it drooling? When does it attack? How? Does it run when injured? Certainly, it’s a variation on finding the patterns in shoot ‘em ups and other games. But it feels fresh as an action RPG.
I’m not doing the game justice because it has several little things to enjoy and appreciate. Also, it has its share of frustrations. For example, the game has a lot to learn, and if you read the info on Monster Hunter wikia, you wonder how anyone would learn the weapon trees and such on their own. And while the game has shed the Wii Friend Code system, it’s still not easy to add friends, even if they are on your Wii friend list. You can only send messages to people that are online, requiring to coordinate with friends offline. Still, it’s an improvement because adding people you meet online is certainly easier.
Through these 10+ hours, I have more personal investment and satisfaction than I had in 70+ hours of Final Fantasy III. Yes, I can customize my character in many ways, though not as extensively as some games now allow–no getting that particular nose and bottom lip that I’ve always wanted! But it’s more than custom appearances or my selection of weapons and armor.
Maybe it’s that I have a 10-year-old son who’s trying to assert himself and do more for himself, but the game reminds me a lot of that satisfaction of doing something hard, doing it your way, and then enjoying that satisfaction, even though you might have had doubts. The game isn’t holding your hand. You don’t necessarily know the right way to play, but you’re learning a way. Beating diablos is satisfying because of your preparing for it, watching and learning the creature. Who knows if getting that one ingredient to make that one extra dung bomb might not make the difference in completing or failing the quest.
So far, I’m enjoying Monster Hunter Tri, and I’m anticipating some lunch time gaming. My son has created his character and wants us to play together. Once again, gaming brings families closer.
Ah, the blooms of spring . . . time for some new games to keep us indoors. Right now, we’re suffering some awful pollen. I don’t even have allergies, but I’m feeling like I have one of those anime big heads.
So, you enjoyed Diablo II, and after 9 years and 11 months, you’re looking for something new but similar. All those clones in the past never held up, eh? Well, you might want to try Din’s Curse. I’m acquainted with the creators Steven and Delilah through friends and was invited to a werewolf party for her birthday. But I’m not being biased when I say this is a wonderful game. It will feel very, very familiar to Diablo fans–look and sound familiar, too. Its graphics will look dated, although if you zoom in, you’ll see an improvement. But you’re not going to play zoomed in.
What’s so good about the game? In short, it’s dynamic. If an NPC gives you a quest to save the town, you better hop to it because the bad things will happen if you don’t. I saw it early in my first dungeon–the monsters were fighting each other. And the world, dungeons, and many things in the world are dynamically generated. Without your fancy high def graphics, the game world feels alive. Yes, some NPCs stand there waiting to hand out quests, but things still happen based on your actions or your inaction.
Also I like the story setup because, even though you still have to save towns and innocents, there’s a personal motivation–you were selfish and destructive in a former life, and you won’t know peace until you build your reputation by acting heroically and selflessly. I’d like to see more reminders of that in the game, but still I find it enough of a twist to be interesting.
If you like hack n slash, then try the demo because I think you’ll get hooked. I’m not going to do a full review because I don’t think I’ve experienced enough of the game yet. And I think it’s a mistake to judge it too early because I think it has some depth. You won’t find much at metacritic, but here are a few reviews and previews.
Gamezone (8.0) — ‘The developers have clearly focused on the core gameplay, and the final product is one that is brimming with replay value. Din’s Curse strikes a remarkable balance between playability and depth, offering just about everything you’d want from a class-based RPG.’
Gamersinfo –’Din’s Curse has a lot of elements in common with Soldak’s previous games, but it also introduces quite a bit of new gameplay and a lot of surprises. For fans of the action-RPG genre, the different style of gameplay and tricky enemy AI attempts to keep the genre fresh; the class combinations also could easily keep some people occupied for quite some time.’
RPGWatch – ‘What really sets Din’s Curse apart is the dynamic world and events. For starters, it’s a very interactive world with chests, stashes, barrels, doors, switches, traps, altars, secret plans and more. Chests are often trapped, doors are sometimes stuck (and need to forced open), barrels are often explosive or full of acid. With a bit of care, you can use many of these to your own advantage – such as luring mobs near the explosive barrels and setting them off with an arrow. Discovering secret plans will yield a quest or information about an uprising. Then there are the dynamic events. The dungeons are always in motion as the monsters battle each other. ‘
Gamer Daily News — ‘Soldak isn’t about cutting edge graphics and requiring overclocking and three graphics cards. They’re about fast-paced fun with a retro tinge. They’re about old school chic and hardcore dungeon crawling. ‘
Gaming has had a few setbacks at the gutter abode. The dear kids left the DS and DSi rechargers during a vacation, and we’ve yet to replace them. The Wii’s hard drive finally gave out after several weeks of some awful churning noises. The family tries Lent for size, and my son has given up video games. [But, as he told me, that doesn't include computer games, which are very different.]
Yet, I have joined an excellent group for tabletop Dungeons and Dragons [3.5 edition], and I have thoroughly enjoyed the backstories of all the characters. I’m playing a monk, the first time with that class for me, and I’m finding it much more interesting than I thought. I also managed to crawl back into the addictive sinkhole that is Fallout 3, which I’m finding more enjoyable than Oblivion and possible Morrowind.
But one casualty of late has been my style of play. I’ve enjoyed taking my time with almost any game, exploring as I can. On the Wii alone, I have Eternal Darkness [a game I've not played before], Muramasa, A Boy and His Blob, and Silent Hill – Shattered Memories all still to finish. Yet, the time to play those games and to explore as I like is simply not there. I find the challenge what to do with my time.
Change how I play so that I explore less and finish the game, even if it means missing on some nuggets.
Play even fewer games, and play how I want.
Don’t play to finish games.
Many gamers, including myself, have done the last one, for a variety of reasons. Already, I have Virtual Console games that I now realize I won’t finish, probably not even play more than I have, because they require too many hours. [Indeed, retro and indie gaming, including DS homebrew, have gone to the wayside over the last year and more.] Yet, I have that guilt of not finishing some games. I played Fable II, thought it interesting and amusing with some very interesting takes on NPC interactions. But I’ve not felt any guilt about leaving it half done. Not finishing Shattered Memories, though, feels like a burden–I want to see it to the end, not to say that I finished it but to see where it goes.
Of course, the reality is that I’ll continue to do a combination of all three. I’ll explore a little less and not get as many games as I have in the past. I know a number of folks about my age, though, who dwindled their gaming down to a couple of deep titles a year, eventually dropping out altogether. That’s the risk of gaming appeasement–you lose out altogether in palatable chunks. But part of it is that we have to know we as individual gamers enjoy most–exploring a game or finishing it or something else. But we have to know that and not give up what we enjoy most in gaming.
A good 2010 to all. It’s been a busy start to the new year in our house. I decided to finish games that I started last year, and that list is embarrassingly longer than I expected!
My son has had a couple of playdates with friends, which includes some gaming. [One friend is very, very picky in what he plays--no Super Mario Brothers Wii, Mario Kart Wii, nothing with Turtles or Ghost Busters.]
Searching for co-op games that I might be unaware of and that are suitable, I came across co-optimus, a very good site that compiles a list and details for co-op games for multiple platforms. Want to see the list of Wiiware co-op games? Xbox Live Arcade?
The site has very nice breakdown of the gameplay–number of players, drop in play, offline, online, special co-op map, co-op on single player campaign. The one thing missing, which is more of a ‘problem’ on the Wii, is that some co-op games are nothing more than the second player collecting items or shooting, like Mario Galaxy and Dead Space – Extraction.
Their ratings seem to be their own, although sometimes you’re not sure the reasons for the ratings. I thought a couple were a little high, but they’re probably a good indication.
As for the picky friend, it still wasn’t a great help.