Thursday, March 31, 2011

Minecraft - You can't keep a good game down.

After keeping an eye on the "March Madness" contest on Escapist it really got me thinking about MC again. I'm amazed that the game has basically given the finger to every other developer out there, but I'm not totally surprised, heck read my past posts on the topic. I may be a fanboy of the game, but I like to think that I'm also objective, either way that's not what I'm posting about today. Today is all about world P5 and my new quest in my single player MC experience. I've decided that I'd take up those rules that I established for myself a couple posts ago and go with those, here are the rules that I am playing with. 1) No building into mountains or building underneath structures that I build. The reason for this is that it was too easy to find a good cliff and dig into it basically giving me a free base with everything I could possibly need with ease. The other downside to cliff building was that there was nothing spectacular about the structure, it was simply a cave with a lot of stuff in it. I want to have some effect on the world I'm playing in thus anything I build will have to be on the surface and be a mostly independent structure (I say mostly because I can use one wall as a cliff or something just to save time). 2) I'm playing on normal, why normal when I'm looking for a challenge, maybe I'm just a wuss. 3) Playing with Humans+, Mo Creatures, RPG mobs, NPC builders, 303 arrows, 303 prefix skeletons. Another reason that I'm playing on normal. 4) My goal is to collect lots of materials, I have to look at the earlier post for what I decided that I'd have to gather, I'm think that I need to add lightstone to that collection too because I've never actually gone into the Nether (yet again, I'm a wuss and don't like to lose). 5) No strip mining. It's easy to just dig down and then hollow out the world to find the mats that you want, but where is the adventure? I may do some quarry digging to get rocks, but I'm not making an actual diamond strip mine. The story that I've established for myself is that I've been sent to a prison colony and in order to earn my freedom I need to gather the required materials and only then will I be allowed to leave. Standing in my way are all of the other monsters and people that will make it difficult. One final idea that I had just now was that I need to build a graveyard to record all of my deaths, I died once already from a damn NPC while I was digging out some dirt, bastard! I tried this a couple of times before and it never got off the ground, I think I was feeling a little MC burn out, well I'm back now after the personal travel that I've had to do, and I'm looking forward to seeing how my adventure will go this time around.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shogun 2 - Not so fast my friend

So I sat down last night to play some Shogun. After doing a little play over the last couple of nights I was thinking that I had figured out the basics and knew what I should have done in my first game. That being said it was a good chance to take my learned knowledge and apply it to a restart.

This time knowing that I was going to need revenue early on I decided that I'd jump at setting up the trade routes by pushing my harbor and not putting as much into my military. In the first game I pretty much ran over all my enemies and the clan directly to my North was my buddy so I felt like I was in a good position to work on some better balance. After a turn or two of improvements and some recruitment, I launched my attack on my neighbor and like in game 1 ran them over. BOOM! I'm sitting at 3 provinces and I've got a nice trade working, I'm doing great!

And then all hell broke loose. Apparently the guy that was my buddy in game 1 didn't really like me this time around and he declared war on me. And then the other guy to the North of him declared war on me, by attacking my trade routes. There I was two against one and my armies spread out over a very large distance. I had to hold off attacks on my Northern boarder, but at the same time the Red guys (I don't know all their names) attacked and took over my home province, in the process killing off my heir. I was able to take the province back on the next turn but the damage had been done. Then in a counter offense my leader was caught behind enemy lines where I fought a terrible battle that crushed half of my units, eventually killing off my leader and losing the province in the process. It was so bad that I didn't have an heir, the leaders wife had to take over until one of the sons was of age to take over the clans rule.

So there it is, I got my butt totally handed to me in this game where I thought that I had some idea that I knew what I was doing, apparently not. In game 1 I was Mr. military, in game 2 I was Mr. economy. Military works much better. I think next time I'll just raise a lot of troops and kick more ass. It's nice to see the game require balance but it's still much more slanted towards military conquest with economy the supplemental element that you need to mix in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shogun 2 - Oh now I see

So tired, so very tired... I have one fatal weakness with my gaming, I just don't know when to turn it off, and last night with Shogun I kept doing the, "One more turn" thing. By the time I got to bed I couldn't sleep, so ugh...

I figured out how to play the game a little bit, now I get what trade ships do, and why I wasn't making any money before, ah big difference, especially when my area is surrounded by trade opportunities. So that really helped get the infrastructure going so that I could support my army and build some more improvements. I also took one of my boats and just went exploring to see the other clans, I couldn't really trade with any of them, but at least I know where they are. Interestingly it seems like they are all coalescing into major states, not too much of a surprise but I have a feeling this will get interesting before the end, it's March Madness Japan style.

One of the first things that happened when I got on last night is that I was attacked by a rival clan to try and take my new trading province. I was actually out manned (a little wake up call there) but because I held the castle and a whole bunch of archers I was able to rout them, even killing their commander (not sure if it was the Dyamano). Afterwards not really in the position to wage a war myself I offered him up piece for some money (which I really needed at the time), I should have crushed them, but I had no idea what was going on.

Set up an alliance with the state next to my home, as they have a lot of troops and would be a good ally if someone came after me. And since the guy that attacked me has problems keeping his population in line revolts opened up the door for me to take one of his states, I'll have to keep an eye out for that because that's essentially free territory.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shogun 2 - Day 1

I think that I'm going to take a long break from MC, I've been playing it exclusively since November but with the guys no longer playing online, I needed something new. Not that I'm totally done with MC, my son still begs to play it so I won't be totally done with it. Plus it will be good to let more development take place on it so that I can come back to it all fresh and new.

So what am I going to do, go learn to play my guitar? Heck no (while that's what I should be doing) no I'm going to find myself a new game to play with. My choices really get narrowed down to 3 categories, RPG, online MMO, or Strategy game. Not wanting to dive into an MMO, TOR is still on the maybe list, but if I do play it the last thing I want to do is burn my MMO self out at this point, who knows might get in the beta too. RPG? Wasn't really feeling it, I mean Dragon Age 2 is out, heck I never beat DA 1 so that was an option too. But beating DA 1 would feel odd at this point since it's been a year since I last played it, and why play DA 2 if I never beat the first one. I could have gone with my brother's suggestion and picked up Mass Effect, but I guess I just wasn't up for a drawn out story. No I think that the fact I'm going through an audit that requires a lot of number crunching I was in need of playing with numbers, hence Shogun 2. There might be a side factor from the disaster in Japan that brought this to my attention as well considering that every ones thoughts and prayers are with them right now.

First impression... Uh what do I do? Sure there are tutorials, but screw that I had about 2 hours to play and I know how long tutorials take in a Total War game, so I just figured that I'd learn it on the fly, a little overwhelming to say the least, but I think I figured out the basics. First thing, build the economy and then recruit an army to expand fast, seems to work in most games and they basically told me to attack the province next to me, so BAM off I went. That first province was pretty much a cupcake where my 900 troops ran over their 200 in pretty easy fashion, but it was good in that it gave me an idea of how to move units around and stuff.

I've already learned one very important rule in the game, take out the generals in a rivals territory because they don't disappear once the clan that your fighting is gone, they stick around as resistance. And I had to deal with a massive counter attack that cut down half of my troops. Lesson learned.

The game doesn't really blow me away at this point, but I can see how it could get very deep the longer I play it, so that is a good sign. It kind of reminds me of Romance of the Three Kingdoms because of it's use of generals and heirs, but I guess that's like all Total War games so that's not really saying much. I'll be curious to see how it plays out, right now I'm eager to do some more warring on it, but alas work...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Minecraft - New Idea

Well it's a new idea for me anyway. I'm going to roll play my way to a good time.

Here is the plan, I'm going to spawn a new MC world and pretend that my character has been sent to this distant colony to work off his debt to society. While here I'll be faced with having to survive, but also collect a mass of ore that I can then pretend that will be my ticket back home. (That's a lot of pretending... Shut up!)

I was thinking that I'd need to collect the following:
2000 coal
1000 redstone (maybe 500)
500 gold
500 lapis
50 diamonds

Then I'll play it out on here like a journal. Seems like a fun goal to try to shoot for. Maybe I should only allow myself like 3 lives or something.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Minecraft - Mod Balance

It feels like I've come full circle on MC. I'm playing by myself again and am finding the game to both be rewarding and asking myself the question again, "What is the point?" A couple months ago I told myself that the point of the game was to just have fun with it, it's a game, that's what you do with a game, you have fun. Of course there is a factor to MC that has a built in whats the point point to it, what is the point of making things if no one is ever going to see them, hence why there are so many Let's Play series out there.

So here I am, playing on the server with the guys was great because there was a built in "show me" factor, and while I could try to get a Let's Play going, I really think that it would be boring if I did it. For a good LP the player has to have a element of bad to them, and while they can be an excellent player, there is that element of just running off into the darkness with an inventory of diamonds that provides tons of comedy once they die. Me on the other hand, I never die playing MC, that's not to say I'm some freakin expert on the game, hardly, I'm just too conservative. If I see a pit full of creepers, I'll go around to find a way to pick them off one by one, systematically. If I have diamonds on me, I head for the surface. I may not play on hard, but really it doesn't matter because I rarely, and I mean rarely ever get into a fight that I can't win, and cranking up the difficulty wouldn't make it harder, it'd make me more cautious, thus slower and thus less fun. So I don't think a LP would be that good, but it still could be fun.

But while I don't like super hard levels, I do like chaos, lots and lots of chaos. So in an effort to create more insanity in my game I've added several mods that make things unpredictable.

Builder NPC's
303 Arrows
Prefix skeletons

and I plan on adding Mo creatures once it comes out.

Now this has spiced things up. Nothing like exploring a cave and seeing a glowing red skeleton shooting exploding arrows at you, ah now that's a spicy ah meatball. What I really love though is the feeling the world has now. I have the builders set to very very low spawns like 1 and 2 out of 100 so that they don't spam the world with buildings like they have on previous saves. The humans are always fighting it out with each other and the other mobs, so it makes the world kinetic, there is a lot going on. Last night while playing, I'm not sure what happened but I saw a forest erupt into flames from a battle that must have taken place with either a wizard or a skeleton that shoot fire arrows. I'll never know what happen, but the fact that craziness took place, that's a win for me. Also hearing the sound of random explosions taking place in the distance only to find the world with a couple more potholes come morning, that's pretty cool, I never know what I'm going to find.

Another thing that I thought was cool was the town that got built from the builder mod, that had shops. I helped the mayor found the town by leveling some of the land for him, which in the end has helped me out a bunch, one of the shops sells feathers. Feathers? That doesn't sound that cool, oh but it is when you can make torch arrows and fire arrows and exploding arrows, now I have all sorts of different arrows in my quiver and it's a lot of fun.

So that's when it hit me, the world I was playing in was turning into the RPG game that I've always wanted. I have small little huts and houses to explore and ransack for loot, there is a small town to buy items in, there are lots of humans that if I use my imagination are trying to build a settlement within this harsh MC world, and other humans trying to keep them from doing it, along with the natural environment trying to prevent them as well. By keeping the spawn on the builders down it makes the world look a lot more spread out rather than a metropolis building up around my base. Now if only I could have gotten the auto trees to work...

The last piece to this game needs to be a grand overall quest. A lot of people will say, "You don't need a quest you do your own thing." blaa blaa blaa. I agree in principle, but I've dug for diamonds, I've created huge castles, I've made a rail line that is just huge, I've made the mob tower. I've done a lot of stuff in the game, but what I haven't done is had a quest to find something rare beyond diamonds, really a quest that I can't control. I don't want a million quests, I don't want 100 quests, I don't want even 10, I want one, just like in the old days. In Zelda you didn't have a bunch of quests, you had one quest, find the triforce. Sure it would require 9 pieces to get it, but overall there was one goal to "win the game".

And it's not that I'm looking to "win the game" I want to be the hero in my world, I want to have a purpose to build my world and exist in it. Sure I can make all the cool bases but in the end it's all the same game, diving down in caves to find ore, not that I have a problem with the base game, but I'm at a point where I want to go to the next level with the game. I guess that's why it's still in Beta right?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Minecraft - So lonely

Crash and Drus are now MIA for over 2 weeks, not sure if they are done or not, and really I don't care one way or another if they are or aren't, it's a game and if they enjoy it they'll keep playing if not then they'll stop, regardless I don't really have a personal stake in it... except for one thing.

If the guys are done playing then I want to open up the server to other people that I know are playing. Originally we agreed that we'd just keep it between the three of us, but if it's now down to just me then hey I want to play online. Interestingly enough I'm posting this here rather than talking to them...

Anyway there really are three options here.

1) I just go join another server and keep the current server going so that if they do come back it's up and running. Positives: The server is still going so if they want to come back it's there and ready to go. Negative: It runs on my computer so I need to keep it going "just in case"

2) I invite other people to the server. Positive: I have people to play with again. Negative: It kind of goes against what we established before and creates a potential problem down the road if Crash and Drus aren't happy about it. Potentially either one of them might not like it and walk away for good. Or I'll get stuck in the middle of having two groups of players. I'll always have the world save file so the back up is there if they ever want to continue from where they were at.

3) I invite new people and start a new world. Positive: No ties. Negative: What happens if Crash or Drus log in to a forgien world?

I'm really thinking out loud here, and I guess indirectly asking their opinion if they read this. Honestly I don't know where I stand on it, hell there might not be anyone to play with anyway so it might be a mute point. Which of course creates a whole other problem where I can't play MC the way I enjoy playing it, which is also free of grief attacks on a random server. Leaving me with playing MC with the mods installed, which is cool, but it's not the same as playing with other people, those NPC's still feel empty, much like they do in a game like Oblivion (I use that example a lot huh).

Ah what to do what to do, for the time being I guess I'll just explore the possibilities on what I'm going to do.

I know what I want to do, add more people. I think anyone that I would add would be cool anyway so there really shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dead Island trailer

I just watched the Dead Island trailer during lunch. That's some intense shit right there. Honestly that's 3 minutes of art in the form of a video game. Why is watching a family being killed off by zombies (in a very disturbing way) art? Because it generates a very strong emotional response without in my opinion going for the cheap pay off of just more blood (while there is still lots of blood to be sure.

Now I've acknowledged on here before that I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to horror, hell the zombies jumping out in MC freak me out, but I also have a weird fascination with horror as well. For the most part I avoid horror as much as I can, even at 36 years old I still get nightmares and generally those involve zombies, I'm the classic kid that grew up looking through his hands while watching a scary movie. The problem I have is that even though I know it's all made up, my mind much like the Matrix makes it all real, my mind looks for ways to come up with justifiable ways on how something could happen.

But getting back to the trailer. Zombies trying to kill you pretty much is going to scare the shit out of you, that's par for the course and if the attacking zombies don't scare you then I hope that you're watching "Shawn of the Dead". So let's just take basic zombies = bad formula right out of the equation, what are you left with? A father trying to save his daughter and wife. The terrified look on their faces as they have to know that they are going to die, the image of the daughter now attacking her father who just a few moments ago risked his life to save her. It's all pretty heavy stuff and I challenge anyone to watch it and not feel the emotion that that trailer will invoke in you. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a father that drives it home a little bit more, maybe to the average desensitized 18 year old (I say 18 becuase personally I think games should be regulated to kids, however publishers go wild on mature content, just keep it out of the hands of the kiddos so the government doesn't come after you) just sees it as zombie killing, maybe it's just me. Regardless there is a some buzz on the internet about the trailer so I don't think it's just me.

And to my point, the trailer evokes lots of emotions, if you sit there unphased by it then check your pulse becuase you might already be a zombie. Emotions are art when done in what I would consider not simply going for shock value, but using the shock value to tell a story. A zombies head going flying or a person for that matter may be shocking, but I don't really consider that art except in the loosest terms of the word (yes it's still 110% protected by the 1st amendment and should be). The point is that it went for something grander, something larger than what it was, I saw it as a blend of cinema and gaming, and while terror is the easiest thing to combine, the fact that it can be done on any topic is a big deal for all topics.

Oh well I've rambled enough, here is a link to check it out