25 October, 2008


We had a mini-LAN party last night. It was delightful. We played Zombie Master some more, and Nations at War, a mod for Battlefield 2 that makes the game fun. :) It is something of a pain to deal with super accurate shotgun bots, but it has so many fun toys it's really hard to complain. The silenced sniper rifle kills in one shot and can give precise targeting from a kilometer away. One class has a climbing rope that can be used to scale buildings or even mountains. The standard dune buggy comes with a minigun that can shred any vehicle lighter than a tank almost instantly. There is no limit to how long you can sprint for.

Basically, it's Battlefield 2 "Xtreme". And as a lover of fast paced games and weapons grade stupidity, it's right up my alley. It was weird, though. For once, people actually listened to me instead of all doing their own thing. With only five people versus 16 bots (with the aforementioned shotgun skills), we never managed to capture their final flag. And for the first time, I felt bad about that. Because people were actually doing what I asked, I felt responsible for the outcome. Since they never listened to me before, the soundness of my strategy never really mattered.

I keep going over the scenario in my head. Was there a way I could have moved forward faster, or was I doing as much as I could without getting reckless and having our thinly spread forces fall apart? Was I right to fight them down to a single flag with vehicles, or should I have allowed them to capture a less defensible site and tried to finish them there? All of these questions that were simply academic before suddenly mattered. And why was that? Was it because when my computer crashed we started losing badly, proving that I was worth listening to? Was it just a weird mood everyone was in? I don't know, but it put the game on another level, and made it much more interesting to play.

Zombie Master was still fun. That game runs on the players, though. If the person running the zombies is a jerk, they can almost always decimate the players. It's all about the interplay. Making the players feel challenged, but not overwhelmed, is very difficult. And sometimes personalities get in the way.

One guy murdered us all with the most powerful zombies in a confined space, giggling the whole time. So when I was in control, I pretty much murdered everyone too, because I wasn't having enough fun to want to entertain. And that's really what a good ZM is doing, providing a thrill ride for the players. That's what makes it a great game, and what makes it often not work. I wonder if Left 4 Dead will supplant it for our group?

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