05 April, 2011

Keepalive: Something Old, Something New

written by Blain Newport on Tuesday, 5 April, 2011

Two Worlds II

I tried messing with village mode. It's not so much Farmville, and is actually the worse for it. The game itself is a very simple village sim. You build structures which add population. You build a farm and ranch to feed them, and a shop to sell them the food. It's a company town, I guess.

You then wander about killing wildlife which doesn't respawn and occasionally getting requests for aid from your second in command, which just mean that you go fight a few other types of monsters in a few specific locations. And you wait for your city to amass some funds. Provided you haven't messed up and put in a building that has more upkeep than its goods produce profit, money comes in every six minutes, which is six hours in game time.

If the designers had been clever, they would have made it so that when I log in and it tells me I haven't visited my village for 22 hours, my town's coffers would have increased, and there would probably be some trouble for me to go fix. Since there's a fairly low cap on the money, this wouldn't wreck the game and would give me a reason to go visit the village. (EDIT: Apparently they did. But it's so little money I didn't even notice.)

As it is, the village is tedium. After you've cleared the surrounding countryside of wildlife, there's nothing to do but wait for the next emergency. I considered removing my guard houses to manufacture more emergencies, but there are only a half dozen types of emergencies, so that would be just as dull. Plus the villagers would be unhappy because they would feel unsafe and nobody would buy the weapons my forge cranks out.

I'm still kind of curious to see if there's any fun locked away in village mode, so I'm taking my character adventuring to earn money that I can then pour into my village. It not much faster as a way to earn money, but it is much more fun, and I level up, which happens painfully slowly in village mode.

The thought has occurred to me that village mode is supposed to be multiplayer, so I may just be doing it wrong. But how would having four people standing around waiting for an emergency be any better than having one person standing around waiting for an emergency?

EDIT: On further reading, it looks like the village is more of a time sink. You upgrade the buildings so that they produce good gear for you to buy, not to get wealthy. But I was never at a loss for decent gear in the first place. What a waste.

Bulletstorm Demo

I tried the demo for Bulletstorm. It ran well, especially once I turned the settings down to medium. The game felt passable. There's a lot of auto aiming of your special abilities that frequently had me killing guys in ways I didn't mean to, which lessened my sense of control.

The control bindings were also a bit off and needed to be remapped. Some of that was me being particular, but some of it wasn't. Space is the sprint key, and the shift key is entirely unused. That makes sense when you learn that the sprint key is also used to jump over low barriers, but assigning shift as the backup key would have helped players familiar with the many FPS games that put the sprint button there.

The main improvement I think the demo could have is reinstating the trick list. The game's main mechanic is supposed to be killing your opponents in these elaborate ways, but I got bored of the simple combos and kicking guys off ledges / into spikes before the ten minute demo was half over. I've played Dark Messiah of Might and Magic already. As it was I played through twice, to make sure I wasn't missing anything, then deleted the demo. If I want a shooter with combos in it, I've got Necrovision. Bulletstorm still needs to show me something.


Salt Racer said...

Completely unrelated to the above games ... but I'm curious if you've looked at this game http://www.foddy.net/Athletics.html (QWOP) and your thoughts on it.

Blain Newport said...

I know that the rock climbing sequel, GIRP, recently came out and that QWOP is about controlling the thigh and calf muscles of a runner with the four buttons in the game's title. But when people talk about it, they usually say it's obscenely difficult, somewhat like trying to learn to walk as a baby with the drastically reduced neuroplasticity of an adult. That didn't sound like fun to me, so I didn't play it.