written by Blain Newport on Monday, 11 July, 2011
I'm back and the Steam Summer Sale is done.
During my no-internet time, I found out you can only earn perk advancement in Killing Floor while online. :P And I dug some more holes in Terreria, but nothing interesting came of it.
I also spent some time with Devil May Cry so I won't be totally rusty when I start the next video talkthrough. That game was so difficult in 2001 that many people quit at the first boss. I don't blame them. The boss is tough, and the terrain and camera angle don't always help, which can make the fight unfair.
Since I've been online I've been fairly busy, even to the extent of being a day late writing this post.
It's a tower defense game, but you run around between and on top of the towers shooting bad guys. It also has co-op so you and a buddy can shoot bad guys simultaneously. When you're facing down a wave of baddies, flipping between weapons to pour on the damage and keep them slowed, it's great. But the second you falter, which is pretty easy on one or two maps with tricky terrain, all the damage you were doing stops and it's game over.
This isn't so bad in single player where you just restore to a previous wave, but that option isn't available in co-op, where you're likely to have people of different skill levels and need more room for misunderstandings and mistakes. Ah well.
Random Tower Defense Games
Part of the reason I picked Sanctum up (besides it only costing $4 during the sale) was that I've taken more of an interest in tower defense games in general. This is largely because my father enjoys them. There's practically a cottage industry just churning these things out at this point. In fact, I'm starting to see where people have reused the same engine and just changed the appearance of the enemies. That isn't necessarily a bad thing if enough is changed to make the experience different, but some sites crank out a new game every day, which puts them past the point of bothering about design. I'm thinking I'll write up a list of the most common design issues I'm seeing next week.
Dead Space 2
I wasn't a huge fan of the first game. I felt like I'd seen most of what it had to offer by the end of the intro, and I felt the same way when it was over. But the sequel puts a lot more effort into keeping the story alive and ditches the tedious puzzles. It's still got puzzles, but they're usually much easier and quicker. I may have more thoughts when I'm done with it, but my current feeling is that Dead Space 2 is an okay game elevated by many millions of dollars of window dressing into a good, scary experience.
The Games of Christine Love
Christine Love got some attention from the more academic folk a while back, and I had downloaded her games, but never installed them.
The first one I played was "don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story". It's a game about being a high school teacher dealing with student drama in the year 2027. The hook is that the school lets you tap into the kids' social networking, giving you "behind the scenes" info for the choices you have to make. It's an interesting game which definitely expresses some outside the norm views on social issues, so I can see why the academics were into it. Personally, I just enjoyed the jokes and the general vibe of helping people being the most important thing.
The second game I played was Digital: A Love Story. It's set back in the BBS era and is about falling in love and solving puzzles. As someone old enough to have spent time on BBSes and FidoNet, I was surprised to find myself pretty bored with the game.
The posters weren't fun to read like the kids in "babe", so eventually I was just mining for the next clue to solve the next puzzle. There was eventually a bigger story, but I'd already learned not to bother with the fiction, so I noted the puzzle elements and just moved on. The writing of the romance parts wasn't bad, but as in Half-Life 2, I have no acting choices as the main character, no way to express myself. So the love story is just a story, not an experience.