22 June, 2014

Keepalive: Summer Sales, Papers Please, Old Stuff

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 22 June 2014

Summer Sales

GOG.com and Steam are having their summer sales. So far I have bought 13 games for less than the price of a single new console game. I even played one of them!

Papers, Please

This woman claims to be a diplomat, entering Arstotzka for an official meeting. After taking her documents I switched over to my rule book to double check that the seal on her Diplomatic Authorization is legit. Switching back to the DA, I see that it is legitimate.

Having checked that the name and ID# on the DA matches her passport, I'll need to ask her why the picture on the passport isn't a very good match. I'll probably need to fingerprint her, but she's a diplomat, so she'll probably raise a stink. Plus I also need to shuffle her DA higher onto the screen because I don't see Arstotzka listed.

If she doesn't want to give up her fingerprints or Arstotzka is not on her DA, I'm going to have to decide to deny or accept her passport, either of which may get me in huge trouble. The former because she might be legit, the latter because she might be a smuggler or terrorist. A good day is when nothing I do makes the next day's newspaper.

Oh, and my entire family except for my uncle is dead because I haven't been fast enough at my job or corrupt enough to take the bribes which would have let me afford the food, medicine, and heating that could have kept them alive.

And my uncle's very sick.

I played the game for two hours, got one of the bad endings, and happily accepted that as my fate because that let me stop playing.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade feels more and more like a single player MMO as I move forward. I spent most of this morning on gem crafting. I spent the afternoon earning faction rep. Admittedly, earning faction rep in Xenoblade is better than World of Warcraft because the missions are unique and I get a fuller picture of the relationships between everyone in the colony as I progress. But it still feels repetitive.

But I'm still doing it.

I mean, I could just go back to fighting the biggest monsters around and progressing the story, but tons and tons of work have obviously gone into these ancillary systems: gem crafting, faction rep, colony rebuilding, party relationship building.

Gem crafting feels fairly rewarding. If I do it right I get upgrades above my level that let me heal every time I use a special ability or deal more damage with a particular element. Then I remember that in the time I spent browsing to find the crystals with the abilities I wanted, deciding which characters to use, and stepping through the six or so menu clicks it takes to engage the process, then holding down the button to fast forward through the step by step process of firing the gems and stepping through the five or so clicks it takes to finish a single iteration of the process... Leveling probably would have been a better use of my time.

I'm getting the feeling that Xenoblade is most fully enjoyed if you're interested in a virtual vacation with a game on the side. And the worst part is, I kind of like it. The low fidelity of the Wii graphics make it a fuzzy vacation, but it's still pretty amazing. Part of me (a small part, but still) is considering buying a Wii U just for the HD sequel to this game. I watch these thirty seconds and am pretty psyched. Plus, if it's as long as the original, the console plus the game will amortize out to $3 an hour. :P

But I also have 12 other games to play just from these summer sales, not counting my existing backlog.

After playing Papers, Please, I can't find it in me to think of a lack of free time to play games as a "problem".

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