Research is FUN

First of all, let me get this out of the way.

Steam Summer Sale is here, which means boat-loads of prices for video games which would have been a downright abomination to the gaming market of ten years ago.  Wanna buy a AAA game for half-price a mere couple months after its release?  Go ahead.  Wanna buy a batch of indie games for something like 75% off a pop?  You do that!  You wanna buy an ENTIRE AAA FRANCHISE for what would be the normal cost of only one of the games in said franchise?  WHY NOT.

So this is an ideal time to start my updates on what games I’m playing, as opposed to what games I’m making, since my gaming library has just had some really interesting additions.  Later on, I may write a more detailed analysis of a game I’m going through.  But just to break the ice for now, I’ll give a speed-run of my reactions to the games I’m playing, or plan to play in the near future.

Terraria : Though comparing it to Minecraft could quickly become obnoxious, it’s impossible to avoid at some level.  Terraria compensates a lack of freedom in construction (no 3rd dimension) by having a more involved crafting system; so the building isn’t as fun in itself, but is more tied to the core gameplay.  Unfortunately I find cave exploration marred by the lack of field of vision for enemies, and smacking around zombies 10-20 times lacks the tension of fighting off creepers.

Bastion : I haven’t played far enough to give a serious response.  The aesthetics, game, and narration go along together excellently, but that’s established fact by this point.  My only complaint is that I feel the narrative, while promising, should probably be moving at a faster clip than it is.

A Valley Without Wind : I’m a sucker for procedurally created content.  I suspect it’ll take a while for me to digest all of the different things this game is trying to do.  Not crazy about the art though.

Cave Story+ : Not having played this game is an ongoing source of shame that I will soon rectify.

Mass Effect 3 multiplayer : As with many others, ME3’s ending left a poor taste in my mouth, which sort of squashed my curiosity in the game’s multiplayer for a while.  But my initial curiosity was justified.  The blend of F2P mmo concepts with the squad-based combat that Bioware has been refining for three games works really well.  In addition, and perhaps most importantly for me, is that the presence of a tier of challenges gives me the excuse to suck in public games.  I don’t have to be dumped into a team of professionals who have already logged 100+ hours, as in games like Left4Dead where I continuously bring shame upon my team.

 Morrowind : I played this game a bit some years ago, but it really warrants more attention from me.  I loved Skyrim, but felt it was over-zealously streamlined.  Oblivion’s inter-city fast-travel obliterated my desire to explore.  I think Morrowind may end up being my favorite Elder Scrolls game so long as I can tolerate cliff racers.

It goes without saying that I let none of this interfere with work on my own game!  Playing other games and remaining aware of what other people are doing is, obviously, essential to designing your own work.  And knowing what other people are playing is perhaps the easiest and most direct way of understanding from what perspective their design is coming from.

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