The latest iteration of this series I’ve been playing for the past 25 years was released and the changes have made the game more dynamic and, for the first time in the series, have really made it so that I can’t just do the same thing every game because of how much the terrain makes a difference. It’s been neat and with the reduced gameplay over the past two months, it’s displaced all over games. Civilization III (15 minutes)
Another little entry in my attempt to play the Chinese in all Civs from III to VI.
Civilization V (15 minutes)
We continue with our multiplayer games.
FTL (15 minutes)
I played a little to test the Steam controller. Having some issues rendering that video, but hopefully I can get it out soon.
By the time I was done with February I was nearly done with XCOM: Enemy Within. It was a fun revisit of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but I think I’m done for a while. That’s a good thing since I hear that XCOM 2 has some beefy PC and graphics card requirements.
Civilization 5 (2 Hours):
My brothers have accelerated the pace of their turn-taking – so the games are proceeding apace.
Because I’ve staggered the publishing of new videos on Youtube, not all of them may be visible on the embeds in this blog post on the day it goes live. For example, I think I created 14 videos for Torchlight in January, but at the moment only 11 are live.
Torchlight (23 hours):
I decide to check out this spiritual successor to Diablo, having never played Diablo. It is a nice game to play after stressful day – just clicking on bad guys and traveling around without much thought.
Having just finished Enemy Unknown, I didn’t think I’d want to play the Enemy Within expansion any time soon. But it adds enough new mechanics and missions to make it feel like a different game.
Civilization V (2 hours):
Dan and Dave have stepped up their turn-taking so we start to make some progress.
Civilization: Beyond Earth (2 hours):
I started up my second game in Beyond Earth. The first few turns were a bit blah – I don’t have as much affinity to Beyond Earth as I have to vanilla Civ – but eventually it became a classic “one more turn” game.
New Super Mario Bros (2 hours):
Scarlett and I start playing this game and hijinks immediately ensue.
Pixel Piracy (45 minutes):
It’s not for me, but at least I gave it a shot.
Botanicula (30 minutes):
The art style is great. The puzzles are crazy. The world is like an acid trip.
Cthulhu Saves the World (26 minutes):
I’m on the fence on whether I’m going to like this game or whether it’s being a bit too cheeky.
I wanted to finish XCOM: Enemy Unknown before 2015 was over and I succeeded. Despite being screwed over by scripting errors in the big “dungeons”, I had a lot of fun with the game. The ending was slightly anti-climactic, but then again, this game only had the barest of storylines. I’d DEFINITELY play it again….once I finished going through the hundred or so unplayed games I already own.
Poker Night 2 (2 hours):
To kill some time while the kids were napping and hang out with my brother-in-law, I fired up Poker Night 2. Finally won Ash’s book!
There are many times that The Giant Bombcast or other video game podcasts have led me to discover games I wouldn’t have otherwise considered: Peggle, Saint’s Row the Third, Assassin’s Creed, and The Witcher. But there was one time they did me wrong: XCOM: Enemy Unknown. They made it sound like it was just an exercise in frustration in which you died at every turn and it since it was made by Firaxis, I thought it was just going to look like Civ. Nothing wrong with that, but I already had Civ. But Dan got an extra copy at some point and gifted me this one. It’s been a blast and I’ve loved playing it even as it has started to kick my butt as the difficulty ramps up. If I had more time, I’d be playing this game A LOT.
Super Mario World (2 hours):
Scarlett wanted me to play and fight Bowser more often than I could face him in Super Mario 64, so I figured she’d prefer 8 mini-Bowsers.
I’m a seasonal Team Fortress 2 player. Although I play it here and there at any time of year, I tend to really play a lot during October for the special Halloween missions. This year Valve was busy working on a new mode that was released earlier this week so they released a community-made Halloween mode: Invasion. It’s the first time I’ve spent any money since I spent $2.50 to get a bigger backpack a few years ago. Overall, the new modes were a lot of fun and I’m glad that Valve has gone from what should be the basic level of video game company support- supporting community mods- to allowing the best of the best to make money by sharing in the profits made during community events.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! (12 hours)
Here is a game that shows how interesting a video game can be in depicting work. Anyone who’s worked serving food to the public knows it’s a grueling job full of burns and ungrateful customers. Yet, here’s a game in which people gain enjoyment out of the stress of rush hour. My theory is that it’s fun because you can come and go as you please and your livelihood isn’t actually dependent upon it. (Similar to EuroTruck Simulator, Farming Simulator, and all those other European games) I also had one great Saturday session in which I was joined by someone claiming to be from Belgium. He or She helped me out with some tips on how to play and we had a fun conversation. I always love it when I have people join in on the chat.
Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ (5 hours):
The first visual novel I played was Analog: A Hate Story, and readers of this blog will remember that I really liked the story and found it to be pretty emotional. I was hoping that this game would also touch me as other games and regular, written novels do. Instead there was clunky dialog that seemed most often to be written by the tourism board of Japan – containing lots of phrases that wouldn’t be used in normal conversation – like an old comic book. There were also pretty unnecessary anime-like nude-ish scenes. I’m no prude, but they seemed to serve no context, but to be anime-like. I’m more of a either make it count or don’t do it type of person. Like make some consequence of the scene. Or just go the other way and make it a rated R game. The tsundere and normal girl sister routine was also quite trope-y and didn’t add much. I did learn a bit and it’s probably still the closest I’ll get to visiting Japan, but it wasn’t my favorite game.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (1 hour):
Speaking of anime, this was one heckuva anime-inspired fighting game. It’s not something I expected to want to play a ton of, so I made it the first game in my version of Dan Demos or Giant Bomb’s Quick Look. I don’t know if this is a new trend for fighting games, but it has much more of a story between matches than anything I remember from my youth. There are even choices to make in an RPG-like setting. I’m not opposed to checking this game out again, but it’ll probably be a bit before I play it as there are other games I really want to play right now.
Civ 5 (40 minutes):
Dan and Dave played a few more turns in our multiplayer games so I did likewise. Perhaps by next year at least one of them will be done.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (17 minutes):
Scarlett wanted to play a round of Sonic 3, so I fired it up.
Assassin’s Creed was the first game series Vinnie of Giant Bomb convinced me to try by talking about it endlessly on the Bombcast. The Witcher is the second. (This is why I miss his voice on that podcast so much) It has turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would. It’s based on the Bioware engine of the time, so it plays a lot like Mass Effect 1. The story is good so far and full of nice little jokes. You can watch my progress (I’ve been recording it for Extra Life) on this Youtube playlist.
Civilization V (13 hours)
The third game I played for my Extra Life 2015 playthrough was Civ 5 as Attila the Hun. A fun chance to play a little differently than I usually do.
A Bird Story (1 hour) – this was a very interesting game. I enjoyed a lot of the concepts and the idea that memories are elastic. Another great work of art from Gao, although I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as To The Moon
Katamari Damacy (30 min)
Played as one of the earliest games during my Extra Life 2015 playthrough. Had fun sweeping up the humans.
Pac-Man Chapionship Edition DX (30 min)
The first game I played as part of Extra Life Playthroughs, I just love the satisfaction of eating ghosts in this game!
Civilization V (30 minutes) – We got a few turns in our multiplayer games, but other important things (like planning weddings, perhaps) have kept my brothers from sending me new turns.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (38 minutes) – I got it as part of a Humble Bundle because eventually my PS3 will die or be remotely disabled. As I have just transferred my Steam library to a new hard drive (more about that in a future post), I’m more confident in my ability to be able to play these games for a long time. Played a bit on the last day of Februrary to test my new Xbox 360 for Windows controller. It’s still as much fun as I remembered.
Video of one of the time trials courtesy of my youngest brothers wanting to be able to record themselves playing Minecraft. This led me to find Xsplit which I find MUCH MUCH MUCH easier to use than OBS.
Civilization: Beyond Earth (7 hrs): This game was a great evolution on Civ V. I enjoyed that they continued with the same sense of humor. I also thought they did a good job evolving things so that it felt different enough. It’ll probably take a few games before I get the hang of all the government options.
Super Mario Galaxy (1 hr): Just wanted to get past the opening section on my emulator so I could not have to repeat that silly story section again if I even want to play some SMG. Also wanted to test the USB sensor Dan got me for Christmas.
Civilization V (30 min): Still trying to get caught up to where I was before GMR lost our saves.
This year I did not play as many new games as in previous years. I was deep in my graduate degree and most of my free time was during work travel. Since I don’t have a powerful laptop (and Steam on Linux was just taking off early on this year anyway), most of that time was spent reading. Still, I did play some great games and still managed to log in quite a few hours.
Civilization 5 (95 hr): The year started off strong with the fun online games I was playing with Dan and Dave. Then Dave moved and we didn’t play for a while. Then GMR lost a month or two worth of turns. We have the turns on our computers, but we haven’t gotten the system back up yet. I hope we recover the games, I was having a lot of fun. Shoot, I almost spent 100 hrs on this game this year.
Poker Night 2 (13 hrs 30 min): I played here and there when I just wanted to play a quick game. Also sat by Danielle while she played to see how she thinks about Poker strategy. Still haven’t gotten more than one player’s token.
Hate Plus (8 hrs): Sure, it’s a visual novel and somewhat (par for the genre) a dating sim. But that’s way too reductionist. This is a powerful reminder that video games are no less valid a medium for talking about important issues than books, movies, and TV shows. Comics have been fighting the same fight, but are further along with more people considering them art than with video games. This is old hat for readers of this blog, I’ve been declaring various games as examples of art for a while now. However this sequel/prequel to Analogue: A Hate Story is a cautionary tale of how just a few unchecked changes here and there lead to a world that’s worse of for all except those in power. Games like this remind you that Rome didn’t go from Republic to Empire overnight.
Analogue: A Hate Story ( 4 hrs): It seems as though there’s at least one game each year that really pushes and pulls at my emotions. I found myself caring deeply about the fictional characters in this game, especially the main character. Her deep inability to understand how profoundly the world has changed and for the world to understand her was just so sad.
Poker Night at the Inventory (2 hrs) – Played to get all the items.
Xenogears (1 hr) – Just started this. Looks like it has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure how much patience I still have for the Square style. We’ll see.
Team Fortress (1 hr 30 min): This year mostly only logged in for holiday play.
Mario Kart Wii (1 hr 15 min): The Dolphin emulator revives my interest in my Wii games and I bring the discs up to the computer room. Now that Nintendo has turned off the servers, the emulator may be the only way to play online.
Beatles Rock Band (1 hr): Since Scarlett seemed to get a lot out of a concert film of I Fight Dragons, I figured she might enjoy the game. She did and asked me to play a few times. I figure she’ll really enjoy it when she’s older. Too bad the plastic instrument genre died. Maybe it’ll be back one day.
Cities in Motion 2 (45 min): Never did play it again in 2014 after that one time. Maybe 2015? I doubt it, I have so many games to play. Maybe 2016.
Super Meat Boy (30 min): I got this in a Humble Bundle after seeing the Indie Game movie. It was neat, but too intnse for me.
Guacamelee (30 min) – I’ll very likely play this some more. Just need that time. 2015’s going to be an extremely busy year (at least for the first half) so we’ll see.
Oil Rush (30 min): For the moment I’m mostly over RTSes so I don’t see myself playing this again.
To the Moon Holiday DLC (30 min): The sequel was on sale for the Steam Sale. Maybe I’ll get it this summer.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (30 min): We’ll see if the bug bites me again and I play some more.
Game of the Year
This year my game of the year is Analogue: A Hate Story. Christine Love creates this amazing and compelling world full of alliances and betrayals; Secrets kept from spouses. The generation ship gone awry is such a great science fiction trope and Love uses it to its fullest. As I mentioned above, this game was able to mess with my emotions and get me to care. That’s always the mark of great storytelling. If you can get over any biases you may have with the manga art style and the bad rap that visual novels have, you can experience a world unlike any other you’ll experience this year while at the same time being familiar enough to be anchored in emotional reality.
I noticed Dan was on my borders right when I started having the Cho Ku Nu, my special unit. Having played civ and RTS games with Dan, I figured it was strike or be struck. So I went to war. Unfortunately, Dan fights better than AI and because of the terrain features, it became a war of attrition that favored Dan. After a stalemate war, I offered peace and Dan accepted.
Tiny Mesa Civ
Looks like Dan took Dave’s Capital. We’ll see what happens next.
I think this is currently my strongest game. Haven’t met Dan or Dave yet. (Or many other civs)
A Brave New World
My worst game. Surrounded by jungle so moving around takes forever.
Team Fortress 2 (1 hr):
Signed back in to play some Halloween TF2. My game kept crashing to the desktop in the bumper cars where you had to get rubber ducks. Not sure why. Wanted to try out Raptr’s new Twitch integration, but it didn’t work. (I think my graphics card’s too old – GeForce GTS 250) So I installed Open Broadcaster Software and got this in the one time it actually worked:
Poker Night 2 (3 hrs): Before going on my recent business trip I wanted to take a small break from school work so I played PN2 the night before my trip. I reached the point where I’ve heard all the in-game dialogue so many times that I don’t even listen any more. I can generally last a while, but I wasn’t able to win any tournaments. I usually got knocked out by the last man standing.
Civilization 5 (30 minutes): After a long time without playing because both my brothers were moving, we just got back into the games. If things pick up, I’ll probably have some updates next month.
Mario Kart Wii (15 minutes): Scarlett wanted to watch me play “the driving game”
Civilization V (7 hrs): Met Dan in Mesa Bros; Waiting in Lefties Game
Civilization V (11 hrs): More of the multiplayer games.
Civ V (3 hrs): More multiplayer games.
Super Meat Boy (30 min): I played a few levels until it began to get too hard for me. It is a very well-designed game, but I was never that good at platformers. Really, I just stuck to Mario and Sonic growing up. The others were often too hard for me; at times even Mario and Sonic were too much. I don’t think I ever beat a Sonic game although with one of them (3 or S&K) I used to always get to the final Robotnick.
Guacamelee (30 min): To say that this is a fun action game filled with fun Mexican stereotypes is possibly to sound a bit too harsh. Then again, I’m Cuban, not Mexican, so I’m not in the best place to say what is and isn’t cool for stereotypes. However, it all seems to be in good fun – I only played the first few areas so far. My character is a tequila distiller who saves the governor’s daughter and ends up putting on a luchador mask that gives me special powers. Each area has a regular version and a land of the dead version. Overall it’s fun. I intend to get back to it in 2015 after I graduate.
Civ (30 min): More multiplayer
Beatles Rock Band (1 hr): I’ve been trying to help Scarlett make the connection between instruments and music and one of the best examples I have (since I lack music-playing talent) is Rock Band. Scarlett actually really enjoyed both playing the drums and the guitar (even though she wasn’t really doing anything)
Mario Kart Wii (1 hr): I was experimenting with getting the Wiimote and the PS3 remote working with my main Linux computer (Supermario) and it paired over Bluetooth perfectly. My Kubuntu machines are using an older version of BlueZ so they didn’t work, unfortunately. I don’t yet have an IR source, so I wanted to see if that would affect driving since the steering wheel has a hole for the IR receiver. Nope! I was able to drive perfectly. I’d forgotten some of the controls but quickly learned them and took the cup.
Civ V (1 hr): A little more multiplayer.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (30 min): Scarlett’s been obsessed with Mario so I figured it’d be fun to show her a game with Baby Mario. She enjoyed the heck out of it for a about 10 minutes. (Which is pretty good for anything that isn’t a cartoon she already likes)