Matthew Odle

Recent Games - 1st Installment

☰ Table of Contents

I took several weeks off from playing games, since before Christmas, after I spent half a dozen weekends in a row playing Graveyard Keeper (191 hours on record; still nowhere near my record for Terraria, FFXI, WoW, Monster Hunter, or FFXIV). Good game, but I probably should have stopped after finishing it the first time.

PS4 Collection

I tried playing some games on PS4. Humble Bundle had a bundle. I always go for the platform bundles, because they’re usually a good deal. I also get tired of the kids only wanting to watch the same shows over and over, and wanted to give them something else to do.

Broken Age

Broken Age. So many gems. It was a lot of fun at first, but it quickly became tedious.

I liked the opportunity for nihilistic behavior. I loved the line where the hero casually deadpans “Just once I’d like to see a huge flaming asteroid, hurtling in our direction.” The hyperdrive is a “warp and weft” system, the navigator is a weaver.

The game rewards you with trophies for making the computer show you all the cereals, or making the spoon exhaust its dialog. Or how you can click with the spoon on random stuff and the hero tells the spoon to be ready in case there’s any food nearby. The game seems to be about how the hero is trapped and protected for some purpose.

There’s a subversive wolf character who at first appears to be an ally, but that you gradually realize is using the hero’s access on the ship for his own goals. At one point the hero observes all the cameras the wolf has installed, and the wolf replies “The better to keep an eye on you.” He appears to be a sort of freedom fighter, then tries to get the hero to unwittingly commit heinous acts of what seems to be genocide, a la Ender’s Game. (Adalyn saw the wolf and immediately climbed up next to me and hid behind her stuffed elephant. ‘I don’t like him’ she says, ‘can we play a different game?')

Talos Principle

Next up was Talos Principle. This seems interesting. The loading screen was subsystems booting up, and you start out in a ‘garden’, all biblical style. It’s basically a 3D puzzle dungeon game, where you disable threats with disruptor devices, which only work when placed, and are limited in quantity. This didn’t last long for us. It made my eyes tired (my eyes were already tired) with all the 3D, and the kids started to get restless.

Grim Fandango

Some of the humor was OK, and the premise is interesting: you’re a grim reaper/travel agent who collects money from the deceased to send them on a journey to the 9th level of the afterlife, but you get dirt poor clients and so you’re stuck in this hellhole. You need rich clients. Then people start dying suddenly and it’s a free-for-all. This is as far as we got; the kids got restless. They also didn’t like the skeletons.

Misc

Next was Inner Space, a flight game with weird controls and a weird premise. This didn’t last long. I don’t really care for minimalist flying games.

Bard’s Tale I’d played before. I have it on android. I still don’t really care for it. The dialog was not very interesting and I didn’t feel very motivated to keep playing.

The other 2 games are Wasteland 2 (pre-Fallout, looks like XCOM, probably won’t like it), and Layers of Fear, which I didn’t see in the download list. Probably missed the scrollbar. It’s a psychological horror game, and I like my horror at a distance. Book preferred, then movie, then game. Too much stress and anxiety in horror games. Maybe I’m just an Old.

Armory and Machine - Post-Apocalyptic (I think) - Android Mobile

On mobile, I’ve been playing another game, called Armor and Machine.

I discovered it late last week. It’s an incremental game, one where you make decisions about point allocations, but the system runs itself. Numbers go up, with no apparent cap. It has a very Dark Room feel.

You start with no info and one button. You push it for a while, then more stuff starts to unlock.

The setting is very post-machine apocalypse (“The other half of the planet seemed to have been completely scorched”). You get a sense that you aren’t the first (“if only they were this way the last time, things could have been different”. “There are no other pinpoints of light visible, even in the infra-red. The other probes must have failed."); there are remains of other beings that you have no record of (“The remains of fighters are occasionally found in uncharted locations. Perhaps a minor error.”

I love the slow revelation of information, giving a sense of what happened to the planet, interspersed with the activity of gradually making the machine more efficient, for no clear purpose. I wonder at the strategy for writing this. Do you build a whole world with its own history, then pick out the juiciest bits, the points of data that reveal the larger tapestry of the world’s history? Or do you just write phrases that sound ominous and awesome and then pick a handful and see if a story pops out? I think both might be feasible routes.

As you upgrade the capabilities of the machine, log messages appear. The first one is “The glow from the machines is the only light under the starless, blackest sky.” Second: “A tank lands in the dirt with a dull crunch. Scampers echo around the clearing as startled fauna make their escape.” Third: “Some of the ice begins to melt. Distant rustling is heard.” So we know we’re probably on a planet, and it has animal life. The planet is cold, or at least our region is. We can probably assume that since there is no light in the sky, the whole place is dark. Later, the log mentions light reflecting off of eyes, so we can assume the light hasn’t been gone for too long, or the animals would have evolved beyond the need for eyes.

Your workers begin as mechanized automatons and gradually transition to organic beings.

The combat system is complex enough to be interesting, with some heavy-hitting delay attacks and some weaker quick attacks. Some go through shields, some target shields directly. You need to consider what support materials to produce to perform these attacks.

Takeaways

I’ve been considering how I can work this game style into my writing time, and how I can use that React framework project to build a text adventure that can be changed based on the series of phrases to unlock at certain nodes, and tell the story like Armory and Machine or A Dark Room does.

Update: 2019-01-30

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