May? It Seems I May Not

I spent the last few weeks in a time machine.  That is to say, the time machine we all have built into us, where we’re moseying along minding our own business and suddenly realize, “It’s the nearly the end of May? And I accomplished nothing?  My God, I think I’ve traveled through time!”

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Fallout Break: Star Command

By the end of the second day of Fallout 3, I was at level 18.  I had not been to The Pitt yet, and the main quest was just about to the one-quarter/one-third point of finding Dad.  I had been doing a lot of wandering, dusting off the old quests for advantages I wanted while taking in a bit of a sample of the new, and after a solid 13-hour binge yesterday, I had to face facts: I was burnt-out again.

I’m busy all day on Wednesday, so I’ll get back to justifying my $30 Fallout 3 expansion purchase on Thursday.  In the meanwhile, I needed something to do, and I decided that something to do would be research into better games of tomorrow by checking out some more games from an era where clones were not so dominant.

The game I ended up checking out was SSI’s Star Command (not to be confused with the 1996 game from GT Interactive).

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Fallout 3: Expanded, Step 1

Day 1 of playing Fallout 3 with the expansions is finished.

My character is about level 12, a  jack-of-all-trades, master of all. Fallout 3 is fairly exploitable along those lines, the magic formula being something like:

Take a high intelligence score (8 or more) at the beginning, get the Comprehension perk, and don’t take any skill past 75.  Don’t take skill-boosting perks: chances are, through finding the necessary bobblehead and several skillbooks, most of your skills will be near the 100 cap by the time you hit 20.  Now that the cap is at 30, maxing all skills should be possible.  Even maxing your SPECIAL is possible if you hold off on taking the attribute bobbleheads until 30, and doing so will likely pop most of your skills over the remaining gap to 100.

Bethesda’s content designers are top of their line, but RPG designs have always left a little something to be desired.  If I were to redesign Fallout 3’s to have a bit more flavor, I’d probably make it so perks were a lot more powerful but only taken every 3 or 4 levels, while grinding incentives for getting a skill level above 100.

That would make it so there’s no such thing as a master-of-all.  But maybe having a master-of-all isn’t so terrible in a single player game.

The rest of this entry is boring counting of today’s adventures in digital post-apocolytpia.  I’ve finished Operation: Anchorage, and am ruing how the expansions transformed the PC version into a buggy mess, but aside from that my optimism about a revised ending to this post-apocalyptic adventure remains.

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Fallout 3: Expanded, Anticipation

I’ll not be talking about Champions Online for awhile.  It remains foremost on my mind, as my press compilation piece indicates, but I’ve said all I can about it until it gets much closer to release, some 59 days from now.

I’m actually planning on returning to school soon (insofar as 3 credits of classes is returning to school).  Funny to think that the game will be released before then.  It’s not healthy to dwell on these things, you know?

How to burn the time between what little I’ll see of the precious game until then?  How about by returning to the game that’s been on the top ten list of of GameFaqs ever since it was released October of last year?

I refer, of course, to Fallout 3.

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Champions Online Exposure Compilation

[Note 8/26/09: most of this information is now fairly outdated.]

Rather than being productive over the past couple days, I wasted my time quite effectively by lurking over the Champions Online forums like some kind of digital vagabond, my nose pressed hard against the glass of fine dining I won’t see for another two months.

By the end of the second day, I pretty much had learned all that I needed to know, short of actually being in the beta.  Amongst the more poignant data bytes to know about the game:

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Approaches To Space Dragons

I like the idea of making a sci-fi game more than a fantasy game.  We’re all familiar with the trappings of fantasy, it’s like mainstream geek folklore.  However, Sci-Fi seems more progressive – magic and swordplay are behind us, lets talk laser beams.

As Yahtzee put in his EVE Online review, the reaches of space are fascinating because they are places mankind has not yet been where we may still find dragons, figuratively speaking.  The final frontier has a sort of infinite wonderment to it.

In that same review, he points out that EVE Online somehow failed to capture this feeling of space dragons.   It was a game of finding floating rocks, converting them into an elaborate spaceship component market, and then using said components to blow up other spaceship components.  Not only were there no dragons to be found, but what was found was a pointless exercise in monotony.

Sci-Fi shouldn’t be boring, so how can one present it as an entertaining game?  Lately, I’ve been seesawing across two approaches, and I haven’t quite decided which one to settle upon, or even if a comprimise could be reached.

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There’s A Zombie On My Lawn

Not too long ago, I was busy lambasting PopCap Games’ Peggle on the grounds that the skill component was too far removed – you could only reliably predict 2 or 3 bounces and after that it’s up to luck.

Thus, all the Peggle love out there was sort an indicator that the admirer was, deep down, not somebody who particularly cared about getting better at a game.  Who cares if they’re having fun, right?  But, in terms of judging Peggle as a game, a cap on how well the player can play it is a major disqualification of sorts.

But, despite the fact it was developed by the same company, I’ve been enjoying  Plants vs Zombies over the past couple days.  Of the mere $10 Steam was charging for it, I’d say the music video alone was worth $2.50.

The game has a lot in common with the song. It’s not perfect under great scrutiny, the casual friendliness of it may even insult your intelligence a bit, but the whole package nonetheless harnesses great fun.

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