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I game, therefore I... er, game?
24 May 2012 @ 07:30 pm
Whoops, got a bit sidetracked over the week and didn't get around to putting up my final installment of the Templar's crusade in Kingsmouth in The Secret World open beta weekend.

Draug


YEAH, SPOILERS ETC.



Teamwork: worth it?Collapse )


Parting Thought

I spent more time fighting the game's UI than I do fighting the game's mobs. FC have a lot of QoL work to do. Also, it would be nice to test some other part of the game now, like the Illuminati or Dragon startups, or any other zone that isn't Kingsmouth. Repeating the same missions in such a short time span doesn't allow for the forgetting of details which would otherwise prompt rediscovery of clues all over again and therefore replay value. I sincerely hope the final Beta Weekend (June 1st - 3rd) lets us get an updated client and something new to do. FC needs to demonstrate that they are squashing bugs.
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
19 May 2012 @ 08:44 pm
It's the second Weekend Beta for The Secret World and we pick up where our intrepid Templars left off: neck-deep in lovecraftian mystery in the New England. Same characters, different server - this time one with the rest of the Kingsmouth quests unlocked. Perhaps even the 'dungeon' that's been hinted at.

Rakshasa


GIANT SPOILER WARNING - oh you know the drill by now, a random assortment of gameplay explanations with some circumspect mission bits.



This one's a little shorter: more playing, less typing.Collapse )

Funny quotes of the day: anything said by the Orochi duo at the northern bridge in Kingsmouth. They're utterly socially inept to hilarious effect, and the rest of Kingsmouth is pretty sparse on humour. Not a surprise given all that the small handful of survivors have gone through.
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
14 May 2012 @ 05:30 pm
This is the third and final installment of my experiences in the first Beta weekend for The Secret World. I've focused principally on the Missions aspect of the PvE experience, given that it's the primary PvE activity available in the beta weekends and the game trades heavily on the strength of the immersion, investigation and puzzles presented. Our Templars are in over their heads with the ragtag survivours of Kingsmouth but we can't quit now, there's too much at stake!

Kingsmouth Zombies


GIANT SPOILER WARNING - lots of gameplay spoilers and a fair few plot giveaways.



Part Three: The eye of the storm is a bit foggyCollapse )


Amusing lines seen in the game today:

"You successfully used the Sprinting."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the sky is falling. Not quickly - that would be ridiculous."
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
13 May 2012 @ 12:13 pm
This post follows on from my previous post about my first evening playing the Weekend Beta of The Secret World, with my experiences of the first main area of the game: Kingsmouth.* Today, our brave and confused Templar foot soldiers are hurriedly packed off to Solomon Island off the coast of new England, via the mysterious Agartha, to figure out just what the hell is going on over in that god-forsaken hole...

Kingsmouth


GIANT SPOILER WARNING - I go into plenty of detail about the mechanics, character progression system and mission basics in Kingsmouth so there will be plot spoilers.


Part Two: in which I get my pewpew on.Collapse )

Funniest game quote of the day:

"This underground realm, like the great British railway system, is the very model of efficiency."


* Yes, that is an actual URL to an actual website FunCom made for the purposes of the game. The information it contains will come in handy when solving the various puzzles and investigations presented...
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
11 May 2012 @ 11:29 pm
5pm BST on Friday 11th of May marked the start of the first of three open beta weekends for The Secret World. Thanks to my sterling efforts for the Dragon faction in The Secret War minigame, I had been given access to these beta weekends and in anticipation I'd even downloaded and patched up the beta client well ahead of time.


Secret World Logo


These are my experiences of this first weekend, as a newbie Templar going through the startup. I was there at 5pm BST, albeit remotely.

GIANT SPOILER ALERT - I don't give too much away about plot, but I give a great deal away about the gameplay.

I shall tuck the entry away behind an LJ cut for this reason.



Part one: wherein I find my feetCollapse )


Favourite quotes so far include:
"WARNING: Holy radiation poisoning imminent."
"Initiate the Nietzsche syntax."
"We usually lose them to Elder Gods with a name like a mouth full of cornflakes."
"Dragon prefer the medium of Interpretative Terrorism. I hear it's the next biggest thing."
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
23 April 2012 @ 05:50 pm
The FunCom hypemachine is in full swing in preparation for the release of The Secret World, the upcoming modern-day conspiracy theory and supernatural MMO. The open Beta phases are coming Soon™ and the culmination of the viral internet marketing has hit with full force, spamming a social network near you.

The Secret War


What?

The Secret War is a small and simple mini-game played in your browser (well, most browsers) and you can earn freebies for the MMO including access to the open Betas, and if you're really good/lucky there's a trip to Montreal and the FC studios in it as well. Warning: requires a FaceBook account.** Also required is a FunCom account for TSW so that you have something to tie any in-game winnings to, should you go ahead and buy the MMO at some point. At least it's not as invasive as an EA account...

The idea is that you pick which of the three main factions to throw your lot in with and you assume the role of an operative for that faction. You spread propaganda in the form of exclusive screenshots and trailers, recruit people to your cause and send agents out to bring various countries (and each individual US state, presumably because FC has aimed primarily at the US market) under your faction's control. The control updates are in real time, you can deploy agents every hour and spread propaganda every 6 hours. It's all pretty straight forwards.


Who?

The three factions are as follows:-

Illuminati   The Illuminati

The US-based hypercapitalist masters of influence and control who seek to dominate the world from the shadows and drive out the competing supernatural forces that lurk behind the scenes. Not as new to the scene as their modern paradigm suggests, the Illuminati are masters of subtlety and misdirection. The colour blue, pyramids with eyes and the assault rifle are their trademarks.



Templars   The Templars

An ancient european secret society thought to be long dead but in fact still holding vast swathes of power throughout the old world and africa. Ditching their old religious dogmas, they're moving with the times to bring back the old days of glory and sanctity, and do battle with the evil forces that terrorise humanity so the world can truly be called safe. The colour red, twin pistols and the Templar Cross are the Templar calling cards.



Dragon   The Dragon

Not so much an ancient order as a collection of groups and networks from the far east that simply share a common goal: to expose the corruption and darkness and to throw off the blanket of lies and secrecy and show humanity the world as it truly is. From the change this will bring, humanity can move forward. Dragons show the colour green and are associated with the katana, and take a stylised dragon dancer mask as their sign.


The three factions are old enemies and whilst from time to time some of their number may ally with others, this never lasts long. Once you've picked a faction for The Secret War, you cannot go back, although I don't think this has any impact on what you can do in the MMO once released. Facebook friends who've picked the same faction as you become Agents you can deploy, and you do get a basic starter agent as well. Those who picked different factions become Rivals, but I haven't found that this has any impact beyond knowing who to boo at down the pub.


How?

The contributions you make to your faction in a country you click on will help determine what proportion of a country's influence your faction holds. You can direct propaganda at a country by having people click on the screenies and video links on your Facebook Wall posted from the country interaction screen. This counts as sending a one-shot agent off to that country to do your faction's bidding. The most direct method of gaining control over a country is to deploy agents once an hour.

You can see realtime faction control updates, and it's interesting to note just how far each faction can rise and fall, from dominating over 50% to scraping under 20% of the world in the space of a single day. The over-arcing reason to ensure your faction maintains a high degree of control is to unlock exclusives for your faction. Currently the race to unlock a new trailer is underway and as of writing this the three factions are very close in terms of progress.


World Map


In-game phats, you say

As you accumulate points from agent deployments and propaganda-spreading, you gain points. Once you reach a certain number of points, you unlock in-game items and advance in Rank. Items include costume bits, XP-boosting consumables and unique weapons. I didn't see anything particularly game breaking, thankfully, and there does appear to be something for everyone in terms of a wide variety of magic and weapon items. The higher the rank you attain, the more freebies you accumulate.

The ranks follow a progression from your basic unranked nobody, through Initiate, Loyalist, Operator, Infiltrator, Agent and finally Secret Agent. There's weekly leaderboards and achivements and so on, of course.

The main prize is access to the open Betas in May and you need to hit the final rank of Secret Agent to unlock that. Depending on whether you make a throwaway FB account and hook up with the relevant Facebook groups to mass-add and be mass-added by, or carefully hand-pick friends you think might actually enjoy hitting it up, it might take you a day to hit Secret Agent, or you might run it close to the wire when the game 'finishes'. There is no finishing date given, incidentally, and whilst the beta access will eventually become redundant, the game and the rest of the freebies might continue after the MMO launch.


And if I want to sign up?

Then have a shufty here (links to my recruitment portal):




** This part was initially a big put-off for me because I loathe forced social network linking (Massively, I'm looking at you too). What I didn't realise was that it links directly into a FB Game app. You know, the kind that clogs up your news feed... The fact I didn't realise this until after the game had started spamming my wall with app updates hacked me off rather a lot. I was trying to post screenshots and a video to my news feed because I thought some people might be interested, but those were restricted by the app to my own wall. Instead, the other annoying updates on my progress was what ended up going out to everyone. Nice way to piss off my friends and to hamper their own marketing strategy. Oh FunCom, don't you ever change...
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
01 March 2012 @ 03:52 pm
There's a few games and updates heading our way that have caught my attention, and so I've kept an eye on how things have been developing.


Big Game Roundup
Mass Effect 3 logo Guild Wars 2 logoThe Secret World logo

Aside from the fact Mass Effect 3 is launching on the 9th of March, which is all over the internets along with the GAME/Gamestation debacle, the hypemachine is on overdrive for Guild Wars 2 now that Star Wars: the Old Republic has lost its new and shiny edge, and FunCom's upcoming The Secret World is still generating a lot of interest.


Tidbits

A recent interview with the BioWare studio founders conducted by Penny Arcade mentioned that the possibility of a Mass Effect MMO is an interesting one. There's some mixed feelings about it, given the mixed reception SWTOR got, but back before SWTOR details were known there was a good deal of interest in an MMO set in the Mass Effect universe. I have to admit that now I'm not so sure either. A single-player focused MMOFPS isn't something I'm looking for in an MMO.

My last post looked at awful customer service in the game industry, and whilst I did eventually have my Star Trek Online character restored*, my experience was very bad. The news that Blizzard has just laid off over 10% of its workforce, primarily those in support roles as it turns out, is not an encouraging sign that the industry-wide situation will improve any time soon.


Update

The buzz surrounding Borderlands 2 had been quiet for the last few months until a few days ago, a video coupled with an official release date annoucement brought peoples' attention back. September 18th, as it happens.



There's been plenty of new information about the game, from the overhaul of itemisation to what powers the new Siren (Maya) will have. Spoiler: it's called Phaselock and translates as support/crowd control with damage on that affects mobs rather than the Siren herself. The latest infodump relates to the new Assassin named Zer0, a cyborg ninja that displays numbers and emoticons on it's featureless helmet. Previous articles detail the Commando going by the name of Axton, Maya the adventuring Siren and the first character that whet folks' whistles: the gunzerking dwarf Salvador. IGN has plenty of articles that go into further detail.


Dark Horse

One game that has been overlooked is Otherland, based on the Tad Williams novel series of the same name set in a cyberpunk-genre future. It's likely to be a small, niche game and hard details about it are scarce but there is a video demonstrating themes, ideas, areas and combat. I'm definitely keeping an eye on this because that city looks fantastic and I'm a sucker for cyberpunk and Sci-Fi.



In some ways it's a game within a game: the game itself appears to show both the real world in the setting, and the various virtual Otherlands. I'm most interested in seeing how this will pan out in terms of gameplay. Speculation time: I wonder if it will combine large elements of both worlds rather than the real world existing as little more than a background affair, as it did in the old Matrix Online game?
It's pitched as being Free to Play, but there's no hard details about what is being sold for cash to fund it, be it vanity items only or power items. No surprise there, everyone's jumping on the Pay to Win bandwagon.

I'll continue to keep an eye on what's what, and might even find some interest in TSW again. FunCom has done a great deal as a company to turn me off their products and kill any enthusiasm I once had...



* After repeated support tickets and emails I eventually had an actual human email me back. He started off snarking at me and I pointed out in detail exactly why I was unable to do the things he suggested I ought to have done, such as use the ingame GM system when the whole problem was that the character could notg et in game... Eventually it was passed to a GM who took one look at the character, rolled it back to the last time it'd successfully logged in and voilá.
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
20 February 2012 @ 01:12 pm
Following on from my last post regarding Star Trek Online, I've hit a snag with one of my characters being completely broken and unable to log into the game. I've attempted to contact customer support with PWE/Cryptic and the frustrating experience I'm currently going through have left me wondering why CS has to be so shockingly bad across the industry.

Poor Service

When something goes wrong for me in a game, I see if I can fix the problem myself first of all. Was I being daft? Was it a minor glitch or bug? Does zoning/relogging/unequipping and so on help? Does it randomly go away on its own* ? If that fails, I ask friends and check for solutions online. If it turns out that it's a problem I shouldn't be having ('shouldn't' defined as something rare or unusual as opposed to yet another well-known bug introduced with the latest patch) and there really is nothing I can do about it but it's putting a serious cramp in my style, then as a last resort I will turn to Support. For games I have fleeting dalliances with, it never usually gets to this point: either I haven't delved in deep enough to get hit by a bad issue, or else I'm not impressed enough with the game to bother.

My experiences with various game companies over time has run the gamut from fast, efficient problem resolution to outright being called a liar. Sadly, I've tended to find the whole spectrum within each game or game company. I can't honestly say that any one company has all-round great customer service.

It leads me to the question: how many customers are these companies losing because of awful CS experiences, rather than because the customer does not like the game itself? In other words, how much is a player going to put up with before they take their time and money elsewhere? I've been thinking about this for myself the last couple of days.

For that matter, have I just had duff experiences? Are there game companies out there that provide better service?


Cool stories, Bro

Everyone's experiences will vary, and my own have been to the extremes of the curve. The best CS experiences I've had have been when a petition/ticket I've submitted is picked up quickly and a knowledgable representative has contacted me, having read the detail I've given and either being able to resolve it there and then in a few minutes or else works with me to find a solution. The worst have involved long waits, petitions vanishing or being closed without explanation, getting into arguments and being insulted.

I'm a fan of putting plenty of detail into the petition in the first place, laying out everything that's wrong and what I was doing etc. If it's a bug I've come across before or otherwise understand how it can be fixed, I'll include that as well. A good example of this is the old 'vanishing twinking pillows' bug that struck with depressing regularity in Anarchy Online. If you were trading an Explosif's Polychromatic Pillow to another character, it sometimes vanished in the trade. It's happened enough times to me that I've had GMs explain exactly the logging bug that causes it to glitch and to go invisibly into a forced extra inventory slot, and nothing can be done about it except for a GM to delete it and spawn a new one. There's more techspeak involved but when it happens to me I just blurb it all into the petition so that the first person who reads it (most likely a volunteer in the ARK program) knows to pass it up to a GM and that it'll only take a couple of minutes to fix.

On the other side of the coin, it gets to be rather depressing when the response one (eventually) receives to a detailed petition indicates that the CS rep hasn't actually read it. Maybe you're fobbed off with 'have you tried turning it off and on again?' or sometimes even find that your petition has been closed and marked off as Resolved without anything happening at all.

So far with PWE/Cryptic I'm on my third support ticket. The first one got me the standard automated reply to let me know I'll hear from them within 24 hours. The ticket promptly vanished from my account support page. After 2 days of nothing I sent another one referencing the first. The same automated response, the same vanishing act in my account page. The Support sections of the forums proved to be of no help, and today almost a week later I received another automated reply email asking in a long winded way if I'd turned it off and on again, and then marking the whole episode as Solved. I received an identical reponse to my second ticket. Clearly no one had looked at either of them and the stock responses were generated because the petitions had been classified as 'Technical Issue'. So, a third ticket referencing the first two has been sent. Considering I put the effort into acquiring an Odessy-class limited edition ship on the broken character in question, I'm not keen to just delete it and re-roll from scratch.

I've hit that point where whether I stay or go in STO comes down to how their Customer Service treats this support issue, and me. If they continue to ignore me until I go away, then I most certainly shall.


* You'd be surprised how often that works.
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
... and more clichéd Borg-related puns. The reason being that Star Trek Online has just celebrated it's 2 year anniversary with heavy promotion of it's newly released free-to-play side and anniversary content such as Borg invasion events and a special mission to acquire a limited edition ship.

Star Trek Online

STO had a troubled development history, having begun life as a project of now-bankrupt Perpetual Entertainment and getting shelved when it all went south. Luckily, Cryptic Studios picked it up and began developing it again, with much fanfare and hype and even getting on board Leonard Nimoy for voice acting and promotions. I followed it's development with interest because Star Trek was something I grew up around (I knew my Andorians from my Betazoid), and I even applied for the Beta. Needless to say, with my old rustbucket of a computer back then I didn't get a lookin.

However, what I heard coming out of the betas was disappointing. Spaceflight was primitive and like Freelancer but sluggish, ground combat was basic and never really got anywhere. Even though it looked good and there was a lot of effort on matching up lore and keeping star trek aesthetics, themes and sounds, my enthusiasm drained away and I barely gave it any thought. The game is set a while after the Voyager series finished: the Klingons are at war with the Federation, the denizens of the Gamma Quadrant are gearing up for an invasion, the Borg are ever-present, the Undine (species 8472) are plotting to wipe everyone out and the shattered remains of the Romulan Star Empire are causing trouble. Plenty of scope for activity but from all I heard it just never lived up to it's potential.

Fast forward a year and a half and while I investigate Champions Online, I end up hearing more about STO as its sister product at Cryptic. The item shop microtransaction model had kept me away, I had Eve Online for my spaceship pewpew needs and Anarchy Online for my ground based sci fi. It wasn't until this second anniversary celebration when a couple of friends jumped into the game that I decided I'd give it a go.

With Perfect World International's acquisition of Cryptic, there's been a big push to amalgamate accounts into a single PWI entity. I have reservations about this, particularly since I have a PWI account already because of the couple of days I faffed about with Forsaken World, but as yet it's still possible to use an existing Cryptic account to play STO/CO. The fun part about that is that a Cryptic account spans both games to the point where you can be logged in as one character on one account in one game and chat to yourself, in-game, to another character on the same account in the other game. Quite nifty for keeping track of friends I feel. It also meant I had accounts existing ready for STO so I could log in, roll up a Starfleet officer and get going with a minimum of fuss.


First impressions

Free to play means restrictions all round. My experience with CO meant I knew what sort of thing to expect with STO: limited character selection, limited costumes, missing out on customisation and so on. I wasn't expecting only ONE character on an account though, which is a bit stingy. Would it have hurt to allow 2? Still once technical hiccups had been resolved (running the first time defaulting to 800x600 fullscreen whilst at the same time the character creation auto-started in the middle of the client's Gamma test: hilarity ensued), I got mucking about creating a character. Science, Engineering or Tactical officer and then picking a species or creating your own custom alien. The usual suspects were available to play, such as Human, Vulcan, Andorian etc, as well as some less popular choices like the Pakled. No Klingons until you have a character at 25 (they're an entirely seperate faction) and therefore none at all to free players unless they buy more character slots.

In my usual style, I went with a custom alien Engineering Officer. A weird looking tall thin thing with bone plates and spikes, dreads, infra red vision and a thoughtful composure. Recognisable themes from the various series and films play during character creation and once you're done you jump right into the tutorial.

Having played through the CO tutorial plenty of times I was hoping for something similar: open world with much to explore, mobs to pewpew for XP and items, extra quests lurking around and achivements/perks (called Accolades in STO). Sadly, it's not like that at all. The experience is very linear, eases you in slowly with how to best use your phasers, movement controls, scanning for anomalies, explaining bridge officers and absolutely nothing of interest. You are a lowly ensign beamed aboard a ship under borg attack to help them fend off the invaders, who are acting very oddly. Upon your victory, you find that the Borg killed all the command crew of your own ship. In the ensuing spaceflight battles you prove yourself to be a worthy acting-captain and you rescue some personnel from various less lucky Federation ships before getting together with other ships (other tutorial newbies or NPCs) to kick some Borg butt. Then it's home in time for tea and medals and a promotion to Lieutenent. That is, level 1 and entrance into the main star trek galaxy playfields - a single server with instancing used for all locations. All in all it was more of a cinematic cut scene with little else, and absolutely no replay value.


Exploration and Boldly Going

Spaceflight and combat is very Freelancer, much more so than it is Eve Online, though it's using similar 'clearly defined up and down' space as opposed to true 3D space. That said your ships are big and slow so steering them is a tedious and fiddly prospect, especially given your weapons don't autofire so you end up having to mash the spacebar for your phasers and the number keys for your photon torpedos. I really wish I had the option to double-click in space move rather than hold down all mouse buttons and slowly drag the cursor, or WASD. Having only a distance to your object with no other spatial information in a pseudo-3D environment is a real pain as well, and overall it feels primitive. There's a lot of manual flying around 'sector space' which is basically warp space which you use to fly through sectors and quadrants, dropping out of to arrive in various systems. The autopilot can only fly you in a straight line. If a zone boundary appears within that line, you go into that zone regardless of whether that was where you'd plotted a course to or not. It then leaves you there, scratching your head and wondring what your navigation console was smoking.

You can scan for anomalies and those lead either to mission objectives or, more often than not, objects you can play a wave-matching minigame with to win loot that's used for crafting. This occurs in both space and on the ground. It's a bit fiddly at first but once you're familiar with the increment size of each click of the arrow when matching a wave, it gets to be rather easy and you win lots more loot.

Ground combat I actually found to be rather fun. I had a very nice sniper phaser that could 1-shot just about anything if I dropped into Aim mode, and early on found a hand phaser with an AoE setting to swap to once multiple hostiles were in range. The NPC-controlled security officers and bridge officers that comprised the rest of my away team were rather erratic and often rather stupid, not moving out of the radius of a photon grenade thrown at us, or just charging right into the middle and getting shot up. The movement animations looked bad though; my body hovers through the air with my erratic limb waving having no tangible effect on anything. I jump like an idiot. There's equipment like armour, kits for a special move/attack, 2 weapons you can switch between and 4 slots for consumables such as shield rechargers and medical stims *.

Customising your Bridge Crew is a nice touch. The specialisations, race and gender are fixed but you can alter any other aspect of their appearance, and it's up to you what equipment you want to give them. They each have one special Ground skill and one Ship skill. As an example the Andorian Female Tactical Officer everyone is issued with in the tutorial can use Photon Grenades on the ground, and can supercharge a double Photon Torpedo attack in space. As you do things in the game and gain officer ranks (levels), you gain points to spend in your own skills and points for your bridge crew.

As with CO, once you're at the main earth space station after you finish the tutorial, there's a bunch of runaround missions to talk to people and get the hang of things like the tailor, shipyard, medical bay and so on, then you're sent off on some story related basic missions (escort a Vulcan ambassador, add a dash of Klingons and leave to simmer with an Undine - it gets messy). Eventually you're given the obligatory runaround in how to craft and a lesson why getting involved in Ferengi money-making schemes behind the Federation's back is ultimately a headache. Then you're given free reign on what you want to do next. At this point I found the game to get slow in terms of progression.

Odessy Class Ship


Q gives freebies?!

The spangly Odessy-class ship mission for the anniversary celebration can only begin at Lieutenant (5) (which is only level 5, sounds easy enough). It's simple enough to do: chat to Q on the earth station and after sitting through his attempts at humour and exasperation at human's obsession with phat loots, he tells you to get your arse to Mars where you can test fly this new super-secret uber class ship on some deactivated Borg. A Klingon shows up in an uber battleship pursued by other Federation vessels, you blow it the hell up and then it's home in time for more tea and more medals.

The trouble was that I found it surprisingly long and awkward to make up the levels to go and do the mission. So much so that I ran out of time trying to get it on another character. Grinding the Delta Voranis anomaly missions was what the game strongly suggested I do by giving me lots of repeatable missions there and all it really did was build up a big pile of crafting materials I didn't have the currency to make use of. The main currency is Energy Credits and at lower levels at least, it's hard to come by. But I persevered and the ship was big, majestic, powerful and slow as molasses. Sadly you can only actually pilot the thing for real at max level, which I didn't realise at the start.


All in all

I spent much of the weekend playing STO and it was overall a fun blast. It's shared programming and game design roots with CO are very obvious all over the game, though I wonder why they made ground movement so different when CO's works well and STO's doesn't...
I'm not sure if I'll play it any more than maybe a random hour here and there as whilst character creation is fun (Female Ferengi Tactical Officer you say? That'll get all the RPers knickers in a twist if I go RP with it...) and they've captured the feel of Star Trek nicely, I can see ground combat getting samey and space combat isn't all that entertaining. Still, it's free so chances are I'll give it a look back now and then. It's not engaged me particularly and I see much of it's wasted potential, but I don't hate it and haven't uninstalled it so it's doing better than many other MMOs...


* The best ones I found were Tribbles. They had monosyllable names, if you idled your away team would take them out and stroke them complete with tribble sound effects, and when you got shot you could eat them to regain HP...
 
 
 
I game, therefore I... er, game?
06 February 2012 @ 12:32 pm
In a fit of serendipitous timing, the day after I wrote my last post regarding Mobile Apps as a complement to PC gaming, a new indie Humble Bundle has surfaced specifically aimed at Android Phones*.

It's a small bundle this time with only 4 games on offer, some of which are quite old now to boot, but the idea is that whilst there's versions for Windows, Mac and Linux in there as well as Android, the point of it is as an introduction to Humble Bundles for mobile platforms. The games included in it are available directly from the Android Market as well.

Humble Bundle for Android logo

The games one gets with this particular bundle are:-

World of Goo - a physics puzzler that's become a well-known classic over the last few years
Edge - another physics puzzler of a completely different sort
Osmos - yet another physics puzzler of yet another different type with a lovely soundtrack
Anomaly - a tactical squad strategy/tower attack game that plays in realtime

World of Goo App   Edge EX App   Osmose HD App   Anomaly HD App

World of Goo is the bonus game for paying over the average and whilst it's old hat now, it's a game that suits a mobile platform very well. You control balls of black goo that buzz around a framework you pull and stretch into shape from said balls of goo, the aim being to get some of them from the starting point to an end point to progress to the next level. Think standard bridge builder with a squishy theme.

Edge comes in two varieties, regular and EX (extended). The extended version is more like Edge 1.5 with additions to the gameplay, levels and a graphics engine update. The aim is to flip a cube around a puzzle-maze, collecting flashing blocks ont he way and not falling off the edges. It's a cute game but I found the controls to be very inconsistent: moving your finger 2 millimetres on screen might make the cube barely wobble, or it might send it screaming off at top speed to plung over the edge in a blur.

Osmos comes in HD format and is another older game, this time with the focus being on patience and attempting to be a relaxing game. You're an amoeba-like lifeform whose main goal is to absorb smaller amoebas to grow whilst not being absorbed by bigger amoebas. There's all sorts of obstacles such as evil amoebas that hunt you, 'food' that is harmful, currents in the medium you're floating through and so on.

Anomaly is also in HD format and runs with the age-old theme of alien incursions on Earth (in this case in Baghdad, which is an... interesting choice of city, especially given your rescue squad is British). Aliens towers have sprouted up and you're assigned resources to purchase vehicles that will follow a course you plot beforehand to blow them up. Meanwhile you use various special effects to help them, hinder the towers and grab power replenishments before the next threat looms.


Overall

I've found the games are good to while away time when travelling, and Anomaly looks like it could give Ghost Recon on the 3DS a run for it's money in terms of hours of gameplay, though it burns battery fast. Osmose is a bit jumpy on the difficulty curve, with some later stages being significantly easier than some of the early ones. Edge's control issues are proving to be awkward to get over for me, and World of Goo is OK but I never got into it on the PC and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

On a technical note, once the bundle is purchased you pick which versions of the games to download where, such as the windows versions to a Windows PC then the android APKs to your phone, either directly or through another device with internet. My phone's native browser had issues with the download of the APK from the Humble Bundle site and in the end I grabbed them on my PC and Dropboxed over. Your mileage may vary.

* As a note, the games can be found seperately for iDevices as well.