A strange thing happened to simulators recently. The very term ‘simulator’ as applied to gaming always used to represent a hardcore gaming experience: flight sims required you to master an intimidating array of avionics, navigation techniques, weapons systems and aeronautical theory; sub sims were the only time I ever needed to actually use my schoolboy trigonometry, and economic sims taught me sympathy for politicians and civil servants as I flailed in the heavy seas of conflicting demands, inadequate resources, and spiralling costs. The payback of course, was the opportunity to experience, albeit in a superficial way, a variety of aspirational jobs & lifestyles beyond the reach of ordinary Joes like me, with the associated reward of deep satisfaction that rising to a difficult challenge provides. Plus there was the variety – I’m pretty sure no fighter pilot ever went on to command a nuclear attack submarine, before retiring from the services to maintain the plumbing infrastructure of a major city. Read the rest of this entry »
We were in trouble. We’d been ambushed, and our team was down, deep in the rugged interior of Stratis. Red was playing a medic, and called out over comms that he was on his way from base in a Hunter Jeep. He was also reporting some fairly serious, but sporadic lag.
Red has a solid rep as a medic. He’s pulled many a fireteam’s chestnuts out of the fire when things have gone South in a heartbeat, as they often do in ARMA. We knew he was on his way, and we waited patiently. Then a yelp and an expletive came over the comms. Red, are you OK? Read the rest of this entry »
I was writing to someone today, just catching up on news and things, talking about the last few days and then about an hour later I was coming up for air after a bit of an unplanned ramble about gaming. I guess I just got the bit between my teeth and failed to notice that I wasn’t sitting in the pub snug with a pint and a couple of mates, but it did voice some thoughts that have been kicking around for a while in the whistling void of my noggin about my relationship with games, so I thought I’d share my ramblings here and invite the perilously open question of you all: What does gaming mean to you?
Note that the following is an excerpt from a personal letter written to someone that does not play games in any way, shape, or form, and knows absolutely nothing about the games industry, it’s history, and heritage.
The grand & glorious conceit of the ARMA concept has always been about potential: a huge, seamless gameworld which reduces players to the scale of ants on a football pitch, albeit soldier ants with APCs, tanks, attack helicopters and a seemingly endless arsenal of mystifyingly-named infantry weapons & ordnance, all wrapped & presented in one of the most obtuse yet functionally rich interfaces in gaming. Get past this, and you then have to contend with punishingly competent AI who can shred a gaggle of CoD-raised run & gunners in a New York minute. This game needs skill, patience, teamwork, communication, stamina, and a bit of luck. Oh dear. Read the rest of this entry »
Torchlight II has provided a lot of fun, both as an involving singleplayer adventure and as a mental multiplayer ecstasy of chaos. It’s a slick, polished game, and one of the things which I especially appreciated about it was the way that the simplistic, cartoony graphics nonetheless employed all the fantasy RPG artistic tropes to create a vibrant, interesting gameworld. TIAOVH opts for a more realistic graphical style, albeit set in a gothic steampunk alternate reality, but in gameplay terms feels a lot like Torchlight: There’s a helpful companion (a ghost in this case), exploration of an atmospheric, coherent gameworld, and an endless deluge of enemies & loot drops. If anything, the scale of the waves of enemies bent on your destruction are even more intimidating in their sheer volume, and decision paralysis soon sets in with the variety of loot with its multiple attributes to be considered. Read the rest of this entry »
Seeing as most of our SupCom games are a frantic, sweaty frenzy of scrabbling to survive, the cognitive demands of the endgame have generally resulted in rather messy conclusions so far. Red & I decided to set up some test games, using easier opponents than our usual fine-tuned AIs, and give ourselves the breathing space to explore the advanced experimental units, and strategies for deploying them. We set up on a 4×4 map with the two of us against 2 easy and 1 normal AI, and whilst things didn’t go quite according to plan, it was nevertheless, epic. Read the rest of this entry »
When we first started playing Supreme Commander 2 in co-op, we put on our training wheels and went up against easy AI opponents, while we learned the ropes. This didn’t take too long, as SupCom 2 was designed to be more streamlined & accessible than its groundbreaking predecessor. But SupCom2 nails the “easy to learn; hard to master’ paradigm, thanks to the generous smorgasbord of strategic options on offer. The shades of choice between specialising or generalising are multiplied when a few friends are on-side, giving each player a bit more breathing space to develop their order of battle according to their preference. Plus the stroke-beard pre-match consultations and debates add to the fun. Read the rest of this entry »