Category Archives: Single Player

Dwarf Fortress – The Ultimate Story Creator

The holidays have given me some extra time, and what better way to spend it than to play a game that takes a while to get the hang of … Dwarf Fortress. Maybe there’s a small part of me that derives pleasure from being able to say that I’ve started to conquer the mountain that is, in my opinion, close to the ultimate nerd game.

Playing Dwarf Fortress these days is a lot easier than it was a few years ago (when I unsuccessfully tried to get into it). Now there is the Lazy Newb Pack complete with more meaningful graphics, easy installation and super handy utilities such as Dwarf Therapist (no, it’s not counselling for Dwarves, but an easy way to track and change the professions of your ever growing Dwarf population). There are also a tonne of tutorials on YouTube and a great Wiki. This isn’t a game that I’d recommend you just dive into without some preparation.

As a brief explanation of the game, you are given 7 dwarves and some equipment and dumped on a spot on the map (of your choosing) with the goal being to create a great fortress capable of repelling all manner of enemies (including from within) and last as long as possible. You don’t control the dwarves directly, instead you assign jobs (such as mining) and the dwarves with appropriate matching professions will get to it after they’ve finished hauling, sleeping, eating etc. New dwarves (migrants) arrive every so often, seasons change, wild animals attack, enemies attack (but you get a grace period for this), dwarves need to be placated and nurtured and fed. To build the fortress you will need to grow food, chop trees, gather plants, fish, mine, build workshops, craft craft craft, make bedrooms, dining halls, build a military, set traps, etc etc etc. There is so much depth to the game it’s mind boggling. Having said that, within just a couple of short hours you know enough to survive the basics.

This isn’t a game you can ‘win’ per se, hence the game philosophy often mentioned on the Wiki, ‘Losing is fun!’, and it is! As my last fortress was rapidly flooding (water and other physics are very realistic and tricky when you don’t know what you’re doing!) I read the announcement screen and watched the fortress. Some of my dwarves had been missing for a week, other’s had gone insane, there were ghosts, miasma (a toxic cloud from rotting material) and all manner of hilarious things happening. Even though I was facing the end of this game, it was making me laugh. As it ended, I immediately started up a new fortress, armed with more knowledge of what NOT to do.

Pushing through the learning curve is well worth it, and it’s a free download so you won’t be left out of pocket if it doesn’t ‘twig’. Dwarf Fortress is coded and designed by Tarn Adams (Toady One) with the help of his brother Zac (ThreeToe) Adams.  Donations are encouraged if you enjoy the game, from what I can gather these represent Toady One’s sole income as this game is now his life’s work.  There is a really interesting New York Times article on the game and the brothers.

One of the levels of my new fortress - Zoom in for more detail

One of the levels of my new fortress – Zoom in for more detail

Farm, trading post etc

Farm, trading post etc

 

The entrance to my fortress, needs walls and lots more to be done yet

The entrance to my fortress, needs walls and lots more to be done yet

 

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Waiting for GW2 – Endless Space et al.

Not long after the 30 quest weekend challenge I pretty much stopped playing The Secret World.  I will probably go back later, but for the moment I’m not feeling much of a pull to log in.  I am going through serious MMO withdrawal, but, with Guild Wars 2 only a week or so away there’s no point in getting into a different MMO.  A good time to play a few single player games.

I bought Endless Space on Steam last week, a pretty new turned-based 4X game.  Even on Newbie setting it’s giving me a run for my money.  I also bought a copy for hubby so we can play multiplayer (multiplayer games are done through Steam either with your Steam friends or open to the public).  Ganging up on the AI certainly helps!  If you want a great summary of the game, the Cynical Brit has a WTF is … Endless Space episode, well worth watching.  With the disastrous launch of Sword of the Stars II last year, and Legends of Pegasus this month, it’s nice to see a polished game on launch.  Sure, it could do with a few more bells and whistles, but in the last month there have been 4 or so updates, one of the them chock full of additions, so both the present and future look bright for the game.  The UI is so clean and well designed, everything is at your fingertips and the graphics in general are a pleasure to look at.  A first glance it seems pretty simplistic, but there’s plenty of depth to it, and I’m imagining more depth over time.  I’ve played about 20 hours so far, and I’m not feeling at all bored yet, quite the opposite, still figuring out strategies to nail the AI!

Galaxy View – yes I know it looks like I’m in a good position here, but I’m not, trust me. 

Pretty AND functional Solar System View

Part of the large tech tree

I’ve been a typical butterfly over the last few weeks, trying to find things to play while waiting for Guild Wars 2.  As well as Endless Space I’ve dabbled with a couple of Alpha Indie games, Gnomoria (kind of a better looking version of Dwarf Fortress) and Stardrive, another 4X space game (I was a contributor to the KickStarter for that, hence access to the Alpha).  Fieldrunners 2 is still keeping my ipad busy :).  What’s everyone else doing in the lead up to Guild Wars 2?!

 

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Real life and gaming

Yes, real life gets in the way, and this was the subject of a couple of posts I read yesterday, namely The Decline of Hardcore, a guest post on BioBreak, and  On “The Decline of Hardcore” from I Have Touched the Sky.  Of course they were talking about hardcore gamers, but really it was about growing up, getting a life, and not having as much time to play games any more (even though there are plenty of versions of ‘us’ from 10 or more years ago filling in those slots I’m sure).

I’ve never been a hardcore gamer if you go by the majority definition, no 6 night a week raiding or anything like that, but I do consider myself a hardcore gamer in that I spend a ‘significant’ number of hours every week playing games.  Mostly MMO’s, but also plenty of Steam games and iPad games (and I’m about to lose many tens of hours in Fieldrunners 2!).

I love Fieldrunners, and now it’s even better!

Although gaming blogs are about gaming, it’s nice to get to know the people behind the posts, and Rakuno’s was great to read, inspired by Ambermist’s July challenge :).

So here’s a bit about me:

  • I’m an Aussie from way back, at least 4 generations that I know of.  Before then I think it’s mostly England, Scotland, France.
  • My husband and I are a mini Brady Bunch (without Alice unfortunately), 4 teenagers between us, all of them gamers … naturally :D
  • We are busy packing to move :(, so gaming time is limited at the moment, one of the down sides to renting is that there’s no guarantee that you can stay in one house for more than a year or so.   Melbourne and Sydney houses are incredibly expensive to buy, and why buy a massive house when most of the kids will be out of home in a few short years … maybe :P
  • Leelu comes from the movie The Fifth Element, I love Gary Oldman movies, Dracula from back in 1992 being my favourite.
  • I was very sad when, after pre-ordering The Secret World and being able to put a name aside, that Leelu was already taken.  My current character is Leeftea instead, after re-rolling to Templar from Dragon so that our little wandering guild could all get together in a Cabal. I will miss the butterflies.
  • I’ve been playing games since … well, a long time.  My first memory of playing games was on the Merlin, I thought it was ace, then came the Commodore 64 which meant more games, and coding :D.
  • My collection of Steam Games is down right embarrassing.  How dare they do such tempting sales.
  • I work in what little is left of the gaming industry here, and for that I am extremely grateful!

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The Eternal Butterfly

Whenever I log into The Secret World I have a good time.  So why do I have to stop myself from thinking about logging into LotRO or Aion or something altogether different instead? Why am I craving for GW2?  Is it simply me being my usual butterfly self, or a case of the Better the Devil You Know?  Maybe I’m limiting myself too much and should follow Syp’s Plan and juggle a few MMO’s.  I have trouble focusing on multiple MMO’s however, they’re big games that require a lot of attention and time is precious.

Of course I haven’t had any huge play sessions yet.  I haven’t managed to even finish the first area, Kingsmouth completely yet, unlike MMO Gamer Chick. While I’ve been under the weather I’ve been making use of my DS  and VITA, playing ChronoTrigger, FFIV, some timeless and terrific old RPG’s :D and then logging into Secret World for an hour or two here or there.

Maybe the best way to analyse my thoughts is to write down the tried and tested like / dislike list:

Like:

  • Variety of quests.  I love that they’re tiered and that most of them make you think at least a little.
  • Ambience.  This is one scary scary world.
  • Decks. They are a good guide for beginners as to where to put your Skill Points and Action Points.  I could write a whole post on this, maybe that’s next.
  • Grouping. Even when you separate to do solo instances for quests you remained grouped at the other end.
  • Cross-server grouping.  This is truly great, no more regretting what faction / server you rolled on.
  • Bags.  Wow, bags in TSW are awesome.   You start with 50 slots (pay in-game currency to add more), and these slots can be divided up into player named bags.  You can even have one or more of them allocated to show permanently on the screen.
  • Clothes, wear what looks good, create an entire wardrobe! No more fugly gear while you’re levelling.  There’s even a toolkit for changing how your weapon looks based on another weapon.

The inventory system is very flexible, it’s great!

Dislike:
  • Crafting.  Good and bad.  More tutorials please.  More toolkits dropping please.   For those after a tutorial, TenTonHammer has an excellent one up on their website, but with a crafting system so different to the norm you’d think that Funcom would put more effort into teaching you how it works.
  • No levels.  I know that we have Skill Points, Action Points, Decks etc but I miss my levels.  I guess I’m just so used to levels after ever RPG since time began has had them.  Maybe I’ll feel better about this after more time in-game.
  • Not many friends playing.  This is where GW2 will win win win!
  • Bugs.  This is good and bad.  There are a few horrendous quest bugs, but you can change instances (group with a player on another dimension / shard) and find one that works.
  • Missing features. No AH yet.  This would be good for more toolkits!
  • No ‘follow’.  C’mon, when we’re making each other cups of tea and running to a quest area, ‘follow’ is a nice thing to have.
  • No custom decks.

Hmmm, looks like TSW is worth at least the remaining 2 months until GW2 comes out :)

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Long live the (next) King

So my first Duke (Murchad I) lasted until the grand old age of 78, not bad even for today’s standards!  Things got extremely hectic straight after that.  This game can be both incredibly busy (thanks goodness you can pause time), or incredibly slow (but you can fast forward pretty rapidly too).

Death comes to us all

Having my first Duke die was a good learning tool for understanding the laws of succession better.  My new Duke now has a son, I have named him Frederich and even though he’s only 1 I have high hopes for him!  But first I need to get him to the throne.  To do this, I need to change the laws of succession, and to do that I need to have ruled for 10 years and have every vassal like me.  That last bit is tricky, I tried to revoke the title of the ruler of Leinster a while back (so that I could own it outright) and didn’t do a great job.  The siege ended but nothing seemed to happen, so I called peace and retreated.  Clearly I was no longer on his favourite person list.  So, a couple of years later I tried again (with a bit more of an understanding of battles) and this time succeeded.  I now have fewer vassals (by 1) and they all like me.  Once I hit 10 years, I shall change the laws and all will be good (in my dreams) :P

Another aspect to the game (which I still don’t fully have my head around) is upgrades to your county’s, such as walls, markets, harbours etc.   I’m upgrading things, but I’m just not sure whether they’re the right things. Again, more research required.

You want, we can build it, for a price.

Some games in Steam have a link to the manual on the right hand side of the library page, CK2 doesn’t for some reason, but I found it here for anyone interested.  This Wiki is also great for beginner help and strategies.

EDIT: Actually you can get to the manual from within Steam, just the store page rather than the library page.

My husband likes games that are self explanatory, where you don’t have to do a lot of research, reading, watching etc.  This is not one of those games :P

I think I’ll keep plugging away and post a summary when I’m finished.  Kind of like a mini review.  Already I can say that for a complex game, and me not being a great strategy game player, it’s surprisingly good fun and as long as you do a bit of homework first, you can jump in and at least give it a try without the game ending too fast :)

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Filed under Crusader Kings 2, Single Player

Crusader Kings 2 – 23 years on …

Yay, I survived Smallpox (meaning that I was lucky enough not to catch it) :)

I’ve played quite a lot today, but only managed to get through 23 years.  I am now waiting with a tinge of sadness for my 63 year old ruler to kick the bucket.  At least his 16 year old son will take over, and not my eldest, who is still, in my opinion, a creep.  I decided not to kill him but instead made him hate me even more by changing the succession laws to elective and nominating my second youngest son.  Lucky for me, that tactic seems to have worked.

1/3 of Ireland down, 2/3′s the go

I now have four county’s to my name, after coming to blows with a few of my neighbours, and things are chugging along nicely (for at least the last few minutes anyway).  Again, like a good book, the further in I get the more attached I’m becoming attached to my little world.

Given that there are multiple centuries ahead of me, I’m coming to the realization that these are loooong games, but for some reason it’s capturing my attention more than a standard 4X game.  I find 4X games appealing in concept but I get bored pretty quickly … not so with this game.  There are plots to unravel, people to marry, advice to give your kids when they’re stupid, armies to manage, taxes to collect, ambitions to strive for and much more.  Lucky I’m used to MMO’s :P.  But of course it also could also mean that unless I do something wrong it may well take longer than a week to complete.  I will have to start using the super fast forward button when not much is happening.

Crusader Kings 2 is very diligent about reminding you of the important things too.  There are aspects to the game, such as providing children with guardians for their education once they reach the age of six, that would be very easy (read: almost guaranteed) to forget if you weren’t reminded.

I’m slowly getting the hang of things, but need to do more Let’s Play watching.  There are plenty of times when I know ‘what‘ I want to do, but not ‘how‘.  Hopefully it won’t feel too overwhelming as I gather more and more counties, plus I’m fully aware that things could go terribly wrong very easily.

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Crusader Kings 2 – First Play

I started off my first Crusader Kings 2 game as Duke Muchad I of Munster, Ireland, with the initial aim of being King of Ireland.  Let me just say from the start that this game is really out to get you!

More than half of my starting council hated me (well into the red zone).  To improve things (not knowing what I’m doing at all mind you) I decided to put on a great feast.  I invited 3 very important people, 2 of whom immediately declined.  The one that did come refused more wine, an apparently insulting gesture. Why oh why did I spend up so lavishly on food :(.

So much for a feast to improve things

Every man and his dog comes running to me to find them wives, which is quite difficult given the number of nasty traits that many of the eligible women are burdened with (including gluttony and syphilis).  But setting up these marriages was interesting, I clearly invited the wrong people to my feast because the fathers of the women I’m finding for all my relatives shower me with praise and accept the proposals (most of the time).

One of the nice things about not-always-online single player games is that some of your learning can come from saving a game before doing something big (such as attacking your neighbour).  Let’s just say that for my first invasion I was mighty glad I had a save to go back to!  No more invading for me for a while.

It’s currently the year 1072, a meager 6 years after starting.  My heir hates me and I hate him.  I uncovered his nasty plots, threw him in jail and then threw him out of the county all together.  I was hoping this would no longer make him my heir, but sadly he still is.  I’m now saving to get him assassinated because if I die and he’s still my heir I will be very sad (maybe even sad enough to start again).  I have 3 tiny children to a brand new wife (goodness only knows where this awful eldest son came from). These tiny children are all still babies (two are from a set of twins).   I just need to live long enough to see them grow up (now that’s every parents wish isn’t it :)).

So far I’m really enjoying it, and I know full well that this first game (and probably the next couple) will be filled with learnings and mistakes, it’s just too complex to know everything from the get go.

The best way I could describe Crusader Kings 2 is that it’s like getting lost in a good book, everything that happens springs to life in your imagination.  There is really very little on the screen (in comparison to other genres) other than stats and messages and maps, which I think is a good thing for immersion in this sort of game.

The in-game music is absolutely terrific too!

Did I mention that there seems to be a very infectious outburst of Smallpox? I hope I survive it …

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Games to play before The Secret World

Early start for The Secret World is next Friday (or Saturday for us Aussies).  I don’t want to play any MMO’s between now and then.  It will be nice to take a very short break from them and increase the fun and anticipation of starting something new.

There are two games that I do want to play this coming week however.  The first is Gravity Rush, a new purchase for my VITA.  I downloaded the demo and played that through.  By the end I was wishing there was more, so that’s always a good sign. There are some really interesting ideas in there so hopefully I’ll be coordinated enough to get through it.  I do tend to get motion sickness playing some games (mainly first person, started with Wolfenstein way back when), so hopefully I won’t be affected on a small screen.  I was fine with the demo, so here’s crossing fingers.

My copy of Paradox’s Crusader Kings 2 has been collecting virtual dust, even though it’s been tempting me for a while. My second aim for the week therefore is to get through a full game (which could be fast if I do something silly like die without an heir).  In preparation I’ve started watching some excellent tutorial / Let’s Play videos courtesy of SeeKayEm99.  They’re humorous, informative and don’t take things too fast.  There’s a lot to this game and I want to try get my head around it all.  I love the depth of Crusader Kings 2 (or at least the concept of that much depth).  I guess the best way to learn will be to just jump in and see how I go, if it ends early at least I’ll know what not to do! I have a friend who has now reached well over 300 hours in Civilization 5, so I guess these games can get kind of addictive if your brain’s wired that way.

I shall rule the world (and then my sons, and their sons et al)!

I may even dip my toes in the 4th beta weekend for TSW, not sure yet.  I could always try PvP which is something I very much doubt I’ll look at much after the game is officially released. I could also try out some of the weapons that I didn’t get to last weekend.

Lots to do, lucky it’s the weekend!

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Time for some single player fun

Sometimes it’s nice to put your favourite MMO to the side and play a single player game.  I have many to choose from (understatement), including a new purchase, Warlock: Master of the Arcane.  I love Paradox games, or at least the thought of Paradox games.  I have Crusader Kings II and have played around with it a bit, but I have yet to complete a game.  I have pre-purchased Elemental: Fallen Enchantress and again played around with the beta a bit but have yet to complete a game.  I also have (non Paradox) Tropico 4 to play, I loved Tropico 3 so I’m excited about 4.

This is my problem, I always want to play more than one game, start one, switch to another and never get anywhere in any of them.

So for now I’m going to play Warlock and see how I go.   If I manage to complete a couple of games I’ll be happy.  Warlock is a 4x game, similar to Civ 5, but simplified in some ways and more focused on battles.  It’s also supposed to be nice and challenging.

Aint’ it pretty :)

Das24680 (an aussie :D), has a great Let’s Play of the game on YouTube, and his enthusiasm for it is contagious.

As an aside (and back to MMO territory) I held back from purchasing The Secret World, but managed to get a Beta key for the weekend.  I’m really looking forward to playing it for a few hours.  Unlike Guild Wars 2 that I already own and therefore don’t want to play too much before launch, I’ll be playing quite a bit of TSW on the weekend with a view to deciding whether or not I should purchase it.

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Filed under MMO, Single Player, The Secret World, Warlock