Game-related ramblings.

Month: February 2012

Roguelike Highlights: Xenocide

EDIT: A WordPress update seems to have messed up the screenshots in this post, and re-uploading them isn’t helping; they do not show up properly in WordPress at all anymore. Plus the original link to the game is down. So you’ll just have to trust me that this game exists at all.

New readers may want to read my introduction to roguelikes first. Previous roguelike highlights can be found here.

Xenocide is not finished. And with no updates since 2007, it seems unlikely that it ever will be. There is no ending, with things simply trailing off if you get far enough, and there are many item descriptions and even some gameplay features that haven’t been implemented. As such, it’s not a game that one will play for very long. But it has a lot of really clever ideas, and I think some of the more popular roguelikes could learn a lot from Xenocide.

You Should Read Videogame Potpourri

Jefequeso, who has contributed a couple guest posts to this blog, has now started a blog of his own. It’s called Videogame Potpourri, and is most recently running a review of Noctis IV, which sounds fascinating. He’s also written several reviews of older games, which is something I haven’t had as much time for recently, so fans of the History Lessons posts will likely enjoy his writings.

Interested readers should take a look.

Final Thoughts on Master of the Wind

I first wrote about Master of the Wind some time ago. That was mostly from memory. Master of the Wind was released episodically, and I played through the first five story arcs a few years ago. I played the sixth upon release, but there was a long wait for the seventh and final arc, so when it arrived I decided to start over from the beginning. Now I have finished a fresh, full playthrough of the entire thing, so I can offer my final thoughts on the game.

As I mentioned before, Master of the Wind is a free game made with RPGMaker, a game-making tool designed for the creation of Japanese-style RPGs (JRPGs) in the vein of those from the 8-bit and 16-bit console era. Master of the Wind does not defy many conventions of these games, with its pre-set cast of characters, turn-based battle system and completely linear story. But it sets itself apart through its excellent writing and characterization.

The Finishing Line

I’m currently playing X-COM: UFO Defense — a game I have never played before — and I wrote up a History Lessons post about it before realizing that I probably shouldn’t post it due to a conflict of interest. Sorry! I will have to come up with other posts (like this one) while I’m playing it.

Playing X-COM has further delayed my playthrough of Skyrim, but this had an unforseen advantage: last week, Bethesda released the full modding tools for Skyrim along with a high-res texture pack for the PC version, and both are free to all who purchased the game. This means that when I do play Skyrim, I will not only get some shinier graphics, but can also make use of a variety of community mods that will surely crop up now that the tools are available. And that doesn’t even take into account the various patches that Bethesda put out shortly after the game’s release. The news got me thinking about what it means for a game to be “finished”.

Roguelike Highlights: Tales of Maj’Eyal

[If you are unfamiliar with roguelikes, consider reading my introduction to the genre. You can read previous Roguelike Highlights here. As always, click on screenshots to view bigger versions.]

In the year when Dungeons of Dredmor was released to critical acclaim, topped the Steam sales charts for a while, and introduced a whole bunch of people to the roguelike genre, I was somewhat surprised to discover that it did not win the ASCII Dreams Roguelike of the Year award for 2011. Instead, a game I had never heard of took the prize: Tales of Maj’Eyal, a.k.a. ToME 4. Upon further investigation I discovered the the award is simply given to the game that receives the most votes from its fans, and that indeed one can easily vote twice or for several different games. Still, the fact that ToME 4 took the prize for the second year running indicates a very devoted fanbase, so I decided it was time to check it out.

I’m glad I did, because ToME 4 is actually one of the more unusual roguelikes out there, with quite a lot of ideas and mechanics I haven’t seen in other roguelikes. It’s not just a game, but also an engine, providing building blocks and tools for players to construct their own roguelikes. The game itself demonstrates the versatility of the engine, which is able to handle both traditional and non-traditional mechanics, as well as sound effects, music, and fancy sprites and graphical effects if desired. I haven’t poked around with the engine myself, so I’m not sure how easy it is to use, but it’s certainly powerful.

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