Game-related ramblings.

Month: August 2012

Roguelike Highlights: Mercury

If you haven’t already, you may wish to read my Introduction to Roguelikes. Previous Roguelike Highlights can be found here.

I’ve been pretty busy recently so I haven’t had much time to post, but I wanted to at least write something quick about Mercury. While most Roguelike Highlights are fairly long and detailed, this one doesn’t have to be, because of the central premise of Mercury. It’s a winner-generated roguelike. Rather than being continuously updated by the developer, as most roguelikes are, Mercury instead tracks players’ high scores, and at the end of each cycle (I think cycles are two weeks long but I’m not sure) the two players with the highest scores can add a new character class, monster, or item to the game. Then everyone plays with the new stuff for the next cycle, and the new high scorers will get to add more stuff when that cycle ends.

That means that Mercury started off as a very simple game, with only one character class, one type of monster, and one item. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit.

Indie Time: Breath Of Death VII: The Beginning

Zeboyd Games are best known for Cthulhu Saves The World, a parody of old-school Japanese-style RPGs. The game was very well received by the gaming press, and made headlines when the PC release made them more money in one week than they’d made in over a year and a half on X-box Live Indie Games. Readers of this blog may have noticed that I prefer to play PC games, and a major reason for that is the openness of the platform that allows indie developers like Zeboyd to be successful. Readers of this blog may also have noticed that I enjoy the occasional old-school Japanese-style RPG, such as Master of the Wind. So, naturally, I picked up a copy of Cthulhu Saves The World.

Then, I discovered that the PC release also includes Zeboyd’s earlier title, Breath Of Death VII: The Beginning. Being rather picky about playing things in the right order, I decided to try it first.

History Lessons: No One Lives Forever (part 2)

If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll probably want to read through part one before continuing.

At long last, I have finished No One Lives Forever. This took a while partly because I was busy but partly because the game is even longer than I suspected. I’m happy to report that despite the length, the quality of writing that I praised in part one never really faltered. There was one character I was unimpressed with, and a few dud jokes, but overall No One Lives Forever remained a tightly-written and thoroughly entertaining game. Most importantly, it handled the theme of sexism elegantly, without becoming overly preachy or melodramatic. Given the problems that most games have with female characters, this was a relief. Actually, it was more than a relief, because I now have a game I can point to as evidence for how to do it right. It’s not perfect — Cate’s wardrobe is a little worrying for most of the game — but in terms of the writing at least, it’s miles ahead of the norm for games at the moment.

I’m not worried though. The demand for better female characters (and indeed better characters in general) will continue to grow, and games as a whole will improve in response. But, despite holding up No One Lives Forever as an example to aspire to, new games will have to go about things differently. You see, I wasn’t entirely accurate earlier — the writing in No One Lives Forever isn’t great despite the game’s length, it’s great because of it.

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