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    Clash of Clans (iPd)    by   jp       (Oct 24th, 2014 at 09:37:28)

    I figured I'd spend my second week exploring the clan/clan wars system. Perhaps this is where the fun is?

    I failed at finding that fun. Mostly because I wasn't able to join a clan without getting kicked out (with no notification which was weird). There was a case where I was invited to join a clan, said yes, and a few days later I discovered the clan only had two members and that I was the leader!

    At this point I decided that I might as well stop playing and move on to something else.....

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    Steeldiver (3DS)    by   jp       (Oct 23rd, 2014 at 19:34:02)

    I can't really complain too much about this given how much I paid ($2 if I recall). So, in my mind I was playing an iOS app game rather than a handheld console launch title. The mental context matters because it sets expectations and mine were low (given my recollection of bad reviews) and not that invested (didn't cost a lot so if it's terrible, no big loss).

    I guess the game's big draw is probably how it uses the gyroscope. You can hold the 3DS up and turn around as you would if you were looking through a real periscope. I guess that's neat - except for the fact that I was playing this on the bus. So, didn't get to try that out (and I imagine it would get tiring quite fast).

    Steeldiver is basically 3 games in one (they're even separated in the menus almost like this was a 3-in-1 cartridge). The second is a timed periscope shooter. Do as best you can. The third was perhaps the most interesting to me - it's a hex-based strategy game (protect your ships, try to sink your opponent's). And the first is probably the "meat" - you have missions, three different subs to choose from and you must direct a sub from the left of an area to the right by diving, firing torpedoes, etc.

    I was initially intrigued by the strategy game until I realized that it is quite a bit more limited than it seems. This is mostly from the fact that you only get one action per turn so many of the activities devolve into tit-for-tat. I located a group of ships and then I'm stuck. The ships try to sink me (1/3 chance of them doing damage), I try to sink ships (via the periscope shooter interface of the 2nd game). If I try to sink ships then they will try to sink me back, etc. It got a bit tiring because my hands felt tied (in a bad way). I'm guessing that having two actions per turn might make a difference and, presumably, makes more sense with the fiction: sub silently locates a convoy and then tries to sink a ship! (two actions) The idea that you would locate a ship and then sit there hoping to not take damage (finding a ship reveals your location) seemed a bit dissonant.

    The first game (drive the sub to the exit) does have some interesting aspects as well. I appreciated the slower and more careful pace - it's not an action game in that reflexes matter. Here you're carefully building up momentum, trying to accelerate and decelerate and the right time, and so on. So, more like driving a ship than a car (which is a good thing in this context). I also enjoyed how the console (lower screen) would spring leaks if the sub takes damage (forcing you to tap to plug the leak).

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    Clash of Clans (iPd)    by   jp       (Oct 21st, 2014 at 16:38:02)

    I decided to play this for two weeks just to see what all the fuss is about. I was pretty sure I knew what I was going into, and sadly(?) I wasn't mistaken. I don't to imply that it's a "bad game", rather that it's gameplay isn't particularly appealing to me. I found that I spend more time waiting for stuff to happen rather than actually doing things. So, the game seems rather shallow - it's not about making difficult choices as much as it is about being hyper-efficient with your time. To be fair, I also decided not to spend any money to speed things up.

    That being said, I REALLY enjoyed the fact that you could quickly and easily re-arrange your village/base. There are so many games out there where you build a base and are stuck with what you went with. In this case I felt I could experiment with the layout of things in order to (hopefully) make my base harder to attack/defeat.

    I'll probably play another week or so (it's only been a week) just to see if things evolve/change in any significant way.

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    Dragon Age: Origins (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Oct 7th, 2014 at 08:30:04)

    I'm way late to the party on this one, even though someone gave me the game upon release...5 years ago. My reason, and the reason I have other similar games sitting for so long, is twofold: (1) I know I will love it, and I tend to follow the saying "save the best for last," and (2) I know it will be a long romance. It is daunting to start a 70-hour game. But, it's a good time to start since I don't have any other huge, complicated plots floating in my head right now.

    I chose an Elven Mage. Most any race/class combination presents you with an "origin story," which in my case I managed to do in about 4 hours over 2 weeks. The Mage's origin story involves going through a deadly trial called The Harrowing to move from being an apprentice to an actual mage in the Circle of Magi. There is so.much.lore. It is overwhelming, and since I've barely been playing, I'm losing some detail over time. But last night I played about 3 hours straight and was starting to finally get into the game. I like a lot of good lore, and this is delivering.

    A friend I met at a convention this past weekend raved about Dragon Age. She said she's played it all the way through four or five times (!) to see all the origin stories and to experience the game from different perspectives (races, sexes, classes, conversation choices). I got the bright idea to do all the origin stories before beginning the main game, and then take my favorite character and play the rest of the game with them. But after finishing the Mage origin story last night, I am totally ready for the main event. Perhaps I will sprinkle other origin stories throughout the main campaign.

    DA:O reminds me (obviously) of the old D&D games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. The most interesting thing to me is the camera. You can switch it between the top-down or isometric Baldur's Gate style and the 3rd-person Neverwinter Nights style. They call them the "tactical view" and "exploration view" respectively. I've been bumbling around both views, and generally prefer a zoomed out exploration view, a middle ground between the two. I think as I gain experience controlling my party and moving during battle, I will make more use of the tactical view in combat.

    My other big surprise so far is that I've already been able to outright murder three NPCs. I generally don't do that due to repercussions with townsfolk, party members, or impact on questlines, but I was curious because it seemed like there WOULDN'T be any such repercussions...and there weren't. I got a quest from a prisoner being held in the middle of a camp. He was wrongly imprisoned (sort of), starving, and just wanted food and water. He also had a key to a locked chest nearby. I could either find him food and water or kill him and steal the key. Being a nice Mage, I tried to find him food and water, but the guard wouldn't give me his. I searched the camp, and gave up. It's possible that, later, I could get some somewhere else for the man, but I opted to knife him instead. The guard turned around and said, "Hey, what did you do that for?!" I said, "He lunged at me! I protected myself!" And the guard said, "Oh, well, okay." And that was that.

    The other murder I committed was even more blatant. I don't even remember the circumstance, but the victim was in the middle of a populated area in camp. I killed him, and no one so much as blinked at me. "Weird," I thought. Then I had the opportunity to do another guy in, but I opted to blackmail him for a sword instead. I felt bad about that one because he was supposed to be bringing the sword to someone else, and the camera zoomed to his face, his lip quivered, and he sobbed, "You're such a mean man." :-(

    I find these interactions interesting, even though killing people in the streets without repercussions is highly unlikely to me, even in fantasy-land. I'm going to invest my next bunch of skill points into Cunning so I can learn the Persuade trait to have a silver tongue in conversation. I always like exploring all the dialogue choices, and seeing the range of ideas that NPCs have, the range of things they will say. It fleshes out characters and situations.

    Anyway, I'm going through my trial to become a Grey Warden now. Still getting used to the combat system and dying a little bit, but figuring it out. Totally intrigued and impressed overall. Looking forward to finding some free time this month to hurl fireballs at Darkspawn.

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    de Blob 2 (DS)    by   jp       (Oct 6th, 2014 at 22:05:00)

    Done!

    Definitely a nice palate cleanser. I decided against pursuing 100% completion or any of that nonsense mostly because the apparent reward (change colors whenever you want!) didn't seem like that big of a deal. So, on to the next game!

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    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (SNES)    by   bunit348

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Tuesday 27 February, 2007
    In this game, the designers also used the background to make the feel of game play different, and for some reason, it is very apparent in this game than in other SNES platform style games that I have played. For instance, in one level you are back in time with dino's and volcanoes and the background has heat waves and uses a lot of colors like red, yellow and orange, it honestly makes me feel like it is really hot in the room while I'm playing it. Another cool background is the New York background, where you can see all the buildings and it looks far away, I guess it just kind of shows how when making a game, sometimes things that are not even party of the game play like the background are still very important.

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