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    Apr 8th, 2015 at 10:50:57     -    Defcon (PC)

    In this playthrough I wanted to explore the mechanics of peace in the game and see how far pacifism took me. I started a new game with 5 other AI opponents. I immediately set my settings to Ceasefire on all 5 opponents. I decided to focus on defense and laid down silos and air bases. I didnt finish laying down the defenses before defcon 3 and was left pretty much defenseless, but I thought it was ok since I was testing out the new strategy.
    As soon as defcon 3 began, I noticed fighting inside my borders between other groups. I was expecting collateral damage with a small negative score. There were groups whose total score was in the negative while I was sitting in the middle at 0.
    Just after defcon 1, I saw the white big letters of "Launch detected" flashing all over the screen. I began wondering if they were aimed at me and they sure were. I was getting attacked by ICBMs of all colors. As the victory timer started, I was sitting there with a 50 million population loss. This taught me that peace theories dont really work in times of crises. I would like to know more about the AI and what decisions it takes to come to the decision to attack me. I played another game after this where I sent requests to be allies with other teams but all of them went unanswered and I had another 75 million loss game.
    I got into this game session with the mindset after having read the news about the Iran Nuclear deal that had just gone through a few days ago. With nuclear war being a concern and the remaining neutral stance not working, I am wondering how much of the game would be a mirror of future struggles. I do think that human beings have evolved enough to not blow each other up in Atomic war. Today when many countries have nuclear capabilities, I think that by itself would be a huge deterrent for war.
    In last thoughts, I wish the game gave more options to make diplomatic measures rather than just a checkbox. I found it funny how if you manage to make a alliance and stay out of the war, you dont get any point for survivors. The game assumes that the player is predisposed for war and doesnt give any value to survival but rewards aggression. I understand from a game design perspective a peaceful game makes no sense but it would be a good game to try to just maintain peace in a world headed for doom.

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    Apr 7th, 2015 at 17:44:27     -    Defcon (PC)

    I started a new game playing as Europe this time with AI opponents as North America and South America. I did not feel that this was going to turn out good. As i played I realized there is no pause button. Also you cant attack before defcon 3 and cant bring out the ICBM launches until defcon 1. I was playing the game at the slowest speed just to take time to think and not make a gigantic mess up. I was holding a lead in the beginning but a lack of planning started to show and the game went to hell defcon one started. When the game hit defcon one though I increased the time speed and went behind the closest targets indiscriminately without any sense of strategy because I was losing. I wonder if this is how world leaders feel when they are at war in such dire circumstances. It makes you think if the people you put your trust in to defend you, are as fallible as you and do they have control when faced with the burden of millions of deaths? Do they know any better when it comes to a situation like this? I found myself queuing up ICBM launches to cities with the most population just lining them up one after the other to cause the maximum human life damage. After a point I just wanted to hurt the AI as much as it had hurt me.

    Every game starts with a foreboding sense of doom and when you actually get to defcon 1 you are no longer concerned with strategy but end up just throwing all you have at the enemies. In my game time, towards the end I found myself at the receiving end of a barrage of nuke attacks right after the victory timer started. I knew Europe was headed for a wipe-out. I wondered here myself how the game measured something like victory when all three sides had a incredible amount of losses. How do you define victory in a apocalypse? Individually - its easy. If you live you've won. If you die, you've lost. But how does it work for nations in the 21st century? If there is thermonuclear war in the future will the countries that dont have all citizens dead be declared victorious? The game gives 2 points to a kill while -1 for a death. I started thinking whether this point system is sensible. I dont think you can simplify something this complicated into a simple point structure.

    I feel the game does a very good job to convey the hopelessness of all out mutually assured destruction. It is not a future I'm looking forward to. It makes me question the mindset behind these all or nothing, destructive tendencies. At the end of the slow game I was left with all my cities decimated and no military installations left. It perfectly suits the tagline of the game - "everybody dies". This also made sense logically in the real world context of what would happen if Europe went head to head with North America and South America.

    As I left the game, I saw that there was a option to create alliances which was not mentioned in the tutorial. I plan to play with the alliance mechanic next time. I'm impressed with the game till now and can see this as a good multiplayer experience. I hope to see what more this game has to offer.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Apr 7th, 2015 at 17:47:27.

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    Apr 6th, 2015 at 20:42:01     -    Defcon (PC)

    Within the first few minutes of starting a new game, I was lobbing nukes from europe to russia and it was only the tutorial.
    While I was busy nuking russian cities, London got nuked and 10.6 million were killed. A large white text flashed on the screen telling me so, the music changed mood and stuff hit the fan in my mind. I had lost the mission. In retaliation I aimed 10 nukes for moscow and people kept on dying by numbers. Here I realised that the size of the markers were based on the size of the population of the city. After I was done, moscow was reduced to a really small marker. I was part of a horrible mass murder.
    I had to look up the meaning of the word DEFCON which I found out stood for defence readiness condition which turns out be what you do most in this game. The game play felt a little slow (As I played on and discovered things on my own, I ended up drawing my name all over north america with a pen while waiting for all the orders to complete) but I feel at higher levels we will need the time to think and execute. During the last training mission, I was forced to be quick and strategic in my attack. I never felt OP. I felt I was vulnerable throughout, the thought of people dying by the numbers was not pleasing to me. The victory timer started in the end right when I was wondering when the game was going to end? I won by a slim margin with heavy losses on both sides and I was ready for the next game.
    Aesthetically the game was hugely reminiscent of another game I played - Hacker Evolution which is made by the same developer. The visuals while unique make the in-game text hard to read. since the aesthetic was doing a lot to push the fantasy of a military supreme commander controlling units from the home base, these small niggles are forgiven. The music of the game made me awe. The haunting music reminded me of the soundtrack in This War of Mine. I also think I heard a woman sobbing somewhere while bombing cities in the background. That was a terribly chilling moment.
    In other thoughts, it is no surprise that they chose Europe in the tutorial level as the first theater of conflict. The game feels slow but I feel that is a deliberate design choice to convey the real nautre of war. I found it strange that India got clubbed with China, Russia and Pakistan against the western powers. I am sure that will never happen in the case of a world war :). Heres to hoping that the game allows me to make my own alliances in the next levels.

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    Feb 25th, 2015 at 11:24:40     -    The Walking Dead: Season Two (PC)

    Wednesday 25th January 2015
    The suture scene was hard to watch. That scene followed by the bashing of the zombie’s head by the 12 year old girl, I feel, sets up the character of Clementine. Since I had not played the earlier game, it becomes hard to believe that a 12 year old girl has such strength and tenacity to operate on herself and then right after that - kill a zombie.
    I have to note that after that establishing scene, I found myself making dialogue choices that are not as aggressive, insecure or defiant. I picked dialogue options that appear to be mature, coming from a world
    wise, strong willed person. This change may be because I’m playing this on a different time and day or because of the difficult situation that the game just put Clementine through.
    The one time I felt like being a punk was when Rebecca comes and talks to Clementine while she is having dinner. I felt like taking the dialogue option and asking her “Who is the baby’s father?” but
    stopped short when I realized that is not something that Clementine would do.
    At the very end of the episode I was faced with two choices – Giving the dying man water and saving Nick or Pete. I stuck to the good guy mindset and gave the man water. The last one was difficult – knowing that Pete was bitten and would turn but was a more valuable asset than Nick who was a loose cannon. Finally, contrary to logical judgment, I decided to save Pete. In the next episode preview it hinted that Pete takes the choice to cut off his own leg to prevent the infection from spreading. That
    alleviated some of the guilt from the last choice. Just to satisfy my curiosity I went to youtube and checked the change in the final cutscene if I had decided to save Nick instead of Pete. It showed Nick
    drinking, looking broken and dejected. This gave me further assurance of having made the right choice.
    I also have a hard time recollecting the dialogue options as I’m writing this so I’m going to a walkthrough or lets play video to make notes. Till now most the dilemmas faced in the game haven’t caused me to think about them much, they being straightforward for me and my moral compass. After playing this episode and looking at the teaser for the next one, I can see that the strength of the game is not in the interaction or the dialogue choices but the multiple branching storyline directions that the game can go in based on story choices. I don’t think the game has enough of those branching stories to warrant multiple playthroughs right now but the hint of possibilities is very exciting for future games in general.
    I’m looking forward to play the next episodes in the near future!

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