Saturday, April 01, 2000
|I'll do this when I can. I like games, and I have a lot to say about them, but I also have run out of time. Eric is the logical one to talk about games, but he's busy with other stuff too.|
First note: WINNIE, the WinChip system, running at 66/200 rather than overclocked to 75/225 is reliable and smooth. See the relevant areas of VIEW for more. One of the games I use to test systems is Microprose's THIS MEANS WAR, an odd game that many didn't like, but which I found myself playing a LOT, and over and over. It stresses a system a lot, which is probably why it wasn't popular; also the game secrets book didn't take the game seriously, and was written in a mysterious manner designed to make you hate the game. I can't think why. People who don't like a game oughtn't write about them except to say they don't like them and why. Anyway, the game is just hard enough to be interesting, but I get to win... Chris Crawford used to say that the secret of a game was 'the illusion of winnability." He liked to design games so that you couldn't actually win, but you kept thinking you could. I HATE that: both to play and as a philosophy.
I like games that have the "illusion of losability": I don't want to lose, but it's nice to think I might have if I weren't so clever.
I do not like games that turn into clickfests, and Whack-A-Mole. The prime example of this are the various WarHammer games. I LIKE those games: I like the stories, I have no real problem identifying with the characters, and there's enough strategy (well, division level tactics) to intrigue me. The problem is that a battle that in the real world would take an afternoon is done in the game's "real time" in about ten minutes. Units can cross the entire battlefield in the time you are giving orders to the archers to change targets. There's a "rally the troops" button you should be pressing, only if you do that you will not be able to send the troops to the right places. Perhaps young people who like arcade games disguised as "real time strategy" find this interesting, but I don't. If War Hammer had a mode in which you could pause to give unit orders, it would help; better yet would be a way to slow it down a lot more. The WarHammer stories are potentially more interesting than Blizzard's WarCraft, but the implementation is done to be clever, not to be playable. I wonder why?
I am constantly annoyed by the term "strategy" applied to games in which all the strategic decisions are taken out of your hands. THIS MEANS WAR is one of those: few of the scenarios rise to the level of operations and logistics, much less strategy. It doesn't stop them from being good games, and I suppose "strategy" is a more popular and salable term than "tactics" or "real time tactical." Oh well.
The games I played most lately were Total Annihilation, and prior to that, FALLOUT. I've also got through all the human missions in STARCRAFT and I'm now annoyed at having to play the Zerg. I like to play the good guys, and I don't understand why in order to finish the campaign I must become one of the evil ones. I don't mind the story line in which the characters are betrayed by leaders; in fact I rather like that; but I don't want to have to go slaughtering human civilians with rather mindless Zerg beasts, or so far I don't, so I haven't got past the first Zerg mission.
More another time. I have a pile of games here, and some look interesting. Incidentally, I never did play Command And Conquer although I have a copy here and one of these mornings I will install it on Winne to see what all the excitement is about. I also have Dark Reign, which is said to be very good, but which I never got installed. Attertag, attertag