Thursday, May 11, 2006

Galactic Civilization II is still good

[copy of an e-mail to my friend, Sean]
The perpetual refinement is what is so awesome - check out Brad's blog - he's the lead designer who has worked on the game for the last 15 years. Why doesn't he get bored? Because he loves coding AI - and that always evolves.

Brad loves to make us cry. He trolls the fan forums for their strategies and then adjusts the AI, releases a beta patch, (most gamers never see them unless they choose to) and we eagerly try it out and whimper that our "strategies" aren't so clever anymore.

There are some strategy Gods out there who aren't phased but for those of us who find "tricks" and such -- we cry a lot. I remember when using a GIGANTIC galaxy was good because the AI didn't understand using bigger engines and less defense in that great expanse. Yep. Those were the days. Last two games I've played I've lost, so I had to completely change my strategy and concentrate on economy more than flanking unfairly. I can still flank - come from where he can't see me - but it's more on even footing.

I still play the game weekly. It's not an every day thing but, because it's turn based, I can just put it down, go do other stuff, and come back to it on my Saturdays. I have no other game quite like that.

The Evil of Microsoft Points:

The "You Don't Own It, You Bought a License" Policy.

Buy a game? Great. Want more content that others might be collecting? You gotta use points. Need points? Gotta buy them; or, if you're a real whizz at XBOX Live competition, win them. But you'll never win enough. It's micropayments, and it's probably the future.

One day, everything we buy will have a monthly bill associated with it, the "new way" of pulling the covers over the masses to how much their total cost of ownership is. Why stop at monthly utility bills when you can get them when they buy DVD's?

Got the DVD? Great! You have to pay a micropayment to unlock the extra ending that wasn't in theaters. But wait! Because you just watched the movie, the chance you'll pay $2 is pretty good! After all -- it's just $2!

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive," has a rarely mentioned second line:
"But my how we improve the score, as we practice more and more."

XBOX 360 Annoyances:

The "You want to play a game, but then you met jackholes telling you that black people shouldn't play videogames" annoyance:

The "You can't do anything while you download" annoyance:

The "DVD's have all the standard control features, but you can only play and pause downloaded content" annoyance:

The "XBOX 360 can't do things Media Center XP can do -- not because it's incapable, but because Microsoft won't make money on you buying a Media Center PC otherwise" annoyance.

A good comparison point about the Sony PSP using proprietary memory chips rather than standard digital camera memory chips, as well as a video format nothing else uses, is made. Sony made the chip and the video format. The end result is that the PSP is getting whipped like a red-headed step-child by the Nintendo DS, which is less costly and has better games, by ratio.

The "XBOX 360 eats your DVD game if its nudged" annoyance:
Yep, I'm serious.

The "XBOX 360 thinks keyboards are evil, and so are people who use them" annoyance:
Yes, you will now feel the PAIN of entering in everything by controller with a non-intuitive interface that doesn't help guess at what you need to input. Or you can go grab a USB keyboard.
My favorite:
The "Microsoft strictly forbids gamers using a Mouse and Keyboard in First-Person Shooter games" annoyance.
Sony's take? The PS3 will support it.

One XBOX Live player said:

"1. [Cursing trash talk] is a big reason why I cancelled my subscription to Xbox Live. Seriously. It's a big barrier against anyone but true hardcore gamers subscribing to the service, and it's the reason why MS has only managed to sign up 2 million people (they trumpet this as if it's an impressive number, but that's less than 10% of the Xbox user base).

I just have no need or desire to listen to this kind of crap while I'm trying to have fun. This does NOT make gaming more fun. It does just the opposite.

Online gaming was better when voice was not involved, if you ask me.

Posted at 9:21PM on Dec 5th 2005 by Jeff "

"10. "Online gaming was better when voice was not involved, if you ask me."

Amen to that. That's why I usually never bother wearing the headset, but then people get pissed if you don't say anything. Either way you can't win. Too bad there's no way to set up matches with people of equal social skills...

I guess that's why I like playing Mario Kart DS so much. You might be playing against a total a-hole, but at least you don't have to listen to them."