Toying With Townscaper

As a longtime gamer, I am always looking for new forms of computer and online entertainment for my PC. This week I discovered Townscaper and picked it up while it was on sale on Steam for about $6 (tax included, albeit a little more post-sale; also available for Android, Xbox, and iOS platforms). It’s money well spent, methinks, as a fan of city-builder and simulation games. … (more–>)

Musings on Computer Gaming, Storytelling, and Seniors

Every day, for an hour or two, I kill demons. Or I build houses and shopping malls. Sometimes I command armies in battle. Or fly an airplane into a foreign airport. I might manage a hospital, build a settlement on Mars, lead a band of survivors after a nuclear holocaust, hunt Nazis as a sniper in WWII, drive a tank onto the sands at Omaha Beach, … (more–>)

Synecdoche, Universe

In the delightfully quirky, postmodern film, Synecdoche, New York, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a movie director obsessed with creating a set that realistically represents New York City for an upcoming movie. But as he tries to incorporate more and more people and bits that represent the city, the set grows and grows into a micro-city itself. As Wikipedia describes it: The plot follows an … (more–>)

Of mice and men, and trackballs, too

Late last year, I purchased another laptop to separate my work and recreational uses. After a long search in stores, and a lot of online reading and comparing models, I decided to get an MSI gaming rig (an entry level in their pantheon, admittedly). That process got me thinking again about how we buy and sell computers.* Computers are, for the most part, sold like muscle … (more–>)

Microsoft killed solitaire for me

Solitaire – also known as Klondike and Patience – is a very popular game on computers. So popular, in fact that a version of this 200-year-old card game has been included by Microsoft in every version of Windows since 3.0 (1990), aside from a brief hiatus with Win 8 (which gap was filled in by third-party versions). Microsoft has even launched a version for iOS, playable … (more–>)

Digging and dying

About an hour after I started playing Minecraft for the very first time, I died. As game experiences goes, that sucked. Not exactly a “thanks for your purchase” ingame welcoming message from Mojang Not that I’m unaccustomed to dying. In most computer games I’ve died: Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft, Ghost Recon, Diablo, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, even in Civilization. Dying … (more–>)

The WOW Factor

After two years away from the game, I was recently convinced by a friend to return to World of Warcraft again and play in the fantasy universe of WOW. At 10 years old, WOW remains the biggest, most-subscribed, most popular MMORPG, with around 10 million subscribers. By technology’s rapid-aging standards, WOW is a grandfather game; maybe even a great-grandfather. It has certainly spawned a lot of offspring, … (more–>)

Banished: Sandbox Gaming at Its Best

Banished is a medieval-style city building game, along the lines of SimCity, but with several significant differences. While not as slick or comprehensive as SimCity, it still provides a compelling, addictive gameplay.* It’s slow and cerebral, true, not your basic action-filled RPG or FPS, but it’s one of those games that demand ‘just another fifteen minutes’ that easily stretch into the wee hours. And with infinitely … (more–>)

World of Tanks

Tanks are a long distance weapon, you know. They are best used in concert with one another to provide cover and overwatch fire, and are best placed in a covered or hull-down position where their profile is reduced to the minimum. Tanks should never travel alone; they should always advance with supporting vehicles on their flanks. That’s pretty much what I said to my teammates that … (more–>)

BL2: Resistance is futile

I tried to resist. I really did. I avoided it for more than a year, skillfully averting my eyes from the store shelves where it sat, ignoring the emails with invitations, sales offers that dangled newly-released DLC packages before me. I looked the other way when ads popped on on websites. I have more serious things to do, I’d tell myself. Getting too old for games, … (more–>)

Looking back on 2013

It’s been quite a year, both personally and politically. The best of times, the worst of times, to paraphrase Dickens. Looking back on 2103, it was a busy, eventful, successful, and yet often challenging year. I accomplished many things on different levels – personal and professional – and, I believe, overcame some of the challenges I faced. A lot happened locally, too, much of which development I … (more–>)

Digital Attachments

It’s tough to lose a solider. Especially one like Dimitri. A fine sniper, with a good kill record. I had trained him for so long, raised him from a lowly private to sergeant, then to lieutenant. He was equipped with the best gear. His accuracy had improved to a deadly asset. He was a cornerstone to my tactical approach. He was also an investment in time … (more–>)

Losing the world, and some sleep, but enjoying it

  Brave New World – not the novel of a dystopian future by Aldous Huxley – is the name of the latest add-on for Civilization V, following after Gods & Kings, released in 2012. BNW was released last Tuesday, and I was at the local EB Games store to get one on launch day. Over the weekend, I took a look at it, playing for several … (more–>)

Narrative and free agency in game design

As a former World of Warcraft player, I can attest to how compelling it is to play an immersive, massive, 3D role-playing game. Acting out scenarios in a fantasy world is more involving than merely reading a fantasy novel. You get addicted to being part of the narrative, to swinging the sword instead of just reading about it. Just as when you’re reading a good novel … (more–>)

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