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Video Games

So here is some neat stuff I saw at PAX:

Solace

Jason and I stared at this game for about a full minute, and had no idea what it was, or what was going on, but we understood it to be beautiful.

It was then pointed out to me that it was actually a top down 2d shooter game, but like the food surely served in dog heaven, it makes it's own music and beauty as it is played.

In any case, it is free, magnificent, and short.

Spy Party

By far the bell of the indie ball was the game Spy Party. An ingenious player vs player game where one person plays a spy mingling in a 3d cocktail party, trying to blend in with the dozen or so NPCs, the other player plays a sniper with a view from across the way, who is trying to sort the spy out from the computer people. A reverse turing test with a laser sight.

It is just a really clever concept with very intense gameplay, intense concentration and perception on the sniper's part and forced casual patience on the spy's part. No playable demo yet, but with all the excitement about this game I wouldn't be surprised to see it get picked up by a big publisher.

Portal 2

Pretty much the only thing I waited in line for, and it was amazing. They demo'd the 2 player co-op, and it looked like a lot of fun. Best moment was when one of the two robots did something that killed the other, after a new robot was dispensed the demoer insisted they hug and make up so they could trust one another again. Sounds like the sequel be a more respectable length, and they've added a lot of fun new level tools. Very excited about this game, expect it Feb 2010.

Civilization 5

While I didn't actually go to their booth, I played it last night with the wife. We've been playing Civ together since Civ 2 Gold, and are both hardcore Sid Meyer's junkies. If CPS takes our kid in the next month you know why.

That said, the game is solid. I had a few arched eyebrow moments where some basic mechanics from the franchise have been removed (e.g. Gold/Science slider), and while I thought I enjoyed fiddling with that sort of stuff, the truth of it is is that I enjoyed doing everything else in the game more.

They've done away with the "switching civics", and instead you now construct your own civics piecemeal from a buffet of options. This is a great example of game designers learning from human psychology, the old system of having to accept a negative to gain a positive interacts directly with the risk bias most people show, retooling it to be all completely "good things" you choose between feels much more like a belly rub and each opportunity to add one feels like christmas morning and less like a 10 hour budget balancing session on CSPAN.

The new combat system is fun, although we've really only been in simple skirmishes with barbarians, and we hadn't quite gotten the hang of the fact that our units can now just go walk on the water when they want to travel someplace, but for now it is just a solid Civ game.

And while the game crashed immediately when I tried to play it in the recommended DirectX 10 mode, it chugged along fine with DirectX 9 instead, which is a marked improvement over the launch of Civ 4.

In closing, if you want an antidote to most games, give Pigeons in the Park a try. It is free, takes about 5 minutes, and is an interesting take on what games could be like.


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Title: Video Games
Date posted: 22 Sep '10 - 15:43
Filed under: General
Word Count: 622 words
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