What I’ve Been Playing

58694182_bf6e244a51 Although I haven’t had much free time lately, when I do have some I try to sneak in a few games here and there (both for work research and because I like playing games to relax). I haven’t posted an update on what I’m playing in a while, so here’s what I’ve been playing over the past several months.

Torchlight: I didn’t play this for a long time, because I was getting a bit tired of the grind and long loading times on my netbook, but with the new computer I picked it up again and tried a new character class (Destroyer). It’s still fun for a spot of hack and slash when I don’t have the time for a more involved game, but I’m not playing it terribly much at the moment.

D&D 4e: Still playing in two different games of this. Still enjoying it. Still finding people online surprised at the fact that I’m playing and enjoying it.

Icons: I’m actually getting together a game of this starting in July, a gritty take on superheroes called “Needs Must.” There’s a wiki for Needs Must up on Obsidian Portal, although it’s still pretty rough at the moment. I haven’t run a game in a while, and Icons looks to be a good balance of entertaining fun and low-prep that I need at the moment. I’m curious how the idea of putting all dice-rolling into the player’s hands will work in practice, though.

Loom: I picked up the LucasFilm Adventure Pack on Steam a few months ago, and have been slowly making my way through them. The first I played was Loom, which is a great, short little adventure that was indie long before indie was cool. The gimmick of having to do most things through the interface of musical notes was a little frustrating, but the charm overrode the annoyance for me, and I appreciated the deep focus on just the gameplay that mattered to tell the story. It’s disappointing that it was set up for a sequel that never happened, but still worth a few bucks.

Fate of Atlantis: I played the hell out of this game when I was younger. In retrospect, I think every adventure game I’ve played is subconsciously stacked up against this one. Playing it again, it was just as funny, exciting, engaging, and outright frustrating at I remember it. There’s enough randomness and branching that makes multiple playthroughs worthwhile (and a walkthrough not entirely helpful). Even if you’re not a huge Indiana Jones fan, if you only had to pick one game from the Steam bundle, get this one, hands-down.

The Dig: I was playing through this when I had my multiple laptop failures, which means I lost about six hours of progress on this. I suppose at some point I’ll go back and start again, but I think the game’s just a little too disjointed for me. It’s definitely a game where you have to scour everything to get just enough information to even start some of the puzzles, and a few I have no idea how I would have figured them out if I didn’t read a walkthrough. Still, the game really does feel like an early 90s big budget sci-fi movie, so it’s got that going for it.

Plants vs. Zombies: I don’t generally like tower defense games. This one has been entertaining enough for me that I went ahead and bought the full version on Steam. It reminds me of the zombie games put out by Cheap Ass Games years ago, and a good example of a gradual learning curve.

Freedom Force: Probably the reason why I got superheroes on the brain for a game. This infuriating RTS game is so full of straight-faced SIlver Age superhero awesomeness that I can’t stop playing it, even when the computer hands me my ass over and over, or when I’m once again stuck with having to field a shitty character in a scenario. The over-the-top dialogue and crazy comicbook-style plots just work so perfectly that I keep playing it. Like Plants vs. Zombies, it shows how a strong aesthetic and production values can convert people to a gameplay style they wouldn’t normally consider.

Portal: It was Portal. It was free at the time I picked it up (and free again with the preloaded Steam client on my new laptop). It was a great way to test out Shockwave and kill a few hours after a rough day. There’s really nothing more to be said that hasn’t been said many, many, many times before.

The Witcher: This is something I picked up months and months ago. A co-worker recommended it after I was bitching about Dragon Age. Unfortunately, the only system that was able to run it for a while was my work computer, and I just wasn’t getting enough lunch breaks together to be able to play it coherently. It runs like a dream on Shockwave, though, so I’ve been trying it again. The crafting/alchemy system and detailed combat options all remind me of the things that irritate me about computer RPGs, but the complex moral choices and the consequences of those choices following you through the story are amazing and well worth the study.

EVE Online: I actually got a fair bit of EVE play in on a new character one weekend. Since then I’ve been primarily skill training, because I’ve noticed that I can’t just sit down and play EVE for 15 minutes – I’ll do a mission, and next thing I know it’s three hours later. When I installed Tyrannis on Shockwave, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the game interacts with my Alienware keyboard effects – turning colors when my shields get low or when I reach the last jump after I autopilot.

Laws of the Night: Requiem LARP has been fading locally, so I’m looking back at giving old-school Vampire LARP another try. I’ve made up two different characters for the two local games (one a Camarilla game, one a Sabbat game), and I’ll pop my head into each as my life permits me. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the system I’ve forgotten over the years.

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