Where I’ve Been: Retro-Gaming, Writing and Sales

Pixelated landscapes can still be pretty.

Yeah, I know I’ve been gone for more than a week.

It’s funny, but with the flip of the new year, MMOs have been the last thing on my mind.

I blame the recent GoG sale. Even though I’ve not played a single one of the games I bought so far. But it brought my mind way back into the past.

I picked up a copy of Darklands to keep. It’s a phenomenal game I intend to cover on this blog some day, set in a medieval fantastic Germany. I played it way back when, and even bought a CD copy of it a decade ago (god knows where it is now, digital distribution is too convenient.)

I picked up a collection of space games, and instead of playing any of them, ended up with a sudden intense nostalgic craving for Project Nomad – which is fortunately available free as abandonware. The highlight of this space trading and combat game is the interaction with the diverse spacefaring NPC races – who speak in characteristic Sound Blaster powered tones ranging from cute growls, snorts and chiming melodies, while your ship translates their words into English text that scrolls across your screen.

Trading with the enemy
Trading with the enemy

I spent a couple days starting a new character and trying to get to the comfortable level of power I remembered it was capable to achieve. Much trickier than I remembered. I got blown apart multiple times by Korok cruisers, vainly trying to remember the most powerful upgrades I was supposed to get for my ship, and wondering how it was possible to barter trade for them when starting off with goods that essentially have the trade value of cotton wool. I’ll post in more detail as I make more progress. There’s some depth to this game that I used to know once upon a time, and have by now, completely forgotten.

I played Alpha Centauri‘s Alien Crossfire expansion for a night, mischievously trying out The Hive and Sheng Ji Yang. In the old days, I would gravitate without fail to the green planet-hugging faction led by Deirdre Skye, partly due to school-influenced brainwashing on the importance of environmental intiatives and recycling and “green” issues, and partly because mindworms own. I’ve been tooling around with a writing/solo roleplaying campaign setting that’s a mix of cyberpunk, superheroes and the supernatural, with the ever popular megacorporations as the bad guys trope, so it seemed like a fun idea to play an industrial drone type of faction.

I made allies with the Morganites, economic megacorporation faction and all that, seemed narratively fitting. Bumped into the Spartan military faction, made temporary peace, but soon realized the continent wasn’t big enough for all of us. Wiped them out for lebensraum. Attempted peace with the Nautilus Pirates, a new faction from the expansion, me on land, they on water, seemed doable. Except when I was busy wiping out the University for the Morganites who were having trouble with them enroaching onto our joint continent, the Pirates took issue with this. So I cranked into naval war footing and made them public enemy number one, taking over the seas and crushing them back to the point of pathetic surrender, where they offer a Pact of Brotherhood, and promise never to bother you again, essentially becoming an annexe state to your faction.

Midway through this war, the next most powerful faction, Miriam Godwinson’s Lord’s Believers took fundamental issue with Chairman Yang’s expansionism. Hello, it was self-defence! (Sure, right.) Which led to an interesting and escalating modern war of more and more powerful lasers and aircraft bombings – all fortunately conducted on Believer soil, using nearby Pirate bases.

Alas, -something- happened, which to this point I am unsure exactly what… but the movie for a captured leader came up and I suddenly appeared with a small group of soldiers and one lone colony pod, with the message that “Fortunately, you escaped” or something along those lives, with all of the Hive’s previously owned cities hidden by fog of war. My best guess is that my capital city got taken over, but I could have sworn nothing was even on that continent. I have this vague suspicion it might have been the Morganites, despite our Pact of Brotherhood. I saw them with more than a dozen probe teams during their conflict with the University, but have no proof. Or maybe Miriam fired a nuke. Are there nukes in Alpha Centauri? I don’t remember anymore.

Not inclined to struggle uphill against insurmountable odds, I called it. That was the end of that.

I got in some Magic: Duel of the Planeswalkers 2012 time. The regular games against the AI  felt a little slow, though I enjoy the puzzle challenge scenarios. I found the Ghoulkeeper deck quite amusing to use in the campaign.

Where Guild Wars 2 is concerned, I’ve dialed back very hard on time spent. Playing the same game for over three months 5+ hours a day does get old. Instead I’ve been taking it a heart or two and a personal story chapter each time in Metrica Province, inching my Asura up a level a day. I haven’t even bothered to complete the daily, looking about for five events has gotten boring.

Guild Wars 1 used to have a chat message alert that would count off the hours you’ve spent online. I’ve been tickled to use the coincidence of my crappy WinXP computer and the propensity of GW2 to crash out of memory after zoning a couple times as my 1.5h alarm clock that it’s time to stop playing GW2 for the day.

I did intend to catch the New Year character slot sale day, but somehow, the shop failed to connect to Paypal when I tried to buy gems, and I had to log off to tend to RL. On coming back later, the promotion had passed. I picked up the two slots I wanted regardless. I had wanted them for some time anyway and was willing to pay full price. My potential engineer and mesmer is now taken care of.

When I’d actually choose to roll them up, we’ll see.

What has suddenly taken me over the last few days is a strong compulsion to write and continue scenes in a solo roleplaying game cum novella for fun that I got several pages into last year and then stopped.

I dunnno how it happened. I was just idly rereading stuff I attempted to write over the last seven years, which mostly consists of aborted attempts a few pages long. In between being mildly tickled by a Neverwinter Nights solo RP diary (there’s another game I oughta play again some day), I stumbled across a story that actually seemed viable to continue.

Which I did, for a couple pages. Then found myself thinking about the next scene, GM-like (or author planning-like) throughout the day, and couldn’t wait to get back to it the following day.

You know what. I’m not arguing. I haven’t been bitten this strongly by the muse and the narrative bug since Nanowrimo 2006 or so.

I’m only getting about 500 words a day, not even a third of Nanowrimo’s usual standard, but I’m having fun and I don’t care.

I’ll be back, when I’ll be back.

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. There’s just the vague hope I’ll get more old games played this year. I’d like to get some The Secret World played again, now that it’s F2P – I got it updated, then didn’t log in.

Some more writing and roleplaying? Hell, yeah. (There’s a DrivethruRPG / RPGnow sale going on, by the way, if any tabletop gamers read this blog. 40% off, with this additional 15% coupon code for a whopping 55% off. In a moment of weakness, I’ve succumbed and picked up a bunch of megacorp cyberpunk / post-apoc settings to fuel ideas for my own. Seems urban sci-fi fantasy is now the in-thing.)

Steam is also running a midweek madness sale for Spec Ops: The Line at $7.49. That’s $2.70 cheaper than when I bought it over Christmas.

See, I was right when I was convinced Steam’s Christmas sale this year was priced higher than it could have been.

I got the game out of my system though. About ten days earlier. So well, I won’t fret about it.

It’s not too bad a price now for anyone sitting on the fence. Though you know, it -will- go down to $4.99 one day. Maybe the Summer sale. Up to you, can you wait six months?