My Steam Award Nominations

It’s been three days since the last GW2 patch dropped and I haven’t even set foot in the story chapter or the new map yet.

Why?

  • Beyond suffering a mild, low-level crisis of the faith in terms of where my life priorities are going;
  • being distracted anticipating the upcoming Breach League in Path of Exile (launching Dec 2-ish);
  • and gleefully indulging in a spur of the moment Steam sale purchase of Hitman;

I took up starting a new Expert Mode world in Terraria last week to try out version 1.3+.

I can quite confidently state that it deserves the following:

As proof, I submit my Hours Played as recorded by Steam:

playedtime

Beyond noting that I spent a lot of time on simple but fun grindy mini-MMOs and idle breeding games, nothing even comes -close- to the hours spent in Terraria. Not idling, I assure you.

Next up, an oldie but a goodie:

Honorable mention: Blackwell Epiphany (It’s the last game in the Blackwell series, which I rhapsodized about. When you play five games with a set of characters, it hits you in the feels when it comes to an end.)

I went for something completely different for the next one:

Eh, everybody’s going to vote some version of Civilization anyway, right?

Alpha Centauri wasn’t on the Steam menu. Looking at my played time, the -honest- answer would probably also be Terraria, but apparently you can’t vote a game for multiple categories. So I went for the game of the moment.

Bought three days ago, and already at 11 played hours…

My rationale is to highlight this strange oddity of a stealth sandbox game that -encourages- you to wait globs of time doing nothing (ie. waiting for NPCs to move into position or to the next part of their pattern so that you can act) and get the entire multiple part mission -complete- before you quit for the night… which is easier said than done when something goes wrong and multiple save/reloads come into play.

Well, yes, theoretically one could just save and come back the next night where one left off… but, who does that, really, when there’s an outstanding target to be headshot/garrotted/poisoned/otherwise offed in an entertaining manner.

A really broad interpretation is possible for the next:

I have a strange sensation that proponents of the “hard, painful, masochistic mindblowing challenge” school of thought will set a Dark Souls game on the throne.

But you know, I read “crazy plot twist” and I’m going the “whoaaaaaaa, this started awesome and unique but what did we suddenly just smoke, my mind is expaaaaanding far out, duuudde…”route.

Honorable mention: Her Story is also pretty mind-expanding.

This one took a while to figure out – I apparently don’t play that many games with outstanding villains:

The Batman: Arkham variants were briefly considered, for their rogues’ gallery full of villains, but ultimately… the Joker man just wants to watch the world burn. He doesn’t need a hug. He’s villainous through and through. Sorta like Sephiroth.

Shadow of Mordor, though… ha. Sauron, The Bright Lord, you, the orcs, everybody needs a hug.

Honorable mention: The Masked Kidnapper from Tales from the Borderlands. He needs a hug too. Cos…reasons. (That you will know, if you finish the game.)

I -was- planning on voting Batman: Arkham City in, to reflect all the time I’ve spent chasing one Enigma achievement or side challenge or another. I -was- going to mention Skyrim’s many mods as an honorable mention.

Then out of the blue, while clicking on the voting button, this lil classic came to mind.

Nobody plays Magicka to be wannabe wizards defeating the dark lord of darkity dark. It’s all about the ARSE mines and murdering your friends.

See the date? October 11, 2012.

Released on Steam: October 9, 2013.

I remember when it was being Greenlit, nyah. So yeah, I totally found it first. And don’t you ever forget it.

(Everybody’s just gonna go vote ARK: Survival Evolved, I’m sure.)

If Goat Simulator doesn’t win this category, I’m going to be very very surprised.

Hell, even it was the game that first came to mind for me, though I’ve never bothered to buy it or try it.

But you know me, I can’t do things easy. I was going to think of something completely different. Preferably from a Steam game that I own, and love enough to recommend.

One word. “Pig.”

I couldn’t think of a funny ha-ha category. So I went for something safe that still served the purpose of showcasing some of the most played games on my Steam list.

Sleeping Dogs was an unexpected gem that never quite got its day in the sun. Hell, it took me two posts before it sunk in that I really kinda liked it.

Mind you, it’s also the Best Game That Doesn’t Exist Anymore, because they’ve apparently replaced it with a “Definitive” edition, while I made it a point to vote for the original version.

Aesthetically, the original has a dramatic vividness of color contrast that got obliterated by overzealous reality-recreation of Hong Kong fog. In my opinion, anyway. See for yourself and decide:

So those are my Steam Award nominations for this year.

What are yours?

Holy Jumbo Humble Bundle!

Oh man, I am excite!

So excite I r losing powers of grammar! N speling…

A whole host of games that have been on my Steam wishlist for a long time just came together in one super mega awesome Jumbo Humble Bundle 6.

I practically threw money at the screen when I idly checked out the website this evening.

For $12 USD, I got:

Grey Goo – an RTS I’ve wanted to check out for some time, but was holding back due to mixed reviews

Magicka 2 – a sequel that never seemed as well-received as its predecessor, but that I was also interested in checking out some day

Warmachine Tactics + Mercenaries DLC – another mixed review game that trended towards negative, but which I was keen on checking out due to its miniatures background

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown – apparently some kind of semi-disappointing multiplayer-esque game ostensibly set in the Shadowrun universe, but what the hey, at this price point, can’t hurt to try it and dump it if it sucks

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – a relative unknown to me, but is apparently Zelda-like, and might pleasantly surprise

Dreamfall Chapters – some kind of adventure game. I didn’t really like The Longest Journey, never tried Dreamfall, but I’m perfectly open to seeing if the universe clicks with me with their third game

I “lost out” on Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, in that I already owned the game a long LONG time ago, but this is a stellar standout RPG in the fantasy cyberpunk Shadowrun universe that anyone should give a go if they haven’t yet.

And there’s apparently more unrevealed games coming soon, which would be an utter bonus icing on top of the cake thing, whatever they are.

Dipping a Feathered Toe into Endless Space

I think I may as well make it semi-official, and admit to myself that my subconscious is asking, nay, demanding a break from GW2.

These days, I can only muster the energy to log in for just long enough to snatch three dailies, one of them the easy Wintersday ‘open 3 presents’ gimme, and that’s about it.

Home instance, guild hall instance, ascended crafting mats? Pshaw.

I heartily doubt that I will know what to do when the Wintersday dailies are no more and I end up with a more tedious PvE or PvP or WvW one.

Instead, I’ve found myself lining up a whole list of Steam games and eyeing them greedily and excitedly.

While I’m not aiming for a 12 in 12 challenge (concept as introduced from Soultamer Gaming), because -finishing- or -completing- is off the table for the time being (that achiever-ism is what’s prompting some of the personal burnout in the first place, as I feared once raids got onto the table), I’m fully intending to play a lot more than 12 games this year in a whizz bang whirlwind tour, going as far as I feel like and then stopping when I don’t.

One of the first I found myself diving into is Endless Space, a 4x space exploration strategy game by Amplitude Studios.

It’s mostly kicking my ass.

I’m just persevering a lot longer than I did previously.

The initial hurdle were all the new Endless space-specific concepts and unfamiliar UI. It’s Civ-like enough to start, and then diverges sufficiently to be confusing and frustrating, needing to read every tooltip to figure out what this resource is, what that tech does and so on.

The AI is also pretty unexpectedly aggressive. I play this sort of strategy games mostly for the escapist narrative of slow inexorable global conquest. The darn Endless Space AI puts up much more of a fight than I’m used to, especially since I have no clue regarding optimal path strategies for planetary buildings, tech tree and ship design.

It’s been a very up-and-down journey of being pretty behind, getting ahead, thinking I’m getting ahead (but probably the other factions have caught up or surpassed me) and then getting brutalized out of nowhere and quitting for the night, resolving to reload 10-20 turns into the past and try a different strategy tomorrow. (Why yes, I do ‘cheat’ in this fashion.)

For example, I went to war with one faction on fairly equal tech terms and was invading their planets, when midway out of nowhere, they showed up with a bigger ship class and started blowing apart all my ships. (Cue the future past strategy of figuring out just how they got a bigger ship hull and doing it at the same time as they were. Not to mention, desperately trying to move beyond guessing what was a good ship build to actually effective ship designs.)

Then I run into another faction, who turn around and use yet another strategy of just tactically retreating and refusing to hold still to be killed.

W.T.F. I have never wanted an interdictor card to stop the offensive retreat so badly. It’s not that they could actually do anything to my ships, they just kept slipping off.

That same faction was busy using swarms of weak fleets consisting of one or two ships. Individually, they would get killed in a space battle, but since my two fleets could only be in so many locations at once, they kept putting up blockades on every planet and tying up my two fleets since they were only allowed to attack one fleet at a time (which then ran away). 

Bloody infuriating AI.

The turns seemed to happen simultaneously as well, so AI being AI, they moved all their fleets a lot faster than I could react, and instigating fleet battles interrupting my chain of thought, which I then had to deal with (whereupon brave sir AI bravely ran away.)

Cue the next day’s strategy of establishing my own blockading ships to create a very long border front so the zippy little things couldn’t get past the Great Wall of Tengu.

Oh yes, I’m playing space tengu, did I mention that?

es1

Avian bipedal creatures. Check.

Asian/Japanese influences. Check.

The only difference is that where GW2’s tengu are isolationist, Endless Space’s Hissho are expansionist and military-minded. They get a Bushido Bonus where their whole empire gets happier when they win space battles or invade another planet.

es2

It’s a good excuse to admire bird-shaped spacecraft.

es6

Space battles are quite cinematic to watch and screenshot, though they do get a bit repetitive. The attacking fleet jumps in and both fleets close to range, exchanging broadsides like navy ships of old at three different ranges (long range, medium range and melee range.)

There are different weapons that are effective at different ranges, that have to be preset and designed onto your ships beforehand. It’s not at all obvious which is better than another, unless you sit down to patiently read all the tooltips, calculate numbers, look up guides telling you non-stated numbers like how armor is calculated or how many rounds there are in each phase and so on.

This does put a bit of a initial damper on immediate success and constitute a learning curve. Especially since the numbers have apparently changed over time from one version of the game to the next, so you’re never quite sure if what you’re reading up still applies.

es4

Missiles. Missiles are scary to watch when they drift towards my fleet. They take about three rounds to hit, so it’s a tense wait to see just how many get past one’s defenses.

es5

My first game is likely to wind down by this weekend.

After plenty of reloading, I managed an Expansionist Victory by methodically exterminating the Pilgrims faction – hey, they declared war on me first! I had a peace treaty going with them while I was reducing the number of Horatio clones (essentially a whole faction of bald mesmers who think only their likeness should spread across the galaxy) to a more reasonable number.

The Horatio gracefully surrendered with a cease fire, offering me two planets, and I let them live, while the dastardly Pilgrims broke their peace treaty and declared war (on me!) with their ship swarm. Genocide is the only reasonable response to this sort of unwarranted aggression.

I’m still continuing with the game, even after the victory, since I haven’t completely annihilated all of the Pilgrim planets yet.

As usual, the surprisingly feisty AI continues to surprise. Just as I think I’m finishing up with this one faction, the other faction in the tiny spiral galaxy – previously assumed cowed into submission – has launched fleets of the largest ship class at my planets and we’re at war again.

Since I ignored the tedium of ship design several tens of turns back and was just slowly moving my monster fleet from planet to planet swallowing up the pilgrims, this calls for yet another reload the next time I sit down to play, some invested non-fun time making my own largest ship class designs, and more careful guarding of my borders before a repeat incident occurs.

I’m not sure if I like Endless Space that much to play too many more games of it.

On the one hand, it is said that the factions are all pretty distinctive and utilize different strategies for victory. There’s, in fact, multiple viable paths to victory including peacenik options that look more achievable than the older Civ series style of 4x games (I tended to just go for tech victories after military dominating all other factions in the world into submission.)

Endless Space feels crunchier and more strategic. As in, if you like a game where you constantly have to be sure you’re picking the optimal right moves to progress ahead and always stay alert and have a challenge, it can probably do that for quite a while (until you master every single nuance, repeat stuff in the right order and figure out exploits to consistently foil the AI, that is.)

On the other, it’s not exactly what I personally like in a 4x. Having to save and reload or get my butt kicked because I didn’t think 20 moves ahead is not exactly conducive to relaxing fun being an unstoppable conqueror or casual empire-building.

I might see if I can tweak down the difficulty levels and try a larger sized game for my next go, I was crammed in one arm of a tiny spiral map with two other factions for my first learning game and lebensraum was definitely an issue, especially when you have no clue what you’re doing, leading to the computer AI colonizing all the things first.

We’ll see. I might get distracted with Endless Legend next, which was also something I was champing at the bit to play and prompted a Winter Steam sale purchase.