Game Review: For a game that doesn’t exist

Halo or FPS Chess. 5-20 players each play one of the pieces on the board. Moves are taken without waiting for a turn. Only moves are legal that would be legal in a traditional game. Players can take black or white. After a player’s piece is taken, he must wait 1 minute and is respawned at a random location on the board. Scoring is done by who ever takes the most pieces. The piece you respawn as is randomly selected from the set of taken pieces.

Obviously this would only really work as a networked computer game.

Game Review: World of Warcraft

I’m a MMO newbie, so that will probably explain a lot of my reactions. I’ve logged about three hours and I’m thinking MMOs have to be reviewed on at least 6 dimensions.

Graphics. Fantatisic graphics. I started blinking when the rain came down because that is what I do in real life if it is raining.

Gameplay. Not too bad, it did manage to keep me playing for longer than I expected. Exchanging blows as a battle mechanic is not that fun. The quests are short and easy, there appears to be some back story. I hope there is a novelization.

Camera. Moving the camera is sort of intuitive. I can tell this will be about as hard as learning to use a mouse in the first place. In all, I think either I’m getting better at driving the camera, or WoW has better camera UI than 2nd Life. Halo in comparison has limited camera. I didn’t like that I usually end up looking at the back of an avatar while it is beating up on some tiny creature.

Avatar Puppetry. Manipulating an avatar is tricky. WoW avatars have a wide range of actions, some of them important. 2nd Life avatars could do meaningless actions, in Halo, you interact with everything by shooting it.

Chat. Once I discovered you could use the /say (four clicks) instead of the six clicks to navigate to the whisper dialog box, I was less annoyed. Finding a person you know exists is tricky, I had to bounce around servers before I could find the person I was looking for. Just like in regular IM, people have multiple aliases and also just like regular IM, the services are Balkanized. I tried firing up voice chat during the game, but wasn’t successful. That is a post for another day.

Socializing. People behave like people on the Metro, not a lot of talking. However, with the game, you have to band together to progress in the game, so the incentives are much better in WoW.

And now I’m tired and I think the quality of this post show.

Website Review: GameKnot Warnings

A friend of mine recently had a bad experience with GameKnot. It looks like they have instituted an anti-cheating program and have hit on some false positives. They have a policy of closing your account, (paid or not) without warning, if you are suspected of cheating.

Aside from if their EULA allows from this, this isn’t how anyone should be treated if they pay or if a company wants a customer to become a paying member. If someone cheats, or looks like they are cheating, they should get a warning and be given an opportunity to deal with it. It is a matter of playground fairness.

Or play against the machine. They fight fair.

Chessmaster 10th Edition

Chessmaster 10th Edition

Using Stock Spam to Play the Virtual Stock Market

Today I got a spam email for FCYI, reassuring me that the stock was going to go up. This can mean only one thing, someone is pumping and dumping FCYI. I rushed to my virtual stock market game ready to cash in on the largest short sell on FCYI ever seen. I asked my imaginary broker to short it for all I have. The game complains that the stock is below $2. So I edit the game and make stocks worth $1 valid for transactions. The game complains that I can only short up to 100% of the trading volume, which is 500 shares today. Whee! I short about $500 worth of stock. When it falls to 1cent per share, I’ll be up $500 (minus $60 commissions) .

Gee, can’t even make money with the knowlege that stock promoted by spam is almost certainly a dog.

Game Review: Age of Mythology

Graphics: Not as good as my computer is capable of, but reasonable.

Ease of play: The tutorial could have been a bit longer. About half way through my first campaign I noticed I’d run out of peasants, merely because I hadn’t figured that they spawn from a particular building which must be clicked on to release them into the world. I kept waiting for them to wander in from off screen like they do in Children of the Nile. Interestingly I couldn’t figure out how to exit the game. Developers! Hello! This is not the way to hook a person into playing a game.
Storyline & Background: It seemed tacked on. I’m not sure if there is a better way to work a storyline into a game like this. What is really missing from these games is a connection with any particular characters. All the characters on the screen are little tiny personalityless people. (Children of the Nile did a good job of giving individual personalities to the game characters) And everyone knows that in a real story, the hero never dies, except maybe at the end of the story.
Educational Value: close to nil. 95% of your time will be spent shuffling little people on the screen around. You might get excited about mythology from playing the game and go read up on the ancient gods, but you won’t learn much from the game.
Time: The game is a massive time sink, just like Hamurabi (that I played a million years ago). This is both a good and bad sign. If the game doesn’t catch one’s interest, then it is a waste of money. If it really catches your interest, then a few hours dissappear and all you have to show for it is a bunch of starving, undefended greek peasants.

Price: There is a free trial version available for download, which includes more than enough game play than a lot of people have time for.