R U Hlr?*

Considering the recent efforts by our office’s internal network security wonks to make sure that we are completely focused on our jobs and not clicking on anything unproductive, it seems ill-fated to write about games from the workplace**. However it’s been itching at my brain to get out for a little while now. I also write in the hopes that it’ll encourage people to suggest other games that they like. 5 mins or 5 hours, it’s all good.

Armageddon Empires was mentioned in both Penny Arcade and Games for Windows magazine, the latter was doing a top ten games run-down and said that if they’d expanded the list to 15, this would have made it in. It’s a 4x turn-based strategy game for PC and Mac with shades of board and card gaming. Reviewers glowed, Tycho glowed, I sucked. I installed the demo and read the rather extensive manual — I know it’s a strategy game, but it should have a slightly easier curve for starting up and playing through a game. I admit that my board game and strategy game days are a little behind me, but the control scheme for the game completely lost me. The game looks great, the theme is consistent, the cards/units are nicely varied, everything seems like it should work and maybe for someone a little more into these games, it does. For me the speed of play was just too slow, sometimes tedious. Also the game’s response time, whether it was due to processing or the assumed preferred rate of play for a human, seemed really drawn out. I suspect that if there were an non-computerized version of the game, it would go a bit faster between two people. The game doesn’t offer online play, so it’s just you and the computer. Based on the reviews, I was really looking forward to playing, but the demo just wasn’t doing it for me.

My current time card for World of Warcraft doesn’t expire until the end of March,and I have another 60 day card to use after that. Not that it matters because I am SO hooked. Two of my Horde characters are members of The Spreading Taint, the Horde arm of the Rough Trade gaming community. So far the people seem very friendly, queer-friendly, and welcoming of players hardcore and casual. I sort of slip between the two of those states. On weeknights I might play for an hour or two… on weekends if I have no plans, all bets are off. Joining that guild has been very helpful in understanding the language of the game as well. I’m not up to the point where I know exactly how to assign points and spells to my character and I still don’t understand a lot of the abbreviations or acronyms (more like initialism) thrown around on public channels, but I’m learning. I had someone in a group ask me how I typed so fast. When I asked what they meant, they pointed out that I spoke in complete sentences while still running/fighting. 😛 I couldn’t tell you if my character is a Tank or what my DPS is or how I’ve “spec’d” my stats, but I’m having a lot of fun.

For a while I was splitting time between WoW and City of Heroes/Villains, and oddly enough it was bringing elements of the former into the latter that started to turn me off of City even before I installed WoW. I think that the City writers/developers have a skewed version of what constitutes new content and what changes are called for to extend interest and playability instead of just stretching it out. I’ve played characters up to the maximum level and for now the game holds very little mystery for me. I haven’t disabled my account, and I hope that it gets better in future. I really enjoy MMOs and being a comic book geek, I totally took to the superhero genre, but while the game has re-playability, it’s only got so much. I look forward to seeing what they do with Champions Online and some other emerging MMOs. It’s pretty hard not to be immediately compared with WoW as they’re pretty much looked to as the industry standard. Not that they have a bad model to follow, but I feel bad for any fantasy MMO that comes out now as they will immediately be compared to WoW.

Believe it or not, I’ve found a Facebook “application” (game) that I actually enjoy playing! Scrabulous is sure nifty, and recently Gregory invited me to play Scramble, a Boggle clone. But I think that the online board game is really lacking something, namely the human element. Scrabble is fun because you’re chatting and joking and goading people when they take too long, and you’re not allowed to flip through the Scrabble Dictionary when it is or isn’t your turn to see if a word is legal. Same for Boggle, everyone’s playing at the same time and even if you’re quickly scribbling down a bunch of trash words just to mess with people, its more fun. Making these games into online turn-based Facebook apps sort of takes away a lot of the fun.

Amazingly enough the app I like taps into my tv sci-fi comic-book geekery, My Heroes Ability. It does suffer from the typical Facebook application drawback: it relies on and rewards you for inviting (spamming?) your friends that haven’t yet added it. But that aside, it’s the same model of the zombie, werewolf and vampire games. Very, very casual RPG-lite. Roll up a character by pressing a button, get a randomly assigned starting ability (or change it if you want something else) and after inviting friends, or not, you just use your powers on people. Every successful use earns you experience points and applies a status to the recipient. You have “energy points” (mana/endurance) which take about 2 hours real-time to regenerate from 0 to 100%. People can form groups (guilds) so that they can best match up different abilities to a group benefit. And the game has different locations where characters can base themselves (or hide) and some areas offer a Free For All style of battle which I haven’t tried yet. My only problem with it is that the developer should have created more powers that we’ve seen in the show instead of just the primary cast or the ones we’ve seen showcased most often. Also, riding the wave of popularity from Heroes is cool, but the game would work just as well as an unspecified “urban-based superhero RPG” or similar. It just seems like every popular application developed on Facebook is ripe for a lawsuit.

Side note: seen today, an application which just begs to bring LJ-style drama to Facebook, Who Deleted You?:

Find out who deleted you from their friend list.
Keep track of your friend list.
You can always ask them why they deleted you. You deserve an explaination.

Emphasis mine, misspellings theirs. Even the app’s icon, someone throwing trash away, is drama-inducing. I just have to wonder why people care so much? At least on livejournal you might remove someone if their posts were offensive or uninteresting or just plain boring, most it often wasn’t personal (I said most often), it was just actively choosing not to read something that you were pretty much already passively not reading. But adding/removing people on Facebook? In my opinion that’s less malicious and more making a conscious choice about just who you’re sharing certain kinds of information with. For example, I’m thinking of removing co-workers from my Facebook friends, as well as people who know me but don’t really know me, like high school alums that I wasn’t exactly chummy with or friends of friends of friends that added me just because (and that I’m not hoping to shag). Even if I don’t remove them, I’m paying more attention to controlling the information about me they’re allowed to see. Do you want a prospective employer seeing your mini-feed with you using Facebook apps (playing games) all day? Or people that barely know you being privy to how many “Pics of the Hottest _____s” groups you belong to? I doubt it, but then again, that might just be how you roll. 😉

* To date, the only game I’ve been asked “R U Hlr?” was City of Heroes.
** All links with the exception of Penny Arcade, The Spreading Taint and Rough Trade lead to Wikipedia or Facebook, so should be safe for most office networks.

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1 Response

  1. Gregory says:

    At lest on livejournal… 😯

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