Playing the Witcher

I haven’t been much of a video game player since my teenage years, all things considered; my partaking of the form has been occasional and not nearly as comprehensive as the way I keep up with roleplaying games, literature, comics or even boardgaming or cinema. The last time I played a PC game made this decade I was less than impressed, so that didn’t start any new era of computer gaming for me.

I recently got a new computer – a rare event for me, as despite my tech support duties I rarely get new equipment for myself. As a matter of curiousity I took another stab at a considerably recent game with the new machine, and have thus been playing Witcher now for about four days, all told. Let’s talk about where computer RPGs are going, here. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Manufactoria

Once more with feeling, a browser game review! My brother Jari recommended Manufactoria to me, and after completing the game I have to say that this one certainly deserves some recognition. I also have a bonus feature inside.

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Playing Doom with a source port

Doom is in retrospect probably my favourite video game insofar as real play hours can be used as a measure. For a couple of years in the mid-90s it was a solid baseline for my gaming; not a memorable experience of art like Ultima Underworld or some of the other games of the era, but a staple that defined the well-balanced action game for me. This includes Doom II, Heretic and Hexen, which are all basically variations on the theme.

I installed Doom last week out of a random impulse, as has been my wont through the last couple of years now and then. I’ve been gearing up to play the Inferno (the third episode of the original game) on Ultraviolence (the fourth difficulty level), mostly because I played through Knee-Deep in the Dead and Shores of Hell (the first two episodes) a couple of years ago, I seem to remember. Inferno is hard, though! I might have to gather some momentum by looking at Shores of Hell again; I’m not quite convinced that I actually finished it last time I had the game installed. Perhaps a run through that will hone my rusty skills enough to allow me to finish the Slough of Despair (the second level of Inferno) with some ammunition left. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tuonela line of card games

One of the highlights of the boardgame conference in February was that the local game publisher Jussi Autio invited us to check out his game store. Tuonela has this sweet run-down business locale within walking distance of downtown Oulu; it’s small and grunge, including the stock of boardgames, which veers towards the eccentric, local and rare – Finnish games have the pride of place. It’s more like a specialty boutique than the more typical gaming superstore, reminding me of a small record store that insists on quality over quantity. The sort of place that I’d love to have carry my stuff, really.

Anyway, one of the things I did was that I grabbed the chance and purchased a few copies of the new Tuonela card games for sale in our own webstore – we sell roleplaying games, usually, but Finnish games are also a tradition, and I for one don’t really care about the divide, so might as well try it. I haven’t yet gotten around to adding the titles to the webstore, but I have played the games themselves. This is surprisingly good stuff! Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Browser Shareware

I thought that I was done with my browser game reviews, but I’ve been continuing to play, and I’ve encountered an interesting phenomenon – browser shareware. These games operate at a rather high level of ambition, and are in fact available as stand-alone applications for pay. The browser version of the game is just a marketing device to hook the player into paying the 10ish dollars or so that these games seem to generally cost. This is interesting, as shareware isn’t nearly the phenomenon that it used to be even ten years ago, and these games have to compete with a cornucopia of excellently thought out free games.

My brother Markku recommended Creeper World to me a while back as is his wont. The game’s full name is Creeper World Training Simulation, which – alongside the ambitious plot – sort of hinted at the game’s shareware nature. I found out about the shareware angle after finishing the free Flash game; it was amusing, I hadn’t considered the shareware approach myself for browser games. When I stumbled on Now Boarding (or rather, Now Boarding Episode 1) yesterday and found out about its similar shareware angle, I had to conclude that this is apparently a feasible model. However, a shareware browser game needs to be really good to compete with the likes of Space Game – do these two games have what it takes? Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on 2nd and 3rd edition Heroquest

I’ve been re-reading the second and third editions of Heroquest lately. I’m sort of a little bit of a fan for Greg Stafford’s things, so this is mostly me warming up for the new Sartar book which I’m going to get whenever somebody brings it to me from the coastal trade towns. I have historically almost never played roleplaying games in Glorantha, but it’s still one of my favourite fantasy worlds. Now I feel like commenting upon these texts a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending casual games

I thought that I was finished with my series of browser game reviews, but perhaps I’ll do one more yet.

“Skill games” are the genre that to me seems like the linchpin of the popularity of browser games in general. They are the perfect casual games, and always have been, long before browser games existed and the genre flourished in arcades and home computers. The casualness is well affirmed by the uncaring attitude that gamers tend to have towards these games; I myself almost didn’t notice that I should actually write a bit about these games as well if I’m supposed to be reviewing the browser game media in general. Considering how much I’ve been playing these games while trawling through the browser game selection, it only makes sense to highlight some of the ones I’ve returned to several times. Read the rest of this entry »