After a couple false starts, I’ve had this particular game going for nearly three weeks, checking in a couple times each day to top up my resources and assign my growing population to important jobs. Currently, this is probably one of my favorite apps… so you know I’m just waiting for the likely update that’s going to “tweak and upgrade” something and ruin it forever.
I game, therefore I am: But — you know this — the last thing the web needs is another gamer review blog. And, seeing as how I’m about three years behind on my gaming anyhow, who’s going to read it? 8-Bits-Short is a (new) series of snippet-posts, glimpses into the gaming life of this part-time video gamer a’la-dad-indoctrinating his daughter on his love of button mashing and pixel pushing. Share & enjoy…
Is it possible to say that you are obsessed with a game after just a few hours?
I downloaded the latest (mobile app) offering from Bethesda Softworks this afternoon after it was just shortly released in conjunction with E3 2015. As far as I can tell it is a kind of cross-promotion-slash-mini-game to tie in with the upcoming release of Fallout 4, a game which has me drooling over new hardware because my current consoles are not quite up to snuff.
I say obsessed because after installing it and then loading it up on the train on the way home after work, I found myself completely draining the battery on my phone while playing it after supper.
Then I charged my phone… and completely drained it again. Until Karin found me sitting on the floor tethered to the wall with a charging cable. This is partially because the game is a bit of a power hog, but also because I haven’t been able to put it down all evening.
After (almost literally) burning through my first crack at fallout shelter micromanagement and mourning the quick turn of favours that left me survivorless an infested underground bunker (everyone died!) I started a second game and took a slightly more conservative approach. The game is not super-generous with assistance (following the initial standard tutorial) which makes for a few surprises (pleasant and otherwise.)
The game also is not super generous with resources or probability. Perhaps it is a kind of confirmation bias, but my perception of a 40% chance of something really bad happening and the game’s perception of the same seem wildly different. Plus, after the initial crush of people that form your starting survivor base, new people are few and far between. And though I seem to have a lot of digital pregnant women running around on my phone right now, this doesn’t seem like a long-term viable solution for a quick build up of valuable workers to speed this game along.
I’ll keep playing, but I’m still not sure what this game expects from me in the long run: watching and waiting while my battery drains away and I build up my little virtual shelter like SimCity … or just daily check-ins to check resources, sorta like Tiny Tower.
I’ll keep playing, but reserve my judgement after seeing if it can hold my attention longer than for one cool pre-summer evening.
This is a post from the seventh edition of my (mostly irregular) Week of Lists where I bring you seven list-type posts, one per day starting on Saturday, October 25th and ending on Halloween, leaping from the darkest corners of your internetz and scaring you into mild confusion. Stay tuned!
As if you didn’t already know it, but the undead are everywhere… at least in video games, they are.
There are many reasons we (as a society of pop culture enthusiasts) have fallen into our love-hate relationship with zombies, reasons ranging from our dark and idle fascinations as a society with apocalypse, disease and dying … to more political urgencies linked to that feeling of mindless, follower-sheep-like chaos that emerges when we feel powerless and controlled by a faceless, heartless, corporate govern– ahem… well, I don’t know much about that.
But I think my fall-back understanding of this fascination is simply this: that bashing zombies, in a multicultural world where video games are sold to an international and diverse audience, has become the most politically correct enemy we can conceive. Simultaneously, they are all of us and none of us… the weakest become the strongest… the hunted become the hunters. If you happen to be a zombie it’s all at once everyone’s fault and yet only-your-very-own albatross to carry.
Thus, zombies are cropping up in video games everywhere, and in games that span genres and platforms too many to name. But here are…
4 of My Favourite Games Featuring Zombies
For example… Everything that moves in Left 4 Dead Series
When you read the title of this article I can almost guarantee that most of you were thinking this version of the zombie. And so, of course, I didn’t want to leave it out of my list.
Our “super awesome game” nights –where we gamer-dads convene our increasingly inconsistent meetings in a round of zombie-bashing mayhem– these events just wouldn’t be the same if not for the target-practice style zombie rootin-tootin-shootin of the kind of franchise that leans on this trope. Armed with nothing more than a humble arsenal of impractical assault-class weapons and seemingly unlimited ammunition, players of target practice zombie games mow down wave after wave of the undead, usually attacking with ferocity of a wild, rabid animal. These are the pitiless and un-pitiable hoards for which there is no escape but pure existential-threatening warfare.
You just don’t let the kids watch.
For example… Captain LeChuck from Monkey Island Series
And yet, there was a simpler time when the zombie-brain relationship wasn’t one that involved one eating the other. There have, in fact, been times when the undead both possessed and used the (rotting) meat computers in their skulls as something more than alternate food sources and homing devices to detect the living.
The angry zombie, returned from the dead with a seething heart set on vengeance concept always makes for a fun adventure. It is the cold, calculating logic of an enemy who cannot be killed (at least not in conventional ways) pitted against the protagonist player who neither wants to join the baddies on the wrong side of the River Styx nor fail in their video game mission.
For example… Zombie Time in Pixel People
Okay, so the light-hearted, cartoon-esque app game I’ve been playing this week on my iPhone may or may not fit into the big leagues of the other games on this list, but it represents a trope I’ve noticed popping up in games all over the place… Pixel People being the latest example: zombie cameos.
Cameos. As in… oh look, suddenly there are zombies in this game. Oh… but… why?
And as kitsch as it first appears, I take it as a good sign that the game developers don’t take themselves or their game oh-too-seriously when all the pixelated residents of your fake little cartoon world randomly become the undead for fifteen minutes.
(And I mean that in a good way.)
For example… Zombies in Minecraft
Of course, the zombie that need not even show his face is that groaning noise beyond the cobblestone wall.
Does it matter that zombies in Minecraft are actually zombies? Does it fit otherwise into the zombie paradigm built up in modern popular culture? Do Minecraft zombies even make sense?
No… not entirely, but they scare us because of the other three games I just mentioned above. And the first time you heard that groan in the darkness it wasn’t you thinking of the two-punch-and-your-down wimp of a zombie you later became very familiar with whilst stacking grey cubes in the vastness of your procedural landscape, it was those other three kinds… and not exactly knowing if they were smart, angry, or just silly-cute. Until you knew for sure, they were just a noise in the dark.
And maybe you peed a little. But you paused your pick-ax and then you dug a little more carefully.
I will say that I haven’t played much, if any, Minecraft since my hosted server suddenly went dark four months ago. Quietly in the background my mobile iOS version has been routinely updated, however, as development continues and new features are added. So, it may not be entirely surprising for you to learn that I’ve been juggling my commuting time this last couple weeks between studying French on Duolingo and picking away at a new mobile Minecraft world on my phone, a feat that seems much less pointless how that they’ve added infinite worlds. Time will tell if I too quickly get frustrated with the micro mobile controls and take my addiction back to the desktop version, or if I tough it out and push through on the four inch screen little brother. As these days I don’t seem to have much free time for gaming anywhere but on the train, I’m thinking the mobile version still has an edge.
Terraria, but mostly on my phones. Yes, both of them… each with different games going.
My latest addiction manifests itself in a twenty-three minute session of mobile Minecraft whilst jammed in the corner seat of the light rail transit car shuttling me to-and-or-from work each day. A recent update to version oh-point-four-point-oh lodged the handheld version of everyone’s favourite mining, crafting, and randomly-generating mob-bashing game into a supremely more playable format.
But before the train had even left the station I’d materialized out of sorts: I always take caution to log off any particular game in somewhere safe and protected, usually in the confines of some carefully-crafted and well-lit room carved into the side of a mountain fortress. The mobile edition leaves no room for exceptions to this strategy, but the world chunked into existence before me and I found myself perched high above my world, perched precariously on a dangerous looking ledge. Something wasn’t quite right…
So, of course, I fell off. Fell hard. Tumbled down and down and smacked right onto the roadway below. And it was about then and there that I figured there might be some room for this, the first (and possibly only) edition of Minecraft from a Train. Of course it also helped that I was listening to a podcast about new media and how some new-ish trend seems to revolve around gamer spectator videos. Maybe blog-narratives have a place in there somewhere, huh?
Where was I? Oh right…
I fell off. I fell off and died. And re-spawning, tool-less and lost, I took a few minutes while the train pulled past the next station to assess my surroundings and relocate my lost stuff. This was not as awkward as one might assume; A minor setback, at worst.
See, I don’t have much. See, while I give a generous nod in the direction of some kind of vague obsession with this game, it wasn’t until the latest update that epic building was a possibility. Being able to store vast quantities of supplies in chests helps with this. So, it wasn’t until that update that I started getting serious with this edition.
A month ago, or so — give or take — I cheated. I found some interesting world “seeds” and plugging one of them into the “create a new world” prompt let my Ice Cream Sandwich powered Galaxy Note chug for a few brief moments until the smattering of complex landscape blossomed before my eyes. It was glorious: towering arcs of stone drizzling with bright red lava, a snow-capped hill, and a rolling lake-peppered landscape. For those first few sessions I did the typical thing: I built a cave, wandered, explored, mined some supplies, built some better tools, and… abruptly ran out of space in my personal inventory.
Painful. With a full inventory there is not much to be done. You can’t pick stuff up. You can build, but it feels restricted somehow. All in all it was just frustrating having no wiggle room save for what I could hold in my hands. In fact, one of my primary objectives in starting any RPG or similarly-interfaced game is to acquire in-game storage space. In Skyrim and Fallout, for examples, this means getting a house. In Minecraft, this means building lots of chests.
But… no chests.
And then? Long-story-short…. by the merest glimmer of a chance I happened to read the update notice, the bit of text I occasionally but oh-so-rarely bother to read on any app, that pushed through the Play store one day a couple weeks ago: chests. Simple but awesome. Chests had arrived. There seemed to be some hope herein.
I was back into the game. And while the first trickles of construction are hardly as exciting as one might imagine, I’ve been laying the foundations for something bigger: sitting on the train each day I consume a few percentage points of battery life while I dig a little deeper into my base-mountain and start the construction of some new major highways spoking outwards from that central point.
I picked away at my construction. I started a bit of work on a foundational perimeter wall just West of my main base: nothing too epic, but important, then… night fell, and I scurried back to my shelter just as I heard the familiar ding of the train and the announcement of my station approach.
Save & exit… and until next time.
I have mixed feelings about tower defense games. And it’s not so much a love-hate relationship, as it is more of a idle-frustration-meets-compulsive-time-suck feeling. I guess I have that feeling with a lot of games, but it seems — well — a bit more intense with tower defense games.
The latest incarnation of the Humble Bundle appeared as an email notification in my email box last week. Usually, I let them simmer until I get a sense of some of the games. But this one struck me for a couple reasons, those reasons largely centred around the fact that it was a bundle for Android, and my new(ish) Android phone is still pining for some TLC in the gaming department. A Humble Bundle for Android seemed just the cure.
Of course, it was only after I bought the bundle that I bothered to note that a mere three of the five games were “mobile” compatible, the other two designed for tablet play. If they weren’t also downloadable via Steam on my PC I’d have called a fail on it, but no… and less-so a fail once I loaded up my newest and favourite…ist game: Fieldrunners HD
Simply, Fieldrunners HD falls into the category of well-made tower defense games. A wide-open field, a honed and limited set of tower-types, a multi-field, multi-entrance, multi-baddies game-mechanics style of play, and it runs slick on my Android hardware to boot.
It does pull a pretty hard-core drain on my battery life, admittedly, but HD graphics on that gorgeous five point three inch Galaxy Note screen are worth the power consumption. I’ll just need to limit my play to non-critical times when I’m close enough to a power source for a timely recharge. (That should be even less of a problem since my portable battery-slash-recharger arrived in the mail last week.)
Gameplay is pretty standard: baddies pour from one (of multiple, on some screens) entrances and wend their way towards the fastest possible route to the exit, traversing the field of battle where you’ve positioned and later bolstered your defensive towers. If you’ve set it up right, allocated your very limited resources properly, and created enough of an obstacle course and maze out of your towers, the baddies are peppered with pain and they fall before they are able to escape. If you have not set up properly, squandered your resources, or made their escape too easy, the baddies disappear on the opposite edge of the screen and chip away at your “lives” until, if you are unlucky or unskilled, you fall in defeat.
On basic mode, there are only four towers to learn and master. On extended mode, things get a little more complex with a couple more towers. I haven’t beat extended mode so I don’t know what happens after that. Each tower has obvious advantages and disadvantages, and vastly varying prices: spend too much too soon on expensive towers and you risk letting baddies slip by. Spend all your cash on the cheap towers, and you don’t have the fire-power for the stronger tanks and airships that will simply float by half-damaged.
All this intense mobile action has left me with that time-suck feeling of not being able to put the game down… mixed with the aforementioned idle frustration of falling to defeat after an hour and seventy-six waves of baddies suddenly ramp up in skill and armour, slipping my by carefully crafted maze-like defenses. Then again, I suppose that’s the draw: after all, I was flipping through the achievements and noticed there is a “trophy” or “badge” or whatever for the number of slain baddies, the top badge ticking in at a count of one million. I guess they were kinda assuming some of us might be a little obsessive.
I haven’t written much about gaming lately. This is probably because I haven’t been doing much gaming lately. Not much, with the exception of some mobile stuff — because I can play mobile while I am mobile, and I seem to be mobile a lot.
That, and it’s summer, so gaming is kind of a winter sport around here.
So… mobile-wise, I’ve been playing a stupidly addictive little iOS game called Tiny Tower, a time-sucking, resource-farming-style game (yes, in the spirit of Farmville, et al, but with fewer virtual chickens) that takes place in some random rental-property utopia.
The eight-bit-fashioned graphics form the essense of a virtual two-dimensional office, commercial, and apartment tower-in-one. You, the (apparently omniscient) landlord are tasked with four innane tasks that can (literally) fill your days with repetitive micromanagment of your little vitual tennents lives. These include: (1) moving the elevator to correct floor delivering passengers to their desired destinations, (2) keeping the stores stocked with both goods and employees, (3) controlling the rental agreements of your bitizens (and dressing them, too, for some reason I can’t quite figure out), and (4) acquiring enough resources (gold coins, I think) to upgrade the building through the addition of new floors, better and faster elevators, paint jobs, or whatever.
I’ve taken my brother’s strategy to heart — he’s the one who introduced the mind-virus-that-is-tiny-tower into my life — and I drop by my little harmonious utopia as infrequently as possible, letting the game churn away in my absence. This means I click in during my commutes to and from work to restock my stores, shuttle some folks around, and apply any pending upgrades to the building.
I’m sure there must be something more to the game than what I’ve been doing. There is a bright green menu button that I pressed once (or maybe twice) to see what happens: a whole new screen appears with lots of social-looking features. But I haven’t been back to prod around much more with those.
Overall, it’s an evil little game. You should check it out. It gets into your skull, messing with your mind and then tapping into your phone’s notification system to send you constant phone-buzzing reminders (which I do realize I could turn off — but THINK OF THE VIRTUAL CHILDREN!) to stop in, check up on things, and “restock” the damn stores… because apparently the little virtual people can add, decorate, and furnish entirely new floors to an existing skyscraper without my help, but can’t seem to unpack a box of hot-rollers for a virtual barbershop unless I click an icon.
I think I’d better get back to real gaming soon.