Friday Ramblings

Today I'm going to catch up on a lot of random things I haven't commented on throughout the week. EverQuest Next Landmark SOE is having their huge Year of EverQuest…

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STAR COMMAND – Set Phasers To Disappointment

Admittedly I didn’t know a whole lot about the game going in. I saw a trailer and skimmed over the Kickstarter page along with a few other articles. What I thought was going to be a deep and satisfyingly was instead shallow and broken. I honestly can’t believe I chocolate-rabbit’d myself so soon after writing that. I suppose I have to take partial blame for expecting too much. Wait… No, no I really don’t. They essentially promised as much in their Kickstarter campaign. Anybody who sunk any substantial money into Star Command must be fighting waves of nausea.

Star Command Review

Visually, the game is great. They did a fantastic job with the pixel art and the aliens and ships are fascinating to look at. They obviously went for a Star Trek feel and I think for the most part they nailed it. Unfortunately it just all goes downhill from here. The combat, ship, crew, and diplomacy (or lack thereof) mechanics are all bad. They really are. I probably shouldn’t make sweeping statements like that but I honestly can’t think of a single redeeming feature among them.

The entire game is based around tokens. Win a battle, get tokens, spend tokens on upgrades or crew. Good luck being able to afford anything, though, when you have to constantly replace your crew. Parts of your ship also use different types of tokens to dodge attacks and fire special weapons. The problem is that you not only need to wait for the rooms to charge up, but then you need to spend a token. Unfortunately you can only hold 2 tokens of each type at a time. After that you have to generate tokens, introducing an additional timer into the mix.  The same is true for shield regenerators, etc. It’s a completely stupid and broken system. I just don’t understand why they created, essentially, 2 different usage timers. It would have been great if they just let you buy and stock ammo, but there’s none of that.  Read on. (more…)

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Hearthstone: Let it be the first of many

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Logo

I was about to tweet this, but I decided to blog it instead.  I really, really like the idea of game studios, who are entrenched in massive projects or well known for a particular type of game, stepping out of their comfort zone (as Chris Metzen calls it) to create even more games on the side.  Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a great and recent example.  Blizzard is known for making amazing RTS, action-rpg, and MMO games.  They’re known for taking years and years to develop a game, sometimes announcing half a decade before release.  Blizzard has, in a way, gone stagnant over the years and become quite predictable.

When Hearthstone was announced, I was pleasantly surprised by the elegant simplicity.  Watching the video (viewable after the break), I think Blizzard wants to think of it more as ‘epic simplicity’ where it’s nothing but simple fun.  Bottom line, they’re using this really familiar, really rich property to fuel other creative ideas.  A card game isn’t necessarily unique or innovative, but for Blizzard and fans of their franchises it sounds like a cool game to pick up and simply enjoy without investing so much; quite a departure from their typical games.

Of course I want to see Blizzard continue their traditional grand releases, but I would love to see them turn this into a new tradition of small team projects releasing much quicker, smaller, and epically simple titles.  This direction is perfect for a fan like myself.  I may be tired of World of Warcraft, but I truly love the Warcraft universe.  I want to see more imagination and creativity from studios — many different studios (including Blizzard). I want to enjoy new and familiar games in entirely new ways.  Everyone wins if that can be accomplished.

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Skylanders: Battlegrounds and Lost Islands

We love all things Skylanders!  Skylanders: Giants came out recently, and already there are more games in the works.   Activision released Skylanders: Cloud Patrol earlier this year, and we found…

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