Todd's Foolery

Chris Roberts Wants to Make Another Wing Commander


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With no disrespect intended to Mark Hamill, Biff (Tom Wilson), Jon Rhys-Davies, Malcolm McDowell and the rest, the above is how I prefer to remember my Wing Commander – animated. I still remember the charge I’d get every time I watched the pre-flight cinematic where you’re racing down the hall and getting prepped in the cockpit of whichever fighter you were taking out for a pleasure cruise. (Man, was the Scimitar a flying hunk of garbage or what!) Evidently series creator Chris Roberts still remembers too. During an interview with G4 he expressed his desire to make another Wing Commander game.

“I definitely want to do another Wing Commander, and I have a very specific vision for it,” Roberts said. “I’m looking at the games being made now and I go ‘Yeah, they’re really cool, and there’s some really great stuff,’ but I think I could come back and push the boundaries of cinematic storytelling again. I’m looking at some of the stuff that’s been done and it’s sort of, in my eyes anyway, falling short, and it’s not because of the technology. It’s falling short because of how it’s been done.”

“I made Wing Commander because it was the game I wanted to play,” Roberts told me. “I didn’t make Wing Commander because I said ‘Oh, this is something that’s going to sell a lot of units,’ or ‘there’s a gap in the marketplace,’ it was just ‘I want this experience.’ The time where I could feel like I’m ready to engage in something is always when I have a personal feeling that ‘Okay, I want to go and make a game that gives me this experience.’ I feel re-energized, and I think I can come back…and push forward parts of the industry in terms of narrative and cinematic storytelling.”

There’s much, much more in the full interview that’s worth reading. Personally, I say go get ’em, Chris, but then I don’t have to worry about silly things like the fact that he’s not an employee of EA and they hold the rights to the property. Details. I’m sure he’ll work it out later.

Oh, and after the break the best collection of Tom Wilson Biff clips ever; just because I care.

Seen at Ultima Aiera.

Civilization 5 Game Diary: Ode to Oda Nobunaga Part 3: Turns 201-300


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As we begin the next 100 turns I have four cities isolated on their own continent. I have sent a pair of caravels east and west to figure out what the rest of the map looks like and who’s out there. My economy is producing a passable amount of gold (+14 per turn), I have a +5 for happiness, which gives me some cushion to found a new city (it is, however, bouyed by a pair of trade agreements). My society demographics are fairly poor, ranking no higher than fifth in any category (manufacturing, soldiers, literacy) and dead last in some (population, food, and approval). Over the next 100 turns I hope to improve on those numbers (which I’ve included after the break). I’ll have to if I hope to have any chance of actually winning. This has not been a master’s course in Civ stratEEgery…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #84


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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you think games are too expensive? Are they priced too low? Should reviewers factor a game’s cost into their evaluation of the game? These are the questions that drove this week’s Jumping the Shark to the brink of civil war with Brandon and Danielle arguing that determining overall value is a fair factor in evaluating a game, while Bill and I contend that the reviewer should stick to evaluating the game itself, regardless of its price. Along the way we also talked about Avadon, inFAMOUS 2, HTML 5 gaming and the fact that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is measurably hotter than any of their other parks. It’s a fun week for JtS. Be sure to step into the comment thread and weigh in!

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PC Version of Arkham City Getting Some Love


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I bitch and moan a lot about PC versions of games getting short shrift from far too many developers. Nothing in gaming chaffes my ass more than a quality game getting a lousy PC port. So, it’s only fair to point out when it looks like someone’s doing the PC right. Over at arkhamcity.co.uk they’ve got some details from a PC Gamer feature on the game and it’s chock full of juicy nuggets sure to give PC gamers a warm fuzzy: PhysX support, 3D, DX11, and this bit of love:

Notes the writer, “Even ignoring the absence of [these PC exclusives] (such as tessellation, fog, and more loose trash in the streets) — holy crap, do the console textures look poor by comparison.”

Music to my ears.

Seen at: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Civilization 5 Game Diary: Ode to Oda Nobunaga Part 2: Turns 101-200


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To recap from the first diary, as we begin the second 100 turns I have founded the empire of Japan under the rule of Oda Nobunaga. The initial intent was to spread through conquest, a goal that was derailed a bit by the lack of any other civilizations on the continent, aside from a single city-state: Tyre. Their heads being just as clunkable I left off at turn 100 having begun to mobilize my forces to attack. Let’s continue the journey…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #83


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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I missed out on recording this week’s episode of Jumping the Shark because I’d much rather spend a week at Disney World with my kids than this motley crew. Who knew Bill would abandon Brandon and Danielle in their hour of need? Despite lacking these essential cogs, they did somehow managed to find the will to carry on as they put on their game designer hats and discussed all the different kinds of games they’d like to make if only some generous publisher would cut them a check. Here’s how Brandon describes it in the show notes:

Listen in awe to the explosion of unbridled creativity that comes from Brandon and Danielle pitching games to each other. Want a ghost fueled RPG, a tower defense platformer that revolves around candy, a time management game based on freelance writing or an adventure business sim that pits cop vs drug lord? Well, we got you covered. For all of them. What can I say? It was a productive night.

I haven’t listened to it yet, but this sounds like a good one, so get to it. After the break you’ll find the embedded feed and some thoughts on Disney Survival.

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Civilization 5 Game Diary: Ode to Oda Nobunaga Part 1: The First 100 Turns


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With nothing new out there that I’m particularly interested in playing (Bastion excepted; moving slowly through that one), I decided it was time to take a spin through the heavily patched version of Civilization 5. After about eight months with it on the shelf, I’m not so much expecting to find a game I like better than Civ 4 (not really possible), but I’m curious to see if all these changes have been a net benefit for the game. So, what better time for a game diary! (Incidentally, I’m sorry about the lack of posting, from me, of late. My dad, my kids, and I are heading to Disney next week and setting the table at the ole day job this week has been a monster of a burden. This diary represents the first 100 turns of my game. I’ve almost got the next hundred done too, but putting a bow around that will have to wait until I’m back.)

I haven’t tried one of these types of diaries yet, so this should be an interesting experience. Expect typos and inconsistent initial-capping. I’ve broken it down into summaries of batches of turns with a heading indicating the game year and turn number of the end point for that summary. (So a “Turn 68” entry summarizes everything between the previous summary and the end of that turn.) For the game setup, I took standard world size and flow of time, used continent land masses, and set the difficulty at Prince, which is the baseline where neither the user nor the AI gets a distinct advantage. I chose to let the game assign a leader to me and will adjust my strategy based on that. And the verdict is…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #81


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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week Jumping the Shark is short one Brandon (who’s off searching for the Lost Ark of the Covenant), but we pick up a Tom Chick, who braves the heat to chat with us about game remakes: When are they a good thing? When do they waste of everyone’s time? What would we like to see remade in the future? First, however, we talk up the cavalcade of games we’ve been playing over the past week. First up, a good long bit on Bastion, which all of us (sans Bill) have made a point to check out. Tom marvels at just how bad Call of Juarez: The Cartel and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 are, Danielle goes rogue(like) talking about Dungeons of Dredmor, and Bill talks a smattering of NCAA ’12, Panzer Corps, and just a little bit of his Sengoku preview build. Oh yeah, and I give Mass Effect 2 some props for the one part of the game they absolutely nailed. Tom doesn’t buy it, but then, what does he know? Join us for another week of laughter, tears, and just a hint of brash exuberance.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #80


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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re just about a year out from last year’s disastrous release of Elemental: War of Magic, so what better time to bring in two of the principles of the spin-off game, Fallen Enchantress, to talk about its (hopefully) impending release? Yep, this week we are very excited that Stardock’s Jon Shafer (lead designer of Civ5) and Derek Paxton (designer of the amazing Fall From Heaven mods for Civ4) are able to take some time out to join us and talk about what they hope to bring to the table with Fallen Enchantress. Oh, and because any dessert needs a cherry on top, we’ve also got Troy Goodfellow back on to drop some knowledge and ensure at least a couple smart questions are asked. Some unavoidable audio issues aside, it’s a good week for Jumping the Shark!

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When Being Bad Doesn’t Feel Good; Also, Why I’m a Lousy Role Player


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A couple of months ago I started replaying Mass Effect 2. It had been my intention to play through it twice all along as I’ve got two completed ME1 save games in my pocket -a Paragon DudeBroShep (pictured) and Renegade FemShep (stolen, but close approximation)- that I wanted to carry forward through Mass Effect 3. Traditionally when I play an RPG, I play to be the hero. I’ve tried with games like Baldur’s Gate 2 to try an alternate path being an “evil” character, but beyond any concerns about whether or not a game makes it plausible to do so, I’ve never enjoyed being a cruel douchebag in a game. Maybe it’s conditioning from my Ultima IV – VII days, but wrecking virtual lives and kicking virtual homeless people just doesn’t offer me anything remotely satisfying as a gamer. I’ve tried it and it always sounds fun in theory -A world without rules! Let’s wreck some shit!- but the reality never meshes with it.

Then came Mass Effect’s Renegade path. Say what you will about Mass Effect and Bioware (and I’ve said plenty), but I’m not sure I’ve seen a game so excellently give the player the opportunity to be a ruthless hero and still actually be a hero rather than someone who curses at everyone for no reason but still saves the world because if they didn’t there wouldn’t be anything else to do. I liked that. I even liked playing it as a strong female character, something I traditionally don’t do when given the choice since I like to really put myself in the shoes of my little avatar and I am, at heart, entirely male. (No really. I fart at appropriate intervals, talk about sports as if I actually know something, and occasionally I sculpt my guns at the office. It’s a deep burn!) I felt like I was growing as a role playing gamer. Then I hit this one particular scene in Mass Effect 2 the other night and realized – yeah, not so much…