The Latest of Us – 2-5-2014

So instead of a weekly thing, this has turned into a bi-weekly, maybe monthly, thing. Consistency is overrated!

Since I last posted, I have signed up for my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), via Coursera, about Gamification. I’m interested in MOOCs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, with any luck, they will be a legitimate alternative to college by the time my kids finish high school. Because I’d really like to retire before I’m 90, and by then college will cost more than a luxury yacht.

I backed a couple video game projects. OK, three. My husband will be so thrilled.

First up was The Long Dark, by Hinterland Games. I’m very much into apocalyptic survival games, so this one’s right up my alley. It also takes place in Alaska, with stylistic graphics. Survival games typically try to look as realistic as possible, so the design choice here is interesting, and offers a nice change of pace.

 

 

Unfortunately, just a couple hours later, Geeks of Doom made me aware of Kingdom Come: Deliverance on Kickstarter. I’ve been having Elder Scrolls cravings of late, and this one gave me the same sense of excitement as I had watching the original Skyrim announcement. So yeah, I backed that too. But just LOOK at it!

 

 

It’s got plenty of days to go, so if “first-person medieval sandbox RPG” sounds like your kind of game, get in on this. They’ve cleverly given a “David and Goliath” theme to their campaign, because several big-name publishers gave them the runaround before they turned to Kickstarter. Who doesn’t love an underdog?  And it’s worked, they’re closing in on a million dollars. I’m happy for them.

And then, just when I thought I was done crowd-funding for a while, Kotaku posted this:

Drones Are Mapping The Entire Planet (For A Video Game)

 

 

Not just any video game. A survival video game. And not just pulling in real-world topography… we’re talking real-world time and weather, too.

“So, if your character is in New York and right now (in the real world) it’s 5 AM, raining and chilling in New York, then your Character will experience the same conditions in the game.”

It appears to be Project Zomboid-style overhead gameplay, which is not my favorite, but the other features of this project are so compelling, there’s no way I wasn’t jumping in on it.  Because it’s crowd-funded, baby, and that’s how I roll. I chose the “Farmer” package, which comes with a garden, and a greenhouse… and chickens! And a couple rabbits! SQUEEEEEE!

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Being opportunistic in Re-ROLL

An interesting trend with all three of the games above, and many other crowd-funded games, is the concept of early-access in return for buying in early. I’m finding, with Rust, 7 Days to Die, and Nether, that I really like that model. It’s the new beta, and it carries benefits for both the developers and the players over the traditional beta model of “sign up and pray you get in”. Instead of trying to enforce a beta NDA that is destined to be violated, developers put their game out there, and people talk freely about it. That’s a good thing for everyone (unless you’re developing a crappy game).

It does come with the risk to players that they will spend money on a game that turns out to be awful, but that same risk has always been there, really. And maybe it does tempt developers to stay in perpetual alpha, with less real incentive to finish the game. All I know is, so far I have felt in every instance like I got my money’s worth as far as entertainment hours, so count me among the happy “paid beta” guinea pigs!

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By the way, I’m about halfway through Tropico 4, with many hours yet to go. Been playing it like a hard-core addict. The other night, I was searching Google for some good desktop backgrounds to display my love for all to see. As I typed in “Tropico”, Google suggested I might be looking for… Tropico 5.

Tropico 5?! Oh, no…

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