This is an attempt at a new style of storytelling/gaming/roleplaying. This is, at its base, a Twine game-story but I want to build it based on user input. It starts with the first passage. I will add choices and passages based on user input. Please say so in the comments. Tell me which passage and what option would you like. Don’t feel bad but whenever the comments will get too numerous, they will be pruned.

Thank you for participating in my experiment. This is it. This is The End.

4 Comments, Written on March 4th, 2015 , Art, Gaming, Programming, Role-Playing, Stories

Submerged is a beautiful, water-world-esque exploration puzzle game. I’m not really sure how the main mechanic work because what I’ve seen thus far is mostly traversal and exploration but it looks interesting. Though, if you’re not automatically hooked, better wait for reviews. Available August 4th.

 Empyrion – Galactic Survival is, from what is available now — which is not a lot, Terraria if it was fully 3D and also in space. It looks very ambitious. It looks very early in its development. It looks like it still needs a lot of work. But if they can bring this up to snuff, I might opt for this over Star Citizen or No Man’s Sky. Early Access August 5th.

Geocore is another Descent wannabe and it looks very very basic but it is early in development by a two man team. It’s all very early so I guess I’ll have to see about this one but I would love a proper Descent reimagining. Early Access July 31st.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 31st, 2015 , Gaming, Less Interesting News

אתמול עבדתי עד מאוחר. כמה מאוחר? יצאתי מהמשרד בערך בחצות. רכבתי הביתה. הגעתי תוך חצי שעה. התמזגנתי קצת, דיברתי עם מעין, הוצאתי כלבלב, התרחצתי קצת ואז הלכנו לישון, איפה שהוא באזור 2:30. בבוקר, קמתי ב-6:30. התאפסתי על עצמי, שיחקתי קצת כדי באמת להתעורר, הוצאתי כלבלב, התארגנתי ויצאתי לעבודה. הגעתי בערך ב-9:00, נחתי והתחלתי לעבוד. עבר פחות זמן מאז שיצאתי אתמול ועד שהגעתי היום מכמה שבדרך כלל עובר בין תחילת יום העבודה שלי לסיומו.

ומכיוון שכנראה לא העליתי את הנושא בעבר, הנה מחשבותיי על עייפות. אני מחלק עייפות לשלוש אפשריות: עייפות גוף, עייפות מוח ועייפות מחשבה.

עייפות גוף מגיעה אחרי הרבה מאמץ. אפשר לזהות אותה על ידי שרירים כואבים, חוסר טווח תנועה והמצב בו אחרי שיושבים או נשכבים על משהו נוח אז לקום מתחיל להיראות כמו משימה מסובכת. בקיצור, הגוף שלך אומר לך שעבדת קשה מדי וכדאי ללכת לנוח.

עייפות מוח מגיעה מהמחזורים הטבעיים של הגוף, הסירקדים כנראה,  ואפשר לזהות אותה על ידי פיהוקים, עיניים שמאיימות להיסגר והרגשה כללית של צמר גפן בראש. זה המוח שלך אומר לך שהוא עבד קשה מדי והגיע הזמן לנוח ואולי כדאי לך לקרוא כמה ספרים על מחזורי שינה אם לא הבנת את זה עדיין.

אבל אפשר להיות עם שרירים כואבים ומוח שמאיים להפסיק אבל עדיין להיות עם חשיבה חדה. עייפות מחשבה מגיעה כשעברת כבר את כל המחסומים ואת כל הגבולות ולא רק שהחומרה כבר לא מסוגלת, גם התוכנה מתחילה לקרוס. היא מאופיינת על ידי חוסר יכולת מעקב ותשומת לב, חישובים פשוטים שהופכים לאיטיים ומסובכים, איבוד ריכוז וכל שאר הדברים הכיפיים. וכשהשלב הזה מגיע, זה גם המצב בו אפשר פשוט להניח את הראש על הכרית ולהרדם מיד.

ולמי שלא שם לב, הרשומה הזאת גם הפכה בשבילי לניסוי בפנייה ישירה לקורא בשפה שמתאימה ולזכר ונקבה בו זמנית.

2 Comments, Written on July 29th, 2015 , Humanity, Life, Thinking Out Loud, Work

לפני כמה חודשים, בפעם האחרונה שנסענו, אני וכל המשפחה של מעין, לאילת לפסטיבל הג’אז החורפי קיבלנו, אני ומעין נסענו בבסי לבדנו. ואיפה שהוא בהרים והגאיות של הנגב קיבלתי שיחה ממי שהפך להיות הקשר”ג החדש של גדוד המילואים שלי. השיחה בינינו מסתכמת לחילוף הבא:

הוא: אנחנו צריכים לעשות צמצומים בכוח אדם ואני עובר עכשיו על כל החיילים.
אני: סבבה.
הוא: אני לא רוצה במחלקה שלי אנשים שלא רוצים להיות בה.
אני: אני מסכים איתך לחלוטין.
הוא: … יש אירוע של הגדוד עוד מעט אבל אם לא תגיע אליו אז נשלח לך את תעודת הפטור שלך.
אני: fallout3thumbs

 חשבתי על זה לאחרונה ונזכרתי במקרה שקרה לי בטירונות שעד עכשיו ידעו עליו רק אני, אחד המפקדים שלי באותו הזמן, עמיחי וחבר שלו. אז בטירונות, כנראה אחרי מסע 5 הק”מ הראשון, אובחנתי עם מצב רפואי-כלשהו-הנובע-ממאמץ-שלא-ננקוט-בשמו-כי-זה-מביך וזה כאב אבל לא כזה נורא. בכל מקרה, קיבלתי עליו 3 ימי גימלים. זה היה סוף שבוע בכל מקרה אז “נו, טוב”. בסוף השבוע, נסעתי עם אח שלי וחבר שלו לראות סרט. ואז המפקד שלי מתקשר אליי כשהיינו בדרך חזרה והייתי צריך לגמגם משהו על המצב שלי ועל איך אני מרגיש.

וחשבתי על זה שאותו המצב היה כואב ולא נעים אבל לא משהו שבאמת צריך להפריע לי. פשוט לא התחשק לי להיות שם. אז לקחתי את הגימלים. זה משהו שאני לא אעשה עכשיו כי אני רוצה להיות פה. אני נהנה בעבודה הזאת. אני לא באמת נהנה להיות במילואים, אני רק מנסה לשרוד את זה בלי לסבול יותר מדי. אז אני שמח שאני מקבל פטור.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 22nd, 2015 , Life, Me, Stories of My Life, Thinking Out Loud

Nomad Fleet looks like finally someone is trying to make another, different Homeworld and not half-ass it. This one looks good, it looks interesting. I’m not entirely sure about the grid and the controls but I hope it comes out good. Early Access now for 13$.

Contradiction is a full video point and click murder mystery and it looks like they went all out with it. Every section of it is full video. They claim that you have complete freedom inside the game scenes and the every movement is possible. The video also looks very high quality. It might not be exactly my thing but I put it on my list just for the novelty. Available now for 10$.

Into the Stars is a space exploration and survival game that gives the player the role of the ship’s captain while actually still being the captain. That is, giving orders and seeing systems and not micromanaging everything. And it looks very good. Early Access now for 20$.

Rocket League is football with freaky, rocket propelled cars and a big giant ball. And it looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Out now for 20$.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 17th, 2015 , Gaming, Less Interesting News

It is a common practice in game design to try to stretch out the length of a game by padding out the content. This could be done by insidiously layering out difficult, repeating levels or by simply varying out the already introduced elements into new configurations.

I’ve recently thought about this after seeing a few new puzzle games. I have quite a low tolerance for those unless they introduce something really interesting (i.e. Ronin) and even then, they should probably be short enough to not over stay their welcome. And so, when looking at those puzzle games, I played two or three levels, understood what they’re doing with it, and decided it wasn’t interesting enough to invest time in.

The problem is, again, a conflict of expectations, exacerbated by the sheer quantity of quality games out there. Meaning, if I’m playing a game that I’m not enjoying as much as I thought I would and I know I have other games that will be at least as enjoyable if not more, why should I keep playing?

I’ll take a look at it using three examples I think, at least in my case, symbolise different levels of padding/grind vs my innate interest in those genres of play: The role of grand strategy game will be played by Civilization: Beyond Earth. The role of the endless runner will be played by Relic Run. And the role of the Action RPG will be played by Path of Exile.

Grand Strategy / Civilization: Beyond Earth

The Civ games are very highly regarded and while the series had its ups and downs, Beyond Earth did take some brave leaps and it did try to channel the old Alpha Centauri game — which I dearly love. And so, playing it, I did recognise its harking to the old days, the interesting new mechanics they added and the overall effort invested in the game. However, after a couple of decades playing games, especially with how the scene changed in recent years, adding a massive amount of new quality titles, I realised that of all the games I play and/or played, the grand strategy genre, even if Civilization doesn’t quite fit that categorisation, isn’t one of my top favourites. While I like tactical games like X-Com or real time strategy games like Starcraft, when the strategy gets so grand like the Civs, I’m not really into it, despite all the good design that went into it.

And it’s even difficult to call Beyond Earth padded. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. And the way I like it, I played small, tight games, on dense worlds to force a lot of interaction. But it didn’t help. I played half a game and then I quit, never looking back.

Endless Runner / Relic Run

Endless runners have been around for a while. And while it might not be the first of its kind, the populariser of the genre is most likely Canabalt. And Canabalt is great. It’s simple, it stretches its mechanics only slightly and it lasts just as long as it should, having only score to signify how good you are and your “progression” in the game.

Relic Run is one of the latest entries to the genre, taking Lara Croft as its main character and thrusting her into endless tracks full of coins, relics and other tidbits. And Relic Run introduces a lot of things, especially if your base is Canabalt: Like many other runners, it has collectable coins; from an over the shoulder 3rd person perspective it features side stepping as well as jumping and sliding; in certain places you need to perform special “parkour” moves or fail; it has wall running segments, thus shifting the perspective, as well as ATV segments, which twists the basic mechanic slightly; it also has shooting segments, shifting it more towards the shooting gallery genre, and boss battles which are staged shooting segments; and it offers play area progression and purchasable upgrades.

It’s interesting, it’s engaging, it offers a lot of variety to the regular play and so should be playable for a long time. But, in my mind, they fucked up the progression speed. And my main problem is the fact that they almost had it. It was just a little bit too grindy: The collection of coins was a little bit too slow; the prices of the upgrades, especially the single use ones, were a little bit too high; the hard currency was a little bit too sparse; the random bonuses were a little bit too random and meaningless.

I am pretty ambivalent about endless runners. I enjoy the occasional Canabalt run when I’m bored and have a few minutes to kill but I never really engaged with the genre. I liked Relic Run but then I realised what it would take to actually get some meaningful progress and enjoyment out of it and decided that I have better ways to spend my time.

Action RPG / Path of Exile

I love action RPGs. It’s one of my favourite genres. I started with Diablo and I think my Steam count of over 200 hours invested in Torchlight 2 would attest to my devotion. So, when I heard that a very ethical free to play one is coming out, I was genuinely excited. Especially when I found out what they were doing with it (The single interconnected progression tree, the socketed gem-based skill system and the varied economy).

I played in the beta for a little while to get the feel of it but I wanted to save my experience for when the game was complete. And when it came out, I hopped on, playing it at almost any opportunity. Progression was speedy at first and I quickly made it to the second act. But then I started to fill the grind. I realised that I wasn’t getting a lot of the currency items, that I wasn’t getting a lot of XP and that big mobs and bosses were starting to really kick my ass. And I was playing a very defensive, survival build. That’s when I thought I should have known better.

Being free to play comes with caveats. And it was probably accentuated, being very ethical. As the only remotely mechanical thing you can buy is extra stash pages — with the rest being only visual upgrades with no mechanical influence — what Grinding Gear Games did to enhance the possibility of a purchase is to extend the time it takes to complete the game as much as possible. And as the game content is completely hand made, no procedural generation, the way to do that is to slow down the players. And they overdid it. I quit playing a very good action RPG with some very interesting mechanics I enjoyed, just because of the grind.

Surprise Appearance / Hearthstone

Blizzard’s computer card game is, in my view of the stretching for payment vs grinding situation, meta-stable, teetering on the edge and threatening to fall into the grind side. Hearthstone is free to play and although you can pay for a form of progression – that is, card packs – it’s not pay to win. You still need to build a good deck, count on some luck, know your opponent and play well. “inferior” decks can beat “superior” ones if played well. And you can also get the same random packs you pay real money for using the game’s soft, earned currency. It just takes longer. And that’s understandable. They want to get paid after all.

So what’s with the teetering bit? It’s because of the way you get that soft currency. To get it, you need to complete daily quests. You only get a new one once a day; And you need to play the casual/ranked play mode or the arena. And they don’t really change. And thus, they get tedious after a while. To the point that after completing the Naxxramas adventure, peaking at rank 15 on the ladder, and playing a few arena games, I quit playing for a few weeks. I only really returned to play the new Blackrock Mountain adventure.

So it’s not really teetering, it fell into the grind pit a while ago, right? Almost correct. It was rescued by the Tavern Brawl mode. Tavern Brawl keeps it interesting. It changes every week, bringing a new style of play and, the cherry on top, you’re guaranteed to get a new card pack with every new brawl style. So, the rate of progression is up, the variety of play is up and all seems well in the kingdom of Azeroth.

The only problem I see right now: How long can they keep this up?

Leave A Comment, Written on July 11th, 2015 , Gaming, Practice, Thinking Out Loud

After much deliberation I had not much say in because of my injuries, I managed to actually fly the ship back to Mos Entha where Naritt and Zamir found a local Hutt to sell the water rights to. After some back and forth that I’m glad I didn’t have to do myself, we agreed on a price, the Hutt took off to see his new acquisitions — we threw in the location of the abandoned research lab for free — while we took off back to our original employer.

We docked at the wheel a couple of days later and met with our Isotech contact. He schlepped something out about not fulfilling our contract completely because we let the laboratory and the water mine get taken over by a Hutt. We bit the bullet because the Hutt paid a lot for it.

Then, when we asked what is next on the agenda, he told us he is waiting on his sister to come back with some information on an old Republic ship that went missing, something very valuable.

So, of course, we couldn’t just sit our asses down. We went to investigate.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 2nd, 2015 , From the Writing Desk, Gaming, Role-Playing

ביום שישי, רצינו לאכול ארוחת שישי עם ההורים של מעין. אחרי שעבדתי כל היום, התחשק לי לפנק את עצמי אז מעין לקחה את זה קדימה והציעה בלאק (כי אמרתי מוקדם יותר שבא לי על קינוח של בלאק). אחר הצהריים, התרחצנו, תהארגנו ויצאנו לאסוף אוכל מהבלאק. הפעם, התחשק לי משהו באמת מת אז ביקשתי את ההמבורגר שלי well-done? איך שהוא, יצא לי המבורגר אולי מדיום. לא, אני לא יודע איך אפשר להתבלבל. אבל הייתי רעב אז אכלתי אותו. זה רק לא עשוי כמו שאני אוהב, זה לא רעל, נכון?

אז אולי אכלתי הרבה, כמו שעושים במקרים כאלו, אבל אף פעם לא הרגשתי ככה אחרי בליסה רצינית. ביום שישי בערב כבר התחלתי להרגיש מוזר. בשבת הרגשתי כל כך רע שקמתי, ניסיתי להתחיל את שגרת הבוקר שלי (שמתחילה, למי שיודע, בערך בחמש בבוקר) אבל מהר מאוד קרסתי על הספה ולא קמתי עד אחר הצהריים. כל היום עבר לי בהזיית כאב בטן, כאב ראש ושינה אחת גדולה. בערב הרגשתי מספיק טוב בשביל לעזור למעין להכין משהו לאכול אבל לא הרבה יותר מזה.

ומאז ועד עכשיו (שני בבוקר) אני מלווה באוסף של כאבים, בחילות, חוסר תאבון וחוסר נעימות במגוון תצורות שונות. פחות או יותר כל דבר מהבטן ומעלה, שאינו החזה או העיניים, כואב לי. כולל הגב. זה כנראה תוצאה של המון לחץ ושאני לא נתתי לעצמי באמת לנוח (למרות שהדבר הטוב היחידי בכל זה הוא שאני לא מרגיש עייף) אבל ההמבורגר בטוח היה ההתחלה של כל הבלגן.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 29th, 2015 , Life

We flew over to where the blip showed on the map. What we found was a Sand People encampment around a small mountain. We surveyed the area and decided to land a bit farther away, I still prefer to keep the Badger as safe as possible, at least as long as it’s not paid for.

So we walked. And what we found from the ground level was lots of buildings but few people and an entrance into the mountain from which people exited, looking not very happy. At the entrance to the mine we found the object of our search, Jaa Adik.

We explained that we meant no harm and just wanted to see what the fuss was all about add our mission was to ascertain what happened. Inside the mine we found containers of water and crates of explosives. That was the point I started to think that maybe we should just go away. But before we could leave, an explosion buried us in, causing a boulder to mangle my arm.

After everyone was excavated from the rubble, I called it quits and headed outside, hoping to reach safe ground before passing out. But outside the cave, Jaa Adik was waiting with open guns. I drew my own but he managed to shoot first, burning my side and thoroughly disabling my left arm. I managed to duck out of the way and then the rest came and battled him out. At the end, I was saved from unconsciousness by a stimpack and Jaa Adik called for cease fire.

Throutek stopped typing for a minute to massage his bandaged arm. Through another application of field medicine, he was feeling better but it’ll take time until he had his full range of motion again. He took a full glass of water, emptied it, refilled it and then emptied it again.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 25th, 2015 , From the Writing Desk, Gaming, Role-Playing

את האימון של אתמול אני יכול לסכם, בצורה הכי טובה לדעתי, בצירוף האותיות GG.

למי שלא מבין, GG או Good Game הינם ראשי תיבות אינטרנטים שהומצאו לשימוש בסיום משחק מוצלח וכסוג של מתן כבוד ליריבים שהפסידו או ניצחו. מאוד דומה לשני טורי השחקנים שלוחצים אחד לשני את הידיים בסוף משחק כדורגל.

אבל מה שצריך להבין הוא את נסיבות השימוש. לא מדובר ב”יאיי! ניצחתי!”. אם כתשת את היריב לחלוטין, זה לא היה משחק טוב. אם הוא כיסח לך את הצורה, זה לא היה משחק טוב. אבל עם המשחק כלל עליות וירידות, לקיחת ואיבוד הובלה, מהלכים מרהיבים וכשלונות מחפירים וכל אחד פעם בצורה מאוד מקצועית ופשוט הטוב ביותר ניצח… זה GG.

אז באימון אתמול, למדתי מוותיקים ממני ומחדשים ממני, הותקלתי והתקלתי אחרים, הראיתי לאחרים איפה הם חלשים והראו לי איפה אני טועה, עירבבנו טכניקות, הרחבנו מהלכים, ירדנו לפרטים והתעקשנו על קאטות אחידות, שלמות ומהירות.

באמת הרגשתי שבסוף ה-session יכולתי לסמן 1+ בשורה של המיומנות שלי בדף הדמות.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 18th, 2015 , Life

Lego Worlds is Lego Co. dive into the Minecraft clone business and they might be big and tough and interesting enough to actually make it. Now in Early Access.

Trove, at first glance, looks like a generic Minecraft clone among all the rest trying to claw out some room. But what’s different about this is that they’re going massively multiplayer and, unlike Minecraft, they’re taking the gaming side and running wild with it. So, I’m looking forward to it. Out 9th of July.

Interstellar Rift looks like a space simulator built out of LEGO bits and the best parts of DF-9 and I have to say that, as an avid space simulation fan and a typical builder/explorer personality, I’m quite looking forward to this and hope it comes out good. Early Access on the 23rd of June.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 6th, 2015 , Gaming, Less Interesting News

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