Wow. Finally, the holiday work rush is over. It's been along couple of months for me, full of stress and pissiness. Hell, during some of the longer work days, I've almostbeen as bad as Fred at times.
Wait, no, I take that back, it didn't get that bad. Therewas always a game to keep my mind off of hurting people andon hurting little digital representations of people. Butbefore I get into games, like I always do, I have to getinto the shout-outs and freak-outs.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Kara of ConScrew, and... oh, crap, I forget their names, butthey're behind Fans!, which is cool in my book because theyhad a crossover with Knights of the Dinner Table, one of myfavorite print comics out there. They're nice people, andthough Kara's comic is a bit regional in its humor (Itmakes much more sense if you've ever been to an east coastconvention), they're still worth at least a good look. Unfortunately, they're on keenspace's servers, which havenever been kind to me.
Speaking of fun people, due to my fiendish plotting (and myroommate's purchase of a bun-bun plushie), I now know Shirt Guy Tom'shome address. He lives less than fifteen minutes from myparents. I'm torn between christmas caroling at hisapartment, or perpetrating some sort of fiendish prankinvolving stick figures. One suggestion is that I takecardboard standups, draw stick figures on them and surroundhis door with him. I'm still torn, myself... maybe I'lljust e-mail him and talk to him about it instead of thereaders--nah, I'll let you guys inform him, it's more funthat way.
On with the games! I recently installed Win2K for theJapanese support, and after finishing with Party's Breaker(which cheats on higher difficulty levels by cutting yourdamage and boosting the computer's by a ridiculous amount)I cast about for worthwhile Japanese games to play. Finding none, I grabbed Pia Carrothe Youkoso!! 3. Despite being a horrible prude (Askcortana about how I've run screaming from his room before),it's a pleasant enough game--there are some pretty funnyjokes in there, a few decent romance stories, but the restis an excuse to put girls in uniforms and have sex withthem. Yes, I know, many of you will cry "What's wrong withthat?", but, well, I'm not a big fan of the porn games Fredlikes (Yes, I'm making fun of Fred a lot, but well, I workfor him, I'm allowed to ;p).
Strangely enough, after installing Win2K and setting it toJapanese, I got sucked into the updates of some trulyvintage games--Civ 3 and Wizardry 8.
Civ 3 is just like the Civ I remember, with only a couplereal changes. Taking a cue from my favorite Civ-type game(with Colonization a close second), they starteddifferentiating the civilizations, giving them a selectionof special abilities that affect things like industrialproduction, corruption, military experience, etc. Thething is that unlike Alpha Centauri, the differences don'taffect the AI much--while you had a host of differentstrategies to expect in Alpha Centauri, the AI in Civ 3 hasone path to victory: build cities wherever there's room(and some places there aren't). It annoys me to no end,especially since the Culture factor (also refined from anAlpha Centauri concept) means that the cities they build inyour desert will eventually desert to you.
I like the addition of strategic resources--it makes cityplacement more important than just "Hmm, how much food canI get and how many shields?". Now, I have to ask myself"Alright, is this close enough to the coal mine? Or shouldI just take over Jerusalem for its saltpeter and trade itto the Russians for their supply?". I also like theseparation of Workers and Settlers--another Alpha Centauriconcept.
But my biggest complaint about Civ is this: Where are thediplomats? The espionage system is okay, and nice andfast, but I would've appreciated diplomats. See, when Iwas younger and playing Civ, it was one of my ambitions tobe a diplomat. But I wouldn't be a wussy diplomat thatwould always be captured and sold for 50 gold. No sir, I'dbe a tech-stealing, production-sabotaging, water-poisoningass-kicker of a diplomat, you know, like Colin Powell orsomething. It was a source of endless joy when mydiplomats threw around large amounts of money and broughtthe enemy forces flocking to my banner--or if they didn'taccept my bribe, having his escort send them to kingdomcome. But now, it's all down to a series of menus and theIntelligence Agency, which, while convenient, is much lesspersonal... I long for AC's probe teams, they were muchmore efficient.
Ah, well. On to Wizardry 8. The last Wizardry I playedwas something like 3--I remember running that sucker on mycousin's 286, and, like all other Wizardry players, Iremember the long pain of hitting Reroll 600 times so Icould get that damnably rare Faerie Ninja. I usually endedup wussing out and getting a dwarven ninja instead. Butthis time around, I like the character creation system alot better. It removes the pain of waiting for your bonuspoint pool to be large enough to make a character you canuse--though some masochists I know kind of miss hittingreroll a million times.
Another bit of Wizardry 8 that I appreciate was bestdescribed by a co-worker of mine: "It doesn't feel like I'mnavigating a six-headed monster anymore". Common to Mightand Magic, Wizardry, and (to a small extent) the Gold Boxgames, the "One perspective, lotsa fighters in a line"system is replaced with a formation and movement systemwhich works well. I can now maneuver into a safe cornerand let the monsters come at my samurai and two valkyrieswhile everyone else throws rocks, or protect my flanks withmy ninja and my priest as my psionicist and bard drop bombsfrom the middle. I like it, even if it does becomehigh-maintenance every once in a while.
Anyway, enough pontificating about PC games--next time,I'll talk about the console games that have been suckingout my soul (namely, Dead or Alive 3 and Baldur's Gate:Dark Alliance) and other subjects I geek out on, likesports.
Well, a preview of that--I am thankful for the Euro symbol,as it, combined with the yen and dollar signs, make it somuch easier to spell "Fuck the Yankees".
Yes, I'm an Oakland fan. Let the hate mail flow.