Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Civilization IV

Being new to the Civ franchise, it did not seem implausible that if I started a game at 11 o'clock I would be able to play a quick hour and then walk away. I had heard rumors of the "one more turn" momentum that the game engenders, but I did not expect to sit down for a quck taste and not look up again until 1:30am, or that at that point I would actually tell myself "one more turn" and continue playing for another forty-five minutes. It is a brilliant game. The snappy pacing and the sense of accomplishment given by every building, wonder and research you complete combine to make it absolutely irresistable to simply dabble. You're tired? Well the people of Osaka are sick and overcrowded. You've got school in the morning? Well they just found oil outside of Kyoto and the English are crowding in on your western colony. What are you gonna do about that, huh? Salvage your nightly sleep, or Rule the World? I trust you'll make the right decision.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Pajama Sam 4: The Wreckoning"

This weekend Jeff and Greg and I got together to tap our gaming roots, and play some of the titles that put us into the hobby. There are a number of sites that make this available (vNES, for instance) and emulators that make it easy, but we were using a subscription to GameTap. If you haven't tried out the service, you may want to give it a look, or at least cruise the list of free games that they make available without a subscription each week. It's definitely a compelling service.

While the number of titles is deceptively inflated by games like "Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning aren't so Frightening" and others of that ilk, and while there are no Nintendo consoles supported (or Sony, for that matter, leaving emulation the only viable option for access to those games), the list of old dos, arcade, Windows and especially Sega titles is fairly delicious. Especially if, like me, you broke your gaming chops on the Genesis rather than the SNES. We played Golden Axe and Final Fight, Street Fighter II Turbo and Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. It was altogether a good time. One of the benefits of the GameTap console is that it detects and integrates any controller you put into the computer, which made using my 360 controllers quite easy.

On my own time, I've been using my subscription to play the Sam and Max Episodes (Hilarious), as well as checking out some games that I am shamed to say I never got into, like Civ IV and Psychonauts. If you're a fan of old adventure games like the "So You Want to Be a Hero?" games and the King's Quest series, those are well represented as well.

I don't want to sound like a shill for GameTap, but it is a fairly solid service. There could definitely be some improvements to the way it's managed, like the inability to change the storage destination, and the gamepad integration is not always smooth (I had some trouble trying to play Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with the 360 controller, though that could be the game's issue).

So if you get the chance, check it out, it may be something you would pay nine dollars a month for, and maybe it's just worth playing the free games.

In other news:

Happy Day

Rejoice, world, for today is the twenty fifth anniversary of my birth, which marked a new dawn in the history of man.

Tune in later for news and a new comic.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Treasure!

While rummaging about in some storage bins at my mother's house this weekend, I happened across a cd spindle of old games. Sitting between Jeopardy and Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time (aptly named) were several games that I had not seen in years: Warcraft II, Mechwarrior 2, Quake, Crusader: No Remorse, Command and Conquer Red Alert, Daggerfall and X-Com. With the exception of X-Com and a brief foray back into the original Daggerfall demo, I had not played a single one of these games in close to ten years (though not for lack of trying). It was quite the find for me. All together in a dark closet were the games that made me a gamer. Each game would play a pivotal role in placing the pc in the forefront of gaming innovation for the next ten years. It has slipped from the front in many respects, but it will always be the primary site for technical advancement as with graphics and physics. The consoles are undeniably the current center of gameplay innovations, mainly due to the Wii and Guitar Hero, which fundamentally changed the way the player interacts with the game. The release of Portal and the previews of Spore, however, show that the pc will never stagnate into purely derivative gameplay dynamics. But we'll leave that for now.

Of the games found, the only one I have been able to get running is Crusader: No Remorse. I had been searching for a freeware version for years, but it never occurred to me to run it in DosBox. The game is just as fun as I remembered, which is amazing considering its age. There is simply endless amusement to be had entering into a company's breakroom:

and reducing it to rubble:

The destructibility of the environments is fantastic, even the potted plants explode in a fiery puff of sparks and smoke. It's really a ridiculous game, but we'll forgive it for the hollow AI and the cliche story on account of the amount of fun it is regardless of these shortcomings.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Septuagenarian Blues

The troubling aspect of MMOs is the very thing that allows them to sustain themselves for any extended period of time: endlessly retreating horizons. I reached level 70 today in World of Warcraft, but for some reason the accomplishment is not as soul satisfying as I had hoped for. I don't know what I subconsciously expected, maybe I imagined that as soon as I hit seventy I would immediately be treated to all the best gear, or maybe I expected a clandestine invitation to some elite corps. Maybe I expected that I would only be able to reach 70 by accomplishing some Herculean task. No, I reached seventy while killing a earth elemental in Shadowmoon Valley, in the middle of some simple "kill x of y" quest. No fanfare heralded my ascent, merely a halfhearted 'congratz' from my only guildmate that was present to share my triumph. So I stand, wearing mostly the same gear I had at 66, broke from buying the flying mount, staring down the barrel of a 5000g + climb to the epic mount and the endless pvp grind and instance runs needed to get the purple gear. It takes much of the joy out of reaching 70, but not all. Even when you come over a ridge after a long climb and find that the peak is still well above you, you can still look back and be proud. Even though I'm only one of millions who have already made seventy, who have done it multiple times, it still feels good to get to this point.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Welcome to SalmoTorpedo friends, I'm Tatterdemaliot, your impecunious internet impresario. I intend to post here with some frequency, discussing gaming, theory, literature, and daily life. We'll go from Portal to Plato, from World of Warcraft to War and Peace, and if we're lucky then we can find some common threads. Keep an eye to the site for comics as well, we'll hopefully keep a steady flow of new material coming along with the posts.

But enough of my chattering, let's go to the SalmonTorpedo Labs where a surprising announcement is about to be made: