Category Archives: Time Killing Games

An another one of my Aspie obessions: video games. Here I share ways in which you can waste large amounts of time too.

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Free Orion

The year was 1993 and to be honest not a lot of nice things happened. The world trade centre was bombed, the Northern Ireland talks weren’t looking promising, Sadam was being difficult about weapon inspectors and there was a rather nasty nuclear accident in Tomsk-7,  a small town in Russia. On the brighter side Microsoft released Windows 3.1 and much more importantly Sid Meier’s most excellent software development company Microprose struck gold again with a game called Master of Orion and made an otherwise depressing year a little bit more bearable.

Master of Orion (or MoO – yes I know), was a turn based strategy game based in space, where your goal is to take over the entire galaxy by colonizing solar systems and a rather clever combination of diplomacy and war. Victory is achieved when you have either taken over the entire galaxy or you have been elected the High Leader by the Galactic Council.

In short it was probably the best game released up until that point for PC and Apple Mac, and three years later, the sequel: Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (MoO:2) was even better! There was a third game, but it wasn’t a Microprose game and it should never have been released, it was that bad – enough said.

Free Orion

A few years ago a fantastic team of programmers decided they wanted to realise the untapped potential of the Master of Orion games and they began work on an open source project called Free Orion. There have been a few buggy releases over the years, but now it is fully playable and absolutely excellent, with full multiplayer and online modes too! Along side Oolite, this is now probably one of the best open source games available.

I’m not going to rant and rave about this game too much, because you need to play it yourself  to see how good it is. If you played the original games, all I can say is that this project really does embrace the spirit of the Master of Orion Series.

Here are the useful links:

http://www.freeorion.org/

FreeOrion – Download

FreeOrion – Forum

Enjoy and watch out for the Guardian!

ZenEmu

Dark Age of Camelot

Dark Age of Camelot

In 2001 a company called  Mythic Entertainment released a Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG) called Dark Age of Camelot. It was good, it was difficult, it was hard, but above all it was time consuming.

Dark Age of Camelot is an old game now. It has had several expansions released for it over the years, some of which added to game play others, if I am honest detracted from it. The thing that makes DAoC really special is its unique 3 realm player vs player system. There are three realms: Albion, Hibernia and Midgard and each of these realms has its own geography, history and unique races. Each of these realms meets on “The Frontier”, which is where player vs player battle takes place.

DAoC Raid

The story doesn’t end when you get to level 50. In the Frontiers there are not only opposing players to fight (in groups or travelling solo), but keeps and towers to take. Your realm will occasionally work together to capture the other two realms “Relics”, which will make your realm stronger and their realm weaker until they take it back. as you capture keeps and towers and kill opposing players you will earn more Realm Points, improving your character and allowing it to learn new abilities.

DAoC also has a strong Player vs Enemy element. There are dungeons to explore, vast areas full of monsters to kill, and many of them drop useful items which will help you on your way. There are 50 levels for your character to get through before you will really be ready to battle in the Frontiers, but in the meantime there are battlegrounds suited to low level players where you can practice Player vs Player and learn more about your race and earn a few Realm Points, which will help to improve your character. A new Battleground is available every 10 levels, and adds a nice touch and some fun game-play to break up the leveling, which admittedly can get a bit boring after a while.

Avalon MarshesAnother aspect of DAoC is the crafting system, and although not for everyone, it is a useful way to make extra in-game money. Characters all wear armour and weapons of varying qualities. Crafters can make new items and imbue them with certain properties to give extra improvements to characters.

Now the downside. In Europe, Mythic Entertainment licenced DAoC to a company called GoA, which made a complete hash of hosting it. Silly mistakes like overcharging subscriptions, loosing and breaking accounts, slow underpowered servers and appalling customer support put a really large dent in the number of subscribers DAoC had. Incidentally Mythic made the same mistake with Warhammer online, but all that is another post entirely. Luckily Mythic have recently taken back the European subscribers and are now looking at merging many vast servers together to give DAoC the population it deserves.

I’ve played many MMORPG’s and most are fairly pale interpretations of DAoC. In my opinion it is still  the very best. If you haven’t tried it yet, download the free 14day trial and give it a go. It doesn’t cost much to subscribe (around $14 or £6.50) per month and these days all of the expansions are included in the subscription price, so there is nothing extra to pay.

Here is a link to the free trial:

http://www.darkageofcamelot.com/

Have fun, but be warned that DAoC will take up a lot of your time if you get into it :)

Zen Emu

Dirty Split Screenshot

Dirty Split

Dirty Split ScreenshotI’ve always been a fan of adventure games, and I’ve completed more than my fair share over the past 25 or so years. SO it is with some experience that I can recommend Dirty Split is a fantastic little example of the genre. Released way back in 2008, I only recently came across it.

The game is set in the 1960′s and you play gumshoe Alan Baxter. You have been hired by illustrious Beverly Hills Socialite, Mrs Vanderbuilt, to investigate the murder of her daughters fiancee.

The game has fantastic stylised visuals, typical of a 1960′s cartoon, and all the characters have associated voice actors, and they are all very well done. Every scene has its own background music, which is quite jazzy and really sixties. I really liked it. There are some very nice visual special effects too, which I won’t ruin for you. To give you some idea of the fantastic quality of this game I have included a video (above) of the intro sequence.

Dirty Split Screenshot 2The main character, Alan Baxter has a very dry sense of humour which appealed to me. The whole thing will only take about four hours to finish, but I promise, it is a lot of fun.

The control system is a point and click affair which is a very easy affair. Right click gives you the actions, and left click applies that action to the environment. It’s a tried and tests system that has been used before and you won’t find yourself aimlessly dragging your cursor around the screen finding something to click on.

The puzzles in the game aren’t exactly rocket surgery. They are just enough to give pause for thought, which is fine, it just helps the game move on at a steady pace.

Dirty split has a good atmosphere and will keep you genuinely interested. It is just a shame it is over so quickly. A couple more hours game-play would have made it perfect.

If you know somebody that has never played an adventure game before, I honestly can’t think of a better introduction to the genre.

I can tell you it runs fine on Windows XP and Windows 7. I’m not sure of the exact recommended system specs, but I can’t imagine they are particularly high.

For some of you, the most interesting aspect of this game will be that it is free! Yep, doesn’t cost a bean. There is nothing about this game that would make you think it was freeware. It really is a very good quality product.

You can download it form here:

http://www.dreamagination.org/wordpress/en/dirtysplit/downloads/

It is around 188 meg, so may take a while on a slower broadband connection, but stick with it, you won’t regret it.

Remember, when you are tailing someone, a Private Detective Onboard bumper sticker may be a dead giveaway.

ZenEmu

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Saira

Saira

I must admit, I am not a huge fan of Platform games, mainly because I am not very good at them. Batman the Movie and the New Zealand Story both defeated me on the Amiga when I was quite young, and I have not trusted the Genre since.

A while ago I came across Saira, which is a small independent game written byNiffla, who seems to be a rather talented chap. Not knowing what makes a good platform game or a bad one, all I can say is I quite liked Saira. It has some puzzle elements, a story line, and it was only ridiculously difficult for me (I’m sure your average 10 year old could nip through it in a matter of hours), it took me three days.

As you can see it looks nice too, with rather spiffy, and i suspect hand drawn backdrops.

Anyhoo, it has a free demo, but the full game is only $12 USD to buy! For that, it has to be worth taking a punt, doesn’t it?

While you are there, make sure you check out Niffla’s Other games; they are still in my to-do list, but I am sure they are equally admirable.

Have fun, save the Human Race, and find Bobo.

ZenEmu X

world-of-goo-1-600x359

World of Goo.

I like physics based games, they make me happy. I am a simple soul with simple tastes and as such World of Goo made me a very happy chap.

World of Goo is simple really, you have balls of goo, with which you have to make structures to save a certain number of the same balls of goo. There are many levels and several chapters to work through.

What makes this game really happy and shiny is that it isn’t a simple one trick pony. New types of goo with new features are introduced all the way throughout the game. You can also replay levels to try and beat your first score. Every single level has its own unique challenges, looks beautiful and there is no repetitive nonsense.

Crikey! this is starting to sound like a review. Better stop there.

I should mention that you can get World of Goo on PC, Mac, Linux and I believe it is on the Wii channel somewhere too. I haven’t played the Wii Version as my door would blow shut if I removed my little console from it’s current position.

It is region and DRM free too, which is nice and trusting of the lovely people at 2dboy, so don’t take advantage. It is’t expensive to buy – $20 USD.

You can get it from : http://2dboy.com/games.php or a Nintendo WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! store near you.

Have fun, Eat Meat, Drink Fruit Juice and be happy.

Zen Emu. X

machinarium-20090415113414059_640w

Mechinarium.

I recently came across this little gem of a game. Sadly you will finish it within hours of buying it – yes thats right BUYING it.

It is simply one of the most jaw droppingly beautiful games I have ever come across.  I don’t do detailed reviews, but I will say the backgrounds in this game are hand drawn and the music that comes with it (in MP3 format) is worth the price of the game alone. The whole thing is obviously a labour of love, and worth the measly sum of £13.00 ish or $20 USD

This doesn’t just look good, it is a nice little puzzle game too. The basic premise is that you control a robot who has to manipulate his environment to sole puzzles, help himself and help others of is kind. It is all very sweet and definitely worth a look. It will give you at least six hours game-play and make you feel happy, what more can you ask?

You can even play a demo of it which has been done in flash – through your browser so no huge demo file to download and install.

Give it a glance at http://machinarium.net/demo/

Also, just quickly, I am a big fan of independent games, so if you get a minute, have a look at the Independent Games Movement, which showcases some of these fantastic games.

Good luck, Have fun, Eat your greens ect.

ZenEmu X