Thursday, December 20, 2007

Well, Forget It Then

Well, I was going to try out Hero Of Allacrost today, but I couldn't get the damn thing to run. See, I used the Windows binary, and it just wouldn't work. I know, I know. This site mainly focuses on the Linux side of things, and Hero Of Allacrost runs on Linux, so why didn't I try it on Linux?

Two reasons. One, I'm sick of compiling things. Two, I'm sick of going through the process of adding repositories to my sources.list (I use Ubuntu). Just provide a damn compiled binary in the source download. It may work, it may not, but at least it's there, at least I know you tried.

Now the rest of this rant has nothing to do with Hero Of Allacrost. You're off the hook (except for the Windows binary not working thing, that's a pain in the ass). But shouldn't this be easier? I mean it's not 1998 anymore, more and more users are coming to Linux, and thanks to Ubuntu and other distros with similar goals, they aren't used to having to compile anything. And even though it's slightly easier, they aren't used to adding repositories to their package managers either.

I know how to compile things, and have been doing so for quite a while, but I'm sick of it. I just don't want to have to do it just to use a new piece of software. In this day and age it's not right to give every other system a simple downloadable binary package, and just provide the source for Linux users.

Hell, you've already made a .deb file to stick in your repository, why not just offer the damned thing for download? If the answer has anything to do with additional libraries only available from your repository, then you're doing something seriously wrong. It's a game, package the whole thing together.

C'mon folks. This isn't rocket science. If it was, various pieces of the rocket would be scattered all over the world, with directions where to find the other pieces in an entirely different location altogether.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So Long

So it turns out two things I love are going away forever, and both in the same month. First I hear that the Monster Hunter servers are shutting down at the end of the month. Then I hear the same thing is happening to Space Cowboy Online.

I realize that neither of these games have ever been as popular as a lot of games out there, but this is an end of a somewhat golden age of gaming for me. Both Monster Hunter and Space Cowboy Online have been invaluable forms of entertainment for me for the past few years, games I never tired of no matter how many times I'd go back to them.

Strangely enough (or not, really, if you've been reading AYE long enough), it's Monster Hunter that's got me down the most, even though I'll still have the offline component available, while SCO is just plain going away. I've literally had dreams about Monster Hunter before. Yeah, I know, that's weird.

I feel even worse for the poor souls who've just recently bought Monster Hunter. I've met a few people online over the past week or so who had only just purchased the game and were blissfully unaware of the impending server doom. Makes me glad I bought the game the day it came out, but I sure do feel for those folks.

Well, there's really nothing to do now. All the online petitions, letter/email campaigns in the world aren't going to get either game back online. So, all that's left to do is to enjoy the hell out of them while they're still around to enjoy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Visiting An Old Friend

Anyone wondering about last week's no post, will be glad to know that it was due to an injury (well, you'll be glad to know if you're sadistic). The week before that was postless as well, but it was Thanksgiving's fault.

This week I decided to continue with the free FPS theme and take another look at Warsow, a game I've played and enjoyed in the past. While it's only moved up to version 0.32 since the last time I looked at it, it's definitely continued to improve on what was already a solid base.

Mainly, there's more of everything. Especially maps. Last time I played Warsow, I think there were four or five maps, and maybe two gametypes. My memory could be fuzzy, but I don't remember much more than that. This update is the equivalent of taking one of those little (but tasty) hor d'oeuvre sandwiches and turning it into an actual sized sandwich. Same great flavor, and lots more of it.

I'm glad to see more people online. Warsow has got a lot of gameplay niceties to back up its stylish presentation, and it's nice to see some people agree. Still, momentum seems to be gathering more slowly than I'd like, so if you enjoy the game make sure to tell your friends.

In my opinion, Warsow is simply one of the best free Quake based shooters out there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Urban? Yes. Terror? No.

Continuing the theme of Quake 3 mods gone standalone, this week I decided to take a look at Urban Terror.

First things first, Urban Terror is my kind of game, so I'm much more predisposed to liking it than I was with Tremulous. For me, in the shooter world it just doesn't get much better than a good tactical shooter, although the Urban Terror team calls it a "hollywood tactical shooter", and rightfully so.

Installation on Linux may be tricky for some, since there's not really any installation information included in the README (at least that I could find). But, it's easy enough: extract the ioUrbanTerror archive (if playing standalone, like I am), extract Urban Terror itself, then place the q3ut4 folder in the Linux-i386 subdirectory of wherever you extracted ioUrbanTerror.

Even if the gameplay is good, a mod can be ruined for me if the maps aren't up to par. Luckily with Urban Terror, this is not the case. Every map I've played so far has looked great, and was balanced extremely well. Everything looks about as good as a Quake 3 mod possibly can.

Gameplay follows suit, weapons feel well tuned, and you certainly don't get the "cheap deaths" feeling you can get in other, similar mods. One thing I really like is that once hit with a weapon, even if you aren't killed right away, you'll bleed. And yes, eventually, that will take you down.

Urban Terror definitely does not tall into the "play it enough to write about it, then throw it away" category. I get the feeling I'll be playing it on and off for some time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Boon Spelled Backwards

I finally got around to trying Tremulous, a former Quake 3 mod gone standalone. Wow, I can not understand why this is so popular.

First off, a major strike in my opinion, there is no way to change options from the main menu, as far as I could tell. I had to connect to a game, in 640x480 resolution, to be able to change any options at all. I don't think I've ever encountered such a perplexing setup. I'll admit right off the bat, maybe I missed something, but on the main screen I saw three options: "Play", "Mods" and "Quit." No options to be found.

Secondly, I've got to assume that the people raving about this game are playing clan matches. The foundation for some great gameplay is there: buildable fortifications, widely differing character classes for each side, I could see this being a lot of fun. But on public servers all I encountered was a bunch of people calling each other "noobs".

I understand that in any online game there are going to be stupid people who call each other stupid names, but the volume of name calling was fucking unbearable. I quit the game and promptly uninstalled.

Hey, Tremulous is popular, it doesn't need my help. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm never going near the game again.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Still Got Elves And Swords

I remember seeing ads for RF Online a while back and being slightly interested - science fiction themed MMOs are more appealing to me than your standard fantasy settings - but I wasn't quite interested enough to pay for it. It seems RF Online went free to play a few weeks ago, so I figured, hey, I'll check it out.

Upon launching the game, I was greeted by a weepy, sentimental sounding song. Do you really want to start your game this way? Anyway, beyond that, character creation was some pretty standard stuff. After creating your character there's the option to take a short tutorial. What the heck, I took it.

The tutorial really holds your hand. I mean, it shows you how to move the camera (move your mouse, tough to remember), open your inventory (press the "I" key) and target enemies (click on them). After than, you're somewhat unceremoniously dumped into the game world, and given a short series of quests that consist of clicking the "OK" button a few times. No, I'm not kidding.

RF Online is your standard MMO. Get quests (although you don't even need to seek out NPCs, the quests just appear on your screen), kill things to complete quests, repeat. Chances are you know the formula by now and you know whether or not you're likely to enjoy the game.

Despite everything I've said, I've actually enjoyed my (admittedly short) time in RF Online. It's a fine alternative to the other free to play MMOs out there, and a pleasent diversion. I don't know how long it's going to hold my attention, but it's far from a waste of time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Waiting To Wait

When I first saw an entry on The Linux Game Tome for a new free-to-play MMORPG I was somewhat excited. For a long time it's basically been Eternal Lands and Planeshift. I like Eternal Lands, that's been established already, but I've played the hell out out of it. Planeshift, while I applaud its developers for making an open source MMO, just really isn't to the state where I find it playable to the point of being fun. So when Regnum Online entered the picture, of course I had to try it out.

First off, let it be known that you're going to be waiting. A lot. When I visited the download page and saw the installer was only around 1 megabyte, I knew there would be additional downloading in my future. After registering on the Regnum Online site and launching the, um, launcher, the download began, although it wasn't too long. I arrived at the character creation screen. Standard stuff. After creating my character, that's when the real downloading began.

It started off saying it had loaded 1 of 1000 or so resources, and that it was downloading about 30 resources. No big deal, I thought. Then each number started climbing. Not just what I had downloaded, but what was left to be downloaded. Eventually I was at 500 of 1200 resources downloaded, then 500 of 1300. After a while, the upper limits stopped increasing and I rode out the rest of the download. Finally I was in the game world. Sort of.

I was initially greeted with a sky, some hazy white geometry, and some green boxes. Must be a graphical glitch, I thought. That's when I noticed, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, a progress bar. It was downloading, again. Then what the hell did I just download? I waited, and eventually, various textures started popping in to place. Overall, I'd say the wait was about 5-10 minutes.

Once I was finally into the game I was, well, underwhelmed. Barren landscapes, blocky looking characters, and poor performance. Oh, and weird controls. Like many MMORPGs, you can control the camera by holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse, while you move your character with either the arrow or WASD keys. The problem is, your character doesn't move relative to the camera, it moves relative to itself. So if you press the forward key, your character it going to move forward from its own point of view, not yours. So more often than not, you position the camera directly behind your character so movement doesn't feel awkward. This method works, but leaves you wondering why you can even move the camera in the first place.

Gameplay is your standard MMO combat. You click twice on an enemy, and wait until one of you falls down. Somehow, this feels even less fun than usual in Regnum Online, perhaps due to the slow speed of the combat. After making it this far, I'd almost had it. I decided to run to the biggest town on the starter island to see if it got any more interesting there. It didn't. I logged out, and deleted the game.

This is the bottom line: If you want a full 3D MMO on Linux that is fairly complete, well, now there is one. I didn't find it very fun, and maybe you won't either. But, hey, I've seen positive reviews, so maybe it just rubbed me the wrong way. Still, I doubt I'll ever touch Regnum Online again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Match Made In Gaming Heaven

It's going to be a short post this week, folks. My shoulder has been hurting (which explains the lack of posts the last two weeks) and it's not going to hold up to typing for long. So here we go:

It seems that I finally have a reason to want a Wii. You might have seen a mention or two about Monster Hunter around here a while back, and I think my feelings about it were pretty clear. Hell, I like the game so much I'm still playing it. Sadly, its PS2 sequel never made it to the US, and since I'm PSP-less I've never had a change to try either of the Monster Hunter Freedom games.

I'd heard a little about Monster Hunter 3, but since it was unlikely I'd be able to afford a PS3 until the end of the decade, it still left me slightly heartbroken. And that's when the news broke. Not only is Monster Hunter 3 coming to the Wii, it's now a god damned Wii exclusive.

Those who've played the original know that a big part of Monster Hunter was its unique control system. Actions were mapped to the right analog stick rather than buttons. Now the control aspect of the game can be pushed even further. Monster Hunter 3 and the Wii are essentially a perfect match.

Now. Where the hell can I find a Wii?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Way Better Than ClosedArena

Sorry for the absence folks. Anyway, it had been a while since I had given OpenArena a try. The last time I tried it, you may recall, I wasn't too thrilled. I'm very pleased to say that now not only is the game worth playing, it's earned a permanent spot on my hard drive.

The previous time I'd tried OpenArena, it had no bots, was missing textures everywhere, and almost nobody was playing online. There was promise, but nothing was there yet. Now that all the aforementioned problems have been rectified, that potential has been realized.

It's Quake 3, but it's free. What else can I say about it? If I need to explain Quake 3 to you, what are you doing reading obscure gaming weblogs? Of course the gameplay is solid - look at what the game is built on. It's the same tried and true fragfest we've been experiencing for years, and you know what? Sometimes that's exactly what you need.

The maps and models are nice and polished, although some of the weapons aren't quite as satisfying as they should be. The rocket launcher, for example, just doesn't feel as powerful when firing as it should. These are minor missteps that I'm sure will be corrected with time. As far as I'm concerned, it can only get better from here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not My Fault. Seriously.

I've got no access to a gaming computer at the moment, so it's looking like no post today. If I happen to get my normal computer hooked back up, I'll try to get a post in later this afternoon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sauerbraten Updates. Again.

One of my favorites, Sauerbraten, had a new release Sunday, and a patch for that new release yesterday. Naturally, I took a look.

The first thing I noticed when I started the newest release of Sauerbraten is that performance was really choppy. I wondered for a moment, then realized that shaders are now used by default. No problem for some people, but with my now-dated system the first thing I did was turn shaders off.

The "new" menu system (not that new anymore) is much more usable than the last time I encountered it. During map selection, there are now thumbnail images of the maps, so there's no more (or at least less) wondering which weirdly named map is the one you're looking for.

For the past year or so, every new release of Sauerbraten has had a "flagship" feature, a feature so prominent that it made it into the release name. Physics edition, water edition, etc... This is the first release of Sauerbraten in a long time that has more in common with what new releases of Cube had, improvments all around.

New maps, bugfixes, improved menu system, gameplay tweaks - it's quite a list, although some of the excitement previous releases carried with them is lost as a result. Not that we could expect that forever, and this is a great new release of a an already-great game, so whatever traces of disappointment there may be, they evaporate quickly.

I'd provide a link for those of you who'd like to see the entire list of new things/changes, but unfortunately the Sauerbraten/Cube forums seem to be a bit temperamental right now, so instead I'll toss you a link to the LinuxGames post that originally drew my attention to the new release. There is a link there to the announcement in the forums which may or may not work for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Man Down

Due to an injury, no post today. Again, I know.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Again, I've Got Nothing

Seriously folks, see you next week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

At Least The Name Is Crazy

I figured that since Upshift StrikeRacer went to open beta, I'd give it a try this week. Boy, can gPotato find crazy names for its games or what?

The best way I can think of to describe USR is basically this: It's a cart racer that you play online which has cars instead of carts. Then there's some tacked on MMORPG elements that are short one M, and the obligatory item shop which costs you real money. I can see this really appealing to people, as long as those people aren't me.

This just isn't my thing. I've never been that big into car racing games. I've always preferred your Wipeouts and your Jet Motos to your Gran Turismos and your Need For Speeds. I'd probably like USR twice as much if it wasn't a car you're racing. In fact, I guarantee it.

There are some other issues that drive (ha!) me away from USR, though. For starters, you'll probably want a gamepad if you're going to play this. Racers never fare well with keyboard controls, and this is no exception. Secondly, there's no "race against AI" option. You've got your time attack mode, and then there's getting your ass handed to you by other players. Sure it eliminates the "grinding" usually omnipresent in gPotato games, but it ups the frustration level significantly.

Simply put: Check it out, you might like it. I don't.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wait, So I Actually Have To Know What I'm Doing?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had attempted to take a look at Shot Online, but thanks to the updater not working properly, that attempt had failed. I gave it another try this week and, luckily, the game updated itself without a hitch.

I'd been meaning to try Shot Online for quite a while, long before it became a part of the gPotato family (as an aside - why the hell is it called gPotato?) but I had never managed to get around to it. The idea of a golfing MMO, as strange as it seemed, really appealed to me. Mario Golf: Advanced Tour had successfully proved to me that there is indeed something magical in combining golf with an RPG, so why not give it a try online?

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but this definitely wasn't it. I guess that, because of the MMO elements, I was figuring the golfing portion would be a little more forgiving. Don't get me wrong, it isn't realistic, but certain things (putting, for example) are quite a bit tougher than I thought they'd be. I guess I was expecting Shot Online would be to golf sims what Space Cowboy Online is to flight sims - ie. not one.

Approaching the game with a different mindset, I could see myself getting into this. It's just so far off from what my expectations were that it's going to take some getting used to.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Crap Out

Well, the plan for today was Shot Online, but the updater won't work so I can't get the damned thing to launch. That's was I was banking on, so I'm fucked. See you next week.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

You Can Totally Go Home Again

I have to admit, I'm kind of surprised that Eternal Lands is still kicking around. There was a time when it was one of the only playable free MMOs out there, but now those free to play, pay to win MMOs are a dime a dozen (or a dollar a potion, if you'd prefer).

I know it sounds like I've defected, I mean, the game does run on Linux, but it's not open source - go for Planeshift if that's what you're looking for (actually, Planeshift deserves another look from me at some point) - so what is Eternal Lands' continuing draw all about? I used to play quite a bit, so you'd think I'd know, but you'd be wrong.

When I played, people were constantly complaining. Complaining about the in-game economy, complaining about the GMs, complaining about the fact that people could pay for items to make them stronger (and look how that one took off), and generally complaining about everything else that could be complained about. But, apparently, it wasn't that bad, because they're still playing it. Really, what did I expect, they play an MMO - they're bound to complain.

Honestly though, when I last saw the game pop up on The Tome, I had a little twinge of nostalgia. Then that nostalgia turned into me wondering if my old character was still around, or if (the more likely option) a server wipe had caused him to vanish into the ether. And now I'm downloading it again.

Why? I have no idea. But apparently there are a few other people who feel the same way.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Got Nothing

Seriously, see you next week folks.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This Week: On A Very Special Avert Your Eyes...

So I played Tales Of Pirates for about 20 minutes. Then I uninstalled it. Too many kids. I guess that if you are a kid you'd probably like the game, maybe even love it, but chances are high that if you're a kid you're not reading this site anyway. If you are a kid and you're reading this site, I'm sure your parents wouldn't be to pleased to hear it.

What's the deal with super young kids and MMOs anyway? With the "free to play - pay to be more powerful" games I guess I can understand it, but it always seems to be kids talking about the latest Dragonball or whatever the fuck kids are into nowadays who have got the $50 (real world money) "Cloak Of Teh Awesome" - not adults.

When it comes to young kids playing games like World Of Warcraft it makes even less sense to me. When I was a kid the thought of getting one of your parents to pay fifteen dollars a month for a game they'd already bought for you wasn't only unheard of, it was unimaginable.

Here's a theory I've posited in one form or another in the past: By getting kids used to subscriptions, micropayments and the like without them having to actually pay for anything, we're creating future adults who are already used to not really owning anything. Of course companies - gaming or otherwise - would rather have it that you never really own any of their products, they make way more money that way.

Parents, is this really the way you want your kids to end up? Chances are, if you live in the United States, you're already so far in debt that you'll probably never pay it off (if you're not, kudos to you). Wouldn't you like to see your kids in less dept than you, not the other way around? If so, then stop letting them use your credit card for subscription fees and micropayments. If nothing else, it gets them out of my hair.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sick Day

Sorry folks, but I'm feeling like crap, so no post this week. That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Don't F***ing Get Guitar Hero

I don't fucking get Guitar Hero.

The fact the so many people are head over heels in love with this game is a complete mystery to me. I'll admit, I never got why DDR was so popular either, but at least there seemed to be other people on the planet who shared my opinion. Is it really possible that I'm the only one who fails to see the entertainment value in pressing a couple of buttons on a ridiculously shaped mock guitar?

Maybe it's my taste in music - every single song on every incarnation of Guitar Hero makes me wretch. Maybe it's that the only game of this type I ever enjoyed was Parappa The Rapper (Um Jammer Lammy sucked). Maybe it's that I actually play guitar - you know, the instument. Maybe it's all of the above but, whatever it is, they lead to the same conclusion:

I don't fucking get Guitar Hero.

Back with a real post next week, folks. Sorry about last week's no-post, by the way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I May Be Slightly Exaggerating

It turns out that my fascination with World Of Warcraft was incredibly short lived - I cancelled my account after the free month. I'll play it again, certainly, but I saw no need to pay the monthly fee unless I was going to play the hell out of it. So, it was back to the free MMOs.

I've mentioned Space Cowboy Online before, a game that would probably be much more popular if not for the silly name. My ANI I-Gear has ascended to level 39, but it was level 38 that was more important. You see, at level 38 I-Gears get the third level of their "Frenzy" skill, and it is at this level that the skill shows its true power. No longer content to simply increase the attack power of your missiles, the skill now allows you to fire off an extra volley of missiles with every shot.

With my level 3 "Frenzy" skill attained, I now felt ready to enter the large scale PvP the game had been promising to me from the start. I didn't want to simply charge into BCU territory and start dying immediately, seeing as I'm completely unfamiliar with the their maps, so I waited until I heard that we were being invaded. After waiting a few hours, the moment finally came. I swapped my Power Arrows for my Edrills (to increase my chances of actually hitting the enemy) and headed for the front lines.

Well, not exactly the front lines. The enemy had advanced to one map beyond where I had stationed myself, so I parked outside the gate with a dozen or so others and waited for the storm. At first they trickled in - one or two gears at a time - they were taken down by the mob before I'd even had a chance for my missiles to lock on. Then the attack started. The sky became a flurry of gears in a matter of moments.

I tried to stay on the outside of the battle, hurling missiles at the few stragglers who would venture to the outer reaches of the fighting. Bored, I headed in to check out the action for myself. Did I get shot down? Sure. Everybody did. We'd simply respawn and attack with added ferocity. By the time I took a break to check my inventory, I noticed quite a few Killmarks - an item gained when you down an enemy gear - and to my surprise, some of them had come off of gears much higher in level than my own.

Simply put, I believe that SCO has some of the most compelling player vs. player of any MMO I've ever encountered. I love the fact (and I've mentioned this before) that skill actually factors in to the equation. Even if your opponent is 20 levels higher than you - if you can fly better, you've got a chance, even if it is a slim one.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Made-Up Profanity Is So Much More Fun

News has been popping up here and there about Beyond The Red Line, a Battlestar Galactica themed mod based on Freespace 2. With a Linux version finally available, I decided that I'd give it a try.

Before I say anything, let me state that I am a huge fan of the series. I don't think I've ever been so excited about new episodes of a television show as I have with Battlestar Galactica. So, basically, keep in mind that, with my being such an enthusiastic fan of the show, you should probably take what I have to say with a grain or two of salt.

I've encountered a lot of mods for a lot of different games in my time, and I've got to say: I think the only other mod I've ever encountered that paid such attention to minute details was Alien Swarm. The difference in this case is that while Alien Swarm was clearly influenced by a few sources, Beyond The Red Line comes right out and says "this is a Battlestar Galactica game."

This admission gives Beyond The Red Line full reign to use anything the meticulously crafted Battlestar Galactica universe has to offer, right down to the slang. That the voice acting - usually a terrible choice for inclusion in a fan-made game - is (surprisingly) so well done speaks volumes about the attention to detail that fills this game to the brim. This is obviously a project that the people involved really care about.

Since I had never played "vanilla" Freespace 2 (which is not required, by the way, this game is fully standalone) I was very glad to find that a tutorial mission was included. Usually an afterthought in mods, or often not even included, a tutorial is essential to anyone who doesn't know their way around Freespace 2. The fact that the tutorial actually manages to be entertaining is just sugar on top.

The rest of the missions I've had the chance to tackle are similarly well crafted, and the radio chatter from your comrades only adds to the already deep immersion factor. It's often hard to believe that the game you're playing wasn't produced by a major player in the industry, albeit with tech that's a few years old.

If you're a fan of the show, definitely download the demo. The developers do warn that if you haven't yet seen all of season 2 (and it was season 3 that just had its finale) you may encounter some spoilers, so watch out for that. And let me reiterate: Freespace 2 is not required to play this game, it's entirely standalone. So, make sure to grab this as soon as possible in case the project is shut down for intellectual property reasons.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'd seen Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 on the front page of the Linux Game Tome before but, until now, had never bothered to check it out. So, guess what today's post is about. Good job.

Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 is a commercial offering from Frictional Games but they do plan on supporting Linux. I say plan on because the full game isn't available for Linux yet, but there is a beta version of the demo available and, yes, it does work quite well. It's a first person game, but not quite a first person shooter, more of a puzzle action mix with a heavy emphasis on the physics engine.

Therein lies the problem. I was really enjoying the demo, but occasionally some of the required interactions with objects felt less-than-intuitive. Very early on you're required to break ice off of a hatch and then open said hatch to get yourself to safety. Picking up a rock to break the ice was easy enough, but the actual act of turning the wheel on the hatch was far too much trouble, to the point where it became frustrating.

That's a real shame because, minor physics quibbles aside, Penumbra is a very well made, very interesting game. The story is well told, the graphics are well done, and the general "feel" of the game is spot on. In fact, I'll even admit that once I got a bit further into the demo, the physics-related problems all but disappeared. That still doesn't diminish the fact that after about a half hour of play, my wrist was starting to hurt from holding down the left mouse button so much to drag various objects around.

Still Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 is a damn solid game. Hell, I might even buy it when the full Linux version is available. I'll just probably doom myself to carpal tunnel by doing so.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Short one this week folks, as I'm busy with lots of other things, but I couldn't let this opportunity slip by.

Last week I was talking about the avalanche of roguelikes abound, and now we have this: Doom - The Roguelike. None of the fun of Doom with all of its name! It'll have to wait though, as I'm busy playing Tetris - The Text Adventure and Bejeweled - The First Person Shooter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Enough Already

It's been a while since a good old fashioned rant graced the front page of Avert Your Eyes. In fact, it's been far too long. I'm prepared to receive a little heat for this, but it's something that has to be said: I, and many other people, are absolutely fucking sick of roguelikes.

If you don't happen to know what a roguelike is, you could either take a quick look around Wikipedia, or look no further than the venerable Nethack. Now, there is a reason that type of game has become so popular - they can be fun. It really is remarkable how much fun you can have with Nethack given that its entire interface is ASCII (leaving out Falcon's Eye and other frontends).

Yeah, Nethack was fun, but the hundreds of clones and other roguelikes? Not so much. I'm not the type of person who thinks games need great or even good graphics to be worth my time. I am, however, the type of person who gets sick of playing the same game over and over. You say your game is like Nethack but it takes place in a slightly different setting? How the fuck am I supposed to know? Regardless of what some people might say, story has never been any of these games' strong points.

There have been times in the past few months where I have counted no less than four games on the Linux Game Tome's front page that had the word "Rogue" in their name. Four. Out of ten. That is, by far, more than we need. A roguelike's strongest point is how long it can be played for. We don't need twenty new ones coming out every month. They might be somewhat easier to produce, but so are ASCII tic-tac-toe games. It doesn't mean we need to be overwhelmed with them.

In the end, it's up to the developer. They're not writing their games for me, they're writing their games for themselves, and that's how it should be. I just don't see the fun in cranking out clones in a genre that is so specific it's named for its likeness to one single game.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


No post this week. No real excuse - I'm just busy with other things and had no time for an update. Check back next week.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Fun Than Actually Being A City Planner

Sorry about last week's no-post (how many times have you heard that before?) - call it a sick day, because that's exactly what it was. Anyway this week I took a look at lincity-ng, a game I'd been meaning to check out since it was Game Of The Month over at The Linux Game Tome.

The original LinCity might have been the first open source game I played. Well, it might have been Xbill or something like that, but LinCity was the first real open source game I encountered. My first time playing the game, I ruined a meal that I was cooking because I had gotten so wrapped up I forgot to check the stove.

For those of you who don't know and have no powers of logical deduction, LinCity was a clone of Sim City. lincity-ng (they're the ones who don't know how to capitalize things, not me) is simply the same game with a new coat of paint. The perspective is shifted from overhead to isometric, and most buildings are now pre-rendered in 3D as opposed to being simple pixel art. It's not minor upgrade either, lincity-ng does look much, much better.

The gameplay is, as far as I can tell, untouched. This is a good thing, as LinCity was always immensely playable. If you're familiar with Sim City (and who isn't, really?) then you'll be able to pick it up right away. If by some freak chance you're not familiar with how the game is played there is now a nice and friendly in-game help system.

The game industry has already proven multiple times that taking tried and true gameplay and putting it inside a new candy shell is a valid method for success, and that rule is firmly in effect here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I was playing Rappelz last week, not really doing much, wondering what there was to look forward to, when my thoughts drifted to World Of Warcraft. I've managed to avoid it for two years now - mainly because I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of paying a monthly fee. OK, entirely because I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of paying a monthly fee.

I figured that after this long, it couldn't hurt to give it a try, so I downloaded the client and set up a trial account. A day later, my opinion on monthly fees had pulled a 180. I'm not going to go on about how great the game is - everybody knows that by now, but the fact that my viewpoint changed so fast does say something.

I suppose it may have to do with the MMO's I've been exposed to. Anarchy Online was great when I was playing it - I wasn't lying when I mentioned how much I miss it sometimes a while back - but Funcom really gave too much of the game away. I already had access to what interested me, so it didn't make any sense to pay for what seemed to me like a minor incremental upgrade. The GPotato games are a special case since they don't charge a monthly fee, but I haven't spent a cent on any of them for the same reasons.

I can finally see why World Of Warcraft has become as popular as it has. For me, it's the cohesiveness of the world, which is the same reason I dug Anarchy Online so much. It feels like a real place, and that realness adds a sense of gravity to the encounters (positive or otherwise) with the other players in the game world.

I'm going to try not to write about it too much - there are literally thousands of other places you can go if you want to read about World Of Warcraft - but damn, I am hooked for now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sometimes, I Have No Idea What To Call These Things

It's a pain in the ass when Thursday comes and I have no idea what to do about an update. Today was once of those days, so today's post is going to be a mix of a few things. At least they're all game related.

First I took a look at Wormux which is, you guessed it, a clone of Worms. I'd been meaning to take a look at it for some time, but the lack of artificial intelligence and online play meant that it was a little less than easy for me to evaluate the game. No online play yet (that's coming in the 0.8 release), but Wormux finally has artificial intelligence. Well, it's certainly artificial, but whether or not it's intelligence is highly debatable. Perhaps the fact that the key to initiating a battle against the A.I. is to name the second player "AI-stupid" should have been a clue.

I'll say this: the game has a nice solid look and feel. The 2D graphics are drawn nicely and have a comfortable cartoon quality. The destructible environments don't generate into pixellated hell, even after a long battle. Once Wormux is playable over the net, it will be a lot of fun. For now, the artificial intelligence is just a bit too keen on getting stuck and walking in place for the duration of its minute long turn for the game to keep any sort of pace. If this only happened occasionally it would be easier to deal with, but it happened to me nearly every turn. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the network enabled release, though.

The second game I checked out was Brutal Chess which is, according to its bio on Happy Penguin, inspired by Battle Chess. For those of you who don't remember, Battle Chess was basically a good old fashioned game of chess with one gimmick: animations of your pieces actually fighting each other when you made a move.

While Brutal Chess is a nice looking front end with the option of picking different chess engines, there is absolutely nothing brutal about it so far. Well, unless you consider plastic chess pieces knocking over other chess pieces brutal. I don't. I am fairly sure that they plan on adding animations over time, as there is built in support for loading md3 (Quake 3) models. They also mention a particle engine, which I never saw used. It may be me, though, I haven't spent too much time with the game.

Lastly, I very briefly checked out Pox Nora. By very briefly, I mean I signed up for an account and took a short look at the tutorial. I'm not one for blindly jumping head first in to multiplayer games, so it may take a while (possibly forever) until I have anything to say about this one. If I actually manage to play it, I'll post my thoughts on it next week.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Level Four

Three days ago marked three years of Avert Your Eyes. The third year was a rough one, to be sure. Out of the entire year only one month had the four weeks worth of posts it was supposed to have. Two months had only one post for the entire month. A lousy season for sure, but there still were some highlights, and that's what this post is for.

The season kicked off with the demo of Northland - a game I meant to buy. Like many things this year, I never got around to it. Still, you can't deny the appeal of a quirky RTS featuring vikings as the main characters. I still load up the demo every now and then just to tinker around with them.

The award for most talked about game of the year goes to Sauerbraten. I started following it back in March, and continued to follow its progress for most of the year. The game has improved by leaps and bounds since I've been keeping my eye on it, and it seems poised to continue with this momentum throughout 2007. I can't even begin to speculate where the game might be by this time next year. I will however speculate that, by this time next year, nobody will even remember EDM. Good riddance I say. Also, don't forget that Sauerbraten's predecessor, Cube, hasn't yet thrown in the towel. At least not if ActionCube has anything to say about it.

If you combined the GPotato games - FlyFF, Space Cowboy Online, and Rappelz - they'd have beat out Sauerbraten in the most-talked-about category. FlyFF doesn't seem to have much staying power, I haven't even played it since I mentioned it. SCO and Rappelz, however, have had much more play time than their respective mentions might have led you to believe.

How could I mention MMORPGs without giving a nod to one of the more personal series of posts of season 3 - my retreat from Anarchy Online. It was tougher on me than it may have seemed. I'll admit, there are times when I miss it - quite a bit, in fact. There are even times when I think about going back. I don't know that I could, in fact I'm almost sure of it, but it certainly is a testament to how much gaming really can affect you.

Those were the major events of the season, as far as I'm concerned, but they're far from being the only event. At the beginning of the season, the Wii was still called the Revolution and nobody knew a damned thing about it. The year saw the 2.0 release of Glest, two amazing shooters - Gunroar and Z-lock - from Kenta Cho and Jumpei Isshiki respectively, the liberation of Savage: The Battle For Newerth, and probably the last mention of a UT2004 mod on the site.

What will the next season hold? More posts and a more regular schedule, if I have anything to say about it. Aside from that I can't say I know. There's only one way to find out... wait and see. And keep on reading, I hope.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What A Novel Concept

It's been a quite while since I mentioned a UT2004 mod on the site. Hell, it's been quite a while since I've even played a UT2004 mod. Tactical Operations: Crossfire was the only interesting looking thing on the Happypenguin front page this morning, so the choice of topic was fairly obvious.

TO: Crossfire is another mod in the "extremely influenced by Counter Strike" vein, what with the buying weapons and what not, but it's far more of a straight up action game. One stray bullet is not going to kill you, unless it's a headshot or a grenade, and this alone makes it a bit more interesting than the countless Counter Strike ripoffs out there (not that they can't be entertaining).

Weapons sound convincing, voice work is well done, and the music is more than serviceable. The highlight of TO: Crossfire, however, is the map design, at least for me. Each map has certainly had a lot of time and effort put in, not to mention that by this point in UT2004's lifespan, mappers have gotten to know the limitations of the engine very well.

I hopped on a few public servers and had a good enough time. Nearly everybody I played with was far better than me, but what the hell, I've only been playing since this morning. It's good to see that there is a community built around the game, as playing with bots is certainly not as fun as it could be. To be fair, the bots are lackluster in pretty much every UT2004 mod out there.

Next week is the 3rd anniversary of Avert Your Eyes, so a year's recap is in order although, with as many posts as I've missed this year, I could probably just cut and paste every post from this year and it wouldn't be too long of a read. See you next week folks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Well, They're Used To Shareware Anyway...

Late last night I decided it was time to scrap my current Linux install and go for something exciting and new. I'm still in the middle of configuring the new install, and I'd like to get back to that as soon as possible, so it's going to be a short post today folks.

Today's subject is AstroMenace, an old-school style vertical scrolling shooter with new-school 3D graphics. It's closest relative would probably be Chromium B.S.U, if you happen to be familiar with it. right down to the (optional) mouse-driven control scheme. An interesting twist is that you earn upgrades to your ship not from powerups, but from money you earn on a per-level basis.

AstroMenace has a bit of a narrative, a welcome addition for those who desire a bit more motivation than "kill it because it's there." It's mostly a gimmick, but it's a gimmick that works well in AstroMenace's surprisingly consistent world. The graphics definitely help this cohesiveness - it almost looks like a 3D space shooter that has been restricted to two dimensions of gameplay.

Something to take note of for those of you who don't happen to run Linux: while AstroMenace is freeware (yes, freeware, nothing open source here) on Linux, it's shareware on Windows. Yep, you've gotta pay. Would I pay if I had to? It's an interesting question but not one I can give a definitive answer to. Would I consider buying it? Sure.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

One One One

Well, now that the holidays are out of the way, it's back to posting in full force. Rappelz Epic 3 came out a few weeks ago - essentially it's an expansion pack.

The pace of the gameplay has been sped up, albeit not considerably. It's definitely faster paced, but it hardly feels like an action game as the patch notes would have you believe. It's not just the gameplay that has been sped up, either: experience gain is now nearly doubled and the rate at which you gain job points has been increased as well.

Not everything about the update is sunshine and roses, however. Players started to realize that, once installing the (mandatory) update their stamina was not regenerating when the were logged off, as it had before. Now the only method of reacquiring stamina is stamina potions which are either given as quest rewards or, more commonly, bought from the cash shop. I'm not into paying real money to build a fictional character so, more or less, it means no stamina for me.

As far as I'm concerned, the experience gain was raised, so it evens out: no big deal right? Not everyone seems to share my opinion on this matter. Within a day or so every other message on the Rappelz message board was pleading for the offline stamina gain to be brought back. "Now paying players have an advantage, it's unfair" they cried. Guess what? Paying players always had an advantage and, no, it's not unfair.

The people at Gpotato are in business. A key part of being in business is, you guessed it, making money. It's a free game, folks. Nobody forced you to download it, and nobody is forcing you to play it.