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.