Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wait, Has That Been There The Whole Time?

If you've been reading Avert Your Eyes for a while, and maybe if you haven't, you might know that I once had quite a thing for Eternal Lands. Even recently, I've found myself going back to EL every now and then. I usually play for a few days, get bored, and go back to playing WoW - but still, I've been keeping up with EL for a few years now.

Updates come frequently enough. Some add things I like (eg., when they finally added auto-harvesting), some just add content mainly meant for higher level players that I never get to see, but usually the updates are nothing drastic. That is, until now. What I'm trying to say here is that the most recent EL update is a big deal.

For one, EL now uses your graphics card like it should: ie., It actually uses it. Player and monster models are now drawn using the graphics card instead of the CPU, meaning a hell of a lot less jerky movements. Reflections are now longer mirrored level geometry, meaning water now looks much, much better than it has in the past.

There are lots of other nice little improvements, but I'm glossing over them because I want to get to the major change: there is now a sky. There's a sky and you can see it. I'd imagine right now some of you are thinking "yeah, big deal", which simply shows you've never played EL. No longer is the camera locked in the top down perspective. If you take advantage of the limber, dexterous new camera and bring it down far enough, you will indeed see sky.

The world of Eternal Lands seems much different when you know there's a real honest-to-goodness sky up there, instead of a dark endless void. It feels more like a world and less like a series of maps strung together. It sounds like a simple, nearly useless change, and in some ways it is, but I can't stress enough how different it makes the game feel.

Oh yeah: also, there are bows and arrows. Haven't got a chance to mess around with them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Okay, My Eyes Can't Even Handle Seeing That Many Bullets

Tell me: how the hell is it that I had no idea that Kenta Cho had written not one, not two, but three new shooters since the last time I checked? Well, really only two are of any interest to me because the other one uses Microsoft's XNA framework, but still, someone should be telling me these things.

The newest and shiniest of these shooters is Titanion - which, compared to some of Cho's other games (Tumiki Fighters and Gunroar come to mind) is a fairly traditional arcade shooter. Arrow keys control your movement and the control key fires your weapon. It may not be particularly groundbreaking, but it definitely holds up to the high standards that Cho has set previously.

Let me tell you something right away: Titanion is difficult. Really fucking difficult. Either that or I'm just starting to suck at shooters. After quite a few runs through the game, I'd only made it to stage 9. There are so many projectiles flying at you that whether or not you manage to stay alive seems be about 75% skill and 25% pure luck. But hey, this is an arcade shooter, it's supposed to be that tough.

If you've played any of Cho's other games before (and if you haven't, what the hell is wrong with you?) you're probably expecting top notch visuals, and you definitely won't be let down: Titanion is probably his best looking game to date. I was especially impressed by the way you can see the swarms of attacking insects swoop out of the background into the foreground before they start pummeling the crap out of you.

If you're predisposed to not liking schmups, you're probably not going to like this one. Everyone else: give it a try. At 5.5MB (none of Cho's games are particularly large) it's worthwhile downloading, even if you're still stuck with dialup.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fracas Management - Doesn't Have The Same Ring To It

Well, it looks like we did it. Jack Keane is indeed going to be ported to Linux. It looks like anyone who preordered the game might end up getting it before the end of the summer. It's always nice to see quality commercial games coming over to the platform, so I'm glad to see that RuneSoft got enough preorders to make it happen. Anyway, on to this week's game.

I should mention that I'm a fan of Risk, and by Risk I mean the boardgame, not the concept. There's really nothing like an epic, hours-long battle for complete world domination, especially when you've got a good group of people involved. So when I saw a mention of OpenFracas - a Risk like game of the computer variety - on LinuxGames, I figured it was worth a shot.

Here's the problem: Apparently it turns out that I don't actually like Risk. Apparently I'm more fond of the drinking and smack-talking that goes on when I play Risk with friends than I am the actual game mechanics. A round in a real life game of Risk (at least with the people I play with), can take over 10 minutes, sometimes way over. A round in OpenFracas takes about 30 seconds. How am I supposed to make a long winded speech about my inevitable victory in 30 seconds? How am I supposed to take a piss, grab a beer, and grab a snack in 30 seconds? It just doesn't work.

Of course, none of this really has anything to do with OpenFracas. I would have the same problem with any computerized Risk clone. As software: it runs, it looks better than a lot of other Risk clones I've seen, and it's got some nice sounds. But until I end up having to wait 5 minutes for AI Player 4 to stop talking and roll their dice, it's just not going to be the game for me.