Sunday, April 17, 2011

Monday Musings - 18th Apr 2011

This is going to be an interesting week for musings. My gameplay habits kind of threw me for a loop. Let's begin.

Space Quest 1 - The Sarien Encounter

Yeah, we're going old school to start the week off. First a little background if you'll indulge me. Sierra adventure games were my introduction to the genre. Aside from King's Quest 6, the KQ series never did much for me. My first adventure game was Police Quest, and my favourite series was Space Quest. Thanks to, i have the full set of both of these, and last week i decided to start playing through them all over again, starting with The Sarien Encounter.

Starting up the game really threw me back. Text parser? Check. EGA graphics? Check. PC Speaker music? Check. Incredibly difficult opening sequence to the game where death is as common as breathing? Check. After 20 mins trying to get off the ship by myself, i acquiesced and found myself a walkthrough. I still remember the first time i played The Secret of Monkey Island (my first Lucasarts adventure) and marvelled that i couldn't die. Still, death in adventure games has one great positive, and that is the obvious death. There are points in the game where you know something will kill you, so you save... and then you go do it to see what happens. Then you smile and reload. Out of all the Sierra games, i always found the Space Quests to contain the most grisly demises (especially when the games started showing you what happened).

So i escaped the ship, escaped the desert (playing through an arcade speeder sequence where you have to turn the game speed to slow just to survive... and luckily you can save and reload during it), and found myself in Ulence Flats. There is a bar there. Entering the bar and seeing the entertainment cracked me up. Even now, the sense of humour of this game shines through. So far this is my favourite part of the game, and i have searched youtube to share it with you.

I've used the slot machines to purchase myself a ship, and now i need more money to purchase a navigation droid. Leisure Suit Larry had a similar sequence where you need to earn yourself money (i'm sure there are other games too). It seems like busywork as all you do is save after a good spin, and reload everytime you lose. Ah well, it's not too much time lost (i mean it's not an MMO am i right?)

Super Meat Boy

Finally completed the stage i was on (6-5) and now am up to the Dr. Fetus battle. Hatchie Matchie! It's gonna take some tough platforming to defeat this. I shall persevere (even if it takes me another month to return to the game)!

The Lord of the Rings Online

I've been getting the itch to play another MMO recently. I wanted to give Warhammer Online a play, but their sign up system was glitching or something and i couldn't create an account. So i downloaded LotRO to give it a try. I have heard good things, and hey... it's free!

Coming from primarily playing WoW (i have given other MMOs a try before WoW, like Asherons Call 2... and this Korean grindfest that i can't even remember the name of. I just remember it had great intro music), i was going to judge this game by the most successful competitor in its genre.

I have a lvl 11 Dwarf Champion at the moment. Let me run through what i like about the game. First and foremost is actually the music. It's incredible. Very orchestral and atmospheric. I look forward to listening to more as i progress. Secondly, i love the main quest chain. Each section has a main quest going through the area (with a lot of other quests for exp, rewards etc). You'd expect a game based off Tolkien's work to be rich in lore with good writing. Well so far, the progression of the main quests have been keeping me interested in the game (and i'm only playing through the prologue).

The combat seems standard fare, with the Champion being a melee damage dealer (not like a rogue though). Crafting seems interesting as you choose trades, each having three professions. I chose historian which includes Scholar, Weaponsmith, and Farmer... though i haven't really done anything with them passed the introduction quests.

Being a free game, the LotoO store is how they make their money. If you want an advantage for your character, you can purchase it. If you want crafting materials, and recipes for your professions, you can purchase it, if you want the ability to sell things on the auction house, you can purchase it. It's a shrewd system that i'm sure works well for Turbine to keep the MMO free to play. By completing deeds in game (achievements), you can gain turbine points (the store's currency), but i'm sure the amount will never suffice to anything one might want. Still, from my experience thus far, the store is not essential to play, and as long as things stay that way, i don't see a problem with it.

Final Thoughts

As a fan of old adventure games, i used to be heavily into the Abandonware scene to play these games (abandonware is the name given to games that are not being sold anymore yet are not in the public domain). I actually used Windows ME for 2 years because it had better dos emulation than XP (in retrospect, i should have stuck with 98). When i discovered Dosbox, my abandonware collection really started and grew quite sizable (even as companies were shutting down all the best sites). Abandonware is an offshoot of game piracy with its own set of grey areas. The main argument for it is if you're not making your game available for me to purchase, how else am i going to play it (and of course then there's the added fun/headache of getting some of these games to run)?

Speaking for myself, since came on the scene, i haven't felt the need to use abandonware. Oh sure there are plenty of titles i still wish to play from bygone years, but i have enough old games from GoG to keep me busy for quite a while (still, if Privater and the Wing Commander games happened to show up, i'm sure i wouldn't be the only happy one). The inclusion of dosbox executables for each game has removed the headache of getting these games to run (i became a wizard at optimizing dosbox years ago. Of course programs like d-fend helped keep my options saved once i got things right), and the prices are not extravagant (although i do find some of the $10 titles questionable at that price).

Heh, i guess this has turned into an advertisement for, but seriously they're helping preserve game history, and seeing as game history is my favourite game discussion topic, they're doing all right by me.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

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