Sins of an Innovative Developer

Sins of a Solar Empire is such a complicated game that I felt compelled to write an accompanying editorial with my review. Because Ironclad has tried something new and fresh, there are more than a few kinks to work through. At least in the current infancy of the game, a big issue Ironclad is tackling is whether a developer caters to the larger gamer audience crowd–even if they’re wrong, or the people playing the game the “right” way.

For various reasons, the game is very difficult to learn to play properly. In no particular order, let me throw a few out there:

1.…

What is a game, EGM?

It’s depressing to see prominent video game publications play the role of the conservative establishment. Edge magazine recently doubted that games should strive to be more than simply games. Thank god a modern day equivalent didn’t convince Disney or Groening that cartoons should be no more than children’s entertainment.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Electronic Gaming Monthly has begun reviewing what they call “non-games.” Try as I might, I cannot come up with a satisfactory definition of the word game. EGM must have, though, if they now dedicate a portion of their magazine to video games that are not games.…

How do you play a non-game?

Language is powerful, which is a shame since I’m not a very good writer. Instead of bringing “war” to Iraq we are bringing “freedom”, and instead of being “the worst American president in the last 300 years”, Bush has “a low approval rating”. Debating the merits of something specific may work for thoughtful people, but it’s much easier to simply change people’s minds by changing how we refer to things.

And so we have non-games. First, I must explain that I am not taking a stance on the quality of any game, non-game or partial-game. It’s a shame that this needs to be said but many people confuse the debate over language as a debate over what the language describes.…

Fillet Mignon with a side of Pork Rinds: Awesome games and their stupid minigames

The average gamer supposedly plays 7.8 hours a week. That’s an ESA study so I think they rounded down to make gamers seem less crazy. Other studies show more like 20-30 hours a week, which makes more sense to me. For us hardcore gamers, I’m sure the number would be even higher.

So while we waste our life away playing video games, it has become painfully apparent to me that, like most products in our corner cutting capitalist society, video games have a lot of filler. A video game, especially an RPG or MMO, is graded on how much of your time it takes to beat.…

Review – Metropolismania

Some games are hard to put down. Often this is because a game is great fun, but entertainment isn’t always the force that drives us to keep playing. Sometimes we continue gaming because of a lack of clearly defined beginnings and endings; we don’t know when or where to stop so we just keep on going. Oddly enough, games that break play into nearly infinite tiny rounds deliver the same psychological effect as games that have no levels nor turns.

Will Wright and Sid Meier are experts at creating addictive gameplay through this method. Both Pirates! and Sims lack any clear level progression, while Civilization cuts up play time into such minute turns that each feel too short to be considered optimal stopping points.…