January 23rd, 2017 by Novotny
An Automobilista server is live at 18.104.22.168:34597 . You can connect through Steam or the game itself.
Read more about Automobilista here
January 30th, 2014 by Novotny
Bone may have only killed his first victim yesterday in Dayz but it wasn’t for want of trying. The Saline Bandit, however, has tried to venture through Chenarus actively assisting her fellow survivors. I’ve kind of done that too, in that I think heaven is a better place for us all when it comes down to it.
Incoming patcheroos too.
January 13th, 2014 by Novotny
Yes I know it wasn’t released in 2013. I played it in 2013. So there.
Crusader Kings 2 is a grand strategy game about intrigue, vice, popes and plagues. Blackmail, subversion, plotting and arson. Madness, murder, adultery and torture. Treachery, demons… and so on and so forth. Crusader Kings 2, then, differs from other strategy titles as its emphasis lies firmly with family.
It’s all about your heirs and your dynasty.
A typical game start for me would be as Earl Blathmac of Ulster. The dude is 40 and unmarried, but also content, gregarious, paranoid, honest, and something of a scholarly theologian. Every character has varying traits dependent on events that occur randomly, or not-so-randomly, throughout their lives.
So all well and good – he’s not possessed or infirm – but he’s got no kids! It’s game over right away if we can’t have an heir of my lineage, so first things first: get this bloke a bint tout suite and start knocking out prodigious progeny.
So we scour Europe for a suitable betrothal. What do we want from this marriage? Well, primarily strong sons. But what of political alliance? And what sort of genes/traits should this lady possess? Wives, since time immemorial, have been serious business.
Of course, you can’t see all the characteristics of your new love until you’ve actually got them home with you. It’s always a bummer to discover that your beautiful, vivacious new filly is also completely barking and given to deceit. They covered that up at the court of Brittany quite well, as per usual. Still, we now have a possible ally.
And so to the kids, apples of your eye each and every one. Well, maybe not. ‘Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man,’ said St Francis Xavier. In CK2 their education begins at six. But who do you trust to educate your offspring? Your brother? Your mother? Barry the Bishop? Should your mother have always preferred your brother for the throne, don’t be surprised if ickle Blathmac suddenly develops an interest in sadism. Or other blokes. Or cowardice. You can of course educate them yourself, but only a maximum of two at a time.
So the lineage is (kind-of) safe. You have a son, but he’s quite dozy. And then you have another one, and this guy’s a bit sharper. But he’s, er, second-in-line to the throne. Hmmm. I think you can see what sort of options are developing here. Should we make the first-borne a priest? Marry him off matrilineally? Change the succession laws? Or just, you know… bump him off?
So much to think about.
Meanwhile, you have a court to run. And they’re all, for the most part, utter barstewards. Everyone in CK2 is out for them and theirs, as I think Kissinger once put it. Oh, they’ll suck up when you wield power, but should that iron grip start to seem too effeminate, expect the plotting to commence. What’s your brother been doing recently? Or more importantly, his wife?
CK2 is from the masters of map-staring, Paradox Interactive, and so naturally we’ll be wanting to expand our fiefdom. Get a few counties in the North of Ireland, and we can form Ulster, with my bad boy Blathmac as the Duke. Maybe we’ll keep Ulster too, and allow the earls of Tyrone, Oriel and the other one to attend our court. So long as they toe the line. We’ll watch them closely for signs of ambition, greed or other concerning traits. As your court grows, so too does the quality of your advisers and the determination of your rivals. Will you make them love you, or fear you? A bit of both, perhaps?
Whatever way you manage it, keep them in line. We’re going to try and form the country of Ireland and in doing so, we’ll have contenders in that Englander place who are currently much more powerful. Maybe we should see if those Picts could be encouraged to break a few windows… I could marry one of their daughters. The current wife has started boring me, after all, and she’s nearing forty…
As I said at the start, it’s all about family. So If you can’t face another evening of telly with the missus, why not start a virtual one in Crusader Kings 2.
January 8th, 2014 by Novotny
Happy New Year. I hope you are all fully recovered from our festive break and productively pursuing our eternal goals for 2014 and every other year: lashings and lashings of ginger beer and far too many pork pies.
I’m just getting over a rather difficult bout of writer’s blocked, a malady that afflicts those of us with a thirst for ginger beer – or any beer, really. So unsuitably unrefreshed, I hack at this keyboard like the grey ghost I am.
I said I’d say something about some games I’d said something about, and one of those games is Papers Please, the indie title released in August. If you ever come home from the office and think to yourself ‘omg where did the day go? I really could do with some more work’ then this is the title for you.
It’s quite a novel premise: we’re in 1982, and you have been randomly selected from the good citizens of Arstotzka, a fictional communist country of Eastern Europe, to be an inspector at a border checkpoint which has just reopened after a war. This is good news for your family as you get the opportunity to live in a slightly upgraded apartment and be meaningfully employed.
Your first day at work is simple enough: Check passports and deny any foreigners entry to glorious Arstotzka. You get paid for the number of successful processes you perform. Take away your rent, living costs etc and you have hopefully a little left over. Go to sleep.
The next day adds a level of complexity; we’re letting in foreigners now, but they must have valid passports. You need to be checking where the passport was issued, names etc. Miss something and you will receive a citation – and too many of those and you start to get fined. Go bankrupt and you get jailed. Each day adds a level of complexity in some manner, as different rules are applied to who gets in and who doesn’t, what papers they must have, interesting characters you are told to watch out for and so on.
So is this just unpaid work – it doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Well, little things start happening, and soon you find a story revealing itself though your engagements with those passing through the checkpoint, guards, your bosses and others too. You become an arbiter in people’s lives, and more. What starts as a sort of crazy minesweeper/tetris mash-up soon starts to take on interesting moralistic undertones. Or maybe overtones. Or maybe not, if you have no morals. At any rate, morality or not, it gets interesting.
There are twenty possible endings, but I’ve only seen one so far: I’ve made too many errors and been jailed for being unable to pay the rent. However in my current game, I’ve got way further than previously and so many things are happening. I fully expect to mess up shortly but I’m sure I’ll see a different ending this time.
The graphics are, wonderfully, a throwback to 1982 too. The atmosphere is bleak and slightly oppressive, aided by a superb musical score. Papers Please is almost certainly the most intriguing game I’ve played in 2013 and you should play it too.
December 26th, 2013 by Novotny
Here is the list of games released in 2013 that I thought were good.
Er… DayZ, EU4, Papers Please? Not much of a list.
Let’s try a different tack. This is a list of games I am or have been playing during 2013.
- Crusader Kings 2
- Race 07 – Formula One add-on via RaceRoom
- Europa Universalis
- Metro: Last Light
- Papers Please
- Unity of Command
- Faster than Light
- Desktop Dungeons
- How to Survive
- Tomb Raider
Actually, that’s pretty much in order of favour. A quick glance at Rock Paper Shotgun’s list for the year highlights the huge number of indie games they selected. What happened to the big releases? Whither Rome 2, or Battlefield 4?
Well, they were a bit crap.
The problem, in my view, lies with Design by Comittee.
Making games these days is big business, and the companies behind software studios treat the process as such. Big titles, like Battlefield 4, will have hundreds of people working on them. And so quirky designs are ironed out, interesting ideas are nullified and creative vision gets, er, blurred or something.
Two titles on my list are from the same company – Paradox Interactive. Seven are from very small teams, several being independents. A further two, CS:GO and Race 07, are iterations based upon previously successful formulae – Race 07 being 6 years old itself.
So what the hell is going on? Gaming as a past-time or hobby continues to grow year on year. The average age of a gamer is now something like 34. And the majority of releases are rubbish. Has it always been like this? Well, most likely. We do tend to put on the rose-tinted specs when considering the past. But as I suggested above, what I think is definitely being lost is the singular vision that produces your Minecrafts, your Elites, your Dayzs. And that makes me a bit sad.
Over the next few days, I’ll try to write a little about what makes each of the games I’ve listed a bit special to me.
November 27th, 2013 by Novotny
Channel 4 are doing a games night this coming Saturday, with both a two hour special by Charlie Brooker called How Videogames Changed the World, and Indie Game: The Movie, a 2012 documentary exploring the world of independent video games via three titles. Of these, the only one I’ve played is Super Meat Boy. It’s an old school platformer of fiendish design and highly recommended for those of us with the skills to play it. I failed miserably.
Brooker is probably well-known to our UK members, having started his career as a writer/graphics artist for PC Zone before going on to greedily stick his fingers into every pie he could find. He’s a funny, intelligent guy and he recently spoke to Edge Magazine about the upcoming show.
Something to look forward to methinks!
November 27th, 2013 by Novotny
Noticed an interesting link on Reddit last night. The New Yorker has published a piece entitled “The Psychology of First-Person-Shooter Games“, in which the author, Maria Konnikova, considers the reasons why guys and gals like us enjoy FPS games.
I had thought it was just about fragging your mates, but Ms Konnikova is an internationally renown clever-clogs with some interesting thoughts on why the genre keeps us coming back for more.
Well worth a read, if only to make you feel better about going ‘pew pew pew’ most evenings.
November 19th, 2013 by Novotny
Holy fiddlesticks. Something is coming down the pipes that is a little bit more special than another dual-held controller.
I can’t see it yet. I really have no idea what these guys are going to bring.
But I’ve been around long enough, I’ve read enough and frankly, taken enough cornflakes to know that Valve are about to pull the rug from underneath all of us.
Do you remember the PS1? People said it was a ‘game-changer’.
Valve are just about to blow minds in a similar fashion. I just have no idea how.
It’ll not involve CoD though, I’ll bet on that.
November 18th, 2013 by Novotny
Are video games good for you? Well, studies over the years have suggested that they can improve reactions and visual acuity in regular players. Some surgeons have been known to game for ten to twenty minutes prior to operating, in order to ‘warm-up’, and even those who believe video games will hasten the fall of civilisation admit that players tend to have better hand-eye coordination than most.
But how else do this hobby further our lives?
Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D., M.B.A., thinks gaming encourages self-actualisation and agency, increasing our desire to engage with others and work toward individual or group goals. But I’m going to go one further and suggest that it could make you a better, more rounded person. Bear with me while I explain my theory.
Your parents probably encouraged you to play sports. If we go back to the Greeks, those early meisters of all things intellectual and physical, we see that they ascribed great importance to games. However we can go even further back, to the Irish, who were at this sort of thing in 1600 BC. It’s interesting to read about the cultural significance which the Irish assigned to them; according to this wikipedia article, the Tailteann Games were seen as an important element in ensuring a meritocratic society. Of further note is that these games encompassed both physical and mental activities – to the ancients, sport was not considered a purely physical activity. It provided a method for individuals to find their place in their social groups so to learn how best to utilise their strengths and limit their weaknesses. The games were seen as important to the very fabric of early society.
Nowadays, sport is big business. Whilst many adults engage in some form of physical activity, such as visiting the gymn or ‘fitness centre’, few actually take part in any sport beyond their school years. What we’re losing here, I believe, is the sense of inter-dependency which is fostered by team-based games. The community aspect. It seems that we’re losing an important arena within which to engage in competitiveness; somewhere that we can express our animalistic desire to find our place in the structure of society.
Is this important? I think so. Competitiveness to my mind helps defines the human condition. Humans naturally wish to compete with one another. Perhaps this became hard-wired many years ago, when populations surged and suddenly, upon the serangeti, it wasn’t just lions or enraged antelopes you had to worry about. Somebody might just awp you when you least expected it, and then nick your dinner to boot. It was no longer just about getting your grub and eating it. Other gits had decided it was easier just to let you hunt, then bonk you over the head and take your lunch money.
Back to today. In my opinion, a lot of people now exercise their innate desire to compete in the workplace. Instead of venting these emotions on the playing field or track, the release now occurs in a place where, if asked, the employees would say they’re part of a team. In practise, the workplace is one of the few arenas left in which your average bloke finds himself being measured against others (apart from, of course, the nightclub). In a place where we should be trying to reach the same goal, we instead find themselves trying to ruin or usurp the guys playing on the same team. You don’t win a game of water-polo by constantly trying to drown your team-mates. But increasingly, that seems to be the norm in the office. Seems counter-productive to me.
However in recent times – thanks to technology – new arenas are being built within which we can flex our muscles, so to speak.
It’s a fact of life that people are playing video games everywhere today. This has been the case since the 1970s, when arcades quickly became common and terms such as ‘high-scores’ and ‘pinball wizards’ entered the lexicon.
But it was mostly solo stuff. Some 2 player co-operative games existed, but they were very much in the minority. It wasn’t really until the late 90s, with advancements in internet protocols, that it became possible to play games with 10, 12, 20+ players in them. On-line gaming arrived.
Initially, it was all free-for-all, every man for himself: deathmatch. As incredibly exciting as this was, things were moving quickly. It wasn’t long before team games began to displace the simpler experience of trying to fend for yourself. Immediately, teamplay was massively popular, fulfilling both the wish to compete but importantly, also the desire to be a part of something, to contribute as well as conquer.
One thing that characterises the sort of games played here at Battle-fields is teamplay. Be it Il-2, CS:GO, World of Tanks or BF4, the over-rising concern is playing as part of a team: contributing to the overall goal.
And what do we gain from this hobby?
Well, we’ve had to learn how to communicate quickly and efficently. We don’t speak over others, nor do we put anyone down for making an inept move, knowing only too well that it could be us making a similar mistake in the next round. We know how to congratulate a team member – how to be appreciative of others – and, if we’re more than 12 years old, we’ll have learnt how to lose graciously (possibly). We learn when to bite our lip, and when it’s important to raise another’s spirits. We learn how to be glad, or even delighted, when another compliments us. How to help. How to be a good team-player.
This bestows upon your average BFs member a distinct advantage within modern society. We can compete, we can contribute, and we can share. Online gaming gives us, within the fractured society we inhabit, an opportunity to share humanity. To be together again. To feel like our contribution means something beyond our own gain. To feel community.
The guys who never learn to play in teams never last within their groups, be they social or working enviroments. They’re always looking for a new bunch to play with, and maybe cannot understand why they’re disliked. Perhaps they’re very good at their work, and they ask themselves why they can never stay in a job. They’ve just not had enough practise being in a team.
And so online gaming – especially within BFs – makes you a better person.
November 13th, 2013 by Novotny
We’re all scared of the dark. Everyone, except say Fox. Night-eyes, you see. Foxes can see in the night. Can they see all that scary stuff that comes out? I’d say no. They’d stay indoors, otherwise. Skeletons with archery skills? No thank you.
But then, these scaries only come out at night. During the daytime, it’s all flowers and honky cows. Not like down there. Not like underground, where the sun never shines.
I’m trying to talk about Minecraft. Maybe you’ve played it for 15 minutes. Maybe you haven’t. Some think it’s about building stuff. Making shit. Like a 3D version of MS-Paint.
These people are so totally wrong. Minecraft is a HORROR-EXPERIENCE. I have never shat myself in a game quite like I’ve shat myself playing Minecraft.
Blocky graphics be damned. Fear doesn’t care if you’ve got 2056*2056 textures. If it were realistic, then maybe I would hang up my shovel and say, ‘that’s enough diamonds for me’.
But you can’t get enough diamonds. You’ve got to dig deeper. You have to explore the depths. You have to scream like a little girl. Then – then you might be playing Minecraft.
As entertaining as this video is, it should be pointed out it focuses mostly on how Minecraft changed the games industry and is all about building stuff and blah-de-bah.
Whilst all that may be true, trust me: Minecraft is all about crapping yourself.