Okay, just finished my first playthrough of Home, an indie game developed by Benjamin Rivers, newly available via Steam. I’m a lightweight when it comes to horror stuff, but I’m a little freaked out here. I bought it (for all of $2.54) because of the old school graphics, and the thought that what happened is based on your perception and choices as much as what was programmed. If you don’t want to be unspoiled, read the ‘What Happened?’ link to see what I mean. I can’t honestly tell if some of the things these other people saw or did are real or not. “Who was that following me in the forest??” one asks…what?? Did I miss that, or what it really happening? “I wish I had let that mouse out of the trap…” Why? What happened because of that mouse? Goes to show that a good game experience isn’t based on pixel shaders and frames per second. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going back and taking the shovel with me this time…
The Summer Steam Sale has only gotten me for one thing so far, and it’s the X-Com series of games. I’ve never played them, and I figured it’s time. I’ll be updating this post with thoughts on each of the games as time permits. Feel free to comment with your memories or strategies as you like.
X-Com: UFO Defense – I have no idea what I’m doing – I need to find and read the manual! It’s kind of funny that it runs via DOSBox.
I was glancing through the Steam ‘Free to Play’ section, lamenting how bad Star Trek Online was when I tried it, when I spotted Realm of the Mad God. The vintage 8-bit style caught my eye, and it promised fast-paced cooperative action which would be a refreshing change from the heavy fantasy RPGs I’ve played lately. It’s no more and no less than that. You move around the map, and you shoot in whatever direction you click. Spacebar launches a spell attack (speaking as a Wizard, the default starting class) which does area of effect damage. As you kill enemies and complete quests, which mostly amounts to killing boss versions of the enemies, you gain levels and find loot. The best comparison would be Diablo, if you dropped the graphics down to Gameboy Color level, with a little Robotron 2084 mixed in.
The game is diehard, in the way that when your character dies, he or she is simply dead. No recovering the items they had (though you can store stuff in a chest back at the Nexus), you just start right back with another character. Playing cooperatively is very much encouraged, as you get full XP for any enemy that chip in on with damage, and even better, you can click any player on the minimap and teleport straight to them. Be wary of going above your class, as that’s a very quick way to get beat down. All in all, if you’ve been hacking apart dragons in Skyrim, or saving Earth in Mass Effect, Realm of the Mad God can be a very nice diversion. If you don’t like Steam, you can play on the Realm of the Mad God website, Kongregate, and probably a few other ways as well. Now let me try and get all the characters unlocked…
I just got a new laptop (this Toshiba, if you are curious) and as such, have a blank slate for new software to install. In case it’s helpful, here’s what I put on any new PC:
- Daemon Tools – No, not for pirated software. I have, over the years, lost or damaged a lot of game discs. I end up having to download a replacement, and this lets the computer read it as if it were the real deal. Also nice if you want to leave your discs at home while travelling but still have access to the software.
- Avast! – Everyone needs anti-virus software, and this one is free, doesn’t nag you much at all, and is well reviewed. I supplement with spyware removers and Hijack This when needed.
- 7-Zip – Once upon a time, there was Winzip, and we all used it. But then you started seeing downloads in other formats, and needed more than what Winzip provided. 7-Zip covers all the relevant bases (.7z, zip, arj, rar).
- MyDefrag – Not simple to use, but a powerful and customizable disk defragmenter. Currently set to do daily tidying up at 4am, and a detailed cleanup every month.
- TeraCopy – Seems mundane, but if you move large files around a lot, whether they are pictures, videos, disc images, whatever, getting it done faster would be a no brainer. TeraCopy does that. Love it.
Games and gaming:
- Steam – It has some detractors, but I honestly love being able to install one program, and have access to a whole library of my games in one place. No longer worry about where your damn CD key is or those lost discs like I mentioned. Pretty freaking awesome sales, too.
- DOSBox and D-Fend Reloaded – If you’ve read this site, you know I love old games, so DOSbox is essential. D-Fend Reloaded is a front end that makes DOSbox a lot easier to use. Handy if you lost – or never had – your DOS chops.
- FRAPS – Most games have a screenshot feature, but FRAPS is much more customizable, and it lets you see your framerate. If you ever wanted to capture videos, go for it. I always forget to start it, though…
- Inkscape – I’m not a great artist, but I like to dabble, and Inkscape is a great vector art program that’s free.
- Tweetdeck – Great if you manage more than one Twitter account, though I’ve never used it for Facebook or any of the other stuff it can do.
- Picasa – Just a simple way to manage and do basic photo editing. Lifesaver, as long as all my pictures are dated properly. I’m looking at family that don’t know how to set the time on the cameras.
If you want more stuff, I can go deeper, but these are the apps that are must have for me. Got any other suggestions? Comment ’em.