Thursday, 30 August 2007

"Does this impress you, 'Master Builder'?"

OK, so this week I've written about...a video game! Oh no! Have I sold out to Have I become one of those "sheeples" or "dumb fucks" who can't possibly comprehend the sophistication and elegance of modern board gaming? Is it a BIOSHOCK review? Oh no gentle readers, it's a review of ARMAGEDDON EMPIRES, an indie PC game that is pretty much an electronic board game complete with dice and cards. I think it's pretty swell, and if it were a physical board game (with a couple of modifications to make it actually playable face-to-face) it'd be a contender to join the ranks of the AT canon. Unlike board games, you can check it out before you commit thanks to a demo- if you dig PANZER GENERAL, MASTER OF ORION, HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC, and that ilk you ought to check it out.


Dragon Con is this weekend...any F:ATers going? I probably won't play a single game...I pretty much spend the whole time making fun of 16 year old girls dressed like 12 year old anime characters or shielding my eyes from 175lbs+ women attempting the Leeloo "bandages" costume from THE FIFTH ELEMENT.


Pat H said...

I like the fact that there isn't much of the tech research nonsense. I like games where you play the general as opposed to the scientist. I need tanks - gimme the best kinds, not "Oh lets see what we can develop". It is this resource /tech management that has turned me away from many turn based PC games (Hmmm.. insert eurogame).

The story line is rather well thought out and presented - rather than the generic futuristic pasted on theme prevalent in the over done sci fi pc game field.

Commander - Europe at War is another title that scratches the same itch. Keeping things simple yet lively enough to be FUN and not an economics 101 exercise.

Michael Barnes said...

Hmm...that's kind of a good point about the tech tree much as I love GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS one of the things that bothers me is that the tech tree has so many things that become quickly obsolete- why bother building anything with Laser I when Laser IV is down the road? I like research, I like the sense of development, but games like AE do sort of cut to the chase.

Pat H said...

Some games for me tend to get bogged down in R & D. I have sim city for city building and economy watch. In a wargame I want combat and the simulation of rushing new weapons to meet new threats, gradualy, with options but not too much decision making to take away from the main action.

Jack Hill said...

Avoiding Dragoncon like the plague.

Last time I was the, the eye searing costumes involved guys in spandex, and the popular chainmail and thong combo.

Oddly enough, while you are writing board game reviews for a video game site, I may end up writing videogame reviews for a boardgame site.

Go figure.

Will Reaves said...

I pretty much spend the whole time making fun of 16 year old girls dressed like 12 year old anime characters

That's still better than 40+ year old men dressed like 12 year old (girl) anime characters ... or Man-Faye. *Shudders*

Pat H said...

Is Dragoncon what they call the Santa Claus parade down there? I find it hard to believe there is nothing else to do.

Gary Sax said...

I just bought this indie game a few weeks ago Barnes, been trying to spread the word about it. Good choice!

Michael Barnes said...

Is Dragoncon what they call the Santa Claus parade down there?

Pat, that made me laugh harder than pretty much anything I've ever read on the internet.

Short answer- yes. But with less Santa Claus and more flabby, pock-marked boobs spilling out over corsets.

I've been going to the stupid thing for 16 years's the only big convention I go to and frankly, it's really more of a high school reunion for me than anything else. I meet up with my friends from back in the academic team days and we roam around drinking, carousing, and making fun of people. Sometimes I buy a bootleg DVD or I go and loudly cluck in disgust at Troll & Toad's prices. It's really pretty lame unless you're into all that con-culture crap but it always produces three or four anecdotes that echo through the years.

Actually, I met Jack Hill at DC many, many years ago. That's where he introduced me to...EL GRANDE.

433 said...

I might like to check it out sometime, but after GenCon and PAX, I kind of want to sleep for a while instead.

mlawson said...

shielding my eyes from 175lbs+ women attempting the Leeloo "bandages" costume from THE FIFTH ELEMENT

My eyes! It burns, it burns!

--Mike L.

Rliyen said...

shielding my eyes from 175lbs+ women attempting the Leeloo "bandages" costume from THE FIFTH ELEMENT

My eyes! It burns, it burns!


Jack Hill said...

I gave up Dragoncon when I

A: Couldn't actually move in or out of the hotel because of all of the people.

B: Had to consider the thought of waiting in line for two hours to see any guest I might consider seeing.

C: Had to slowly shuffle through the dealer's room for stuff I could buy at half the price on the net.

D: Risk a chance of seeing Miss Marvel, a 300 poind guy in spandex, or the 200+ pound woman in the classic thong and chainmail ensemble.

I do miss seeing Voltaire though. I like Voltaire lots.

Shellhead said...

Armageddon Empires looks fantastic!

Growing up during the Cold War, I was always fascinated by the idea of post-apocalyptic survival. I loved those old Killraven and Deathlok comics. Most role-players got started with D&D, but my first rpg was Gamma World. Recently, I picked up Fallout and Fallout 2 at Goodwill, but the gameplay on Windows XP has been frustrating, due to the screen blackouts. I downloaded DosBox, but can't seem to correctly get Fallout running on it.

So this Armageddon Empires looks like exactly what I want in a game right now: it's like a CCG with a fixed cost, a long-playing AmeriTrash boardgame like the kinds that my current group lacks the attention span for, and a new PC game that won't force me to buy a new computer. And the high-replay value and the customization features make this look like something that I will be able to play a lot.

Only one problem. My girlfriend moved in with me this year, and we're sharing my computer at home. She loves games, too, only her favorite games are one-shot free demos of long puzzle-solving games. As soon as she closes a game, she can't play it anymore without spending money. So she is really hogging our computer these days. I think I need to buy her a used computer for her birthday. Because I really need to get Armageddon Empires.

notbillysparkles said...


Voltaire who?

**WARNING: brief thread hijack**

Pat: how have children affected your gaming life? My daughter is currently a month old. Between middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, burpings, and running around all day trying to get shit done-- I get to take the occasional nap.

As a fellow geek (with three daughters), please tell me that a time will come where I can actually play games again.

Sleepless in Montreal,

Billy Z.

Pat H said...

Hey Billy - congratulations are first in order, I trust all went well. Your gaming life is changed for good now, but is still there. For the next little while you will be powerless in many areas. The wife needs much help so try to plan a night for sometime in the baby's third month where you can get out with your pals and see how it goes. I'm not sure what your wife does for fun but giving her a few nights off is imperative to obtaining yours.

Slowly but surely you'll get that one night a month guarantee and then see where it takes you - as long as wife and daughter are happy you can sneak out.

For the time being you are in the soup my friend, get some pc games snuck in here and there but don't make any plans until it's safe - do the in-laws come over often? - that's always a great time to sneak off.

Sleep does come but it will be a few years before it resembles anything you had up to the day of her birth.

I'm am beginning to run a regular AT fest on Friday nights once a month. We will be using a hall (exclusively) across the street because it's become too noisy in my house. It's BYOB (Lots) and we should be having at least two games going at once, until whenever they finish in the AM. Let me know if you're interested. My e-mail has changed but I still have yours.

Good luck.

Oh and is it normal to have nightmares about Dragoncon? I dreamt of an event filled with Rocky Horror Picture Show characters and extras, all frolicking and performing the most lewd acts with various cards and dice....Oh and that Starfarers of Catan rocket....

neonpeon said...

My friend coaches softball at a college where an annual convention is held... When the costumed freaks creep onto campus the Friday before the con, she and her team literally become freaked out and want to go home.

I saw Voltaire once. He performs at conventions, playing guitar and singing about Star Trek and crap in a folksy kind of way. His music is considered "goth" for some reason. A few songs were pretty funny, but I almost fell asleep from boredom a few times.

Jack Hill said...

A lot of Voltaire's stuff is...basically filk. (Fandom rewording of popular songs.)

In his case, he does write his own tunes, and his stuff is often commentary on goths. He does occasionally drift into Star Trek, but also does Goth stand-up comedy, comic books, and did a bit of stop motion animation.

I like his stand up bits better than his music. The album cuts of the songs are also much more gypsyish and violin-heavy. I'm a sucker for violins. (The Changelings are another great Dragoncon goth band.) The violinist used to play a Toreador in a couple of the early Mind's Eye Theater Vampire games. He wasn't so much into the game, but would often sit in a corner and play. It was much more interesting than the games.....

notbillysparkles said...

Thanks for the kind words Pat.

''Oh and is it normal to have nightmares about Dragoncon? I dreamt of an event filled with Rocky Horror Picture Show characters and extras, all frolicking and performing the most lewd acts with various cards and dice....Oh and that Starfarers of Catan rocket.... ''

HAAAARRRHAAARRR!!! Dude... I thought I hit the acid pretty hard in my single days-- but I see that you didn't skimp on the fun either.


Luckily, both my in-laws and my parents have helped us out a ton. Trying to sneak in a game on the 'puter might be a no-no since the missus went apeshit last time I tried. So, until I have a better handle on the ebb and flow of the post-partum hormonal secretions of the human female, I won't be trying that again anytime soon.

Which fucking sucks, because I'd really like to waste some time playing Armegddon Empires. Oh well, on the bright side she says she would'nt mind me slipping away now and then so I might just take you up on that offer (let me know how to contact you).


How 'bout an article on how to harmoniously intersect the disparate worlds of parenting and gaming? Anyone?

Until then here's to hoping that my little demonspawn starts sleeping in four hour stretches.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Four hour stretches ! - you're a lucky man ... for the first 5-6mths my lad was a regular-as-clockwork 3hr feed cycle - 9pm,12am,3am,6am ... try going to work in thayt coindition for a few months >:-|

notbillysparkles said...

Funny thing Tom...

I spent the day at my mother's house yesterday while the wife and sister went into town to have their hair done. My mother presented me with a teddy bear that simulates the sound of the human heartbeat from inside the womb whenever baby fusses, or emits a sound of a certain intensity.

Well, wouldn't you fucking know that the thing worked like gangbusters!!! Me and the wife actually got up and checked to see if our little princess was still alive after the four hour mark was broken.

Funny thing is that we couldn't get a wink of sleep afterwords-- you know-- just in case something went wrong...*sigh* and to think I used to laugh at " new parent neurosis."

Oh, while I'm at it, there may be many things that the Quebec governement has gotten wrong in my lifetime, but the one thing they've gotten right is parental leave for dads: up to five weeks which is precisely what I opted for.

Gotta count your blessings I guess.

mtlawson said...

Wow. When did that teddy bear come out? We sure could have used that on our three; the oldest two especially wouldn't sleep through the night until they were closing in on 18 months.

Oh, and congratulations, by the way.

--Mike L.

notbillysparkles said...

Thanks Mike.

I love that fucking bear... god help me, I just love it.

Shellhead said...

Armageddon Empires look so damn good that I'm going to buy my girlfriend a used computer for her upcoming birthday, just so I don't have to keep sharing my desktop with her. Anybody have any tips about buying used computers? There are some great deals on Craigslist.

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah, don't buy one from Gary Glitter.

Pat H said...

Just back in town - Billy I'll send you an e-mail later today. Let me know if you get it, maybe I have the wrong adress.

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