Monday, April 4, 2011

Snow in the Sandbox

If you live in a country that gets a lot of snow you’ll understand the value of having, and keeping a good snow-brush in your car at all times. Places with proper winters (like me) will also include an emergency kit with extra clothes, booster cables, and perhaps a shovel. It is also a law (I’m sure) that you keep the snow-brush in the car until at least July because the second you’re unprepared: POW! More snow. That’s a true story as well: the latest snow fall I can recall here is May 24th which I caused by removing my snow brush earlier in the week.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I tend to be a regular poster, and often schedule my posts in advance. In anticipation of a Top Secret Mission for my Clandestine Employer on Friday I had, in fact, written most of last weeks blog posts on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend I was a bit tired from the Secret Mission and thought "Ahh, what’s the harm in waiting to post until Monday night?" So I used what little free time to actually (gasp) get some gaming in.

And of course, it snowed. By that I mean that Syp over at Bio Break was nice enough to include me in his weekly /AFK roundup and my blog views have more than doubled over the past few days. Now, I’m no attention whore (yes I am) but the extra traffic is nice, and on any given Monday I would easily have a few blog posts pre-written, and waiting. I could, therefore be in a position to offer the newcomers something fresh, and exciting. At the very least I would have baked some scones and put on a pot of tea which is what I always do for my regular readers.

What’s that my regular readers? You haven’t had any tea? Shhhh....keep quiet will you, I’m trying to make a good impression on the new people.

In any case, thank-yo to Syp, and welcome to anyone who may have decided to come back.

I have forged ahead with the Sandbox Challenge and began the next game on my list: A Tale In The Desert. The trial consists of 24 hours of game-play after which they hope you will subscribe. I have read a little about the theme of the game but (in keeping with my Commandments) nothing about the game-play itself. I know that it is the only game (I think) without any combat and that it is crafting-focussed. Politics plays a part and players are able to participate in elections and create/vote on new game-laws.

I do enjoy a good crafting system (I’m having Ryzom Related Crafting Withdrawal Syndrome) so this could be a good one. The game is dated and I think its fair to say it is very, very ‘niche’. The graphics aren’t great, but to be fair they are no worse than Xsyon which is a brand new, craft-centric, indie-developed game (which is suffering from some terrible design flaws but I’ll get to that later in the week). I didn’t expect shiny, flashy graphics and it isn’t actually one of the scoring criteria in my challenge so it isn’t something that’s going to put me off.

I have, as well, managed to find someone foolish enough to play these games with me (I know, look at me, making friends like some kind of virtual social butterfly...why soon I’ll be too busy chatting on MSN and Skype to even be bothered with blogging) and it’s a good thing too. There is a lot of standing around, crafting stuff- as you would probably expect. Having a partner to chat with, and collect 100 wood while I make 100 bricks speeds things up quite a bit. I am hoping our wooden-brick monster will be erected in no-time and be scaring local children away with fevered indifference (yes I know that makes no sense).

I’m having some trouble getting my head around the fact that I can’t kill anything. One of the Commandments is that I should, where possible, try to be evil, so you’ll be glad to hear the first thing I tried to do was steal some camels. That, unfortunately, didn’t work as only paid accounts can take over abandoned structures (thanks to player written and voted on laws). Poor buggers are starving, so I’m going to propose an Animal Cruelty Law which states anyone can take animals who have been neglected for a week or more. Then I’ll steal them and make them fight in a pit. See: evil just takes a bit of imagination.

I did manage to find a sheep wandering about, which I stole (or my partner, technically, stole for me) but he wandered off (the sheep, not my partner), and without any females we couldn’t breed them anyway. I’m actually hoping that we can cross-breed sheep and camels into some kind of humped, wooly mutant which will viciously savage passers-bye upon command. I’m thinking this may not be that type of game, however, so eventually may have to settle for normal animals. Likewise I doubt my plans to cross-breed flax with venus-fly-traps to create a strain of man-eating, oily, plants which will guard my compound will come to much. Perhaps there’s hope for the tadpoles I collected from a nearby pond?

I realize now, in reviewing my commandments, that it may appear that I set the challenge up to be hard and therefor must play solo. It’s true that I will not ask in-game for assistance but if you are interested in any of the games I am playing you, are welcome to join me. I am on Raptr, so send me a mail, or message me when I am online. All I ask is that you are new(ish) to the game, don’t feed me any information you may have gleaned from forums, and allow me to exploit and use you for my gaming pleasure. Two of those are true, and if you can decide which they are, feel free to come along! Actually if you find the third one appealing come along anyway- I need a ton of wood collected and turned into boards (gimp suit not supplied but definitely required).

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