Spacing Out: I Owe Independence War 2 an Apology

Freaking Starmap...

Freaking Starmap…

Earlier this week, Jim and I did a podcast focusing on Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos. Now, as I said in the podcast, I’ve been giving this game crap for many years because it’s just so mean to the player. It has a difficulty wall which, I feel, ramps up way too early, it makes what should be very basic information hard to find, and rather than focus on usability, some things in the game focus solely on the pretty/whiz bangness of it all (i.e. the starmap, for example). I tried playing the game several times over the years and always hit these barriers, or more accurately, I felt like they hit me right in the face. However, because Jim and I were going to talk about the game at length, I decided to persevere more so than I had in the past, and in doing so I discovered something astounding.

Independence War 2 is an amazing F#$%ing game.

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State of the Blog: August, 2013

Hear Ye Hear Ye!

Hear Ye Hear Ye!

I’ve been meaning to do one of these posts for a short spell now, but neither had the time, energy or inspiration. Then, “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers came on Pandora and reminded me, “Hey, this blog is my thing.” :) I also barely even noticed that, on 8/15/13, this blog turned two years old. Happy belated birthday blog! :) That’s indicative of just how out of it I’ve been lately, and of how much I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’m not going to bore you with apologies or excuses, however. I’m instead going to share my thoughts on what I can do to make this blog better.

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Spacing Out: Crawling Out of a Gaming Funk

Coming Out of a Mental Fog...

Coming Out of a Mental Fog…

Yay, I felt inspired to write something! ;) So for the past, say, month or so, I’ve fallen into something of a gaming funk. Not sure why or how, but it’s just been this sort of…malaise. Like, I don’t want to seriously play anything, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know what to play. It’s left me feeling kinda mopey, honestly, without a lot of motivation to do anything beyond my normal routine.

So last night I asked myself, “Self, which game do you REALLY crave playing to help get you out of this funk?”

The answer was pretty surprising…

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A Look at Buzz Aldrin’s Space Manager (i.e. My Time at Historicon)

A Thing of Beauty...

A Thing of Beauty…

A little while back (to which I should’ve written this sooner, honestly), the good folks at the Slitherine Group and Matrix Games flew me and a bunch of other folks out to balmy Fredericksburg, Virginia to attend a two-day press event that coincided with a local wargaming convention called Historicon. At this event, we were shown a bevy of new titles from a variety of teams, the one I was most interested in being Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager.

Now that I’m back and fully recovered from the heat and humidity, I’d like to share my thoughts on what I saw of Space Program Manager, take a quick look at some of the non-space games covered and also share the pictures I took during my trip. I hope y’all enjoy it. :)

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Spacing Out: Self-Inflicted Writer’s Block (i.e. A Polite Request)

Dammit Writing, Why Do You Vex Me So?

Dammit Writing, Why Do You Vex Me So?

So I said I would do one of these things every week and I’ve nooooooooooooooooot been totally sticking to my end of the bargain. Sometimes it’s fatigue, but most of the time…I have no idea what I want to write about. I either think of a topic I can’t fully flesh out, or my brain just decides to go on strike and stop. It’s like I have some self-inflicted guilt caused by my own perceived inability to write anything deeper than a critique. Weird, right? So this is where I hopefully don’t seem lazy in asking for your help. ;) I think what might help jumpstart this whole thing — my brain especially — is some topic suggestions from you guys. What would y’all like me to talk about?

I mean sure, I can review a game with little problem because there’s the game working as a focal point, but not having that focal point feels a good deal more difficult, and this is something I would like to improve upon.  So if y’all don’t mind, please, throw some topics my way. I’d really appreciate it, and I’ll do my best to give the topics the attention they deserve. Thanks! :)

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What Happened to Homeworld: Cataclysm? (Part One Maybe?)

Why No Love for This Game?

Why No Love for This Game?

With all the talk of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 getting an HD makeover from the folks at Gearbox, I had to wonder…what happened to Cataclysm? I’ve not played Cataclysm, but I’ve been told many a time it’s the best in the series, but it seems to be something of a black sheep, as a lot of folks seemed to skip it since it wasn’t from Relic directly. Regardless, I wanted to find out what happened to this entry in the series, so I first contact friend of the site Paul “Rorschach” Tobia. You may remember Paul from the podcast we did on Sword of the Stars.

In that podcast, Paul said how he knew the folks at Kerberos, and how they used to be Barking Dog Studios, the folks behind Cataclysm. I therefore contacted Paul, and he put me in touch with some of his friends at Kerberos. After writing a polite email about the issue, I got this reply from Chris Stewart, a producer at Kerberos.

Hi Brian,

Thus far Gearbox hasn’t talked much about Cataclysm. Technically, it’s part of the same IP, but assets and code are less directly available, so I don’t know if they’re keeping mum on it until they know what they can and can’t make available, or if they think because it was made by another company, the rights are distinct from 1 & 2 – though with all third-parties involved basically dissolved, I doubt that’s the case. I hope they don’t think it’s not of interest to gamers!

There should have been code copies at Barking Dog, Relic, and Sierra. Sierra’s would be long gone, and I don’t know what the archive situation at Relic was in regards to Cataclysm, but Barking Dog’s are certainly gone as well – where to, I don’t know, we haven’t been involved with Barking Dog / Rockstar in over a decade, and at least two different offices. Cataclysm existed in a weird space where Sierra wanted an expansion to the series, but Relic wanted it separated from the main line, hence the “standalone expansion” marketing oxymoron. Relic was pretty dismissive of Cataclysm, so I don’t know what they would or would not have saved.

It’s possible that stuff still exists on back-ups that went to another Rockstar office, but honestly I doubt it.

All music and sound assets (VO, dialogue, etc.) are still archived at Studio X Labs, last I checked, at best quality – theoretically the base Cataclysm, using just a retail copy, could have it’s sound up-scaled, since it’s no longer constrained to a CD. I’m not sure about removing or spoofing the Securom DRM – I’m sure if the pirates can work around it, Gearbox could work around it, without having to find the source assets. But I’m just thinking out loud.

That probably doesn’t help you much – if you have any specific questions I can help with, let me know, I’ll do what I can.

There’s some good information in there, to be sure, but I wanna know more. Chris gave me another lead to follow, which I plan to, so that’s where I’ll leave this for now. If I find anything further I’ll let y’all know. :)

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