I got nothing. I am sitting here, lamenting, as I have wont to do these past few days, counting down the time. Hmm, perhaps a few news? In a german city by the name of Rollshausen, the SEK has assaulted the wrong property during the last night, making for one of the bigger failures of german police forces. The election race between the american candidates is in its last stage and I have found "Elemental:Fallen Enchantress", the quasi-remake of "Elementar:War Of Magic" a quite nice little game, despite its immediate mechanical shortcomings, but more on that one later. 

"A Game of Dwarves" has proven itself to be quite the dumbed down version of "Dwarf Fortress", while "Mark of the Ninja" has ended on a very bitter but quite classy ending. The Unreal Engine Horror Game "Dream of the Blood Moon" has proven to be...well..in a sad state and not really that good at all, but then, I find Slenderman a very pointless thing indeed. And meanwhile "Hotline Miami" has crashlanded into quite the nice little corner, providing a very unique, if extremely gory experience.



So, a new XCOM is out. I haven´t played it yet. And most likely I wont. This has confused a number of people in my circles, as I have repeatedly made it clear, that the basic idea, the game is presented in just the way that I should like it. However, I have since taken some time to think and have come to the conclusion, that it simply is not worth the nostalgia flash. 

Not everything about the original game was great and while the new game might be, the interest simply isn´t there. Admittedly, I have not been one of those fighting for a remake, but then again, nowadays I have a feeling, that the constant remaking of past games seems to destroy many of the things that made these games great originally. And while I am mostly sure, that the new XCOM has hit all the right points in that regards, it has not stoked my desire to revisit those days of frustrating myself over losing another team of agents to the alien threat. Oh well.


A Game I´d like to see

You know what kind of game I miss? Something akin to minecraft but with the real world set behind it. Only empty. Where only madness, the wild and nature are with you. Where you are alone. The scenario goes like this. Imagine our current world. Now imagine it without all the humans. From one second to the next. If you really want, you can take pointers from The Omega Man, a great Heston movie from 1971, because Smith did not deliver that great a performance in the remake for me. Not to mention the pitifulness with his family. 

Anyway, imagine a world like that, empty. Everything left. Only you are there. Suddenly, madness takes on a whole new meaning. You would be careful, start with a perfectly normal day, perhaps give the player the chance to get to create himself, choose lifepaths etc and then from one moment to the next....SILENCE. 

Eerie scenario all around and one thing I absolutely miss these days. Because everywhere I look I see either Zombies, Nazis, Soviets, Aliens or human-fictitious slasher bastards trying to make a cheap scare. But with this scenario, the true horror, the one we make for ourselve, comes to life. You could even enter into it with snippets of the previous life of occupants of houses etc, with the tv working the first few days as preprogrammed television shows are aired with no-one around to continue...making the sound coming from the windows but no one there to see. 

And it would be possible, I tell ya. Take a graphics engine that uses the imaging from google maps for example and create a small country, for example...hmm...take the US, if you must, or perhaps Luxembourg, and the insides of the houses are f illed by a randomizer. Within certain databased limits of course, so you dont get a church filled with a flower power 70s tank and nazi symbolica next to it. 

And then let the player get in there and take over. His only enemy? His own bodily needs, that is food and water, a place to sleep, and in theory companionship. Heston had Caesar. Hanks had Wilson. Somewhere out there the player hears wildlife, perhaps a wild bear, or even possibly re-introduced wolves. A few possums, a squirrel here or there, a stray dog running trought the street. And of course the weather. Of course, this should be a singleplayer experience, even if you add multiplayer layers to it to allow two people to stroll trough and do their thing. This is the other part. Why it has to be so like a toolbox. You need to give the player the tools to destroy or create most things. And suddenly....SUCCESS. And perhaps the greatest simulator ever known to mankind.


Welten Bauen

Man muss wohl ein Savant sein, um eine ganze Welt aus dem Federbehafteten Hut zu ziehen. Die wenigsten von uns sind dazu wirklich in der Lage. Aber doch, Landstriche und Straßenzüge, Häuser und Personen sind wohl noch drin. Als ich mich an die Aufgabe machte, ein eigenes Setting für eine Runde zu entwerfen, war mir schnell klar, dass die Aufgabe systematisch angegangen werden müsste, damit sie mir nicht über den Kopf wächst. Gleichwohl wandte ich mich hilfesuchend an das Tanelorn-Forum. Die darauffolgende Diskussion war nicht fruchtlos, aber gleichwohl auich nicht so fruchtbar wie so manch andere. Vieles ist offensichtlich, manch anderes weniger. 
Für mich war es recht einfach, die Hintergrundwelt zu entwerfen, Gebräuche und Namen, Karten und Optika, also optische Reize zu nehmen, orientierte sich doch meine Idee am Europa während der Reformation. Dadurch war eine Fülle an Details vorhanden zur Welt, aus der ich mich reichhaltig bedienen konnte. Schnell aber drohte ich erschlagen zu werden. Wie nun weiterverfahren, frage ich mich. Und die Antwort ist simpel. Sie ist aber gleichzeitig eine Frage nach dem Inhalt von Setting und den Modulen, welche die Spieler bespielen werden, da sie in einer gewissen Weise auch den Stil vorgeben. So kann man eine Welt groß aufziehen, mit Besonderheiten und Spezialitäten, mit großen Beschreibungen der wichtigen Städte, Häuser und Staaten, Landstriche und und und. 
Aber es wird schnell überhand nehmen und wenn man sich nicht versieht, wird man sich verzetteln. Es zwingt einen eher, besimmte Gebiete des Settings am Stüch anzunehmen. Die andere Variante, welche sich mir als schmackhafter darbot, war, den Großteil über den Haufen zu schmeissen, und das zu bespielende Fleckchen Land mitsamt Nachbarn zu kolorieren, wohingegen der Rest der Welt mit Inseln von Inhalten angefüllt war. So erzwang ich das Unwissen der Spieler zum Teil auch dadurch, dass ihnen diese Informationen über fremde Gegenden und Arten, Angewohnheiten und Besonderheiten nicht in die Hände fielen und fremder erscheinen. 
Gleichzeitig ist es ein Mittel der Kontrolle, da ich die Reaktion meiner Spieler dahingehend konditioniere, dass ihnen diese neuen Dinge als fremdartiger erscheinen mögen als sie es wirklich sind, wodurch ich den Erfahrungs- und Erforschungseffekt deutlich vergrößere. Natürlich birgt dies Gefahren in sich, aber jede Art des Weltenbaus kombiniert auch immer den präferierten Stil des Spielleitens in seine Substanz und kann daher abschrecken oder Anstoß geben. Insbesondere aber zeigt es, dass ich dem Thema nicht ganz treu bleiben kann, wie anhand meiner Denkrichtung zu sehen ist. So will ich lieber über Manipulation schreiben, denn über Weltenbau? Ein andernmal.



Dishonored, a stealth FPS by Arkane Studios which has been released in the US for some days now and is today released in Europe. Blending elements of stealth gameplay from the Thief series, Deus Ex, and borrowing elements of display from such titles as Bioshock or the Shock series in general, Dishonored delivers a particularly well made combination of the aforementioned and several others not mentioned to create a uniquely flawed experience of an action-adventure.

Ingame, the player takes the role of the royal protector Corvo Attano, personal bodyguard and aide to the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, as he witnesses the plot and succesful execution of the assassination of the Empress while being the only one in sight. Being accused of murdering her, Corvo is stripped of ranking and taken to the deepest prisons, waiting to face his execution.

With this piece of story as the introduction to the game in a few sentences, Dishonored offers a hub-based mission design for every mission, starting from the hideout the player is situated in from the first act on and allows the player to decide how to approach a mission. Wether he fights his way in or looks for a stealthier way is completely up to the player hand and while collecting valuables to upgrade his equipment and abilities the player is free in the exploration of the mission areas and discovering ways to the target of his assassination. 

In a few short words, Dishonored plays like a combination of Thief and Hitman with a bit more freedom than the latter and a bit more action than the first. And while the story is functional, it is also strangely partitioned as the game ends abruptly and on a very flat note. It is also quite short for such a game, even on my first playtrough I barely clocked in the 12h-mark and scouring the web has only made me more aware of the little differences in the game a different playstyle would make. So while one will enjoy the game to a point, it is also an experience that will just as suddenly end, just to leave you craving for more adventures with Corvo.

On a positive note, the games narrative, while as hacked up as it may seem at times, the characterization falls flat several times, comes truly alive in the enviroments and the fact, that much of the game world and background is only hinted at in maps and stories, notes and dialogue overheard on the in game streets. I like that. It makes listening in such a satisfying thing to experience.

The game ruins flawlessly on my medium-range computer and I expect that a few tweaks of the Unreal engine .inis should make it just as well running on most current gen and older machines as well, so it is an experiences that most people should be able to enjoy. On that note, the game looks good and is remarkably well crafted in the experience of a 18th-century industrial town, all with the grime and stink, the plague victims and the barred up shops, the half destroyed buildings and the looters wandering around.

All things considered, I would say Thumbs Up for Dishonored.