Random Ruminations

It seems to be part of my nature to reflect on all my experiences--even the hobby experiences many people consider trivial. And I reflect best when I'm typing. So, here are some of my thoughts on games and gaming. Enjoy them if you can, comment if you like.

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Don't Push Me

p55carroll
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"If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead."
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I love games; I've been enthused about them all my life. But there's one thing about games I've always hated: the pressure they put on me.

What I love about games is escaping into an imaginary world where I get to control things and shape situations into whatever pleases me. That's enhanced by the fact that there's always some resistance in games. If I could magically make things go my way all the time, it'd be just a form of daydreaming; it wouldn't be as satisfying. Because there are rules I have to follow, and because there's resistance I have to meet, the whole experience of playing a game is wonderful.

However ...
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Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:56 pm
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My Changing View of Stories in Games

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For years--most of my life, I guess--I thought of chess as the quintessential game. The more chesslike a game was, the purer and better I considered it to be. In my teens, I became an avid wargamer, and that fit with my viewpoint; wargames can be seen as very elaborate versions of chess with dice and (usually historical) themes. But then I encountered RPGs and other kinds of games, and I mostly shook my head at those: too much story, and not enough chesslike game.

Now that I'm the proud new owner of Age of Wonders III, that longtime attitude of mine is being undermined.
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Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:50 pm
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Save Scumming, or How to Git Gud

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Yesterday I watched a video on how, even though people say Darkest Dungeon is too hard, perseverance pays off and it's possible to master the game. Then I watched this video:


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Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:13 pm
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Thoughts on the 4X Strategy Genre

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I just read this two-year-old article--after reading a bunch of discussion on it yesterday--and it gets me thinking, especially as I'm just starting into the Age of Wonders III Collection (which could be considered part of the genre in question).

The article says some key things are missing in 4X games, and one of them is simulational value, or at least flavor text. IOW, the game is supposed to represent empire building, so it ought to explain what that means and why it's happening. Otherwise the player is just conquering the map because that's the victory condition.
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Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:19 am
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When the Novelty Wears Off

p55carroll
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I've been playing games for enough years now to know that the true quality of a game shows up only when the novelty starts to wear off. A bright, shiny, new game is always a joy to behold--as attention-getting as a newborn baby. But it takes some time and effort to learn how to play, and then more time and effort to get to where you can play well; and by the time you get that far, the game has become old hat to you. What then?
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Thu Sep 6, 2018 6:30 pm
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Age of Wonders

p55carroll
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I just finally got around to buying the Age of Wonders III Collection. I was going to wait till I could get it for pennies, but its price dropped enough that I finally bit, even though the last thing I need is another video game. This one is kinda special, though, because I've played the earlier games in the series since the first one came out (in 1999, I think). Not all the time, but off and on, in occasional bursts.
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Wed Sep 5, 2018 9:15 pm
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Pushed Around by Bad Experiences, Hoping for the Good

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I think it was in a high-school history class that I first heard about motivations for emigration. The teacher said the emphasis is too often on the promised land; if you want to really understand what happened, you ought to consider what drove people away from the old country. Life has to be pretty bad to make most people uproot themselves and relocate to some distant part of the world. Adventurous souls who relish that sort of thing are few and far between; the average person hesitates to take the risk and put up with massive readjustment (maybe learning a new language, new customs, and so forth).

A similar principle seems to determine which game I choose next. If I find one I enjoy (e.g., Master of Orion), I'll play it over and over and never really get tired of it. But if I have an unsatisfactory experience with a game, I'll want to be sure to avoid the bad aspects of it when I choose my next game to play.
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Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:02 pm
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I'm a (Wannabe) Sage, Not a Fighter, Wizard, or Tycoon

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I always tell myself I'm not into role-playing--that the story in a game doesn't matter to me. Yet I guess I've always half-consciously appreciated what role-playing there is in various games.

In abstract games, the role is hard to pin down. Am I a battlefield commander when I play chess? Lord of an expanding realm when I play go? My imagination always tries to kick in and help make sense of what's going on, but it's never entirely clear what the game is about, if anything.

But as soon as there's a theme, however thin or "pasted on," the role I'm assuming as a player is clear enough. It doesn't matter how well the game fleshes out that role with detail--how realistic it is; if I'm supposed to be managing archaeological expeditions in Lost Cities, I've got Indiana Jones in my mind's eye.
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:20 pm
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Which Master of Orion?

p55carroll
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After playing 30+ games of Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (about half on Easy, about half on Average, and a few on Hard), I decided to play a game of Master of Orion and see how it compares. What a difference!

I guess they're both fine games; I'm not going to dis one in favor of the other. But here's what I noticed, FWIW.
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Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:04 pm
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Why I Can Never Find the Perfect Game

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After all these years, I think I've finally figured it out: a game isn't what I really want. I've been looking for the game that suits me perfectly, but each one comes up short. Yet it's no fault of the game; it's that I'm unconsciously seeking something else. Or something more.

That point was driven home last night and this morning, when I reinstalled Sword of the Stars Complete Collection and started playing around with it again. It looked promising, but right away I started browsing around to read what others have been saying about it.
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Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:48 pm
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