Because, frankly, we’re getting sick of it. Not that it isn’t important, it’s vitally important, but we all need a break from time to time. We know we do.

Just like we need our Gun Pr0n threads, our open threads, our whatever you’d like to talk about threads (and we’re very much open to suggestions there. We’re a community, after all, made up of a pack of wolves who have wide and varied interests), we need to let off steam on something that hasn’t got anything to do with the parasites in DC.

Such as games, and we’ll mercifully stick the rest of this beneath the fold so it won’t clutter up the front page.

I’m a strategy/sim gamer, on the rare occasions where I have time for that kind of stuff. Sure, I love the occasional FPS, who doesn’t like shooting shit and blowing up stuff, I guess you never get over that once you’ve been introduced to it, particularly when you can do it without worrying about being blown up or shot at for real yourself, and I love just having fun too. But my real passion is with games that you can dive into, live inside and use your brains to beat.

And I love space games. Ever since the first Elite back in the days of poorly drawn wire graphics up until now, where star systems look like live pictures from the Hubble telescope. Elite, Starlancer, Freelancer, X-Wing, Tie Fighter, Privateer, you name it. And don’t get me started on 4X strategy games, the archetype of which has to be Master of Orion. I don’t particularly like RTS games, at least not the original type where you couldn’t pause and lay plans and form strategies, which led to a ginormous clickfest where your success depended on you clicking fast enough and not forgetting that unit down in the lower left quadrant who, left without orders, had just been destroyed because it was just sitting around like a moron, waiting to be killed by the AI.

But there have been great RTS games too. One example would be the Homeworld series, which combined battle with a great storyline and, most of all, the ability to pause and issue orders. I do believe that having your AI foe move while you move rather than sitting around helplessly while you outmaneuver as in a pure turn based game is a huge improvement, it certainly is more realistic, I just don’t want to lose a battle because my mouse got stuck in a puddle of tomato sauce while I was frantically trying to issue a movement order to a fighter wing in quadrant XQ87.

Let your opponent move while your forces are executing their orders, indeed let them react to your moves while they’re happening, that’s awesome. Just don’t let my success or failure depend on how clean my mouse and keyboard are and whether or not the phone rings, the dog barks or the kids drop a jar of jelly on the floor.

What I’ve always loved the most in games though is the “sand box” mode. Now I know that term is in itself limiting, since “true” sand box means that you have no plot, no story, no anything, and there are plenty of exceptions to that rule that I’d still call “sand box.” Sand box, to me, is a space sim in which you can choose to do whatever you want in a living universe and jump in and out of history as you like. Explore new star systems, take a stint as a smuggler, join a rebellion, mine asteroids, do whatever the fuck you want, but it still has to have the illusion of being “alive”. Elite, the one I mentioned before, had it. It was horribly primitive by today’s standards, but it was revolutionary back then. You get a ratty little ship, a few credits, an enormous universe to play around in and nothing but “go have fun.”

Why can’t somebody make that same thing today, only upgraded to exploit the resources that computers have now?

I guess they’re still trying to figure out how to get zombies into it.

There’s literally nothing. The best you can get are the new MMO beasts, but we’re really not all that interested in games that consist mainly of trying to dodge 13-year-old pimpled freaks who won’t get a date unless their parents buy one for them lying around in wait to boost their self-esteem by being complete arseholes. Not that there is anything wrong with being an arsehole, surely there isn’t, but if you’re being one solely for the purpose of being one because your life is otherwise worthless, then it leaves a bit to be desired. Certainly enough to make us not want to part with real money so we can spend hours dodging idiot campers whose entire lives are based on misspelling “fail” and “pwned” in the comm channels.

And then there’s the “minor” fact that we, having an actual life, really aren’t that hooked on spending a monthly subscription fee on something that we might, if we’re lucky, be able to spend a couple of hours playing during that month. Which is why we’re still big fans of solo campaigns. Not because we don’t enjoy playing against actual human beings, it’s the greatest thrill there is, but we just don’t have the advantage of living in mom’s basement with no social interaction beyond Tweeting “OWS, fuck capitalism” occasionally.

We would love to be able to spend days online, but we have other obligations, such as a family that would like to see us, and we still haven’t quite figured out why they’d want to but we’re eternally grateful that they do.

They’re quite dear to us.

So we’re constantly looking for The Next Big Thing in casual sand box gaming. And we’re finding nothing. So we got desperate enough to even start looking into Eve Online. Hey, it’s got great graphics, space, sand box and everybody is talking about it. It also had one huge thing: You didn’t have to be logged in all the time to advance. You can pick something you want to work on, and your character will keep working on it even if you’re distracted for a few days by something insignificant such as the very real people you love. We positively love the fact that the entire universe it plays out in, right down to the economy, is governed entirely by the players’ actions rather than some computer algorithm and, well, the graphics. And you can literally do anything you want, including just sitting around making “money” on the virtual “stock market.”

But then we got really interested and learned that there is no such thing as maneuvering your space ship. No dog fighting, no clever dodges, no daredevil Crazy Ivans turning the tables on a foe technically vastly superior to you, no artful dodging missiles and laser blasts to take out shield generators, literally nothing at all. Unless you’re part of a big fleet, all you can do is to pick a target, click on it, then watch as your ship parks next to it and exchanges blasts with it until one of you, with mathematical certainty, takes the other out.


Seriously. Why not just have a stat card for every ship in the game and then, to save time, just compare stats and instantly decide who wins? It would be every bit as boring and, at the very least, quicker. Where’s the fucking thrill? Where’s the being the obvious underdog, yet coming out on top through a combination of skill, dumb luck and who knows what else (after having your ass beat a hundred times)? Sure, if you’re part of one of the clans, sorry “corporations”, and are part of a fleet, you can use maneuver and skill, but where’s the fun for somebody who just wants to jump in and be bad-ass? You know before you enter battle who’s going to win. Big fucking whoop. You can stay and win if your stats are better or you can haul ass. No maneuver, no luck, no crazy. Let’s just draw cards for the win, why don’t we?

So where’s the next X-Wing? The next Freelancer? The next Elite?

Nowhere to be found. Until somebody figures out a way to put zombies in it, of course.


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By Emperor Misha I

Ruler of all I survey -- and then some.

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