Echo Bazaar: Like a Dream

I’ve discovered a little game called Echo Bazaar. It’s kind of a giant choose-your-own-adventure mixed with a collect-a-thon. It’s hard to describe… it feeds you little bite-size bits of story and gives you several characteristics and knickknacks. Before you know it the backwards world of Fallen London pulls you in.

Myself, I’m kind of fashioning myself as a detective, with high “Watchful” and “Persuasive” qualities. I’m in searching for a card game in which I can stake my soul and win my heart’s desire. I’m learning the secret language of tattoos and growing acquainted with spies. I have strong connections with the church and the lawmen of the city. The game says I am magnanimous and subtle. I’m doing favors for a mysterious benefactor, and hoping to take some classes at the university. I recently moved into a spare room above a gambling den, paid for in whispered secrets.

The funny thing is, this is a lot like what everyone else is doing, but the stories I focus on (and the order in which I tackle them) makes it feel like a very personal experience. I’m also enamored with the nonlinear progression aspect of the game. Everything you do affects your qualities. One quality isn’t necessarily better than another – they just open up different opportunities.

The whole system is allowing the developers to explore storytelling in games in a unique way, through the lens of their storylets. They’ve posted some great stuff on their blog about the narrative structures they’re utilizing.

If anybody’s up for it, I could use some neighbors. Follow me on Twitter: Islemaster

Minecraft Life

I’ve officially caught the Minecraft bug. I was persuaded to try it by the series over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun and two days later I’m entirely taken by the possibilities.

I started with a little cave just behind two trees that had grown together (it helped me find it after venturing out) and have mostly been digging downward since then. It was pretty dull until I dug through the roof of a dungeon, complete with treasure chests and a monster factory. Since then I’ve connected to a huge system of underground caverns, and it just keeps going!

All that, and I haven’t done any overland exploring yet. This game is huge.

Transformice and the mMO

I confess, I’ve been caught up in the phenomenon of Transformice. Its perfect chaos of cooperation and competition is thoroughly addicting.

This game fits into a niche that I find I really enjoy: The Moderately Multiplayer Online Game (I’m calling it an mMO). It’s bigger than a multiplayer game or board game with two to six players, and it’s smaller than a massively multiplayer game with thousands. Instead, you’re dropped into a room with about 25 people, and it creates a funny dynamic where you have lots of repeat encounters with the same players, but there’s also way too many people to keep track of and you’re thrown into new and unexpected situations all the time. In the past I’ve primarily seen this in shooters like Battlefield or Team Fortress 2, but I think it’s fantastic when it shows up elsewhere, like racing in Trackmania Nations. I’ll officially put it on my list to design a game for 15-50 people someday.

Try it out! Tips for new players: Your best resource is the quickly-improving Transformice Wiki. Learn your controls, and before you take a shot at being Shaman you should use /room <roomname> to go practice by yourself. Knowing a bit about anchors, ramps, bridges and elevators will prevent a lot of player frustration.

Reflection: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

I finally sat down and finished Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (2002) yesterday. It was fun, but I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger and had more time for simple diversions like this.

Quick summary: You play a raccoon cat-burglar in a cartoon animal world, recovering your family heirlooms from evil crime lords while outrunning the law yourself. The game is split into five parts like an old serial; “Sly Cooper in Tide of Terror,” or “Sly Cooper in Vicious Voodoo.” The core of the game is a kind of acrobatic stealth platforming: Avoid the guards, spotlights and trip lasers while jumping, climbing and swinging your way to the end of the level.

My thoughts and mild spoilers follow:
Continue reading “Reflection: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus”