Tag Archives: Civilization V

A summary of my Extra Life 2014 stream

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Well…my first Extra Life came to a close yesterday at 9:00 AM, after nearly 24 hours of playing videogames nonstop. By “nearly” I mean that I ended up taking a half-hour power cat nap around 4:30 AM because I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough, not even to attack monster after monster after monster in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Moving over to the couch for a bit might have been a grave mistake because–and I don’t know if you know this or not–couches are way more comfy than kitchen table chairs. That said, I did it, and I’m glad I did it, though I certainly learned some things through the process which I hope to put to use for next year’s go at the charity thang.

A couple of quick thoughts then.

First, promotion is hard, and promoting yourself solo is even harder, especially when you have to also play the role of driver/entertainer. I tried Tweeting/Facebooking every couple of hours during my stream in hopes of increasing viewers and leading to more donations, but I did not earn a single new donation during my entire 24 hours of streaming. I love that I got so much early support before the action went down ($280 for my little goal of $100!), but I was also hoping to see some support come in as everything pushed forward. I can’t downplay what I already earned because money for children’s hospitals is money for children’s hospitals, but I can’t also can’t deny that I had higher hopes to climb over $300.

Second, I need either a better plan of action or have to check first that my plan of action can work as, well…work as planned. By that I mean I had originally thought I’d play a game an hour for 24 hours, but that scheme quickly unfolded after I discovered that some games were crashing when I tried to stream them and others just wouldn’t even capture in OBS. Heck, I wanted to open with Aquaria, but had to instantly switch over to Hack, Slash, Loot when it kept crashing on me, which was a frustrating start to things. I should’ve checked to make sure each game would work properly before putting together my list; that, or come up with some kind of theme, like playing a bunch of platformers for a bit, then some puzzle games, then horror titles, etc. Either way, this all boils down to one element–better preparation.

Third, streaming from my laptop does not make for a quality stream. The recorded videos are fine and I might upload them to YouTube one day, but reviewing the Twitch archives show that the videos stutter every few seconds. Sorry if that made it not great to watch; I’ll hopefully have some better equipment for next time around, which could potentially mean even larger games played.

With that, let me remind y’all that there is still plenty of time to donate, and you can do so by hitting up the following link: http://www.extra-life.org/participant/pabba

And now, some light blurbage of the many games I touched, in the order that I touched them. Don’t report me for that. I can guarantee a few of these will get larger blog posts here on Grinding Down down the line.

Hack, Slash, Loot – For a game that I get nowhere in, I still keep coming back to this one. I don’t know. I like its laidback feel and look, though I did get pretty far with an archer on one of the runs I did.

The Legend of Grimrock – A first-person dungeon-crawling adventure with an old school vibe. It took some time for me to learn how to actually attack monsters, but I really dig the look and feel of the game. Plan to go back to it at some point, though my current party is not long for the underworld.

You Have to Win the Game – I didn’t realize this until after the fact, but this little free-to-play throwback platformer was actually made by a Gearbox employee, which makes me adore it even more. It’s the first game on the stream that I beat entirely even if I got the “bad” ending. I plan to write more on this soon.

The Tiny Bang Story – Meh. I had really high hopes for this, but I couldn’t even get past the first two screens. Not sure where the last ladder rung was hidden, and I grew tired rapidly of clicking bugs to fill up a hint meter, which didn’t even help me too much in the end. A shame.

SteamWorld Dig – A neat game about digging down deep into the earth and taking resources back to the surface. Plus, it stars a robotic cowboy! You really can’t knock that. Though I do worry about how much fun it’ll be having to climb back up once you’re really deep underground.

Proteus – Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I had no idea what this game was all about other than exploring an island, so discovering the little music cues and bouncy animals live on the stream was a pure joy. As it turns out, Proteus is one depressing experience, though beautiful too. I plan to examine this more in the near future.

Super Meat Boy – I did a few levels and even managed to beat a boss in one of the worlds, but this grueling action platformer can get a bit too difficult for me to handle. Especially when the current world I’m in is called…Hell.

Spelunky – I tried to play the original freeware version of Spelunky since my copy is on the PlayStation 3, but the buttons were all wonky and I couldn’t remap them, so this did not last very long.

Rogue Legacy – This game is so much fun, as well as so hard to put down. It has that “one more run!” mentality to it, as every bit of gold helps you expand your castle, which ultimately helps improve your characters. I ended up beating Khidr for the first time and unlocked a few new classes like the lich to try out.

The Bridge – I took another swing at playing puzzles live before people, and this one worked out better than The Tiny Bang Story. I still had to look up a single puzzle solution, but I solved the rest myself. Ended up getting into chapter 4 or so before my friend came to visit me. I dig the drawn look of The Bridge the most though I couldn’t tell you a single story beat behind it.

Civilization V – My friend Pam came over with donuts, chips, and more importantly coffee. Then she schooled me on Civilization V, a game that is very deep and full of menus, but also a lot of fun. Evidently, we played Civ V for like two to three hours. Oops. Nah, it was great, especially having a real-life human being to talk to for a bit.

System Shock 2 – Man, this game is just freaky. The audio still holds up, and when the alarms went off and those space zombie freaks kept coming at me saying whatever it was they said…well, I just couldn’t keep going. It did wake me up a bit though, so there was that.

FTL: Faster Than Light – This is a game of systems, and even though I went through the tutorial, I don’t think I grok all the systems yet. I zoomed about in space for a bit, helped out some stranded ships, and that got destroyed by some larger, much more prepared ship. Really cool soundtrack.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – I ended up playing this off air, as I can’t stream from my Xbox 360. Plus, my butt hurt from sitting in that chair for so long, and the couch was calling out to me, though that might have just been the delirium taking over. Alas, I did not last long in chapter five for my demon hunter Whisper before my eyes kept closing and my head kept falling backwards.

DLC Quest – A very cute and easy platformer with a single hook. Thankfully, it’s short, so it doesn’t become tiresome, but I needed some easy platforming at like 4:00 AM, and this was it.

Papers, Please – At one point, I said this out loud–“I could do this job.” Reflecting on that, no. No I totally could not. There’s too much to check on passports and entry permits and body scans and so on, but it is a lot of fun and really gives you a sense of power, of control. It’s also kind of dark, considering both of my playthroughs ended with me in debt, going to jail, and my entire family cold and hungry. I did get an Achievement though.

FEZ – You know I’m super sleepy and unable to concentrate when I could even find all the cube bits in the first section of FEZ, a game I’ve already completed before. My bad.

Race the Sun – Here was a great little pick-me-up that forced me to pay attention. It’s a speedy racer with a gimmick that you need to remain in the sun’s rays to move fast. You have to also avoid a ton of obstacles, some of which move, and there’s a really good head-bobbing soundtrack to keep you pumped for more action.

Fallout: New Vegas – I ended it here, on my dearest, dearest New Vegas. I made a really horrible character (stats-wise) called Pumpkin Pete, but he was at least rocking a sick, green-tinted pompadour. Ran around a bit, used the rifle grenade launcher to cause some chaos in Goodsprings, and then called it a show. Not a grand finish, but a finish nonetheless.

…and that was my Extra Life experience in 2014. Not gonna lie, already thinking about what I could do–and do better!–for next October. Until then, may I catch up on sleep.

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The Half-hour Hitbox: May 2014

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Well, it’s not been a busy month of videogame-based blogging, and there are reasons for that. It’s not for a lack of content or even potential content; I’m continuing to play games, as you’ll still see below. It’s just been harder to concentrate on putting my thoughts together. Distractions, decisions, determined dates dancing in the distance. Yes, I love alliteration–why do you ask? You could blame dayjobbery stress, but there’s more to this story than that. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’ll get to tell it. I hope you’ll continue to stick by me, even if content on Grinding Down is more sporadic than usual.

On the flippy-flip side, I’ve at least been making a dent in my goal to draw a comic for every videogame that I beat this year. Just follow the tag, and let me know what you think of ’em.

Dishonored

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I finally bit the bullet on this one, seeing as the Game of the Year version for PS3 was only $20 and came with a whale buttload of extra content. Alas, I’ve not been able to play too much, only getting past the first mission after the prologue part. Dishonored is certainly a game of options; however, I’ve found the stealth elements very hard to grasp, and was spotted almost instantly in the first mission, which threw off my whole plan. Then I got spotted a few more times trying to sneak in and out of some buildings, grrr. I ended up murdering more guards than I ever planned to, which does bother me. I do like the Blink power, but I might just have to give in and focus on a more aggressive approach than slinking in the shadows.

The Valley Rule

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Created by Ryan Carag and Bill Kiley in a single weekend for Ludum Dare 29, The Valley Rule is an extremely impressive puzzle platformer in the same vein as Fez minus all the world turning, and I didn’t even have to get very far into it to be able to say that confidently. The story is simple, but enough: you play as a young red-haired girl stuck “beneath the surface” and trying to find a way up. A giant door blocks your path, and you need to collect four Tri-force-shaped crystals to open it. I was only able to gather one before ending up in room that required you to climb up the wall to the right, but not in a traditional manner, and I eventually gave up and fell into the milky water of death below. I highly recommend you check it out regardless of my lackluster wall-climbing skills.

Spyro the Dragon

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Last month, there was a strange flash sale on the PlayStation Network, offering a bunch of PS1 games for only a dollar each. And some other good deals. But my eyes saw only what they wanted. Naturally, I jumped on this and grabbed a good amount of PS1 goodies, as well as Tokyo Jungle, which I promise to check out one of these dang days. Anyways, I’ve never actually played anything more than a demo for Spyro the Dragon, and so I was genuinely excited to check in on a franchise that I had missed out on, and with its first impression too. In short, you’re a tiny dragon out collecting gems and freeing big dragons from being turned into statues. There’s little story and a lot of gems to collect, and it’s kid-friendly fun, even if the PS1-era camera rears its ugly head from time to time.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V

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I bought Civ V–that’s what all the cool kids call it, right?–in some Steam sale many moons ago. I even installed it at some point. But I only finally got around to playing a match this month. It’s much more detailed and engaging than that other Civilization thing I played on the Xbox 360, but after two hours and change, I still hadn’t won. Or lost. Or done altogether poorly or great. Just destroyed some barbarians and built some wonders. I played as Germany, and just did a lot of researching and army-building. This kind of game might all just move too slow for my liking, when you really break it down. I did save my progress so at least I can pop back into the match later, but I might have to be more aggressive to see it to its end.

Iris

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Made for the most recent Global Game Jam, Iris is described as a “puzzle platformer with a special twist on how to view things.” Basically, you control a tiny red-headed girl with the A and D keys moving her left and right, and W for a little hop. Your mouse controls a ball of light that, when placed on top of the world, show an alternative take on things. That toothy monster is now a friendly bunny, safe for you to walk past, so long as the iris light remains on top of it. The game itself is quite short, but packs a good punch, and I could definitely see this mechanic evolving, becoming something more than just a special twist.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Again, for those that don’t remember, I’ll play any LOTR-related videogame. No, really, I will. Here is proof; heck, I even bought Aragorn’s Quest a second time for the Nintendo DS to see if it was any different from the PlayStation 2 version. Spoilers: it’s not. Well, I don’t even have the case/manual for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as I bought it at GameStop some time ago, and it only came in those yellow sleeves. Interestingly enough, the game starts terribly slow and mundane, but I really enjoyed running around Hobbiton doing small tasks for friends and putting everything in order for Bag End before it is off to Rivendell for Frodo Baggins. Alas, there’s a badly done “sneak past the Black Riders” part that currently has me roadblock. The game is supposed to be an action hack-n-slash, but I’ve yet to hit a single thing with Frodo’s stick. Hmm.

Transistor

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Transistor is the big game of the month, for sure. I just wish I had more time to devote to it, and, unfortunately, unlike Bastion, it is not captivating me enough to want to just sacrifice everything else around me for it. I mean, I really love the art style and atmosphere, but the story is unclear–only about an hour or so in, but c’mon, I should at least have a coherent idea of why Red is doing this or that other than just videogame–and the combat, fun in some parts, is difficult and overwhelming. I’ve been scared to experiment too much with the different nodes and functions. Also, whenever I reach the beach area where you can participate in tests and challenges, the game crashes to desktop. I’m secretly waiting on a patch to hopefully fix this.

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.

Showing off my cultural superiority in Civilization Revolution

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Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution is one of the two free games Gold members get this month on the Xbox 360. It’s not particularly shiny or new, releasing back in June 2008 for all the expected systems from that time period, meaning the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, and iThings. It’s a simplified turn-based strategy game that mixes historical figures and cartoonish graphics in a fairly addicting manner, seeing that I only played a single round so far, and that entire fight saw Rome dominating all the other cities after just under two hours of back-and-forthing it.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve never actually played a Civilization game before this. Hey–please don’t throw rocks. Oh, sure, I bought Civilization V back during Thanksgiving or Christmas last year when a crazy Steam sale was running, but I’ve still not loaded it up once. Okay, okay…maybe throw a rock for that, but please, not the face. Back in the day, however, I did enjoy a lot of time with Age of Empires on the PC, watching brainless grunts evolve from the early Stone Age all the way to the late Iron Age. I’ve previously talked about my dislike for many RTS videogames, but those are usually military-based and tower defense-focused, and I do enjoy ones more about…well, teaching a group of people how to read or build a stone wheel or harvest crops from nearby fields. Yes, in Civilization Revolution there’s still combat and a need to protect your city while also possibly attacking another, but you can also just grow in culture, money, and fame, and that’s pretty dang cool.

Now, there are four roads to victory in Civilization Revolution:

  • Domination: Capture and hold each of the other four civilizations’ capital cities.
  • Technology: Be the first to launch a spaceship and discover the planet Alpha Centauri.
  • Cultural: Acquire 20 Great Persons, Wonders, and/or captured cities and build the United Nations wonder.
  • Economic: Amass 20,000 gold and build the World Bank wonder.

As I mentioned before, my one game so far took about two hours, and that’s seemingly just how things go. You begin by building units and buildings and Wonders, and each of those things take X number of turns to be completed. While that’s happening, other cities are growing too. Some may befriend you, and others will grow jealous or angry or scared and declare war. You can stave off some fighting by giving other city rulers money or technologies you’ve learned, but it’s never a guarantee for eternal peace. So it’s a lot of small planning and waiting, and I eventually began working on a Cultural victory, building the United Nations wonder to cinch the deal. However, strangely, I didn’t get the Achievement associated to fulfilling this quest, instead earning the one for a Dominance victory. Not sure what that’s about…

A couple quick side notes: I find it hilarious that the Xbox 360 shortens the name of this game to Civilization Revolut’n on all of its dashboard menus. Certainly they could have fit the whole name on there, right? There have to be games with longer titles than this. Or maybe this was just Microsoft not knowing what to do with longish titles back then, seeing as they also ditched Sid Meier’s name too. Also, while this might not matter to many, a few of the Achievements in this game are worth odd amounts, like 3 or 9 Gamerscore; initially, I was freaked out by this, but eventually earned all of them odd ones to balance my Gamerscore back out to a nice even number. That’s just how wild and loose those early days were with the Xbox 360.

I definitely see myself doing a couple more rounds with Civilization Revolution, at least to try out some of the other cultures, as well as attempting some different win victories. Unfortunately, none of this will happen until the weather gets warmer and the living room isn’t painful to sit in for longer than half an hour. Until then.