Game diaries

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vietnam_1_figure-1

(This is the third entry in a weekly (or so) game diary by Bruce Geryk and Patrick Mullen about the boardgame Vietnam 1965-1975. The series starts here.)

For this American former fourteen-year old boy, invoking the Lens of History (the game seen through a historical lensas an alternate history) while playing Vietnam 1965-1975 begins the moment I start thinking about set up.

After the jump, starting at the beginning Continue reading →

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leaving_saigon

(This is the second entry in a weekly (or so) game diary about the boardgame Vietnam 1965-1975. The series starts here.)

A few years ago, I wrote a game diary on this site that turned into an ongoing series that eventually became one of my favorite things I had written. The reason was that as I wrote, I found myself following the gameplay to my bookshelf, chasing the assumptions behind the mouseclicks, and turning my thoughts inside out to look at exactly how and why I was enjoying the game, the subject matter, and the very hobby I was embracing. It was completely unplanned, but also unstoppable.

One of the things that made this such a special project was the subject. Continue reading →

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brogue4_0

Previously, in the Brogue game diary…Brian’s monkey has burned to death, he’s found a ring of stealth, and he’s gone blind from drinking a darkness potion.

I head back down to depth 5, sticking close to the walls, until I find a shadowy alcove to hide in until my vision slowly recovers enough to venture onward. I find a potion that turns out to be Fire Immunity. I have not seen any fire on this level yet, though.

After the jump, say hello to my little ogre Continue reading →

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b3_0

My name is Tony, and I’m an information addict.

I always knew I had these tendencies. It’s why I declared Invisible, Inc. the best game of 2015. Times are tough for people like me. If you ask Bruce Geryk, wargaming expert, for a computer wargame recommendation, he’ll ask to get back to you later. There aren’t any good computer wargames, because computer wargames are in the business of concealing information. (The discussion of why they do this is for another time, but it’s either because of “immersion,” “giving the computer a fighting chance by making the rules not-human-readable,” or both.)

After the jump, I can quit any time Continue reading →

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brogue_2_0

The first level presents little challenge. At this point, I’ve led enough doomed adventurers into the dungeon that I know there’s not much that can kill you here except inexperience and poor judgment. I’m taking a more cautious approach than usual, though. I’m deliberating over each choice, rather than barrelling through the early levels.

After the jump, the monkey business commences Continue reading →

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0

In Brogue, gold means nothing. There are no shops. Gold has no weight and no value. And yet gold is in there. It’s in there because, for the 99.99999% of Brogue players who will never win the game, and that includes me, the amount of gold you have when you die is the sole determinant of what your final score will be, and where your nameless, classless, raceless character will end up on the high score list.

In Brogue, gold means everything. Continue reading →

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vietnam_1965-1975_gd

Vietnam 1965-1975 is a board wargame that I bought when I was 15 and then never played until I was 45. I purchased it the first time at a Comics and Game Store in Miami, Florida in 1986. That copy was destroyed by a hurricane in 1992. I promptly bought another copy. That copy was lost in a move in 1999. I bought another copy that year. That copy was misplaced. I bought another, and then a backup. Last year I found the misplaced copy. By my count, I have purchased this game six times. However, I played the game (my definition: against another opponent; solitaire play and pushing cardboard around does not count) for the first time in the spring of 2016. I currently have two games ongoing. I am about to begin a third with Bruce Geryk, which will be documented in a series of entries to be posted occasionally over the next several months.

After the jump, what’s so special about this game? Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_haircut

Now that I’m playing The Witcher 3 in earnest, I’ve decided I’m going to ignore Gwent, the ingame collectible card game that Geralt can play to fritter away time and orens. As an erstwhile Pazzak player, Caravan player, SkyStones player, and GamePig owner, I know firsthand how much you can fritter away in an ingame game. So my Geralt will decide he has better things to do than play some Hearthstone clone. Besides, isn’t a standalone version of Gwent in the works? Wouldn’t playing Gwent in The Witcher 3 be like playing early access Gwent? I want no part of it. Which means I’ll have that much more money for things that actually matter! Like finally getting a haircut (pictured).

After the jump, here’s me not faffing about with cards. Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_noticeboard

I’ll get around to finding my lost baby in Fallout 4 when I get around to it. Right now, I’m helping Cate kick her drug habit. I couldn’t care less about rescuing some captured rebel leader in Homefront: The Revolution — what was his name again? — which frees up plenty of time to liberate patches of territory. In Dying Light, uh, something about secret files. Who can be bothered to care when there are safehouses to be cleared, parkour races to run, and skills to level up? Name a game by Ubisoft that isn’t called Far Cry 2. I probably can’t tell you the first thing about the main storyline. All the better for all the Ubistuff that needs doing. There’s hardly a game with as rich a setting for side quests as Watch Dogs. One of the best things you can do for the side quests in an open-world game is a lousy main quest.

After the jump, ciriously cidetracked Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_refills

In Dying Light, another game I’m catching up on these days, I can make five fire shurikens with a blade, some gauze, and a can of aerosol. So far, the blade and gauze are easy enough to find. But I also need the gauze for medkits, so tough choices must be made. The real bottleneck is the aerosol. I’m constantly on the lookout for aerosol. I’ll even buy it from merchants if they’re selling it. Every time I find an aerosol, I think, hey, now I’ve got five fire shurikens! Conversely, every time I throw a fire shuriken, I think, well, I’m going to need to find more aerosol. This fits well enough with a post-apocalypse. When the world ends, I expect to scavenge. I accept non-renewable resources as a facet of any apocalypse.

After the jump, you gotta spend to earn? Continue reading →

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Modern_Family_Witcher

Since this game diary will progress alongside my playing time with The Witcher 3, I should warn you there will be spoilers. Never before the jump. I’d hate to ruin anything for the casual skimmer of Quarter to Three who hasn’t played The Witcher 3 yet. But anything after the jump is fair game. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’ve made progress in the game yourself.

After the jump, Ciri has two daddies Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_books

I have to really like a game to read its books. Actually, that’s true of pretty much any flavor text. But it’s especially true of ingame books. I suspect game developers think they’re tricking me by putting backstory into ingame books. They think I’ll read every single ingame book just in case it teaches me a spell or gives me experience points. They’re right. Finding a book and not opening it to see if anything happens is like finding a chest and not opening it. You just don’t do it.

After the jump, Nilfgaardian best sellers Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_GD_velvet

Stories are weaker when they have a blank slot where a protagonist should be. MMOs are a worst case example of this, because the developers — the storytellers — have no way of knowing what race, class, sex, or morality you’re playing. What sort of story would Star Wars be if George Lucas asked you, “Hey, should Luke give the droids to the Imperials or should he fly them to Alderaan?”

After the jump, how many paragon points are we talking about here? Continue reading →

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Witcher_3_late

The tricky thing about top ten lists for videogames during any given year is that it’s difficult to play every game that comes out on any given year. It’s even more difficult to spend the time it takes to really get to know a game. And by difficult, I’m pretty sure I mean physically impossible. If I calculated how many hours it takes to suss out every game released in a year compared to how many hours are actually in a year, the math wouldn’t add up. Let’s see, 365 times 24 is, uh, six thousand something, which will get you through about one MMO, one Paradox game, four shooters, and about a hundred crappy iPad games. Congratulations, you’ve played 5% of the games that came out that year.

So while I did play The Witcher 3 last year, I didn’t get very far before moving on. I had other things to do. And besides, Nick Diamon did a fine job writing a review, so what did it matter if I played it? Hence its absence from my top ten list. I don’t doubt it was great. I played The Witcher 2 so I’m well aware of what CD Projekt Red can do. But it just wasn’t part of my 2015.

Fortunately, there’s no law that says you have to play a game the year it comes out. So as of today, I’m beginning my official playthrough of The Witcher 3, and I intend to go all the way to the end. Wait, does The Witcher 3 even end? How far did CD Projekt Red go with the new open-world conceit? I intend to find out at least once a day for the foreseeable future. In case you’ve already played it and you’re interested in following along someone experiencing the joy of discovery, I’ll be chronicling that discovery — and hopefully joy — here. Besides, I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this year’s E3 by ignoring it in favor of playing an old game.

Tomorrow: My Geralt. Let me show you him.

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