I have had an absolute blast playing SimCity 5. It’s the first game since the Walking Dead that I’ve thought about during the day, wondering what my next course of action will be or what natural disaster will happen next (meteors really seem to love my town!). Luckily I’ve had absolutely zero server issues and have been able to enjoy the game without a hiccup.
As a staunch fan of single-player mode, hearing that I would be trading and interacting with other towns initially gave me pause. If you’re like me and don’t feel like dealing with anyone for a region or two, this is easily remedied by playing in a private region. Of course, it’s a little more difficult to do so. It becomes a careful balancing act, and you need to successfully manage multiple cities at once in order to keep them bustling and profitable. Ignore one, and the others will see their progress hampered or even stagnate.
I love that electricity and water have been simplified. I always felt it was a little too micromanaged for my tastes, and having those two resources anchored to the roads removes unnecessary complexity. Your focus is now on running a successful city and keeping your citizens happy, rather than placing the power lines and water pipes just so for maximum efficiency.
I’ve heard some grumbles about the new focus on Sims in your city, but I enjoy it. It gives the town more personality and if I’m waiting for my cash to increase to a certain point I like following them around. It also gives me a better feel as to how commuting in the city is faring. I had an inkling my town’s roadways were going to be congested long before the game warned me to place some bus stops. Following a few Sims around let me reach that conclusion and take action before the roads become too congested.
I do have a few minor gripes with the game. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention during this part, but I had to ask around about how to mine ore and drill oil. It turns out those are tied to choosing a Specialization. I had thought that choosing one meant that I was stuck with only that and would lose it if I chose another. While I do like that SimCity teaches you the basics and lets you figure the rest out as you play–you can choose to learn all there is or you can choose to keep a passing knowledge of how to play and still be successful–specialization could and should have been explained a little better.
The game itself runs fine and I’ve had no problems there, but the tutorials seem to be a different story. The initial tutorial glitched on startup, with no HUD appearing and just a view of the city. Pretty, but not what I was expecting. It took restarting and two more tries for the tutorial to finally work. The in-game tutorials in my own cities also have given me a few problems. Whether it’s clicks not registering or the in-game tutorial HUD hanging, it not only takes me out of the game (literally and figuratively) but it also discourages learning more.
The Road Upgrade icon could be designed better as well. It’s an arrow with a flourish at its end and looks a bit like a Refresh or fancy Undo arrow. I didn’t click it for three nights, thinking it would undo my previous road placement. I was becoming frustrated with not knowing how to upgrade my roads–I had tried dragging High Density roads over Low Density ones to no avail–when I finally happened to hover over the Road Upgrade icon and I saw what it actually did, I felt both relieved and frustrated. It should be designed in a way that I can tell what it is at a glance, not a mouse hover.
Those frustrations are minimal when looking at the big picture and don’t have a large impact (if any) on the enjoyment I’m getting while playing this game. SimCity helped me love games again–a slightly odd icon and a glitch here or there isn’t going to mar my entire experience.
Haven’t played a SimCity yet? You should check this out. Whatever your opinions on the constant internet connectivity are, the game is solidly made and an absolute joy to play. I’m loving every minute of it.
I was bawling as I sat on my couch, watching various names scroll across the TV screen before me. I grabbed my phone to text someone, anyone. I needed someone to anchor me to reality. Because this? This was just so, so sad.
I have come close to crying in a movie theater, but I’ve never actually cried. The closest I’ve come is when I saw the climax of Toy Story 3. I don’t cry in movie theaters. I don’t like the moment when you exit and you see someone’s ruddy cheeks and nose and the stains of old missed tears stuck to their face. It feels like you’re intruding on a private moment. A moment shared with dozens of others.
Movies have made me feel many things. Games have made me feel fewer. I have grown attached to game characters, I have watched in disbelief and shock as something horrible befell them and their polygons were lost to me forever… At least, until my next new game playthrough. I felt twinges of sadness, but never anything more than that. Never have I felt even the urge to cry.
And yet there I was, sitting on my couch in my apartment and crying ferociously over the end of the Walking Dead. I’ll admit, when I first felt the urge to cry I was weirded out. I remember thinking, “Video games don’t make you cry.” No more than a minute later I decided to let go of my silly preconceived notions and just let loose.
The past few months have been hectic. This s my final semester as an undergrad in college, and it’s as hectic as you’d think it be. So, Fully Interactive has been extremely quiet. I can’t say that’s going to change soon, but things are certainly going to pick up around here as soon as I graduate. Here’s what’s happened so far:
- I got a job! (Yay!)
- I found an apartment! (Yay!)
- I’m planning on adopting a Greyhound rescue! (Yay!)
- I graduate in three weeks! (Aaah!)
I had also signed up for my first 5K–actually, that took place earlier this morning. I wasn’t able to do it because I’ve been sick for a week. To make myself feel better, I signed up for the ROC Race down in Del Mar on May 20th. I don’t have a lot of time to train for it, but, c’mon. I got this.
Don’t expect a lot of activity here until graduation and move-in is over.
I’ll be back to fill your brain with some nerdy information, I promise.
I write from time to time for a student-run USC blog called Celebrity SC. It’s focus is on cinema, tv, and video games. I recently wrote an article entitled, “Red Legos are for Boys, Pink Legos are for Girls.” You can catch it here: http://bit.ly/HBRiR1
[Retro Monday] resumes today! Keep an eye out for an article later. Looking to get your retro games fix? Check out the “retro” tag under the Categories section to the right. I’ve covered a few games, from Lunar Lander to Ninja Gaiden.
After a whirlwind of a week, I’m back from San Francisco! This Game Developers Conference was just as breathtaking and exciting as the last, but in many different ways.
I was a conference assistant again, but found my time in the CA Lounge to be very limited compared to last year. While a bit of a bummer, the high quality of the talks I attended and the contacts I was able to make made up for it.
So… It’s been more than just a long time. These past few weeks have been really busy, and I haven’t been able to do my beloved [Retro Monday] articles. But! I’ve been having an excellent day, and I’d just love for you all to keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ve got a fantastic feeling about all of the developments in my life. Pulling two all-nighters in the span of three days was definitely worth it.
The Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco is upon us! I’ll be a Conference Assistant for my second year in a row, and I’m of course unbelievably excited to once again provide the best conference-going experience possible for attendees and attending a few enlightening talks of my own. I’m also super excited to see all of my friends from last year, and to make a lot of new ones this year!
If you’re attending GDC, let me know! I’d love to meet up.
I’ll try my best to keep FI updated throughout the week!
Want to know what I’ll be up to when I’m not CA-ing around or hanging out? Check out The Crevices page to get an idea!
Unfortunately, [Retro Monday] will not be running today. I’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of deadlines to meet. If all goes well, you can expect a retro column on Friday!
Modder’s Journal details the progress being made on The Crevices mod, lessons learned, and other random related stories. It’s like a free-for-all, but with a subject.
I’ve decided to keep an online journal of the things I learn and the progress I make while working on my Skyrim mod, The Crevices.
What’s the point of The Crevices? The goal is to create a level that evokes feelings of claustrophobia, fear, and disorientation. It is also an experiment in creating an overly large, challenging maze while still maintaining some sense of accessibility. I want the player to feel as though they are truly discovering a place that hasn’t been tread often before.
What does this mod require? It requires level design, Papyrus scripting, dialogue creation, quest creation and management, actor creation and management, and narrative creation.
The day I’ve been waiting for is finally here: Bethesda has released the Creation Kit for Skyrim.
Apparently it uses a new scripting language called Papyrus. They claim that if you’ve had experience with modding Bethesda games in the past, it shouldn’t be too tough to understand how this one works. Bethesda, of course, provides a bevy of tutorials for understanding quest creation, level creation, and scripting. Those can be found here.
I highly recommend getting into the Skyrim modding scene. The community has been nothing short of helpful, giving, and passionate in the past. They’re an extremely friendly group, and I expect awesome sites such as UESP to have dozens of great tutorials within the next week.
The Creation Kit can be found in Steam. Click on View up in the top left, then click on Tools. The Creation Kit will be in the list.
I already am starting out on learning Papyrus, and once that’s mastered I hope to have a relatively fleshed out quest and corresponding dungeon done by Friday afternoon. Keep an eye out if you’re a Skyrim player!
Cheerio, and happy modding!
[Retro Monday] is a series that takes a look at games of the past. Expect articles chock full of interesting information; how the game ties into the political, economical, and cultural situation of its time; and most importantly, pretty pictures.
After a lovely one week vacation, [Retro Monday] is back. Two weeks ago we covered Lunar Lander. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, a game I watched my dad play since I was in preschool. Probably not the best idea due to the amount of alien gore in the game, and definitely a contributor to my extremely dramatic and irrational fear of the dark.
Without further ado, I present to you Corridor 7.