Fun with Mods!

Hey, everyone!

First off, I know I haven’t posted anything new in about a month but I’ve been fairly busy with both work and voice over training. That being said, on to the topic of the title.

A few days ago, I discovered the joys of certain mods. By chance, I came across an article on PC Gamer‘s website about Star Wars mods in light of the release of The Force Awakens this past weekend. The article (as seen here) rattles off a list of several great mods to several games that add Star Wars resources to the base game, some replacing the base game entirely. The first thing I noticed was a mod for a 4X RTS game I currently own and have installed, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion by Stardock.

The first mod I downloaded is titled “Star Wars: Requiem” and poses a “what if” scenario when Star Wars and Sins of a Solar Empire are set in the same universe. It’s more of an add-on mod rather than an entire conversion, as with another popular mod called “Sins of a Galactic Empire.” I played an eight-hour 1v1 game against the Empire with my favorite base faction: the Trader Emergency Coalition (TEC) Rebels. The TEC Rebels’ Titan, the Ragnarov-class, is diminished by the Empire’s Executor-class Star Destroyer by a ratio of roughly three to one. I mean, the Super Star Destroyer is humongous on the star field and I’d have to give props to the development team behind the mod on bringing the SSD’s majestic size to life. Now if they only had the means to bring out the Eclipse-class Star Destroyer, which is even bigger than that…

The second mod I got for Sins of a Solar Empire is based on a complete overhaul of the game’s mechanics, titled “Sins of the Fallen.” I wasn’t particularly interested in that mod so I got the “baked” version of a mod pack called “Fall of Kobol,” which, as you’ve probably guessed, is based off of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. There are four factions to play as in this mod: Colonial Defense Force, Colonial Separatists, Cylon Loyalists, and Cylon Separatists. Being BSG and all, the ship shields normally present in Sins of a Solar Empire have been disabled and instead the development team has implemented a “damage reduction” system to faithfully present the ships’ point defense systems as in the show (although not entirely shown in the particle effects, sadly). The models for the ships, Cylon Raiders, Vipers, and Raptors are all executed to near perfection, although the naming of the ships is relatively uncharacteristic for their respective classes (due largely in part to the random name generator).

I really enjoyed playing with both mods and you can find them both at the Mod Database (moddb.com). “Star Wars: Requiem” can be found here and “Fall of Kobol” can be found here. Slither on, my friends.

Hell Comes Back to Mars

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) earlier this year, id Software has revealed that they are rebooting one of their most popular shooters of all time. I speak, of course, of DOOM. Last we saw of demons invading a facility on the red planet of Mars, it was a horror-type shooter, a departure from the run-and-gun style gameplay that made the first game so popular. DOOM 3 was given a lukewarm reception at best, with some players liking the creepy, scare-inducing environment. This time around, id is going right back to basics.

On top of an already awesome-looking arsenal (including the double-barreled “super shotgun” and fan-favorite chainsaw), the revelation of user-created content got the audience excited about what that feature entails. id’s new Snapmap feature will allow players to create their own maps and environments along with new spawn logic and even entire game modes. Players that don’t like the new dynamic health drops in the new campaign (similar to Diablo III‘s health globes) can go right back to the classic style by creating health and armor pickups within Snapmap just like how it was in the original game.

There will be new features in the campaign. Some locked doors can only be opened by a security panel, locked with a biometric reader. The new Doom Guy, obviously, doesn’t have immediate clearance, so players will have to use a bit of investigation to figure out how to unlock the door, which usually entails finding a dead soldier and ripping off his arm to bring to the bio scanner.

id has also confirmed that Hell will be part of the campaign as well, with a certain green gun making a cameo appearance right at the end of the presentation (they cut the video right before it fired…such teases!). Take a look at their E3 presentation here. DOOM is slated to come out sometime next year (2016) with Bethesda Softworks as id’s new publisher.

Supernova: A MOBA with An Army

I haven’t posted anything in over a month, and yes, I only blame myself for that. I guess you could say that nothing was really coming to mind on what to write about. Recently, though, I have some awesome news.

I heard about a new sci-fi MOBA that’s currently under development and I decided to look further into it. The game is called Supernova, and it is being developed by Primal Game Studios with Bandai Namco as publisher. The game just launched their second closed beta on Monday this week, and I just got invited to play a couple days ago. So far, I’m enjoying it more than League of Legends by Riot Games. Truth be told, I haven’t had this much fun since I played Infinite Crisis by Turbine, Inc. (which, by the way, is still my top favorite MOBA and I miss playing it).

Imagine, if you will, a MOBA where you not only play as one of several characters (dubbed Commanders in the game), but you’re also assigned a lane to which your squad will spawn and advance. Each lane begins with two units of basic troops, but periodically you gain resources with which to upgrade and build your army. There are two factions to use, Cyborgs and Humans (I’m using the latter faction), each with their own unique units. Supply is capped at forty (40) to begin with, but your resource usage doesn’t stop there. As you level up with one or both factions, you can unlock more and more stuff to use in the game, such as more upgrade tiers for your army, better tech with which to equip your unit types, or even an automatic increase to your supply cap (goes up to forty-five [45] at level ten). Each game also gives you randomly generated resources that you can use to craft better equipment for your Commander’s loadout prior to locking in before each match. It’s a great blend of MOBA with RTS. Not only do you build your army in the lane, you can also adapt to your opponent’s army by selling off units and adjusting accordingly.

The recall feature is pretty cool, as well. When using the human faction, a personal dropship flies to an area that you mark and picks up your Commander before flying them back to base to heal. While in base or on the dropship, you can use attribute and proficiency points to upgrade your Commander, similar to items in other games like League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). Each player also can use a deployment feature that works opposite to evacuation (sort of like a Homecoming Stone/Town Portal Scroll, or the Teleport Summoner Spell) except deployment is a global ability, provided that the area has been revealed first. Your dropship flies you to the area you mark anywhere on the map. I haven’t used the Cyborg faction yet, so I don’t know what that entails but from what I’ve seen, their version involves personal teleportation.

Supernova is a great MOBA-RTS that I recommend playing. Sign up for the beta here and I may see you on the battlefield. After I explore the game some more, be on the lookout for an official preview down the road. Slither on, readers.

From Nuclear Desert to Fantastical Planet (with Dragons)

I’m really starting to enjoy Bethesda Game Studios and what they’ve done to two iconic franchises. First, I played through Obsidian Entertainment‘s Fallout: New Vegas and got to experience the Mojave Desert after The Great War that basically blew up the surface of Earth and reshaped it into a bleak, semi-irradiated wasteland. Las Vegas has been remade into a den of debauchery for the somewhat rich and/or powerful (as usual). In the midst of this battle lies the fate of Hoover Dam in a power struggle between the New California Republic, a faction that has resettled California with holdings in Nevada, Baja California (in Mexico), Oregon, and places around the Colorado River, and Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless and brutal slave faction themed after Ancient Rome.

Afterwards, I moved right into a house game. I went back to the planet of Nirn (which I hadn’t visited since last playing Oblivion on my Xbox 360 a few weeks ago earlier this summer) and returned to the continent of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. So far, I’m rather enjoying it. I like the new revamped leveling system and how there are no preset classes. In essence, you build the character you want as you go. I even went so far as to buy one of the DLC packs, Hearthfire, in order to build a getaway manor for my little family, consisting of my first housecarl (i.e. bodyguard), who’s also my in-game wife, and an orphan girl I met in the park and subsequently adopted.

So that’s just about everything that’s been going on recently. Slither on, my friends.

PREVIEW: Prison Architect

headerAny fan of the Prison Tycoon games knows that running and designing a prison is not easy. I know because I’ve had my share of frustrations with Prison Tycoon 3. Probably the most difficult thing about PT3 was the managemtn part, as inevitably I’d run out of funding and therefore had little else to do other than watching until my little world fell to pieces. Then, while browsing around on Steam, I discovered a new gem from a studio I’ve played titles from before. The newest game from Introversion Software (makers of DEFCON: Everybody Dies, Uplink, and Darwinia) is Prison Architect, a new prison management simulator where you can design your own prison, right down to the size of the rooms and control exactly how many inmates you want to take in. Prison Tycoon simply kept feeding you prisoners from time to time, but here in Prison Architect, you have the final say on how many prisoners you want and how high of a security threat you want them (the grey-suited minimum security, classic orange medium security, red-orange maximum security, and black-clad Death Row). However, unlike in the Tycoon series, this game has a limited supply of inmates (I’m still waiting on just one Death Row inmate to be available because I have the room ready and all).

The latest alpha update also brought on new changes. For example, you have the option of having gangs in your prison. If a sufficient number of inmates in a particular gang gather, they can and will take over certain parts of the prison if you don’t have enough guards to cover those areas. Thankfully, I only have one gang-banger thus far so it hasn’t come to that quite yet. Other inmates pose danger as well. Sometimes you’ll get prisoners that have certain characteristics that play well within the game’s mechanics. For example, if an inmate is “stoical,” he won’t become suppressed whenever he gets locked into solitary confinement. “Ex law” prisoners will be far more likely to be targeted by the other inmates, while “cop killers” will be more likely to be attacked by your own guards, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them. There is also the option to add fog of war, where you can’t see the interior of your rooms unless you invest in CCTV (prison cameras) or posting guards in the rooms (I suggest the former; it’s far easier than spending money on more guards).

I won’t reveal too much because the Early Access phase is ending very soon, but next week, the game will add a brand new feature: Escape Mode. This puts you into the jumpsuit of an inmate whose sole purpose is to escape from the prison by any means possible. Think The Escapists to a more radical extreme. This game mode, along with the full release, comes out on October 6th. Prison Architect runs for $29.99 on Steam.

Preview Advice: Bask In It

More in-depth than Prison Tycoon | — Escape Mode more extreme than The Escapists | — Prison design is completely in your hands, right down to room size | — Fog of war and gangs add complexity to game experience

PREVIEW: Basement

headerA lot of people think that AMC‘s Breaking Bad is one of the best shows out there. With that in mind, allow me to pose a question: have you ever thought about being like Walter White (minus the terminal cancer, of course) and becoming your own self-made drug lord? If you answered yes, I have just the game in mind.

Introducing Basement by Halfbus.  Despite the game being very much in early development, it does have its merits. You are an up-and-coming drug lord in a randomized city district. The game map is presented in a 2D cutaway view, with structures being able to run four stories deep from the ground level (that’s ground plus four floors down maximum, depending on the building). There are roughly fourteen buildings in the district and the objective so far is to conquer the entire district, defeating rival gangs and police alike.

You start with two guys by default, one dealer and one cook. Dealers (they wear hoodies and ball caps) are employees that specialize in selling, while cooks (dressed in yellow hazmat suits) are strongest in production. Your dealer is already assigned to the default dealing room you start with, while the cook is put to work in a green room (green most likely referring to weed, judging by the boxes of green plants in the production room). The game has only four different types of drugs to produce: green (weed), acid, brown (dope), and speed. Each drug comes with a standard price, being $80, $100, $125, and $150, respectively. To sell the drugs to make, you need at least on dealing room. There are four types of dealing rooms you can build only on the ground floor, each one with different adjustment of prices in products. The green dealing room boosts green sales by $5, the amethyst room increases acid sales by $10, the brown room adds $15 to dope and $10 to speed, and the piano room (based on the shelves, which look like piano keys) boosts speed sales by $30. You’ll need to keep your sales up in order to continue expanding your fledgling empire.

In order to take over other buildings, it must be by force. In the locker room (where you can add more employees to your workforce), you need to hire more men. A list of three randomly-generated candidates is presented to you. Again, dealers wear hoodies and cooks wear hazmat suits. Thugs appear mainly in solid-colored T-shirts, and depending on their description gets you one of two types of thugs. If their main characteristic is damage (red shirt), they’re enforcers; if the main characteristic is health (green shirt), they’re tanks. As your empire grows, your expenses also increase, both for upkeep on the rooms in the building(s) you control and for employee payments.

There are other rooms for utility and you can build these as you see fit. Training rooms help your men increase their fighting stats (best for thugs), generators provide power to the building (very important when you want to expand, so allocate a few rooms for these), storage rooms allow cooks to place drugs for dealers to pick up and sell upstairs, break rooms to allow your men to rest and recover stamina, and garages allow you to buy vehicles to transport goods from one building to another (as you expand, of course).

Of course, there are still a few issues with the game. Police can attack your branch buildings at any given time, and usually they come in force. They also can have a bribing price but depending on how well your economy is, the price is usually pretty steep. Since a lot of your surplus money goes towards upkeep anyway, hiring enough thugs for a small army is a tough task to take on a full squad of SWAT cops, so you usually end up losing your buildings if you’re not careful. Additionally, the room upgrades allow only one upgrade to happen at a time, even if a room offers more than one upgrade. I never really bothered with Breaking Bad in the first place, largely because I didn’t think too highly of the premise, but if you want to have your own criminal drug empire to run, Basement is the way to go. It’s in Early Access on Steam for $8.99.

Preview Advice: Bask In It

— Running your own drug empire like Heisenberg | — Diverse functions of employees, such as cooks, dealers, and thugs | — More game content on the way | — Multiple versions of rooms allows careful planning | — Room upgrades to boost crews’ stats

Killing Alien Invaders From a Sweet Deal

Hiya, guys!

I just got a sweet deal from Steam this past weekend as XCOM: Enemy Unknown came with its expansion and both DLC packs for only ten bucks. You read that right: ten dollars flat for a pack that would normally run for about $50 or so. That’s what I’m currently working on for the moment before getting back into other titles in my library. Expect a post about Prison Architect soon, as far as the latest update goes.

Slither on, my friends.