I’ve been geeking out in PC gaming for the past few weeks, but one thing has me really excited. Uber’s new game Planetary Annihilation mixes strategy and world building under a cool premise. Built for OS/X and Windows, there is a general push to letting the player customize the game however they see fit. Be it small skirmishes to control a piece of land or several planets pitted against each other, the scale of battle is as large as you want. You could kick back, play offline, and destroy some planets. Or log online to join someone else’s attempt to conquer the galaxy.
Smorgasboard is a fantastic new board game for foodies. The aim of the game is to be the first team of chefs to graduate from Rick’s Culinary Academy and achieve gastronomic success! To do this, teams of 2 or more are set a series of challenges which involve tasks like drawing food-related words without letting the pencil leave the paper or spotting the ‘missing ingredient’ in a classic recipe. The game has a great selection of tasks on offer and if you’re a fan of team-based board games then this is certaintly one which is well worth adding to your games cabinet.
What I like most of all about it is how it looks. Illustrated and designed by the Irish-based illustrator Steve Simpson, Smorgasboard is the type of game that really catches your eye. Filled with rich colors, great looking characters and fantastic details, it’s the sort of game which is just perfect for playing with friends that you’ve invited around for dinner. You can find out more about the game (and buy a copy) online here. And also make sure to take a look at Steve’s Behance page where he gives a great insight into the project and shows off the game in all its wonderful detail.
I’m not one to play a lot of games on my iPhone, but every now and then I’ll randomly get hooked on something. Earlier today I saw mention that Loren Brichter, creator of the third party Twitter app Tweetie and all around smart guy, had created a new app called Letterpress. The best way i can describe the app is a word search crossed with a Command & Conquer style game. As you make words you being to take over the game board, which means you have to strategize against your opponent who wants to control the game board as well. I’ll admit this isn’t the best description, and the game has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the mechanics it’s easy AND fun to play.
What’s really impressive to me is the amount of detail and polish that Mr. Brichter put into this app. When you swipe between games the animations are fluid and stunning. When you pull up the Played Words list you can swipe it downward and it falls off the screen (always in a random direction). The sound design is flawless. Everything you touch and interact with has a reactive sound that fits the action. Basically everything you interact with has been thought about, carefully considered, and exquisitely refined. It may look like a simple spelling game, but it’s infinitely more complex.
It’s also been the first time ever that I’ve given a shit about Apple’s Game Center. The only way you can play Letterpress is by adding friends in Game Center, otherwise you can’t do squat. In the last 12 hours I’ve added about 7 friends, which is about 7 times more than I had before. For that act alone Mr. Brichter should be applauded. He’s also perfected the idea of the paid upgrade. You can unlock the “full version” for 99 cents which gives you the ability to play with multiple friends (something you’ll want) as well as giving you some new themes for the game (which helps to personalize your game). It’s such a common sense upgrade (that also takes no time at all) that makes you wonder if everyone out there will upgrade immediately.
To give you an idea of how much I love this game, I’ll admit that I’ve been playing this game for about the last 10 hours, non-stop. I’m telling you now, download this app, pay for the upgrade (and support an indie developer), and have fun with your friends, you won’t regret it.
I’ll definitely give it to the Google employees for coming up with some really fun ideas (though I still don’t care for the mothership). My buddy Matt this morning sent me this new game they came up with called Cube, a game about Google Maps. They’ve taken all the mapping data they have and have turned it into one of those giant marble games, where instead of getting the marble into the hole you get it to the waypoint. The physics are pretty fun, and be warned, you may lose some of your work day playing this.
I always sucked at Sim City but I excelled at The Sims. I still loved Sim City and always tried incredibly hard to not go bankrupt or create droughts in my city. Utopia is a hard goal to reach. But perhaps I can reach my goal next year when Maxis releases a beautiful new version of Sim City.
With the new version they seem to have taken a lot of style and design cues from The Sims, which is a really smart move, as they’ve always felt like two separate worlds that should really be one. Make it so your characters from Spore can invade the world and they’ve wrapped everything up with a nice,big bow.
You’ll see some of the other crazy improvements they’ve made in the videos above, things like characters and objects having independent motions and motivations. The rendering engine looks like it’s capable of a lot of amazing stuff, hopefully you don’t need an equally outrageous computer to play it. The other cool feature is a multi-player option, which should allow you to have your city next to those of your friends, thus being able to help or destroy one another.
I came across this silly game called Where’s The Pixel? this morning after Pieter from Today and Tomorrow tweeted about it so I thought I’d share it. As the title suggests, you simply have to find the one black pixel on your screen. Sounds easy, but it’s actually harder than you’d think. I was playing it on my MacBook and lord knows how dusty the screen can get. I figure some of you can play this game against your co-workers to see who has the best visual prowess.
Speaking of Skyrim, after I read Alec’s post I did some browsing around Flickr to see if I could find some fun fan art to attach to his post. I didn’t really find much, but I did really like these shots of the Skyrim world turned into tiny planets, created by Luca Biada. It’s amazing how much character and detail go into the worlds of video games these days. Are there people out there who are considered to be the best landscape designers in video games? What a rad title that would be.
I see the major cities marked in detail on my map. The road looks far, the journey treacherous, and dragons are prowling the skies, looking for me. They’ve done it before and it wasn’t pretty. It is my twentieth day in Skyrim and I am too afraid to leave the first city in the game. So I sit at home and cook.
Skyrim is a massive game. It sold 3.4 million copies in two days and has been met with universal acclaim. It has also made people consider the use of catheters, fake mono, burning their vacation time, re-arranging their weddings or dropping off the face of the planet. The beauty of the Elder Scrolls series has always been the dawning in your psyche of the games parameters. Initially the game looks very restrictive – follow the quests, don’t kill people in town unless you want to go to jail. But in Skyrim, the “rules” of the game slowly break before your eyes. It’s not about what you can do, but what you can’t.
I spend the rest of the day reading books in my new house and playing with alchemy lab. I end up learning several new potion recipes and sell them at a high price in order to buy a new couch for my living room. I debate whether I should figure out how to marry Lydia, my shieldbearing companion in crime. I think I need a drink (that’s too much thinking for me) and I wander over to the The Bannered Mare. A strange man challenges me to a drinking competition. No drink is off limits to me so I take this guy up on the offer. I match him until I pass out.
And I awaken in a Temple on the opposite side of the continent. Clothes are everywhere and the place is a mess. I guess all it took was a few drinks to leave town. What did I do last night?