Star Citizen 3.8.1
In its infinite wisdom, CIG dropped the 3.8 patch just before they vacated the offices for the Holiday Break. That meant that anything that was wrong with the game as a result of the patch would have to be tolerated until they returned to work in January. There were several key issues which, because it is Monday morning, I cannot recall off the top of my head right now, but last week the first post-Holiday patch was issued. This took us one step forward, but several steps back. Such is the nature of the alpha phase of development.
Despite this, Minstrike, Enforzer, and I went out on Saturday in Enforzer’s Mole, the multi-crew mining ship.
Heading to Yela as we usually do, we spent about an hour or so lazily scanning and deciding which rocks to attempt. With two mining lasers (and one pilot) we were able to crack open almost everything we encountered and in the end, split about 100,000 aUEC of sales. Unfortunately the aUEC persistence between patches isn’t a feature of 3.8.1, so as usual this is academic, but at least we’re solidifying a game plan for later on.
Sunday, being Sunday, ended with that Impending Monday feeling which usually results in a listless evening for me. My wife and I re-watched the minimum required-per-session episodes of Downton Abby before I retreated to the basement. Unsatisfied with the titles I had installed and the amount of time I had before I turned into a snoozing pumpkin sent me searching across my libraries for something quick to install and easy to get into.
I landed on Thimbleweed Park, a free-acquire from Epic. Three hours later, I reached a natural stopping point, slapped my own hand away from the mouse, and went to bed.
I grew up with LucasArts point & click adventure games games like Curse of Monkey Island and Full Throttle and I had never really looked at Thimbleweed in the past although I was well aware of its existence. Some of the “retro” p&c games I have come across in recent times have followed up on those groundbreaking titles in spirit, but updated with modern sensibilities that never really quite clicked with me. Thimbleweed, then, has a 100% pure unadulterated bloodline connection to those original SCUMM adventure titles. In my old age I find that I’m not as patient as I used to be when asked to hunt pixels, so I took the New Game Settings advice and started on “Easy” mode, reserving the “Hard” mode for another play-through (assuming I get that far) and I have to say, the experience has been relaxing, nostalgic, and sometimes hilarious.
Not long after closing down Thimbleweed, I made the final pass through the Medias where I found that Arislyn was talking up a browser game called NationStates (NS). NS has been around for a while, and allows you to create a “nation” by giving it a name, picking a flag, and answering a few questions that set the nation’s initial direction. From there, you’ll be thrown the occasional “issue” that you must take a position on (or dismiss) in order to steer your policies. Unlike entries in franchises such as Civilization or Crusader Kings where players are allowed to micromanage aspects of their kingdoms down the tax rate, NS only allows you to forge your own future through your position on these issues.
The real game play comes in when you opt to join a “region” and/or join the “World Assembly”. When you get to this level of play, you’ll be voting for heads of the region, and will be sending delegates to the World Assembly in order to propose and vote on resolutions which are binding for all members of the Assembly. While there is no official war in NS (meaning your nation will always be your nation, for good or for ill), players do “raid” regions in order to elect their favored nation to the region’s top spot which can result in a shakeup of regional members. There are also “defenders” who will step into a region to ensure that the raiders do not gain a foothold. I read on the forums that there are actual mercenary nations that will sell their votes to raiders or defenders, which should say a lot about how deep this browser-based game can get. There’s a hell of a lot of IC roleplay, especially at the region and World Assembly levels, so if you’ve ever thought you could do better as the leader of a nation than the current crop of real-life yahoos, NationStates can help you put your currency where your mouth is.
As with anything this icebergian, it got me thinking about what would be involved to extrapolate the NS model to, say, a planetary model. Want to be a member of the United Federation of Planets(tm)? Maybe have more control over your continental policies, taxes, population controls, and maybe wars? Considering the design behind some of the “dynamic events” leads me to believe that there’s a whole lot of flags and switches involved in order to get automated content that looks natural and performs in a meaningful way, and that kind of mechanical sculpting is always an uphill battle that might end up killing my interest. Maybe if I get really bored someday…