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Nate Crowley

3 days ago

Feature: Quaid, start the reactor

Surviving Mars: Green Planet review

I’m trapped on Mars, and it’s getting cold. Despite the reflective sheeting I’ve hung up to insulate my workspace, night has long since fallen, and the heat is leaching from the glass walls. I’m eating boiled potatoes yet again, and I miss my family like crazy. But there’s no way I can see them again, until I’ve solved a lot of problems So I put…

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4 days ago

Experience eternity in five minutes with Ancient Greek Punishment: Chess Edition

The ancient Greeks are at it again. Or rather, Dr Pippin Barr is, as he continues his game-making katabasis with Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Chess Edition. LP:AGP:CE is the eighth in a series of lo-fi nightmares released by Barr, in what he calls “an investigation around what it means to make the ‘same game’ multiple times”. Each iteration of the series is themed around…

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6 days ago

Feature: Ditch-digging thrills

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity episode eleven – The Sect of Troubling

Last time on the BoC: The War Mayor Dashmob’s bombastic drive to militarise the fortress met a grisly end, as a massive mounted goblin army came sweeping out of the jungle. The War Mayor and his entire army died, slaughtered to the last in holding the goblins off. Everyone, that is, except the seemingly indestructible Id. Now, Id and the Basement’s other survivors must pick…

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1 week ago

Feature: A very serious article

Micro transactions in Hearthstone: the last word

This article is not about microtransactions (that is, buying virtual products with small payments) within the game of Hearthstone. It is, in fact, an article about micro transactions; specifically, it's about how the various characters from Hearthstone would react to the initiation of transactions involving very small amounts of money, according to me and my mate Trevar. Micro transactions in the real world are situations…

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Feature: Cat eggs and brute grease

Rise Of Industry review

I’ve spent a while trying to think my way round this, but there’s no way I can talk about Rise Of Industry without discussing its intro cinematic. Or more specifically, the voice that narrates it. “For an enterprising tycoon,” it smarms, as dawn breaks over a sleepy town swaddled in polygonal pine forest, “each new day brings new opportunities in your quest for success.” It’s…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: This one's about grief, to be fair.

Have You Played… Starbound?

Often, games are burnt into our memories by the light of the events that took place offscreen. Sometimes, the fused structures are happy ones: a snatch of music from Sonic 3 brings with it the smell of cut grass and caravan upholstery, while the cover art for Discworld II dredges up midsummer sweat and wafting net curtains, the night before a family holiday.

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Beakdogs

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity episode ten – Jungle of Goblin Horror

Last time on the BoC: After an Autumn spent beefing up the fort’s military, the new War Mayor Dashmob was spoiling for a fight, when a forest titan marauded into the valley. And while the Mayor and his soldiers made short work of the beast, it turned out it the Titan was only the palate-cleansing prelude to a massive goblin invasion…

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Feature: With a little help from Ghoastus the Roman ghost

Imperator: Rome review

For me, one of the perennial pleasures in PC gaming is clicking ‘new game’ on a fresh Paradox grand strategy game, and having that big ol’ map unrolled before me, freighted with promise and overwhelming complexity. If you’ve not played one of these before - and for all its glories, Imperator: Rome is very much an iteration of the formula established by Europa Universalis in…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: 'Atom' is not an adjective though, is it?

Have You Played… Atom Zombie Smasher?

Apart from its god awful title, which sticks in my brain like a comedically shaped object in the gullet of a cartoon ostrich every time I read it (seriously, 'atom' isn’t a fucking adjective, is it? Zombie Atom Smasher seems like it would make more sense, but only barely), Atom Zombie Smasher was an extremely fun, extremely stressful little game. The premise was a distillation…

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1 month ago

Feature: Winfrastructure

Civic Beauties: the best upcoming city-builders

With the one-two punch of Tropico 6 and then Anno 1800 launching over the last three weeks, plenty have noted that the city-building genre is currently enjoying a spate of urban renewal. Indeed, it’s hard to keep up with current releases: as well as these giant games about colonising tropical islands, recent months have seen a string of small-studio hits - Foundation, Islanders, Factory Town…

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Feature: Like the beginning of 'Revenge of the Sith', only good.

Have You Played… Gratuitous Space Battles?

Like a tin of hyperstrength lager lurking behind grubby plastic curtains in the chiller cabinet of a dismal newsagent, Gratuitous Space Battles knew just what it was about, and didn’t make any secret of the fact. It was about selecting massive fleets of spaceships, tooling them up with guns, and wellying them into each other like shopping trolleys full of anvils.

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Feature: Only the best for the captain's table

Anno 1800 review

After playing through Anno 1800’s early game a few times (I’m one of those ghastly bastards who tends to compulsively restart if things aren’t going exactly my way), I started writing a very different article to the one you are now reading. The issue was, I hadn’t realised I was playing the early game at all. I had the feeling I’d seen the lion’s share…

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Feature: The War Mayor cancels the apocalypse

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement Of Curiosity episode nine – Titanfall

Last time on the BoC: Following near-disaster at the gristly green hands of a goblin raiding party, the War Mayor Dashmob usurped the throne of mayor Urist, and began a campaign to modernise and expand the fort’s small but spirited military. A tomb complex was built, a dead donkey was put on display at the zoo, and Amost, the daughter of fortress mascot Id, engaged…

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Feature: Maybe it was Memphis

Have You Played… Predynastic Egypt and Egypt: Old Kingdom?

Although I’d call myself a big fan of the Civilization franchise, the truth is that what I’m really a fan of is Civ’s early game. Sure, mass infantry wars and space programmes are alright. But for me, it’s all about those first fifty turns, shepherding a gang of vagrants with hollowed-out owls for shoes into a rudimentary culture with writing, pottery, and a place to…

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Feature: There's a new mayor in town

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement Of Curiosity episode eight – All Hail the War Mayor

Last time on the BoC: The arrival of marauding goblins ended the brief rule of the usurping mayor Urist, and the battle to drive them off saw the fort’s first non-accidental fatalities, as well as the emergence of several new heroes. But if the Basement’s founder Lorbam hoped to resume business as usual in her weird little zoo when the dust cleared, she was sorely…

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Feature: or: the postmodern prometheus

Let’s Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Teaches Typing is as hellish as it sounds

Let’s think about chili powder. Base a whole meal around this popular red dust, and unless you know what you’re doing, you’ll end up with a plate of searing garbage fit only for ladboasts. But soothe chili into the ingredient lists of other meals - even those you wouldn’t usually associate with it, like fancy chocolate - and you can add a whole new element…

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3 months ago

Feature: Witness the horror of the Dwarven Handshake

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity episode seven – The Battle of Carambola Ridge

Last time on the BoC: The culture war between fort founder Lorbam and the usurper mayor Urist reached a head with the “accidental” death of administrator Mistem. Maddened by the insulting tomb constructed for her supporter, and by the droning of a hopeless freestyle rapper, Urist lost the plot and made some greaves. But amidst all this drama, nobody noticed the goblin raiders approaching until…

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Feature: Death comes to the Basement

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity episode six – Through the Interesting Door

Last time on the BoC: A new migrant, Urist, declared herself mayor, leading to a power struggle with former expedition leader Lorbam. A lot of politically controversial artefacts were made, and wrestlin’ dad Id got blasted into the mince zone by a pack of dingos. Late Winter, Y2 We return to the Basement of Curiosity at the bum end of winter, in the mildew-stinking, sand-walled…

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Feature: The dwarves get an awful new mayor

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity episode five – culture war, dingo war

Last time on the BoC: The fortress doubled in population, and the dwarves embarked on a serious programme of home improvements. A kobold with no tongue dropped by to visit, and expedition leader Lorbam’s blood started appearing in spooky places. Mid Summer, Y2 Trumpets sound deep in the jungle, flat notes hanging on the hot air like birds of prey. The inhabitants of the Basement…

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Feature: Haunted blood has to be bad news, right?

Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement of Curiosity Episode Four – Messages from Zon

Last time on the BoC: Expedition leader Lorbam captured the first set of animals for her underground zoo, and the fort gained its first warrior, in the form of Id “Snakebuster” Osustavuz. A weasel disrupted the fabric of spacetime, and two miners fell in love.

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