Caveman taxi driving
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
Long before Euro Truck Simulator 2, I fell in love with another game about a vehicle-based profession. Taxi driving. The cool console kids might have had Crazy Taxi, but years earlier I was playing with Chuck Rock’s cab-driving sibling, the preposterously titled Ugh!. Read the rest of this entry »
Crouching tank hunter, wounded dragon
Every year The Flare Path runs a communal Combat Mission skirmish in which RPS readers attempt to outwit and outfight CM’s decidedly dangerous AI. Turns span 60 seconds and rarely go according to plan. Late-war and Eastern Front, this year’s scrap centres on a German-held Baltic port. It’s been four turns since the commenter-controlled Soviets left their deployment zones, and things are just starting to hot up… Read the rest of this entry »
Better chats with NPCs and humans
Sitting in a Bath tearoom having just wiped the lemon curd from my fingers I was tasked with interrogating a robot about a murder. The interrogation scene was the GDC demo for Spirit AI [official site] – middleware geared around bringing more expressive characters to gaming as well as building safer and more inclusive online environments. Both hinge around the same set of technologies. They each look at language to understand interactions but one uses that understanding to build meaningful encounters with AI characters and the other uses it to keep an eye on how players are behaving towards one another.
I was sitting with Mitu Khandaker, creative director at Spirit AI. You might remember her work as the developer, The Tiniest Shark, on the game Redshirt or, if you’re in academia, she’s an assistant arts professor at NYU Game Center and holds a PhD in games and the aesthetics of interactivity. She was watching me play through the demo, using natural language to try to figure out how a man called Martin died and whether the robot is culpable. The demo was by Bossa Studios, makers of Surgeon Simulator, and it gave me a limited amount of time to chat with the robot – me typing and the robot speaking into the tearoom with a female voice in a Scottish accent – before asking for my verdict on her guilt. Read the rest of this entry »
Making home, not homes
Cities: Skylines [official site] is a game in which every single citizen has a name, home and (if you’re playing it reasonably effectively) job, but nobody matters in the slightest. For a game with such a chummy, chipper tone, it’s weirdly cold. Dozens of people might leave town in protest at your mayoral ineptitude, or tens of thousands of people might die in a freak sewage accident, and not only does the game not care, it doesn’t even try to make you care either.
There are eight million stories in the reasonably well-developed city, but if I want a human connection to any of them, I have to build it myself.
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Get over here
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’ve been playing Injustice 2 recently (sadly, not on PC) and even though it’s probably quite rubbish if you’re a proper fighting game fan, the kind who could have been a concert pianist given your digital dexterity, but if you just want to watch superheroes biff one another, it’s top stuff. Mostly, it’s the loot system that makes it so compelling. It’s all silly boxes that spew out random bits of costume and stats, but that’s enough to keep me coming back again and again.
The studio behind Injustice 2 is led by Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat, and all of this punching and kicking has got me thinking about how much I loved Scorpion back in the day. Read the rest of this entry »