Home > Uncategorized > Leveling the Playing Field

Leveling the Playing Field

This post has almost nothing to do with writing! I say almost because I know me and I expect that, by the time I finish writing it, I’ll have found some way to mention or pimp my books out. I’m crafty like that.

Instead I’m going to talk about computer games. I’ve been into computer games for as long as there’s been computers with games on them. I started on the Atari 800 and then the Atari 2600 game console. Yeah, I was there from the beginning but I’m still young at heart. I’m having some friends over next month for a good old fashioned LAN party. For those who don’t know, that’s when we all bring our computers together and hook them up on the same network, then proceed to eat pizza, drink beer, and scream obscenities at each other while shooting one another in computer games. Male bonding at its finest! Although, for the record, we’d happily include any female gamers into the bloodshed as well if we knew any.

So I’ve been doing a little research lately trying to find some new games to play. The preferred medium is first person shooters, and so far it’s looking like some of the vintage classics are still holding their own (the early Battlefield games, Unreal Tournament(s), counter-Strike, Half Life and HL2, etc.). But I’ve found some fun new ones as well.

Left 4 Dead 2, for example. Zombie blasting has never been so fun! The only problem is that it’s only a 4 player cooperative style game, although it can be boosted to 4 vs 4 if one team is willing to play zombies. We tend to like the coop games because while most of us are well rounded contributors to society, there’s usually one or two that have spent far too much time gaming and are unstoppable. At that point all I’m left with is threatening to make them work out with me and dropping a few hundred pounds on their chest.

Another fun one I just discovered a couple of nights ago was Borderlands 2. Pretty neat, once you get into it, but it’s another game with only 4 person cooperative play available (and no deathmatch). Since I’m expecting at least 8 guys that kind of defeats the purpose. Another complaint I have about Borderlands 2 is the same I have with any RPG game that bases survival on a player’s level. That includes most of the otherwise outstanding games from Bethesda (Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout, etc.).

Even taking suspension of disbelief into consideration there’s just no realism for having characters based on a system of leveling. Why Bethesda does a decent job in basing their levels off of skills, at least, but it still annoys me to have extra health occur because of that. There’s a role playing game out there that I used to love called Shadowrun. The characters had skills and attributes (stats that helped define their physical and mental abilities) but every character only had 100% health. Depending on how their attributes and armor played out was how they determined if they could be killed. So anybody could kill anybody, just like reality, but it ruled out flukes and ridiculously lucky die rolls (e.g. Bard shooting the dragon in The Hobbit with the legendary “Black Arrow”).

So why can’t game developers deliver a skill and attribute based game that makes sense? You want more health, pick up some weights and eat healthier (meaning improve the applicable stats in the game), don’t just magically improve because you wacked 10 frogloks in the head with a rusty spear.

Okay, rant over, now back to exploring games. For example, Last night I got my hands on a brand new FPS. Aliens: Colonial Marines. It takes place after the second Aliens movie (directed by James Cameron), when the Marine ship has discharged the pods due to contagion and it’s returned to orbit LV426. It shows promise, though I’ve only tried it for about 10 minutes so far. Cooperative play and deathmatch (against people playing as aliens). Cool stuff! I will say that in those first 10 minutes very early this morning the game set the mood very nicely and had me sufficiently freaked out.

The LAN party is still more than a month away so if there are any PC gamers out there with suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Until then I’ll try to sneak in a few minutes here and there exploring and expanding my recent game knowledge. Maybe blast some more aliens and feel inspired to write another Vitalis book. Some of the critters in that book have similarities to the aliens, at least as far as the gestation of young aliens inside a living host that will soon eat its way out.

See, told you I’d find a way to work my books in…

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: