Delay Of Game

Just a little bit of an update tonight regarding the state of the Xbox Indie Games I was working on over 2009. Obviously, I lost a lot of momentum after losing the services of my artist over the summer. So, even though I had two mostly-working engines going, I had no games to produce with them. And now that I’m looking to have a lot of free time in the very near future, it turns out that the Windows machine I was using as my main development box had a power source failure (I think) and refuses to boot up. Meaning, quite simply, that all my source code is completely inaccessible. I have an old backup of the XVINE engine, but I primarily want to get something together using the action-oriented engine.

It’s not all bad news. I set up dual-boot on Mahoro a few months back so I could play my Steam games easily, but as it turns out I think I’ll be using her for development from here on out anyway. The source code for the old engines isn’t lost forever (I don’t think it is, anyway); I just need to get a hard drive enclosure to put the old machine’s drives in and retrieve it from there. And even though things are going to be a little rough soon, I’ll be paying for another year of the Creator’s Club here very shortly so that I can continue to develop and deploy to the 360. The action engine, from what I recall, was pretty adaptable, so putting together something simple and interesting is probably going to be fairly easy. The hardest part, as before, will be the art and music/sounds. We’ll see.

Catch you folks later.

Demolitionist: Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers (XBLA)

It’s been a while since I sat down with a game demo, and I figured it might not be a bad idea to try my hand once more at a game I played in its non-electronic incarnation. It’s a little strange for me to think that, at the start of this decade, Magic: The Gathering was a pretty big part of my social activities; I didn’t exactly get much of a chance to play against anyone once I got out of college, and while I have a couple of preconstructed decks, they’re about five years old at the least. To say I’ve been out of the game for a while would be understating it to an extreme.

I can’t honestly say that the XBLA version does a whole lot to endear me to the game once more. First, as has probably been belabored for a while, preconstructed decks are the only decks available: you cannot construct a deck out of whole cloth as you can with Magic Online. On the other hand, you’re not nickel-and-dimed for cards as you are in MTGO; once you make the initial outlay in DotP, you’re set. Still, deck-building is a pretty big portion of the Magic experience, and while it’s understandable why Wizards of the Coast wouldn’t want to allow user-made decks (balance purposes) it’s still disappointing.

Secondly, and probably most damningly, the game is slow. Every action is greeted with a three-second timer that waits for you to respond, even if you can’t logically respond with the cards in your hand at the time. It’s intended to allow players to cast counterspells or the familiar “before the end of your turn”, but was it really necessary to give me the option when my hand was full of basic lands? Worse, it’s inconsistent on what pauses the timer and what resumes it. I sat there waiting for the turn to advance for ten seconds before realizing why it wasn’t moving.

Overall, if you’re new to Magic, the game might be a pretty cheap way to learn the rules or get acquainted with the different styles of deck construction. However, for anyone who plays the game with any amount of regularity, Duels of the Planeswalkers is $10 that’s likely better spent on dues for a gaming club or a couple of booster packs.

Gamerscore Milestone: 12000 Points

Today, my Xbox/Games For Windows Live Gamerscore exceeded 11000 points. The achievement that put me over this plateau was “Bearer of 3 Awards (10G)” from Gyromancer. My current count for achievements is 660 individual achievements across 85 games, totaling 12005 points. The average value of each achievement is 18.19 points, with an average count of 141.24 points per game (Xbox.com reports 22.41% gamerscore completion and 26.69% achievement completion, with four fully-completed games). It took 12 days to reach this point from the previous plateau of 11070 on December 6th, 2009. 44 achievements were collected in this time, totaling 935 points, with an average value of 21.25 points, and a collection rate of one achievement approximately every 6.5 hours.

Gamerscore Milestone: Doubled Up

This evening, my Xbox/Games for Windows Gamerscore exceeded 11790 points, which is double the amount that I had on January 1, 2009. This is the second year in a row that I have managed to double my Gamerscore over the course of a year. The achievement which put me over this plateau was “Medal of Honor (100G)” from Mass Effect.

It is exceedingly unlikely that I will be able to double up a third time in a row, mostly because at my current rate of Gamerscore completion (approximately 22.25%) I would need to play 54 ‘new’ retail games to my usual level of completion; this would of course be the easiest way to accomplish a third double up, but it is far from the most cost-effective.

Additionally, the Gamerscore number, by and large, is a meaningless statistic. It is subject to any number of variances in difficulty and its purpose is mere bragging rights. As I am not usually given to braggadocio, nor am I particularly attached to the idea of having a larger Gamerscore than anyone else, I instead look to the statistic for numerical curiosity as well as opportunities to challenge myself– hence the double up challenge and the thousand-point milestones.

A Moment’s Note

Just to give you folks a heads up: I removed the Twitter feed from the front page because, as it turns out, it interferes with the instant-notification I have set up for Echofon. Basically, the reason that it doesn’t show up sometimes on the blog page is because there’s a limit to the number of times it can be called from anywhere, and that number is somewhat small. Additionally I had no idea that I was getting enough hits to warrant hitting the rate limit (~150 an hour), so I’m thinking there has to be a better way to do that.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to look for that better way right now… I’m still writing Frangible Time, work is getting busy as I near a deadline, and then there’s the usual holiday stresses. So, for the foreseeable future, it looks like the Twitter feed is off the page.

Later, folks. I’ll try to have a better update sometime next week.