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About robc

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  1. Episode 324: Tower Defense

    Ginger Yellow mentions it above - fans of tower defense games should give Unstoppable Gorg a try. Between its campy sci-fi atmosphere and rotating tower orbitals it is one of my favorite tower defense games of all time.
  2. Episode 298: Cities: Skylines

    I'm very interested to listen to this episode. With lawn mowing season right around the corner I'll be listening to more podcasts. I did read Fraser's review and in my opinion it paints too rosy a picture of Skylines. I agree with his assessment that it is the best Simcity style city builder. It gets the basics right and tweaking traffic can be very enjoyable. Once I took a more critical look at the simulation the magic started wearing off. There are no consequences for workers not being able to get to their jobs due to traffic. They magically teleport back home if they are stuck for too long with the person and business no worse for the wear. If CO is able to add meaningful consequences for this issue it will go a long way towards plugging this hole. Traffic does have other meaningful repercussions - services such as garbage pickup is less efficient and it can cause problems, but the worker - business thing really bugs me. Those data overlays usually answer the most basic questions, but more in depth inquiries are not easily satisfied. I don't know if its because people are so happy to get a traditional SimCity style city builder that wasn't a disaster, but I think the gaming media has overlooked the considerable flaws Skylines has. It isn't bad by any means and with Paradox's great post release support I can see this becoming awesome, but it isn't there yet. I hope the podcast brings up some of Skylines weaknesses to give a balanced look at this game.
  3. Episode 265: Tally Me Bananas

    Well, I think I'm glad I listened to the podcast before I picked this up during the Steam sale. I think I would have been very disappointed had I dropped $30 on this. There must be a big enough market for a city builder that doesn't challenge the player very much. Maybe with the lush graphics people like building a pretty looking city with very mild roadblocks. Nothing wrong with that, but it's just not what I'm looking for. I agree that the humor is so old and juvenile. Maybe this is a city builder for pre-teens - although I don't think I'd want my child to play a game where offing a family is a tool to manage discontent. I tend to try and play games following the benevolent path and not murder indiscriminately, but I don't mind that being an option for those who choose to use it. I'd probably use it if was my only option to keep my game going. I mean no disrespect to Charlie Hall's feeling about the executions, but I don't really equate my actions in games to actions in real life. How would I ever play a shooter or even many of the strategy games out there if I let tasteless violence in a video game bother me. That's not to say I've never been disturbed by a video game. I found Limbo to be pretty unsettling, but I loved it as a game. I find Grand Theft Auto distasteful, but if there was good gameplay behind it I would play it. I just find driving around the city pretty boring and it seems like there is a lot of driving to get to the mediocre action bits. After reading Rob Z's review, I thought he was going to have a little bit more positive impression if T5 on the podcast. Maybe I read a bit more into the positives in the review than he intended.
  4. Episode 225: Brave New World

    I never said it would take 100 turns to build a relationship or that it is impossible to become allies late in the game. In retrospect I like the option I introduced in my last comment - that you give XX gold per turn to get incremental changes in relationship each turn instead of 1 lump sum. That way buying friendship right before a vote isn't so cheesey. In any case, we could agree to disagree on this one. I just hate the way it currently works.
  5. Episode 225: Brave New World

    I think so because I absolutely hate how all the city states can be purchased at any time. I think the game needs a way to make that more difficult. It seems a natural way to reward a player for building a relationship early on. It shouldn't be insurmountable to topple an ally of a city-state. Another option would be to have payment to a city state be long term (like xx gold over 30 turns). Each turn your relationship grows based on how much gold per turn you give them. That way players can't just buy the city states away in a single turn, it takes a longer term commitment.
  6. Episode 225: Brave New World

    I thought of this while jogging and listening to the podcast to find the above poster has a similar complaint. Civ V has the city-state relationship mechanic backwards in my opinion. If a player becomes an ally with a city-state, it should become easier to maintain the relationship. Long term relationship building should be rewarded so city-states aren't things to be bought and lost at the drop of a hat. There are a couple ways this could be achieved: 1) Actually have the relationship meter grow a little each turn once a civ is allies with them. 2) Have it be cheaper for an ally to buy more relationship points. Maybe add the option for Civs to be able to lower the relationship of another civ with a city state. Then multiple civs could gang up on another to buy down their relationship points. In any case, the main point is to reward long term relationships so it isn't nearly as beneficial to buyout a city-state at the last second to get their vote in the world council.
  7. Episode 184: Best-Case Scenario

    I really wish game designers would make the first play through of a scenario fair so we don't have to play once to find out where the set pieces are and then try for real on subsequent attempts. I am exaggerating here, there haven been many scenarios that can be won on the first try - even in Panzer Korps. The magic for me in a scenario is when the player is rewarded for playing a smart game the first time without resorting to tedious replays. In my opinion any scenario play through after the first just isn't as much fun. The secrets have been revealed and the magic is lost. Scouting and the fog of war become an illusion - it just doesn't work out once we have peeked behind the curtain.
  8. Episode 180: Thinking Machines

    I definitely don't envy the task you have cut out for you. I used to be a software developer and while I never did any game AI programming I can speculate how it can get complicated very quickly, even for a simple game. I've only been an occasional player of Paradox games (Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron primarily), so I don't have the experience to say whether those games have acceptable AI. I like the approach to difficulty where the player can choose an easier side to play or a more difficult one, but the AI plays by the same rules and doesn't cheat. I don't think sides need to be perfectly balanced. There is no reason why a game needs to allow the world to be conquered by Haiti. I wish a game like Civilization would have ways to make the game more challenging without giving the AI large bonuses. I don't like playing beyond the King difficulty level because it makes getting wonders very difficult and that is where a lot of the fun lies for me. I have to believe a better AI could have been written for Civ if a greater priority was placed on it.
  9. Episode 180: Thinking Machines

    In some games it may be hard to spot a good AI, but players can usually spot a bad AI. Well, at least players can spot when an AI doesn't behave in what seems to be a reasonable manner. In some cases a player may think the AI is bad because of a lack of transparency into the logic of how the AI works. The AI may have a good reason for taking a particular action that isn't apparent to the player. Unfortunately, for the most part AI just can't compete with a competent human player without cheating, unless it can just overwhelm the player with its ability to make decisions quickly and manage a large number of units. For more complex games, the AI rarely seems to know how to use all the features. The AI in Unity of Command is better than most probably because the system the AI needs to work with isn't too complex. Game developers shouldn't make single player games that their AI just doesn't know how to play. I can appreciate the amount of work it takes to create even a basic game AI that isn't that competitive without cheats. Hopefully the industry as a whole decides it is important to improve in this area or computer opponents will continue to underwhelm. None of these criticisms are leveled against Paradox in particular.
  10. Episode 179: Spy Games

    I don't remember who said it during the episode, but they mentioned becoming good at a game by watching others. Doesn't this take much of the fun out of the game? For me a lot of the fun is figuring out how to win. I remember when I played Age of Empires at work, I used to win 75% of the games we played. Then a new guy joined us and clobbered me. He offered to tell us what he did, but I didn't want to know. Much more fun trying to figure it out.
  11. Point taken on a game like GTB. Regarding having a cost associated to each design I'm thinking about more of a typical strategy game - Galactic Civilizations, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc...
  12. Disclaimer - I heaven't listened to the postcast yet, but I will. I feel similar to spelk about unit customization. It should be slowly introduced. The benefits for customization should be clear - no customization just for the sake of customization. I rarely find the act of customization enjoyable and it ends up being tedious. Reasons why your designs succeed or fail shouldn't be a secret. For all the stats Gratuitous Tank Battles gave I didn't feel the feedback was clear. One thing I think games should incorporate to unit customization is a design cost. The player shouldn't be able to spam unlimited designs without incurring some type of cost. Design work takes time and resources, games should reflect that. Designs shouldn't be instantaneous to produce. Ok, I see my enemy has a unit I want to counter. I shouldn't be able to instantly design said unit and put it in production in the blink of an eye. Maybe more designs should increase production time to reflect factories needing to retool themselves between production runs ( a la Hearts of Iron?). In any case there should be costs associated with designs.
  13. I finally listened to this episode. The drought here made it so I haven't been mowing my lawn and listening to the podcasts. I immediately found myself agreeing with Cory about flavor text in strategy games. I just need to know what game play effect something is going to have so I know how and when to use it. In an effort to make the world more flavorful, space games typically give techs and weapons names that don't really give a good indication of the details of that item. In space games I prefer names like Laser 1, Laser 2, etc..., instead of Ultra High Intensity Laser, Plasma Carbide Laser, etc... With the latter, which is better? SciFi games frequently have names that just make things confusing. I am one of the only humans that love Civ games that didn't like Alpha Centauri for this very reason. The names made it difficult to figure out what the heck I wanted to do. When I want story and an involving world, I look to RPGs and story-based FPSs. I don't make choices in strategy games unless I think it brings me closer to winning. After feeling self righteous in the correctness of my view, I started to feel a little empty inside. I think in my competitiveness to want to 'beat' the game I've lost part of my gaming soul. Over the past several years I think I have been having a hard time just 'enjoying' a game, taking my time to appreciate the experience. This is worsened by the glut of games I accumulate via Steam sales. I want to get through one so I can get to the next one. So Rob Z, Troy, Julian - can you please do a show on reclaiming your gaming soul? Teach us who have fallen to slow down and appreciate each game we play. Maybe, just maybe I can then enjoy a game like Crusader Kings 2 (which by the way I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale).
  14. I would have to say almost any 4X strategy game is about manipulating a system. Combat perhaps doesn't fall within that categorization. Developing resources, building buildings, research - they are all done to manipulate the system to support the way you are trying to win. I suppose people can play in other ways - like basing decisions on roleplaying, but I guess I never play that way.
  15. I can't remember if you mentioned this in the show or not. Did you prefer the skirmishes against the AI or the campaign? I'm playing at normal difficulty and the 2nd scenario in the campaign was actually pretty tough until I realized you have to go after the two closest enemy settlements fast. If you don't, you get steamrolled. I tend to like campaigns over random skirmishes, but so far it seems like the challenge is that they start off with more settlements and you have to move pretty quickly before they can capitalize on that.