February 10, 2008

Sinful Behavior

So I haven't posted anything for the past couple days, and there's good reason for that. My weekend was relatively standard as far as work is concerned - meetings with the team, working on a few projects, etc. The reason for my absence however is a little game called Sins of a Solar Empire which has been taking up pretty much all my free time, and biting a little bit into my work and sleep as well. If you are unfamiliar with it, first of all, shame on you, and second, the game is basically a brilliant combination of a 4X empire builder and a real-time strategy game. For those of you who aren't sure what a 4X game is, think Master of Orion or Civilization, the idea is you start with one planet and slowly have to expand you civilization throughout the galaxy using a combination of military might, economic prowess, technological superiority and cunning diplomacy.

What Sins does that no other game has done is utilize those concepts in real-time to create what I can only describe as the most addictive game I've played to date. Now, those of you who have only been reading the blog the last few days are probably under the impression that I say this all the time, but the last couple weeks have been exceptionally addictive. Armageddon Empires and Sins both manage to harness the "one more turn" gameplay which has kept many a gamer up late playing about 20 "one more turns" before finally getting to bed around 4:00 a.m. The unique advantage that Sins has is that it has no turns. There's always something new happening or something you are trying to accomplish which makes it that much more difficult to stop. For example, tonight I spent a lot of time wiping out a player that was attacking key positions along my "western" front (since it's space cardinal directions don't exactly apply) while my ally was at the same time deciding our alliance no longer suited him and began pressing in on my southern positions as well. I had to leverage both of my major fleets to eliminate the first player before I could bring them around to bear on my former ally's remaining positions in the star system.

Once I had consolidated my own star system, enemy fleets began pouring in from distant star systems through wormholes poised at the center of my empire. I sent my two major fleets through one of the wormholes to stem the flow of enemies while building a third somewhat smaller fleet to protect my system from any surprise attacks. In addition, I caught a glimpse of the third system where my former ally appeared to have gained control and consolidated his power base. I managed to gain a foothold in the other star system and began outfitting one of the planets there to serve as my base of operations and that is where I left the game. Now I have to defeat my enemies in the wormhole system before I can send my fleets on the long journey to the other system and finally solidify my hold on the galaxy. As you can see, the game is constantly developing, so it can be very difficult to find a good place to quit sometimes.

As for work, the last two days I've been working on a programming assignment that has proved to be a remarkable load of work. It's not that the assignment is very difficult, just that at requires a lot of time. Basically, I have to look through the code of this game we are working on and take notes on how it all works, how all the files and functions are set up, the basic game loop, etc. It's a lot of work, but I think I'm most of the way there, and hopefully I can finish the rest of it tonight or tomorrow morning. I had intended to be further along on...well, everything, but as I said, Sins is really addictive :). Anyway, I should get back to it, so I hope you all had a great weekend, and if any of what I said sounded at least remotely interesting, definitely check out Sins of a Solar Empire, it's fantastic.

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