September 13, 2008

Fast and Furious

Wow, this term just seems like it has been non-stop. I don't think that it's been as intense as some other terms, and yet it still feels like I am always running at full steam toward the weekend, and then I basically crash, which ends up putting me behind for the next week. Anyway, I spent most of the day working on my Gears level which has received little to no attention thanks to AGDC, DFS, my Thesis, and Dissonance. I probably spent a bit longer than I needed to on it, and certainly longer than I expected, but I forgot how much longer things take when you need to learn the editor (like how to create a working door or some such).

Level design almost always has you doing things that weren't necessarily intended, so your always learning or solving some kind of problem, but with Gears I'm still working on understanding all the basic functionality. Oddly enough, Gears is different enough from the editor I was using at Gearbox that there's a whole bunch of stuff I have to learn that is pretty much Gears of War specific. That and the fact that the package system is still awful can make work slow going at points. Still, I got it pretty much done, with maybe about an hour of work to do tomorrow to finish and cook it (i.e., put it in a state that is usable in the actual game).

That's pretty much it as far as work goes. As for games I've been playing a ridiculous amount of Spore with what free time I can manage to scrape together. That game is unfortunately dangerously addictive, so I've learned I have to be very careful about when and how I play it lest I get sucked in and face an unnecessary, sleep-deprivation induced headache. It's definitely very cool to watch as you little creature evolves into a space faring superpower and it is almost equally as fun to see the creations of friends and relatives running around and ultimately subjugate or surpass them. Obviously the creative aspect of the game is a big hook for many people (myself included), but I think they've also manged to hit the sort of mini-achievements that make the best addictive games.

In Spore, you are almost constantly working toward some 10 or 20 minute goal and when you hit that, you find a new goal and it just snowballs. I think this is most evident in the space stage of the game. Similar to the best "one more turn" games like Civilization, Spore constantly has you working toward something, not to mention the built in exploratory aspect. You never know what will lie over the next hill or on the next planet. I think the close camera perspective and high level of detail makes this the most exciting in the creature stage, but it's present throughout the game. Ultimately, the best thing I can say about the game is I really enjoy it. I find myself drawn to playing and often unable to stop. I've already created two creatures at the civilization and space stages and I am eagerly planning out a handful more.

I think the game has overall been rather underratted, because some of the stages themselves are a bit uninteresting (I'm looking at you tribal stage), but as a whole package I think the game is pretty much one of a kind. Well, I think I will leave me thoughts there and go play a few games (probably one of which will be Spore) while I whittle away the few remaining hours of the day. Later!

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