I recently took a trip to Toronto, Ontario to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister (albeit a bit belatedly). We saw some of our extended family, went to a Jays game (they lost, unfortunately), and spent some time at the ROM. None of this is important (well, at least in the context of this blog), since I also spent some time in the Ontario Science Centre, and their special exhibit, Game On 2.0.
In the words of the Science Centre:
[On] Sept. 26, 1969, a radio signal over 1.5 billion light years away struck a circuit that raised the curtain at the Science Centre’s official opening. It was one of the world’s first interactive science museums. The Science Centre has since welcomed more than 46 million visitors for a range of fascinating experiences in science and technology. It is one of Ontario’s most significant cultural attractions, focused on interactivity and hands-on learning for visitors of all ages.
An exhibition about gaming seems right at home. more »
999 is a masterpiece whose simple premise belies extraordinary depth. If I had guessed that a game about solving puzzles to escape a boat could blend horror, humor, pseudoscience, romance and mystery into one perfect package, I would be gambling in Vegas instead of writing this article. Perhaps this is how it was meant to be experienced; without any knowledge of the plot and the way that the game would unfold. Each revelation pulled me further into its story until the conclusion’s masterstroke made everything pay off, cementing 999 as one of my favorite video games of all time. Keeping that in mind, if these few dramatic sentences have managed to invoke any interest in the game at all, I would highly recommend that you stop reading this article and find some way to play it as soon as possible; this is the sort of game that you need to go into blind to fully appreciate.
Still here? Okay, here are 9 reasons why you have to play 999.
In the 3rd Century the Han Dynasty was coming to an end.
You probably don’t care that it has lasted 400 years, or that it had almost fallen apart 200 years earlier, only to be brought back together. It may not matter to you that the turmoil of the land would bring about war; but if you served at the Hu Lao gate as many times as I have, if you felt the flames burning at Chi Bi as Zhuge Liang summoned the winds, if you had stood against Guan Yu at He Fe, it would mean a lot. I realize I may be the only human being on the planet who enjoys Dynasty Warriors as much as I do, but I don’t care. I could spend the rest of my life playing that game and die a happy man.
It’s a sad fact that there are few successful open source games. The fact that Battle for Wesnoth continually gets pulled up as an example of a good open source game is proof of that. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it’s certainly no instant classic. However, luckily for OpenTTD, there are a couple of exceptions.
The basics of OpenTTD are the same as with every Tycoon game – you start up a business, build it up, make money, build it up some more, and repeat. However, after a while, your company is sufficiently successful enough that you will never have to worry about money again. It is at this point that most tycoon games become boring, and you either start a new game, or stop playing. However, with OpenTTD, the business aspect is a rather small part of the game. The main focus quickly switches to the network: How can I transport more passengers? How can I get more trains through this hub? How can I optimise this junction? These are the type of matters I personally focus on most during gameplay.
There are also many more ways to play than just connecting up more places to your network in single player. Some players focus on making picturesque realistic railroads while others combine together to make super-efficient behemoths capable of transporting absurd amounts of goods and passengers each month, bringing with it equally absurd profits.
By Urist McBlogger
It’s not easy being a dwarf you know. Constantly getting ordered around “dig this, dig that”, “build a floodgate here, release the lava there”. Those nobles, they think it’s easy. They just have to map out an area, by pressing d, then selecting a few tiles. We have to dig it. Have any of them picked up a pickaxe like a real dwarf and dug their way through the rock? No. And the way they treat us… it’s like we’re expendable. Just because we don’t know which side of a floodgate is which!
Now, I know some of these nobles like to claim that managing a dwarf fortress is the hardest task they could ever have been given. But they have an illustrated guide, guiding them the whole way through running a fort. I mean, as long as you remember not to dig too far down through the adamantium, to brew enough drinks for us working dwarves by building your stills, and giving a few dwarves jobs as brewers by pressing q and telling them to brew a drink, life is fine.
If you’ve never heard of Sacrifice, the title should be a bit of a dead give away. If, by some miracle, you did hear about it, or even play it once or twice, it’s probably only a vague memory. To those few of us who played and loved this game, it holds a special place in our hearts. If you are one of those lucky few, you may skip this article and go with the sound knowledge that you did right. On the other hand, if you never heard of Sacrifice, or did, but never played it, I have a short exercise for you. I want you to raise your right hand (or left for those of you lacking a right hand) and in a strong slapping motion, I want you to slap yourself in the face. If, for medical reasons, you are incapable of slapping yourself, find a near friend and have them slap you.
How does that feel? Does it sting? Well it should, because you missed out on God’s gift to gaming.