So, i’ve played a lot of games this year. If anything, 2011 was the year of the indie. We saw the indie label being applied to just about everything and as a result, it is starting to lose some of its power. There are just so many indie games, I doubt it is possible for anyone to really know all of them. That said, there are some great games out there that may have been missed by people going about their normal daily lives.
I wanted to make a list of games that came to me in strange ways – fever dreams, at work, through MMO playing, through random nostalgia. If you have any questions about these, please let me know. Most of these games are mods, fan translations, or similarly grey legal areas gaming.
I will list them in chronological order or, the way they revealed themselves to me:
I played this for about a week and really enjoyed it! You have a game like minecraft, meant to allow the exploration of the human limitation of technology limitations and you add in a hierarch system, secure chests, money and voila! You have a society that resembles our own. The fun thing about Super Earth is the ability to war with opposing territories. A constant issue I saw was the abuse of mod rules and war rules. These infractions against the immersion of the game began to become so severe that they had to be rewritten. It was fascinating and I really recommed checking this out if you enjoy Minecraft.
This game I have only just begun but it came around in 2011 so it is worth mentioning. From the Wikipedia page:
Rumors have been circulating about a cursed role-playing video game; anyone who plays it and does not complete it dies seven days after starting. You are one of the victims playing the game; having started playing it several days after your friend recommended it to you. You visit your friend’s apartment to discover he is already dead. Starting that day strange things happens to you; everything you experience in the game resembles something in real life, and so-on.
The game provides two separate modes of play. Most of the game is spent in the exploration mode, in which the player moves around real-time 3D environments using the D-Pad and touch screen. During the exploration mode the player must also solve puzzles and avoid zombie-like spirits that roam the area. Periodically the exploration mode is interrupted by the RPG mode, which makes use of the top DS screen only. In RPG mode, the player plays a 2D 8-bit RPG (the “cursed” game) that provides clues to the current exploration mode puzzles and advances the plot.
3. Ore no Burogu or Irisu Syndrome
Late one night I had a faver and started reading a thread on strange video gamehoaxes and urban legends. This game came up and it really amazed me. From a fan translation page:
Irisu Syndrome is a physics based puzzle game. The gameplay itself is fairly self-explanatory. You use the right and left mouse buttons to shoot a white block up and hit colored shapes. Hit shapes into other shapes of the same color to make them disappear. The right and left mouse buttons will launch white blocks at different speeds.
This game is rather unusual in that the main attraction isn’t the game itself, but the story behind it. The story is revealed through a photo in the game folder, text files that show up in the game folder for getting certain scores, and endings that happen when you get a certain score. You should check photo.jpg pretty often. When you first start playing, you should check it after every game for the first 5-10 games. After that, just check it after each new ending.
While this isn’t a real “game,” I thought it was a great use of video game artifacts. So, you’re navigating a “Choose Your Own Adventure” about a Heavy Weapons Guy who wants to help out his team and win the game. It is pretty adorable and I hope that someone goes and makes it more sophisticated soon!
So World of Tanks delivers one of the most unique MMO experiences ever. We tried our hand at making a ‘beginners podcast’ for the game but it didn’t work out so well. So in this game you’re, you, I guess. You pilot a tank that you’ve purchased with in-game currency. You then fight against other tanks in random, 15×15 battles. Each tank is from World War 2 and could be conceptual or could have been actually used. If you want to play with friends, it doesn’t cost anything to pay with a buddy but it does cost money to play with a whole batallion of friends. This part of the game was genius. Also genius is the forced gap between a player seeing where bullets came from and your tank crew’s skills to see where that tank is. So, you could see a bullet coming from across the map but your crew can’t actually see the tank. This makes that tank invisible on your screen.
Now, they recently added a map and guilds. The map is of Europe and each guild is tasked with trying to take over the whole map. Battles can happen anytime and are forfeit if you miss them. Check out the Clan Wars here.
Kerbals Space Program showed up while I was playing EVE Online this year. In EVE Online, you play the game by playing other games with your squad. So, in Kerbals Space program, you are building rockets that the Kerbals are going to test. I don’t know if words can really convey the love I have of the Kerbals, I mean, check them out below.
Each rocket you build, they test, and the goal is to get it into Orbit. This is no easy task as getting a rocket from the launchpad to outer space is not really something I have the knowledge and ability to understand. Still, I know if I strap a bunch of fuel to rockets that it’ll probably go up…which really means it will probably explode on the launch pad. The result is typically something like this.
So I have always been a fan of www.virtualnes.com. I love playing Kung Fu at work for some reason. Anyway, these guys have been busy making a SNES emulator you can play in your browser through flash. The result? Playing Chrono Trigger at work! Check it out here. You can click on the other letters at the top of the screen to see what other games they have working. Final Fantasy 3 is notable here.
8. World of Warcraft Vanilla – Rebirth
So, I enjoy MMOs. In fact, the whole reason I started thinking about video games was because I love MMOs. The problem with them, from a research perspective, is that the way the games used to be changes constantly through patches and expansions. In WoW, each expansion has made the game more user friendly (some would say challenging). Really, they have tried to keep and maintain a line in the sand between casual and hard core that I wish more games would emulate.
Anyway, this Rebirth server is probably one of the most stable and fair that I have seen. It is the original game, in all its original glory. WoW was hard and it had a lot of griefing potential. It has a reasonable population of players and they routinely get together to do things that took an enormous amount of effort before. I am personally waiting for them to get up to AQ40 so we can all try to open those doors at the bottom and get what could be the rarest mount in the game. A video of the old event can be seen here.
So this game. This game. You are supposed to build and maintain a maximum security prison. That’s right, you also get to have fun with a multitude of stereotypes…like crips, and bloods, and other gangs.
If you’re like me, you wonder how game designers see certain social issues. This game provides a unique insight into how a game designer would understand a social institution and make a game out of it. I haven’t logged many hours on this game, but I will be certain to soon. An interesting aside, all of the videos on Prison Tycoon 4 seem to be “how to steal this game.” This is hilarious.
So if you’re old like me, you remember the glory of wandering around an unforgiving landscape and encountering gold golems that beat you into the ground. Dragon Warrior was a lot of people’s introduction to the world of RPGs because they gave it away with Nintendo Power, it was glorious! I remember getting it in the mail and being frustrated for days as slimes killed me again and again and again.
So, you can relive these moments, and a variety of the moments that came later through this 8-bit MMO called NEStalgia. I really enjoyed my time in this game and would recommend it to anyone who played those games and enjoyed them, or anyone who really enjoys and old ultima or dragon warrior style dungeon crawl. The class system is unique and the quest stories are great. Definitely check it out!
So, this last game is one I stumbled upon through my old EVE Online guild mates. I really enjoyed the movie, “The Thing” and the paranoia it caused. EVE Online was fun because the paranoia people felt about “who could be the spy” was real and caused so many interesting things to happen. In this game, each round, a % of the people in-game are given traitor status. Their goal is to kill all of the other members of the server. The big difference here is that no one knows who is who. You don’t know if someone else is a traitor and the non-traitors don’t know if you are actually a traitor or one of them. The result is some of the most intense sessions of FPS’ing that i’ve encountered.
If you enjoy stealth games or just wandering around knowing something other people don’t know, I would recommend this game to you.