For several reasons much too personal for the internet, I decided to leave my job at Longwood a couple weeks ago. But I will say that the pay was way too low, and good luck to them finding someone with my skill level willing to work for so little. The only reason I settled on that job was that it was 2009, when the economy was quite lousy.
But now with my rediscovered freedom, I have copious amounts of free time and thus time for video games. As happens on occasion, I’ve been going nostalgic with my gaming choices lately.
Darwinia is a cute and clever real-time strategy game where you help a fictitious researcher regain control of a simulated cyber-world from a malware infestation. It has just the right balance of puzzles and blowing shit up to make it incredibly fun. The only problem is that it ends too quickly.
Black Mesa is a community remake of the original Half-Life using the newer Source Engine. I’ve mentioned this mod years ago, but it only just got released recently. Obviously, it’s a little too ambitious to remake a whole game when no one is getting paid; hell, Valve didn’t even want to do a proper job with Half-Life: Source. And it shows as there are places where the quality is noticeably amateur. Regardless, I applaud their efforts as it’s definitely fun and action-packed.
Given the recent SimCity debacle that’s been in the news, I (and it seems many other players) have given the previous SimCity game a whirl. It’s been a while since I loaded up SimCity 4, but I was quite surprised to find its graphics were still mainly sprite-based, which is a bit jarring after playing so many 3D games with freely-moving cameras. It’s definitely interesting to see your city take shape and how your choices affect that. But I find the low-action gameplay to be sleep-inducing, and it makes me wonder how long the game will stay interesting. Although I haven’t been playing it lately, the inadequacies of SimCity are making me consider going back to Tropico—it just seems like the right balance of macro- and micro-management in a city-builder game.
Going back even farther, I’ve also been enjoying some of the late 90s classics Age of Empires and Age of Kings. I was pleasantly surprised to find that both of these games still install and run on Windows XP, granted XP is pretty old itself. I was also surprised at how difficult these games got and really quickly. It’s no wonder that I cheated so much back in the day.
I also found out that I actually made a campaign for AOE called Time of the Phoenicians. You can amazingly enough still download it from AOE Heaven. The story and writing is pretty awful and the gameplay buggy (I was 15), but the maps were still pretty detailed as you can see below.