Video Games I Played Last Week, 16/09/14

2014, Sep 16    

Well, not strictly last week, but you get the jist. I’ve played a bunch of interesting things lately.

Dota 2

Finally back to my old habit. I’ve been playing Dota for about 3 years now, racking up 827 hours in-game. I am terrible at it. Really, really bad. I love it though, and after a few months of barely playing, it feels great to be back. It’s a game that really benefits from a consistent team, though, and I wish I had the time to play with one. Still, I have an amazing group of friends who are great fun to play with, so I’m never too lonely.

Dota is a game that changes little enough to always feel familiar. There’s just the one map, and the formula is always the same, so you never really feel completely lost, and you can always come back to it, but at the same time, it’s so, so deep. Over 800 hours in, I still know so little about it. There are still 5 or 6 heroes I haven’t played. I know nothing about proper team play. I like how lost I feel despite how much I know about the game.

The Dota 2 Workshop Tools

Ok ok, so it’s not a game, but wow, these tools are good. It’s super simple to throw together a really good-looking map. I’m expecting to see an incredible modding community for Dota very, very soon. The Warcraft 2 community was great - I just hope that this editor is just as accessible to 12 year olds who can’t spell so we can enjoy the same terrible, but hilarious, maps as back in the day.

Dwarf Fortress

Dota’s deep. Dwarf Fortress is a whole other kind of deep. The Dwarf Fortress UI is manageable after a few hours, but the actual mechanics of coping in the world is truly weird to a newcomer. I followed a tutorial and made it through my first few seasons, but as time went on I found that my dwarves were running out of water. I was confused, for a while, but eventually discovered that I’d neglected to build near a river, leaving me fairly stuck. I abandoned the fortress and started a new one, only to find that I’d neglected to embark anywhere near soil, so I couldn’t grow any plants. Once I understand the game, I’m sure these problems will be minor inconveniences and I’ll work around them with ease, but for now, they’re game-breaking, and I have no choice but to start again.

I’m playing a succession game with a few friends, taking a year each to run the fortress. I entered my year with 55 dwarves, and handed it off to the next player with just 20. My mayor got upset, you see, because I hadn’t given him a desk, so he punched my mason, killing him. My mason was the guy responsible for building coffins, so I had nowhere to bury the body - it rotted on the floor, making other dwarves unhappy, who then killed the dwarves around them. It was what’s known as a “tantrum spiral”, which, the wiki assures me, will “most likely result in fun”. I appointed a police force to calm them all down and eventually got back to business, just in time to hand off the fortress to the next player.

This game is The Sims turned up to 11. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it does a good job of occupying my entire brain for hours at a time.