I’m writing up something that has nothing to do with this; but I always get it done at about 2am, so for the time being, here’s a few low/no-budget community-based games I’ve been fiddling with over the past week:
Blood Bowl is a fantasy sports board game from the early 90’s published by Games Workshop; and the very first miniatures game I invested money and sweat equity in. Of course, I’m way too mature to play with dolls now (ohgodIwanttobuythemallandpaintthemandlovethemtheywillbeallforme), but it’s still a great game to play with friends when you’ve got a half-day free. Sadly, what with work and stuff, that’s not all that often. So these guys hit on a solution: knock up a java client that copies the game, and put the team data on a python database, on the same site that hosts the matchmaking and forum. It’s fiddly, in the way that java applications always manage to seem more fiddly than they actually are; but once you get over that, a game is much quicker than its analog bretheren, and you don’t have to worry about losing cards or checking the rules on Hypnotic gaze every few minutes. Perhaps most interestingly, the game has continued to develop since GW discontinued it, and the current ruleset is largely unsupported by the original publisher. Mmmm… open-source development.
A community mod for Half Life 2 with a strong team-play focus. It’s free, as long as you have HL2 installed, and 900 megs of bandwidth to download the sucka. The things that interested me were: a) The polish on this thing, considering it’s all volunteer work from a seemingly very diffuse team, b) the commander position (similar to Savage, another free game from a small studio) which tasks one player with managing the field of battle, RTS style, and giving orders to the rest of the team, who are down in the weeds in FPS mode; c) The squad system, which breaks up teams further for the commander’s convenience, and sets up multiple leadership positions within each team – with in-game effects. It’s not as visually beautiful as TF or L4D, but it’s an impressive piece of work for a nonprofit mod, nonetheless.
Yeah, Percy, I did go and have a look. I haven’t actually tagged in to a game yet; but this is the old skool LARP favourite of Mafia adapted to the phpBB format. Again, community-organised, iterative, experimental, and they’re developing communal behavioural norms as they go. I intend to actually get into one of the lower-intensity games this week.
and lastly, off the theme, a medium budget game from Stardock Studios (who are better known for their 4x), an interesting realisation of an interesting concept:
Want to see if you could have won the 2008 US presidential election? Yes, we can. For the amount of intellectual energy expended on modern politics, it’s a little odd that it’s barely had an impact on video games. Brutal combat in the 41st millenium is just easier to grasp, I guess. Interestingly, after Obama (who’s OMG b0rk3n), I found it easier to win with Palin than Biden or McCain, so read into that what you will. Only the demo is free; but it’s worth a play, nonetheless.