I haven’t had as much time to play games lately as I’d like. Real life keeps getting in the way, and in the meantime I have a pile of games I only saw briefly at PAX East that I’d like to look into more deeply, a backlog a mile long in Steam, and a shelf full of NES cartridges just begging to be played with. Here’s what I’ve snuck some moments for here and there.
Extrasolar is one of the games that stood out for me on my whirlwind tour of the Indie Megabooth at PAX. It’s an Alternate Reality Game (of sorts) where you control a rover stationed some ten light years away on extrasolar planet Epsilon Eridani e. I watched over the shoulder of some folks playing a demo and the developer gave me a few moments to ogle before he asked me if I wanted to know more. Um, yes? How do I play this Right Now? The above picture was taken by my rover earlier today – currently we are cataloging the plant life on the planet. What’s cool is that the game development team has actual scientists working with them to write content for the game, so I’m learning some real things about plant biology as I explore the planet. The graphics are stunning, too – it’s easy to forget that Epsilon Eridani e doesn’t actually exist and get swept away in the illusion. The four hour minimum between photographs keeps me from getting too engrossed, which is good – I’d be sucked in for sure. There’s much more to the game than just taking pretty pictures, but to say more would spoil it.
Sign up to play online free (with optional paid upgrades) at http://www.extrasolar.com.
Recently some friends and I started playing on a new, private Minecraft server. There’s something really soothing about starting together from wilderness and building something organized, block by block. Along with writing, it fills the need in my personality to make things, to fulfill God’s intended purpose for me as a co-creator and guardian. Even if only in virtual space. I also like seeing how each of us has different play styles. I like making things pretty – the house above isn’t one of my proudest creations, but it’s cozy and I’ve been having fun with landscaping. My beau takes pleasure in moderately ambitious constructions that other people have designed – give him a blueprint and he will happily build away. Another one of my friends has been breeding horses in her stables, and the fourth in our merry band of settlers has been hard at work on a massive wall to keep our village safe from the creepers and baby zombies.
Over at Gamechurch.com, a few of us have been playing through Chrono Trigger and writing about the experience. For two of us, this is our first time playing through the game; our Editor-in-Chief Drew has played it, but not for many years. Our goal has been to see whether the game adds value to our adult lives beyond simply being entertaining. On the whole we’ve been enjoying ourselves, and looking back at a game from our childhood through the lens of critical analysis instead of just nostalgia has resulted in some interesting insights. We’re about halfway through the game at the moment, and while I’m anxious to find out what happens next, I’ll be sad when we reach the end. Writing collaboratively like this has been fun!