Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sim City 2013 Impressions

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I
'm pretty much addicted to the new Sim City game at this point. Look, I know it's EA and they're evil. I know they did a crappy job with the launch. I know the always-online DRM excuse is feeble on a good day. That still didn't stop me from buying. I feel a bit dirty (since we all must vote with our wallets, right?), but few things in life are as personally satisfying to me as Sim City. And, let's be honest, it was a long, long time between iterations.

Put aside the political shenanigans, and you have (what I think is) a pretty solid game. I'm a fan of most (if not all) of the improvements they made to the gameplay itself. It's prettier, more intuitive and, if possible, more addictive than ever.

In today's age of DLC, I fully expect content packages that do things like "open bigger city tiles" and "extend your borders." Some folks will no doubt feel nickle and dimed. I would argue that it's all in the execution. If they give free updates interspersed with mostly cosmetic "for pay" packages, I would be a happy camper. I don't want to get too much into this argument, as it's both heated and over-hashed, says I.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the gameplay and my initial impressions. So, in no particular order, here we go:

  • I seem to get a lot of "Crime has the upper hand" messages, but have a zero crimes committed per day stat... very odd.
  • Found this Google Docs Spreadsheet. which is pretty comprehensive. Well worth a look, particularly if you're struggling from the "not enough workers" probably that I'll touch on next.
  • So it appears that to balance both jobs and workers, you are roughly working with this equation... C+I+P = R. That is, Commercial, Industrial, and Ploppables equals Residential. C, I, and P all generate jobs. R generates workers. That means you need a whole crap-ton of R to fill all your jobs. What's more, high density R doesn't seem to be as dense as high density C or I. Doing the math, you need like 4 high rise R buildings to fill up the jobs for one C skyscraper. See that spreadsheet for more info. For me, it means my cities tend to look like 80% R, 20% everything else. I hope they tweak this, even if it is realistic.
  • I hope a bigger plot DLC comes out first. Filling up the city tiles right now is too easy. Especially if you are using a lot of ploppables.
  • Specialization in mining and trading seems a great way to make money, even if you don't go full tycoon. I find myself always throwing down for these and then exporting to the global market.
  • I wish it were easier to tell which roads were feeding which buildings so I could upgrade accordingly.
  • Sometimes the UI seems pretty slow to update to a change I made... even on cheetah speed!
  • My buddy really missed the ability to set the funding level like in previous version. I find I'm partial to being able to turn individual modules on/off to achieve the same end. Seems more intuitive to me, but perhaps less real world?
  • Which brings me to my next point... the game seems to balance on the edge of "simulation" vs "game." Some things are game-y, some seem to give a nod to reality.
  • Those RCI problems I mentioned earlier are a good example of this... maybe they're realistic, but I think I'd prefer a more game-y implementation to add variety to the cityscapes.
  • My buddy was really bemoaning the lack of transparency to the underlying statistics. He thought previous games did a better job of that.
  • The LFR version of region building bugs me a bit. I feel like I'm somewhat dependent on my neighbors not to be poor mayors. Their rampant crime may spill over into my city, for instance. This is probably pretty realistic, but makes me want to erect big, giant, Raccoon City-style walls.
That's it for now. Like I said, I'm really enjoying myself despite the shenanigans. Any of the rest of you trying this one out?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Google Reader Alternate

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I have a post I'm cooking up with a whole bunch of Sim City lessons learned and tricks, but the announcement Google made about retiring Reader sent me into a mental tailspin (as well as a whole bunch of others, it seems). I've been a Google Reader user for years now, and I'm not even sure I could find half the blogs I like to read again if Reader just disappeared. So yeah, I was just a bit panicked. Plus, as a content provider, you have to somewhat wonder how this is going to affect your readership.

Have no fear. Feedly to the rescue!

After I calmed down a bit, I suspected it probably would not be too hard to find a replacement. Surely, someone else has created a clever RSS-based reading application. It did not take long. I found Feedly right away, installed the Chrome app, logged in, and perhaps 15 minutes later was staring at my Google Reader subscriptions in a new service. After a bit of poking around, I was sold.

Then, I decided to go look to see if my Reader subscriptions would be safe with Feedly after the inevitable shutdown. The good folks at the Feedly blog had two wonderful articles. One with tips for all of us transitioning from Google Reader. The other explaining how your subscriptions WILL be transferred over (short answer: seamlessly and without any action on my part. Huzzah!).

I figured I'd pass this all along as a sort of public service announcement, as many of you undoubtedly had faced similar freak-outs in the last few days. I want to note that I am in no way affiliated or receiving anything from Feedly. I'm just pimping them because they're the first service I came across, it was super simple to set up, imported my existing subs with a button, and assured me that they've got my back when Reader is shut down. What's not to like?

So no, I do not think Google shutting down Reader will be the end of blogging. I don't think it will really harm traffic all that much. Sure some folks may be left in the dark, but where there's a will, there's a way. If we keep creating content that folks want to read, they'll figure out how to read it. How do I know this? Because I'm more consumer than creator these days anyway!

Case closed. The Mayans were still wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sub-Free

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I did a bad thing last night. Well, at least it felt bad. Sorta. I cancelled my WoW sub last night.

Truth be told, it was rather uneventful. I do not have any rage, I just can no longer keep up. My gaming time is spent on Sim City (now that I can get in) and a variety of pick-up-and-play games. LoL will happen from time to time. They seem to be making Assassin's Creed games quicker than I can finish them. (That had never, ever been a problem before, but I guess it happens.)

As long-time readers probably know/can guess... there were a myriad of personal reasons that really pushed me to this. It's not dissatisfaction with the game. I've had to turn a lot of my energy in upon myself to heal and rebuild things that were horribly broken. Life does that sometimes. Better to have loved and lost and all that.

In previous posts I mentioned continuing to write here. I still plan to do that. This is not a "good bye" post. I'm merely pointing out that I'm sub-free for the first time in almost a decade.

Specific to WoW, I realized that I don't have much of a desire to raid or do end-gamey stuff. I may jump back in during a boring month and muck around, but that simply depends on if time finds me. I'm no longer going to make the time. My character will be there waiting, so it seemed wise to save myself $15/mo that I really wasn't using.

Feel free to keep me in the WoW loop via comments. Otherwise, I'll probably be talking about random games. (Right now, baffling worker shortages are on my mind, for you Sim City players. What is up with that? The algorithm has to be screwed up, right? But hey, at least I can play reliably now...)

Much love to all of you that have shared Azeroth with me over the years. I'll be lurking!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Two Posts? No Wai.

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In one week? Crazy, I know. I'll make this one short so as not to blow anyones' mind. I know you were all worried.

For the last two nights I've been trying (and failing) to play the new Sim City. I'm sure I am not alone in this. In fact, I know I'm not alone.

It's funny because you think I would just go play patch 5.2 in WoW, but I won't. I'll beat my head against the wall like everyone else. Makes me wonder, how much of our pain is self-imposed? I could just step away for a week and be patient until they resolve the dumb server issues (that I think EA should be able to anticipate at this point from every big game they've ever launched), but I won't. I was excited to build cities and, damnit, I want to build cities!

They will resolve the issues. A lot of people will be pissed in the mean time. I'm pretty unhappy as I'd like to play the game and apparently have a mental block disallowing me from playing anything else. But, again, I blame myself just as much. And I threw a movie on in the background, got to bed early... it wasn't a complete loss.

If you're thinking about trying the new Sim City, I would strongly recommend that you WAIT for several weeks. Listen for the "all clear" on the Interwebs. I'm sure it will be resounding (if not, I'm sure I'll mention something). From the tutorial (which I somehow got to play last night), I can say that I'm pretty confident the game will be hella fun. If only we could play it reliably!

I hope maybe the pressure forces them to write a patch allowing you to play the game offline in some form. I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So. Freaking. Busy

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Okay, so check it out. I'm going to level with you guys today. I love my blog. It has been great. I'm concerned I'm doing an awful job actually, you know, writing in it. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this. Let me talk about some of them.

First and foremost... I think I've mentioned it, but for those that may not know, I went through a life-changing even at the end of last year. Things got shaken up. I'm still trying to put a lot life back together. Life happens.

One casualty is WoW. I don't play like I used to. My old guild imploded, and my personal time really dried up. I don't think I can maintain a raid-ready toon. I simply don't play enough. I don't really want to quit, but LFR is only so enticing. I may switch soon where I play with each patch, see the content, and then am done for a while. May even un-sub if there's enough time between things. I don't know. This makes me a horrible WoW-blogger.

I've written about other games, and I plan to continue to play some of them. League of Legends is the big one I'm playing, but I don't feel like I have much to say about it. It's simple. Easy to jump in/jump out. And I'm not playing it hardcore. I will finish ACIII eventually, but I'm way behind with that. A new Sim City also dropped today, and I'm excited to try it. I may spend some time there.

All in all, though, my gaming time was the first thing to get cut when my life went kablooey. It's a luxury I cannot afford right now. The second thing to go? Writing. My writing has suffered a bunch. Very simply, I picked up a whole lot more to do by default, and have to do it. Plus I'm trying to resurrect a social life, and several friends recently moved close by. I'm doing more of the RL thing. Crazy, I know. Also much more expensive, let me tell you.

My Day Job has gotten really, really busy in addition to my home life. I'm generally juggling a whole bunch of things on any given day, and there is ever-increasing pressure to deliver. I used to be able to squeeze posts in at work pretty reliably. That is no longer the case.

So I can't fit more outside of work. I can't fit more during work... What's a warlock to do? I researched some time travel, but it seemed more magey/dragony type of work. Cloning some minions seemed more appropriate, but I lack the necessary shards, I guess.

I guess I bring this all up because it may be that I shut my doors around here in the near future. I thought about just rolling my personal gaming stuff into my writing blog (make it more of a generic personal blog). I don't know. I'm not sure it fits. For now, I'm going to try to keep doing one post a week, but they're going to be more of a personal nature. Just what I'm playing, etc. I generally get the best comments on those these days anyway. I wanted to try and keep up on guides but, let's be honest, that hasn't happened.

Ah well, life happens. Thanks for hanging around. I'm not going to peace out just yet, but don't feel like you need to stay around and read the boring personal stuff. I'll download 5.2 tonight, but I think the new Sim City may have me captivated for a bit. We'll see.

(Side note: Anyone else think Blizz planned the release today to compete? Aren't they both technically the same parent company? Some thoughts for you tinfoil hatters...)