Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 1)

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I’ve written about Solium Infernum before. At length. That was three years ago, and I haven’t played Solium Infernum since. Until now, that is. Over the winter holidays, I realized I had a hankering for its long-form, slow burn brand of strategy and treachery. But the group I used to play with had long since disbanded, so I needed to find some new opponents. I tried the Cryptic Comet forums, which were historically the best place to find other players, but it seemed no one visits them anymore. Without much hope, I dropped by the RPS Solium Infernum Steam group and left a message in the void.

I heard nothing for a couple of days, and was certain that everyone who used to play Solium Infernum had moved on. It was a complete surprise when I finally got a response. And then another, and another. And some of them knew other people who might be interested. Soon, I was starting a brand new game of Solium Infernum against five strangers from different places across the globe.

Now, two months later, that game is finished. This is the first of a series of posts detailing the game turn by turn, inspired by the Gameboys From Hell series on Rock, Paper, Shotgun that originally inspired me to buy Solium Infernum way back in 2010. Before getting started, I recommend you read my earlier post about the game, to give you an idea of what it’s about.

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Finding The Grind In Skyrim

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The concept of “grind” appears often when discussing games, especially role-playing games. It refers to performing repetitive tasks, over and over again, for incremental gains, and typically derided as evidence of poor design that encourages “un-fun” behavior in players. I discussed the concept a little in my History Lesson post about Final Fantasy, as it is often associated with Japanese-style role-playing games, especially older titles. But grind can appear in any game. The Elder Scrolls series, with its concept of character skills improving with practice, could easily fall into this trap. Players could just sit around practicing magic or swordplay all day instead of actually heading out on an adventure. But I’ve never felt the desire to do this; the games offer so much to do, why not head out and do it, and train on the job?

So I was surprised that I not only found the one aspect of Skyrim that encourages grind, but fully embraced it.

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I Have Apparently Chronicled The Godslayer In Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer

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I started playing Ascension after seeing a recommendation somewhere on the internet. If I recall, the recommendation called it the best game available for Android devices. It’s a digital adaptation of the card game of the same name, which I had never played before. As a deckbuilding game it owes much to Dominion, the game that popularized (and possibly invented?) the concept: a game in which players begin on equal footing but must build their decks of cards over the course of the game to gain advantage over their opponents. Compared to earlier collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering, which require that players build their decks ahead of time from a pool of cards they’ve purchased, Dominion is a one-time purchase and no players are given an advantage due to a bigger collection of cards. This made it quite popular. I’ve played Dominion and enjoyed it, but quickly tired of it. I’ve enjoyed my time with Ascension more, but I’m still not sure whether I’ll stick with it.

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I Found Earth In OPUS: The Day We Found Earth

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Except, I didn’t really. More on that later.

OPUS: The Day We Found Earth generated a lot of word of mouth, primarily because it’s a different prospect than most games avialable for iOS and Android (it’s since been ported to PC as well): a story-focused experience. While most mobile games fall into similar molds — puzzle games, word games, limited actions on timers with microtransactions, etc. — few emphasize a linear story. Conventional wisdom says that such a game could never succeed in the mobile marketplace, where the only way to make money is to ensure players keep playing as long as possible and keep wanting to pay for convenience or vanity. A game that players will purchase once, play through, and then never touch again could never make enough money to break even, especially since the price points for mobile games are so low (typically less than $5, often as low as $1 or $2). OPUS: The Day We Found Earth seems to disprove these ideas, and for that it deserves praise, even if the actual story it offers didn’t really grab me.

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The Enduring Appeal Of Skyrim


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When I decided to return to Skyrim, I was planning to take a more critical stance on the game. My writings during my first stint with the game focused on the positive, but this does not mean the game is without its problems. My most recent post does point out a few complaints, but mostly I’ve been struck by just how much I’m enjoying myself again. So I decided to write about why that is; how Skyrim’s enduring appeal overcomes its weaknesses.

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The Name Game: Red Dead Redemption 2

Previous Name Game posts can be found here.

Several weeks ago, a large number of people became very excited by a teaser believed (and now confirmed) to imply that a sequel to the game Red Dead Redemption is in development. Itself a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, the Western-themed Red Dead Redemption was hugely popular, and many began to wonder what its own sequel would be named. Surely Rockstar Games would keep the “R-D-R” naming convention? Alas, it was soon revealed that it would simply be called Red Dead Redemption 2. Here at The Name Game, we are disappointed. But we hope that Rockstar will consider resuming the naming convention for future games in the series. Here are some suggestions.

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Race And Gender In The Elder Scrolls

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There aren’t many games that let you play as a black woman. Skyrim is one of them.

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