Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5 Things XCom Could Have Done Better

I know I don't post much about gaming here because really this is supposed to be about my writing, my stories, my process and my work.  But once in a while I just get wrapped up in something and I need to talk about it.

XCom has totally decimated my free time for the last few weeks.  It's a tactical strategy game where, mostly, you manage squad based combat against an alien threat.  It's pretty dang slick.  I completed my second campaign this week, this time on Classic Difficulty.

The game starts out with a basic squad of soldiers armed with conventional weapons and grenades.  As the game progresses, these troops are added to with new recruits.  Each mission earns them experience and new abilities.  You also research better weapons, and armor as you go along, allowing you to take out the easier minions quicker and opening up harder enemies.

But what really kept me going was the overall engagement.  Your soldiers earn nicknames (seemingly randomly assigned, but you can edit them), they level up, and they do get killed.  There is an optional Ironman mode which removes the save game features; you can't save and then reload.  If you save then you're done.  If your guy dies on a mission, then he's gone for good.  Needless to say it's nerve wracking to be in a mission that's going well only to have your favorite medic dropped and killed with a lucky shot.

I guess you could call this a review but it's mostly about the things the game falls short on.  I'm going to have some light spoilers in here but I'll try to keep them limited.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mind the Thorns Reflections

Here I am, 100 posts on Fictional Omens, and 20 chapters of Mind the Thorns and I'm feeling very contemplative.

It's been a very interesting run so far on both counts but mostly I want to think about Mind the Thorns and how that has played out as time has gone on.  It was an experiment, to be sure, and one that I'm proud to have engaged in.  Quite a few things worked, a few did not, and for the most part I feel like my writing has done nothing but improve in the time I've worked at it.

Which, before I get into the nature of Regan and the dangers of trying to write something as immersive as a reader-directed novel, I want to talk about.

Writing is work.