Posted by: L1H | May 26, 2009

Gaming Update: Casual Friday (Tuesday)

I wanted to make a brief post and offer an informal gaming update.

For starters my gaming habits have really shifted recently.  WAR is still the main course, but lately more casual games have been taking a bit of my time.

Wizard 101 has been an unlikely distraction.  What’s compelling about this game is that Amy and I actually can play together.  The game-play isn’t too deep, which is perfect for Amy’s first MMO – not to mention her computer can run it great.  

Her and a few RL friends of ours actually formed a weekly static group, purchasing new areas in Wizard 101 a la carte (instead of maintaining a subscription).  Seeing Amy get jazzed about customizing her little wizard, leveling, unlocking new spells, etc … it has been a great shared experience for both of us.  Lets face it, Wizard 101 is a MMO on “easy mode”, but if it’s fun, who really cares?

I haven’t logged into FreeRealms in a few days but I have been enjoying it.  This isn’t a game that I’m going to put a lot of time in, but it’s nice being able to jump in and explore: the world is beautiful.  The only downside, from my point of view, is how heavily instanced the game is.  Every step of the way you’re sucked into an instance.  

I understand all the advantages of keeping content instanced, scripted, and controlled, but this minimizes the time you spend actually interacting with world around you (other than travel) and worse: other players. This is a shame because the persistent world of FreeRealms is lovely and you can spend hours just running around exploring and socializing – if only folks weren’t plugged into mini-game nodes (and totally detached from the world around them) like that nightmare scene from The Matrix where Neo “wakes up” in that vat of goo.

I still play Puzzle Pirates during my lunch break since it’s a browser based MMO that I can play on my MacBook Pro.  I still don’t understand a lot about this game, but I’m getting better at some of the basic ship puzzles, especially sailing. 

What FreeRealms doesn’t seem to pull off that Puzzle Pirates succeeds in is connecting these “instanced” mini-games to the persistent world in a meaningful way.  While pillaging with a crew on a ship you might be asked to abandon your station and help man the bilge – the ship is taking in too much water.  You take your little character across the deck of the ship and can see all the players at each “station”, manning their own little puzzle mini-game: gunnery, sailing, bilging, navigation, carpentry, etc …  

Each player’s performance affects the function of the ship so it’s not so much about personal advancement but more about being a part of a crew and the synergy of your efforts.  If your ship gets grappled and a melee breaks out,  a sword fight or brawling puzzle plays out like a duel – only you can choose to team up on opponents or just try to stay alive and hope your other crew mates take out the enemy first.  Lots of fun.

I have to mention Mount and Blade.  This single player PC game has been ruling my life lately.  I am going to write a proper review of it in an update later this week: it deserves a post all its own.  Independent PC gaming at it’s best!

That’s about it.  Have a safe week.


  1. whoa… M&B is interesting… Does it have a crafting component?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: