Last year, I hopped on the internet end-of-the-year zeitgeist by making a top 10 games of 2014 post. I’m not sure how many people care about my opinion–and probably far fewer do now, seeing that I had a sports game at #1 and a visual novel at #2–but hey, why not do it again? #content
I played a lot of video games this year, which is nothing new, but I also released my first game and contributed significant dialog writing to another. I’ll be releasing my second game in a few weeks, and another visual novel in collaboration with Woodsy Studio in the late spring. I don’t know whether any of this makes my opinion more or less valid, but working on games has certainly informed and changed how I approach them. Which is weird, because this list is probably way less eclectic than last year’s.
The Annual Disclaimer: A shitload of video games came out in 2015. More games that I wanted to play than in any year I can remember. There’s a lot I still haven’t gotten around to playing that I could see making it on this list: SOMA, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, AC: Syndicate (yes), Axiom Verge, Nuclear Throne, and Pillars of Eternity, just to name a few off the top of my head.
I’m also leaving off MLB: The Show 16 to keep things interesting
And as usual, large gifs ahead.
There’s some not-very-different alternate reality where I’m obsessed with MOBA (Multiplay Online Battle Arena) games. I’m not just talking about being one of the folks who picked up League of Legends early on and got way into it; I’m talking about playing these damn games from the beginning. The real weird folks.
I played a lot of Starcraft back during the heyday of the original game. More importantly, I played and created a whole bunch of Starcraft custom maps. Including a map called Aeon of Strife. The Aeon of Strife Starcraft map is sometimes considered the very beginning of MOBAs, though that discounts how many MOBA-like elements were present in the 1989 Megadrive title, Herzog Zwei (which is the progenitor of the entire Real Time Strategy genre). Aeon of Strife featured many of the elements that are now central to the MOBA–hero characters, RPG elements, three lanes, towers, creeps, and so on. But it wasn’t the highly competitive game we know today. Instead, it was purely cooperative–four humans against the AI.
Hey, you try and find a part of Herzog Zwei that makes sense in a gif
Aeon of Strife gets the credit, but it was hardly the only map of its type. There were single-player RPG maps with similar objectives. Others had jungles and bosses, but lacked the typical three-lane structure. Some were simplified to make them easy to win. And a few were insanely difficult. I think I probably posted an RPG map of some sort to battle.net, which shouldn’t be a surprise. And it was probably terrible.
When I last logged out of Elite: Dangerous, I had just finished my lengthy pilgrimage to Empire-controlled space. The trip took well over an hour, thanks to the need to re-fuel at space stations every few jumps. I’d left on this mission (foolishly) without equipping a fuel scoop and there weren’t many larger starports in the area, which meant I couldn’t modify my ship to make it better suited for long trips between uninhabited stars. If I wasn’t careful, and didn’t stop whenever I got the chance at the smaller outposts to top off the fuel tank, I knew I could end up trapped in a dead-end system with no way out. And I didn’t want to start over, even if that would let me plan the trip better in the first place.
Elite: Dangerous is a space sim, by the way. You pilot a ship, visit the stars, shoot other people visiting those same stars, and smuggle weapons parts. It’s the sort of game that should require a keyboard and crazy flight stick, but the developers managed to port it to the Xbox One. That’s where I’m playing it because of my PC gaming aversion that I’ve long chronicled on this blog.
There was one particular space station between Federation and Empire space that stands out to me. I don’t remember the name, of course, because the places in Elite: Dangerous are all procedurally generated. Most of them don’t stick in your memory. They have generic-ass names like “Hoffman Enterprises” and “Cleve Hub.” The name of this station doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was the only populated place within jump distance as my fuel reserves dipped into the lower 1/4 of the gauge. I needed to stop somewhere–anywhere–and this place would have to do.