Monday, March 17, 2008

Applications are Currently Open

We are looking for fellow adventurers to form an adventure party to traverse the lands of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Rings of Fate. If you are a fun, dynamic team-player, eager to seek treasure and phat loot, this may be the dream position for you.

We want someone with creative brilliance, able to commit to both long and short adventures and possess great survival skills.

Responsibilities include:
  • Killing monsters
  • Healing fellow party members
  • Casting spells, and creating Magicite crystals
  • Tanking
Personal attributes we're looking for:
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Able to work in an intimate team environment
  • Able to multi-task
  • Able to make tactical decisions in a high tension situation
  • A proven track record in escaping from dungeons and caves
  • Team player
Prior experience preferred but not necessary.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

GTA IV versus Iron Man

A very interesting article just surfaced over at Next Generation. According to the article, at least one analyst has proposed that the launch of GTA IV will eat into the ticket sales of the Iron Man movie when it opens a few days later.

Ostensibly, this is due to the fact that both products are targeting the same demographic: The young male gamer. And this would not be an isolated event, as earlier in September, Hollywood executives blamed the release of Halo 3 for poor ticket sales during that same period.

I guess one could probably see a correlation between the two, though not necessarily a causation. And it is not a stretch of the imagination that if a person is presented with two equally excellent choices that some would choose one over the other.

But let me tell you how this situation would affect me personally. And I think that it will... quite profoundly. Once GTA IV is released, I'm going to play the shit out of that game. And then when Iron Man opens, I'm going to take a break from my hours-long vigil and watch it. And then I'm going to go back and play some more GTA. And if Iron Man turns out to be as excellent as I hope it to be, I'll probably go and catch it again that same weekend. And maybe a third time.

Food, sleep and toilet breaks are not mandatory.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I finally had a chance to play Thebes, by Queen Games yesterday at SOG. I've been wanting to play this for a good while now, and I'm glad I finally had the chance.

In the game, players control archaeologists who travels around the western world gathering knowledge, equipment and assistant. All these preparatory work will then allow players to gain better success when they finally travel to five different archaeological sites to dig for artifacts. Players score victory points based on the number of artifacts found (valued anywhere from 1 to 7). Players can also score VPs based on exhibitions they might put up, conferences they conduct, and if they have the highest amount of specialised knowledge. VPs are calculated at the end of the game.

One interesting mechanic that must be pointed out at this moment is the resources that players use to gather knowledge and organise digs. Each action (travelling, researching, digging) requires a number of weeks to complete, but there is an overall cap on how much time there is available in total. In the 4-player game I played, there were only a 104 weeks available to complete as many tasks as possible. But do not think that you have the luxury of time, as most tasks require multiple weeks to complete, not counting travelling time. For example, one could spend 3 weeks traveling from London to Vienna and then another 3 to gather general knowledge; equipment and cards are marked with the location they are available. Players move from one location to another and make one action, and then move their marker forward on the time track. In order to balance the usage of time between players (preventing one to use up all 52 weeks in a year), turn order is determined by whoever is last on the time track.

Players have to balance between gathering more knowledge to increase their chances to pick up more items, and being the first at a site to pillage and ravage it. Once they have the ability to dig at a particular site, the number of pieces they can draw out of a bag is determined by their knowledge level, plus assistants and equipment. But not all the pieces are valuable; a large number are blank pieces representing dirt and sand. What is most intriguing is that as you dig at a site, the valuable pieces are claimed by the player, but the blank pieces are thrown back into the bag. So in other words, the more a player digs, the more the returns are constantly diminishing. In my game, one player completely ravaged Egypt which left the rest of us with only 4 sites remaining to fight over.

Some people might not like the game for the luck level involved; The rewards on digging is sometimes hard to determine, and the cards for knowledge and equipment can be quite random. In a spate of good luck, I was able to secure a car and multiple conference cards in the same location. But therein lies the key to the game: managing luck and reducing its effects on your strategy. Balancing between spending time researching and time digging is a pressing concern, and balancing between getting to the right site first and increasing your returns on the dig is also key.

I found this game to be wholly enjoyable, as I am not bothered by the luck factor. In fact, I think it helps build the theme of the game very effectively. It's not easy going for archaeological expeditions, and even the greatest knowledge does not guarantee that one returns with the prizes to show for it.

Always Open to Gaming

I just hosted my last SOG for the forseeable future, and I now leave the group to very capable hands to continue in my stead. As some might already know, I will be re-locating to Australia, and I ought to be gone within the month.

SOG has been a constant in my life for the past two years, and I've been at its helm for 23 sessions; There was that one time I was absent when I traveled to the States. SOG has been my one highlight, the one thing I look forward to every month, and the one thing that keeps me going.

I cannot overstate how much each session means to me, and how much effort I take to make sure everyone who games with me is enjoying themselves. When I would go around, making sure I knew everyone on a first name basis, you would know how important this was to me. And my closest friends would know what little weight I put into remembering peoples' names and faces in any other situation. But SOG... That was different. It was my creation, my endeavour, the first time I was the creator, and not just another consumer.

And the thought that I won't be in that room, playing with people whom I've grown to consider friends, pains me. I'm sitting here, in my chair, and I'm ready to tear. I feel a strain in my chest, an ache where my heart is. And I'm struggling to find the words to describe my sense of loss.