Gaming

Blog 869: Command & Conquer

I picked up a copy of the Command & Conquer compilation The First Decade mainly because I wanted access to all the good stuff outside of EA’s Origin launcher, where I’d sampled them previously. We only ever had vanilla Tiberian Sun and Red Alert II back in the day, you see, and last time was before I discovered that eBay exists and is actually a fairly reliable place to find games of a… certain age… that are still factory-sealed. The First Decade stops at Generals but, eh, C&C3 and beyond are where things got wobbly anyway.

When I went through the Tiberium franchise last time, I didn’t actually play the original original game, because I figured it would be “too old” even for me! But these days I’m a slightly more adventurous rube, so I decided to go for it.

(Spoiler: it feels very old.)

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Gaming

Blog 863: Age of Mythology

Much as I love piping obscure stuff through my Windows XP machine, it’s important to break out a proper big gun every now and again. For whatever reason, despite an abiding love of Age of Empires II, I did not play Age of Mythology at the time (admittedly it’s of an age with Warcraft III, so I was probably… preoccupied). But people have always said it’s good! It’s a hole in my RTS experience!

It is time.

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Gaming

Blog 833: LEGO Rock Raiders

LEGO Rock Raiders was a formative game for me — it’s the reason why I’m called Rao Dao Zao.

Previously, when playing Baldur’s Gate, I’d made my real name “Robbie” marginally more fantastical by shortening it to “Robe” (shush, I was only 11 or 12). In Rock Raiders, when you hover the mouse over things, the name of the thing is read out, and one of the vehicles is “The Loader Dozer”. For some reason, my mind saw fit to repeat this voice clip over and over and eventually swap “Load” for “Robe” to form “The Rober Dozer”. Finally, if you slur “The Rober Dozer” really hard you end up with… Rao Dao Zao. (I guess it should really be “Rao Bao Dao Zao”, but Bao somehow never entered into the equation.)

Why is this relevant? Because after I rebuilt my Windows XP machine with true 2004-era components, I got Rock Raiders running. So let’s take a step back in time, to before “Lego Game” was a whole genre of licensed tie-ins, to the heady days of 1999…

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Gaming

Blog 830: Make Love Not Starcraft

So! Having rebuilt my old XP machine to improve its compatibility, I am now able to play the original Starcraft without fatal Blue Screens every one to five minutes.

Which means I can start writing about the game, which I had previously played through only once, based on its revered status in the WC3 modding community… And which I found sorely disappointing. How does it hold up to these eyes that have seen so much more?

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Gaming

Blog 810: Atrox

I seem to have a thing for games that end in “ox”. We all know Exon is a vast tribute to Nox, and one of the other reasons I built my old XP computer was Safrosoft RoX… and then we have this RTS Atrox. Like Age of Empires II, Atrox suffers from having a 256 colour palette in a 65-million colour world and so needs to be played in the past.

History has likely forgotten it for more reasons than that, though. Atrox is a Korean Starcraft clone that is… Well, just how closely they managed to copy Starcraft with such a small core team is actually quite impressive. Three asymmetric factions. Two resources in convenient little semi-circles. The same cliff/plateau/ramp style of terrain.

Even so, it’s one of those games that’s been lodged in my psyche since the day I first set eyes on it, so let me tell you why it’s deserving of at least a little attention…

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Gaming

Blog 806: The Conquerors

I remember seeing a (p)review for the Age of Empires II expansion pack The Conquerors in an issue of PC Gaming World at the time… In fact, I’ve still got it on my shelf. (It’s the same issue that gave Deus Ex a very lacklustre write-up. Oops.)

I remember misreading the word “allies”, in tiny text next to a tiny screenshot, as “aliens” and getting really excited for all the wrong reasons.

Well, it turned out okay in the end.

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Gaming

Blog 793: The Age of Kings

I’ve menitoned Age of Empires II obliquely many times throughout this blog but never actually written about it directly. Which is actually a massive oversight, because it has the dubious honour of being the first PC game I ever bought, so it’s a foundational influence in how I started to dream of making my own worlds — it did, after all, also include my very first level editor.

So twenty-odd years later, with lockdown madness causing a spiral ever deeper into nostalgia, isn’t it high time we took a proper look at a true classic?

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Game Development

Blog 787: The RTS I’ll Never Make

I might spend most of my time gushing over story-driven role-playing games and shooters, but I’m still partial to a real-time strategy every so often. I like building up a base and training all the little people and sending them off to conquer in my name.

The thing I don’t like about RTSes is that they’re all designed to be played against other people in fair and balanced short-form matches, whereas I like sinking into stories and experiencing them at my own pace. I want an RTS without that multiplayer pressure, one that has the time and space to ride all the way into the sunset.

I’m too busy building Exon to even consider a different project, let alone one of such magnitude, but it’s fun to think about these things now and again. So let’s talk about the RTS that I’ll never make…

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