Letters to the Editor

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In response to “The Greatest Game Never Played” from the Escapist Forums: Nice article, never heard of the game when it was still under MS.

I played this one when it became free. By the time I did the community was small, tightly regulated but made regular events for newbies to learn the game.

Gameplay was basically: Scouting. Pinpointing the enemy location. Getting all your team geared up, usually headed by a mission critical craft like a bomber or a capital ship. Travelling, sometimes stealthed. Combat.

Halfway fun when it worked. Lots of ship and equipment possibilities. Too realistic flight physics for many (most?) people to comprehend, especially in a laggy enviroment.

Funny fact I remember: Our team (most in very cheap scouts with “reparing” guns) was told to constantly fly into the main bomber and heal it; this allowed the bomber to fly way faster than normal while being healed constantly. Very weird gameplay. (exploit?)


Ah, Allegiance – I knew all about that game back when it was actually on sale, and that the source code had subsequently been released and the title was now freely available, but I have never even been slightly interested in it even though I happen to freaking love space simulators.

Why not? Multiplayer-only. Juxtapose whatever you want, hype the amazing and innovating gameplay, release to rave reviews, it won’t matter, those words are the kiss of death (of any interest I might have had in your game) – I don’t play multiplayer-only games. Or rather, I don’t play multiplayer-only games that are not online RPGs with no subscription fee.

Allegiance, at time of release, was essentially the worst of both worlds – an exclusively multiplayer title that they wanted me to pay a subscription fee to play. I’ve made it very clear over the years that my “I will not EVER under ANY circumstances play a game that has subscription fees” stance is utterly inviolate – there is no even remote possibility of my ever capitulating and compromising that point, so as interesting as the mechanics of Allegiance sounded (and they did sound pretty damn interesting, in principle anyways), it was never going to work.

Releasing the source code, modding the game, and establishing community run servers are all great moves that have extended the lifespan of what sounds like an excellent space sim, but none of that eliminates my complete lack of interest in a non-RPG online-only multiplayer space sim – that isn’t what I’m looking for from that genre, and my single-player campaign needs are ably met by Freespace 2 (the greatest space sim ever released, bar none) and it’s own source code project.

Gildan Bladeborn


In response to “The Game That Ate the Earth” from the Escapist Forums: This has value, it has value because you experienced it and because you shared it. If you had never finished the game, if not one person had ever played it. It would still have been worthwhile because you described the process honestly and concisely, which is perhaps more important than anything else.

Which is ironic considering how much I hate being forced to show my workings.

Thank you, thank you for going where few are brave enough to tread and for reporting back as man and not a half dead wreck. By your grace we all go forth a little better prepared and perhaps, we will stride just a little bit further on our journeys to create.


This story convinced me of one major thing; I had to download this and play it for myself.

I’m only a few hours in, and holy crap. I can see why this project swallowed your life whole. It’s flipping huge! I’ve only managed to find ONE comm tower so far, and I spend more time getting my ass kicked than anything. But the setting is amazing, the dialogue interesting, and there’s a real sense of accomplishment each time I manage to garner JUST enough resources to earn that new bit of R&D I’ve been lusting after. The controls are a little gummy, but nothing too major.

Honestly, for what it’s worth, you’ve got one new fan right here, based on this alone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try that comm tower again. Maybe now that I have these boosters I can actually finish it…



Recommended Videos

In response to “Lost in Yokosuka” from the Escapist Forums: Just wanted to comment on how well written, and insightful this article is. I was especially pleased with your closing comments concerning starting life in a new city. When a videogame comes to this fundamental literary vehicle, does the nature of the digital medium demand that playability take precedence over exposition? Can allowing a player to live a mundane life ever be a fun game? Do games have to be fun to be “games?” Again, I thought that was a great article. Thanks!


Oh God. That game has left such positive and negative memories for me. I loved Shenmue 1, but abhorred how slow and annoying Shenmue 2 was. I wanted a third one if only to give some meaning to the grind session that the second game offered.

But it was one of my first RPG’s and showed me a whole new world. It was great, and it introduced features that are standard today. People forget that sometimes. Hell, back then, it was my go to RPG for a deep story. (I was like 10 and the other JRPG characters annoyed me.)

But it also reminds me of, excuse me, KotOR 3. Like how some people, me, have given up on ever truly seeing Revan’s, Carth’s, Bastila’s, the Exile’s, Atton’s, Mira’s, and the other characters have their story resolved through their eyes and not from the old holos someone finds in TOR. People make these great stories, and they can never finish because of issues and everything is left hanging. I usually don’t like having to make my own conclusions, because I think the original author knows the characters better than I do, but in this case I have to. I guess I’m peeved because I’m not that excited about the MMO, so I’ll do what everyone else is and leave it out of canon. Or maybe I just wanted a happy ending and TOR ruins that for me.

Especially with Shenmue. Making up an ending was the only thing that helped me and my friend get past the fact that Shenmue 3 wasn’t out yet. And might never be coming. Ever.

Ryo is lost on some random road, Revan is in Deep Space doing who knows what, and the Exile is on a ship with Atton possibly. Who knows with KotOR 2’s ending.

What’s similar about them all?

They’re all stuck there, possibly for eternity or until an ubergeek wins the super ultra lotto and can afford to pay the developers to make these games.

Until then, I’ll pray Mass Effect and Dragon Age finally manage to make it to the Finished Third Game Celebration Party.



In response to “Hard Earned Victories” from the Escapist Forums: Well I haven’t played super meat boy yet, but by God did I enjoy VVVVVV. The simple thrill of finishing a particularly difficult section, dying dozens of times, which in the end takes seconds. It’s immensely satisfying.

However, when looking at old school games, high difficulty annoys me a lot more, and for one simple reason: A lack of checkpoints.

I found super mario world immensely frustrating because of it. I’d get through 3-4 levels without dying, then die a few times in the dungeon, sending me back to the levels I know I can do again. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m willing to bet a lot of gamers would accept more difficult challenges if you didn’t have to repeat sections preceding it. Perhaps it would be a bit of a copout if every difficult game could only be enjoyable in this way, but it’s a very difficult balance.

F-zero Gx has been the only game thus far where I enjoyed the “Hold your nerve” style difficulty; it was fair, and I had a reasonable chance of getting it on my first go, in spite of its difficulty. It also had short n’ stupidly hard bits too, which were also great. It’s a paradigm of a challenging game for me.

Outright Villainy

Shamus Young has a couple of nice articles on this subject. One came out, what, two weeks ago? Essentially, it depends on the gamer. A gamer that wants to enjoy a world or a story doesn’t want difficulty to get on her way, at least not unreasonably so, and doesn’t want to get stuck because she wants to know what happens next. A gamer that wants to enjoy gameplay wants a challenge because that’s what gameplay is composed of: if a challenge isn’t hard she can just waltz up to the enemies and shoot them in the face, and use the tools a game provides to ‘make believe’ and play the game the way the devs intended when it’s not optimal is unsatisfying.

Of course, a game with a good story that enslaves gameplay to it isn’t doing a good job. It’s like… It’s like a Weird Al parody. It’s funny and it’ll make you laugh, but you’re not going to compliment Weird Al on the melody, because he didn’t even write it. He’s just using it to deliver a joke. So your enjoyment of it depends on your enjoyment of the text, not on the enjoyment of the song, and in fact you may enjoy parodies of songs you don’t like even better. You’ll like it as a joke, not as a song. Likewise, a game that has great story but poor gameplay may be enjoyed as a story, but not as a game.

(Before someone points out Weird Al doesn’t write only parodies, I know, and that’s why I said Weird Al parody specifically. I guess his polka medleys still don’t quite classify in my example. In sum, shut up.)

Under that division, it seems that gamers that enjoy a challenge are being more true to gaming. But exploration, enjoyment of a world, is also something that only games can fully provide and is also something that an easier game will do a better job at delivering. It comes back to what a gamer wants and expects of her games.

Looks like I just rediscovered the (genre) wheel here.

The Random One

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