One Hour With Deus Ex: Project 2027

Your first real mission starts you out with quite an arsenal compared to the original.

I wanted that good old UT engine RPG feel so I went to GOG, thinking I’d pick up Deus Ex there, and, well, it’s $10 (their high price point). Aw, hell naw.

So I got off my lazy behind, found my old Deus Ex CD, installed it, and decided to look for mods. I went for Project 2027, since it seems to be an all-new game based on Deus Ex, and it looks like they may have actually finished it.

So far, it definitely has the Deus Ex thing going for it: some expositional play that has you learning the game culture by strolling through an area mostly foreign to you, mysterious AI communing directly with my brains, lengthy conversations with NPCs, clues laying around all over the place, all that great stuff. (I wonder why I have patience for this but didn’t last more than a few hours in Mass Effect. Ah, I know why, I’m old and tired, and Mass Effect is so much work.) Continue reading

Because Stars Matter: Starshatter (Sci-Fi Flight Sim) is Free!

Entering orbit in an F-34D, a slower multi-purpose fighter.

Update

The original host site, Starshattermods.com, succumbed to hacking and is down. Hard Light Productions, a fantastic community that grew around Freespace Open, has generously taken up hosting the Starshatter forums here. Starshatter files are hosted in this thread. I still have some of the files, please let me know in the comments if you have any trouble obtaining them.

The Short

Starshatter: The Gathering Storm is a moderately complex, moderately realistic, spaceborne military flight sim that takes place in a series of dynamic campaigns. It won’t change your life, but it ain’t bad.

The Good:

  • it’s not too punishing or difficult. It strives for a moderate amount of realism, but offers an optional video-gamey control scheme
  • takes place in four dynamically shifting war campaigns, rather than a static set of missions or a bland open world design
  • graphics and sounds are good for such a small studio, but won’t blow your entire head off
  • receive promotions! Start flying fighter craft, and move upward to capital ships, even become an admiral and direct the course of the war.
  • heck, it’s FREE and open source!
  • fairly open to modding
  • rewards come after overcoming the learning curve, about 4-6 hours, perhaps less if you’ve flown flight sims before

The Bad:

  • a bit repetitive, a bit spare, a bit bland. It’s a quasi-military flight sim, there’s not a lot of character here.
  • lack of variety in ships
  • reportedly difficult and tedious to create your own missions
  • no multiplayer campaign

Read on for the review, or skip to the “Getting It” section for info on how to get it!

Continue reading

Conelrad releases Five Automatic Landings (Free ambient music)

One of my favorite artists, Conelrad, has released a new EP, the first in a couple years.

Five Automatic Landings cover art

Five Automatic Landings is five tracks and about an hour of ambient drone. If you’re at all familiar Conelrad, you’ll get the quality you usually expect, and may even notice some familiar signatures latent within the tracks. If you like ambient music, and you’re new to the artist, well, you’re definitely in for a treat.

And is it free? It’s free as hell and death, friends, and so is the entire discography. Go get some.

I reviewed one of Conelrad’s tracks early on in this blog. Lots of post-apocalyptic ash drifting silently from the skies, and an unlikely tie-in with Half Life 2. Read about that here.

Back cover with track listing.

(link fodder)

Looks like Spelunky hit 1.0… and the big time

Snapshot from Spelunky website.
Click to download Spelunky!

I was just writing about Spelunky for my blog, wondering when it would hit 1.0, when BAM, front page of IndieGames:

Spelunky Coming to XBLA in 2010

No foolin’. And it’s got a real website, too:

http://www.spelunkyworld.com/original.html

Though it came out shortly before year’s end, I’ve pretty much thought of this action roguelike as my personal Game of the Year ’09. It’s not immediately obvious, especially if you’re one to quit games the split second they get difficult (and this is one unforgiving game), but the acrobatic stunts and the unexpected interactions of simple mechanics really add up to a charming and deeply fun game.

It kind of irks me that, like Cave Story, Spelunky will be getting the special treatment (better graphics, some unspecified extras) for its console debut, but fortunately, Derek Yu is a man with his feet on the ground, and the Windows version will continue to be free. XBLA exposure isn’t exactly a bad thing, and it’ll put a few dollars in his pocket. Good for him, I say. Plus, the interest may well spawn new variations on the action roguelike.

(Personally, I don’t own and have no interest in owning an XBox, but if the improved version of this game hit the Nintendo DS I’d be all over it.)

Seriously, if you haven’t tried out this little gem, do so, immediately.

Freeware: ManicTime micromanages your day

It looks like a file defragmenter, but really it’s a way to see how very fragmented your day is. ManicTime is a fat, but free .NET app that snoops on all your window titles and creates a series of charts that describe the applications that take up your day. It’s a good way to augment your timecard, or just see how long you’ve spent playing Team Fortress 2 versus World of Warcraft. I’ve been using it for about eight hours now and I already feel terribly, terribly guilty.

ManicTime main screen
ManicTime main screen

Pluses:

  • Free and professional-looking
  • Silently records your doings with no interaction
  • Unobtrusive – unlike a PDA-type app, it won’t remind you what to do, it passively records what you’re doing
  • Accurate enough out of the box, better with a little personal configuration
  • Can export graphs (to PNG) and data (to CSV)
  • Does not share or upload your data with a 3rd party source, all info is store locally

Negatives:

  • Induces guilt
  • Requires .NET (and therefore not native to Mac or Linux machines)
  • Grossly overweight (its two runtimes exceed 50MB when minimized)
  • Without user interaction, cannot differentiate between different activities using the same app (bad if you use your browser for multiple tasks: watching YouTube, checking email, writing a blog post)
  • Weird, fuzzy display of some text (some .NET issue, maybe?)

Download!

(found via Lifehacker)

Free Software: sfxr – glitchy games effects generator

sfxr is a tiny little tool built for the purpose of quickly generating unique, but recognizably stock sounds for games, specifically games competitions, where dev time can be measured in hours.
sfxr screenie
Derek Yu used it to create sound effects for the rogueish treasure platformer Spelunky. Generated sound effects for a procedurally generated game. For me, of course, it’s just a fun little thing to play around with and make stupid noises.

Opera + Sandboxie = good performance on the EEE, with minimal disk writes

lesson learned: don’t write for half an hour on wordpress, then accidentally navigate away. you’ll lose your post.

Well, short story is best, then: sequester Opera’s activities on a Sandboxie repository on the SD drive of an Asus EEE to save disk writes. Decent performance! I’m almost concerned that Sandboxie is somehow writing to C:\ under my nose. Perhaps the speed increase (over editing Opera’s config to force it write cache, bookmarks, etc. to the SD card) is due to how Sandboxie manages disk writes from within its own system-level driver. Maybe it caches writes in memory until there’s enough to burst onto the SD? Not sure…