09 March 2007

New Gaming Vices

Football Manager 2007, and its many predecessors before it, would not qualify as a new vice. However of late I have found myself playing it anew and from a different perspective: network multiplayer. This came about when an acquaintance over on RPGnet posted a poll to find out what other people think of sports management games. I responded, as I am wont to do: the footy management sims released by Sports Interactive over the years have been a major factor in years of computer gaming. I remember the first one I owned was Championship Manager 2 more than 10 years ago. That initial version was the only one I had ever played multiplayer (and then with a schoolfriend on the same computer, which really slowed the game down). Until now.

When I responded to the poll I made mention that I'd never actually tried a network game, and hinted that I'd be up for it. And so it happened. We're about halfway through the first season now, having taken teams in the Scottish Premier League (me my adopted Dundee United, my co-player and server host having taking Hearts). Its good fun and reigns in some of my more wild shouty-ness and disappointment with the game because, frankly, the best part about network play is having someone on IM to bitch with about progress (or rather the lack of it) and mock some of the more comical moments. Games against another player mean more, too - sharing perspectives on something that otherwise is a very one-sided viewpoint are a huge part of this, but so is the direct competition. Yes, in the latter case the competition is more readily felt with two bodies at one machine, but on the plus side in network games the opposition is unlikely to know exactly what you've said, done and planned. That and game progression away from matches is in parallel, not in series. I eagerly await our next evening of database-manipulating fun, screaming at refs and bemoaning sleeping donkeys in our respective defenses.

Formula De is a board game that revolves around formula 1 motor racing. I'd only ever played it once or twice but kinda enjoyed the calculated gambles and resource management of the corners and built around the (seemingly) utter randomness of whether or not a given car takes fallout from over-extending the engine or getting too close to a rival driver. It's never something I would go out and buy in its original form - for one I don't know enough people who would find the game fun - but after being pointed to a free downloadable java-based version I've been ploughing a fair bit of time into computerised races (using photos of the original game's boards to create the tracks). Fun and frustrating in equal measure. Satisfying when you pull back from half a lap down to win, and infuriating when someone else bunts you off, bad luck screws you over or your engine blows on a whim! I've not tried it agianst other people, rather than the AI, as yet and to be honest I'm not sure I will. This game is something I'll play here and there when looking to fill time rather than a go-to game, however fun it is (or the deceptively long time it can take).

(Incidentally, the reason I have more posts this week than during the whole of February is that I've not been working; I finished one assignment last Friday and the next one starts on Monday, over at Blackwell Publishing.)

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