Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

Weiner Review: Geneforge 5 January 16, 2009

Filed under: 3 weiners,Games,Mac,PC,Reviews — Gwyddia @ 11:28 am
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Shape On!

Shape On!

If you are not familiar with the Avernum and Geneforge series of games, you are missing out. Developed for both Mac and PC by Spiderweb Software, these RPGs eschew flashy visuals for deep story and hours and hours of solid gameplay.

 

Theme:

The latest from Spiderweb is Geneforge 5. The core concept of the Geneforge series is based on the existence of people known as Shapers. Shapers can mold matter and magic into semi-intelligent or even intelligent creatures that are subservient to the Shaper. The classic Shaper hierarchy is fine with this, believing that Shapers’ creations are lesser beings and should be treated as such. A growing group of Creations, backed a group of Rebels, disagree, and have been fighting the Shapers for five games now.

Geneforge 5 finds this world on the verge of total disruption. The Rebels are succeeding, and regime change seems imminent. The Shaper Council has begun infighting and choosing sides at will. You are thrown into this as a character with a mysterious past, who might even be a Creation, but who has rare Shaper skills.

The game centers as much around you finding out who and what you are as it does on your role in the greater world. That’s a welcome change, as the last four game in the series have been strong but slight variations on the theme of Empire vs. Rebels. That classic trope is present here, too, but there seem to be many more factions and options for the player to choose from than in previous iterations.

 

A typical town scene from Geneforge 5.

A typical town scene from Geneforge 5.

Art:

Art is not Spiderweb’s bailiwick. Spiderweb is largely the work of one man, Jeff Vogel, and he has made a conscious choice to put his efforts into writing over visuals. As a result these games have passable characters, decent textures, and utterly forgettable items. The advantage is that you can play these on an aged system or the newly-popular Netbooks. The disadvantage is that they look like they were made in 1996 with minor visual tweaks along the way.

 

 

Gameplay:

The heart of any RPG is its battle system.  Fights in Geneforge are classic turn-based fare with a bit of strategy thrown in.  Characters have action points which they can spend to move, fight, or both.  You have to be in range of an attack for it to hit, so figuring out how few points you can spend on movement of each character or Creation and still attack is key.  After that, though, it is very much an RPG-type magic and mundane attack system with the expected status change spells and elemental weaknesses.  

 

The World Map.

The World Map.

When you’re not in battle, movement is accomplished through an overland map system. New areas open up as you move through the map.  Once you’ve cleared an area, you can always move to it from any other cleared area.  This is a real time-saver, and takes away the question of annoying random battles.  You can always see what’s coming in Geneforge 5.

 

 

 

 

Overall:

For people who have played through the Geneforge series, Geneforge 5 is more of the same.  Solid but somewhat tired story, good battle system, excellent writing.  If you are following the Geneforge storyline and want to know more, have at it.  For newcomers to Spiderweb’s particular brand of game, Geneforge 5 is as good an entry point as any.  It assumes no prior knowledge, though prior knowledge will add depth to the proceedings.  In the end, this game sells for $28 and you’ll be hard-pressed to find more RPG entertainment for less money these days.

 

For being a solid RPG, if repetitive for fans of the series, Geneforge 5 gets Three Weiners out of Five.


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Pain Unimaginable January 12, 2009

Filed under: Mac,Microsoft,Other Folks,PC — Gwyddia @ 8:25 pm

It began a few days ago.  Microsoft, apparently non-ironically, introduced their “Garage Band killer”, Songsmith.  

(Note the kid is using a MacBook.)  

But moving on, today this appeared on the intarwebs (thanks Gizmodo). It appears to be the developmentally disabled love child of Van Halen and a Casio keyboard demo button.

Why? WHY?

 

Just One More Thing. . . January 6, 2009

Filed under: Mac,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 4:15 pm
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(Not) introducing the MacBook Wheel:

 

 

Pitch-perfect send-up, guys.

 

Notes From The Last MacWorld

Filed under: Mac,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 3:59 pm
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apple-macworld-logo

 

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, did a yeoman’s job today in delivering the final MacWorld keynote, even if the announcements themselves weren’t so exciting. Here’s the the highlights via The Weiner’s twitstream for your edification:

 

– iLife refresh. I’m liking the new GarageBand/iTunes option to buy “artist lessons” from established musicians for $4.99.
– iLife still free on new machines. Upgrade is $79, family pack is $99 to upgrade. Shipping late Jan.
– Keynote remote – 99 cent app that lets you use your iPhone as a Keynote presentation remote. Neat.
– 17″ MBP unibody enclosure at last. 6.6 lbs?! That’s huge.
– $50 anti-glare option – thanks for the kick in the pants for all of us early MBP adopters.
– New battery type – longest lasting ever – I am hoping they sell them for the 15″ model so I can get one. Up to 8 hours of work time, 1000 recharges! That’s double today’s model.
– Non-removable – so much for getting one for my 15 inch.
– One more thing is iTunes – 0.69, 99 and 1.29 pricing and more DRM free stuff. Allegedly by end of Q1 ALL 10 M songs on iTunes will be DRM free.
– New Cheezburger iPhone app allows you to view AND make LOLs on the go.
– 3G downloading from iTunes and App Store working as intended.

 

Aspyr Layoffs December 19, 2008

Filed under: Industry,Mac — Gwyddia @ 9:45 pm
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images2Sad news for Mac gamers – Austin-based Aspyr Media, the folks who keep porting us our Sims and more, just announced layoffs and cutbacks of up to one third of their staff. All of their 2009 projects ate still slated for completion, but for some hardworking families, it is not going to be a merry Christmas.

 

Let The Gender Reassignment Commence! December 11, 2008

Filed under: Blizzard,Games,Mac,PC,World of Warcraft — Gwyddia @ 2:10 pm

Blizz has announced that World of Warcraft players will be able to change their character design features – hair, skin, gender for $15 beginning soon. It’s key to note that the changes are ONLY design features – i.e. cosmetic stuff. No race or class changes allowed. Blizz considered race changes, but decided against it as the new enhanced racial abilities could conceivably turn into a race-a-day nightmare as players tried to swap out racials like gear. Kudos to Blizz for choosing game stability and cohesion over the choice to make even more money off hardcore swappers.

 

Geneforge 5 Now Available For Mac December 8, 2008

Filed under: Games,Mac,Other Folks,Previews — Gwyddia @ 8:50 pm
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Welcome to the world of Geneforge.

Welcome to the world of Geneforge.

Just a quick heads-up as I begin playing this for review. The latest in Spiderweb Software’s low-res high-sci fi series Geneforge has been released for the Mac. I’ll confess my standing sense of goodwill toward Spiderweb reaching all the way back to 1997 when a high-school boyfriend showed me a little game called Exile on his “Macintrash” (how little I knew). Despite looking like something from the NES, Exile was one of the first truly branching RPGs I had ever played, and certainly the first one I’d ever experienced where your actions actually changed the way people acted toward you.

 

The Exile Trilogy was followed by the Avernum series, which was basically a higher-tech remake of Spiderweb’s fantasy RPG. Geneforge came later, casting you as a Shaper with the power to create, control and destroy creatures who may or may not have native intelligence.

 

As I said, I’ve yet to play Geneforge 5, but I look forward to doing it.  If you don’t want to wait and you’re a Mac user, check out Spiderweb’s truly epic demo. PC users, you’ll have to hang on until March.