Monday, 3 June 2013

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program is a space-flight sandbox simulator, in which you build your own spaceship from stock parts, then try and handle the reasonably realistic physics of launching, orbiting, and - at least in theory - travelling to and landing on other worlds. So it's essentially (at least to my mind) Minecraft In Space - which probably explains why I enjoy it so much.

As with many of the games I play (albeit not all), KSP has a free demo, available for download from their website. At present, this is all I have. The hundreds of parts available in the full version are trimmed down to 25, the massive solar system described on the wiki is cut back to one planet (Kerbin) with a single moon (Mün) - and it is still wildly entertaining.

Even if I'm not actually very good at it.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Celestia

Celestia is, at least nominally, not actually a game. It's an open-source planetarium, which allows you to fly to any location in the known universe. Want to see what the night sky looks like over Kepler-22b, 600 light years away from Earth? Celestia can do that for you.

But Celestia is also incredibly easy to mod. The Celestia Motherlode contains add-ons of every kind, from a vastly extended star catalogue, to massive fleets from whatever sci-fi series you care to name (so yes, you can stage a Star Wars vs. Star Trek tableau).

Using a globular cluster generator (discussed in the link, with a link to a Wayback archive of the actual code at the bottom), I created a miniature galaxy to play with, complete with planets of various kinds. I explored it, mapped some of the habitable worlds (by hand), and imagined empires...

FreeCol

FreeCol is a free (obviously), open-source remake of the 1994 classic game Colonization. This is a game about landing in the New World, exploring it, building colonies, and eventually gaining independence from your mother country. I played the original way back when (on floppy disk...!), and was delighted to find the remake.

Being an open-source project which is nowhere near completion, FreeCol is plagued with bugs. My first few games crashed into oblivion, but eventually an update came out, and I managed to play a complete game.

(It should be noted that since 2008 there is also an official remake. I don't own that version and have never played it)

Lego Minecraft

Minecraft is, of course, one of the biggest (and most fun) games of the past few years. When Lego Cuusoo launched on the international stage, the first product created through it was Lego Minecraft.

And it's kind of cool.

Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures

Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures (or 'Indy's Desktop Adventures') was actually the second Desktop Adventure I played, after Yoda Stories. These are delightfully simple puzzle games, with significant randomisation built in - even when you find yourself on the same quest, the map is completely different.

But yes, when I said 'simple' I meant 'simple. The puzzles, for the most part, consisted of 'Bring me this thing and I'll give you this other thing'. Even though these varied (for instance, by not telling you what the thing they wanted was), the big final puzzle/level stayed identical each time you played a given (randomised) adventure. So they had replay value, but not infinitely so.

And, of course, on occasion, very strange things happened in the plot...