A return to enjoying games

I was laid off recently, so for the first time in a couple years I got to fully enjoy a couple single-player experiences that were so PURE in their game-ness that it felt like a small personal gaming renaissance for me. It was delightful.

DOOM
There’s a lot to love about this game, but what struck me most was how much it respects your time. (What struck me second most was how much they embraced the original Doom/Doom II and paid homage to it, were transparent in their respect for it, and reveled in it. Thanks guys. That means a lot to me.)
They’re very upfront with what’s hidden for you on each level (2 collectibles, 3 mission-specific challenges, a classic Doom level opened by a lever hidden somewhere nearby, and a set number of secrets/upgrades to be found), and you can quickly gain the ability to see where all those items are on the minimap. The challenge isn’t in divining what all the game’s hidden from you, it’s in finding the things you know exist and you get to decide how much you care about accomplishing any of the side objectives. It was remarkably refreshing to have a game be so honest with me. And if you finish a map with things undone, you can load back in, grab the things you missed, and then go back to the latest mission you unlocked and move on with your day.
On top of that, it was SO FUN and I enjoyed the music, characters/story, art, the incredible work that went into making the SnapMap editor easy to learn and use and build with, and the game is gorgeous. I’m a fan of a lot of things about it.

Turok
Nightdive’s remaster is the first time I’ve ever played this game, despite owning a Nintendo 64. (And despite the hype of the Cerebral Bore in Turok 2, which I’m happily awaiting.) I’m sure there was some kind of backstory and setting written in the manual, but there’s nothing in-game that tells you what’s going on; that may seem like a complaint, but it was actually somewhat thrilling to launch a game and just have it go, “I’M A GAME! You’re outside with a knife and arrows and there’s a raptor coming at you! Run! Follow this trail of floating triangle pickups! What are they? GAME PICKUPS! Run! Collect things! Step on that switch! Checkpoint! Jump across these platforms! EXPLODING SHOTGUN.”
No pretense, no justification, no sitting through a cutscene or wall of text to tell you why you’re there: just pure, unadulterated GAME.
I’ve also started to play around in the editor, so as time goes on I’ll work on building maps and a campaign for that. My goal is to do tutorial posts as I go, so hopefully working with it is easier for others starting out in the future.

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I’ve also been getting back to playing Source mods. I went though Richard Seabrook’s Prospekt, which was an amazing effort by one guy. The combat focus was a little much for me, but he did some really good work. The visuals were the strong point for me by far, while the story/Half-Life 2 tie-in fell flat. (That may also be because I was watching Cabinet confirmation hearings while playing, so I’ll give him a pass. Sorry Richard.) Transmissions: Element 120 is next on my list, which I’m very much looking forward to.

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This month, I’m going through a course on Udemy to get comfortable working in Unity. (You should wishlist it and wait from them to send you an email when it’s on sale; it’ll often get under $20, and you can get it as low as $10 if you wait long enough.) I’m 1/6 of the way through it, and I can already recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the idea.

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