Today I finished Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders, a game based on the book, and featuring Hercule Poirot as the main protagonist. I thought I'd like this, not only because it looked like a puzzle game, but because I used to like watching Poirot in the early 90s with my folks. Alas, unfortunately, this game was pretty bad.
At heart, it is a point and click adventure game where you, as Poirot, have to unravel the mystery of the ABC murders. These are a series of linked murders where the killer is choosing victims and locations in alphabetical order. I was hoping for way more puzzles than what I got, or at least, for way more thinking and putting clues together. But there was very little of either. Even the puzzles that were in the game were pretty crappy and in most cases made no sense. For example, at one point Poirot wants to play a record on an old gramophone, but you have to go through this whole mess of opening secret panels and entering codes to get the thing to work. It left me wondering if that was needed every time someone wanted to use that gramophone, and if so, why? Made no sense at all.
The character animations were pretty weak and basic, especially for Poirot who had this weird, awkward walk. I guess good animations aren't really necessary for a game like this, but they would have been nice. What is needed though is good voice acting, and this game fell way short in that regard. Whoever voiced Poirot, while getting the accent pretty much right, kept pronouncing words wrong by missing out entire letters. It was strange. I guess he might not have been a native English speaker, but wow. Where was the voice director for those cock ups? The worst actor though was whoever voiced Inspector Japp. If you've ever seen Richard Ayoade's portrayal of Moss in the IT Crowd, imagine that type of voice, but by someone who has no talent or interest in the job he's doing. It was awful.
Overall, it was a pretty clunky thing to get through, with constant fade-outs not only to transition from one scene to another, but even within the same scenes. A good job it was such a short game, and as such it didn't waste too much of my time.
Mon ami, Mr. Moustache
Putting some clues together
Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes
The killer strikes again
Poirot's observation skills seem to be lacking
I didn't realise Jenny Agutter was alive in 1935
There is a murderer amongst us
From May to the start of August Scoob and I played quite a bit of a fun and simple little game called Windward, which I got in the Humble Indie Bundle 18. Well, at least it seemed simple on first glance, but it was quite hard to find answers to any little questions that popped up. Best I could do was find a few out of date guides and search forums for little scraps of information, but the game could really do with a big official guide or something.
In this game, players take control of ships and head to the seas to trade, quest, plunder and fight. There are four (increasing to six) playable factions, plus the pirates.
The game takes place over a series of regions, with increasing difficulty levels. Each region contains towns that can be plundered and added to your faction, as well as other structures such as lighthouses and guard towers.
At first, we started a game where we were on the same faction, and set all factions to permanent war. Our intention was to wipe out the pirates and the other three factions completely. However, when we got tired of fighting the pirates and pushed towards the home region of one of the other factions, we found the game does not let you take towns in the level 0 "start regions", to prevent exactly such wipe-outs.
We were annoyed.
I'm famous in these parts
A huge battle breaks out with some pirates
Moving in to claim the town
Scoob convinces many pirates to help us take out other pirates
We decided to read up more about the game, and found it is mostly designed for many more players than just two, and usually, the playable factions will be allies.
We changed our ideas, and decided to try and make our own world using the supplied editor (which is garbage by the way). In this new world, we decided to lead our own factions, and have the other two start factions be our allies. From our four start zones, the map would then extend away from us with ever increasing difficulty, into which we would push back against the pirates that controlled it all.
All we wanted was to be able to work towards some kind of end, and destroying all the pirates would be that end.
Our custom map
We named our factions after our 40K armies, with mine being the Storm Tigers, Scoob's being the Bringers Of Death, and our allies being the Imperial Fists and the Thousand Sons.
After clearing out the zones near to our starting areas, this quickly became a much tougher challenge. We'd not really had much problem in the first world, as the highest level region we'd had to go through was only level 18. In this one, the world extended all the way up to level 99 in the last region.
At about level 30, the pirates started to throw around a lot of fire-based attacks, that would wreck our ships unless we were ready for it. Then, entering the level 39 zone, all of the enemies became captains, and our AI team mates all became lieutentants. These higher rank ships had only popped up occasionally in the earlier zones, but could kick out way more damage.
The harder ships that popped up occasionally were then called Pirate Lords, and would take a massive amount of damage before they sank.
We get stuck into the action using our new ships
Things hot up in this battle
Scrapping hard in the level 39 zone
We kept plugging on for a few weeks. After clearing out the level 72 zone we decided we'd had enough of the default game, as there were just too many little things that were annoying us. Firstly, the prevalence of slowing abilities is cancerous in this game. From mortars, to poisons, to special ship skills, these slows come from everywhere, and basically make it impossible to move or turn. This really wrecked my enjoyment of the game, a lot more than Scoob.
Also, we really didn't like how using some abilities would put other abilities on cooldown. As a support ship, unless I wanted battle to go on for a long time, I had to use my fire attack for damage. But if I did that, I then couldn't use my heals, or put any fire out if the enemy used such an attack on me. And the fire in this game does insane damage. Even in the tankiest ship in the game, if an enemy used fire on me, and my heal was not available, half my health would be gone in just 2-3 seconds.
Also, as we progressed further, there was a massive increase in enemy siege towers, meaning taking over a zone started to take longer and longer, and more time was spent fighting the towers than the pirates. Not what we wanted.
So what we decided to do was look at making our own simple mod. Now unfortunately, to apply a mod in this game you have to start a whole new world, so that's what we did.
The progress of the second world and the creation of the third
We changed a few of the rules for this world. Firstly, we set nearly all of the skills in the game to have their own cooldowns. While this made the battles way more chaotic, and harder at first, when we got used to it, it was a lot more fun.
Secondly, I doubled the speed of the boats, in an effort to even-out some of those massive slows. However, the slows still seem to have the same effect. I left this in though, even though it made it harder to land skill shots on the enemy, as it made questing and trading a lot faster. Those things were also much easier as I increased the cargo slots on all the ships to match the galleon's 5.
I was tempted to change the damage and health of all the siege towers, but left it as it was. Looking back, I probably should have done that.
When making the mod, I found some files that looked like where the game pulled names for its towns and AI ships, so I added a load of silliness to it. Alas, for some reason, I never once saw any of those entries pop up. Not sure why.
In creating the new world, we learned we didn't have to place the other factions on the map, so left them off, as they didn't do anything anyway. I did change the level of the highest zone to 110, from 99, just to see what would happen when we went above 99 levels, as the maximum talent points is capped at around 100.
Putting my new Turtle Ship to the test
Ramming a pirate to death
Helping the Space Wolves in a battleground against the Thousand Sons
During the taking of the first of three level 96 regions, I decided to call it quits. This thing had just dragged on for too long, and had frustrated me too much. The sheer amount of ways the enemies can slow you down just did it for me. We had also stopped levelling up fast enough to keep up with the regions, and after taking each zone, we would have to do instances and battlegrounds to try and keep our levels up. All that extra work for no progress on the map just really didn't help.
Though it's a simple game, we've had more than our share of issues with it. Some due to bugs, and some due to not being supplied with enough information.
For example, early in our adventures, I wondered what the flag on my inventory screen was for, so I clicked it. This turned me into a pirate, turning my allies against me, and preventing me from turning back for a whole hour while Scoob continued to level up and leave me several levels behind.
At one point, Scoob's controls messed up and he had to quit the game and restart in order to be able to move again.
One of the annoying things that happened to both of us at different times was the game preventing us from capping towns or other structures for no apparent reason. On every occasion, when the other player arrived on the scene it would let them cap it no problem. Something certainly wrong there.
For most of the game, it wouldn't let Scoob use the explosive charge skill to remove areas of land. Near the end of our play, we discovered he could use it when I was not in the same region as him, but as soon as I joined him he would lose the ability again. Strange.
Quite a few times, ships would end up on their side, or roll up hills, of jerk around all over the place somewhat like lag, but would be doing it on both computers. I know this was a one man endaevour, and in many ways it is really well done, but some of those little bugs drove us mental.
Overall, I'm glad I played it, but really wish I'd not played it so much. Wasted way too much time on it really.
This boat can sail on its side somehow
My boat rolls up a hill and gets stuck