Sunday, October 4, 2015

The 10 Games I'd Like to Play (Again)

One of my goals for the blog is to fit things in that just won't go on the website, including neat scans, ramblings, or other benign things. I like video games, but my current set-up and living situation have rendered several games unplayable or at least not to the extent I'd like to. Here's 10 of those titles that I wish I could play (again). I've picked out some thumbnails that will work should I (and I hope I will) write about them at some point.

1. WingNuts Temporal Navigator (2001)
Last Played: 2008

WingNuts is best associated with 2005 for me (even though it had been out for several years at that point) and had one of the best soundtracks for games ever. Sadly, an update for Mac OS X broke the game in that it only played the first level soundtrack for the rest of the game, and by that time, it was abandonware. Compounding this is a bad 640 x 480 resolution, so if I try to run it on my MacBook (which still runs Snow Leopard) with the external monitor attached, it refuses to run it in stretched (which the old iMac G5 did, interestingly), leaving it to run in its tiny native resolution. I hope the Windows version wasn't broken the same way the Mac one was, otherwise I'd better hope for a really good Mac OS 9 emulator (yes, it is THAT OLD).

2. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000)
Last Played: It's been years now

The only pre-Skyward Sword Zelda title I yet to have had a real go with, I'd like to try to run it in an emulator only so I could experiment with different graphical filters and to use my own controllers (as well as a save-and-defrost, as Majora's Mask is notoriously stingy with save points). My current computer's set-up won't run that sort of thing correctly though. I'm looking forward to the storyline and diverse characters (such as the hand in the toilet, pictured).

3. Five Nights at Freddy's (2014)
Last Played: Never

This one came out last year of this writing and quickly gained a following. Unfortunately, this is one of those followings where the "fanbase is cancer", so I'd like to just give it a run and avoid really anything else. The inspiration from the creepy old style Chuck E. Cheese animatronics (and similar venues) is brilliant, as well as actually making the derided Night Trap-style gameplay viable again.

4. Minecraft (2009-2011)
Last Played: Probably 2011?

I'm afraid I may have missed the boat on this one, but Minecraft is one game that I missed out because by the time I had the opportunity to really buy it, my computer was not suited to play it and I was working. Now, I just hope the various updates (and it being owned by Microsoft) hasn't ruined it (if that hasn't already happened).

5. Bugdom (1999)
Last Played: It's been years now

I tend to be a bit nostalgic with games I haven't played in a while but Bugdom, one of the few games not runnable in a Mac emulator, is one that I'd like to play sometime. Unfortunately, I'll have to settle for the PC version, which is likely to have different controls than what I'm used to, but I guess it'll have to do, as it long as it looks, plays, and sounds like it should.

6. Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People (2008)
Last Played: 2009-ish (I believe)

I downloaded and played Episode 1 for this on the Wii, and recently bought the discounted full version on Steam, because on the Wii, things are never discounted, the mouse control scheme will be better, and it's higher resolution.

7. Portal 2 (2011)
Last Played: Probably early 2014 at the latest

The wildly successful Portal did get a sequel and I nabbed mine as soon as prices dropped to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, I never got to things like Wheatley or GlaDOS again because I was stuck, and then my system crashed. It's saved, but in semi-permanent stasis...just like Chell!

8. Riven: The Sequel to Myst (1997)
Last Played: It's been years now

For what it's worth, I did buy this on Steam, though I found the resolution was blown up (making it larger on monitors, though unfortunately making it visually worse), though I believe I should've been able to correct that. What may be harder, and I never did see if this was corrected or able to be corrected, was switching the L&R sound outputs.

9. SimCity 4 (2003)
Last Played: Just within the last few months

Ah, SimCity 4. The gift that keeps on giving. We've had our high times and low times together. I recommend my already long history with it instead of rambling on here.

10. Cities: Skylines (2015)
Last Played: Never

What many have declared to be the "successor" of SimCity 4, this one I'm most excited about. Not only is it the newest on the list, but it looks great (between mods) and from what I've heard plays pretty well also. There's some definite rough spots that could use improvement, but those problems smooth themselves out when you realize that it was only about 2005 when SimCity 4 really came of age in terms of mods, and that was AFTER EA had dropped it.

I realize I'm probably leaving out a lot more that's on the list, but these are the top 10...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

well, at least the waco aerial did its first update since '12

It's been a long, bad summer--chronically underemployed, and very little "fun" to be had. I haven't made a nice sangria yet. At least I'm drawing comics to find an outlet for bitterness and cynicism try to practice drawing and have fun. This is a follow-up to the Waco Clarion and its pool (which went up to 8 feet!)

The big skylights can be seen in the second picture of the previous post.

See that little rectangle there?

Sunday, June 14, 2015 has updated again! has updated again, this time WITHOUT a major update to the Northwest Freeway page. Not even the Games got a significant update.
- The biggest new change is an updated framework with new retail page and content page. Frontlining that is a new page on Post Oak Mall.
- The fast food list has been updated. To differentiate from the Michigan list it was inspired off of, the Index of said page has received a new font. A few emergency formatting changes were made (particularly in Long John Silver's), with some new additions (Godfather's Pizza, Mr. Gatti's, Krispy Kreme). Of course, formatting issues still plague the list.
- The Games List has been updated with one new game (Osmos, a short review, and yes, I had it written for a while, just was meant to be combined with others, and no, I'm not phoning it in) with some minor fixes done to Zelda III, Blobbo, EVO, and Milestones 2000. All five plus the Index have been updated with a new visited link color (orange is going away), plus I've started to make the thumbnails clickable to the reviews. There's about 20-odd titles with orange links and non-clickable thumbnails, but expect that to change soon. There's also one early review with the old purple text I got from |tsr's nes archive. Can you guess which one it is?
- The Zachry page has been updated again, though no new videos. To note, there was an error in the previous version where in an effort to add several photos, I forgot the links. Sure, the photos were are there, and you could've just altered the URLs to see the images, but I don't want you to do that, see?

Future updates will focus on the Games list again plus some other stuff that wasn't part of this round (and no, this time, the Northwest Freeway page will not steal the show).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Tracks of Hearne

This was originally published in December 7, 2010 on Brazos Buildings & Businesses with some changes made. As such, it may read differently than what I write today.

I used to make a lot of trips through Hearne, as part of going up from College Station to Waco. A lot of things along that route have been altered, built, or destroyed (steadily, of course, the passage of time, and not nearly as dramatic as the changes that US 290 went through). One of the more interesting things that happened sometime in the early 2000s or late 1990s was the fact that they outright got rid of several rails (I knew there used to be more when I was younger!)

Naturally, it was a railroad town, long since the glory days that ended long ago, when Southern Pacific loaded and unloaded cargo. Today trains stop here and move around ("switcher" engines are still active), but while it still has a lot of tracks, almost 12 in the downtown area. As you can see in these 2010 and 1995 images (which you can click for full resolution!), you can see that in the heart of downtown, there are so many tracks, there are no at-grade crossings.

But they did remove a lot of tracks between them in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The white part (in 2010) is where tracks were removed:

The most obvious part is the bridge you go over when you enter Hearne from the south. A railroad goes under it. If you kept following this track, becomes the "MoPac Highway" railroad in Austin. But prior to the early 2000s, it was a true "Y" like split with the tracks leading into the distance (I recall it did look pretty neat). Look at the difference between these. One of the "arms" from the "MoPac Highway railroad" is completely gone. You can't go southeast anymore. This could be from the way the trains function nowadays, after all, there is Valley Junction to the west...

...and there's probably this change in Downtown Bryan as well. Here, you can see the 2003 and 2010 pictures.

The railroad splits from a single track further south, but it's the railroad that skews northeast that goes to Hearne.

Finally, Google Earth spies an interesting railyard that seems to have literally gone to junk.

Wow, they had a turntable! My six-year-old self would've loved to see to that...too bad it was never visible from Highway 6.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Back last fall, I took advantage of my now-defunct Amazon Prime account to watch some classic Batman: The Animated Series episodes, which I had not seen in many years. Yeah, there was something about curling up in my bed in that funky-smelling rental house, watching the great theme before the show started. Well, I did watch most of them, and for a lot of them I wrote down mini summaries/thoughts.

The series was in the early 1990s, but I saw them more toward the late 1990s, because at that time, eventually the original series was discontinued and replaced with Superman: The Animated Series briefly before The New Adventures of Batman & Superman which did include at least one crossover episode, but mostly added in new Batman adventures (drawn in Superman's crisper art style, which unfortunately I was not a fan of because they mangled the art of the villains, especially the Joker, who even lost his trademark white grin), while repackaging the Batman series. It was for the cartoon blocks, but the creative team made it great with stellar writing, great art (pre-Superman, at least), and pushing the boundaries of what was allowed to be shown (in censorship, there was a Spider-Man show in the 1990s that had some ridiculous limits of what was allowed). Eventually, after both were cancelled in favor of Batman Beyond which was a series where a new Batman took over in a futuristic Gotham City, and then Justice League/Justice League Unlimited which I think didn't work to its potential. While it did finish up a hanging arc from Superman, instead of an anthology series full of backdoor pilots, it ended up making Batman Beyond canon, which in addition to mucking up continuity in an episode where Superman was in Batman Beyond, and also ensuring a miserable ending for Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake.

Otherwise, it was a bright spot in the Batman mythos while the comics had Batman replaced with a doppelganger that actually killed people, and Joel Schumacher was making a laughingstock out of the Dark Knight, culminating in a point where no Batman movies were made in nearly a decade.

So without further delay, here's what I wrote down back in October. Keep in mind that although I never finished all the episodes, I did watch most of them.


The Last Laugh - This was a great Joker episode with a great soundtrack (here), and includes Batman's battle with Joker's robotic henchman, Captain Clown. Captain Clown meets his end when "he" is crushed, but it begs the question--where did the Joker get a nigh-invulnerable, highly-advanced looking (when Batman rips off the "face") robot that can be programmed? Clearly someone is making this technology--if it's the Joker, why would he ever need to commit a crime again?

The Underdwellers - This was kind of a weird episode, since it used a one-shot villain with no origin story or real introduction. Just as well, since the episode referenced child abuse/slavery, and to make the Sewer King as repulsive a creep as possible, there wasn't any backstory to how he came to be. Most of Batman's enemies have a rather sympathetic backstory--an actor with an addiction to an untested compound, a district attorney with a bunch of repressed anger issues, a scientist trying to save his wife...but nope, none of that for the Sewer King.

Beware the Gray Ghost - This episode is one of the better ones, as it involves Bruce Wayne meeting one of his childhood heroes, a washed-up actor who played "The Gray Ghost" a long time ago, and was not able to get serious acting jobs later because of that association with the Gray Ghost. Of course, I was reminded of Adam West (the "original" Batman), which is exactly who cameoed as the Gray Ghost.

Dreams in Darkness - They actually showed a real gun with what is obviously supposed to be blood coming out of it! That's STILL hard to get away with in kids' shows today.

Mad as a Hatter - Up until the third act, the Hatter actually did nothing wrong except cheat a few people out of some money (the chef creating a spectacular meal on the house, for instance), what got Batman interested in investigating was the thugs that tried to commit suicide, and even that, the Hatter wasn't actually scheming for them to kill themselves, he was just trying to impress his date and avoid getting robbed.

Harley & Ivy - Ah, this episode. Much like "Beware the Creeper" later, they got away with a lot in this episode that normally wouldn't fly, namely some very, very light references that Harley and Ivy were, um, more than friends.

Vendetta - As much of this build-up of this episode suggests, I feel the pay-off just isn't worth it. Maybe if Killer Croc had an introduction (heck, I don't even think they gave him a real name), it might be better.

Perchance to Dream - With a device that will artificially create dreams, it's a wonder why the Hatter won't just market this and make money.

Appointment in Crime Alley - This episode ends in kind of an "aww, isn't that sweet" way, but Daggett gets away with extortion, kidnapping, and a bunch more things--as if he hasn't already ruined Matt Hagen's life.

Moon of the Wolf - This one annoyed me, partially because the werewolf in question never gets cured and simply disappears, or because Batman doesn't believe at first it's an actual werewolf and needs convincing. While this is perfectly reasonable, keep in mind that at this point, he's battled the Man-Bat, meeting Catwoman who literally became a cat woman, and others.

Almost Got 'Im - Batman can do a lot, but surviving an electric chair (shortly before it EXPLODES from too much electricity) AND pulling off a great Killer Croc imitation seems too high a bar for the Caped Crusader to actually do.

The Man Who Killed Batman - This is another episode that I enjoyed. Whether it's Harley playing "Amazing Grace" on a kazoo, or the line "I think I served you a subpoena once. It was a small subpoena", this episode was great.

Beware the Creeper - This was a fun episode. It definitely had some parts that normally wouldn't fly with children's TV (TVTropes' "Getting Crap Past the Radar" lists at least three incidents in this episode alone), but it feels like the script started out as a Freakazoid! crossover, especially since F! was by the same creative duo.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Better cafeteria food and other musings

So recently, I got some old film turned into photos. Walmart still has a photo center, but they don't process photos there, so it went to some facility and I paid out the nose for it (little prints and one roll, and still $10). The quality was junk, either from sitting in the camera for 7 years or bad transfers, but they did have some memories intact. [The photo above, in case you're thinking "Hey that doesn't look too bad", I did some partial digital restoration on that.]

One memory in particular was visiting the Midway High School in Hewitt, Texas for a fine arts competition (which fine arts did I do? Well, I won't share that) in late 2007, so here's that photo. It was a Subway in a school cafeteria, which I had never seen before. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it wasn't a school day, I didn't actually see it in operation. The only other indication that it was ever there was a Subway there was a mention in this review, and that indicates that despite draconian federal and state rules, there is still Pizza Hut available sometimes (the price at my high school on pizza days was high too, probably because they actually need to turn a profit and it's not subsidized). I'm surprised they mentioned Chick-fil-a too, because they only had that stuff in college, and even then it wasn't nearly as good as a real Chick-fil-a. (Later on in college, I moved to a neighborhood where a Chick-fil-a was less than a mile away but was perpetually crowded not just because it was a Chick-fil-a off a major thoroughfare but also close to a bunch of sorority houses)

Friday, May 22, 2015 Updates has been updated for the first "true" time since its induction. Here's what's new in this round:

- The AppleTree list has been updated with new store numbers (and a few new entries!) courtesy of an old phone book. Further updates to this are coming soon.
- The Games Index has been revised with a new index format and four new entries: Mario Kart 64, Blobbo, E.V.O.: Search for Eden, and EarthBound. To make this entry in a timely manner, corners were cut, and thus, not all of the entries have thumbnails (the newest entries do have thumbnails). In addition, a few broken links and other errors within that section of the site have been fixed.
- The Zachry page has been updated. Part of the reason was a lot of photos and videos were messed up in uploading. Good thing they were still on the iPhone.
- The Former Fast Foods list has received minimal updates in certain entries to fix HTML errors.
- The Northwest Freeway page has been updated. See that page specifically for what's new.
- Because the Blobbo FAQ has been inducted into a new entry of its own, it no longer has a main page link.
- Kmart link fixed.

I know I didn't hit everything I wanted to do in this update, which is why next update I'll take a break from Northwest Freeway and focus more on the other pages. Games will still be added, but only maybe two or three this time. I intend to go ahead and add the new Retail page, and in the meantime, try to keep this blog up for one-shot items that won't see a full page, such as a Subway in a fairly unusual place.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Movies!! (Spoilers Ahead)

Recently, I've watched the original Superman and the 1990 Total Recall, both of them enjoyable.

Much like Die Hard, Total Recall is another example of a good "hard R" type film, with the right amounts of "LSV" to work. Enough f-bombs to know that the situation is serious, but not enough where you wonder if they have some debilitating verbal tic, enough violence to show some nasty injuries (I've had that sort of thing applied to me by professionals that were mentioned in a national publication once), but not depicting torture or anything like that (and arguably no worse than what you'd see on the news), and no more than a few risqué elements, though not enough to be disgusting. The plot is somewhat complicated, but I think it's less a matter of "was it a dream or not" is if Hauser really was evil all along or not. My theory (and any responses to it, hopefully) can be seen on TVTropes since I know that it will never be seen here.

Superman is far more optimistic, and probably one of the very few good superhero movies made before 2000 (Superman II not sure of, but the "using the S emblem as a weapon" probably one of the stupider movie weapons, personally). It lacks the cynicism of even the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even comes off as less dated than Spider-Man did. It has problems, of course, and not because of the fact how no one notices that Clark Kent is just Superman with glasses (Christopher Reeve pulled it off convincingly), but like Man of Steel, it starts with a very long exposition, the entire "Act I" of the film is just exposition, and 40 minutes until Superman even gets to Metropolis, and an hour until Lex Luthor shows up, and maybe halfway into the film does the "A Plot" even begin. The second big problem is that Lex's evil plot required that the military was completely incompetent (with inexplicably ARMED NUCLEAR WARHEADS, no less), especially with a staged car accident (flipping the car over and over again) but having the "victim" looking completely okay with not a scratch on her. The third is having Superman fly fast enough to go back in time, which besides the "earth spinning backwards" problem, makes you wonder why he couldn't have stopped the other warhead from going off to California, or why he couldn't repeat the process to make multiple Supermans (Supermen?) be on hand in an emergency situation, nor does it answer any of the other questions about time travel. In the original timeline, Superman saved the San Andreas fault, a bus full of kids, and a small town about to be flooded, but Lois dies when her car is swallowed up, causing Superman to go back in time, but that creates a contradiction, in that if Superman Prime is still saving things, then how is he going to go back if Superman prevented Lois from dying? (That is a run-on sentence. I'm sorry) Nonetheless, it's arguably at least as good as Man of Steel (on a different level of course, both have strengths and weaknesses) and better than the weaker entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in my opinion). (I admit, I enjoyed the little part where Clark Kent was insinuating that Lois Lane was smoking weed)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In memory of the Waco Clarion

Sometime either earlier this year or late last year, I discovered another casualty of my past that went away: the Clarion in Waco, Texas, which I visited in 2008. I mean, the Comfort Inn from my 2008 trip was unceremoniously wrecked a few years back, but it was a one-story motel from the 1960s that had received a few facelifts and was probably due for a change anyway.

But the Clarion to me was special. It hadn't been updated in at least a decade, but it meant something and I wondered for a time afterward if it hadn't been a Holiday Inn given how much it resembles the Holidome, another Holiday Inn creation (scroll down mid-way, you'll see it). Of course, "enclosing the courtyard" of a motel wasn't an entirely new creation (a local Ramada did it in the 1980s), and I've confirmed it wasn't a Holiday Inn anyway (there were two Holiday Inns back in the 1980s in Waco, both of which were later torn down, the more modern one ended up becoming the Hotel Waco, which was torn down around 2012 for the McLane Stadium). I've written about this trip in my blog before in a more contemporary time (I went to the flea market that same trip, but note that aforementioned post is very, very old). Since I didn't have a camera at the time, I got these from TripAdvisor.

Funny story: I remember that this was when Rolling Acres Mall was in its throes of death, and a new owner (prospective) had proposed some wild and crazy renovation plan that would turn the old Target into some sort of "indoor beach area" (see Labelscar for that). I actually remember talking/thinking about that back then (I remember weird stuff like that).

The only reason -why- I'm adding this here was because I was cleaning up an old Brazos Buildings & Businesses post and didn't want to chunk what I had here. An update to will be coming soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Where I've Been

Just wanted to give a quick update: there hasn't been any posts recently because I've been doing other things. I did want to give you an idea of what I've been doing, though:

- I'm reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen Covey. I've never been one for self-help books, and I was convinced into reading it by a friend, but it's true that he single-handedly created a bunch of meaningless buzzwords (i.e. "paradigm shift", or maybe "think win/win") which, according to one comment on his obituary, "started a wave of BS in the corporate world – all about clichés and posters and one liners". And that's true. I'm going to withhold my full judgement until I finish it though.

- The most recent movie I've watched is Brazil, which was a strange movie. It's almost as if someone got the rights to 1984, dropped the whole "Big Brother" aspect and rewrote it to be a black comedy, with still a totalitarian government and a rather grim ending. It's supposed to be a satire on capitalism and consumerism, but instead comes off as more of a scathing satire on big government, which makes it popular with conservatives. Fun for everyone, I guess. It has a rather upbeat theme, but it does have an R rating, though not for the reasons 1984 would have one.

- The longer time goes on, I'm more frustrating that Google hasn't updated its satellite imagery of Waco since fall 2012. There's tons going on, namely the expansion of Interstate 35 down in Temple, the dismantling of a long-abandoned railroad (I knew it was trouble around 2008 when they pulled the old rail cars out, and the line only seemed open to access a quarry, which no longer has rail access), shiny new gas stations (Valero, Stripes, 7-Eleven), construction around the new McLane Stadium. I'd love to explore what's new (and no, Bing maps is even more dated).

- And I'm starting a new job, which is fun. This job I don't think I'll be doing in the long run but also ensures that one of my blogs will remain on hiatus because of conflict-of-interest reasons (just to be on the safe side).

Now, the question everyone wants to know is when will officially reopen? I don't know. I'm still redoing one last part (and there's a section in the Northwest Freeway page that will need to be rewritten because I found out new information). Most of the reason it has yet to get started is some complications in making sure the redirects work properly.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

McDonald's Photo Op

In case I didn't mention it before, one of my original plans (for a long time, really, dating back to the Two Way Roads era) was to make a McDonald's-related page. While that never happened (yet?), I did make the Mansard Roof page. So, I've decided to show off a June 1993 picture of me and some of my family members (the woman is my grandmother, and I am in the picture--the boy or one of the babies).

Click for larger size.

Since I've blurred out the faces, I wanted to focus more on the surroundings. It's definitely a McDonald's, but the decor was non-standard (even for the time), and I'm kind of curious to see more of that "Freshly Made" sign. I don't remember seeing that anywhere.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Problem with the City Sims

So, I finally decided to, in response to my new index page previewed the other day, to try to largely unify some pages that needed it. Take the games index, for example. There's a lot of work to be done still (including on the pages themselves), but at least I migrated everything over from my old blogs and added some backlogged stuff that I had previously written. The newest addition here is The Shivah, a short graphical adventure game that captured my attention for a bit.

While in the process of copying the SimCity 2000 review, I had decided to do some looking into Cities: Skyline, the new hopeful from the brains behind Cities in Motion, and I found this, and decided the author was right, but the fundamental problem is a core audience that grew up with the earlier games and demanding more. You see, after the original SimCity was released in 1989, Maxis released SimCity 2000 in 1993, and still players kept requested that Maxis add more. Most of the "adding new stuff" plateaued around the SC2K era but some were introduced in SimCity 4. Here's some 1995 era requests that people had, posting to the Maxis BBS.

Some were added in SimCity 3000.
- "Until the aforementioned recycle plants become available in time, trash dumps should be considered. (I know, pretty yucky idea, but it's realistic.)"
- "Power Brokerage. You should be able to sell off extra power to neighboring cities for a certain amount per watt, and likewise be able to buy power from neighboring cities."

Some were added in SimCity 4:
- "Toll highways and bridges. Would provide extra income, but at the expense of possible commercial development."
- "Ferries as alternatives to bridges. You'd need one on each bank, fairly close to each other."

Some were forward thinking and have yet to be implemented:
- "Extend the college concept and have a "university" zoning construct. You could zone an area for this and it would promote dense residential (student housing) and light commercial zoning in its immediate neighborhood, the effect depending on the size (small--> virtually no effect, large --> very spread out effect). As time progresses, you could get things like a "free" hospital (med school) and sports stadium. Also, as time goes by, if your university is doing well, it would start demanding more space, which of course will cause all kinds of problems for the neighbors. (I grew up in Austin, TX, which has no shortage of friction between the University of Texas and everyone else.)" [Ed: I grew up in College Station and the university was a big part of the town as well]

As the average player age group moved through college and into adulthood, as well as the advancement of computers, we began to ask for more and more complex things, like larger maps and basically the idea that we could recreate any city we choose in real life, right down to the sprawling cul-de-sacs of suburbia, and have all of that be completely functional. I'm not sure if it's the player majority or not, but I know that a lot of people (including me) would love to be able to control even minutiae like stoplights and railroad crossings, or at least lesser things like if a road is concrete or asphalt. The problem is that when you have a game with enormous development costs (as AAA games are known for these days), you have to appeal to the mainstream and approachable. And that is where the divide is. To make a game that would be universally adored by everyone and sell like hotcakes, a publisher (such as Colossal Order) would have to do four things:
- Make it simple enough that a child of average intelligence could reasonably, without cheating or poring over a manual, build a large city, even if those underlying mechanics ran terribly
- Make it complex enough that a post-college adult with a degree in Civil Engineering could reasonably, without using tons of hacky mods and sandboxing, a reasonably "realistic" city, even if those underlying mechanics were "faked" slightly
- Make it approachable enough that it would garner a mainstream audience, even if they played it for a few hours and never again
- Make it hardcore enough that it would garner an audience of supergeeks that could spend hours trying to tweak one thing in a master plan

Because of computing power and the demographics at the time, the first three SimCity games could reasonably do all four. With SimCity 4, it shifted in the hardcore direction, which alienated the mainstream and cannibalized sales (thus ending official development). The new SimCity might have had some of the more complex portions earlier in development, but all of that was purged and mainstreamed into the mass market. The problem was it still lacked the "complexity" issues that the hardcore wanted, and worse, it lacked the tools to reasonably do that with. In any case, nothing can be done to truly capture the heart of even "most" of the hardcore (as in, the ones that still hang out on Simtropolis and SC4 Devotion over 10 years after the game was released) and the money of the mainstream.

I don't think it can be done. It hasn't been done for the last 12 years, and there's no reason to think it will change.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Index Test

I know I haven't done a lot of things with this blog in recent months, but I am committed to getting everything back and up running (making the blog the "base" of the site was a mistake). Here's a sample of how the blog might look. What do you think? Part of the reason why I like this design is because it forces me to update all of the ones that need updating (NW Freeway and the Fast Food list have gotten a lot of love recently, but the Games Index needs help). And those are just the complete ones. There are some backroom projects that I haven't gotten up because they're incomplete.