Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Sinning it Up

This post was written by Zach, who runs the anime blog Akinotsuki. He and I have decided to write guest posts for each others blogs. For better or for worse, for kicks, for the differing perspectives of interests that we share… or something like that. Here’s his take on Sins of a Solar Empire.

Judging a book by its cover is wrong. Don’t let anyone, especially me, tell you otherwise. Judging a game by its title, though? Absolutely fine, at least in the case of “Sins of a Solar Empire” by Ironclad Games.

Although it shames me, the title of this game was what drew me in. Described as a RT4X on the game’s back cover, Sins of a Solar Empire somehow lives up to that puzzling genre description. Call me a cynic, but both the RTS and 4X genres have become tired. Sure: there are a few diamonds in the rough, but even those are tarnished by years of the same product over and over again. SRPGs can end up being the same, but at least they have a story line to pick up where the gameplay leaves off whereas RTSes and 4Xes leave it up to the player to find his own raison d’être.

As much as I like being treated like a grown-up, the fuel for the fire of imagination required for that existential quandary is nowhere to be found in these games. Maybe I could plot it out or play a re-enactment campaign in “Generic 4X (read: Civilization) IV”, but isn’t that just delaying the inevitable—my moving on to newer and better games?

Just as 4Xes have jumped the shark and are showing few signs of innovation, RTSes have fallen into the same trap: that of rewrapping a package and hoping that the person you’re giving it to doesn’t realize that you’re just handing them the same gift year after year (editor’s note: like Madden! I hate Madden). RTS fans seem to like it, and game sales are solid, but its a niche market, and even though the game devs have done a stellar job of changing my laser-cannon equipped tanks into catapults, they’re the exact same unit at the end of the day.

So what happens when these two stagnant gene pools come together and decide to make a child?

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hamachi: How To Set Up a VPN

My friend Zach over at Akinotsuki recently convinced me to pick up a copy of Sins of a Solar Empire, arguably one of the best real-time strategy games released last year. Presumably, he did this for the very specific purpose of destroying my self esteem on a regular basis. That’s what I think, anyway. It’s an incredibly complex game, and the learning curve can be a bit steep at times.

Let’s say you pick up SoaSE, and you want to play against your friend like me and Zach do. How does one go about it? There’s always the SoaSE servers via Ironclad Online, admittedly most players’ default if they’re looking to do multiplayer. ICO is a bit troublesome, though – other players are annoying at times, features don’t work quite the way you’d like, etc. What’s a gamer to do? Use Hamachi.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Hamachi is a zero-configuration VPN (Virtual Private Network) application made by LogMeIn. It’s compatible with Windows, with betas available for OS X and Linux. Essentially, using a VPN connection is like setting up a LAN, only without any of the hard wiring. Here’s how you do it:

January 24, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Tech, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments