Chris de Burgh once wrote a song called 'Ship to Shore,' but it wasn't about Planetary Annihilation, which I imagine he hasn't even played.

It’s relentless, but I suppose that’s what war really is at its heart - that ever-surging synergy of strategy and carefully-managed economics. It’s particularly relentless in Planetary Annihilation, because you’re not going to run out of the power or metal that you need to build your armies. The buildings that generate these resources will happily chug away forever once you’ve placed them, meaning you don’t need to ration, you only ever need to get more. More, and faster.

"I accessed Planetary Annihilation early"? What sort of introduction is that? What the hell am I even saying? What year is it? Who’s the President?

Above is one of the screenshots I captured that didn’t make it into the review. It shows a nice big, black ship that I made. I like the very big units in this game. They’re large and slow and serious and grim, like a bear playing a mournful tune on the tuba. That’s exactly what they’re like.

Magic.

It was a while before I discovered proper wizards. When I was young, magic was a benign thing: lighthearted entertainment for early evening television. The magicians made things disappear or convinced you that the card you were holding wasn’t what you thought. In Magicka: Wizard Wars, you can cast spells that will make people explode into chunks of bloody meat.

It’s a kind of magic.

I’m technically on holiday right now and I wrote copy for this a little while back. However, I did do some proper video games reporting the other day, jumping at the chance to report on a particularly special story. I contributed to this reporting on the Pillars of Eternity Paradox/Obsidian partnership and then followed it by contributing to this news story, after a chat with Fred Wester and Feargus Urquhart.

Penguins.

I’m quietly optimistic about Age of Wonders 3 and after having spent some lovely evenings amidst its shimmering spires, creaking forests and flitting faeries, I’ve very much enjoyed myself, but I must make it clear to you that it’s a little bit silly.

I was a big fan of the classic (and terribly unbalanced) Master of Magic, something that has kept me interested in fantasy 4x games ever since. Not that many have come along. Not that many have appealed. I’m hoping Age of Wonders 3 might be what I’m waiting for and, boy, that AI can be pretty wicked. It’s given me the run around plenty of times.

Banished! To somewhere cold.

I don’t mind that it’s a hard game, because it’s still fair, even if it can be difficult to fathom. I don’t mind that it’s slow, because it makes progress remarkably rewarding and it serves as a reminder to the gaming generation of the severity of subsistence living. It dispels the illusion of rustic, romantic medieval life, of the bourgeois novelty of poverty.

Banished is difficult, opaque and limited in its scope, but it’s also an original and intelligent game. Mods might be on the way, so I think this may well be one to revisit.

Infinite Crisis.

The power of the DC Comics license will have certainly contributed to Infinite Crisis’ profile, lifting it above many of its wannabe peers and giving it a strong head start. It’s also given it a quite unique selling point: it’s not so much a Batman game as a game with multiple Batmans (Batmen?). But no such license was ever necessary for Dota 2 or League of Legends to hook their millions.

I just want to be Bane and do the voice all the time.

It’s fine.

An old favourite, revisited once again. Dead within moments, though I was rushing my way through it to try to get to exciting bits. DON’T PLAY THIEF THIS RUSHED.

Runemaster.

Runemaster is an announcement entirely out of left field. It has no precedent at Paradox Development Studio. A role-playing game of mythological world-hopping, featuring turn-based combat between dwarves and dark elves, sits side by side with more than a dozen real-time strategy titles set on humdrum planet earth. It doesn’t so much look like the black sheep of the family as the black troll, too different to ever fit in. It would appear to be the cuckoo in the nest.

I like procedural generation.

Prisoning.

And this is the amazing thing about Prison Architect. I don’t know if this is deliberate, I don’t know if it was the intention of the creators that this be so but, even in its alpha state, even as an undirected sandbox experience that pops up error messages or sometimes turns prisoners into floating heads, all it makes me care about is whether the system works. The people inside the system become irrelevant, faceless and interchangeable.

A brief surfacing to share my look at Prison Alpha for Eurogamer. I’m rather proud of this one.

A reasonable question from anyone in such a situation.

A reasonable question from anyone in such a situation.

(Source: screenshotsofdespair)

A war. With some Vikings.

'We really wanted her to look like someone who would go into a fight in that time period and be dressed properly for that. Not to be dressed for Comic Con,' explains Van Dyke, who has a lot to say about the character design and the concept of women warriors coming from a society that wasn't 'Christian and patriarchal' and which sometimes trained women in combat. 'These women wouldn't have been running around pushing their cleavage out. They were there to fight, to succeed, and you need to reflect that.'

War of the Roses ended up being a game I enjoyed rather a lot, so I’m interested to see how this follow up will do. I also very much like GvD’s comments on the right sort of things to wear in a fight, and a warrior’s ability being what matters, not their gender. I enjoyed hearing him say that.