The Sims Castaway Stories

All right! It shipped, so I can finally talk about it!

The Sims Castaway Stories is the third in the Life Stories series of games we here at Aspyr have done based on the Sims 2 engine. The Life Stories series fuses traditional Sims 2 gameplay with some more directed story elements to great effect. Castaway Stories takes this even further – it’s actually an adventure game (you remember those, right?) done in the Sims 2 engine.

Reasons why you should buy Castaway Stories:

0. I worked on it. That’s reason enough, right?

1. It’s got a story-driven mode, so if you were never turned on by the completely free-form gameplay of the original Sims 2 we’ve got you covered. Explore dangerous jungles! Collect resources so you can make things! Make animal friends! Make native friends! Find your true love! Solve an ancient mystery! Visit a ruined temple! Appease the volcano god! Use lots of exclamation points!

2. On the other hand, if you’re a Sims 2 fan but you’re not that interested in the story mode you should still buy Castaway Stories because it gives you some things Sims 2 fans have been asking for for years but no other Sims 2 game has given them. In particular, big lots! That’s right, not only do we have lots that are double the size of the largest available lot in Sims 2, we’ve also removed the roads so that the entire lot is buildable! Plus, tons of new objects, all done with a jungle theme!

3. It is, in my opinion, the prettiest game ever made on the Sims 2 engine. I mean, just look at this:

It's Talk Like a Simulated Pirate Day!

4. See great scripted cinematics, more complex than anything done in the Sims 2 engine before!

5. It’s currently at #4 on Amazon’s top PC game list, which means lots of people are already buying it! You don’t want to be left out, do you? Can’t you just feel the peer pressure?

I personally worked on making the larger lots and creating the scripted camera system that allowed the designers to make all those neat cutscenes. I’m actually pretty proud of this game and I’m glad it’s getting a bit of recognition.

Name That Game 35!

Yet another RPG set in the Final Frontier. Where do I keep finding them?

It looks kinda familiar...

This was actually a good game, and as designed it was intended to be a sequel to a well-known space RPG series, but the developer could not get the rights to the name.

Name and developer, please! Bonus points if you can also tell me what name this game was supposed to have.

Atanua

Proving yet again that he is cooler than I will ever be, Jari Komppa has released a new software thingie called Atanua. It’s a toybox filled with logic circuits, switches and LEDs and allows you to string these pieces together to make virtual electronics. You could even build a computer inside your computer!

Logic gates and LEDs go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

This was Jari’s final project for school and is damn impressive if I may say so. If you try it out, be sure to send him feedback and bug reports, since this is the initial release.

Name That Game 34!

And we’re back to the RPGs! Only this time, the RPG is in SPAAAACE!

Space slots?  What makes them space slots?

That’s kind of an obscure screenshot, but the game’s main screen has the title logo on it. I guess the developers just didn’t need the expansive amount of space that 320×200 provided so they could waste some on always reminding you what game you were playing…

Name and developer, please. If you’re the first one to get it right, I’ll let you into my zombie-proof bunker when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. You’ll have to prove that you’re not infected first, of course. I’m not going to fall for that one!

Planitia Update 27: I CAN HAS GAME?!

When I started working on Planitia full-bore again after the holidays were over I mentioned that I’m going to release a new beta by the end of January. I want this beta to have actual gameplay in it, and for that I need three things.

* I need to get the villages spawning new villages. They’ve been expanding for months, but once they hit the pop cap they are supposed to spawn another village nearby.

* I need to put combat back in. I ripped it out for debugging purposes – and I know it’s at least partially broken. That needs to be reactivated and debugged.

* I need to get more god powers implemented. Right now the only two that do exactly what they are supposed to are Flatten and Lightning Bolt.

I got the first two requirements done over the weekend and an amazing thing happened…

It’s a game now.

It’s got a definite beginning, requirements for success, and those requirements can be fulfilled – the game can even tell when you (or someone else) has won. The first time I crushed the AI player and had the game actually feed back to me that I’d won…well, that was a great moment for me personally.

So finally, fourteen months after I started this project (and eight months after it was supposed to have been finished), Planitia is a playable game! It’s not a very good game, but I wasn’t expecting it to be – this game is a perfect candidate for the iterative game design process.

And this means I still have two weeks to polish it up and add features before I post it. I’ve even started adding – GASP! – sound!

Advanced SpamProofing

I’ve recently installed Spam Karma 2 in an attempt to mitigate how much comment spam I’m getting. None of it ever shows up on the site – the default WordPress install is good at catching comment spam. But suspicious comments just go into the moderation queue, where I have to sort through them manually, and that’s just not possible any more.

Spam Karma 2 automatically kills comments that look like spam – I won’t ever see them. Which means that there’s a slight chance that it will kill the occasional legitimate comment. If you have trouble commenting now, please feel free to email me – I want to know about problems so I can fix them. Hopefully this will make the blog easier to maintain without impacting legitimate discussion.