Updates! (and Mojiferous looks at Spore)

Despite how quiet my official blog has been, I've actually been busier than ever- however not busy with Mojiferous Industries projects... Sad but true.

Well... not entirely true- I have been working on an updated Atomic Combat on and off (in my [ha ha!] free time) for the last few months- I've built a new user interface that is simpler and more straight-forward, revamped the graphics to be bigger and prettier, and tried to rewire the gameplay so there is less emphasis on between-round construction and research, two areas which seem to have been the source of most complaints about the original Atomic Combat- players suddenly running out of missiles or not noticing that all of their factories have been destroyed and having to suffer for 10 turns because of it...
So I changed the gameplay to shift the focus of construction and development to a "pre-war" construction phase that happens before bombs start to drop (much like in real life- the likely scenarios for global nuclear war would probably not allow for construction of new bombers and warheads in between strikes.) Consequentially, the "meat" of the game, the actual attack phase encompasses a blizzard of attacks and counter attacks with no interruptions for construction of a new reactor, or to research more reliable missiles in the middle of a war. In many ways, this had made the actual nuclear combat a little more "realistic", with a number of concepts from the inability to research new technologies in the midst of an attack to multiple simultaneous attacks (a feature I initially included in the original, but it proved to be quite annoying when coupled with the construction/research/manufacturing model of AC1.0)

So here's a run-down of current features:
-new rendered (3d!?) graphics
-3 levels of zoom! (still determining why, other than "because I can")
-manufacturing/research phase shifted to beginning of game, reconstructed as a "card game" (modeled partially on Nuclear War.) That's right, all 4 countries draw cards, place 'em down, etc. etc. to determine how many of what kind of warheads, missiles, bombers, etc. they possess. There are of course "action" cards, almost like Mille Bornes, allowing you to screw another player... This is still early on in the development phase, so we'll see how it turns out.
-wind now dynamic- no longer will radioactivity simply float across the screen from left to right, but will be subject to changes (due to nuclear detonations and possibly storms)
-probably a whole hell of a lot more features as I get further into development, however seeing as how I'm only spending a few hours a week (of my precious little free time) on this project, it may be a while before everything is completely ready for beta testing...

In other news, I recently finally got around to playing Spore... Only to be supremely disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, the game looks nice, it's easy to play and advances fairly quickly. Which, truthfully, is also my biggest complaint about it- in the space of a day I advanced from a tiny one-celled organism to a galaxy-hopping creature and only "died" three times (eaten by slightly stronger creatures before [quickly] learning that evolution/creation got more advanced the farther west and south of my nest I wandered.) Admittedly I was playing at the easy level, but I also never read instructions and towards the latter stages of the game was so bored with it all I was skipping all the in-game tutorials just to make the game a little more difficult.
I was hoping for an in-depth game much akin to Will Wright's Sim Earth- so dense and difficult, without careful study of the instruction book and repeated trial and error you end up with a burning hellhole of a lifeless planet- but no, instead I got The Sims Wildlife Version. Even the so-called "city management" phase- pumped so heavily towards "fans of Sim City and Civilization" as it was- was a disappointment. I don't know what "fans of Sim City" the developers talked to, but tribal, global, and galactic phases had about as much city management as your average game of C&C (is my city making tanks? no? Can it make tanks? yes. Make tanks.) In the "global" (or whatever the hell Maxis calls it) phase I could build three (3!) different types of buildings, and six (6!) different vehicles- I probably spent a grand total of two (2!) minutes managing my cities- in fact the hardest part about the stage was figuring out what I was supposed to be doing after willfully ignoring the in-game tutorial. Sim City, a place where layout and design time stretches into days sometimes, it is not. In fact, the only times that I even thought about Sim City were to ponder how great a new version of the game would be with a Spore-like construction system, with endlessly different buildings, some downloaded live off the internet from other users, etc. etc. Now that would be a game I would not leave the house for...

Anyway, long story short: doing both of these things at once- redesigning Atomic Combat and playing Spore- has led me to a couple conclusions that will probably influence the outcome of Atomic Combat:
1) Razzle Dazzle should never come before depth (a full-3D world would be really cool, but I would rather improve AC's rather lackluster play than add graphical bells and whistles- Sim Earth [with it's mind blowing 256-color graphics and single-1.2Mb floppy install] was a more interesting game than Spore)
2) Finding a way to present necessary information to the user without a maze of menus and clicks is key to AC's improvement (Spore can tell you everything you needed to know, just with one screen...)
3) I need music and better sounds.

Anyway... Look for more soon!