What I’ve Been Playing: Kerbal Space Program

I tried the Kerbal Space Program (KSP) demo almost a year ago and didn’t find it to my liking.  Piloting the ships felt too difficult and the even concept of getting into orbit was more daunting than I was prepared to deal with.  This past week though I picked KSP up from the Steam sale and decided to give it another go.  I’m not sure whether I changed or something about the game got balanced, but after logging almost 50 hours I find myself completely obsessed with KSP  to the detriment of every other game in my backlog.

KSP, which is currently available in alpha form on Steam, plays like a NASA simulator, tasking you with designing rockets, piloting them into orbit, and exploring the solar system.  Its still missing some key components (like money), but a rudimentary career mode is in place that requires you to collect science from your missions to feed into a tech tree.  The tech tree adds an addictive progression system as you move from sub-orbital flights to moon landings in an attempt to gather ever more research to fuel your technical progress.  A Sandbox mode is also available, but I haven’t tried it yet; where’s the fun in having everything unlocked from the start? ;)

I can honestly say this is the first game that’s motivated me to seek out and apply complicated physics equations, and I spent several hours of my weekend attempting to calculate the delta v of a heavy moon lander I was having trouble launching.  Sadly these efforts didn’t pay off quite as well as I’d have hoped, leaving me with no recourse but to blame my own limited understanding of the complicated math.  I hope when the game finally releases, the developer sees the potential in adding an in-game lab with resources to help with such computations; its possible to do the calculations by hand on paper, but a built-in system to do so would go a long way to making me feel more like I’m using rocket science and not trial and error to put my mark on the moon.

KSP is a fantastic sim and I’m looking forward to what the developers add next.  I’d strongly recommend it.  Anyone else tried KSP?  What were your thoughts?  Any cool achievements?  Leave a comment below.

Reasons 2014 Will Rock for Gamers

So E3 has passed, and a big complaint I keep hearing is how many of the major announcements were for content that won’t drop until 2015.  Balderdash I say!  There’s plenty coming to consoles and PC’s this year that is well worth crowing over.

1.  The Remasters – Not everyone has played everything, and some of us even like to replay old stuff we really enjoyed.  I got a kick out of replaying the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on my PS4 (having played and beaten it on PC last year), and I’ll likely be doing the same with the Last of Us Remastered when it comes out.  What’s got me more excited however are Metro Redux, GTA V, and Diablo 3, none of which I’ve played.  This will be my first chance to experience all of those titles and it will be with new-gen specs!  Oh, and I may not own an XBox One, but the Master Chief series looks great.

2.  The Sequels – People love to hate sequels for some reason.  Maybe they represent some kind of loss of potential energy that might have generated a new franchise, but more often than not they turn out to be totally competent games with masses of dedicated fans.  This holiday season sees new titles in semi-annual franchises Call of Duty and Battlefield, as well as new entries in the Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, and Far Cry series.  These might not all turn out to be hits, but as much time and energy went into them I’m sure they’ll be alright.

3.  The New Stuff – Evolve, Destiny, Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Sunset Overdrive;  How can gamers not be looking forward to the rest of 2014?!  Destiny and Evolve are currently earmarked as my most wanted wishlist items on Amazon, but its exciting to see so much big name gaming goodness coming out in the next six months.

I’m not even going into the indies that will be coming out before the end of the year or the surprises that will inevitably crop up before Christmas.  2015 is shaping up to be a fantastic year, but the latter half of 2014 is nothing to sneeze at either.  What are you looking forward to playing by Christmas?  Any big titles I missed?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.