VALUE Field Reports #33: Another Year, Another Field Report.
According to the Gregorian Calendar humanity has leveled up once again: welcome to 2018! Spend your ability points wisely! Are you going for more Wisdom so you can better understand the lore behind Dark Souls, or are you dumping it all in Agility to increase your APM? We here at VALUE hope you’ve had a great few days. Join us, for the first Field Reports of 2018. Welcome to Issue 33!
Civilization VI On Your iPad – Worth the Price?
A few years ago I developed a want, nay a craving, for the ability to play three specific games on the go: Rome: Total War, Civilization (back then it was 4, 5, and 6 quickly became welcome too), and Dark Souls. And not on a laptop, but on a light touchscreen device (save for Dark Souls, because good luck trying to kill Ornstein and Smough with fiddly on-screen joysticks). One part of this dream became reality last year when Rome: Total War was released on iOS with full touchscreen support. And now, finally, Civilization VI has fully been ported to iOS as well. “But wait a second here, there’s been quite a few Civilization games on smartphones and tablets already!” True, you observant reader you. But those games paled in comparison to the real deal. So that’s two out of three (and like Meatloaf sang, that ain’t bad) games that I want in a super portable format!
Now the question is, is Civilization VI for iOS worth 60 dollars (30 dollars till January 4th as a special launch price)? Because that’s a very high price for a game that’s been discounted numerous times on pc, and especially for a game in the appstore climate where consumers famously balk at prices over 3 euro. The answer to that is: of course it is, ya dummy! It’s a full Civilization game! No shortcuts, no restrictions, almost no concessions, nothing that makes the game play any different than the PC version. This is the most complete and full video game you can buy for your iPad.
Dark Souls in my pocket, however, seems to become less and less of a possibility. Just release it on the PSVita or Switch, From Software, and I’ll buy the system and the game without hesitation! Please?
Speaking of Civ VI, the recently announced expansion pack Rise & Fall includes the Dutch civilization! Queen Wilhelmina will lead the Dutch into their cultural/domination/economical/religious victory over the rest of the world. Time to build all the world wonders in Amsterdam!
The trailer for the civ contains hilarious mispronunciations: “Growhteh Rehvireh” and “Sevhen Prehvincien” take the cake. What’s slightly less hilarious is one scene where a VOC-ship attacks and takes the city of Surabaya.The entire series is famed for allowing its players to change the entire history, so why use a real colonial event in the trailer? They didn’t show German tanks attacking European cities, or English soldiers fighting Zulu warriors. So why use this particular event?
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the new expansion!
Visit (A Blocky) Teotihuacan Without Traveling!
Minecraft and historical sites go together like New Year’s Eve and fireworks. Probably even better than that, actually. As VALUE has already shown with their various Minecraft projects (Rebuilding Palmyra, Romeincraft, and Nineveh), the game is ideal for rebuilding and showing archaeological and historical sites. The De Young museum in San Francisco has a new exhibit in which visitors can visit the great temple-city of Teotihuacan, the largest pre-Columbian city of Mesoamerica. This exhibit is an addition to the murals and artifacts of Teotihuacan the museum has in its collection. The map, which can also be downloaded for free, is a 1:1 scale representation of the city, with the most important landmarks around the (completely normal, not ominous sounding at all) Street of the Dead. It was created using detailed archaeological maps, aerial and satellite photography.
Digging Around in Nuclear Rubble – Fallout Finds.
The Fallout series is steeped in archaeology, because most of history has been either wiped out by the nukes or guarded zealously and jealously by the Brotherhood of Steel. The survivors of the wasteland who aren’t spending their days fighting bugs the size of a beachball or hunkering in a Vault, dig through the rubble that once was the United States of America. The timeline diverged from hours somewhere around 1950, and nuclear power has been fully embraced by the world. Nuclear powered battleships, armored suits, and even cars all contain a nuclear reactor in one way or another. And then in 2080, they blew it all up (YOU MANIACS!). Eighty (Fallout) to hundred and eighty (Fallout 4) years later, the survivors of the fallout and following chaos are left to wonder about the strange artifacts for before the Great War. And because the artifacts originate in a time period similar to our last 70 years, we can better interpret findings better than the in-game characters.
Alex Fitzpatrick thought so too, and she’s starting a new series of blogposts called Fallout Finds, in which she looks at the Fallout games.
History and Gaming – a Panel on History in Video Games.
Interest in video games among the academia is growing and growing, to our delight! On November 17th, the Centre for Applied History and the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre (both situated in Sydney) organised the panel History and Gaming. Three panel members (Dr Rowan Tulloch, Daniel Keogh, and Abbie Hartman) talked about how we can interact with historical content through video games, and how video games influence our historical awareness.
Restoring the First LGBTQ Video Game.
Caper in the Castro, a free Point & Click adventure game with a LGBTQ-theme distributed through BBS in 1989, was considered lost until it recently was found and restored. This is noteworthy, because it is the first video game with a gay and lesbian theme. The player assumes the role of a lesbian detective called Tracker McDyke who’s trying to find her friend, a drag queen who’s gone missing. Searching around San Francisco’s hotspot of the LGBTQ scene in the late 80s, Castro Street, the player has to look for clues and talk to people in a typical adventure fashion.
The game’s creator, C.M. Ralph, recently found the original diskettes and restored and uploaded the game.
Everyone who’s ever played World of Warcraft, and a lot of people who haven’t, have heard or seen of the famous video in which an AFK Paladin returns to his pc, only to rush headlong into a room filled with ready-to-hatch dragon eggs. His party, who had been discussing their strategy up till that point (with a chance of success of “32.3333%, repeating of course”), dives in after him trying to salvage the situation, but to no avail. The video became viral, probably one of the earliest game videos ever to do so.
The video was staged, but a lot of players didn’t quite catch that and Leeroy became the embodiment of bad players in WoW. The player behind Leeroy, Ben Schulz, decided to release the first version they had made before deciding on the now legendary final take. The first version is similar, but has some small changes here and there. But why did Schulz publish this version now, after all these years? To fight Net Neutrality! Ben links to helpful websites and promises to donate ad revenue.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Bringing Ptolemaic Egypt to You.
Our favourite game about genetic-memory time travelling assassins in Egypt will soon receive an update with a very cool feature: The Discovery Tour. Instead of having to worry about guards chasing you, or the world that needs saving, you can sit back and take a guided trip that leads you along a variety of tours that touch on various aspects of Ptolemaic Egypt. The player can explore the world at their leisure, learning about history (detached from any Assassin’s Creed lore!!!) when and how they want. What’s even better, is that this mode points out the liberties the development team took and where they strayed from historical accuracy. This was always one of my main gripes with the series, and I’m overjoyed that it’s finally being addressed! Expect the update somewhere early this year.
A recurring theme in fiction, and also in Origins, is the distant past. The unknown people that left behind massive ruins and marvelous technology. Our imagination fills the blanks that our historical knowledge has left, creating vast empires of near-perfect beings or long-gone aliens. These precursor civilizations often act as a major plot point, lying at the base of the mystery (sometimes literally).
Saving the Virtual World – Preserving Defunct MMOs.
While digital copyright already allows for abandoned games to be archived and spread, this only counts for games that don’t require an online server. Meaning that hundreds of games, and especially MMOs, can’t be preserved without the copyright holder’s permission. Especially MMOs are important to preserve, because they often have had a huge community that participated in, and influenced, the game’s lore and culture. And a lot of players just want to return to the worlds that they’ve spend so much time in, as evidenced by illegal Vanilla WoW servers and other projects that aim to restore online games that are no longer accessible. The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment has requested the Copyright Office to consider expanding the exemptions to digital copyright to online games, so they (and others) can start working on preserving these games.
It Came From Outer Space.
Elite: Dangerous is a superb space trucking/pirating/trading/exploring game set in a realistic model of known space. Known space, because there’s unknown space. And let that unknown space happen to hold the Thargoids. Previously only hinted at with archaeological dig sites until one lone alien was encountered on the edge of known space, the Targoid race recently begun up their appearances. And their aggression… Space stations are being attacked by these mysterious aliens, requiring daring space pilots to navigate the burning wreckages (ruins?) to try and save valuable goods and survivors. It’s starting to look like humanity and the Targoids will enter a war sooner than later. Time to save up for a better ship than this rusty Sidewinder I have.
Tomb Raider 2 – How a Sequel Both Ruined and Saved the Franchise.
Yes, you cannot escape Tomb Raider when talking about archaeology and video games. But that’s not surprise: it was one of the most visible and profitable video game franchises around, and Lara Croft was as recognisable as Sonic and Mario at some point.
And then the franchise went downhill faster than the protagonist on a steep slope in an Aztec ruin.Two reboots couldn’t save the tarnished reputation of the once great action-platformer, and it took 17 years after the release of the first game for the third(!) reboot to return Lara Croft to her former glory.
This slippery slope of slowly shrinking success started, according to Polygon, in Tomb Raider 2: the focus on combat over puzzles and platforming being the main cause. This focus nestled itself deeper and deeper into the franchise, like an Egyptian arrow-trap triggered by careless players into Lara’s skull. But was this the cause of the franchise waning success or the cause of its longevity despite the waning success?
Overcoming the Loneliness of the Road.
Being a trucker is a lonely existence: driving on roads for days on end, the only human interaction is other truckers and people at truck stops. One trucker found a solution to his problem by removing his passenger seat and setting up a gaming pc instead.
This pc allows him to stay not only entertained after long hauls, but also to stay in touch with family on the other side of the USA. The power of video games, yo!
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