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What video games do you like?

Viewed 683 times 2017-3-28 03:25 |System category:Life| building, sequence, history, because, control

I was just thinking about video games and how I dont really like playing them apart from the Total War series which is a strategy series that lets you take control of a nation at a certain point in history. The Total War games have a simple turn based civilization/empire building side to them - and a battle sequence. You can play the simple civilization building side of the game and simulate the battles but the reason Total War is such a great game is because of the battle side of the game.

The civilization building side of the game is ok and there is a bit to it with managing your taxes and deciding what infrastructure to spend, and what troops to train, and you have diplomacy with diplomats, and spies and assassins and stuff and that is all pretty cool. In some Total War games you can assassinate the Pope for example, if you have a good assassin or are lucky. But the Total War civilization building/construction and management side is not as in depth as the Civilization series for example and it is not the real focus - the battle side of the game is. Total War is the first game to allow a player to control armies that attempt to simulate actual troop types from whatever time in history the game is set in so you can simulate historic warfare. RTS games like the Age of Empires and Warcraft type games allow you to train units and have war with the other nations but it is all done on the game map you are playing on whereas in the Total War series the game cuts away from the game map for the battle sequences and no other game really did that before Total War.

I have seen a few obscure RTT 'real time tactics' games since the Total War series began, and apparently there were a couple of 'real time tactics' games before Total War but these couple of early 'real time tactics' games did not have the game engines to really handle simulating a battle like the Total War series does plus the Total War units are based on actual troop types throughout history. The Total War series is categorized as being in the RTS ( Real Time Tactics ) and TBS ( Turn Based Strategy ) genres. The civilization side is a lot like the Age of Empires RTS ( continuous gameplay ) games but Total War turn-based like Civilization so after you have finished building, training, setting tax levels for your cities, made your diplomatic moves with diplomats/spies/assassins, moved your armies for the year/logistics, and you can also change what city is to be your nations capital as your empire changes, you end your turn and each turn represents a year or season depending on which Total War game you are playing.

There is also the managing of your family tree to consider - you can change the heir to the throne, and decide if a suitor is suitable for your female nobility or not. Another cool thing is that if we win a battle that qualifies as an Heroic Victory you get X on the site of your battle on the game/campaign map and when you put the cursor over the X text comes up stating the date of the great battle and the names of the winning and losing generals/factions. So your Heroic Victories are immortalized with the X that stays there throughout the campaign. Also the generals gain attributes like increased or decreased general rank depending on the outcomes of his battles and also increased or decreased influence depending on how their careers go, plus the generals gain retinue throughout the game depending on what the generals do. If a general conquers Rome and decides to enslave the population then he may gain a Civilized Slave to his retinue - or a Slave Trader - maybe an Exotic Slave. Depending on actions and also randomly the generals can gain many different kinds of retinue from Priests to drinking companions. All of the retinue have text with an explanation in case you dont know what a Haruspex is, or a Geometre is -

Civilized Slave -"Just a little something I bought to remind me of those decadent fools…"
+1 Management

Exotic Slave - Slaves don't have to be useful. Sometimes they are for show.
+1 Influence

Barbarian Slave - "Just a little something I bought up on the frontier… "
+1 Command when fighting against Barbarians, 1% bonus to cash gained from looting

Body Slave - Great men have better things to do than dress themselves and clean their own armour.
+1 Influence, -1 from personal security (increases the chances of falling victim to assassination)

Floozy - Every truly great man deserves the companionship of a cheap floozy at some point in his career!
-2 from personal security (increases the chances of falling victim to assassination)

Dancer {dancer2} -Lavish and stimulating amusement after work is important, even for the most dedicated of men.
+2 to agent's skill

Courtesan - The attentions of a courtesan who has skill and refinement are a welcome relief at the end of hard day's brutal conquering.
+1 to agent's skill.

Freeman Clerk {freeman_clerk} - An able and loyal assistant in the day-to-day business of government.
+1 Management, 10% bonus on tax income

So the generals/nobility can gain retinue and these influence the the characters traits/characteristics. The Nobility can even own pet lions and stuff. The retinue are a cool part of the game and managing your generals is fun. Depending on the member of nobility's original traits they start out with some will be better suited to leading armies into battle while others will be better suited to being a governor of a province and staying in the city to help keep the population happy and from rioting/revolting. It is kind of fun when you get a general that leads a great army and conquers a lot of cities and wins a lot of great victories because after a while the game will give them nicknames to suit their deeds, like 'The Great' or if you had the general doing a lot of exterminating of populations then the general may be dubbed 'The Exterminator' or if you like to massacre retreating armies maybe 'The Butcher' or if you had your general wipe out entire peoples then he may be dubbed 'The Conqueror'. So if you get a great general that has many great victories you can kind of pretend that you have outdone Alexander the Great or even Caesar.

When you play as the Romans in Rome Total War the Senate will annoy you with Senate missions like taking a certain province or blocking a port. If you ignore the Senates requests for long enough they will find you guilty of treason and go to war with your faction - you can play as Julii, Brutii or Scipio in Imperial Campaign mode and there is the SPQR factions in the game too but that faction is not playable. My favourite Roman faction is the Julii faction. If you keep the Senate happy they will give your factions nobility senate offices which increases their influence. If you ignore as much as you can get away with without them declaring you guilty of treason, but win great glory for your faction the lack of respect that you are showing to SPQR can actually help your popularity with the populist Roman masses.

So Total War games are TBS that are very similar to many RTS games but they are also RTT ( real time tactics ) games because of the awesome battle sequences. RTT is a sub genre but with Total War even though the TBS side of the game is good and on par with the top games of RTS/TBS genres, it is not the TBS side that is the focus - it is the real time 3D tactical battles that are why the game was made and why the games are great so in my opinion it is wrong to classify the Total War series as TBS/RTT because it is the RTT sub genre that defines the series. It would be more correct to classify Total War games as being RTT/TBS games because they are RTT games first.

When you play Total War the RTS influenced TBS side of the game is important and very good but ultimately you are playing this side of the game to get to the RTT battle sequences. It is in the Total War battle sequences that is where the glory of the games exists. To win the game in campaign mode you have to have to defeat the other nations by taking the required number of cities/provinces on the map kind of like the Risk board and TBS video games, and to do that you have to develop your infrastructure like in RTS/TBS games and I believe that the Total War TBS side is at least the equal of any of the top RTS/TBS games but those games dont have the awesome 3D real time tactics battles like Total War does and it is these awesome RTT battle sequences that are the Total War players primary motivation for playing Total War series games. Unless the player is some kind of Total War noob ( I never say noob ) that does not appreciate or comprehend the greatness of Total Wars RTT.

I think the reason I like Total War so much is because I liked the board game Risk before I played Total War games and the TBS side of Total War is similar like I said, but like I also said - it is the battles that make the Total War games and in my opinion the genre that the Total War RTT battle sequences have most in common with is games of the sports simulation genre.

When I was a kid my favourite games were sport simulation games. I used to own an NES and had friends with Sega Master Systems and I played the early sports games like Double Dribble and Joe Monatana Football ( before that I played sports games on the Atari 2600 which were terrible and not exactly sports games really. Some Atari soccer games maybe ) - and then when they made 16-bit games I got a Sega Megadrive and had friends with SNES's so I played all the sports games that came out and at that time the console games were built better for sports games than your average PC so sports simulation games always came out on console and sometimes they might make a PC version which sucked and was not as good/smooth as the console version. Anyway I remember I friend and I rented the first EA Madden NFL game and the SNES had this thing called 'Mode 7' that allowed you to swivel the game camera around 360 degrees and zoom in or out and you could do this in the replay part of Madden and my friend and I were amazed at being able to move the game world around like that. The thing that impressed us the most about Madden was how it utilized Mode 7 in the replay made. It was quite a leap from being impressed by the dunk cut scene graphics in NES basketball game Double Dribble to being able to move a game camera 360 degrees as well as zoom in and out. Mode 7 also allowed racing games like Mario Kart to keep the vehicle in the centre of the screen while the world moved around the vehicle as opposed to earlier car games where the vehicle moved side to side on a road while the road was fixed. Anyway so I had a Sega Megadrive and had friends with SNES 9 and I got one myself a bit after getting the Mega Drive because the SNES was better ) so I played all the EA Sports football games, basketball games, ice hockey games ( I have never liked soccer games and never played them much ), and EA made Rugby games and later Australian Rules and a Rugby League game. Two players could play on the same team at the same with the 16 bit sports games and I remember spending entire weekends and days in holidays playing sport games in season mode. It was a big thing to get to the play offs and win the championship so you could see the ending. Back then it was all about the endings. Like how each Streetfighter character had their own ending. We would wonder what happened when you won the game/championship. With sports games it was generally pretty disappointing - like a picture of a trophy or something. Or confetti would come down from the sky while some lame victorious music would play. So I have played a lot of sports games. I bought a Playstation and Nintendo 64 when the 32 bit consoles came and I played mostly sports games on them too. My favourite games are the EA NBL Live games and I liked how the 32 bit games allowed for GM Modes in sports games so you could simulate the season as the GM as well as playing the games. The last of the 16 bit games allowed trades but it wasnt until the 32-bit consoles that we got true GM modes. The GM modes in sports games are a lot like the TBS/RTS side of the Total War series really.

They will categorize modern sports simulations as being in the 'Sports' genre but the GM modes give these simulations a TBS. Each game and round of the season is like a turn in a TBS game which is similar to how you end your turn in Total War games at the end of each season. There is a strategy element to sports simulations that have GM mode since you can develop players, trade players, manage your roster/team make up, set/employ tactics/plays and you can scout rookies for the draft at the end of the season. So modern sports simulations with GM mode are very much like the Total War series because being General Manager in the sports games is similar to being Faction Leader in Total War, the TBS elements are there in both games and they are important but with the sports games it is the games of the season that is truly what the game is about just like it is the battles that are central to the Total War games.

In the sports genre the games are a lot like RTT sub genre in RTS/TBS when you are playing GM mode but nobody ever calls sports games RTT games or strategy/TBS games for that matter and the main reason would be that sports games and RTS/TBA games on a whole appeal to different crowds. Your typical RTS/TBS gamer is likely to think he is smart and likely to not be a huge sports guy. I dont want to stereotype 'gamers' but your core 'gamer' is typically prone to not being a big sports guy and I think that this is broadly true of 'gamers' in general. A person that considers EA or 2K sports games to be their favourite games are prone to be big sports guys and are less likely than your average 'gamer' to think of themselves or refer to themselves as being a 'gamer' where a 'gamer' would be a lot more likely to. So in my opinion there is a bit of gamer snobbery when it comes to sports simulations and I think it is this gamer snobbery that is the reason why nobody ever refers to modern sport simulations as being strategy or TBS games even though they actually are with GM modes.

The way that the RTT sub genre is thought of is that it evolved out of the RTS/TBS genre but I would argue strongly that the parallels between battle sequences in Total War and game simulations in sports games makes sports game simulations types of RTT so in my opinion the evolution of the RTT sub genre did not begin as sub games of RTS/TBS games - the evolution of the RTT genre began with early sports simulations. Team sport did actually come from warfare so of course there will be parallels between sports game simulations and the 3D real time tactics battles in the Total War series.

In my opinion Rugby Union, Rugby League and Gridiron are the team sports that are most similar and have most parallels with ancient and medieval battles. The forwards/blockers are like infantry and the backs are like your cavalry. It is all about breaking the line or flanking in Union/League/Gridiron and it is the same in ancient/medieval battles. A football field is very much like a battle field. A sporting season is very much like a military campaign. There are so many parallels between ancient/medieval warfare and team sports - especially football ( Union/League/Gridiron ). In many ways teams sports like soccer, basketball, Australian Rules Football and Gaelic Football make me think of projectile troops - bowmen and spearchuckers. Bowlers in cricket and are like slingers, and batsmen like swordsmen. There is a lot of warfare in sports - but the sports that resemble ancient/medieval battle the most are Union/League/Gridiron. I have always thought that Total War battles are like playing a football ( not soccer ) game. They are - and I do not think it can be denied that the evolution of the RTT sub genre starts with sports simulation games.

 So with Total War games it is the RTT 'sub genre' that is the dominant genre - not the TBS genre. The main reason you play GM mode in sports sims is the games and the main reason you play Total War games is the battles. So in the case of the Total War series the games are RTT first and TBS second despite the fact that you must play the TBS side to get to the RTT battles. Total War lifts the status of the RTT category from a 'sub genre'. A Total War game should be described as being an RTT first - as in RTT/TBS rather than TBS/RTT. Total War games are Real Time Tactics games first and Turn Based Tactics games second.

So anyway - I like Total War games and what I like most about them are the battles. The RTT battle part of the Total War games was used to simulate ancient battles in the series Decisive Battles. The simulated battled in the Decisive Battles show use the first Rome Total War game engine which is a lot better than the original game engine that was used for the first Shogun Total War and the first Medieval Total War which used simple sprites for the troops/units and had very simple siege battles - but those early games are awesome despite the simpler graphics - especially the Viking Invasion game at the end of the run for that engine. After Rome and Medieval 2 etc came Shogun 2 which was done in a new game engine and the graphics in series from Shogun 2 onwards are very realistic but they are pretty decent in the second engine that they used for the battle simulations in the Decisive Battles show.

My favourite Total War game is still the original Rome Total War. I like to play as a barbarian ( Gaul/Germanic/Britons ) faction and conquer Rome. I like to enslave all of the Romans and burn all of their cities - especially Rome. The game is cool because if you play as the Gaul faction you start out with a general called Brennus ( A Gaul called Brennus sacked early Rome - Vae victis! ) so you can kind of fantasize, and in some small way identify with the ancients by playing Total War. When you conquer a city you are given the option of enslaving the population, exterminating the population or just occupying the city/province. I generally try to enslave Romans but I prefer to exterminate other peoples and then build their cities back up with my own people under my own religion. Sometimes I will keep a Roman or Greek temple in a small province as a joke. Just one. It is such a fun game but the battles are the most fun and what its all about.

With the Rome/Alexander engine the games all have generals that make speeches before battles and they are often hilarious, especially in Medieval Total War 2 - and some of the speeches are on par with Mel Gibsons Brave heart speech. And you control all of the units in your army and the battles are fought on battlefields that have the same kind of terrain as the battle is taking place on the game map - so if you are in a place with mountains - like the Alps - your battle field will reflect that - and if you are battling in a place that has heavy forest - like Germany - then the battle field will reflect that - in the Middle East and Northern Africa the battle fields are all basically desert. If it is winter in Northern Europe when you battle then your battlefield will be covered in snow. So you can use the terrain to your advantage like you would in battle - so the high ground can be important, and you can hide units in trees for ambush or to put cavalry at a disadvantage - it is totally awesome. And you can have battles on bridges which are always cool especially if you have large armies because the dead bodies just pile up and cover the bridge, and fall into the water - and there is blood everywhere. Total War games are the most violent games ever really. So bridge battles are awesome and you also have sieges which are really cool in the games using the second game engine - Rome/Alexander on. The siege battles in Medieval 2 are way cooler than the ones in Rome because instead of attacking/defending city walls you are attacking castles and the siege equipment is more advanced and stuff - but they are still cool in Rome and if you play as a civilized faction like the Romans or Greeks you can knock down city walls with your siege equipment. Once you get in to a city you have to take the square in the middle and this is cool too because in a large city especially you often engage in urban warfare in the streets and it is a lot different to fighting on a battle field - it wasnt possible to do this in the first Total War games.

So you can play a campaign and there is also the option in Total War games to play/simulate actual historical battles - like The Battle of Carrhae or The Battle of Teutoburg Forest for fun.

So Total War games are my favourite video games and the only games I have really played for a long time. The reason I bought the computer/graphics card that I own was so I could play Total War Shogun 2/Total War Attila etc with the largest army settings. I do not like any of the Total War games that use gunpowder apart from the Medieval 2/Kingdoms games that have very early gun units that suck anyway due to slow rate of fire. I am not a fan of troops that use projectiles in the ancient warfare Total War games really - what I hate the most are cavalry bowmen - so the Total War games like Empires and Napoleon do not interest me. Projectiles are for cowards.

The only other game series that I have had any interest in as an adult since I stopped playing sports simulations is the Tropico series. I own the first three Tropico games and I think that they are really funny games and heaps of fun. Tropico games are classified as 'construction and management' - 'government management' ( Total War games could be put in those genres too ) games where you take control of an island and develop industries/infrastructure etc and you have to manage your islands politics so you can make your island capitalist or socialist/communist or environmentalist etc - and you can hold elections or declare martial law and have no elections. My favourite Tropico from the first three is probably Tropico 2 which lets you take charge of a pirate island - it is a very funny game.

So apart from Total War and a bit of Tropico the only other game that I play is Grand Theft Auto. I am not a huge fan of GTA but I have, I think San Andreas, and I do not like to do the missions - I just like to go about murdering people. I use some cheats to get all the weapons and spawns and then I like to spawn a helicopter and I get in it and fly it to a tall building and land on top of it - then I get out and start killing the people below. Soon the cops come but they have no access to the buildings and cant get on the roof so they have to try to shoot me from the ground which is difficult for them - so I blow up their cop cars wityh rocket launchers and what not and soon they send police helicopter but they are easy to shoot with rocket launchers so you just shoot them out of the sky. I stay up on a building and shoot cops and the public until I am bored. Or sometimes I will go to the hospital and I will kill a heap of nurses and sick people and people waiting around - and then the cops will come but there is only one way in to the hospital through glass sliding doors and the cops are sitting ducks as they come in so you can just stand around a corner to the side and shoot the cops as they try to come through the glass sliding doors. They just keep coming and you can pile up a lot of bodies that way. I wouldnt do anything like this for real of course - I dont even like guns and I think that the police are great - but in the game it is funny and fun.

So I like Total War games and I think that Tropico games are ok for a break from Total War - and I think that a killing spree on GTA once in a while is fun too. What video games do you like?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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  • Pink sunset 2017-12-18 06:24

    You should come and holiday in central western NSW. It is a good place for looking at the sun, moon and stars.

  • Pink sunset 2017-12-17 15:49

    Not in Beijing. There are too many buildings around where I live now. The sun, moon, and stars are hard to trace and the sky is refined to a small area. I guess an open space is necessary to discover the beauty of the sky.

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