What We’re Playing Over Thanksgiving Break
We eat and breathe video games, whether we’re here at HQ developing ROBLOX, on our consoles and PCs at home, or on our phones and tablets at lunch. We can’t get enough. Before we all went our separate ways for the Thanksgiving long weekend, we asked several members of the ROBLOX crew what games they were planning to dig into during their time off.
JacksSmirkingRevenge (Communications Team) is playing Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC).
I was more stoked than usual to play this iteration of COD, particularly on PC. I knew this game would push the limit of what my custom-built (but aging) PC could do, it surely did just that–so much so that I had to actually purchase some additional hardware to play it. Call of Duty: Ghosts has a minimum requirement of six gigs of RAM–and take it from me, this game looks amazing if you’ve got the hardware to run it. Admittedly when I was four hours into the campaign I was like, “is something burning?” The answer was “yes”, and it was my rig, which was about to set fire to the carpet beneath it. I powered down for the night. Oh, and if you’re playing through the campaign, stick around after the credits. Pretty riveting stuff.
ReeseMcBlox (Customer Service Team) is playing RIFT (PC).
MMOs. To say I’ve played them all is a bit of an understatement. Actually, I’ve beta-tested almost all of them. After a while they start to lose their uniqueness, especially with MMOs springing up left and right, trying hard to copy Blizzard’s mega-success. Beta testing and playing all these games eventually gets kind of old. It’s perfectly natural to take breaks from gaming – I keep telling myself – so I did for a few years.
But I couldn’t stay away forever. In early 2010 I found RIFT (not to be confused with R.I.F.T. or RIFTS), and I’m still playing it. The storyline is compelling, blending magic, mythology, and futuristic technology in epic story arcs. The class system is crazy flexible and lends itself to an alt-aholic like me. My character can be the tank one minute, the healer the next, and then DPS like a fiend. It only takes 30 seconds to switch out, and it doesn’t cost gold.
The game studio, TRION, is very open to changing how they do things. They’ve removed restrictions on who you can party or guild-up with, faction and server-wise, thus making it very easy to find parties and have adventures. They’re always adding to and improving the game. TRION has really tapped into the weekend-warriors market, who, like myself, are just too busy for serious career raiding. RIFT went free-to-play in May of this year and continues to impress me by maintaining balanced gameplay between paying and free members. It’s that kind of attention to quality that keeps me playing this game.
Blockhaak (Communications Team) is playing Battletoads (NES). (Editor’s note: Wat.)
A month or two ago, I and two friends made a commitment: we would beat the third level of Battletoads on Thanksgiving. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this pillar of entertainment, it’s a NES game from 1991 that involves assuming the role of an unfortunately-named toad and battling it out with weird creatures to, you know, save the princess or something. It’s ridiculously difficult, so in my circle level 3 – the one with the hoverbike obstacle course – has always been considered the unofficial final level. Anything past that (and I haven’t seen much) is gravy. (Thanksgiving puns!)
I haven’t been playing Battletoads – in this game practice proves counterproductive – but I have been cleaning up the NES, eBaying the necessary adapters, and finding the exact right way to wedge a Collective Soul cassette tape into the console to make the games, well, work. In the process, Contra, Punch-Out!, Double Dragon II, Mario Bros. 3 have all been up and running. All in preparation for the event of the fall: the conquering of the Battletoads. Playstation 4? Xbox One? P’sshh. Sometimes, simple fun is all you need. (Editor’s note: WAT.)
OstrichSized (Web Team) is playing Plants Vs. Zombies 2 (iPad).
Time to travel the world! I can’t stop playing Plants Vs. Zombies 2, as it brings with it the same addictive non-stop action that its predecessor did. Rather than keeping zombies off your lawn, PVZ 2 let’s you travel the globe and journey through time, keeping zombies out of pyramids and off pirate ships. The changes aren’t just aesthetic, either — though many of the killer plants you know and love make a return, gameplay additions like plant food turn the strategy on its head by allowing you to turbocharge your vicious vegetation to perform special attacks.
The game is monetized in a very interesting way. Downloading the game itself is free, but you have to pay to unlock different paths throughout the map and different types of plants. I like that all these things are optional — you can play through Plants Vs. Zombies 2 without spending a single dollar, though it will probably take you much longer, which I don’t see as a bad thing.
NobleDragon (Customer Service Team) is playing Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW (Xbox 360). (Editor’s Note: Wat.)
I have been playing Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know. This game is not going to be winning any awards, but it is an awesome throwback style game that mixes the goofiness of the Adventure Time series with a dungeon crawl theme — think older Zelda Games. I have been a gamer since I was old enough to hold a controller, so I’ve played enough 8-bit side-scrollers to know that graphics aren’t everything. The idea behind the game is that the dungeon is a prison for all the bad guys in the series and they are escaping. You have to explore the massive expanse and put these bad guys back in their place, while also gathering treasure, completing side quests and leveling up. The game is huge, with a bunch of levels that seem to change every time you play. This mathematical distraction of the mind is totally bazubs. And it’s a great way to kill some time.
jmargh (Games Team) is playing The Stanley Parable (PC).
A recent game I played through was The Stanley Parable, a Source-engine-mod turned indie game. It’s a first-person interactive fiction that comments on choice in video games. Having played the mod, I was very excited to hear they were making a full game out of it. Without spoiling too much, you play as Stanley, an employee who watches a monitor all day and presses buttons as instructions appear on the monitor. But one day the screen is blank. Not knowing what to do, Stanley goes out to explore and learns that not a single person is in the office that day.
You continue to explore, unwinding the story as you move through the level, making choices along the way. The story is told and voiced by a narrator, who comments on the things you do and choices you make. For example, you arrive at a room with two doors. The narrator remarks that Stanley goes left, but you as the player have a choice to go left or right. Go left and the narrator happily continues on. Go right and the narrator says Stanley has gone the wrong way and should get back on track. Which then gives you another choice to get back on track or keep derailing the narrators’ story.
These choices you make move the story in different directions, resulting in different scenes and endings. (I still haven’t played through them all!) The narrator is voiced really well, and some of the comments he makes are hilarious.
What’s really awesome about the game is its demo (it’s free on Steam, go play it). The demo is actually a commentary on demos, which sets up what the Stanley Parable is about, and an entirely unique experience. Together, they make for a great experience that questions a lot of things like choice and free will in video games. If you’re interested in narrative in games I highly recommend you check this game out!