Monday, February 02, 2015

Calling All Game Detectives

An e-mail from Chris:
I'm writing for a couple reasons. You see and hear enough that maybe I somehow missed it out there in the vast gaming world. And two, maybe I'm not alone?

I grew up with both board games and computer games. It's rare, to almost non-existent, that I've found a computer game that's a good blend. The 4x games come closest, though they usually descend into minutia like building queues (often almost the same) on 17 different cities.

Vic Davis' games, particularly Solium Infernum, might be about as close to an example of the blend.

There was a play-by-mail game called Alamaze, run by a guy I'd become good friends with over the years of playing, Phil McDowell, brother of its creator. Sadly, Phil died of cancers a few years back.

It had a 26x26 board, filled with 3 different sized towns. You had armies, wizards, diplomats, and agents. You could stomp around the board with armies conquering towns. You could sway the towns with diplomats. You could augment armies with wizards, or incapacitate diplomats, or other such things with wizards. Agents could sabotage towns, wizards, kings, and other things.

It was great. So many options, ways to combine strengths. And it had a mechanic I've never seen in a 4x computer game, a limited set of commands you could give based on "influence". Raising your influence so you could issue more commands was a key part of kingdom management. Every 4x games I've ever played, you could command everything every turn. 

That act of having to decide what parts of your kingdom was most important to manipulate was probably THE core mechanic that was simultaneously awesome and maddening. 

It was sort of a 4x kingdom management. As I browse the Steam list tonight, I can't anything remotely like this game.

Ever heard of anything like it in the computer game world? Sound like something that should exist?

Detective Squad, assemble! What game do you think most closely resembles the play-by-mail game Alamaze?

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