Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beware of Bob / Land of little green men

Today is the day of the first significant post on Life of Fiction. As you’ll notice, I divided the post into two parts: One relative to the online writing community World of Necrotania, and the other relative to an independent videogame I’ve recently played called Darwinia.
Life of Fiction will therefore start its life as a discussion and reviewing place for several fictional works. It is intended to present the point of view of independent people on that which is most fascinating: Fiction!

Beware of Bob

I joined the Necrotania community about two years ago. At the time we were just a few souls with hyperactive imaginations and with that extra time that allowed us to write those stories for so long locked inside our head while at the same time reading and reviewing nearly everybody else’s works.
In the following years, the site grew. Authors came and went as did story sections, competitions, book clubs, and many other things.
As of today, three basic rules apply:

  1. Praise Calash
  2. Beware of Bob
  3. Leave your sanity by the door

1. Praise Calash

Calash is the founder of the site, and therefore the all mighty admin! We praise and worship him for it was is vision that helped make the world (of Necrotania) a better place.
According to him, Necrotania started as a place to place his stories about the world of Necrotania. A land of fantasy populated by gods, dragons and… stuff. Eventually he opened it up for public submissions and it became an ever growing community dedicated mostly, but not only, to the writing of sci-fi and fantasy stories. And today it holds nearly 400 stories (some still in progress) and is the first link to show up when looking for “online fantasy stories” on google.

2. Beware of Bob

Who is Bob, you ask? Heck if I know!
Bob was first created as villain of sorts in the multi-author story “Party”. He eventually overgrew the story and become a myth inside the community. Always accompanied by his broom (of doom) he’s the one we call when there is need to clean the mess (mud usually) some member or another made. Not that he actually cleans it! It’s a lot more likely that he hits us with the broom until someone does the job for him.

3. Leave your sanity by the door

This is not an actual rule, but more of an advice. As you might have already understood, the folks at Necrotania are a curious bunch. They are able of kill any thread turning it into a nonsense conversation about… well, just about anything, while at the same time keeping in the next thread a serious discussion about the fate of the World.
It’s near to impossible to warn you of everybody you should be aware of, so I won’t.

So, if you happen to be bored and feel like writing or reading something, come and visit.

Now you know!

Land of Little Green Men

Darwinia is second game released by the independent producer Introversion.

Since the beginning, Introversion stood for making original games that were fun to play, causing their games to be significantly different from any of the more commercial games out there.
The basic plot behind Darwinia is very simple. A virtual world created by a Dr. Sepulveda has been infected by a virus that is killing of the local population: the darwinians. And it’s your job to help them.
So far so good, but here is where things get a little different.
The picture above is an actual in-game shot of one of the levels, representing a few darwinians standing under a tree with a trunk port in the distance. The graphics of the game are intended to be really simple giving it a rather curious atmosphere.
Although it is to all effects a strategy game, it differs from other games in many points; the most significant one is that you cannot control directly the darwinians even though they’re usually essential for the completion of the level. Instead you can create officers to give them basic orders, like moving to a certain location (in a straight line) or following the officer itself. Most of the fighting, though, will be made by the soldier squads which you’ll need to take direct control of and order when to shoot.

I’ll not go much deeper into the gameplay (although it is the most original part of the game) but instead I’ll speak about what makes this game so special: the darwinians themselves.
Introversion did not develop a deep and complex AI for this game, but it did gave the little guys a personality of their own, by giving them hopes and fears. Noticeable by the memorial services they hold for their fallen brethren (they’ll surround the soul, while some will create some sort of lanterns that will follow the soul as it rises up), but also by their screams and panic when you point a gun at them. It is nearly impossible not to feel some sort of attachment for the little guys by the time the game ends.

If you like an original and interesting game, this is a good option (one advice though, if you intend on getting the game, do it through Steam’s services, it’s significantly cheaper and easier).

The second demo released features a new level not present in the original game and I highly recommend it.


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