Friday, December 4, 2015

Age of Wonders - 5/20 hours

It turns out that Age of Wonders is not quite the sort of game I thought it would be. It's a turn-based strategy game where you control territory, but it is not a 4X. The distinction may be fine, but it mostly comes down to "feel." The economy and technology of the game are broad, but shallow. There's a lot of stuff you can build, and many spells you can research, but as far as I can tell, you don't build things that allow you to build faster, so there's no real sense of advancement, only one of expansion. That makes Age of Wonders almost purely a war game.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that fighting wars is my least favorite part of the 4X experience, and I'd have preferred it if the game allowed me the option of being isolationist and infrastructure-focused. Or, at least, moreso than has been apparent so far.

That said, I'm mostly enjoying myself, and I only have one real problem with the game. It keeps crashing for no apparent reason. I must have had to reload a dozen times at least. It's gotten to the point where I'm now saving after every significant action, to minimize the amount of loss when the game inevitably takes a shit.

It's weird that our most technologically advanced form of entertainment is so fragile. I'm used to not being able to play games because my hardware was too primitive to handle them, but this opposite problem, where an old game is not compatible with modern hardware, feels wrong to me. It's like, "running Age of Wonders on a home computer" is a solved problem, people have done it successfully in the past, so how did we forget how to do it? Why are we allowing the past to slip away from us so quickly? I mean, it's a serious problem that early movies and television programs have been lost forever due to the past's unconscionable apathy, but I'd have assumed we've learned our lesson here.

Then again, maybe Age of Wonders is not the worst example of such a thing. It does work something like 90 percent of the time. So, my fears about old games being lost forever are possibly a tad overblown. Yet I do worry. When will the axe finally fall on backwards compatibility? When will upgrading to a new computer forever lock me out of things I've enjoyed in the past? Surely, as time goes on, the number of "old" games increases at a prodigious rate, and thus the effort to ensure that they're all playable will become far greater than the perceived advantage in having them available.

It's probably not that big an issue for me, personally. I'm not an archivist or scholar. Yet I dread the day when I buy a new computer and it turns out Alpha Centauri won't run on the machine. I wonder if anyone feels similarly about Age of Wonders?

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