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What have you been playing recently and what do you think about it?

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It's reader question time here on GamingOnLinux, something we do infrequently to generate a bit of discussion.

Having seen a number of great Linux releases lately, it's getting tough opening Steam and actually picking something to play. The very new release of Pine has certainly sucked away a lot of my time, something about the world Twirlbound created has seriously pulled me in. It's not without issues though. While forcing my CPU to stay in Performance mode has made it smoother, it definitely needs improving.

Some of the quests in Pine don't seem like they've been thought through enough with the game mechanics. There's a time you need to get special tokens from different types of creatures like gatherers, traders and guards. So to help you're given blueprints for some traps. Something that should be a challenge but I decided to run around the nearest town and just place traps directly in front of every creature around and in the space of 2 minutes it was done. It was really dumb but it worked.

The world in Pine is certainly not as big as it initially seemed either, it doesn't actually take that long to see the entire area. It gives a good illusion of a lot to do but so far it seems a little basic. Don't let me put you off though, I'm thoroughly nitpicking. Still great fun, just not even close to as expansive as expected.

Meanwhile, I've also carried on my playthrough of the latest Factorio release. Maddeningly engrossing. Incredible game, with such a massive amount of depth to it. The complexity isn't even remotely hidden and yet, it feels so ridiculously approachable it's a real joy to play.

Anyway, enough about what I've been clicking on lately. Over to you, what have you been playing recently and what do you think about it? Help your fellow readers find another interesting game to pick up.

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86 comments
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vlademir1 15 October 2019 at 4:49 am UTC
denyasisWho doesn't want to be Han solo?
Harrison Ford

On topic, I've gone back to the Dwarf Fortress well for the first time in about five years. There's some really nice quality of life improvements in there. Recurring work orders with conditionals are a great example that make it much easier to keep certain recurring tasks like clothes, food and booze less full of micromanagement. Quite a bit of the old lag spiral when you grow your fortress has seemingly been culled now too. Adding DFHACK (as a dependency), Text Will Be Text and the Vettlingr 32x32 tileset makes everything really nice looking.
Ardje 15 October 2019 at 8:44 am UTC
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Ardje
  • For switches you need to visit the nexus, which have you confronted with real time other players....
  • Awww, come on, in the nexus they cannot really do anything to you besides giving you gifts, isn't that nice? Also, the game automatically limits the amount of players in your local hub, so you never feel overcrowded (besides, there are limited landing spots for the spaceships).
    Yeah, tell that to me, the introvert
    Actually it was the first time for me to see others, as I usually want to play by myself. And suddenly I figured these were non-NPC's. I never selected play online, but NMS was always kind of online multiplayer I guess.

    In GTA online, the matches seems a bit anonymous, so that's not really bad, although, the GTA online universe is too small, so you will never be left alone, as there will always be someone targeting you while you just roam around.
    Zuul 15 October 2019 at 2:34 pm UTC
    Hello Liam

    Why did you rage quit HL2 like a little bitch?

    I saw the video and...man...wtf
    Dunc 17 October 2019 at 4:06 pm UTC
    BotonoskiI've been playing nothing, for the past few days I've just been reading a bunch of public domain e-books on my jailbroken Kindle. I've come to appreciate the fact that most fiction is terrible and for most my life my reading experience had been heavily curated by others.
    I've had various Kobos for over a decade (I prefer Kobo to Kindle because they're so easy to jailbreak they practically encourage it, and epub's just a nicer format), and I don't think I've ever bought an e-book. It's not as if I haven't been tempted from time to time, but there's so much good stuff in the public domain.
    appetrosyan 18 October 2019 at 11:29 am UTC
    zerosapte
    appetrosyanSurviving Mars. Just like every game from Paradox interactive, this is an absolute time sink! Its gameplay is weird in that there is a clear strategic goal, very slow progression and a lot of places to shoot yourself in the foot. On the other hand this is the only game where I can proudly say I've come up with a system. Multiple systems in fact. Just, where can I get the 40-odd hours I've spent on terraforming Mars back? Oh well, at least I learned about project Mohole among other things.

    I got Surviving Mars for free a couple of days ago and I've been trying to get it to run with Lutris ever since. Sadly I had no such luck.

    Installing the Epic Games Launcher finishes (but with a lot of fixme errors) and when trying to run the game from the Epic Launcher nothing ever happens. I've tried various combinations of runners and settings (ESYNC on and off, DXVK, D9VK etc) nothing did anything.

    Could you let me know how you managed to get it running?

    Now to also contribute to the subject at hand, I've been playing a lot of Albion Online these last few weeks, with a bit of Frostpunk (SteamPlay) and GWENT (Lutris) thrown in for good measure.

    The way it works on mine, is I simply installed the GOG version. My bet would be that the DRM somehow doesn't work on Linux. Fixme issues are commonplace with Wine, they don't usually mean much, and are related to the fact that Wine is an ongoing project.

    You might want to open the console and see if there are any error messages when you run said game from EGS, most likely you'll see X.so not found and will have to install the library that contains that file.
    Nevertheless 21 October 2019 at 11:53 pm UTC
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    NeverthelessI decided to give Pathfinder Kingmaker a pause after >150 hours, because it's so incredibly big that there is no chance to finish it anytime soon. It has very bright sides and some questionable design decisions, but was totally worth playing!
    I'm now playing The long journey home on Proton. It really reminds me of one of my all time favourite games: Starflight from 1986, that I played on Amiga around 1991..
    Edit: typo
    Please convince me to like this game (Pathfinder Kingmaker), expand your impressions. I want to like it but so far I've seen some gameplays and it seemed boring, with lots and lots of windows and inventory and skills management, and very few environments, all very much alike, and generic fights. I want to be proven wrong, you can insult me if it helps.

    Also I took a glance at The long journey home. Look amazing, although it does not have a good rating on Steam but I have learned to be skeptical about this rating anyway. Can you tell more?

    It took some time, like I said. It was a busy week last week... but here is what I think about Pathfinder Kingmaker. I always wanted to write a Steam review about it. I'll use this one now . It turned out to be longer than I thought...

    What is PK?

    Pathfinder Kingmaker is conveived as a CRPG much like Baldurs Gate. So my opinion of the game is adressed at you only then, if you like that kind of games. The predominant part of the game plays a lot like the Baldurs Gate games, but of course is a lot more modern in graphics and interface. You create one character yourself, who then travels with up to 5 dev-made companions to earn the title of a baron over a wild bandit- and beast-controlled piece of land called "The Stolen lands". Your group travels greater distances represented by a symbol, following roads on the map, encountering new roads, road forks and areas to explore in ISO perspective, just like it was made in the BG games. Sometimes random encounters take place (more or less often, based on the attributes of your group members), which can be friendly or lead to fights, sometimes they are even scripted narrative events progressing the main story. After some travelling, based on attributes and backpack weights, your group members become tired and eventually have to rest. Resting means having to eat and to sleep. The party can either hunt for food, which takes time (again based on attributes), or use up rations, which are quite heavy in the backpack. In dungeons hunting is impossible and rations have to be used. Owlcat Games take the games archetype, no not just Baldurs Gate, but even more the Pathfinder table top RPG (a spawn of AD&D) very seriously in PK. You can hear and feel dice throws everywhere. Every possible obstacle in the game is linked with a virtual attribute throw, often leaving you the choice between 2 different skill-checks and therefore ways to continue. In my opinion this creates a more vivid imagination of the world of Golarion than even the most stunning graphics could do. For me in PK presentation and imagination work together very well! It inspires a sense of adventuring very early in the game. Exploration of the map, resting and random encounters even add to the atmosphere. Combat is tactical, as you would expect from a game with an AD&D like ruleset. Crowd control from “Grease”, “Web” or “Hold Person” (etc.) mage spells and the use of tanks / damage dealers / healers work quite well. Difficulty can be fine tuned in a number of ways. The whole game is made to spend a long time with it. Character creation and development alone can take countless hours. This is all solid classic role playing mechanics, and with a lot of motivation, but CRPG is not the only genre in the game..
    The other face of PG is a build up strategy game. Both genres share the same map, the same timeline, acting persons, sometimes even in double roles, first as party members and also as advisors or ministers of the barony, and it all starts as soon as you have succeeded becoming baron of the Stolen Lands. In this part you can expand your lands by incorporating regions into the barony. More regions, more exploration, roads, areas... Each new province can have one village. Each village can grow into a city by adding buildings to it, which also add points to categories like stability, loyality, economy, culture, community.. which you can level up at certain values. Your talents as barony leader are tried by emergencies, request for help from citizens, political events brought up by concerned advisors, and all kinds of positive and negative incidents. To solve problems or take advantage of opportunities you either delegate them to the most fitting advisor, who then tries for a given amount of days to bring them to a good end, or ignore them. Successes add points to the described categories, failures or ignored problems have negative effects. Total failure in the barony part of the game happens when certain values drop to zero, which end the game completely.
    The buildup strategy part is not the most fun part of the game to be honest. It is quite simplistic, but it gives the whole game one big benefit: Problems with the management of the barony often create very credible quests, and thus contribute even more to the motivation and atmosphere on the CRPG side. It also holds some interesting moral decisions, which sometimes have direct consequences in the game, and sometimes just leave you knowing what you‘ve done... It gives you the chance to be the leader you want to be, or the one, you think you have to be (if that‘s a difference to you..). The whole game makes quite some use of the AD&D alignment system, giving you choices based on your characters alignment, logging all your decisions, possibly changing your alignment later accordingly.

    Known problems and solutions

    Pathfinder Kingmaker had a rough start, especially on Linux. It made the impression of a game that was released much too early. Countless hotfixes were needed in the first few weeks after release to fix lots and lots of often game breaking bugs. On Linux it took months to fix a soundbug that just consisted of the delivery of the wrong version of a library. Now, with the release of the enhanced version the game is very stable, loading times have been reduced, but can still be annoyingly long.

    The intertwined genres can lead to some strange moments. While it is not possible for an advisor to pursue more than one goal at a time, it is perfectly possible for her or him to travel with your party through the Stolen Lands at the same time. This way it can happen that a party member and advisor asks you (while you are at the far end of the barony with your party) to meet him in the throne room because he has something to tell you about his barony efforts. So you have to travel together to your capitol to hear him out.

    Some people don‘t like the fact, that most quests and barony assignments have end dates. So you are always under a little time pressure, and the number of tasks is often higher than you can handle. So you always have to decide which to choose and which to ignore. However it is possible to defuse the difficulty of the barony buildup by putting it to „easy“ or „effortless“ in the settings. It can even be completely switched off.

    Resting and random events have some positive effects for the immersion, but can be tedious and annouying when you‘re 150 hours in the game, have a deadline to keep, and the group rests for 13 hours to be healed and fresh again.

    The biggest problem of the game was and still is its accessibility. You have to watch gameplayvideos, read wikis or work yourself into the game for quite some time, to have a feeling of control over PK. This game would definitely could have used a huge manual as it has been common for such games in the old days. Especially for such an epic game like this, which most people will probably only play through once, it would have been important not to force the user to try out, find out and repeat all to much. Thankfully the enhanced edition introduced the possibility to re-skill characters. Three times for free, then for in game money.

    Conclusion

    Pathfinder Kingmaker is an epic and a troubled masterpiece. I've rarely played an RPG that spreads so much tabletop atmosphere, with a solid role-playing system, solid writing (no Planescape Torment, but solid stuff!), tactical combat, detailed character creation and maintenance, comfort features, like the collective backpack. Despite its problems Pathfinder Kingmaker is one of my favourite RPGs so far. If Owlcat games can reapeat their efforts with (maybe) PK2, or a different project, with all the expieriences they made with PK, if they have the time and funds to really finish developing it, the next project could result in a true masterpiece!


    Last edited by Nevertheless on 21 October 2019 at 11:57 pm UTC
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