Yet not all games carry equal weight. Some, like that influential lecturer or inspiring teacher, have had a disproportionate effect on the whole. There are a few games that stand out as bright psychic landmarks in my personal history, the high-water marks of my education. While there are too many to mention in an article as brief as this, there are three in particular which I want to talk about, because they have direct relevance to the opinions I have about games today, usually because they seemed to point a way forward, or map out the possibilities for our experience of games in the future. They're not even the three games are necessarily the most important to me (because those would likely be Quake III, Eve Online and Speedball 2) but they're an interesting three examples in terms of thinking about why I end up writing the things I write today. If you're a developer whose game I am reviewing, then it likely that it will be these rudiments, these embryonic versions of our modern gaming archetypes, that I will, however unconsciously, end up comparing your game against.
First: Midwinter II on the Atari ST, as released in 1991. (I played the original after the sequel.) The 16-bit spy game blew apart my sense of what games could be and, at the same time, imbued me with a startling sense of where they might be going. Midwinter seemed to contain a fragment of future games, something that I recognized for the first time as a youth. Sure, Elite had been a stunning vision of open-ended play in previous years, but suddenly, right here, was a palpable world I could explore. I got hold of vehicles, interacted with people. I was inside something recognizable. It was my first taste of a kind of game in which the act of moving, through travel and exploration, was central to the experience. It pointed to magical possibilities of creating worlds I might escape to. Before then games had been flattened, conceptual, abstract: Defender, Smash TV, Gauntlet, Tempest. Now they were something else entirely.
Yet at the time few games approached its level of achievement. Hired Guns created a unique world that never felt the need to explain itself and kicked genre conventions in the face with a throbbing robo-boot and energy-clad killer squirrels. It had teeth-jarring machine gun blasts, magic killer monks, serpents, sharks, deployable automated sentry cannons, personal teleports, ED-209 clones and apropos of nothing, thirty-foot bone monsters. All this weird was wrapped up in a gloom-clad future world that was both spooky and intriguing. It embraced peculiarity in a way that games few to do today. But its greatest achievement was to place me and my best friend together in a game world. We played our way across the epic campaign map over the course of a several weeks. We overcame puzzles through joint thinking, and fought pitched battles together. Sure, we did the same in Alien Breed a couple of years earlier, but Hired Guns felt like an genuine accomplishment. It felt like /exploration/.
Let's move on to my third game. That was 2000's Ground Control. It's only been in the last year, with Ground Control creators Massive return triumphantly returning to the scene with World In Conflict, in which we have come close to what Ground Control promised: a future of strategy games in which the action, the script, and your own ability to use a limited number of units. There have been flickers of this kind of thing with, as someone pointed out earlier this week, games like Sudden Strike. But Ground Control was so beautiful, so minimalistic and effortless in what it delivered that I have found myself routinely disappointed not to have seen its like again in eight years.
Almost as he spoke, the last standing strip of fence bowed and snapped, flinging, as from a catapult, a new figure upon the road. He wore the flaming red of the halberdiers of Notting Hill, and on his weapon there was blood, and in his face victory. In another moment masses of red glowed through the gaps of the fence, and the pursuers, with their halberds, came pouring down the lane. Pursued and pursuers alike swept by the little figure with the owlish eyes, who had not taken his hands out of his pockets.
Maddon almost played the goat in Game 7 with his quick hook of starter Kyle Hendricks and the curious move to have Baez try a safety squeeze with two strikes, which he bunted foul to strike out. Closer Aroldis Chapman also looked shot after throwing 97 pitches over the past three games, including a potentially unnecessary five outs with a five-run lead in Game 6.
US crude stocks dropped 3.620 million barrels and are now tracking the five year average. US production is soaring and only strong exports are preventing a surge in US stock levels. Last time we wrote, we had exited our WTI length at US$ 69.9, and where on stand-by to see if the rally was sustainable. Then, when India complained to the Saudi Oil Minister and rumours of production increases started to swirl, we managed to sell some lots around US$ 71. WTI is currently below US$ 66 and we are wondering if we should take our money. The Brent-WTI spread has ballooned to US$ 11, but we are staying out of this game because it could easily reverse a few bucks with resurgent refining or expand further as US production surges. 2b1af7f3a8