PMG Presents: Why I Can’t Stop Playing Civ V

I originally bought Civilization V because it was bundled with XCOM: Enemy Unknown and was on sale for only $20.  Well I bought the bundle and for the longest time I only played XCOM, I mean I was addicted to it (but this blog isn’t about XCOM, so enough about that).  A friend of mine saw that I had bought Civ V and asked how I liked it.  I told him I hadn’t played it, and he told me I should give it a try.  At first I didn’t, but he continued to hound me about playing it.  And still I didn’t.  But eventually I gave in and gave Civ V a chance oh and I am so happy I did.

Civilization V, as the name might suggest, is the fifth installment of Sid Meier’s landmark game series.   In Civ V you take control of a famous civilization/leader and work your way up from scratch to become the leader of the world.  Civ V combines the best parts of two of my favorite board games: Risk and Settlers of Catan.  Like Catan you collect and horde resources from all over the hexagonal map to build up structures and units, and like Risk you can attack and kill everyone in a smart and intuitive way.  When you start you are given a single settler and warrior, from which you can build your capital and start exploring the world around you.  You can set up the game to have any number of different nations and city-states, as well as different maps (including one that looks like the real world), you can alter almost any aspect of the game’s settings to make each session variably difficult and unique.  On top of the AI civilizations you compete against, you also fight off meddlesome barbarians who will try to steal your units at any chance they get.  Each civilization has its own unique troops, improvements, and bonuses allowing for many different gameplay strategies.  In one match you might try to conquer the world through a superior military, while another time you might try to become an economic powerhouse, or out science everyone.  The games are massive and they will take up a good deal of your time.  I guess that’s what you’d expect from a game that spans all of human history, but if you want to play a full game be prepared to waste a good dozen or so hours.  To give you a good idea of how long games last my last full playthrough lasted about 6 hours, though I have had some which last twice as long.  This is not a game to play casually over a lunch break.

Civilization V is a massive game, I mean it is just stuffed full of content, and that’s all before you get to the expansion packs.  The base game costs $29.99 and though it has the makings of a great game, it has many faults.  One of the main faults, and one that I think ruins the game, is how terrible the AI is.  The AI is awful and often acts sporadically in a way that makes single player gaming a terrible experience.  You may be wondering why Civ V is such an amazing if there is such a game-breaking problem in the game, well never fear because the good guys at 2K and Firaxis (the companies that made Civ V) fixed this problem with the first big DLC pack “Gods & Kings.”  “Gods & Kings” adds a lot to the game: religion, espionage, new civilizations, as well as improved AI and combat systems.  This first DLC makes Civ V an amazing game; I would not recommend buying Civ V without it.  Now you can buy the base game for $29.99 and the “Gods & Kings” DLC for another $29.99, but if you bought this you would be missing out on a great deal: Civ V: Gold EditionGold Edition costs $49.99 and includes not only the original game and the “Gods & Kings” DLC, but a variety of different civilization and map DLCs.  It’s too good to miss out on.  Now on top of that Civ V has a new piece of large DLC: “Brave New World.”  This DLC adds trade routes, the world congress, and a variety of new civilizations to the game making it all that more fun (think of it like Gold Edition is cake and Brave New World is ice cream, both are good on their own, but together they are just unimaginably tasty).  Brave New World costs $29.99.

One of the best parts of the Civilization V experience is the multiplayer.  As many times as you can play through by yourself, it cannot compare to fighting someone who is not programmed to act one way or another.  It’s fun to team up with your friends to murder Genghis Khan (who is for some reason a very cruel and awful AI), or race to make nukes so you can blow up everyone or… Or I guess just attack people because that is what you will very often find yourself doing.  Some of my fondest Civ V memories involve playing a big game with four other guys and exploring the world, killing barbarians, and fighting to rule the world.   It’s an amazing and addicting game.

DISCLAIMER: Sid Meier’s Civilization V goes on sale fairly often, so there is no need to buy it for full price.  When it does go on sale you can often get it for about 75% off, which means Gold Edition would only cost you about $13, you are crazy not to buy it at this price.  “Brave New World is fairly new so do not expect it to go on sale anytime soon.


PMG Presents: The Humble Bundle

I’ve been meaning to discuss the Humble Bundle for a while, but I haven’t really had the time.  Now, with the recent unveiling of the Humble Store, I think it’s the perfect time to bring up this subject.  The Humble Bundle started in 2010 and offers games, often for multiple operating systems, DRM-free, on a pay what you want basis, to support developers and charity.

The Humble Bundle is an amazing thing.  Each bundle delivers a handful of six or seven games for one low price.  Depending on the sale you can get hundreds of dollars’ worth of games for less than ten.  The sales exist for a limited time, some for two weeks, some for one, and now, with the Humble Store, there are daily sales.  The sales are never the same, though sometimes you will see certain games come back again and again.  Sometimes the bundles feature games from one publisher, while other times they specialize in games for Android phones or eBooks.

The sales allow you to buy and download games through a variety of means.  For all games they include direct download, and most have Steam keys, and rarely you will see Origin keys (but don’t bet on it).  For Android games they allow alternative ways to download the games.

Now to move to a slightly more serious note: the Humble Bundle has recently been the subject of a large amount of publicity in the gaming community, largely because of abuse on the part of the consumer.  Back when the Humble Bundle started it was a pay what you want service that offered around half a dozen games on a biweekly basis.  People could pay what they wanted for the bundle and they were awarded Steam Keys for each and every game.  Because of this some people got the bright idea to buy a bundle for a penny and get the games.  Then they would go online and sell the keys to the games for a profit, which meant that the people putting on the Humble Bundle were being cheated, as were the game developers, and the charities that benefited from the sales.  A few weeks ago the Humble Bundle made a large number of changes to the way they did business to combat this abuse.  They made it so that to download your games you first had to connect your Steam account to your Humble Bundle account to allow direct downloading to your game library.  This fixed the problem of people profiting from the bundle, but led to a few problems and complaints from the community (some of which I myself share).  One of the main problems has to do with the problem of gifting.  Assume you have game A, then one day you see that the Humble Bundle has games A, B, C, and D on sale for $2 (which is far lower than any of the games on their own); it stands that it is still economically viable to buy the bundle and get games B, C, and D, even though you already own game A.  Now because of this you have an extra copy of game A that you can’t use.  Now many people, including myself, would take game A and give it away to a friend who didn’t have it, to the detriment of no one in particular.  After the Humble Bundle revamped their redemption system, you could no longer do this, which the community complained about.  Since then the folks at Humble have created a way to gift extra copies of games to Steam friends and stop the wasting of games.

Since then Humble has opened up the Humble Store which offers daily deals on games and allows you to buy single games, though the deals aren’t usually as good as they are in the bundles.  Still they offer games that don’t usually appear in the bundles for discounted prices which is always a plus.

I love the Humble Bundle because it helps me buy amazing games, many of which I’ve written reviews on, for mere cents on the dollar.  If you check this and the Steam sales you will be able to expand your Steam library for mere dollars.

Wednesday Poll

OK so I’ll admit I geek out about tech stuff a lot.  Sometimes to the point that it really doesn’t make sense.  Today is different though.  The super intelligent folks up at MIT have created something that I feel will eventually revolutionize how we interact with technology which in turn will impact how we interact with each other.

playing games from the 90’s on your mac (free)

So this is Eric and I am going to post this because simply put I want to play DinoPark Tycoon when I get home.


I’ve been spending the past few weeks looking for old games I played when I was six; games like SimCity 2000, SimFarm and SimTower. After fumbling through the Internet like a blind rat in a maze, I managed to be able to play them all (legally). I decided to write a short blog post on how to play those games. 

Short version

  1. Download Boxer
    Just open the zip file and tada! you’ve got Boxer.
  2. Head down to Abandonia
    Search for the game (e.g. DinoPark Tycoon) you want and download it.
    Make sure it’s compatible with dos boxImage
  3. Unzip the file
  4. Import the game
    Open Boxer and drag the unzipped folder onto “import a new game”
  5. Install the game
    The installer is usually something like “setup.bat” or “install.bat”, so just click “launch installer” and follow the instructions.
    The installer is sometimes an .exe file.
  6. Play the game
    You can access…

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PMG Presents: Starved for Story

I love PC gaming, it presents so much that console gaming just can’t provide.  But console gaming still has PC gaming beat on one front: story.  Console games tend to be longer and more complex than PC games and because of this they tend to be able to put a strong story into their games.  Now this is not to say that all the stories they put into their games are good, in fact nowadays you are lucky if you find a good story in a console game.  PC gaming is filled with great games, games that are fun and innovative and unique, but they lack severely when it comes to story.  PC games have the problem that their stories often fall under the weight of their gameplay, leaving one starved for story.

For a long time I had been starved for story, lost in the desert of PC gaming searching for an oasis to quench my thirst.  I finally reached the oasis I was hoping for in July of 2012.  In July a minimalistic puzzle-platformer was released on Steam.  I would have completely passed it by if it had not been for a video critique of the game that I saw on YouTube.  The critique was done by a man named TotalBiscuit in his “WTF is…?” Series.  I only got to see the first few levels of the game but I was struck by a few things in particular, first of all, how simple and beautiful the game was.  The game had fantastic use of shape and color to give interest to what might easily be taken as a very boring game.  The second thing that struck me was the well thought out and planned narration (the game has a wonderful British narrator who tells the story as you progress).  But the narrations did much more than just tell a story, it reached into my soul and made me connect and feel emotion for a bunch of colored geometric shapes.  Immediately after finishing the video I went out and downloaded the demo of the game and played it all the way through that night.  The very next day I bought the full game and beat it in one sitting.  Afterwards in afterthought I found it so strange that I had begun to feel for a group of colored blocks.

The game I’m talking about is Thomas Was Alone and it is one of my absolute favorite games of all time.  Thomas Was Alone, when you allow yourself to be carried off by the story, is one of those games that know how to pull at your heartstrings and keep you hooked.  Every aspect of the game, the visuals, the music, the narration, and the gameplay, everything comes together to make this emotional, gripping tale which is fun and original.  It’s a piece of art that is funny and witty and I recommend everyone should play it.  I will say that the price is a little steep at $9.99, the game isn’t that long, but I definitely think that if you have the money you should spend it on this and play it as soon as you can, and if you don’t have the money as I imagine many of you don’t, then wait until this game goes on sale and pick it up as soon as you can.  Just one last thing on my part: “When you play this game you shouldn’t go in with any expectations or hopes, but simply dive in and get lost in the game and you will see its true beauty.

Kentucky Route Zero is an extremely unique game.  There are so many layers to this game, so many details that make this game something more, something deeply story-filled.  I was hooked to the idea of Kentucky Route Zero from the first time I saw it; Kentucky, caves, the open road, magic realism, and a beautiful art style, there is almost nothing about this game that repulses me.  The game takes its inspiration from classical point-and-click adventures and uses their gameplay to tell a deep and rich story.  Kentucky Route Zero is interactive and unique, allowing you to control the direction of the story and put into it your own likes and desires, shaping the story the way you want in ways that remain with you throughout the story.  The game is divided into five acts, two of which have been released.  The art style in the game are beautifully simplified and organic, they move and flow and change in wonderful ways that make the game seem large and epic.  On top of that the game has a great soundtrack performed by the Bedquilt Ramblers, a group of folky bluegrass musicians who express the soul of Kentucky and mysticism in music which is deeply rooted in and connected to American history and culture.  I won’t take the time to say anything on the plot because I feel in games so deeply dependent on story, like Kentucky Route Zero and the other games in this piece, the story must be experienced firsthand or else it loses a great deal of power.  Kentucky Route Zero costs $24.99 for all five acts.

The last game on my list is one I have been deeply excited about and one that has only just recently come out.  This game is based off of a Half-Life 2 mod concerned with the story of one man and the strange events that happened to him on one particular day.  The game was recently Greenlit on Steam earlier this year and redone from the ground up to turn the simple mod into a standalone game.  If you haven’t been able to guess, the game I’m talking about is The Stanley Parable.  What is The Stanley Parable?  Well it can be compared to a vast number of different other works: Groundhog Day, The Matrix, Portal, Inception, and the Book of Job.  But at its heart it is something else, something altogether separate from any of these works, The Stanley Parable is an inventive and fun game where you are given free rein to do whatever you want at the expense of a mysterious and British narrator.  As you progress you will see that there are seemingly countless forking paths and stories hidden all around the game world waiting for you to find them.  This game is witty, humorous, and at times scary and shocking.  As you play you will be given the option to make blatantly obvious choices and decisions, but hidden all around the game world there are hidden choices and often it’s when you turn off your brain and quit thinking in conventional terms, that you find the strangest and most enjoyable endings.  You will find at least some small enjoyment in this game and keep coming back to it again and again for that comedic kick.  I love this game so much.  If you want to pick it up, you can find it on Steam for $14.99.

New York Comic Con 2013: Impressions From A Newbie

Lost in Traducción

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the company of  Storm Troopers from Star Warsseveral Daenerys Targaryens from Game of Thronesan assortment of Power Rangers and several variations of the TARDIS (Doctor Who for the uninitiated), along with a host of other fictional characters I didn’t recognize. Sounds like an epic Halloween party right? However, I am actually talking about New York Comic Con.

Billed as the East Coast’s largest fan convention, NYCC is a place for people to celebrate their love of comics, manga, video games, movies, TV shows, movies, among others. About 130,000 people attended this year, myself included. I thought the picture below was a good introduction. Because this has to be the most insane thing I’ve ever been to in my life!


You may already have heard of San Diego Comic Con, which is easily the most…

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