My biggest pseudo-resolution this year has been to get better organized — get a better division between “working,” “researching,” and “just goofing off,” which can be a nebulous distinction when you’re ostensibly a freelance videogame developer. Part of that was a sub-clause resolution to finally make progress with the backlog and finish many of the games I started in 2010: Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Epic Mickey….
So of course the game I’ve spent the most time playing this year is an Xbox Live Arcade game called A World of Keflings by developer NinjaBee.
I actually wasn’t all that impressed with their first game in the series, A Kingdom for Keflings. Its gimmick was that it was one of the first Avatar games, so there was still the novelty of seeing your Xbox self in giant form walking around a simple city-building game populated with Liliputian polygonal characters. But for whatever reason, it never hooked me.
The new one works exactly as intended, though. I’m a complete sucker for farming and city-building games — get me in front of SimCity or any of the Harvest Moon games and I’m in a fiddling trance for at least the next two hours. Part of the reason I keep thinking I like RTS games is that I get excited at the prospect of setting up a base and seeing all the buildings pop up. And walking around as a giant version of myself, putting buildings together, having the tiny characters following me around delivering stuff to me, is all inexplicably charming.
I suspect that the NinjaBee guys like exactly the same type of games that I do; Band of Bugs was a noble attempt to give new character to tactical strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics. I’m sure there’s some type of psychological profile that perfectly explains the type of person who’s fascinated by building, harvesting, and fiddling, but all I know is that I was up until 4 AM this morning.