It’s been awhile, obviously. There have been many good games in the past year – and many more that I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of. What I had to say about them fit neatly into review-fields, or a G+ post. Sometimes several. It really has been awhile since I felt the need for more space to accommodate my thoughts.

The other day I picked up Banished, on steam. 

I was in the mood to build a city.

I’ve built many cities, in many games. Simcity, Tropico, Civ-, Reus, and they all generally have their own flavor and feel to how you’re playing. You’re god, you’re mayor, your dictator, you are the general of the armies that go whomp someone else so you can expand. Some are a lot of micro-managing and I wasn’t in the mood for that.

Neither was I in the mood to continue beating my head against android games. My brief foray into that arena has left me with a bitter taste, “you are out of gems/energy!” oh… “this will take 5hr to complete” wtf? “get your friends to help!” and spam fb? grack! “buy more gems/energy!” what, so I can play another 20 min before you spam me again? Psssssh.

Then I noticed Banished on steam. It was an indie developed “city builder” that visually looked quite impressive. I scanned the rest of the text and figured it looked and sounded like it would perfectly fit my mood.

More than I bargained for.

I launched into a game straight out the gate, and found… nothing. No objectives, no hints, no clues about what I should be doing. It wasn’t holding my hand coddling me through a tutorial – did I need one?

I plopped a few houses, and a hunting cabin that I found in the menu. It took me a while to realize why my folk were still wandering aimlessly, I had to assign builders. Then, winter smacked me in the face. I struggled, and by spring, had lost half my population to starvation. I went back and did the tutorials that were in the main menu, and wondered why they weren’t in the game itself. As objectives, goals, little pointing arrows I am so used to seeing.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Now, I’m glad it is done this way. It gave you all the things you needed to navigate the game, without actually impacting your play – or making it easy for you to survive. That is what this is about, survival. No armies, no taxes, no citizens or advisers hollering at you.

There is an organic, all-natural pressure that drives the game. Winter.

Do you have enough food, fire wood, homes? It was… refreshing, exhilarating, and intense. Once I achieved that balance however I thought. “This is it, I have a population of 20, and what else is there?” If you can survive your winters, it’s left up to you to determine your goals – expand! GROW!

GROW!!! Why isn’t my population growing? Go forth and procreate! Oh, I need more homes for you to move into? Is that it. I honestly expected it was something trivial like a housing cap, and when I plopped a new home more people would just magically appear to populate it… That’s about when I noticed something so mind-blowing it took my breath away.


“The townspeople of Banished are your primary resource. They are born, grow older, work, have children of their own, and eventually die. Keeping them healthy, happy, and well-fed are essential to making your town grow. Building new homes is not enough—there must be enough people to move in and have families of their own.”
– from the game’s description. 

I apologize to the one-person army that developed Banished for not believing.

It’s something bigger games, bigger companies (yes I’m looking at you with glaring eyeballs SimCity & EA) have promised this in the past. That their population was significant, that it would matter, that it was intelligent. I should have expected one person could accomplish more – without someone sitting over their shoulder.

The fact of the matter is, yes. Yes, YES, and OH YES! My Fisherman goes about his job, he goes home, he gets food, he goes to his job, and… lo and behold he goes back to his home time and again. He’s a male, and the herbalist living in the same home is female, children appeared. His age increased, their ages increased. If I switched his job, he moved on to it.

Maybe it’s the scale of the game. Banished deals in much smaller population numbers. I haven’t hit a population cap yet, I’m not even sure that there is one – But, that’s the “excuse” EA used on SimCity for why their hyped up intelligent AI with citizens that “mattered” actually didn’t. They followed lame paths, lost their identity the moment they hit a building. You couldn’t follow a sim to home, or work, or shopping because it was all just a number game.

In banished you can, not only that but they do follow logical paths to get from one point to another.

My population grew, and as it did – the pressure cooker turned back on. I need more food, more resources, my homes are cold! A tornado just destroyed the only nearby forest I had – along with several key workers. I need to shuffle my workers around because it’s fall and winters coming. I starved.

It’s the most relaxing, but yet intense city-building game I’ve played. It doesn’t need objectives. It doesn’t need micro-managing with blaring horns and unhappy protesters wanting more parks. It doesn’t need armies banging on your door. Yes, you can find a nice balance and grow slowly, carefully, but are you ever really prepared enough? That, my friends, is a question Banished keeps asking.

What has already been accomplished in Banished, allows me to dream. To think, of what elements might be added in the future I’m certainly interested in seeing. Family tree’s – Ack, that would be troublesome if you only had a few families that genetically couldn’t mix anymore without cousins marrying. Maybe it’s highly impractical to imagine a population of 300 and all those family tree’s somehow linking back to four founding families.

“Seasonal” jobs. Things like farms only operate in-season, mid-winter you find your farmers acting as general laborers, not always the most useful things – not when you’d rather have the extra help in your mines, or on your fishing docks. So you do end up trying to manage that, or just leave it be. It is something that makes me dream that the Dev could find a way to assign jobs by season.

Maybe your woodcutter will only begin his work in the summer. Maybe your tailor and blacksmith will only work in the winter – after other resources have stockpiled. Maybe those people also work in your quarry – when they aren’t making you warm clothing.

Banished is not without its quirks, flaws, and bugs. That being said –

I’m happy.

Get this if you:

  • Enjoy City-Building Games.
  • Are self-motivated to set you’re own goals for your city beyond survival.
  • Want a game that is both relaxing, and intense.
  • Enjoy strategy & planning.
  • Want to play an average country/forest medieval settlement that could plausibly exist.
  • Don’t want to dedicate most of your time to defending your settlement.
  • Can survive tornado’s.

Banished by Shining Rock Software { }


GW2: The Sky Above us Shoots to Kill.

The higher leveled zones keep throwing more and more at you in GW2. Literally. I mean, really, fire raining down from the sky? I Have to admit my first reaction was to look for a player upon seeing the red-rings. Silly, of course since I wasn’t in WvW nor in sPvP. When you’re out and about exploring the world there is no one sneaking up on you to kill you. I have mixed feelings about that actually.

On one hand I’m free to explore the world at my leisure, on the other having to constantly watch my back does heighten my awareness of my surroundings. As I realized it couldn’t be a player, I started dodging around while looking to see what had me targeted. Of course – nothing. My Necro pet would have been it’s usual idiot self and gone tearing off if something had.

So that left… Hellfire and Brimstone.

Raining down… from the sky.

The Straits of Devastation appear appropriatly named. Not only is it a gloomy, ruined, hostile filled zone it is home to the Temple of Balthazar. Which I was informed if not cleared will be constantly raining fire on the shrine. So keep in mind if you’re playing a female Asura you will constantly hear her say “BURNING!”

I hit 80 – but it doesn’t really feel like I hit a level cap. So many zones left unexplored; makes my brain go numb. Of course I have been level 80 before, theoretically at least. Zoning into the Heart of the Mists will automatically put you in some sweet noob PvP Gear. Along with giving you access to every skill, and trait that’s accessible in PvP.

So don’t forget when you go – Check your gear, check to make sure you’ve equipped the right weapons, and check your slotted skills. Otherwise you will wander in half-asleep like I did and sit there in utter confusion while trying to kill people. Trust me trying to find a breathing moment to back out of combat and get at least your slotted skills set is not fun.

Thankfully all it really requires is a quick trip back to the Mists to buy from a vendor your “free” weapons and armor if you don’t appreciate the default set up it gave you.


In sPvP we have – no loot? Everything’s automatically done for you so you can focus on killing that guy in front of you. The environment and small teams make it easier to have a real fight. Use all your skills and push the limits of what you can do with the game mechanics, dodge!

Except… except…

It doesn’t really matter how fun the fight, or how long it took you to kill that guy.

Ultimately it boils down to rushing off and kill the spawned Bosses, and stand in a circle to cap an area for points. If you don’t do those things – and quickly – the other team will. Even if you’ve racked up twice as many Player-Kills as a team, you’re still gonna loose. So if you want to actually WIN the match, you almost have to just stay alive and keep on moving – get that next point.

Don’t stand around and fight, go get that boss!

Wait… is this PvP or PvE? I’m confused.

On the flip-side…

In WvW we have massive keeps and structures to besiege – which granted give you zone bonuses based on how many of these things you have. Which also directly influences your servers winning or loosing. PvE? Sign me up! A siege is infinity more FUN than the rat race.

Let’s see what do I get for taking this… hmmm. Some server bonuses, cool, some guild-bonuses (maybe), awesome. Ok, now I need some better gear… wait, I can’t afford this!

Your gear – if you should so choose to obtain any purchasable by WvW currency the [Badge of Honor] starts trumping everything else. Meaning you have no real incentive to hold, or take, any of those structures. You’ll be drawn there anyway because odds are that’s where the Zerg – the mindless collective of players will be.

Why can’t I get a badge for helping construct a siege weapon?

Why can’t I get a badge for breaking down that incredibly hard to kill gate?

I guess in a sense I am, if I’m killing players in the process and collecting the loot. I have yet to see a loot bag appear on the ramparts next to the arrow-cart or oil. Do the players operating them get loot dropped at their feet if the players they killed are so far away?

Or do I need to stick a fork in it and say:

“Oh yeah, He’s done.”

Or does that honor go to the guy who spammed the F key while I was downing him?

Hard to tell amid the chaos.

The fact is you have a small number of ways to obtain the elusive Badge. The primary source for me at least seems to be off of players whom are killed. Claiming that loot can be challenging at best. The Zerg is like a flowing sea, pushing forward and falling back. Trying to pick up these bags amid the absolute chaos is not as friendly as it could be. I can’t tell you how many bags I may have missed because I am too busy chasing down and killing some random person.

I can’t tell you because I actually have no idea… Can’t see sparklies amid all the effects going off, and people running around. The only time I actually know there is loot most of the time – is because the indicator “Press F” comes up.

The “Press F” it’s AMAZING button.

Better yet “SPAM F!”

Do it, we’ll have lunch later.

“Push F” Finish off downed player.

“Push F” Collect loot.

“Push F” Greet NPC.

“Push F” Talk to Merchant / Bank / TP.

“AGGGH! NOOO! I Didn’t want to get Stuck rezzing this Idiot!”

“Push F” Revive Ally.

“I just want that LOOT!”

It’s not JUST the WvW where this is a problem either. How many times have you run around the world doing a dynamic event with NPC’s following you around?

“STOP ——— following ME! I Want my ——— LOOOOT! You ——-! I Don’t Want to speak to you! All you say is a one line phrase anyway!”

Ever had your loot die under the NPCs feet in your story quest, or dungeon?


Or like my Asura Necromancer keeps saying, “I Should have Given that one Brains!” Or at least I think she keeps saying that, or was it “Good thing I didn’t give that one brains.” Bah, forget it we will just go with the ever present, “I didn’t know it’d pop like that.”


I remember a story quest vividly.

I zoned in and suddenly I’m confronted by 3 NPC children playing a game. Pretending to be various members of destiny’s edge. They argued back and forth about who was who, and what they were doing. It was so entertaining I stood there until they finally ran off. Only then did I walk up to find the actual destiny’s edge arguing in much the same (albeit more adult) manner.

I remember that when I’m standing at the bank in Rata Sum going through my bags or browsing the Trading Post. I remember it just before realizing I’ve heard the NPC conversation ending in “We just bow down to our new golem overlords!” for the billionth time. Actually I don’t know if I have heard it a billion times but it is practically the only npc conversation in that area. It also has a frequency of about 10 seconds of blessed silence before it starts up again.

The same thing occurs at my crafting table, “Do you have need of a…..” “Every morning when I wake my notes are exactly one micromiter….” Over and over and over…


Cities, especially near Banks, Trading Posts, and Crafting tables have some of the least interesting NPC conversation in the entire game. “I can outrun a centaur” not withstanding.

Dear GW2,

I have a suggestion to make regarding NPC dialog near Banks, Trading Post, and Crafting Tables. Make them like the 3 children in the personal story. Make them move around the city, put them on a twenty or thirty minute timer. Allow them to rotate on a LARGE loop.

Use this time while we’re standing there searching in vain for the right combination for turnips – to give us the story. The Back Story, word from the front-lines, a courier rushing in with new’s that The Shatterer has been sighted? It’s a HUGE wide open throw a hot-dog down the hole kinda hole.

Oh, and please increase the variety of things my character says. It can wear on my nerves. Sadly that sort of nerve-worn listening makes me adjust NPC volume to zilch. Even though I know some of them can be really amusing and/or interesting.

Respectfully Your’s,

~ Siori.

I feel like sending an actual message along those lines every night. However I hope Arena Net is already aware of the Gap. Perhaps they simply chose to focus their resources on actual game-play. For now. It could be on a desk somewhere waiting for more important things to get off the top of it. Which is why I haven’t begged them… YET.

As much as it may sound like I am whining about the game I am not. I enjoy it quite a bit – its just these few things that in my own personal (and maybe not so wise) opinion could use some detangling spray and a new hairbrush.

I enjoyed it so much in fact that I decided to start a Male Sylvari Engineer. Oh, look they start off in Adam and Eve leaves! Sweet! I’ve never played a male character before, being female I just stuck with playing a female. I could honestly care less about what my gear LOOKS like. I can’t say the same for some of my friends.

Humiation Pink dye?

What is it with guy’s and pink dye? Did we women deny them the pleasure of  the color in real life?

A few make female characters and spend their time painstakingly playing dress up.

“In my defense I’m trying to make the most (insert word of choice) looking woman possible.”

Well he picked a Human Female, caster.

Not so terribly difficult to dress her up like a blow-up doll in knee-high boots.

“Well would you want to stare at a man’s ass all day…?”

Actually… now that you point that out.

I’ve never had a problem playing a female character and “staring at a female ass all day.” We girls are raised playing with anatomically incorrect but naked all the same barbies. We got to play dress up with the infinite supply of Barbie High heels and short skirts.

Which is why I don’t begrudge you accessing your inner-woman to play with your virtual barbie doll.

I know some women will complain about seeing all the skimpy-armor female characters run around but I have to say – GW2 you did a good job. Aside from Human and Sylvari female casters – the rest of the armor is both more conservative and appropriate. They don’t toss a warrior out in the field of battle wearing a bra a-la Xena.

Or wait… Maybe they do.

But, but, Norn women in heavy armor look BAD ASS!

Hmmm, I will have to consider this further.

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