Brandon and I finally finished our game of Sword of the Stars on Monday. It’s a turn based 4x game, so we don’t both have to be active the entire time, which works nicely for doing it while doing other things. Considering the game took us about two weeks (playing about half those nights) for about 250 turns in a 3 team, 6 player (the two of us on one team, and 4 ai making the other two teams) game with 201 stars, it’s not exactly a game that is easy to put together with people you don’t know and at least partially share a schedule with.

We came across a couple bugs that prompted research, so I might as well repeat what we found here:

First off, we were playing with the Argos Naval Yard expansion. I got the game from Steam, but Brandon got his copy from GamersGate, but we figured the games should be identical despite different distribution mechanisms. Steam didn’t have the latest patch (1.8) pushed out, but the patch from somewhere else happily applied. We ran into trouble with that on the second turn of the game. Apparently the Steam version didn’t behave the same way with the patch, so after completing the first turn we got a “Synch error detected” message, and upon completing the second turn the person not hosting the game would get disconnected. We worked around that by both uninstalling and reinstalling to base ANY, after which our games were willing to cooperate. That shouldn’t be an issue anymore since Steam finally pushed out patch 1.8 before Sunday (when I downloaded it) and we were able to both update and finish the game using 1.8.

The other problem we’ve been having is that combat loads very slowly in windowed mode, and it seemed like the more ships the longer the load time. The load bar gets part way across the screen, then the window freezes (according to win7), and eventually it starts going again and is loaded. The longest load time I had was when I was assaulting with a massive fleet (I wasn’t bothering with repairing damaged ships, so my fleet designed to last to the end of the game had far more ships than are reasonable) and waited over 15 minutes for combat to load. We both have multiple monitors, and at least for me full screen doesn’t play nicely with WoW running on the other screen, so we play in windowed mode. I don’t usually pay attention to the load times since I alt-tab to whatever is on my other monitor when they come up, but it was driving Brandon crazy. He found out that not only does that not happen in full-screen mode, but switching to full-screen and back would prevent the freeze and keep load times reasonable.

In other news, I just saw what appeared to be gameplay footage of Portal 2, which is the game I’m most looking forward to currently.

Actually, alot of that footage appears to be from here on the official site, but I hadn’t seen any of it before today.

Portal was an awesome puzzle game that revolved around a gun that allows you to shoot two portals onto the walls (or floor, ceiling, wherever you could find the right type of surface), which you could then step through to move around, bridge gaps, or fling yourself. The main drawback of the game was how short it was. The entire storyline could be finished in a matter of hours, and after that the challenge maps are the only thing left to do. Not only have I played through the story multiple times, but I’ve gotten the gold metal on all but one of the challenges (use few/no portals, take very few steps, be fast, each applied to 6 different maps).

Portal 2 is promising a longer story and co-op, as well as a bunch of other things to push through portals to achieve survival. The “Thermal Discouragement Beam” looks like fun, and from the videos the combination of the “Excursion Funnel” and different gels should be decidedly interesting.