Settlement Survival - title

As my frequent readers probably know, I am a sucker for city-building and village-building games. I buy a few new ones almost every year, and ever since the release of Banished, the medieval village sim has been all the rage. Though it looks like post-apocalyptic settlement builders are also becoming a hot sub-genre -- probably as a result of the popularity of the settlement-building in Fallout 4. Anyway, last year, Chichian encouraged me to try out a then-Early Access title called Settlement Survival. I was hooked on it for a couple months, and then set it aside with the intent to come back to it later. In the meantime, the game saw its official Steam retail release, which encouraged me to go back and give it a second go (and formal review).

Time to plan

Settlement Survival is one of the more addictive and challenging city-builders that I've played. It features a complicated web of production chains and resources, which can be a real challenge to plan and manage. Trying to unlock and use everything in a single village will take a lot of time, effort, and planning.

Settlement Survival provides a handy-dandy timeline in the top right corner of the screen which shows when all the seasons start and end, and which also shows icons for important upcoming events. Everything from the arrival of a merchant ship, to incoming immigrants, and even disasters or other random events will be forecast a whole year in advance. This gives the player plenty of time to plan ahead, and avoids the problem of the player feeling un-prepared to take advantage of an un-expected boon or to mitigate a disaster.

This timeline is the core gimmick of the game, as it enables long-term planning.

There are also random events that are not forecast on the timeline, and they often require that the player have certain resources or tools on-hand. But these are rarely destructive, so worst case is that you miss out on the opportunity to get some free bonus resources (which you may or may not have needed anyway). Nevertheless, it does put a pressure on the player to build up a surplus stockpile of many goods in case one of these events pops up. Tools and beer being the most common items used for such events, based on my experience.

This timeline helps to create some medium and long-term planning and reward structures that really makes the game crazy addictive. There's the short-term goals for things like building the next building. Then there's the medium-term goals like completing the next harvest season. And then there's the longer-term goals like accumulating goods to trade to an incoming merchant ship, or waiting for the next batch of immigrants to give you a labor surplus that can allow you to go on the next wave of building infrastructure. There's always some milestone right over the horizon, and then another right beyond that, and I find myself playing longer than I had planned, and long after I should have gone to bed, because I want to get to that next harvest, or trade opportunity, or make sure that I get through that next disaster.

This also means that random disasters don't feel as annoying because you have plenty of warning that a disaster is coming, and can prepare accordingly. Further, the disasters themselves rarely kill population directly. Rather, they usually impact your resource-generation for a period of time. So most disasters are mitigated simply by stockpiling the affected resource ahead of time.

There are also random events that do not appear on the timeline.

The timeline also discourages save-scumming. Disasters are forecast a whole in-game year ahead of time, so re-loading to before the disaster would require going back more than a whole year. And that might not even necessarily save you, since I've noticed that the disasters still happen at the same time, even if I go back to a save from before the disaster shows up in the timeline. I'm not sure how long in advance they are generated, but the fact that I know that I can't avoid it by simply reloading and re-rolling a die means that I'm more inclined to batten down the hatches and just roll with whatever happens.

The end result is that the gameplay ends up feeling more organic, and the challenge of surviving and growing your fledgling settlement remains relatively high. When I do save-scum, it's usually to undo some mistake that I made, so that I learn from my mistake, fix it and do better; rather than to outright cheat by undoing some random event that the game threw at me.

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Yes, I still try to wear a facemask whenever I go to an indoor public space, whether it be the grocery store or the sportsbook. I even wear a mask most of the day at the office, unless the people in the desks closest to mine aren't in that day. I just don't want to get sick. I'm vaccinated for both the flue and COVID, and am up-to-date on my COVID boosters, so I'm not terribly concerned about getting severely sick. But I would just prefer not to be sick at all, if I can take reasonable precautions to avoid it.

Unfortunately, I haven't always been as strict about it as I probably should have been. I did catch COVID a few months ago. It was pretty mild. I had a pretty bad fever for a day, with my temperature almost getting up to 104 degrees. After the fever broke, I was coughing and sniffly for a week or so, but was able to function. I still kept myself in quarantine though, since I'm lucky enough to work at a company that allows remote work.

The cough lingered on and off for a few weeks, which made exercise a bit more difficult. But otherwise, I haven't had any lasting effects (that I'm aware of).

I am still wearing a face mask in indoor public places, and sometimes at home.

Ironically, I had just been in the pharmacy a couple weeks before getting COVID, and the pharmacist had asked if I wanted a booster. I didn't think they took walk-ins, but I was like "sure!". Unfortunately, I didn't have my vaccine card on my person at that time, so the pharmacist asked me to come back again later. I planned on going back later that week, but kept putting it off and didn't get around to it. Then I caught the damn thing and got sick.

If I had gotten that booster, and had been more consistent about wearing my mask, it is possible that I could have avoided getting sick at all. But I didn't, so now I've joined the ranks of the overwhelming majority who has caught COVID. Even so, I am now back to wearing a mask when I go out. Even though I'm unlikely to catch COVID again so soon, there are still regular colds and the flu floating around out there, and I don't want to catch those either.

Honestly, even after the COVID pandemic is finally over and COVID has settled into being little worse than a regular cold, I might still continue wearing a mask under certain conditions. I've actually found a lot more value to wearing a mask beyond just the prevention or mitigation of COVID.

First and foremost, quarantine and masks have proven effective at preventing the spread of regular cold and flu. So I'll probably continue to mask up during cold and flu season, whether there's an ongoing pandemic or not. I have a teenage daughter in middle school, and a toddler son who goes to daycare occasionally. Kids bring home bugs all the time. So I might still catch things from them, at home, no matter what I do. But might as well take precautions so as not to catch anything from strangers when I'm out and about.

The other big advantage that I've found to wearing a mask has been the mitigation of allergy symptoms. I suffer from seasonal allergies, and I know there is something in my neighborhood that is a major trigger for my allergies, but I just don't know what, specifically it is. Maybe it's mulberry; or maybe it's oleander. I'm not sure. Whatever it is, it can mess me up really bad. I've had to take time off of work in the past because my allergy attacks were almost as bad as having the flu.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023 10:00 AM

Should NFL refs "let the players play", or not?

in Sports by MegaBearsFan

Philadelphia Eagles fans are apparently upset that the officials in SuperBowl XVII "decided the game" by calling a defensive holding on James Bradberry (Eagles DB) in the final minute of the game. The Chiefs were already well inside field goal range, so there was little question that they would score to break the tie. But this penalty on a 3rd down gave the Chiefs an automatic first down, and which allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock before kicking that game-winning field goal, thus, preventing the Eagles from having an opportunity to respond with their own scoring drive.

Yeah, sure, it always sucks when a penalty makes or breaks a game, but this was a reasonable penalty to call. We can debate all day whether the tug of the jersey was enough to impede the receiver's ability to run his route and get to the ball, or if the ball was even catchable to begin with. Either way, the tug of the jersey was obvious. By letter of the rule, it is a penalty. Case closed.

This slight tug of the jersey gave the Chiefs an automatic first down, to run out the clock on SuperBowl XVII.

While Eagles fans are upset by this one call, I'm more upset with the inconsistent rulings of the NFL officials throughout the entire 2022-2023 playoffs -- specifically where pass interference and defensive holding are concerned.

Earlier in the playoffs, the refs were apparently letting defenders get away with almost anything, supposedly on the grounds of "letting the players play". The refs were letting slide defensive actions that, in the regular season, would have been called as penalties. Even the commentators were talking about how the officiating tends to be a bit more lax in the playoffs because they don't want a penalty deciding the outcome of a playoff game. Even earlier in the SuperBowl, defenders on both sides got away with more flagrant fouls than the one that eventually decided the outcome of the championship. Heck, I don't think there is a single playoff team that doesn't have a grievance against the officiating in the playoffs -- whether they won the game or not.

So here's my question. (Or questions, I guess.) Are defensive holding and pass interference supposed to be penalties or not?!

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I wrote previously about my trepidations regarding the free-to-play status of Modus Games' reboot of Maximum Football. I'm not going to retread that again here. Instead, I've poured over the announcement trailer, dev diaries, and other information about the game, and would like to discuss my impressions on how the game might play, based on the publicly-available information and video.

The announcement trailer shows a few clips of gameplay, but doesn't provide a whole lot more information.

There have so far been 2 development updates, in addition to the announcement trailer. All these videos show a little bit of gameplay, but not much. So I don't have a whole lot to go on. But I'm going to go through each video and try to identify gameplay issues that stand out to me.

Rebuilt gameplay

The first develop update, released last June, was focused on the gameplay goals of the development team. They say they want to focus on authentic, simulation gameplay. They threw away all the assets and animations from the original Maximum Football codebase (developed by Canuck Play) in order to rebuild everything from the ground up. This includes bringing in professional and college athletes for motion capture and shifting to the Unreal Engine (I think Canuck was using Unity?).

Dev Update 1 (June 2022) covers the main goals of gameplay.

The visuals certainly look a lot better than what Canuck Play was able to create. Player models and stadiums look a lot more detailed and realistic. The jury is still kind of our on whether the animation and control will be dramatically improved, because it's hard to get a feel for the animation and controls from a simple video.

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Yesterday, Modus Games released its first actual announcement trailer for its upcoming revival of the Maximum Football series. The trailer was mostly heavily-edited, short clips of action from replays, but there was some gameplay mixed in as well. This gives us an actual indication of how the new football sim might play. The other 2 important tidbits from the trailer are the game's release window, and its price. No specific release date was given, except for a "fall 2023" window. Hopefully it is early fall: August or early September. We don't want the game showing up in the middle of October, when the NFL season is already half over, and the excitement for the new season has already died down a bit.

Modus Games has released the announcement trailer for Maximum Football, due out this fall.

The most interesting piece of information, however, is the game's price. The trailer revealed that Maximum Football will be a "free-to-play" game. Maximum Football's director, Micah Brown, has stated that being free-to-play allows Modus "to build on the game over time, alongside the community." Presumably, this means that there will not be a new, annual release of Maximum Football either. It will likely be a single game that will be updated with new features over the years. Similar to how a game like Fortnite has its different "seasons". According to Micah Brown:

"We want to create a football platform where users can play with tons of different rule sets, field configurations, severe weather changes and more without having to relaunch the game every year. Users shouldn’t have to rebuild their franchises from scratch every year when they purchase a new sports title."

The free-to-play model also means that we won't necessarily have to restart out career campaigns from scratch every year when a new game launches. We can presumably keep playing the same Franchise or Dynasty and develop the same team for years. That sounds awesome! I've been asking Axis Football's devs to implement save file transfers from year to year as well, as it's a great idea for a non-licensed game.

Being able to carry a Franchise save from one game release to another is one item on my Axis Football wishlist.

On the one hand, this is all good news. Free is good. This ensures that anybody who wants to play the game will be able to. No concerns about "wasting money" on a potentially lackluster product.

But on the other hand, Modus has to include some monetization scheme. They have to make money. They have to pay their developers for ongoing maintenance and development. They have to maintain servers for online play. And so forth. This has me a bit concerned, considering the game is un-licensed and will emphasize customization. How much of that customization will the users have to pay for? Again, from Micah Brown:

"In addition to the robust customization options that exist for players, we will be offering a selection of premium goods and licensed equipment that can be purchased to further expand the customization options."
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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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