Paul – Neptune’s Pride
It didn’t take me long to pick my best gaming moment of 2010, as there is one gaming memory that sticks out in my mind above all others - the bit-tech office game
of Neptune’s Pride
In case you're unfamiliar with Neptune’s Pride, it's basically a deceptively simple looking browser-based space-domination game for up to 12 players, the aim of which is to control 51 per cent of the star systems on the map. It sounds simple enough, but the real key to the game is that it runs in real-time. This means that the game is always playing. even when you’re away from your PC, and attacks can be launched at any time.
Needless to say, this mechanic inspires an atmosphere of absolute suspicion on the part of the players. It’s something which I could just about stomach if I was playing with people I didn’t know, but playing with a tightly knit group of like-minded and similarly competitive individuals heightened suspicions to ridiculous levels.
I’d also only just joined the bit-tech
and Custom PC
team when we started playing, so I was desperate to impress, but also paranoid that everyone would be plotting to gang up on ‘the new guy.’ I didn’t have any of the long-term friendships that become a core currency in Neptune’s Pride, but I needn’t have worried, as it turned out everyone else was just as paranoid as me.
Connect the dots
Joe and Harry, for example, were absolutely desperate to beat one another. So much so, in fact, that their rivalry actually shaped many early alliances. Harry even went as far as paying another player actual money
to attack Joe on his behalf.
I can’t blame him, though, as the game drives you to seemingly irrational acts, such as getting up at 3am to launch a surprise attack that will land just as your victim sits down at their desk to check their morning emails. This was a favoured tactic of mine, much to the disgust of my light-sleeping girlfriend.
Possibly the main reason why the game sticks out in my mind, though, is the sheer amount of energy and thought I put into agonising over my in-game decisions. Most games I play seem pathetically disposable by comparison, with any wrong decisions quickly rectified with either a quick load or an automatic respawn. This isn’t the case with Neptune’s Pride, which instead punishes you mercilessly for making the wrong choice. Watching your precious fleet slowly inch across the map to inevitable doom is an excruciating experience.
I hate/love this game
This made making even the simplest decision a case of checking, rechecking and re-rechecking before sending the fleet on its way. It was like a four-week game of chess. I must have spend nearly an hour hunched over my PC the morning I launched my big assault on Alex, despite having planned it all out to the nth
degree the night before.
The game made for an incredibly entertaining few weeks, and inevitably dominated the topic of conversation in the office for the duration of the game, much to the chagrin of the rest of the office. It was also amazing to sit back for a second and realise that this was actually work, as we were documenting the game on the site week by week.
As a result of all this, Neptune’s Pride was an easy choice for my best gaming moment of 2010.