Element: The realtime strategy game for those who don’t have lots of time for RTS

element_005According to Tauranga, New Zealand game developer Flightless, Element is a real-time strategy game set in space “for people who don’t have time to play realtime strategy space games”.

The game is currently on Steam Early Access for PC, Mac and Linux, and over the years, I’ve covered games made by Flightless (most notably its iOS game Bee Leader) so was lucky enough to get a Steam code for Element.  As you can see from the screen shots, it’s got a really nice art style to it and colour palate. I also hear it was received favourably at this year PAX Aus, and, frankly, I can see why.

element_008Element’s story is set in a time where you are onboard a space craft escaping a decaying solar system. You must visit each planet, mine enough element and defeat the enemy to progress to the outer planets and beyond. You’ll build attack and defence units and assault enemies while mining the planet you’re on for valuable resources using the elements of fire, earth, air and water.

I’ve had a few games of Element and things start off easily, with just a few enemy units to get rid of, but as the game progresses it gets harder, and you find yourself having to flick between mining resources and attacking enemies. You’ll find yourself rotating the planet as you plonk down defensive units then target enemy attack units, hoping to shoot them out of the sky before they destroy your base.

I think Flightless are on the money when they said Element is a realtime space strategy game for those who don’t have time for realtime space strategy games which, let’s be honest, require hours and hours of time to play. I like that Element is the sort of game that you can play through one or two campaign then call it quits for the night but still feel satisfied.

Here’s me playing through Element’s tutorial level:

I’m really liking Element so far and I’ll continue working my way through its planets. No doubt things will get tougher as it progresses, with tougher enemies and challenges, but I love its art style and, importantly, it’s a realtime strategy game that has mission campaigns that are short enough for busy people, like me (and I’d say you too, dear reader) so I don’t have to dedicate a million hours to progress.

I love, too, that Element is from a New Zealand developer that I’ve followed closely over my years as a games writer.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on Element.

I’m a Kiwi so it makes sense to finally have a .kiwi domain name, right? Well, now I have

It wasn’t the usual opening line I get in emails, but it was an opening line that got my attention: “You don’t know me, but I’m a follower of your blog. You’ll have to forgive me for stalking your domain to find your email address!

It was mid-2013, and I was still blogging for Fairfax New Zealand with that other blog I used to do (I remember what it was but it’s ancient history now), and the email was from Tim Johnson, the then-Canada-based head of Dot Kiwi, a group founded to establish the .kiwi domain name – a domain name that Kiwis could be proud off and own themselves.

In his first email, Tim told me that “we’re eager to partner with various organisations and individuals who are influencers” to get momentum going in the .kiwi domain names. Being a journalist I guess I had a bit of an ego when it comes to how much what I write about influences people, so Tim classing me as an “influencer” boosted my ego immensely.  How could I not want a piece of this when my ego had been flattered by classing me as an “influencer”?

Tim and I stayed in touch over the next few months and over the course of about 30-plus emails it’s finally got to this domain name: gamejunkie.kiwi – a truly New Zealand-flavoured domain name that I can call my own. And you can call it yours, too, if you want, I mean, gamejunkie.kiwi is as much mine as it is yours.

You can learn more about .kiwi here, where you can find out all about the .kiwi story, the people behind it and it’s where you can register your interest so that you’re kept in the loop about what’s going on. It’s currently in the Sunrise phase, which is where existing trademark holders can apply to have a .kiwi domain name that matches their brand name.

When you think about it, though, as Kiwis it makes sense to have our own unique domain name system, right?

New Zealand might be a small country at the bottom of the world but we’ve forged a pretty damn strong identity with the Kiwi brand name, an identifier known around the world. Up until now, we’ve been restricted to domain names like .com or .co.nz or others but .kiwi was never an option. Until now. Now it is. Surely having a .kiwi at the end of your brand name or company web address is really championing New Zealand and announcing to the world that, yes, I’m proud to be a Kiwi? I know I am.

As of today, March 10, the domain name gamejunkie.kiwi, which Dot Kiwi kindly gifted me,  has been registered and is up and running. The process was pretty smooth, actually, and the only major change was that my WordPress basic account was upgraded to a Premium account so the new domain name could be attached to my WordPress account. You can now also email me at gerard@gamejunkie.kiwi, if you like. Go on: I’d love to get an email from you.

In the scheme of things, nothing’s really changed: It’s the same content, the same person running it (me), the same irregular blog posts, except you can now get to this blog using gamejunkie.kiwi domain name.

By going .kiwi, I’m embracing my Kiwiness. That’s kinda cool.

The Dunedin edition: Game Junkie heads south

Those of you in New Zealand would have heard about the terrible winter weather that hit Christchurch overnight on Sunday (and moved it’s way up the country) so imagine my surprise on Monday morning when we woke up and found more than a foot of snow everywhere. It was like a winter wonderland – but in Christchurch.

It was exciting in one respect because we were able to make a snow man, play snowball fights and took our son taboggoning – down the hill at the end of our street, which was just surreal. I hear it was the second coldest day in Christchurch – minus 1.9deg = since about 1915. However, it was also not that great for us as we were due to head to Dunedin on Monday night to check out some residential colleges at Otago University for our teenage daughter.

I thought out quick trip was scuppered (we’d been planning it for weeks and I had to be back at work on Thursday) until about 2pm we made the decision to pack light and fast and head south – so we did. A quick chat to the neighbour to see if they’d feed the cat and we were on the road. Surprisingly, once we got about 30km out of Christchurch the roads were clear and snow-free. That said, we decided that by the time we got to Oamaru, which is about an hour and a quarter out of Dunedin, we’d call it a night and found a cabin at a camping ground and head to Dunedin in the morning.We had the heat pump working overboard in the room, keeping us toasty warm.

Today dawned bright and frosty in Oamaru and after a rather very average breakfast McMuffin from McDonalds we headed to Dunedin. The climb into the city over the hill was extremely slow, thanks to the ice and grit on the road but we got there in one piece and spent all day looking at residential colleges. I had an average coffee at the Otago Museum cafe but a much better one at the restaurant for dinner. Tomorrow, I want to check out some of the coffee spots in the inner city that I’ve had recommended to me.

Tomorrow, we’re  looking at doing the Cadbury chocolate factory tour – you get a bag of chocolate during the tour apparently so I’m going to see how much I can stuff in my mouth before being told off (just joking: I won’t really do that) – then we’ll hit road, Christchurch-bound, by 4pm at the latest, just in case they decide to close the road again.

At the moment, I’m sitting in a gorgeous cottage in Dunedin’s Broad Bay, a glass of riesling on the table beside me, a home-made cheese scone in my belly and am about to play Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Can life get any better than this?

I don’t think so.