Notes On Rockstar
So I'm checking out this Indy Game Thing. Today I spent the morning playing the Uplink demo, and liked it enough to order it, and also played the Rockstar demo, which I enjoyed all afternoon, but didn't give me enough incentive to pay the whole $6 for the full version.
Rockstar simulates being a rockstar, and is more of a vehicle for satire than a game. To play Rockstar you have to fine tune your drug use and holidays in order to balance your creativity, health, alertness, and happiness. You then attempt to record albums when you're at creative peaks and make money touring. After a few hours of this I never quite caught on to the relationship between albums and touring, or even if there was one. I played three times on three difficulty levels. The hardest--masochist--was the only one where it got interesting. It may have been my imagination but there seemed to be some kind of negative feedback as your stardom progressed: vacations became boring, your fans get tired of you, the studios get sick of you.
What made Rockstar cool was its satire; you can get busted for LSD posession, but it boosts your creativity. Heroin can kill you. (That's how I lost my first game.) You can sacrifice happiness for your other attributes, but if you get too depressed you'll attempt suicide, which will lay you up, uselessly, in the hospital for a while, or even kill you. (That's how I lost my last game.) Your mother offers you drugs. You get laid. Your recording engineers swear at you.
But in the end I have to give it a pass, because the gameplay lacked clarity. Exactly what it was that made gigs succesful or not was a mystery to me. It's fine for a game to have randomness but I was completely clueless as to how to have a good gig or not.
I'm told that at Bullfrog they prototyped Dungeon Keeper with an all-text game first, before they went into production. So who knows? Maybe with more work this game could be turned into something very cool. It certainly has potential.