Let’s Play? I Hardly *Knew* Her!

Howdy, fine readers! Jarenth here: I’m back from the United States of America with a head full of stories, a stomach full of junk food, and no gifts. Well, I mean, I have some of those decorative flattened pennies if you want them.

In lieu of an actual new Indie Wonderland — the regular delivery of which will resume next week — I have for you, in this post, two Let’s Play-related snippets. First, I’ve updated the Let’s Play-section of our menu to contain a complete overview of Jarenth Plays XCOM. So if you’ve ever wanted to re-read your favourite ‘I fight aliens, fail, win sometimes’ episodes, it’s now more easy than ever.

And second, I’ve decided that now would be an excellent time to try my hand at another one of these Let’s Plays. This is actually something I want to talk about in more length, which is why it’s hidden after this section break. If you’re not interested in helping me decide which game to Jarenth-Plays next, you’re free to stop reading right now.

If you’re a long-time reader — or if you just read my other Let’s Plays for the first time, I’m not picky — you might remember that at the end of Warlock and XCOM both, I asked for input on the next game to play. Given that I’m only two games in, and that XCOM was sort of a bolt from the blue for me, I haven’t actually done anything with these reader suggestions yet. I’ve always intended to, though, and now that I’m semi-planning this new project…

I am, however, terrible at decision making. Doubly so when an appropriate answer doesn’t simply present itself to me. Can you guess where you guys come in?

Looking over the suggestions I’ve received — both in the comments and through other channels — I’ve identified three, let’s call them genres of LP-able game suggestions I could do. Each of them have their own benefits and downsides for the purposes of Let’s Playing, which I’ve outlined below. I know where my preferences lie, obviously, but I’d really like some input from you guys on this.

Turn-based strategy games: ‘Civilization’. Probably the most common type of answer. At least partially, no doubt, due to the fact that I’ve done two of these already. It’s a genre that works pretty well with the LP formula I’ve got going here, and it’s a genre of games I tend to like. I’m a little wary of doing just these kinds of games, but I’m not about to turn any good suggestions away.

Common suggestion one in this genre is Civilization V. It’s a game that would probably work pretty well: Warlock was basically Civ 5, But Different. And given that it’s just received a major content expansion, there’d be some interesting stuff to talk about even for a largely non-blind run. But this is also the rub: I’ve already played Civ 5. Not incredibly much, but enough to ensure that I know… well, more than I did with Warlock and XCOM. This could theoretically hamper my HAI GUYS WHAT’S GOING ON style of exploration and play.

Common suggestion two, almost the polar opposite, is Crusader Kings 2. It’s a game that, disregarding the stories, I know almost nothing about. This would probably make for interesting writing… it’s just too bad that, based on what I’ve seen from screenshots and reviews, the game doesn’t really grab me. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t have the same spark. I’ll play it if there’s a lot of demand, though: I’m always open to being surprised.

Personally, I’ve been eyeballing both Stardrive and Endless Space as possible candidates. I’ve heard some bad things about the latter, though, which makes me a little cautious. Any of you readers have any experience with these games?

Role-playing games: ‘Morrowind’. First up: I cannot actually do Morrowind. I don’t mean that in a technical perspective, and I’m not necessarily unwilling to do it either… it’s just that if I do a Let’s Play of Morrowind, it will very likely turn out pretty much identically to Rutskarn’s ‘In A Hostile Country’. Not with ill intent, mind you! It’s just that Rutskarn has been an incredible influence on my (online) writing style. There’s about six people I can directly identify as having influenced my budding in a tangible way, and Rutskarn is one of them. Me playing Morrowind would basically become me playing at Rutskarn playing Morrowind.

In A Hostile Country does, of course, provide ample evidence for the idea that a Let’s Play of this type can totally work. Which means I’m open to the idea. It would need to be a very particular type of game, though: contrast IAHC to that same Rutskarn’s later Skyrim works, which… well, I’ll let him say it.

Bottom line: I’m down for playing this kind of game, but it would need to be a game that has sufficient room for the player to leave their own mark. Something like Risen could totally work, for example… if I hadn’t played that to completion and then some already. But alternate suggestions are way welcome.

Action RPG (Loot-and-click’em-up) games: ‘Diablo’. This was probably the biggest surprise-genre for me to see, but it’s popped up quite a few times. Diablo 3, Torchlight II, Path of Exile…

The reason I’m surprised by these suggestions is because I don’t really see how a more narrative (text/screenshot) Let’s Play of these games would work. When I think about my Diablo experiences, the main thing that comes to mind is running circles around a large pillar, firing health-draining ghosts at Diablo while my little brother operated the potion controls. Which makes for a good watercooler story, but doesn’t really translate into Let’s Play territory very well.

Quick aside: I don’t work in audio. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I loathe listening to my own recorded voice. Yes, I know ‘everyone’ has that reaction, but that doesn’t change the fact that I cringe every time I hear ‘myself’ talk. Seriously, it’s like two stoners taped to a broken bass guitar. And since I’m ostensibly doing these LP things for fun

I suppose there are possibilities for putting a more narrative spin on a text/screenshot clickfest LP. Something like a character diary? If the story is strong enough, I could probably do some interesting things from an almost pure fiction-writing perspective. A Let’s Play like that would be… well, light on the Let’s Play, and heavy on the fiction writing. It’d pretty much be fanfic with gameplay elements, actually.

Which could still be interesting.

I’ve played enough Path of Exile to know I don’t really enjoy it, but any other game would be open. Diablo 3, Torchlight II. Titan Quest, maybe? Or even that recent Van Helsing game.


So there you have it, reader. What would you like to see me play? Did I miss any good games, or genres? Or do you have some suggestions that are completely outside this mold? Please let me know in the comments! The more suggestions, the merrier; I don’t have any strict self-imposed time limit, though the longer I wait with playing and recording, the longer it’ll actually take to get the Let’s Play up and running.

It’s up to you.


    1. If only I could sucker one or multiple people to play that with me.

      If only.

      I knew I shouldn’t have made Charisma my dump stat forever.

      1. I’d be willing to give it a go with you.

        If you’re fine with somebody who’s never played it before play it with you, I guess.

      2. Hrm….I might have a disk laying about, though I would suspect that time zone shenanigans could get in the way.

        Also, it’s an original disk, and lords only know whether it would actually function or not.

        More to the point, I’ve never fully finished a complete play-through of IWD before, and actually having a reason to play would make me stick it out…

        OH! But I think I do have a copy of Baldur’s Gate Enhanced I can bum if I ask nicely…

    2. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Was about to suggest Baldur’s Gate or BG 2, but those have pretty well developed companions, whilst Icewind Dale 1 and 2 leave a lot of room open for LP material.

      That’s my vote at least. It might not even matter since my comment is so late, but you never know, so there you have it.

  1. What about Space Empires? I would suggest Masters of Orion as well, but Ruts started a (seemingly aborted when he started working) Let’s Play of that already, and frankly SE5 seems more up your alley anyway. It has a gigantic tech tree for all your exploration needs, all the Civs you play against are generated randomly so no spoilers and no boring stuff for people who play, and it’s a fairly intuitive, if complicated, 4X game.

    From a turn-based perspective, at least. Don’t have any suggestions for items 2 and 3.

    1. Fun fact: I did actually look up Space Empires V as research for this article. It looks a little… well, DOS-era, but it could still be fun.

      I assume you’re referring to Ruts’ hiatus’d Galactic Civilization II Let’s Play? I fully assume he’ll pick that back up when his life stops being whatever his life is currently being. Hectic, I guess.

      1. Yeah, I always get MoO and GalCiv mixed up. I don’t know what it is, I don’t usually get confused like that.

        The thing I always liked about SEV is that it tries to be hard sci-fi. You’re a science-y guy (That’s you, right? I’m terrible with people) so I thought you might appreciate it.

  2. I’ve read some amazing crusader kings 2 AARs (after-action reports – there’s a whole forum for them on the paradox forums), not to mention dumping a couple hundred hours into it over the last few months, so that could definitely be fun.

    As for more typical 4x games, maybe galactic civilizations 2? (Another great LP of that on … pcgamer, I think?)

    1. Definitely a possibility, but my main concern there is that there’s not a whole lot of room for me to tell my own story. This harkens back to Ruts’ stopping his Skryim LP, which he talks about here.

      Which is, of course, not to say that it’s impossible to make good LPs like this. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  3. Oh! If Civ V doesn’t work out, I suggest Rome 2. Comes out next month, and it would be interesting. Especially if you haven’t played a Total War game before. And even if you did, you could go for an insane goal like Taking over Egypt as Scotland or something. It’s also co-op. And I’m also getting it. And I don’t think we’ve ever played a co-op game together. So one way or another, it’d be an experience.

    Just throwin’ it out there, on the wall. Seein’ what sticks.

  4. I would love to see a series where you play a strategic game against a human opponent who also let’s-plays his part, mainly because I liked this JibSkarn entry very much.

    I know it’s hard to pull off, because you need another player who is engaged and disciplined enough to follow through, but maybe you’ll be able to do it?

    1. I’d love to do something like this. It does require another player who’s disciplined and engaged and all that jazz, but also some good way of recording the whole deal. That JibSkarn thing seems incredibly time-consuming, if hilarious. Maybe someone with their own web space, Gameboys from Hell-style?

      The fact that Jibar and Rutskarn have been friends for years and share a certain warped sense of humour also helps, of course. No idea how well a plan like this would go with a relative stranger.

  5. I do suggest giving Crusader Kings 2 a go. It’s not immediately visually arresting, sure; but when you pay attention to the stories that unfold as you play it, it makes for fantastic emergent narrative and great LP material.

    Also, you could totally LP the Elder Kings mod for it, which as far as I can tell hasn’t been LP’ed by anyone yet.

    If you’re still set against CK2 though – which is fair enough if it really doesn’t appeal – it’d be cool to see someone play through New Vegas with crazy amounts of mods.

    1. I’m not necessarily opposed to Crusader Kings 2. I’m just worried that if the game doesn’t grab me now, it’s going to be very difficult to invest the amount of time and effort a good Let’s Play requires into it. And the last thing I would want is to pull a Josh.

  6. I’ve really enjoyed your turn-based strategy LPs, so I’d be perfectly happy to see another of those. CKII would have added value for me, as I’d probably learn a few useful tips for when I finally get around to trying it, as I did with your Warlock LP. Europa Universalis IV has just come out – maybe that’s worth a look?

  7. Space Hulk just came out today. That has a distinctly Xcom-like vibe to it. It might be a little too, I don’t know, barren for a narratively focused LP though.


  8. Its kinda of a wired one, but in the Deep Silver Indy Bundle I picked up a game called Risen. I knew nothing about it going in and after playing it for about 2 hours… I think I knew even less about it! It was weird as all get out and had a few baffling design chose, but what got me to give it up was not that the game was bad, but that it was so weird that realized that if I did play it, I would have to record it just to capture my blind quest to figure out just what in the blue hell was happening!

    So ya, that might make a good LP for someone with your style.

    P.S Sorry about the huge delay.

    1. Don’t worry about the delay. There’s no such thing as ‘late comments’ on a blog that’s only been running for like three years.

      I actually know Risen pretty well, because I played it (and greatly enjoyed it) when it first came out. And yes, I completely agree: it would have been a really good game to try and LP blindly: it has a really interesting emergent narrative that feels very much like you’re in control of a lot of it. Even though you’re obviously not. But it’s a well-designed game that can make you feel like the rails you’re on are of your own devising.

      Risen is also riddled with design flaws, of course. I save-scummed the combat so hard.

      Anyway, takeaway: Risen is not a bad suggestion, thanks! If I were to play it, though, it wouldn’t be blind. But maybe a more narrative, roleplay-focused LP could work…

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