Gaming 101 – don’t kill off your colonists in the first 15 min

Gaming 101 – don’t kill off your colonists in the first 15 min

Ah, Gaming 101 – I am one of the worst video game players on earth.  Despite my utter ineptness, I enjoy playing and occasionally, idly, think maybe I should stream my attempts live. I could call myself “Captain Disaster” or “Your Colony is DOOOOOMMMMED”.  I don’t enjoy shooter games and war games much. I prefer sims, strategy and the odd dungeon and dragon style game.  I enjoy the mechanics of governing and the minutia of dealing with the economy etc so tend to gravitate towards games that allow me to micromanage the smaller details. I’m not good at the management, but I do have fun.

The problem is, I tend to get into weird moral dilemmas’ while playing. One of the reasons I don’t do well at games like Europa Universalis or Civilization is the mental gymnastics my brain gets wrapped around. I start thinking “I can’t just declare war, they have the right … “ or “well why can’t there be universal suffrage or freedom right now … oh that was quick” and the game goes to hell in a hand basket.  Inevitably, my little kingdoms get swept away. Often, shockingly fast. Once in awhile I’ll throw ethics aside and play the role of despot or whatever and .. nah, never lasts long.  I know, it’s just a game, but the little running commentary in my head harkens back to my days as a political studies student at Queen’s discussing the historical ramifications between this act or the political maneuverings that led to that disaster. Eventually I end up looking up some arcane bit of history and forget I have the game playing. If it’s real time based, I return to find everyone dead.

I’m working on a new game now – Planetbase by Madruga Works ( Steam is running their summer sale and I picked it up to try out. The premise is straightforward. I’m in command of a new colony on some distant planet. No wars, no moral dilemma, not a rival colony to be seen. Just me and my little colonists. I’m in charge of setting up the colony and making it sustainable. Planning things out properly will attract new colonists, opportunities for trade and expansion.  What could go wrong?

Gaming 101 – starting the colony

Colony one.  Even for me, it was a stunning record of 15 min worth of game time.  Need to plan a better layout. Oh and get the oxygen maker running faster. Much faster.

Screen capture of second colony in Planetbase

Colony 2. Not too bad! Lasted long enough to grab a screen capture.

Planetbase colonists arriving! This is a breeze

Planetbase screen capture - colonists are arriving!

Sustainability! This is a cakewalk.

Ohhh colonists already!

Then again, I could be wrong. Who knew hydropoinics need water?

Uh oh. This isn’t good. Right, hydroponics needs water. Of course.

Planetbase screen capture - injured worker. No medical wing. Not good.

This isn’t a good sign either. Need to build a med wing

Planetbase - guess they need beds too.

Oh and beds.

Planetbase colony is now struggling. Needs food, water, beds, oxygen.

But more water first so colonists don’t die

Planetbase - colony is about to die.

Really not good.

Planetbase I've got nothing but dead colonists on my hands

Really, really not good

Planetbase colonists are starting to pop off from hunger

Did you know, when their little symbols go orange, they are about to die? I do now.

Planetbase and of course, now they're grumpy

Crabby colonists now? That isn’t covered in my list of Gaming 101 rules!

Planetbase and I have nothing to trade

A trader ship … at last. And I have nothing to trade. Crap. It might be too late anyway.Planetbase - new colony starting again


Planetbase - my planning on this one didn't work out so well.

Didn’t plan this one out very well.

Planetbase - and the colonists are dead.

Don’t know why anyone wants to follow me into space.

Planetbase - another colony start. Gullible colonists signed up with me again

“They’re Dead Dave”

Planetbase - naming my new colony "they're all dead dave"

Ohhh not bad

Damn! They should have stayed home. Colonists arrived and were all dead in a few min. Ran out of spare parts again. Asteroid hit power generators, nothing to repair them with. You know what happened next.

Planetbase - another colony. Better luck this time?

New colony!

Planetbase - guess not

Sigh … just … sigh.

Great - new colony! oh ... wait, they're dead already.

New colony! Oh .. that didn’t last long.

Planetbase - colony try number? I've lost count

Planetbase, looking good so far.

Hmmm. So far so good?

Planetbase - well hell! What now? They have beds

Okay, feeling a bit optimistic. Should I get excited?


I built you little bastards beds.  You have food now, and water. Lots of oxygen. And you curl up on the floor to sleep. I’m worried. They don’t seem to want to wake up. Maybe it’s space flu. Yea, that’s it.

Planetbase - this doesn't look good.

I’m really worried now.

They’ve all curled up into little balls of unhappiness and aren’t doing a lot of moving.  I called it quits at this point last night, declaring  a victory because I hadn’t killed them all off, yet. I’ll take another run at the colony tonight. Keep your fingers crossed they survive.

Distractions & fun courtesy of Microsoft Bing

Distractions & fun courtesy of Microsoft Bing

As if there aren’t enough time wasting things online, Microsoft offers a few simple, free games to help you along in your work avoidance endeavours. Wander over to and click on the little hamburger grid on the top right corner: Bing's Fun and Games

You don’t need to sign in or have a Microsoft account to play they work on all the major browsers.  Hidden away are  a variety of games ranging from trivia to jigsaw puzzles to suduko. Some are quite challenging (Suduko comes to mind) while others are basic and far too easy. Great if you don’t want to concentrate and only have 5 or 10 min to kill.

Here’s a sampling:

The jigsaw puzzles are limited and easy to slap together. I managed the “hard” one in under 3 min.   Good if you want to turn your brain off for a few minutes.

Screen capture of Bing's crossword puzzle

Rubiks cube is fun to piss around with, but alas, like the cube in real life I’m hopeless.

Screen capture of Bing's Fun and Games Rubik's cube And yes, Suduko is offered:

Screen capture of Bing's Suduko game

You are given the option of easy, medium and hard games. Hopefully the hard option is better than the shamefully easy to solve jigsaw puzzles. Give it a whirl, it’s free.

Bing’s Fun and Games offers suduko, sliding tiles, Rubiks, crosswords, jigsaws, 2048, trivia challenges, and a geography quiz. For those of you who prefer a hard copy of your suduko or crossword, skip down to the bottom of the page and click on Bing’s printable puzzles. Here, you can pick the puzzle you are interested in. If you’re a hard core suduko fan, look at the top of the Bing page where all the categories are strung out and click on 3D suduko. Be warned – not all the puzzles offered come with solution sheets. Like I said – hard core! This feature simply takes you to the Bing search page, so you can fine tune your search.

More ways to avoid work, hidden in the Bing menu. Enjoy. Hopefully Microsoft will bump up the challenge level and offer more games in the future.