I've been playing Advent Rising, finally taking the plunge now that it is on Steam. Technical glitches aside (I'm rather amused by the incorrect ordering of shader effects, where the cursor ends up below some of the shader effects and other effects overlap in funny ways), the game is almost what I was looking for. The gameplay doesn't get too much in the way of the story, even if there are gameplay elements that I would have restructured for the story and story elements I certainly would have restructured for the game (the game lacks that perfect balance between cutscenes and in-scene/in-action story elements and there are many things that are action that should be cutscene and many more cutscenes that should be action sequences, or even just cut). I find the skill-based action RPG levelling funny. Nothing like the "You've now jumped enough to be Level 3 in Jumping" interruptions for pure "Why is this in the game?" amusement. It doesn't add a huge amount to the game, particularly because truly new powers are developed not through "levelling" and instead through story points.
Quite a few people complained that the game is quite a bit unbalanced in the favor of the player's characters. Several abilities make it very possible to quickly beat up on large numbers of very powerful foes. Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense and it makes it more fun for me than having uber-challenging fights. First of all it makes a lot of sense from the story's perspective (you play the "chosen diety" of an alien race). Then there's the fact that I'm personally just playing the game for the story and don't want the gameplay getting in my way.
With that said, there are still some places that the game gives you to focus on some strategy. Personally, I've gotten a lot of fun of just picking randomly through the available abilities and then toying with the enemies. There have been some pretty interesting interactions between the abilities, enemies, and environments, even with just a somewhat mediocre physics implementation. The team, if they indeed are continuing to make the second and third parts of the trilogy absolutely need to get their hands on a real physics engine. I would suggest they use something full featured like the Source or the Unreal engine; it would certainly help cut down on technical problems for the next game and give greater time to focus on the storytelling.
Work has been busy, generally increasing the general busy pressures in the nearby regions of my activities; expect decreased blogometer readings and possible, but unlikely, light stress precipitation.
I'm "in talks" to develop for a game project that would be a huge deal for me. Things are still very preliminary, and I don't want to give away too much until I can make an official announcement, but I'm pretty excited about it as an oppurtunity. I'm hoping to see it as an easy source of useful income to help me through my graduate studies... possibly even a "company starter" catalyst. What is it? Here's the juiciest hint I feel up to giving right now: it involves a very unique IP that I made a passing reference to earlier this semester, and which has given me a fair amount of search traffic (relatively) since that brief mention.