Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Invitation to join NHL Bloggers

No, really, that's what the email said.

Now, nobody is more pleased than me to have achieved my first milestone, having been invited into a blogosphere. Of course, it would be more gratifying if it were more than a random invite.

I have to think that at some point I must have mentioned hockey somewhere here. Can't imagine where though. Perhaps in relation to World of Warcraft (37 days clean and sober) somewhere? Or perhaps a card game?

More likely in order to further their imperialist designs, the management has released their email list. Of course I could write a hockey blog.

I could focus on things like "What to do if you get hit with a small slug of frozen rubber in the knee" and "If they're always talking about icing, where's the cake". OK, maybe not.

Play Company of Heroes. Or 2142. Or Dark Crusade. Or DEF CON.

I think I'll respond to the email. Something pithy like "Does it bother you that I don't *actually* know how to skate?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

XMas Card v1.1

You will not be receiving an Xmas card from me this year. I may invest in Festivus Cards for next year, but absolutely no Xmas cards this year. If you have bothered to go to the effort to send me an Xmas card, I hope you will not be offended when I do not send one back.

If you were planning on sending me an Xmas card, but are now so offended as to have torn it up, well that's not exactly in the spirit, now is it.

Merry Xmas. Happy New Year.

As a side note, you missed my birthday.*

*edit: Except David, of course, who actually wished me Happy Birthday on my birthday. When I picked him up from the Airport. Where he walked right past me. Twice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I'm on course this week, so I'll be particularly sullen. I keep meaning to work on this a bit more, but never get around to it. It's supposed to be a serial.

I lay in the ruin for hours. Days maybe. It was hard to tell. It certainly seemed like it was raining for about a year. The grey of the sky, and the rain, and the fog, and the concrete all seemed to blend after a while.

I knew Four and Two were close by. Four would be covering my left flank, watching to the south. Two was probably asleep again. One was a level up, watching to the rear. I blinked hard trying to clear moisture from my right eye. The rain slowed. I ran over the Combine position, in my head, a checklist. Upper sensor tower. Check. Lower sensor tower. Check. Power generator. Check. Satlink dish. Check. Storage. Check. I glanced down to confirm that my rifle had an AP round loaded, just in case. I could hear the whine-rumble of a Combine lifter in the distance, the angles of the concrete walls around me deflecting the sound, making it difficult to tell what direction it was in, what direction it was headed. I put my eye back to the scope.

"Contact right...". To her credit, Two didn't even sound sleepy.

It took about a minute for the tech to creep into view. His (Her? No way for me to know...) shape was greatly muddied by equipment and camouflage. Its the movement that gives them away. It took about 3 minutes for the vaguely human figure to reach the storage cube. He then began unloading equipment, part of a ritual I had witnessed at least a dozen times before. This was all routine. I suppose it was the routine that lulled me into a lapse of concentration. One moment the technician was alone. The next, two figures had joined him.

"Contact front." I sub-vocalized.

I dialed up the zoom of my scope, trying to get more detail. Each of the new figures was dressed in standard Combine battle gear. Cloak, assault weapon, breathers and goggles making them look more like aliens than humans. The technician handed a small object to one of the others. He dropped it. As he bent to retrieve the item, Murphy struck. I'll never know if it was just the way he bent, a small gust of wind or some other factor, but his cloak shifted revealing the larger than standard communication rig on his armor.

"Officer sighted. ID thirty-two seventeen." I thumbed the safety aside, lining my shot up, watching for the moment. I zoomed the scope right out, and started searching. There, high in the rubble beyond the Combine. One, two, three soldiers. Well positioned, covering the area. I repositioned slightly to take the high shot. The spot chosen by the fellow covering in my direction was high. The cover was good, but he was partially silhouetted against the grey sky.

One's voice whispered in my ear, "Target identity confirmed. Line officer, rank Major. Shot authorized. Withdraw to E.R.P. two." Even as he said the words I took up the slack on the trigger. The rifle coughed, the sound and flash almost fully suppressed. I didn't wait to see if I had hit the covering soldier. No time for that. I had to assume my shots were hits. A small movement of the rifle and I targeted the officer. Cough. The far side of his helmet burst outward, covering the storage. I waited.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Grand Army

And what I meant was Staff Sergeant. I think, in the real military (any real military, probably) if you make a rank label mistake like that you get beat up. Fortunately, I'm not in the military.

I have assembled a collection of both Republic and Separatist figs for Star Wars: Starship Battles. I'm not sure how balanced my respective sets are, and I haven't actually seen the rules yet. I still think WotC are jerks for making the ARC-170 the rare fighter. I understand the marketing "need" to do it this way, but it doesn't make sense. The Jedi fighters should be rarer and have better stats. And it appears neither side has assault ships (no gunships for either side). They have shuttles for the imperial era.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Odds and Ends

I'm on a mad hunt for Star Wars Starship Battles loose figures. That means I'm willing to pay up to 3x the shelf value of the item for the item on eBay. Not so bad, when the shelf value is around a buck. My Grand Army of the Republic is almost assembled.

I am 9 points away from First Sargent. That's like, 4 kills and an assist. One more round and I'm there. Looks like the BF2S signature generator (which I use to produce the above banner) is broken. Something about a hardware failure. At least it hasn't killed the current picture.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Further Modified Risk

I've been mulling it over and I think you could carry my changes from SW:CW Risk to standard risk. At least if you have one of the latest versions with actual men and horses and cannons.

Here's what to do.

Forget about the cards, except may be as a way to randomly pick a starting country. Each person starts as one country, with 20 men, 5 horses and 3 cannons. Again, each country is worth 1 point. You count your points at the start of your turn to see how many new units you can have. If you don't have a unit on a country, you don't get a point for it. The exception to this will be in the continental control rule, below. Men cost 1 point and use the d6. Horses (cavalry) cost 3 points, but use the d8. Cannon cost 5 points, use the d6 but allow you to bring an extra unit into the order of battle.

Changes to combat - as in normal Risk, the attacker may roll up to three die. Which die he rolls depends on which units from the attack he is including in the order of battle. If he includes a cannon (1 or more) he may add one d6 more, increasing his maximum to four units and 4 die. This applies likewise to the defender, who normally rolls 2 die, but may add a cannon and extra d6.

As normal risk, each rolls his dice and compares highest results. In the event of a tie, the defender wins. The player who has lost a piece chooses which piece to remove from the pieces in the order of battle (i.e. the ones used to determine which die to roll). Other units are considered reserves, which may be brought up on the next round to bolster your order of battle.
As the attacker, you may withdraw so long as you launched your attack from an adjacent country. You may not withdraw along shipping lines (marines always have it rough). If you withdraw, all of your units must return to a friendly territory (one you already control) from which some of your force must have come. You may withdraw after removing casualties and before rolling die for the next round has commenced.

Continent Rules - If, at the start of your turn, you control a whole continent (Australasia, say) you get the bonus production normal for that continent (2 for Australia, I believe). If you have achieved control of a continent, you no longer need to occupy each country to receive its production, you will receive all production for the continent (and the bonus). If, however, someone should "break" your continent, these unoccupied countries return to neutral status until they are later occupied. Before continental domination maybe declared, you must have had at least one unit in each country of the continent at the start of your turn. I think. I'm waffling on continents ATM.

Supply rules - you get a point for each country you control, to spend on new units, at the start of your turn. If you don't have a unit in a country, you don't get a point for it (obvious, I know) - but don't let that stop you. You may withdraw all of your troops from a country.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Star Wars Risk (v1.1)

I had a very cool game night tonight. Zachary and I had a go at my version of Clone Wars Risk. Now, I know some of the uber geeken are shaking their heads about the Clone Wars, but you need to keep in mind two things:
  1. My kids love the new Star Wars. Maybe more than I loved the old Star Wars.
  2. I like the Clones and the Droids. (Yes, I hate the gungans. Sheesh. You're incorrigible.)
So I simplified it and changed it. I haven't liked old risk in a bit. Now Star Wars (Clone Wars ed.) Risk adds some new stuff, most of which would be way over a five year old's head. So junk all the cards and things. I cut it down to the four factions available (red and yellow clones, blue and grey droids). I made two distinctions between pieces. Guys (Phase 3 clones or Super Battle droids, regardless of color) are worth 1 point. Each faction starts with 20 of those. Guys roll 1 six sided die for combat. Tanks (Turbo Tanks for clones, AATs for droids) are worth 3 points, but get to roll an eight sided die. You didn't get any tanks at the start (but I think next time I'll give 3).

Each Faction gets 4 starting locations. Red goes on Coruscant, Duro, Biss and Alderan. Yellow starts on Ilum, Malastare, Toydaria and Bogden. Blue starts on Mustafar, Utapau, Geonosis and Polis Massa. Grey starts on Kashyyyk, Felucia, Mygeeto and Saleucami. You can distribute your starting guys how you see fit, but for this game I went 5 on each for all factions. Zachary was in a Republican mood, so he decided to play the clone factions, and I played the Separatists. Ignore everything else in the box for now. He's not really old enough for this, why bog him down with more choices.

The turn order goes red, blue, yellow, grey. The first thing you do is count the number of systems you control. You get this many points to buy new units this round. Guys are1, tanks are 3. Tanks roll a bigger die. Once you pick your new guys you place them. If you don't spend all your points you don't get to keep them, so you may as well. You place new guys on the systems you already control.

Now you move. All guys and tanks get one movement. They may move to any adjacent system or across a hyperspace line, but not both. If you want to get a point for a system, you need to leave a guy or tank in it. You don't get points for systems you don't have guys in. But you don't "have" to leave a guy behind.

After you moved all the pieces for you current faction (your only faction if you're not playing two) you fight any battles you created. A battle happens anytime your troops enter a system where there are troops from the other team (there are two factions for each team). This is like risk but not, move all your pieces you want to move, then fight the battles.

The attacker (it's your turn) uses the black die. He gets a maximum of 3 die. He chooses three of the units in the attack to fight this round. If he chooses a guy he rolls a d6, if he chooses a tank he rolls a d8. Any combination is valid to a maximum of three die. If you have 3 tanks and three guys, then you can have any combo of 3d6, 2d6 and 1d8, 1d6 and 2d8, or 3d8. If you have less than 3 pieces, you use less than 3 dice as appropriate.

The defender uses the same system, but only selects two pieces to defend from the units in the system under attack. She rolls the white die (d6 for guys, d8 for tanks).

Each player rolls their selected die and compares the results. Each player presents their highest number first. Of these two die, the higher result wins, and that person must remove one piece (their choice) from the battle location and place it back in the box. In the result of a tie, the defender (rolling the white die, whose turn it is not) wins and the attacker must choose a piece to remove.

Battle continues until one side or the other is eliminated or the attacker retreats. The attacker may retreat only if he came from an adjacent system (rather than using a hyper space jump). He must retreat units back to the system from which they came.

Repeat until one team or the other is eliminated.

We had a blast. And I seriously thought he was going to hand me my hat for the first hour. It was a combination of die rolling (good on him, bad on me) and a seemingly uncanny grasp of the concept of focused attack. I won in the end because I have a better grasp of supply and eventually seriously out numbered him.

But it was close for a while.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Into the Darkness

Assault Rifles Armor Spec-Ops Strike at Karkand

The dark ages begin now.

I will not re-new my World of Warcraft account. Today.

One day at a time. Thats what they say. One day at a time.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Well, officially, I've got World of Warcraft Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I have two days until my account officially expires. And I've re-installed Diablo II.

All I need to do is stay away. I know that once my account expires the hurdle will get larger. It will be more effort to go back an re-activate my account. Of course Blizzard has indicated that they will maintain my data for me, so no worries, you can just jump back in where you left off.


Something else will come along. I still haven't picked up 2142. And when the game isn't being ruined by some goofball with a hack, Battlefield 2 still rocks. And I have a lot of G.E. work to catch up on.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fourex (4x)

I discovered that Space Empires V came out while I wasn't looking. Well I wasn't really paying all that much attention, but 4x games don't come out all that often anymore. That would be Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate for the uninitiated (as coined by Alan Emrich in an early article on the subject). Some of the best 4x gaming has been presented in the iconic Civilization series (that would be Sid Meier's Civilization , not Avalon Hill's Civilization , which has it's own merits but lacks the whole computer presentation).

These games usually feature a set of interlinked modules designed to present you with the concept of running an empire, and not always in space. Those modules can include economy, technology, espionage, military (which may have both a strategic and tactical sub module and if it has a tactical sub module that module is often divided into space and ground combat), and diplomacy. The genre has a long history of single player only presentation, multi-player support often added as an after thought - well, honestly who can get their buddies to sit around for literally hours and hours and hours to play a game. The other aspects of the game are common to all games - the User Interface (UI), the Artificial Intelligence (AI or Non Human Opponents), graphical and sound design.

Funny thing is I should just stop reading reviews, as they completely fail to present me with enough meaningful information on these games. I've looked over some reviews, and I now know that the AI may or may not be competent and that the tech tree is deep.

Yes, they have left a bit out. The reviews never cover all of it. And rarely cover the bits I am most often disappointed with once there.

Unfortunately, I find myself at odds with most fans of the genre. Of course, having had several cracks at putting together a design for just such a game, I have some fairly solidified ideas about what I'm looking for.

Lately I've been thinking that a return to the sensibilities of play by email empire games might be the way to go. I vaguely remember a discussion about something called a 'Pit Boss' mode for Civilization 4. I see a download for an application from the Firaxis Web, named such, but I need to do some research to see if it works the way I think it should.

Anyways, the deal is that I can't tell from the reviews if the parts of the genre that interest me are simulated well or at all. I know the thing has a combat model. I have no idea how it works. And being that combat is one of the primary parts of the genre (the exterminate part, usually) that leaves me neutral on reviews that don't bother to mention it. At least there's a demo.

I'll get back to you on it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Back from Vacation


Should be restful recuperation. Is always me getting really bad flu or cold. At least I squeezed in some gaming. Of which I hasten to point out that my anual pile to acquire grows. It always happens as summer wraps up.

So now we have:
Battlefield 2142 (Demo is good for now, and I still have lots of maps I've hardly played on B2 and SpecFor)

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos (demo is out today, so this may come off or go up)

Warhamer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (wasn't really impressed with the Tau in the demo, but it's the single player campaign I really want to see)

Supreme Commander (in on the closed beta - w00t - but it's multiplayer only. I like my rts off line)

Neverwinter Nights 2 (I'm mixed on this. WoW is really filling the RPG niche for me right now. And the gaming niche. And the not-sleeping-to-game niche)

My PSP kind of rocks. And kind of sucks. I have two anthologies of old arcade games now. And that's cool. But the darn thing is just a bit too wee for my giant hands.

I now have a close enough collection of Republic troops (I think). I'm going to start on rules soon. Or not. I've been printing G.E. (v7) stuff and it's starting to look really tempting to set up a game.

I have to admit though, I don't look forward to 12 hour sessions of gaming like I used to.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I have three entirely unrelated updates. On the tooth front, Erik has now had a clean checkup. We still have no explanation for the 14 caret anomaly. I figure it's his overly saccharine personality.

On the D and D front, classic Dungeons and Dragons rocks. I haven't had so much fun as a GM in years. Like never before, I am firmly sold on simple rules and complex play. Of course, it is very much about the group, and so far I have a very enthusiastic, fab group.

On the MMORPG front, Auto Assault still roxors. I'm really starting to get the hang of my class. I'm not sure when the trial ends, but boy am I going to go into withdrawal.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'll be there.

Well, in an ironic twist, I've worked out all the details for my trip to Fargo to see Bill. To bad Bill isn't going to be there. I'm not sure what the scoop is exactly, but the rumor I have is that he had some issue which meant he could only be there for 1 day of the convention, so the organizing committee asked him to come next year instead. And now I have to go next year.

I'm still going to go. Claudia Christian will be in attendance. And remember, "I will listen to Ivanova. Ivanova is god." Further, one of my all time favorite bit characters, the Lone Gunman Dean Haglund will also be there, apparently, which is cool. Dean actually hails from Oak Bank, so there.

Ah well, at least I have a passport.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Big People Stuff

I took a big step towards being a "big person" today. I applied for a Canadian Passport. With the upcoming closed border policy, and the apparent increase in security for re-entry, I decided it was time.

Admittedly a big step for someone who rarely travels. But now I can apply for visa's and go to exotic places. Assuming my wife and kids don't want to go with me that is, as none of them have passports.

I have to add, to their credit, the passport office is a very tidy operation. If you have your stuff together, it is possible to be in and out in 10 minutes. If you don't have your stuff together, well that hardly should be thought on. Good job, Passport Canada.


I have been informed, mate, that today is yer talk like a pirate day. I should hasten to add, for you sea lawyers out there, that is not act like a pirate day.

Good luck mate, may Davey Jones pass you by.

And lay off the wenches...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Super (manky) Erik

Introducing Super Erik. A hero of immense power. And somewhat manky as he has not yet been potty trained...

Mad Max

This is now getting my vote as one of the most underrated games currently in play.
Auto Assault has been developed by the same house which brought you City of Heroes/City of Villains.

1UP is sponsoring a 14 day trial right now, so check it out. Warning though, you need gobs of time and hard drive space to download the client. I assure you that the play is worth the effort. Give it a go.

Now if only I had an extra 15 bucks a month. Well, WoW has to end eventually, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pink Shirts

I had a "you know your old when" moment yesterday. On the way home from the bus, I passed by a murder of smart-alec teenagers (smart-alec teenagers being just like crows, as it were). I overhead one of them pass comment on my pink dress shirt.

Now at the time I had my most natural reaction, which of course was "If I was a smart-alec teenager I'm not sure I would pass comment out loud about an old guy's shirt. Especially of the old guy was twice my size. At least until he was out of ear shot. Probably."

And then it occurred to me, as I walked the remaining block or so to my abode, that much like most young people, he didn't really mean anything by it because he couldn't see past the pinkness of the shirt (which was obviously clashing with his vision of adult guy-ness). It occurred to me that it was very likely that the young fellow had not yet been in a serious relationship. He had most likely not had someone else, out of affection, buy him a pink shirt.

He would not then have worn his pink shirt, realizing that he had just become the target of every murder of smart-alec teenagers he walks past, to reciprocate that affection. And I smiled with satisfaction realizing that most likely someday, someone important to him would buy him a pink shirt. And then, it will not matter to him either.

Assuming he could keep his smart-alec remarks to himself long enough to get a date that is.

Blogging is dead?

Blogging is dead. That's what one of my online friends said in a newsletter of his recently. This was in conjunction to a rant of his about a blog he read. The deal is that the blog post, maintained by another local merchant, was nothing more than a wordy whinge about the local political economy (taxes and such).

Now first I want to spend some time defining my approach to this (this hearkens back to me ole DSUM days). By dead did he mean deceased? As in no longer extant, in this case, because of course blogging not technically having a life force was never alive in the literal sense. As in "Blogging is dead, long live the blog."

If that is what he means, I beg to differ. Blogging is on the up rise. More and more people have access to the tools, and time apparently, to jot down their thoughts and publish them for all the www to see. That being said, I don't think that's quite what he was driving at.

He may have meant "blogging is dead." I.E. "I'm gonna get you blogging." As amusing as that sounds, I find it difficult to believe that he is about to launch a one man campaign to end the evil that is blogging. Much as I would like to see the number of bloggers thinned or pruned, I really did not have something so permanent in mind.

Neither I think. I think what he meant was that, as the number of people blogging increases, the quality of blogs decreases, probably in some directly related proportion. So did news papers.

In the long term, the thing to watch for, I hope, is whether blogging goes the route of paper journalism or the route of TV. Paper journalism has over time evolved into several bands of quality, both measuring presentation and content. The consumer is forced to be shrewd with his choices on which kind of information to consume, but information dressed for all desires is generally available, and selectable. Television on the other hand, seems to continue to devolve, continually seeking a new, lower level.

This is what I think he was really driving at: as the quantity of blogging increases the quality of blogging decreases. The task becomes more and more like work to decide what to read and what not to read. After all, his parting comment on the subject is 100% true. There are no editors-in-chief for bloggers.

I should get me one of those...

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Ack. Well, it was shaping up. I have a small stack of the Star Wars mini's, and I acquired a few more. I want to build a skirmish level game around 35mm scale SciFi. I'll get back to it again. Maybe a solo game? I dunno yet.

I spent most of my design time this week chasing a World of Warcraft role playing game. Now to be ranked among my most disappointing purchases of the year. Maybe even longer. The World of Warcraft RPG is barely more than D&D 3.5 with pictures from WoW. Most disappointing for a project that could have been so much more. There is such a whole huge bin of really cool world there, and they totally wasted it.

I'll just build my own. Except that that's a MAJOR chore, for very little return.

See it's a solo game, based on the Space Hulk map tiles. You put pictures of the tiles on playing cards and shuffle a deck. Then you deal out a map. Your squad or hero has to get from one end to the other. Add a random timer and a flow chart for baddies and -boom- your rockin'.

Yes, I deliberately mashed those two thoughts together. That's just how I think sometimes.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

SF Minis

I think I have a basic framework idea for an easy table top war game. It came to me quickly, so I need to sort it all out. And write it down. Some times simply shining the light on an idea can make it go away.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wincon '06

The largest Wincon in years. Of course it's been sleeping for years as well, but I have to say I'm actually looking forward to taking a short break from PC gaming for a Saturday. I found (and said recently) that there is a human dynamic missing from online gaming. This will probably change a bit in the next couple of years as voice over IP becomes more feasible.

Some Zombies!!!, a bit of Bosworth, and I think I'll bring my stack of SimCity Cards. I need to spend an hour working on my tourney rules.

I miss RPG night...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I've been back in the land of Azeroth lately (well when not getting my butt shot off, that is). The new twist is I'm playing on a Player vs. Player server. What this means is the real bad guys (that would be other players who have alter egos who are in the faction which happens to be opposed to mine) can choose to seek out confrontations with alter egos from my faction in designated dangerous areas.

Previously to this I had been playing on a Player vs. Environment server. On these servers my character can only be attacked by the opposing faction if I choose to be in player vs. player mode. On this new server, entering the contested area flips the flag automatically. Fortunately going back to an aligned area flips it back after a set amount of time. That's all good, until you accidentally forget the flag is set, while standing at a goblin traveling sales man.

Yup. I got Samurai Jacked by an orc.

Monday, August 28, 2006


OK. R0x0rs. I think that's what I'm allowed to say. I do have a couple of minor complaints, standard version stuff, really. If you haven't at least tried the demo of Battlefield 2, and are remotely interested in first person tactical shooter games, do it. And you'll have a pretty good idea of the game play, which hasn't changed a whole lot.

The grim setting is pretty grey.

I'm evenly splitting my time between this beta and WoW, which still gets top bill after 2 years. World of Warcraft (in case you've been hiding under a rock), is not really the best computer role playing game ever. But, it is fairly consistently enjoyable. Which is better than many rpgs I've tried lately.

Still these two titans are going to have to make room. There's a whole schwack of Warhammer related games and expansions coming out soon. And I really hope fileplanet secures a beta of Supreme Commander.

Sleep really should be optional.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Two betas in one week! I just got a beta key confirmation on yet another game from FilePlanet. Best 5 bucks a month I spend.

No, I probably am not supposed to tell you what it is. Let's just say it is yet another sequel to a certain tactical shooter which is immensely popular. I have a feeling that I won't be disappointed by this one (as opposed to the one I got earlier this week).

In all fairness, I suppose I have a duty to bang on that other game for a bit. It is a beta test. The fact that the company didn't bother to include a report tool may indicate how much feed back they're expecting.

What? What picture of Battlefield 2142? The Game? No, that's not the game I have a beta key for.

Tee Hee.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This other game

Ok, I have a thought if you're thinking about designing a massively multiplayer on line role playing game. Play World of Warcraft. About 25 hours of it, at least.

I have the honour of being in the beta for an MMORPG. I have not read the EULA or NDA, but I will go out on a limb and assume I can't tell you what it is or any details about it. It doesn't suck, in fact parts of it are well done. But a lot of it looks like somebody trying to re-invent the wheel.

Now, it is a beta so I am willing to let a fair bit slide. However, the bits I'm talking about are the core game, and not all that likely to change. It needs work.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Larry is a big, dumb, jerk.

I think I've got the wireless working (in spite of Windows XP). The crashing on playing of DVDs (or anything off of the DVD drive, really) may be related to bad USB drives, or Larry's bad USB. Hard to tell. I'm beginning to think this all really started about the time I installed the G15 keyboard.

Stupid Larry.

Summer Lanfest '06 was a hit. We played an uncountable amount of Battlefield - which r0x0rs with more than one person in the room. We played one round of Empire Earth, loosing side on me, thanks. At least they didn't give us gifts from the heavens. Well, it never got that far.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beta Blog

Blogger has offered me a spot in the beta of the service, so if this spot starts to look like a mess, that's what happened.

So far - looks the same to me.

PSP: r0x0rs. I've been watching the mini-series for Battlestar Galactica. Then I'm going to transcode the episodes. Then season 3 should start. Sweet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mr. Slacky

Jeeze. I would set a reminder in my google calendar, if I did not think I would ignore it.

Update 1: Quest for Bill.

At a time when finances have reached an all time low (how can tuition for pre-school be THAT much), I am on a quest to come up with financing for a trip to Valley Con. Why? Because William Shatner is going to be there. I have to be, too.

Some of you will remember that up until now, the high point of my fandom participation was meeting Mark Hamill , who was super cool (and, it turns out also a big sci-fi geek). But this is an order of magnitude more important.

And I'm broke. I don't know how one makes the kind of money required to not be broke, but I am beginning to suspect that legality is an issue...

Update 2: Lanfest fast approaches

The only down side here is that I'm down to four participants. That's not really bad, but I would prefer six or 8. Meh. Battlefield 2 is still going to roxor.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Game On!

David and I had an epic game of Empire Earth over the weekend (well Saturday, all day). It went an easy six hours. Massive game, to bad the AI is so poor. Really can't wait for Supreme Commander.

I also played through about 80% of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Perfect example of platform gameplay. The second time through, I can honestly say the only thing that holds this game back from being a best of show is the rotten camera, which seems to try to get in your way. I can't wait until my copy of Warrior within arrives for my PSP - I've been led to believe that the story is not as good for the sequel, but the gameplay holds up.

My next PSP investment really has to be an arcade anthology, I think. These kind of games should be very adaptable to the format of the PSP.

Just a little under 2 weeks to Summer LanFest '06. I can feel my itchy trigger finger...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cranky Larry

Larry is now rebranded Cranky Larry. Spent most of my evening recovering from a bad driver install. Admittedly that was partially my own fault. I sloppily picked the wrong driver for me Ethernet card. But I shouldn't need to be reinstalling the thing.

About a month-ish ago my wireless stopped working. I do not think it is a coincidence that this was also about the time I last had to re-install secure remote (which hacks your network settings), which bombed.

Spent almost an hour frantically backing up data from the C partition (OS partition) to the D partition (where data should be). Then spent about 3 more recovering my network connections.

Windows. Grumble.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fidel finished?

Looks like it could be curtains for Castro. Hard to believe that the era will end. And if he is kaput, I think you want to take Cuba off your winter hot-spots list. As the most stable non-rational actor in the modern era, the power vacuum, I suspect, is going to be quite big. Probably civil war big. Well, as big as that could get on an island of Cuba's size, I suppose.

Keep an eye out. Of course 'Dubya' will take credit if he has moved on...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why RoShamBo isn't the only answer.

Lately I've noticed the following statement in a growing number of previews and reviews of current games (in this case by games we mean "Real Time Strategy Games" Don't get me started about that name.). "The combat follows the traditional Rock-Paper-Scissors formula, creating blah blah blah..." That's about enough of that.

So let me understand then. You've built your system based upon an artificial interaction of x is better than y is better than z is better than x. And I'm supposed to be excited by this? For how long then? Is that why you're spending so much time making it look good? So I'll be distracted when I realize all you've done is put a fancy GUI on a game play mechanic as old as the hills?

You know who you are.1

Hey Chris has a good idea. How about you create a simulation. Seeing as we're now building multi-processor rigs with the same juice as early super computers, how about the units having more axis' of definition than 'beats archers'. How about we make the real time tactical game depend on tactics. With the amount of beefy hardware available at bargain basement prices these days, why aren't you making the interactions between units more complex?

Things that are still mostly missing - variable sensing, multi role platforms, fuel, ammunition, morale, unit training, positional damage, variable accuracy, weather. We've seen a bit of some of these, limitedly, but how about all of them in one giant package? How about a damage system complex enough to allow for variance in ammunition type and quality.

Look it's not that rock-paper-scissors does not or can't work. It is that when we have the horse power to do so much more, I'm no longer satisfied with rolling a d6 to see who gets a higher result.

1. Actually you probably are not reading this, so you may not. Your loss, not mine.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


(Not Safe For Work?)

Ya, not so much. The good news is you're probably never going to see that here. The bad news is, that means you'll get bored and wander off. PSP

Where's the motivation anyways? If your looking for that kind of content, how did you end up here?


I'm going to try to get my posting rate up. I can tell my quality is going into the basement, though, so no promises. What's up with storage cubicles? If you don't need that stuff at your house, why keep it? It's like, I'm renting an apartment for my stuff that doesn't fit in my house.

Monday, July 31, 2006


A few years ago, just before the PS2 came out, I photoshoped an ad picture to look like JP2 rather than PS2 on the console frame. I should whip one up for my new obsession, the PSP. It rocks. Durability is still in doubt, I'm terrified of dropping it by accident.

That and the analog stick is too close to the edge of the unit for my giant hands to use comfortably.

Battlefront II is quite playable, and the screen is very nifty for video playback. The sound is acceptable from the speakers, and reasonably good from a head set.

The UMD makes too much noise. When it spins up its this high pitched grinding noise, like sand paper being used on wood (by hand).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hardware Updates

Two notes: David and I have built an extremely beefy gaming rig for him. Of he would suggest it's all about spreadsheets or some such rot, but truth be told, he's mostly looking forward to how many guys he can have on screen in Empire Earth.

And I picked up a used PSP. Got a fair deal on it, now I'm trolling eBay for software. Converting and putting movies on the stick was easy like pie. It's defently going to help the boring bus blues.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Core

Gaming is about reward. And it's a really basic reward loop at that. The rules of conditioning seem to indicate it shouldn't be this easy to get hooked on a game. I mean, yes, the random-reward, random-interval has the best return on investment. But how did I generalize the concept of reward to 'game score'.

Actually, I'm half lieing to myself there. The reward is that every time I do something worth a point, my name scrolls up the status area.


usually accompanied by

You killed AnonymousOtherPlayer

And that's a point.

That and ducking what should be a "killed situation".

Monday, July 17, 2006


Sometimes it's all about validation. I'm not a huge blogger (I mean that figuratively). What I'm really looking for is gratification. I want people who I don't know to read stuff I wrote and say to them selves "Ya. What he said."

I suppose this would be some what similar to the feelings of the author character in Camus' 'The Plague'. I'm waiting for my "Hat's off, gentlemen." On the other hand, I have always had an overdeveloped sense of personal grandeur.

One of the issues is this format. I get very little feed back from all but the most motivated of readers. This is unfortunate, as it results in one of two feelings. Either I simply don't care if no one pays attention, which is dangerous, or it stuns me into apathy about writing, because I know nobody is reading.

I think I need to write. I'm neutral (or trying to be) about my level of talent, but I would describe it as a need. Ah well, it's good practice. I think.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pools of liquid

The design pool has been mostly empty lately. I think I needed a big break. Not sure where I'm going to go next, but I have a taste for card based gameplay again. I'm split on theme. Earlier this year (or was it last year already?), I worked on a concept for a fantasy empire card game. It never really came, but I'm back again so there must be something to learn here.

The basic concept is easy, possibly even lovely. All the mechanics of the game are encompassed by cards and dice. No tokens or maps. Cards represent units, locations, actions. Dice are used to create the random elements.

I think I got hung up on the art last time. I'm going to approach from a different angle this time, and try not to spook the idea. It might be sci-fi, or it might be fantasy, but the basic play will be as outlined there. I'm going to build the mechanics and then build the parts. I know I like designing the bits, and that gives me something to look forward to. I hope that this time when I get there the bits I build will fit together better.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I can't believe I'm a week behind again.

Ok, here's a brief on the last Game Night. We played two rounds of Munchkin. Well, Munchkin and Munchkin Bites (which is Munchkin for vampires). The first round gave us three finalists (Sherry, Paul and Aaron). Aaron pwned us all though, and took the prize - his own personal copy of Munchkin to enjoy (and more importantly, use to stab his buddies in the back).

We also played another hand of Carcassonne.

The 411:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Society of Parlor Games

There. It is done. Officially "we" shall be known as the Society of Parlor Games. I believe each group shall be known as a "Local". We will be local Number 1. The head of each local shall be referred to as "Commodore". Members of the society will actively seek to promote the friendly and gamesman like play of parlor style games. For the sake of definition, this will not include collectible games, war games, video games or activity games.

Next I'll need to spend some time drafting up a constitution. I believe I will actually borrow the old wargaming term and call our founding members "grognards".

The "David always wins." rule will be in force on every odd numbered Tuesday. Society meetings will be held every third Thursday. Convenient, I know.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Crushinator

Larry is a money pit.

I'm just going to let that sink in.

Even more than a regular old tower (of which I have plenty of xp.s), the desktop replacement is a premium money magnet. And god forbid the universe decides to go to vista. There is no way this video card is going to push that. And unless Alienware deigns to offer an upgrade module, I'm done for.

Of all the things M$ could decide to not make fully backwards compatible, they had to choose the game API.

What I really need is a lean & mean OS that still runs all the apps I want from XP.

So now, in order to fuel my mad push to play Battlefield 2 online (and advance past the rank of 'Target'), I'm doubling my RAM from 1 giga byte to 2 giga bytes. 2 Gb. I've owned hard drives smaller than that. I could model all the transistors of my first computer in that1. Including the disk and tape storage. And probably every piece of software I owned for it, to boot.

And yet the greedy B2 is using 95% of my existing memory, forcing Windows to use a big chukka swap file. Which is degrading performance to say the least. I'm also thinking about getting a fat memory key (USB 2.0), and experimenting with putting the swap file on it.

It could cause stability issues.

(1 - I should point out that in this case by 'I could' I mean there is enough space, not that I personally could under take such a modeling project. Maths, who needs that right?)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thursday - Game Nite 2

'The Return'

I'm thinking Munchkin tournament. If you haven't played the rules are available in PDF at Steve Jackson Games. I have standard, and Sherry has Vampire. If somebody has a third set that would be perfect, 'cause then we could play 3 tables.

So that's Thursday at my place this time. If you need directions get me your eMail and I'll shoot 'em out. Everybody's welcome, but space is limited, so RSVP.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Two things:
I just had my profound thought of the day - the longer I'm in an information technology workspace the more sense Dilbert cartoons make. Yes, just a bit scared, really.

Watch Hell's Kitchen. This must be the hardest way to motivate people ever. But it works. Weird. It's like watching a train wreck. It's inevitable, it's destructive, and you just can't look away...

Monday, June 12, 2006

PBEM 2 - Input request

All right, I'm getting to it. But here's your chance to get in on the design action. I need descriptive word lists. I'm making dungeon generators, and I need location names for in the dungeons. Don't hold back - think of it as brain storming. No wrong answers. So send me a note. Include the 'name' of the type of dungeon, a list of 'room' names and a list of 'connector' names.

As an example:
Dungeon: Mausoleum
Rooms: Crypt vault, sarcophagus chamber, chapel, well, old chamber with pool of water, collapsed vault
Connectors: Stairs, trapdoor (up or down), stone work corridor, natural corridor, ramp

The more the merrier...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hold the Line

Today is a w00t! day. Today I finally get my copy of Battlefield 2. No more will I be restricted to the demonstration map! No more will my only option be to play with disorganized rabble in pick up games.

That and gettin' serious air in an HMMWV seriously rocks.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ahhh...herm - Fetch the Holy Hand Grenade

Which Monty Python & the Holy Grail Character are you REALLY?

You are King Arthur of the Britons! You let no-one stand in your way, you are brave and strong! Keep searching, you'll find the grail yet!
Take this quiz!

Added Info

The three games we played last Thursday and their Board Game Geek entries, if you need to know more:

All three are super fab fun. Good for 3 or 4 players. For Settlers if you want to play more than 4, you need to buy a 5 and 6 player expansion. Carcassonne is recommended for 3 to 5 players. Give Me the Brain is probably good up to 8 (with the fatter, new set for sure).

If you're interested in any of these, send Jamie an eMail (swordinthestone at shaw dot ca), I'm sure he will be glad to fix you up.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Game Club

Which I admit is not the most creative name I've come up with. We'll work on that.

Thursday night saw the inaugural session of my new board game club. The goal is to get people together to enjoy board gaming. The only real rules (so far): no massive gamer games and no collectible games.

We played three great games. First we had a crack at the newer version of Gimme the Brain, which I have to say, although much nicer looking, is not as funny as the original. The new glossy cards are much easier to shuffle than the previous photocopied, pink card stock. We played a full hand, and although it was close, honors to Sword In the Stone proprietor, Jamie, on that one.

Second we played on of my new favorite games: Carcassonne. It's a tile laying game, where the tiles make up a renaissance city. Scott came out of nowhere and won that round. I think he's played the game before, and just won't admit it.

Third we played what must be one of the best table games made in the last 25 years, at least. Settlers of Catan - the game ran a bit long, but we blame Scott for never having played before. We also blame Scott for winning and shaming the rest of us.

Next night is June 22, time and location to be announced.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Reporting for Duty

Unit 36: An alien android sent to defend humans from an extra-terrestrial threat. Trapped on Earth, it continues to execute its primary protocol.

Yup, I'm smitten. It's only going to cost about $15USD a month...

Now I need to form a Super Group.

Oh, and if you want to solo, it really looks like Blaster types are the way to go (think Punisher). I want to try the Controller type, but I think it might get frustrating to have my butt handed to me by every two-bit hood.

For Truth and Justice

Or at least some heavy duty smacking of evil people (and misguided zombies...). City of Heros: If you can get a trial key, give it a go. It's very much in the mold of World of Warcraft as far as mechanics are concerned, and has a couple of minor issues in its interface, at least for me. On the other hand, the sheer amount of customization to your hero more than makes up for any deficiencies in the control scheme.

The only really creepy thing: the voiceless throngs of anonymous citizens. It's very eerie to run past a crowd and hear no one speaking. And it appears that the automobiles have noiseless engines as well. Really want to try City of villains now, too.

Now ... back to duty. Come Barnacle boy - I sense EVIL!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I have fear. (Aside: yes I'm going to start posting thoughts and shots from the dealers room, but first I need to rant.)

Yesterday I made a stop at the local to me (my neighborhood that is) Geek Boutique to see if I could get a copy of battlefield 2 cheap. The deluxe version is coming out soon, but I have a hankering' for some new game action (I should get back to Oblivion, but I feel like savoring it). I was stunned with what I found.

Rows upon rows of console titles have squeezed my favorite platform.

I mean, I OWN more titles than these guys had on the 'New' rack.

Wii, eh...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Post apocalyptica

Tired. Like 'weight of Atlas' tired. But it was a good weekend.
Success goal 1: set up table BEFORE room opens - achieved.
Success goal 2: sell something - achieved.
Success goal 3: have people actually calling me Mr. Poody - achieved.
Success goal 4: have people I don't know ask me for a "Friend of Mr. Poody" sticker - missed.
Success goal 5: pay costs of table - achieved.
Success goal 6: Pay cost of product for table - missed (note to self - at least break even pricing next time!)
Success goal 7: Have good time - achieved.

So, I'm approaching 80%. That's good for my first effort. Un-looked for successes include being dubbed the unofficial "King of Lego" and getting to listen to Robert J. Sawyer shop for used books.

I have shots of most of the people and their booths for a series I'm going to do on the show. More later. Oh as a side note: regardless of the fact that your wife paid the money for charity, drinking a shooter from an atractive woman's bra, while said woman is still in it == BAD IDEA.

Yes, it should have been obvious to me too.

Friday, May 19, 2006


From the floor ...
OK. Table is stacked and ready to rock. Lego bin is placed, signs are up. Doors open at 10AM tomorrow. If you want to check out the spectacle come down to the Radisson downtown on Portage avenue (Winnipeg, MB, Canada, but if you're flying in...). 12th floor - Peregrine room. The dealer room is open to the general public, so you don't need to pay to get in. I'll be taking shots in the am. As for now, on to phase 2 of world domination.

Mr.Poody's Bazaar

Mr. Poody (pictured at left) proudly presents: Mr. Poody's Bazaar!

begins this weekend at the KeyCon Science Fiction convention. Featuring the LEGO(TM) grab bin. Grab a handful of LEGO goodness - just a single Canadian dollar! Which is almost a whole U.S. dollar (grumble).

I'll be experimenting with posts, live from the booth all weekend (assuming I can get Larry to co-operate), so keep an eye out. And if you're coming down - bring your loonies!

(Note:LEGO has small bits which are easily swallowed and choked on, and is there for not recommended for children under the age of 3.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

18 to life... v(2.0)

From the way back machine...

1988:January 26 - Australia celebrates its bicentennial

February 3 - The United States House of Representatives controlled by the Democratic Party rejects Republican President Ronald Reagan's request for $36.25 million to support Nicaraguan Contras.

February 13 - The 1988 Winter Olympics open in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

March 16 - Iran-Contra Affair: Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

April 14 - USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes a mine in the Persian Gulf while deployed on Operation Earnest Will during the Tanker War phase of the Iran-Iraq War.

April 18 - U.S. Navy forces retaliate for the Roberts mining with Operation Praying Mantis, in a day of strikes against Iranian oil platforms and naval vessels.

May 15 - Soviet war in Afghanistan: After more than eight years of fighting, the Red Army begins its withdraw from Afghanistan.

May 16 - A report by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop states that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

July 3 - Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by missiles launched from the USS Vincennes ship

August 9 - Wayne Gretzky is traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in one of the most controversial transactions in hockey history.

August 19 - Ceasefire begins in the Iran-Iraq war
August 20 - Iran-Iraq war ends, with an estimated 1 million lives lost.

August 29 - The first WWE (WWF at the time) SummerSlam main event featuring Hulk "Hulkamania" Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage versus Andre the Giant and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase is held in Madison Square Gardens in New York City.

September 17 - Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea open

September 29 - NASA resumes space shuttle flights, grounded after the Challenger disaster

October 11 - Women are allowed to study at Magdalene College, Cambridge, for the first time. Male students wear black armbands and the porter flies a black flag

October 30 - Philip Morris buys Kraft Foods for US$13.1 billion.

November 8 - U.S. presidential election, 1988: George Herbert Walker Bush is elected over Michael Dukakis.

November 18 - War on Drugs: US President Ronald Reagan signs a bill into law providing the death penalty for murderous drug traffickers

November 21 - Canadian federal election, 1988: Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada win a second majority government

November 22 - In Palmdale, California, the first prototype B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is revealed.

December 9 - The last Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant roll off the assembly line in a Chrysler factory.

December 15 - JP turns 17.

December 19 - The Consumer Product Safety Commission bans the sale of lawn darts following the deaths of three children.

December 21 - Pan Am flight 103 is blown up by Libyan terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

(geeze i'm bad at html... it only took 4 edits to get this sort of the way i wanted it.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

A big fat picture...

From the design file...
Ok, here are some notes for the curious. So far the PBEM concept rocks. Problem is running it by hand for more than one or two players gets fancy. I keep emailing the wrong (or worse, incorrect) files out. I'm just too sloppy an organizer to do it right twice a day.
The biggest issue I'm having right now (systemic issue) is with the dungeons, however. Up to this point I've been using a card based dungeon idea to randomly generate the dungeons. If you've ever played Chainsaw Warrior, it's like that. You can skip down a bit.

If you haven't it works like this:
The player has a deck of cards. Each card represents a location in the dungeon. Each location presents a challenge to be faced, like an encounter with bad guys or a trap. If you resolve the card, you get to flip the next card over. Mixed into the deck is a "boss location". This card is the goal. When/if you flip that one over you fight an extra special encounter. This simulates exploring the dungeon.

Problem one is the cards come together in a disjointed, random manner, so the dungeons never have character. Problem two is, because the base set of cards was designed to be used as part of a game that was intended to last about 2 hours, they are not very diverse. You end up with a chain of "corridor", "stair", "store room", "corridor", "corridor"... it's like a Hanna-Barbara dungeon.

So I resolved to fix this. My first idea: full blown AD&D style dungeons (yes, I know it's not called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons anymore - I'm old, don't bug me). This gives me maximum fidelity when it comes to style. Now every dungeon can be a master piece, complete with thematic encounters, clever traps and evil. Problem is, I remembered after trying to do just one dungeon this way, every dungeon has to be a master piece. You can't just make it up off the cuff or the map starts to get out of whack, and in a way it's worse, because you've elevated the expectation of suspension of belief, and are now failing to deliver.

That brings us to cut three. See picture above, which is a graphical note on what I hope is going to be a better dungeon generator. I'm going to experiment with an Interactive Fiction style of map. Some of you (older than 25) may remember IF from the way back days when the Commodore name was home computing. There was a whole genre of games based on a text presentation of locations and parsing English (or at least English like) commands typed in at a prompt. They work like this.

Each "room" is a node on a network diagram. The nodes are attached by links in directions of the compass, and in many cases up down. Some times Up/Down links are direct - "You see a set of stairs going UP." Some times, they are indirect - "You see a ladder. It extends into a hole in the ceiling of the room.", in which case you would say "climb ladder" or "use ladder" and get up. But I digress.

I think the node based dungeon mixes the key points from both. It's still random. This is important as I want the players to be able to return to a dungeon area and explore it repeatedly, I don't want them to have to put up with the same 19 rooms each time. Well, at least not in exactly the same order.

I can create the dungeons with thematic groups.
For example I could plug in a secret lab, tower, observatory chain. I believe this mixing of "tile sets" is similar to how Blizzard works the map making logic for Diablo and Diablo II. So, now I just need to make a tool with all the rules and all the room sets that can, with the click of a button, whip up a new dungeon. Problem solved!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Some statistical anomalies...

from the mad design file...
Ah that's the stuff. As you can see game one is progressing nicely. Each player is hacking his way into a dungeon, killing nasty evil types.
I think they're both having some fun. We'll see how long I can keep up with them.

Friday, April 28, 2006

You guys rock!

from the "all you need is friends" file...
I realize the irony of that title. Based on the suggestions of posters I present - mountains V2.0.

I am MUCH happier with this look. Yes they are still stylized and pointy. But I like the look much better.

Now just swamp, desert (dessert? I can never remember which is which...) forest, tundra...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


from the game dev file...
The PBEM experiment rocks on. I am still tweaking the rules and seeking a level between player actions and turns, but so far I am pleased. I'm also truly impressed with the level of creativity this process can evoke in my players. Both have taken to making their replies into what might rightly be described as character journal entries when each could easily have come back with "I go north..."
I believe, in the end, that the input level, and reward for it, are what will make the difference between playing this for a bit and playing it long term. That and my ability to keep up with my players, of course.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ah, that's life...

from the game geek file...
Sometimes I just want to hate something. Take this new Lara Croft game. I want to hate it. I want to be mortally offended that we're still allowing the game industry to portray women like comic book heros. I want to not like the game play.

But I can't. It plays too slick.

Now admittedly, it's a short game, apparently. Which is something I have a major bone of contention with. Unless you're going to knock the price way down, anything under 40 hours of game play is expensive for a game. Especially here in Canada where I'm already paying a premium for still being able to call them french fries.

I don't think that's going to stop me though. MAYBE I can wait until I can get it used. I still need to pick up F.E.A.R., and I haven't tried any of the Battlefield games yet.


And maybe we'll find out crack cocaine is good for you. Is there somebody who can sponsor me to a Gamers Anonymous meeting? Aw, I would never make it past step 2 anyways.


from the game teef file...
I am really jazzed about a new experiment I am trying with one of my long term gaming guinea pigs friends. I'll let you know more as it unfolds, but here's the highlight - it's a light RPG by eMail.
Oh, and the art is totally ripped off from Ultima IV. Some day, I'll pay somebody to make me art...

(or You could just call me Art.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Slartibartfast would understand...

From the Not-So-Artistic Department...
Pictured at left is a snippet from a map concept I'm working on. It should remind you of a narrow segement of land between two water areas. The effect is a bit lost here, but looks not bad when you get several of these style of tiles together (and then they get the margarita mix out ...).
On the other hand we have this sad eddiface. It is meant to conjure thoughts of mountains and highlands. Not so nice.
Soooo... if anybody has any tutorial sugestions on drawing stylized mountains, I'm open to it.

See really nice effect put together (I like it.).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

About a Hat

or how sometimes poody, really is...

(/cosby)I want to talk to YOU about a hat.(/cosby off)

Pictured at the left is Adam Baldwin, in his stellar portrayal of Jayne Cobb, mercenary for hire and member of the crew of the Serenity. If you are fan of Serenity or Firefly, or both, good for you. As am I. That's key to this story, so put it in memory. If you want more detail about the hat, and what it's all about, go here:
Jayne's Hat Brigade. (I haven't asked for permission to place that link, but that will be the least of my sins in this post...)

That page will give you plenty of detail.

Now it's not this hat specifically, that I am on about. About three weeks ago, I received a box, in the mail. The box was simply addressed to me, and in and of itself was completely unassuming. It featured nothing besides the postmark and my name and address. I naturally assumed it was yet another eBay purchase which I had lost track of.
When I opened the box it was filled with 3 things. Actually, it was filled with excelsior. Nestled among the excelsior (and who packs anything with excelsior these days anyways) is a hand written note and a hat. This hat is a knitted cap, oddly shaped. The included note is hand written, in an unrecognized scrawl.

The note includes such comments as "Your brother Matty is still suffering from the wet lung."

At this point in the reading of the note, my dear wife, Rebecca (also purportedly a fan of both Firefly and Serenity), suspects the worst. Some fiend has sent us a plague infested hat. And wash your hands. The hat is placed on the top of the fridge. It sits there (out of her reach, really) for three days. She contacts Canada Post in an effort to track the package back to its source. No dice. Feeling that discretion is the better part of valor, she trashes the hat (with my permission, of course).

Two. Weeks. Later.

While at a bachelorette party for a mutual friend, said wife speaks with the wife of a close, personal friend. Who drops the hint "Soooo ... did you guys receive a package lately?"

Yes, dear reader, it is at this point that you may wish to turn to some other blog. Perhaps the blog of some other, better informed SciFi nut. One who gets it. In this case it being the fact that the hat in the box, with the excelsior, and the note, of no return address, is in a hand made replica of the Jayne Cobb hat, with authentic note as seen in the episode of Firefly, entitled "The Message".

Yes, I have already turned in my Firefly fanclub card.

I hang my head in shame.

Friday, March 24, 2006


From the GameGeek file...
Rarely does a game come along these days that is so great that it actually pulls me away from everything else. Even more rare is a game which appears to live up to all of the hype.
Oblivion, however appears to be quite a rare bird. I'm only about 3 hours in and already I'm hands down impressed with it. And the graphics are simply amazing, both for their quality and how well they run on my slightly older system. If you're on the fence on this one, don't wait - it's totally worth it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

InterWeb Nightmare

From the "All I want is frikkin' sharks with frikkin' lasers on their heads! Is that too much to ask ?" file ...
All right, the revolution is at hand. I'm going to the telco's highspeed and TV. Why? It's half the price for the same (sort of) level of service. And it means every TV will have digital signal. Of course I don't own a digital TV.
My gMail address is now my primary eMail. My shaw address will be gone after the end of the month or so.

Take that giant cable megamonolith!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Danger, Wil Robinson! Danger!

From the WarGameGeek File...
Yesterday, the boy and I spent the day together. Erik and Rebecca were at the hospital all day so Erik could get 14 fillings ( which is almost 5 fillings for each year), so I spent the day with Zachary.

After eating at the Clown Burger joint (you know of whom I speak...) (no, that's not the danger, but it is a danger), we went over to the Mall and wandered around a bit. After stopping in at the ExpensiveJapaneseTVsOnly Store (to stare at the giant TVs), and making the requisite stop at the toy store to look at (look with your eyes, not with your hands) the Thomas the Tank Engine stuff, we went to the GamesWorkshop store.

I thought he would think all the painted figs were cool. I was right, and that is still not the danger part. No, now I want to paint again.

Let me bring you up to speed on this. I have a history of buying and storing up stuff to be painted (now, in this context, realize that paint means apply paint to pre-scuplted objects, not use liquid pigments creatively on canvases or walls). I have a *HUGE* (and in this context huge in the meaning of the word where we mean much bigger than it should ever possibly get) pile of boxes with stuff in it to paint. But that is not what it's all about.

No, what this is about is the acquiring of more stuff to paint. If I do that, I need to replenish my supplies, as by this time the only thing that is still of use will be my palette (best painter gift ever, thanks Kev!). So that's another 30 bucks. And then I need secure space to work in.

I think I need to do a garage to workshop conversion. Stupid van can sit outside.

Stupid Van.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Art Project

From the King of SciFi department:
All right, I was feeling particularly creative. That and Zachary and I are having a particular disagreement about the care and usage of Star Wars vehicles, so hanging them on the wall became an option (my option, not his). The real chore was hanging the Republic Gunship, which has to be the heaviest toy I've ever owned. Also the hugest. Also the bestest.
I'm still short one Jedi Starfighter in this shot, but I've picked one up at an almost reasonable price, soon to be added to the wall. I still need to fill in the seats, and I've realized how short of Jedi figures I am.
I guess now I need to start looking for classic ships, but honestly, these are cooler designs. The ARC-170 is almost the coolest ship I've ever seen.

A tie interceptor would be cool, though...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sweet. Phat.

From the w00t! department...
I got some new loot for Larry. It looks sweet phat. The blue glow is awesome. I'm still not convinced about the 16 gaming keys, but I need something to replace my game commander, which is wearing out. Enter the Logitech G15. I wish there was a bit of support for the LCD display, but it has an SDK, so I may mess with it myself.

Apparently this will interface with Battlefront II to give you live stats. I would like to see that on all my shooters at least. And an interface with SFC is just screaming to be made.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Crazy new hobby

Alright, I'm going through an adjustment. And I never, ever thought this would be fun. Honest.

I'm buying and selling collectibles on eBay.

I know it's crazy. But I'm pulling ahead a bit. Not a mint, just a bit. Next stop, convention geek dealer. Oh, no, I've already stepped up and booked the table. I'm planing my merchandise layout. Plotting how to foil the five-fingered discounts.

Funny thing fun. You never know when it's going to strike.

Posting from an undisclosed location...

Alright, this is just a post to test the remote post function.
AND a note to all of you who have not played it.  If you haven't checked out Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (for PC, at least), get on it.  It bought it about a year ago and never got around to installing it, a certain online MMORPG having monopolized my time.  This game rocks.  It's exactly what I thought MGS2 was going to be.
Anything that distracts me from my alternate life online...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Experimental Post

From the G.E. file
I'm going to try this and see what happens. Just in case though, so this isn't a total loss, here are two shots of the U.E.P. Imperial Power card. Front and back. The front lists the in-game effect of the card, the back is story. There are one of these for each player empire, and a total of eight playable empires. I'm not sure the rules can handle eight players, but there are eight options at least.

(ok, it didn't work. I need to figure out a way to not host files on my local machine...)

Friday, February 24, 2006

G.E. Update coming soon...

From the Galactic Empire zone:
I've been all over GE the last two days. I've banged out the templates for each of the empires and did a total proof of the rules. Now I just need to figure out if I can post word documents up here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Patchy. Patchy. Patchy.

Rant on.
What is the deal with companies who put out patches that ignore the *major* show stopper issues with their products. What are you on about, eh?
I have become a huge fan of the Star Wars themed Battlefront Series. Ok, not the best game ever made but really a hoot. And what I want now is to do some online action with Battlefront II, a product that addresses most of the design issues of the first product quite nicely. I have played both extensively (in single player mode), at least enough to know I prefer II over I, even if I do like the look of Phase one clones more.
To bad I can't play online. To bad the reason I can't play online is because the game locks hard every time a map ends and I end up shelling to the task bar and killing the task and logging in all over again. To bad it looks like every second owner of the product appears to see the same level of functionality.
Too bad.
See in the life cycle I figure you go through several distinct phases of support. Phase one of support is identification of and repair of major technological errors. Now there is a patch, and that patch does seem to have smoothed out the online play experience -when it's connected. But still no joy on the network dropping and having to kill the task and re-connect.

On the other hand, maybe I'm working to hard to get online in a game where I'm just going to get owned by kids less than half my age anyways...
Rant off.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Something like...

that. Take that board design monkey. Ok so here's the deal. Each "square" represents about 1 month of movement for a body-oid (planetary system, or space base). Each planet or planet system is represented by a breakout area at the edge of the board, which also shows you how much resource value the spot is worth. Some are subdivided, and values range from 1 to 3 resource points per "location".

Oh and skip the cyborgs for now. I can't figure a good way to put them on the map yet. Say it like this: ecks-span-shun. Tee hee.

By the way Corel 12 way rocks over Corel 9. Best 200 buckazoids I ever spent on productivity software. This here same map would have taken me days instead of hours previously.

Post-O-Matic Ray

And what I realy want now is to work on something with a classic SciFi look and feel. You know classic rockets with big fins. Ray Guns. Buck Rogers esque. I just don't know what it should be. War game, strategy game, RPG?
Rockets vs. Saucers, Earth vs. Mars. Mars executes a colonial break in the late 22nd. Earth has the cooler technology base (saucers, kill-o-zap fields) while Mars has the larger industrial base and more utilitarian look and feel (rockets, missiles). And then for fun (because it's what Blizzard would do) the cyborg aliens come from deep space! And not the modern slick cyborgs either, the classic big fishbowl with a brain types with metal pincers.
That could be cool...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sick as a Dog

And a poor dog at that. I wonder where that saying comes from? I've had a few dogs as friends (canine dogs mind) and I don't remember them getting all that sick. Actually my lost dog broke his tail, and that was just a pathetic few weeks, but no so much the sick.
None of which is helping me get anything done on Galactic Empire, which is really killing me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Post 0

Why is it 0(zero)? And if I post again, does it then become 0.1 or 1.0? Well, it is a test post.

Post 0.1 - The Kung-Fu of MMO design

Ok, that didn't take long. Anybody who wants a better understanding of the kung-fu of MMO design should read this
The Laws of Online World Design. This is actually the second time in as many weeks that I've ended up surfing to Mr. Koster's page. He's in serious jeopardy of getting into my pantheon of design gods.

I have to say this article realy speaks to one of my core phylosophies. I think I shall ponder it's implications on my personal design work.

Or not (arrogance is its own shield).