Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Larry Crosses the Rubicon

Some of you may be aware of the love-hate relationship I have with my gaming PC, Larry. Larry, for the un-technical, is an Alienware M-7700 Desktop Replacement class Windows/Intel Personal Computer. He weighs about 13 pounds, without the power supply, produces heat like a desktop, and is reasonably powerful for his vintage. Larry is also going on 3 years old. Which, in the PC world, translates into Ancient.

And last night, he crossed over into "inadequate". He is no longer adequate in his adequacity. The culprit is the demonstration version of Overlord. This game is an absolute blast of good times. At least it should be. Or would be. If Larry was up to the task. Which he is not. Unless I turn all of the fancy effects off and turn the screen resolution down to 1024x768. And even then, sometimes, not so much.

Upgrade? No dice. About the only bit I can upgrade in Larry is the processor, and I'm not 100% certain I can do that. I think what I bought might be the best that will fit on the mother board. And it's not really a processor issue. It's the ageing x800 graphics processor that's bringing him down. And that's a custom bit that Alienware has categorically stated will never have a replacement part.

Build New? Ya right. That's not even going to make it to committee. I was lucky to survive my last $4500 PC purchase.

Bioshock isn't even going to run.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Big SciFi 4x (1.1)

I've had this post kicking around for a few months. Not sure where I was going with that, but it's got lots of fibre to chew on.

Anyways, the idea is to make the galaxy big. Big enough that you can't blow it off in a solid 12 hour day of power gaming. Now that you have a really big, persistent
galaxy, you start your fledgling space empire. You have just developed ftl travel. Commence the explore. Look for colony worlds. Watch out for hostile aliens (which may or may not be other players).

The turns should take at least a day to process. That is the system should be capable of handling the maths in short order, but you should then have a day to respond to the changes. Shorter if you're slightly off-center and your work doesn't care about you logging in from your workstation during work. Longer if you need more time to schedule conflicts (and plan). Conflicts should be scheduled as much as possible between players. Conflicts with simulated opponents can be resolved at your convenience. Now that's not all that realistic, but is a concession to the fact that the
average player of these games is often better at tactical combat than the
average simulated opponent (SO for short).

The combat module needs to have layers (like an onion). On the top is the strategic layer. You can have input on this from three perspectives. One is as an aggressive combatant. Two is as a defensive combatant. Three is as an observer. In case one and two you probably want a facility to have doctrine in place ( a common set of rules for encounters) to help you quickly set out your game plan for the engagement.
This will most likely be related to your objective in the engagement. The battle planning sub-module needs to encompass all of the possibilities of the battle simulation. Each side needs to commit it's forces to a plan before proceeding to combat (battle simulation).

Battle simulation should take place in the largest definable useful area, which I figure is a star system. The combat in space around the bodies of the system should take place while the combat on the bodies is occurring. So the ground invasions are occurring while you're fighting in space. Morale needs to be a factor for a "truer" simulation. Not everyone will fight to the death if they are given a more attractive option.

You should simulate the model in 3 dimensions using "pseudo" Newtonian physics in "real time". With the acknowledgement that these things need to scale into a "playable" time frame. Using the Solar system as an example, we probably need to
scale the time frame up relative to the speed and range of weapons. We are dealing with a truly tremendous volume of space. The amount of scaling needs to relate to the achievable speed of the ships involved and the range at which weapons become effective, and perhaps more importantly, the sensors become effective.

I'm neutral on your level of input on what happens on the ground. Certainly, if the pace is slow enough, you could have a secondary UI which allows zone by zone control of invasions, or bombing. I do think that the minimum will be the ability to organize your ground forces into armies and give them objectives. The destruction of planetary targets (weapon control points or ground based weapons and infrastructure,for example) should be one alternative to total subjugation.

I think I was thinking about how I would work a MMOSG. I'm not sure the game community is ready for MMOSGs, or ever will be, but I think it would be neat-o.

(1.1 - Cleaned up extra line breaks. Note to self - do NOT precompose in Notepad!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

House and Home

Painting hurts. Up down, up down. Now my legs hurt. And I haven't gamed in 3 DAYS. That has got to be some kind of record, or travesty, or some broken by-law.

On a golf note: I hit my best drive ever. Must have been 200 plus yards. Great arc. Smacked it. Missed the fairway completely. Ball is buried deep in the brush. That's golf. Score? When I hit 69 on the front 9, I stopped realy paying attention to score. It's more like practice at that point anyways.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And I'm Spent

Finished the System Shock 2. Great ride right up to the end. The end features two relatively un-inspired boss battles, back to back. And, like most people, I have to say relative to the rest of the game, it feels rushed. For the majority of SS2, you creep around, sneaking and shooting, hacking and hunting. These last too confrontations are straight run and gun. And the 'organic' level is just major aggravation.

If you're going to give it a go, at least seek out one of the hi-res texture replacement packs. I may fiddle with one of the model upgrades as well, but now that I've been through once, I'm probably done. Being very story driven, I've seen it, I'm not sure it will have the same impact the second time around.

Bioshock. Fallout 3. Lots of good gaming coming up. And at some point I should play the main story of Oblivion.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Hey, my profile has had 203 views. About half of those are me checking to see if any one has viewed my profile. That's a guess, not a statistic. But I'll bet it's accurate 9 times out of 10, plus or minus 5.

After over dosing on Tom Chick's column "Shoot Club" (Quarter to Three Archive) (the Escapist), I was inspired by one of them to re-install Doom 3, which I never finished. It took exactly 5 seconds of play to remember why I un-installed it last time. Because of Battlefield, I now always map "zoom" to my primary thumb button on my mouse. This wasn't the way my key map was set in my Doom 3 profile, so I mapped it. And picked up my pistol and zoomed and panned, a quick test.

And then it occurred to me that most of the monsters in the game we're going to lean out of closets and bulkheads, effectively making the game mostly a melee effort. Not to mention in the dark. I down loaded the "Duct Tape" mod. A helmet light would be better (shoulder light? That might actually look more like a Colonial Marine.). Or UV/IR settings for my helmet. Oh, wait I don't have a helmet. You know there are zombies, right? And you know how zombies have the whole "brain" thing, right? So, like, no helmet at all, seems like a bad idea. Just saying is all.

Ooooo! New shoot club! Go!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

MoM dot Net

Hey if you haven't been by in a while, skip over to MoMDotNet. Justin's been hard at it and got A LOT done recently. I've contributed a bit.


We're still trying to figure out the best way to get models from Blender to the app, but we're diligent and the results are surprising. Yes, we're using MAGENTA as the transparent key, so
No it wont be pink in the game.

This would be one of about 1000 models I need to make. And technically this one isn't done - I still need to create proper textures and map them (that what you see are blender base materials, which are great for rendering but no good for games). Further I may be going overboard as far as model complexity is concerned. It's possible I could get away with a simpler mesh with a nice texture.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Vacation Off

I'm back. Three weeks is about one week too long. My dad says never take more than 2 weeks off, because you forget where you work. Deliberately.

Keycon: Yes, that was a glorious mess. My table ran fine, though I have yet to actually make a profit. Scott, now officially dubbed Henchman #1, was very successful at selling stuff. This will be of great benifit as we move into phase 2 - Portable T-Shirts. We also have begun the planing for a hospitality suite themed around a viking long hall. I've got it half planned in my head.

Gaming: Played out my free month of City of Villians. And hey, it's OK. The client is very stable, the content is well designed, and the characters are fun. I think the secret base is a bit wonky from the design end, at least as a solo player, but it's not a necessary game element, so skip it. If I had $15US just lying around, I would play more. Which evolves nicely into my feelings about MMOs in general at this point. Don't hook up for a long subscription. Yes you can save $0.50 per month by agreeing to pay for 6 months at a time. But what if you want to take a break and pay something else?

Further, all of the games I've played keep your data after your account goes inactive. I can still flip Blizzard $15 and play my same old WoW characters for a month, even though I haven't been on in about 6 months. Along this thinking I've cut my LotR:OL subscription down to monthly (which is still only $10USD because I pre-ordered, thanks Turbine!). Yes if I do cancel I lose my special rate. So what?

Costumes: Kudos to David. I wore my Ghostbusters uni most of Keycon and got at least a dozen comments about how cool it was, and not all of the comments were from attendees. Not my design, so Good on You.

The potential of selling the house and moving has appeared on the horizon. I am apprehensive. There's a lot of effort to go into my shack if I want to get out what I need to move. And you know how I feel about effort.