Friday, November 30, 2007

Child's Play Auction

Child's Play is a great idea for a charity. And if I had any money (well, honestly great gobs of money), I would be all over this auction. Unfortunately, that ship hasn't come in yet. Or the one before it. Or the one before that.

As the Lan Fest Winter 2007 approaches, we'll all be thinking about this, mostly because I'm forcing you to and hey, its Festivus. And if there's one time of year sick children could use some cheer, it's Festivus. Actually, make it your mission.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Notes on the Side

Just a couple of things to note down. Thing one: If you haven't read any of John Scalzi's stuff, what on earth are you waiting for. RAH is not coming back from the dead, you know. We think. And "Old Man's War" is maybe the best military sci-fi I've read since "On Basilisk Station". And if you haven't read that then how did you end up here?

Thing Two: I've begun to see a pattern in my designs. I fight an incessant need to include lots and lots of not fun stuff. And in this case I mean stuff as in stuffing or padding. I think the new cut of G.E. works because it lacks this padding. I'm starting a new anti-padding campaign!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Team Fortress 2

If I had any doubt what so ever about what a shooter is supposed to be like, thats it. Valve have really done an awesome job of it. The only real complaint I have after about 3 hours is an old refrain - more maps. There's only about one of each style of map so far. I'm sure the community is all over it already.

Maybe it's time to tap my mad level makin' skillz.

I am absolutely in love with the cool way they made classes. And as much as I thought the heavy was going to always be the way, it turns out my rocket skills are much superior. I think I mostly played the soldier. And I really don't get the spy. So like, you're not supposed to shoot things? I don't get that. But some people do. That whole knifey-ducky thing.

the one where I go on about DD

4 CPUs. I never use them all. And they're only 2.4s at that. When is all that juice cool? When you're transcoding 4 AVIs to WMV at once!!!

(That's cool. Admit it.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Multiplayer CRPG

At this point all I really want is a new, modern inter-tube ready, multiplayer action RPG. Diablo 3d. Ish. Ish on the Diablo part, not the 3d part.
Things I'm looking for:
  • No character classes. I think the character class was a half baked attempt at game balance back in the day. It's passe. No reason I can think of why tons of options open to everyone shouldn't work if you make the whole thing big enough. Sure we can all be magic caster types. If the mechanics are designed properly, then we'll get penalized every time we face fast melee mobs. If skills are balanced, and I need to choose my way down a path, which reduces my ability to go down other paths. I haven't built it yet so, no I don't know if that will work or not.
  • No levels. Levels are lame. Skill acquisition should be about direct expense of experience. Loot use should be about skills. One less artificial mechanic, thank you.
  • Full on character customization. Sure have some basic architypes to start from (elf, dwarf, human), but colors and shapes need to be open. If you really want to see this working fair/good look at City of Heros/Villians. And I don't want to see the customization like in LotR - where the figure is all pre made, and later armor mostly changes things like color.
  • Tick Based combat, the way the MMO's do it. Unless you're going to make a full on fighter, in which case it needs to be at least as complicated as Blade of Darkness. But I want to fight the mobs, not the interface.
  • No bloody quests. Or at least not quests in the classic sense, and certainly not in the general MMO sense. The essence of "quest" should arise naturally from the system. It's too complicated for me to want to explain in this post, but imagine a system where NPCs have jobs and some of those NPCs do things like organize orc villages to attack dwarf villages. And the dwarf village, becoming aware of this, posts a bounty on orc ears and, more importantly, the head of the budding tyrant. Like that but all over, many times. I think you would be more at a loss of how to organize your time as the hero than looking for things to do. By seeking the floating exclamation points.
  • A full on crafting system. Why not. So I decide my characters quest in life is to become a farmer. It's not like a reasonable RPG doesn't include things like food.
  • Climate, which is bigger than weather effects. I mean it rained in Diablo II, but did Kurast ever experience a dry season? Did it snow near the monastery? This is a major complaint I have about all MMOs. It's been snowing on and off outside Iron Forge for about 3 years now. That can't make crop planting easy.
Ooo. Bit wordy there. And how is it that Orc isn't in my spell check dictionary?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Perspective is a wonderful thing. Last night, I received a whole eyeful.

David, who is on assignment, and I spent about an hour messing with Teamspeak and Diablo II. Playing games on the internet should not be this much work. And it isn't, on my 360. Between the firewall and Teamspeak's really quite bad voice recognition, at least with my headset, we managed to play NO Diablo II. None what so ever. This reminds me of the bad old days.

I'm certain there are things I could be doing to minimize this. I just can't bring myself to spend the effort. This flies in the face of the games designed for online play. I suppose the real problem here is we need to get past trying to play games that were published about a decade ago. That's the perspective part. I've played lots of more recent stuff that works quite well.

That look you see on my face. That's me giving WoW the stink eye.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Spiritual Successor

...or sequel, depending on which pot you dip for ink. I'm tired of it, and you Video Game Reviewing hacks need to let it go. Let me introduce you to a new phrase - trite. That's when you use a phrase so much it begins to smell like old fish (I'm paraphrasing).

All through Bioshock's development we heard how it was a spiritual successor to System Shock 2. So much so that there are blessed few articles one can read on the game that don't include that comment in the first or second paragraph (if not the title).

And why am I on a boil about this. Well, it's got nothing to do with Bioshock. Bioshock is design-o-matically very much like Ken Levine/Irrational's (2k Boston if you insist...) earlier System Shock 2. It is a spiritual successor. It incorporates many of the design ideals of the early system, enhances and refines them and presents a new story (which actually shares a lot of plot points. Ok, Ken apparently has only one story to tell. But it's a great story and he executes well).

Hellgate:London is not a spiritual sequel to Diablo (and really not to the greater Diablo II). At best it's a clone. And don't get me wrong, from what I have of it Hellgate:London has it's charms. But it lacks many of the refinements introduced in Diablo II to the ARPG (Action Role Playing Game. Means bash monsters for loot so you can bash bigger monster for bigger loot, repeat until you get arthritis in your left mouse finger...). It is not successor to DII's crown. DII still has that crown set upon its mighty brow. Long live the king.

I dearly yearn for a modern revisit of the genre. I can only hope that Blizzard will abandon the MMO madness and produce a Diablo III in a 3d Engine, which supports heavy character customization (if I have 1 complaint about Diablo, it's cookie cutter characters - a Barb is a Barb, even if you have an axe barb and I have a throwing barb). Titan Quest seemed close, for that matter, except for the claustrophobic dungeons and lack of any real plot so does Hellgate.

But I'm still killing time on an MMO as far as this genre is concerned. That's what MMOs do, kill time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

G.E. Cards

In which it occurs to me that G.E. is not a good name to try to publish a game under, being that General Electric may object. Anyways...
G.E. Cards - Jean-Paul Lapointe's Galactic Empire: The Card Game, and yes it is a goal to have the name be so long there is no room for art on the box, is pretty cool. It is not 100%, David and I found several things which were broken, some of which will be addressed in v.002, but v.001 was playable. To be certain, the basic mechanics of play remain intact and are, dare I say it, fun.
It really seems to work. At least with two people. Having said that I will need to visually redesign about 2/3 of the cards. We've decided that square cards don't quite work with the facing mechanic for ownership. Turning the card so the ones you own are readable by you is ok, if the cards you own are all next to you on the table. When your cards are mixed in with the cards of the other players, square cards all look the same.
The game really needs another chart for tracking the Basic resources received per turn per player. Although it was easier to see the exchanges from basic resources to advanced resources, we often found ourselves counting our planets for basic production. An income chart will do the job.
I need to add in some flavor. I don't want to break any of the mechanics, so this will be a small step. But it's just not G.E. without the Jaal Riin and the U.E.P.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Costume Pictures

All righty - I finally found my USB cable for my camera so here are some shots. First Erik as Symbiont Spiderman.

And some Zachary Potter.
Yes, the only symbiont suit we could find had no mask. Probably why it was on the shelf, so dad had to figure out if he could paint faces. Turns out the answer is, "yes, good enough."

The jack-o-lantern wasn't my best, but I rushed a bit. Fortunately, you can barely tell it's actually carved.

Today, BTW, is the 30th birthday of the Atari VCS. As I mentioned previously, this was the very first machine I owned. I guess, when I look at it that way, may it's not all that surprising that I've gone back to consoles. I wonder if they have Asteroids on xBox Live Arcade...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Zachary - R0x0rs with his b0x0rs

Zachary was super awesome older brother last night. Not only did he Trick-or-Treat well past his last years operational radius, stay off peoples lawns and remember to say thank-you, after Erik quit (he got cold) he would ask for extra loot for his little brother.

For 6, super awesome. Like triple cheese awesome with hand tossed crust.