Monday, January 29, 2007

Dateline: Evansfalls, 23rd Protectorate

The Presidential Secretary of Foreign Relations issued a stern warning this evening to the Combine government. Southern Alliance early warning stations were placed on high alert after a high speed over-flight by Combine fighter craft. The over flight resulted in the immediate activation of both automated and manned defence systems, and forced literally thousands of Combine Armed Forces personnel to man their posts.

Secretary Ulbrecht stated in her press release that the Alliance Government, and President Reynaud, consider all such incursions into Alliance air space as "extremely serious" and "destabilizing". "This sort of action is both reckless and de-stabilizing. We are uncertain as to the intent of the flight, but guarantee that we will be watching activity across the border in the 23rd Protectorate more closely." she stated.

President Reynaud was unavailable for comment.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Classics

Ultima IV.

Oh ya.

I actually have a bit of a hard time playing on the dos box, of course, because I originally played this on my Commodore 64. Like most fans I started with III. It was harder. I must have created about 4 bajillion parties. Who kept getting wiped by skeletons and orcs. And pirates. And giant snakes. And the town guards after I *accidentally* grabbed that chest in town.
But U4 was a who new ball game. The character actually reflected me. I had a book (two really) and a cloth map. And an Ankh. I don't even know what an Ankh is, but it looks cool and powerful. Must be. It came in the box.

And RUNES! Runes rock! Now I can write secret messages to myself that my sister can't read. Because I need to send important messages to myself that my sister can't read (stop asking dumb questions or you're out of the club)!

Dragin' my ...


Proverbially. I can tell it's Friday by the fact that I'm a coffee zombie. I feel like I'm pushing through sludge just to move. All I really want to do is sleep. More coffee.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

C64 Greatness

As I bummed around last night trying to upload a giant post to the intertubes (which must be almost full, because it took for ever) I browsed around My Documents. Because sometimes, I download stuff I want to look at, and then don't. Yes, it is called disorganization, thank you.

These catchup sessions, which often involve my inner geek, usually amount to very little productive output. Which means I don't get any home work done, by which I mean work I do exclusively at home, not work which I brought home from work, or school. Which I am all good with, when the results are so satisfying.

First I tried to play some R-Type on my Amiga emulator. I couldn't get my joystick to work with the emulator, and honestly, if I was going to play R-Type I would play it on MAME, so it would *be* the arcade version. After about 10 minutes I gave up.

And that's when I started poking around a bit and discovered that at some point I had downloaded a Commodore 64 disk image of Mail Order Monsters. Yet another EA classic from way back in the day when EA meant good.

The Concept:
You play at one of three levels of challenge - in this case challenge means complexity more than toughness. At the EASY level you have 500 bucks (called psycosomethingorothers - why can't you just say credits?) and get to pick a "monster", which is then pitted against another monster for open combat supremacy. Each monster at this level comes with the same basic equipment (or thereabouts) and BEASTFU power - i.e. a basic melee attack.

After you pick, the game loads a random map based on a theme, like islands or swamp, and it is bash time. Who ever runs out of health first is out. The controls are joystick and one button. I went through at least 3 of those classic Atari 2600 sticks on this game, before I bought my Wicco "Boss". Clicking once gets you an attack, by whatever you've got in hand. Clicking twice -yes, a double click before mice - gets you a menu to change weapons and use other things, like food or health packs.
(Image shamelessly borrowed without permission from getting sued means getting read)

Intermediate level introduces the vats and weapon shop. When you fire up, you have an avatar that drags your monster from the vats, to the shop, to the transmat where he/she/it will get pitted against an opponent. At this level, you have the option of equipment AND can genetically engineer your monster. Having trouble getting enough distance from your opponents to use your BOORANG? Give your pet some speed juice. Want that BEASTFU attack to give your opponent pause? Add some strength juice.

When you use the transmat, one opponent picks the terrain type and the other chooses between open combat, flag hunt and the horde game modes. Open combat is as before, pound away until somebody drops. Flag Hunt is a take on capture the flag. You race against your opponent to touch 8 flags. First one to touch all 8 wins. Each flag is guarded by a guardian with a zapper. If you die, you lose as well. The horde mode features you and your opponent against an untold number of menacing monsters trying to get from the top of the map to the bottom. I didn't get around to trying it out, but I seem to remember the victory conditions being something on the order of impossible.

Hard introduces owner mode. You can pen a stable of monsters, and use the winnings from your matches to build them up. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the save disk to work in my emulator, so I couldn't revisit this mode, but I do remember one thing. Hard refers to the reality of this level. If your monster gets killed, he's dead. Unless you've bothered to make a back up of your save disk.

I stayed up way too late remembering my youthful enthusiasm for this classic. The best, best, best part? Multiplayer! On the same machine of course, home networking hadn't been invented yet. Actually, neither had IP addresses. I think.

I took some snaps from the emulator, I'll add those eventually.

Obligatory Links:
Mail Order Monsters on Wikki
Mail Order Monsters on MobyGames

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gas Station Attendant

That's my new chosen vocation. Why? Because being shot at for $50 CDN from the till seems less stressful.

Work stinks. I know, a particularly inventive and unique thought. I am quite tired of being asked to support functions I have not been trained for. My biggest fear is that through the process of trial and error I'm going to destroy something we can't recover. For that matter, I may already have done that, and just be blissfully unaware.

Oh bother.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blender 3d

I can not say enough good things about this tool. I totally blew off another full evening of me time making 3d stuff. And by the end of the night I was making an object that was almost recognizable as what I intended.

It is going to be a while before anything I make sees the light of day, however. What I have decided though, is that it is much easier to transform a 2D picture into something 3D than to invent a 3D object. This is OK because I have a ton of old art just kicking around from all of those versions of G.E.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Oh, and if you are living under a rock and never read anything other than my blog (uh, thanks, I guess) ... World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is on store shelves today.

I hope you saved some vacation days...

Eye Strain

I just spent a crazy evening squeezing stuff into the black hole known as my brain. But before I get into that - High school Quest Update!

(Or, if this was WoW, you would be looking at ? ) He actually got back to me. That's kind of a first in years. Not sure what I'll do next year. Meh. (I mean "bah-duhm" level up.)

But back to the front. I just spent my whole evening learning stuff about Blender 3d. Which is more learning in my free time than I've done in a very,very long time.

Blender is a gnu public license 3d modeler/rendering animator. It's supposedly on the order of 3dMax or Lightwave, but free. It's certainly super powerful, and it is free. It also seems very stable, and has a TINY 8 Mb download. And it's free. I'm not used to thinking in an X shell format at home, but it sure is cool how easy it was to model simple stuff. Well, OK, nothing I would actually let see the light of day, but soon, maybe. Did I mention it was free?

Now if I could just distract the kids long enough to get some practice in...

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Ole' High School Quest

Sometimes, I get bored.

About ten years ago I kicked of a sort of tradition. About once a year, I spend an evening poking around the inter-tubes looking for people I knew in high school.

Now before I go to much further, understand, I have no fondness for high school. The best day of my high school career was the day after I graduated. University rocked like Van Halen (uh, Chuck Berry if you're a lot older, and I'll be damned if I know what those kids nowadays listen to. Is that music?). High school just sucked rocks.

I usually run the effect down inside of an hour or two. But this year I got a hit on a guy I used to hang out with. I figured he had to have an email, as I can't imagine one of my C64 buddies not being on the inter nets. I'll keep you posted, assuming there is anything to post.

Oh and that serial thing - skip it. I got bored. Amazing how much that plays in my life.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Harsh lesson in the InterTubes


I've really messed myself up this time. I volunteered to run the dealers room for KeyCon. That's not the messed up part. They have a link on the page which will forward me email if you have questions. That's where I slipped.

I let them use my stock email address.

I have received more spam in the last 2 days than in the previous year. Note to self: If you're going to put an email address on a public web page, set up a disposable account. It would have taken about 2 minutes. I'm hoping that once my addy is off the page it will go away. If not, I guess I'll have to change it. How about

Thursday, January 04, 2007

WoW Cool

Ok, if your a fan like me (uh, except then you're probably still playing aren't you), you NEED to get the Stardock Windows theme from Blizzard for WoW.

Look here.

It rocks like nothing else.

Diablo II

Some things never really get old. I would have thought, after two years of playing WoW, that going back to off-line, pixelated, NOT 3D, no Night-ElF-Diablo II (Technically DII:LoD) would be short lived. It's just a strong game for the money.

It's also fairly obvious that the school of hard RPG knocks (by which I mean trying to adventure in Darkshire on a PvP server as the Alliance), has increased my RPG'ing stat (by at least 1). The bosses don't seem as tough. On the other hand there have been several sweeping patches since I stopped playing about 3 years ago.