Friday, December 12, 2008

Shamless Debasement

(At least I think that's the phrase). That's right, today to kick off JP's Birthday Weekend, I wore not one but two foam hats in order to get a free lunch. This, by the way also helps to prove TANSTAFL*.

If you're in the mood for some JP's birthday festivities, please feel free to wear a set of green foam antlers on Monday. After the 15th that other guy's season can start as normal.

*There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Which I know as tanstafl from "the Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by R.A. Heinlein, which the whole rest of the intertubes seems to have forgoten. For shame. You all get nothing for JP's birthday this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Giving the stink eye to the intertubes...


At the risk of seriously jinxing it, did the intertubes turn off the spam machine? My daily spam rate has gone from several to, well, none.

Just saying is all.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fallout 3 Completed

Hey it's done. And man, you should get some of that. I will play through again, but I don't think I'll do it right away. I'm still grinding my way past 50 on the treadmill, which is eating up a foolish amount of my game time. I am getting close to the Burning Crusade content. And the game is throwing its weight behind me. Yesterday it gave me 10000 xps for one quest turn in.

If you haven't seen the full Ozzy Osbourne WoW ads for Litch King, check it out.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fast Rules for Miniature Gaming

I ran two quick games last Thursday, based on my own thoughts about rules. Here's the summary:

Set up: Each side gets an equal number of figures to start. Playing on a standard dining room table is about enough space if you are using 25mm figures. Allow each side about 20 to 30 figures. For ground combat, obstacles are a good idea.

Rule 1: Each player gets two actions per turn. An action is either activating a figure, which may then move and fight or spawning a new figure at one of your spawn points.

Rule 1a: The activated figure may move and then fight, or fight twice, or move twice. The figure may not fight and then move.

Rule 1b: Figures in base to base contact with enemy figures are pinned. They must fight the enemy figure if they are activated.

Rule 2: 1 is always the target number.

Rule 3: 2 inches of movement is slow. 6 Inches is normal. 12 is fast.

Rule 4: The weakest guys on your team are the most common. You have an infinite supply of them. They roll a d12 when attacking. They move 6.

Rule 5: The special guys on your team are not very common. You can have 1 of those in your pool of guys for every 5 regulars. The roll a better die against other troopers, in our case d6. Against vehicles they would roll d12, like regulars. In the case of the figs we were using, that meant 1 clone sniper (I used the SW mini's Kashyyk scouts to represent this) for every 5 regular clones in the pool. like wise for the droids, where the Super Battle Droids were the regulars and a security battle droid represented the sniper ( I have mostly SBDs). These figures may be respawned like regulars, but in more limited numbers. In our case each side had 2 specials.

Rule 6: Each side may choose to have heroes. To add a hero to your team you must pull a regular figure out. Heros should have at least 1 special ability. In our game the heros were (of course) Jedi. Jedi could only fight in hand to hand combat, which meant they needed to touch their targets to attack them, but are fast so they move 12. However, they always hit. Because I don't own any Sith figures, we decide to give the Separatists two Hailfire Droids. The jedi needed to roll a d12 to hit the "tanks". Heroes do not respawn. If a hero is hit, he is removed for the rest of the game. We then decided that that wouldn't be enough heroes for the Republic and I added 4 clone commandos. Commandos attack with a d6 against any target, but are heroes, so do not respawn.

Rule 7: Vehicles are more complicated than troops. Vehicles do not count towards your regular units or reserves. Vehicles have their own spawn point, which may be destroyed by the other team, but not captured. Vehicles need to be activated. This requires a figure to be in base to base contact twith the vehicle, and requires the figure to use an action. The figure used to activate the vehicle is removed from play. Vehicles should have more firepower than figures, in this case we represented that two ways. Hailfire droids roll d6 to attack. Hailfire droids may use indirect fire. This means that an activated hailfire droid may attack any figure that is in line of sight of any other figure on the droid's team.

Rule 8: Each player picks up to five figures to start the game with. The rest of your figures are your reserve. They may be brought into the game by using a spawn action. Each spawn action lets you place 1 figure in base to base contact with one of your spawn points.

Rule 10: When you choose to fight you roll the die indicated. A 1 hits and the targeted unit is removed either to the reserves or from the game depending on what type of figure it is.

Rule 11: The first team to capture all the spawn points wins. You own a spawn point until someone takes it from you. You capture a spawn point by being the only team with figures touching the spawn point at the end of the other teams turn.

I know, it's a bit sketchy but it worked.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fallout 3

The top down skinny: Awesome

This is the first game I've played in a long time that has all but shaken me from my Bioshock obsession. If you're not a fan of huge, immersion worlds, big fancy graphics, great sound direction and tons of game play, skip it. You may also want to take up stamp collecting, as I'm guessing video games really are not for you.

Truth be told I'm not *quite* done my first full play through. I believe I have opened up the final quest and am deliberately avoiding it, wandering around looking for side quests. All told it will be about 36 hours of game for one run through. I have skipped a couple of options which would have given me even more to do. I have to admit, I don't want to take that final quest in the main chain because then it will be over.

My big complaint would be hand-to-hand combat which is not much changed from the model used in Oblivion. It still feels like a button mash to me. On the other hand, using guns, and especially V.A.T.S. never gets old.

I should point out that I come to this game from being a Bethesda fan, not a Fallout fan. I played quite a bit of both Morrowind and Oblivion, but am only vaguely aware of the Fallout franchise. I suspect this game does a reasonable homage to the series, but am not an expert.

Final thoughts - pick it up.

*My five spot rating system: Meh is the middle rating. It means the game or product may have redeeming value for specific individuals, but is generally unappealing or flawed to the point of making it generally not applicable. The other ratings are Awesome, which means I think your simply nuts if you don't already love it; Not Bad, which means I think it may not be best for everybody, but it's a good production of what it is; Bah, which means I think the thing failed and has few redeeming qualities; And BC3. BC3 is a direct reference to Battle Cruiser 3000AD which is the first game I ever bought that actually made me think the developer was deliberately trying to make me angry. I try to avoid those ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Space Siege - Reviewed

All right, I haven't finished it yet. I may not finish it, though the completest in me screams at the thought.

My overall rating - Meh*. That would be the middle one. If you are particularly in the market for a clunky sci-fantasy shooter, this one fits the bill. Otherwise you may as well keep looking. It's not the modern manifestation of Obliterator I had hoped for.

My Big Complaints:
  • Why can't I customize the controls? I have 8 buttons on my mouse and your game recognizes 3 of them. I haven't had it this bad since a long time ago.
  • If you're going to bother making up 8 weapons, make up 8 different weapons. I have one melee weapon, and the rest are all either fast or slow guns. It reminds me very much of the old Doom days, whereby the next new weapon you pick up is going to be the one you use. Because it does more damage.
  • So I'm on this HUGE colony/warship. And I'm the only guy in the whole place with the presence of mind to shoot back when the aliens try to eat me.
I have other, lesser complaints, but they just pile on to what you may have read everywhere else. I have to say I generally like the art style, though I have questioned some of the texture choices. If you bother to play, note especially the very pixelated displays littered about the place. Which are highly repetitive. Highly repetitive is, unfortunately a hallmark of the design. Most of the environments are similar, and the prop list is very small.

I'm not saying it's not worth playing. I mean, I have played it almost all the way through. I admit I partly sold myself on it in that it has some thematic similarities with System Shock 2. In fact, I kept thinking that an SS2 mod based on this engine might be interesting if one could unlock the controls.

I know I keep harping on the controls. It's like this: The game insists that you use a Diablo 2 style of control - sans the mouse wheel skill flip. Click the left mouse button to move or interact. Click and or hold the right mouse button to use your current weapon. But I would have preferred a more Max Payne style of play. I think changing this from an awkward RPG to an OK 3rd person shooter might have made a difference.

The story doesn't exactly redeem, either. It's the same old same old. You're going to see the big plot twists in about the first 15 minutes of play. You won't be surprised. And, as I thought, the whole cybernetic vs humanity sub plot fails. Why do I care if characters who are thinly realized care if I go fully cybernetic? The big difference is which of the guns you get to use by the end of the game. The game doesn't have enough character interaction for your lack of humanity to make any real difference. If this was a big RPG, say Ultima IV or Knights of the old Republic scale, then I could see that playing out. You only interact with 5 NPCs, and then really only in cut scenes. They might be horrified, but I'm not.

Bottom line - Skip it.

*This refers to my new five spot rating system. Meh is the middle rating. It means the game or product may have redeeming value for specific individuals, but is generally unappealing or flawed to the point of making it generally not applicable. The other ratings are Awesome, which means I think your simply nuts if you don't already love it; Not Bad, which means I think it may not be best for everybody, but it's a good production of what it is; Bah, which means I think the thing failed and has few redeeming qualities; And BC3. BC3 is a direct reference to Battle Cruiser 3000AD which is the first game I ever bought that actually made me think the developer was deliberately trying to make me angry. I try to avoid those ones.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Space Siege - Impressions

OK, I'm back on the critical path purchase wise. Now I just need to set the Warcraft aside long enough to play.

I've played about 5 hours of Space Siege, and I have no idea how far into the game that puts me. Generally pleased. It is mostly and action game. The Role Playing Game elements are very reduced. The biggest complaints I have so far are
  • the camera is working against you
  • I can't figure how to change the controls

The story is pretty stock, but I may not be that far in. I was correct about the demo. They deliberately introduce the cyborg/humanity plot early in the demo. The cyborg vs. your humanity is a central theme, but the full game introduces other story elements that I assume are intended to also affect your decision making.

I may have a more detailed look later.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Holy Market Forces, Batman (1.1)

World of Warcraft Epic Stein's

This is how you know your market is huge. You make a cup. Admittedly, a very fancy cup. You call it a collector's item. You claim it has "old world" craftsmanship. You make two versions of it, because you know your audience that well. Then you charge 10 times the manufacturing cost for them. Then they sell out.

Ok, I guessed on that last bit. Keep an eye peeled. We'll watch the insanity together.

I was thinking more about this and thought some extra thoughts. I thought about my buying thresholds. This item is in the category of "Holy crud. No way I'm buying one of those. Maybe for Xmas." Except when I look at it, it's a waste of an Xmas gift. $70 bucks is a whole other game, that I don't have time to play. Wait, that is clever. Blizzard.

It never rains...

You probably know the old adage. Well, it's pouring in Poodiopolis. In fact it may be a monsoon.

1) Space Siege - Already released (or read that as "I'm already behind!")
The demo actually held me back slightly. I'm not sure the "choose to be human or cyber" mechanic is going to be the core story element it's intended to be, but may be the demo is compressed.

2) Spore - Early September
I don't know that Spore is a game. It's more likely that Spore generates pocket dimensions. Again, though I've been really hyped about this for a long time, I played with the free version of the creature creator and had mixed feelings. Innovative and clever, no doubt. Fun GAME? Hard to say.

3) Fallout 3 - Q4 2008 (Hopefully before Xmas. Wait. Hopefully later.)
This one has not been spoiled for me by a demo yet. I should mention that I'm not a long term fan of Fallout. It is, however, written by Bethesda and set in one of my very favorite genres. And it's written by Bethesda.

4) Wrath of the Lich King - Q4 2008 (yes, I'm back on the crack. Hopefully it's not terminal)
I don't really want to get into it.

5) Warhammer Online - Sept 18 ('cause I really need another MMO in my life.)
I'm trying not to be disappointed in advance. On the other hand, me and every other fan boy are smacking down their bucks opening day even if it is a pile. So I guess from a certain perspective, it's job well done.

Add a liberal dash of regular PnP, where at least I'm not GM for a change. And a once monthly strategy game day. I can hear Rebecca chambering a round.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Sometimes strange things come to my attention. I try to pretend that I don't notice, because that means they might have to put me on lithium. Lately, I've had a run of "the web is a small world".

It seems the chupacabra is destined to haunt me.

The word first came to my attention as part of a gag in an early episode of "Red Vs. Blue" (very often, very NSFW). The gag consists mostly of the characters trying to decide what name the Warthog should have.

The term has come up in a couple of web comics lately. I'm kind of like CARNIVORE. Except dumber...

(ah the Friday afternoon link post. Good times.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Syndicate of Evil

David and I started working on a collaborative effort on the weekend. We had an idea for a web comic, which I mutated into a strategy game. I have a strategy game mutation ray. No, you can't borrow it.

Without giving to much away, I will say it involves super villains. We are of course very inspired by Dr. Horrible. If you missed that by the way, you missed out and should really figure out iTunes and get some of that. This would also put you one step up on me, as I can't figure out iTunes. Of course I don't have an iPod either.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Vilnius Schoolmaster

I like to flip the map view in Google Analytics to show cities over countries. I feel more in tune with the city names as places, though I haven't been to hardly any of them.

One of the cities that showed up this month was Vilnius, in Lithuania. This is the mythical place of origin for Marco Ramius, the captain of the Red October in "The Hunt for Red October". I used to love Tom Clancy, lately, not so much.

To all my international guests: "Welcome! I'm here through next Thursday, please try the ribs and tip your waitress."

"Добро пожаловать! Я здесь через следующее четверг, пожалуйста пробую нервюры и наклоняю вашу официантку."

"Willkommen! Ich bin hier durch folgenden Donnerstag, versuche bitte die Rippen und spitze Ihre Kellnerin."

"Bienvenue ! Je suis ici à travers essaye jeudi prochain, svp les nervures et incline votre serveuse."

"歓迎! 私は次の木曜日、試み、肋骨をひっくり返すあなたのウェートレスをここにいる。"

(I can only hope that the translation is unoffensive.)(And even I can see that the French did not translate well!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Maths are hard, let's shop!

I'm not actually blond. Technically, it's called ash blond. Regardless of why, I completely fail at writing intercept code.

Let's see things that have worked in the sim so far:
  • thrust
  • gravity
  • satellites
  • planets
  • targeting
  • UI scaling
That's not bad. And so far the whole thing runs about 10 to 20 times faster than real time. I may just skip it for now. Except that at some point it's going to become important to make rendezvous with other entities - space stations for example to reload and rearm.

I need to add weapons and targets so I can spend time blasting things to smithereens. Work out some of my frustrations as it were.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Monkey Hands

All right, I've monkeyed with the page a bit. If I've messed it up and looks as intelligible as an Egyptian tablet that's been used as a sledge hammer, let me know. I remembered to save the old template first.

I'm on the hunt for speakers. I've come to the sad realization that my viewing quality has vastly outstripped the audio. I need at least a center and a sub woofer. My primaries are Mission M70. I know I won't spend a tonne of money on them, because my receiver is 1.2 million years old. No, seriously, I think it was originally assembled by a neanderthal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog (v2.0)

Are you joking? No, I'm not.

Go here. Why? Joss Whedon you mechanical mind midget. I'm also spending some time with old classics. Have you ever watched "Lost in Space" from the beginning? How about "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"? I'm doing both.

At some point I should investigate Irwin Allen's other vehicles as well, but these two I remember fondly from the early days of cable TV. Of course I mean the early days of cable TV at my house, not the dawn of cable TV which occurred about 35 years before that.

(edit 2.0: The first banner was too wide for my format. Nice if the preview actually reflected the blog.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hellgate: Not dead yet!

...but I can't imagine it's crying out "I feel hapeee..." either. I direct you to an official forum post, over there. And while it is good news that Flagship has not quite closed it's doors, we must now wait for further developments.

The only thing I could hope for would be a LAN client patch/update. It was the only major disappointment I had with the game. I understand the financial decision behind not making a LAN server available. I don't agree with it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hellgate Spiral

This looks grim.

OK, I don't have a subscription, so at least I didn't pay to play, but I have to admit, David and I have spent some serious "LAN" time on Hellgate. Serious.

Good news is, the single player game should still run. Bad news is, I have no reason to believe I'll ever be running a multi-player game of it again.

And David just discovered one of the coolest easter eggs ever.

Monday, July 07, 2008

DIII Timeline update

I see that the "official" release date for StarCraft II is now being listed here and there as December of this year. That probably means it's possible DIII might be ready for next Christmas. But I doubt it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

"Jar Jar, you're a genius"

Hey, double post day!

Did you know that until very recently the phrase "Jar Jar, you're a genius" had never been recorded on the intarwebs? Neither did I. But I read this web comic, which is pretty funny, and they said I should say that, and I always do what web comics say.


Game Maker

When I started using Game Maker, I was somewhat skeptical. This would not be the first time I had tried to adapt one of my visions to fit inside somebody else's box. Last time I tried to use a free ware engine I found to build a strategy game, it turned out to have more box and less fit.

On the other hand, Earth vs. Mars is shaping up gloriously.

You may remember I had this idea about a Solar civil war between Earth and the colonies.* It was going to be on a giant hex grid so I could use vectored motion a-la Triplanetary. After two weeks-ish of off-hand development, I have this so far:

A full on Newtonian movement system. With gravity implemented. A playing area that covers everything inside the jovian orbit. The ability to scale the display from 1:1 all the way to 1,000,000:1 - this is important when you're trying to navigate from Earth to Mars and you don't have radar.

It's a cool toy, but it's not a game yet. I still have some User Interface tweaks to make before I start adding bad guys.

MMmmmm. Saucers.

*Actually, after looking through the back blog, you may not. I may never have mentioned it here. But it's cool, trust me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

MMO Showdown

As I have a whole bunch of time to kill, I'm doing an MMO showdown. I'm playing World of Warcraft with Burning Crusade and Everquest II: Rise of Kunark.

Yes I'm really that busy. I have to say these games are fairly comparable on the graphics side. The WoW engine is still much smoother on Hank, given that it does less, but style is where Blizz still wins. But you've heard all that before.

It's really hard to get into a game that is so heavy into it's own mythology. Both of these games suffer from that, I think. It's hard for me to tell with WoW because I've been through it all. I was having a hard time connecting with EQII.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An open apology

For those of you who are used to my usual acquaintance, I want to apologize, in advance. At some indeterminate time in the near future, I will become completely unavailable for any and all social interaction. Blame Blizzard.

(Of course, being a Blizzard production you could have my undivided attention for at least he next two years while they develop it.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I've been quiet for a while. Let's just leave it at I've had nothing I wanted to comment about. Well nothing that lit a fire under me.

But 10? Two games have come out in the first half of this year that have attained this lofty number. The first is GTA:IV. The second is Metal Gear Solid 4. Neither of them is Bioshock. Tom Chick wrote a really great review of MGS4 for Crispy Gamer.

If you're a Metal Gear Solid fan, this review is not for you. Frankly, you don't need a review. Metal Gear Solid 4 is between you, Hideo Kojima and whatever bond the two of you have formed over the last 20 years of Metal Gear games. I might as well come to your house, root around in your shoebox of old love letters, and comment on their grammar, punctuation, imagery and literary merit.

Instead, this review is for everyone else. It's partly for those who, like me, dabbled in the previous games. It's mostly for those who might have had their interest piqued by the marketing or who fell for the "tactical espionage action" tagline on the box (only one of the three is true, and only occasionally). For you, I cannot stress enough that this is a terrible, terrible game.

Read it, and then understand why my vote is for more editorial reviews like this and "Zero Punctuation".

And for heavens sake, play Bioshock already. It's honestly almost a 10. Except for that shader 3 thing.

Friday, May 09, 2008

World in Conflict

What a blast. The game play is occasionally clouded by the foolish camera, and some of the campaign missions are a slog, but generally this game kicks RTS butt. I want to spend some time in online play now, to see if it delivers as well.

I have also resolved to PLAY THE STORYLINE IN OBLIVION. I have spent about 30 hours playing this game and have yet to advance past the second or third quest in the main plot. I really hope that Fallout 3 can maintain this level of polish.

I'm also looking for a kinship on the Landroval server for Lord of the Rings. I'm not a serious player, but a social game it is. Look for Flandel Ironbeard.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chick inspired

As some of you may have noticed, I'm a big fan of Tom Chick. He and I, I think, see games in a lot of the same ways. There are differences of opinion - his complaints about Hellgate: London baffle me a bit, because apparently I'm all in for mindless button mashing from time to time. And inventory management is the game.

One of things that I like most about reading his articles and live journal notes (he also refers to his Web Accessible Journal as a blog) is that it reminds me of gaming related stuff I need to do. Like "Rise of Nations". I love "Rise of Nations". Why did I stop playing RoN? Because the guys (that would be my regular LAN crew) felt it was both like and not "Empire Earth", which given the time, they would rather play. I believe this is the same reason we are not playing "World in Conflict" or "Dawn of War" either.

Fortunately, RoN features a very nice take over the world single campaign, something it shares with DoW - Dark Crusade and the just released DoW - Soul Storm. I'm taking a pass on Soul Storm, mostly because it adds two factions I couldn't give a fig for and because it doesn't add anything to the already very nice Dark Crusade.

As a result of which, while I wait for my pre-release trial client (please stop calling it a beta...) of Age of Conan to download, which is you may have deduced, not the MMO I'm looking for (hint hint warhammer hint), I'm reinstalling RoN to see if it's as good as I've remembered.

Besides its something I can play before the kids go to bed, as opposed to GTA:IV. Which I have to admit I would rather be playing except for the whole not really good for the general audience thing.

Footnote on Presentation

Anything over 2 seconds is too long. If I make a request to a system and have time to actually think about counting, I've waited too long.

GTA IV is the bomb. It's got some pretty harsh political criticism tucked in the corners, which is awesome. The "more realistic" controls are taking a bit of getting used to. I keep mashing buttons to accelerate and brake when I need to be using the triggers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Media Replacement

I've recently run into a little known Xbox 360 issue. Actually, the small amount of info I have found seems to indicate the problem goes back to the Xbox era as well, but I never had one of those. It seems that the media are a bit on the fragile side and prone to cracking when being removed from the case. It manifests in the form of a tiny crack running radially from the spindle hole. This, of course, makes the disk unreadable. Which is probably a good thing as a cracked disk has a chance of flying apart. Which I have to think would not be real good for the drive.

I don't want to blow this out of proportion. The vast majority of disks are OK and will last you the lifespan of the game, and probably the guy you sell it to. But, like any manufacturing process, it's not 100%. Stuff happens. If I had to guess (no testing here), I would think the choice to embed a hologram in the reinforced spindle ring in order to prove the disk is "real" is what is causing the issue.

I've taken to keeping the games in sleeves, thereby reducing the number of opportunities to crack the disk by accident. The real problem is, I now have two busted games. The first to go, HALO 3, is going to cost $10 to replace. Microsoft has a media replacement program, but only for a very short list of titles.

The second, Lego Star Wars Complete, I'm just going to have to buy, I guess, because Lucasarts insists I have my proof of purchase. That would be the receipt. You kept that, right? Even if I had the receipt, being outside the legally mandated 90 days, they want $15 for a replacement disk. Which brings me to my beef.

Why are you charging me $15 to replace a broken disk? I'm sending you the disk, you can see it's legit, which means I already paid $60 for your license. I'm sure it costs all of about $.50 to make one of these disks now. And I know you don't want to spend $2.00 on shipping, so charge me $5.00 and you've made some.

I'm sure there is some deeply guarded secret of manufacturing that I'm overlooking here. But I have to admit, on the surface, this looks more like customer anti-support.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Like painting with stone hands

I've been banging away with the new engine for almost two weeks solid now. After floundering around, I've settled on a remake of "the Realm". Which was my attempt at making my own version of Talisman while it was out of print. As a board game it was ok. The guys actually voted to play it few times, which with my crowd of friends/testers is actually high praise.

Working with the tool is a mixed bag. I think it's what happens when you try to do fine art with crayons. If you're really good, it can look nice.

That's not the point though. The point is I'm in the zone. The road gets tough, I slow down, I push through. I haven't got any public storage, but once I get some, I'll link to builds as they happen. I may have an alpha in two weeks, assuming I keep my pace.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How about now?

And now the hot sheets are saying it's gone gold? How can that be if the "beta" test is just starting (fileplanet started giving out beta keys yesterday)?

Stop calling it a beta test when it isn't. It's a pre-release demo.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beta Test for Age of Conan

... or at least that's what they're calling it. Of course the game goes to retail in theory on the 20th of May, so how much testing is going on really? How much change can be incorporated into a game for which the strategy guide must already be at the printers. Actually, I don't know if there is a strategy guide for AoC, planed, printing or otherwise, but usually that's how it works.

So it's not really a beta test, then is it? I mean if the testers can't actually influence the design of the game? What are they testing? Is it really a market test? Anyways, it's just become another one of those peeves I have, like the spiritual successor.

I'm going to do my standard get on fileplanet, best $7.50 a month I spend, so hopefully I'll get a peek at it. That's more of a preview han a beta test. I may or may not be able to share, as I take the NDA thing serious. Let you know.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mental Explosion

I just found one of the coolest sites ever. YoYo Games - They make a *simple* sprite game design tool. By simple I mean easy to use, not simplistic and shallow. Oh, and its FREE.

I've already built one.

And then my head exploded. I now need to sit down an re-organize my projects, because with this tool I could literally build any idea I've had in the last two decades. As a video game. That you could play. Assuming I let you.

First up - reorganize the list of projects. I'm writing down the title of every idea I've had and prioritizing them in order of appetite - i.e. how bad I want to play it. Nothing is off side now. Rules of Engagement just came back from shelf 13. Of course I need a new title now, but it's back on. When I settle down I'll post the short list and exec summaries and we can vote.

Need to breath now...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hank Lives!

(DD to some)

Ok, all I have is a serous case of dust contamination. This means two things:
  1. I need to start cleaning my case more often.
  2. I need a new processor fan/cooler, because the one I have is now making a ticking noise.
As I remember it, however, I dislike the mounts for the 775 coolers. They use friction pins, which seems to me to be a recipe for cracking your mother board. All cooler/fan recommendations will be considered. Cool vs. quiet debates will be entertained. The cooler & fan I'm using are the stock Intel pack ins.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dark Gaming Day

If it wasn't April 1st, you wouldn't blink about sympathizing. But I'm not making this up. It appears the gods of change wish to throw me another gaming curve ball. Not only am I now suspicious that my 360 is breaking discs, but Hank (DD to some) has decided to go brain dead.

At 7:35 this morning I came to the workstation to find it unresponsive. Not unheard of, as it is a Windows machine after all. When I forcible re-booted, however, it decided to be cranky. I got a long beep with a long space (repeating) and no video (i.e. no post). This doesn't clear until I cold power the box (unplug it I mean). It came back up once, and then hard crashed again after about 10 minutes.

So, over heating? Bad video? Not sure yet. I'll keep you in the loop. For now it looks like I need to advance my Larry re-install project on the time line.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Roadwar Part 2

I have the first sketch of the rules to about 35%. I'm trying to decide how big a player should get. should a gang be like a character, or like an army. The biggest thing there being should one player have one token on the board or several, and how much record keeping should there be.

The map is actually starting to take form. I am reverse engineering society, so I have a lot of stuff to remove.

I'm trying to decide on a doomsday scenario. Is the world in this state because of a pandemic? NBC warfare? Alien invasion? I may put a poll up to see what folks think. Look for it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


As you may remember from previous outings, I'm a bit of a fan of the Mad Max style post apocalyptic setting. And I was there when they shut down the Auto Assault server for the final time.

Lately, I've had a hankering for some car/gun action. This lead me to Roadwar 2000, a game I actually vaguely remember from back in the day. It's pretty dated, and I think the combat may be totally broken on my copy, but the core idea is pretty cool. So I'm building a strategy game based on it. Sort of.

I've settled on a hex map of the U.S. and Southern Canada for the setting. This is actually going to be a great pain, due to an overwhelming lack of high quality affordable (read FREE) map assets. The core of the game play revolves around you as a gang leader recruiting a gang, finding useful stuff in the aftermath (like vehicles, guns and food) and rebuilding civilization. Of course the mutants, cyborgs and invaders are all against you in this.

I'm still looking for a name, too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Are you a Gameholic?

Adapted shamelessly from another quiz.
Oh, and by gaming in this case, if you're being particularly obtuse, I mean video and parlor games, not gambling. Gambling addiction is a serious thing. I refuse to be taken seriously.

  1. Do you lose time from work due to gaming?
  2. Is gaming making your home life unhappy?
  3. Do you game because you are shy with other people?
  4. Is your gaming affecting your reputation?
  5. Have you ever felt remorse after gaming?
  6. Have you ever got into financial difficulties as a result of gaming?
  7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when gaming?
  8. Does your gaming make you careless of your family's welfare?
  9. Has your ambition decreased since gaming?
  10. Do you crave a game at a definite time?
  11. Do you want a game the next morning?
  12. Does gaming cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  13. Has your efficiency decreased since gaming?
  14. Is gaming jeopardizing your job or business?
  15. Do you game to escape from worries or trouble?
  16. Do you game alone?
  17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of gaming?
  18. Has your physician ever treated you for gaming?
  19. Do you game to build up your self confidence?
  20. Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of gaming?
Apparently, if you answer yes to 3 or more, you are definitely suffering a problem. Unless you're a teenager, in which case that's just life.

Friday is PSA day. I can't guarantee that the sarcasm quotient won't be very high to extreme, but you may find help here. Of course if you're looking for help here, oh boy. If you like this post you may be interested in some earlier posts like CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL RECOGNIZED AS A DISORDER or Harsh lesson in the InterTubes. On the other hand, if you're marginally offended and vocal, feel invited to leave me a comment. It's a low cost Internet.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Zero Punctu...

Normally I would post the newest edition of ZP here. Today however, I find myself confused and wracked with guilt. This very much resembles dating in high school for me and is somewhat uncomfortable.

My confusion comes from this. Below each post are the words:

To embed this video on your blog, please click the MENU button at the bottom of the player, and select the GRAB THE CODE option.

For information on submitting your game for review, or if you want to insult our mothers, please contact

Please note that any reproduction of Zero Punctuation without the express written consent of The Escapist is expressly forbidden.

Right? Ok, so we're on the same page, I'll explain it (I also feel my posts have been too short and must attempt to torture both of us by dragging them on a bit more). The first line gives you the instructions on how to put a copy of the video on your blog. And even though this really isn't a blog anymore, it's on blogger so I figure it still qualifies.

The second line I usually ignore. It's not all that confusing for me because I don't have any games I've made that would be eligible for review and I have no basis on which to insult anyone there's mother. And insulting people moms is really not my style. Usually.

And then the third line says "Don't you bloody dare make copies of this!" Did you just hear the record scratching sound?

Let me work this out again (they told me I should tell you things three times in college). Here's how to make a copy of this for your own sad sack corner of the intertubes. We'll sick nasty ninja assassins on you if you do. Did I miss a meeting?

Anyways, there is a new "Devil May Cry 4" related Zero Punctuation over at The Escapist. Go watch it there. The advertisers will no doubt adore you if you do, and I won't see any ninjas. Today. Yet.

This post is yet another shameless attempt by the author to buy some cool. You can look forward to further such posts on Thursdays. You may be interested in the Iron Man or Star Trek trailers if you liked this post. If you vote "Nay" please feel free to do so in the comments.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The LAN Game

It seems to me that one of the most attractive things about PC gaming was the local area network game. Attractive because it was like graduating from the sandbox to real weapons and "was" because I've noted an alarming trend. In the last year or so 3 titles I've been drawn to have not supported multi player LAN servers, instead opting for internet play only. Ok, I'm stretching a bit. Two of the games I'm giving the eye to are technically LAN capable. One requires an online connection to play at all (Battlefield 2142), and the other is as coy about setting a server up as it can be (World in Conflict).

The third, and most irksome, is Hellgate: London. In fact the only way to play online is to force yourself to connect to the giant hub. It seems as if the Diablo team forgot a layer from Diablo II. In many other respects Hellgate is a larger, newer Diablo. Some would argue it is a lesser manifestation, I generally disagree, except for the lack of a LAN server mode. The lack of local network support means I must put up with the likes of 'iEttsN00bs' and 'NeO436' just to get connected with my buddy. Not to mention I now lack access to my whole list of cool names! Petty, I know, but true.

Fortunately my broad band connection is sufficient to let both of us out at the same time. In the face of this trend towards web only games, which I suspect is simply DRM in sheep's clothing, the split screen extravaganza of the XBOX 360 looks even more appealing. Now I only need one copy of the game and an extra controller or two and we're good to go. A fun day of smack talk, soda pop and pizza. And a somewhat disgruntled wife, but that's a whole different post.

The PC is losing ground. I still consider myself a PC gaming enthusiast, but given the opportunity, I will take the path of least resistance.

2008-03-06 Footnote on this one: Seems Tycho and I are on the same page on this issue. Sort of. Look down at the bottom of the two posts.

Tuesday is Officially rant day. If you enjoyed this rant feel free to consider some of my earlier works such as Starcraft An MMO and Spiritual Successor. If you didn't like it, well that's what comments are for.

Steve Jackson on Gary Gygax

I subscribe to Steve Jackson Games daily email update. Today's update has a spot from Steve about Gary. I think it deserves to be shared:

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and a gaming icon for more than 30 years, died yesterday after repeated strokes and heart problems. He was 69.

Like the rest of my generation, I was introduced to roleplaying via Dungeons & Dragons because there wasn't anything else back then. My first, very lame, Dungeons & Dragons game was in college. Shortly after I became a (semi)professional and joined the Metagaming group, we started a D&D campaign, with Robert Taylor as the GM, and it was excellent. Decades later, I can still say that my biggest-ever thrill in roleplaying was when my first character got chainmail. No longer would I face certain death if I met an orc.

If not for Dungeons & Dragons, "adventure game" would still mean "cardboard chits on a hexmap." Which I love dearly, but would it ever have gotten out of the garage? And that's the least of it. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson didn't just remake a hobby. They impacted all of Western culture. Fantasy fiction would still be a backwater had not D&D built an audience and a new generation of writers. Lord of the Rings would be something taught in college English classes, not a blockbuster movie trilogy. And consider: The direct lineal descendant of D&D is Worlds of Warcraft, which is, all by itself, what? A billion-dollar business now?

For the last few years, roleplayers have celebrated March 4 as "GM's Day." And now it's the day when the best-known GM of all time put down his dice. Going forward, this should also be a particular date on which we recall Gary and his contributions.
Steve Jackson

Not the post I wanted to make

And you probably didn't hear it here first but;

It all started with Dungeons & Dragons. For good or for bad, D&D got me here.

E. Gary Gygax

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Iron Man Trailer 2008-02-29

New Iron Man Trailer:


Looks pretty good. I mean great.

Not back from Hiatus yet, but planning the new schedule. Things should be much improved once I work out the new schedule.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No Real Posts

At least not for the time being. I'm on hiatus. Not that I get those, but I'm taking one anyways. I'm sure by the time I come back all four of you will have something more fabulous to do with the 30 seconds you spend here.

NSFW, btw...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A quick update

Hey, I've been low key for a week. Not much to say here, unless you want me to say , "Play Bioshock" or "I have too many damn games on my to buy list".

Without further ado, the regular Zero Punctuation update (courtesy the Escapist)

(Do I still have to say NSFW? NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Wear your darn earphones!)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sins of a Solar Empire

Looks like Game Spot is pro Sins, which seems cool.
"This isn't just the first great strategy game of 2008. It's also an absolute must-have if you love space strategy."
Jason Ocampo, GameSpot

That sounds good. I really am trying to avoid the actual press, as I'm not as interested in polluting my view point these days with somebody elses perspective. I'll check out screens, but I really only skim reviews and previews. I love watching teasers and trailers. I adore the Bioshock and Fallout trailers.



But I digress. Sins looks to be the game I was hoping somebody would make in a lot of ways. I thought that MOO3 would be that game, but wasn't, even after a heroic community effort to fix it. I'm not sure how complicated (or not complicated) the Empire part is, but what I've seen and heard is promising.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Zero Punctuation

As always don't forget your head set, as the F bombs are a plenty. Oh and if you're a Team Fortress fan, stick around after the credits. Now that's comedy...

Subversion Blog Post

Chris, head cheese over at Introversion has a new post up on development of Subversion. These guys have basically hit three for three as far as I'm concerned. You would not be wasting your time to check out the demos of Uplink, Darwinia or DEFCON. I bought DEFCON right after it came out. It's not a sophisticated RTS, but it is very elegant. And fast. And it has global thermo nuclear war.

I think the amount of procedural creation he's building into Subversion is awesome. I've often thought that this kind of design would have a longer shelf life than the most excellent of pre-scripted encounters. That and the numbers he's using are HUGE relative to what you've played to date. 50 000 buildings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



Of course that teaser is a total rip. You should dig in at Game Spy or Game Spot, both of whom have decent amounts of coverage. Not that I'm pro Gamespot right now...



I knew it. And it's no fun at all. Especially the "five clusters of common withdrawal symptoms: headache; fatigue or drowsiness; dysphoric mood including depression and irritability; difficulty concentrating; and flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting and muscle pain or stiffness".

Yes, on day 2 I seriously thought I was getting the worst flu ever. I can only imagine what real drug users go through when they detox. Rather, I will only imagine, because if kicking the caffeine is this bad, I don't want to know what coming off something heavily affective is like.

I'm continuing to tough it out. And the pushers have laid off, so I'm getting a relatively clean break, other than Rebecca handing me a chocolate coated granola bar. Yes, there's caffeine in chocolate. It's a double whammy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Year 2

Year Three began yesterday, but I don't usually post on weekends so Happy Late Anniversary me. With the institution of Google Analytics I can share with you (all about 10 of you) that my readership actually has extended world wide. People have come here to look at posts from all over the globe. Hopefully they found what they were looking for.

As for year 3, I expect more of the same. I'll probably fiddle with the look and feel again. Hopefully I won't break anything this time. Feel free to leave your well wishes in the comments.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Caffeine Induced Coma?

Or rather a lack of caffeine induced lethargy. I've decided to go caffeine free for a while, and see how it affects my sleep pattern. So, far I'm just pure sluggish.

It's seems old Tom Chick has taken an extended leave from Shoot Club. Yahtzee is however back this week with a totally not safe for work review of Call of Duty 4, a game which is totally on my list.

That would be the ever growing list which still includes GTA IV should it ever deign to be released.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat Tuesday

FYI - for all of my Catholic readers - it's Fat Tuesday, so go out and have a pizza. I would like to say have a pizza on me, but the profit margin here is a negative sum game...

Armageddon Empires

Look, just go here, download the demo and play it.

How'd that go?

Some notes I would like to share with you.

1) Looks like this guy's pretty much a one man band. Except the actual art. I sympathize.

2) Armageddon Empires is almost exactly the concept I had plotted for Ancient Empires. The big differences would have been one communal deck of cards for all players and it hadn't occurred to me how much better it would be as presented on the PC.

And it's not even written in C...

After you've played the 30 round demo about 8 times, go buy the guy's game. He deserves it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


If you like Half Life, valve and web comics you should really spend a day reading Concerned: A humor comic based on the world of Half-Life 2. The comic has finished it's story line, which does not include the more recent Ep1 and Ep2 extensions. It's fairly consistent in its humor, and the composition is out standing. This kind of work is what motivates me to try and make web-comics. Not that I've actually gotten around to making a web comic. It's on my list.

Stop bugging me.

Did I mention that HL2 may be the only shooter I've played through 4 times. Yup. On at least 3 different machines. And I've actually got a taste to do it again. I am totally hot for what the guys at Black Mesa are doing though, which would be hawsome if they can pull it together.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lego AND Star Wars

Most everybody knows I'm a big fan of both the Lego and the Star Wars. Well over at Boing Boing, they're catering to both.

That's pretty keen. And you can see by the light that it took a couple of days to build. I have some shots somewhere of my build of the smaller, anniversary edition 'Falcon. Also pretty keen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Pause in the MMO Action

There's a note on the Escapist which deserves your attention, if you want, relevant to the MMO space. In and of itself what the note says is not so important. It's what it means that I would suggest you notice.

The scoop looks like the Conan MMO is being delayed again. That is not so unusual. Put that on the shelf next to "Lord of the Rings online fails to totally pwn WoW" and "Star Trek online Canceled" and you might see a trend. Set that next to "Lord British fails to recapture glory with new MMO", and I'm beginning to have what my junior-high shops teacher called a mental working picture.

And that picture is one where the MMO space is dominated by a game that is almost 5 years old on the tech band. Yes I know it's only been publicly playable for just over 3 years. You need to remember that the engine doesn't really change after about 2/3 of the way into beta unless something has really gone wrong. What does it mean? I think it means if you want into the MMO space, you better have a very fat cheque book and some blackmail information on the Board of Directors to convince them to sell you WoW. Then you shut WoW down. Then you release your game.

I might be wrong. Have they announced another delay in Warhammer Online yet?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Guitar Hero ...

Live from the living room. And admittedly only hitting about 12% of the notes (which means together we can almost make it through a song, as long as I play PERFECTLY).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zero Punctuation

I keep forgetting to mention how I am a really huge fan of Yahtzee and his weekly video reviews. They are honest, to the point and very, very funny. All three things some what lacking in Game reviews lately. It is however very offensive, so if you're weak in the knees, at work or somehow offended by hats, take a pass. Otherwise:

NSFW - but it's soooo funny... (Team Fortress 2 Machinima)

I'm all big on the Steam, and the Valve and the Team Fortress 2. I've been playing with The Geef's regular group since before Christmas. Now this here is not typical of either the way we play (where I mostly get pwned) or my WAJ, but man is it funny.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hellgate: London - Out of the Box

Ok , it's a Diablo clone. But it's a high fidelity clone, and that's all that really matters. It caters to two key game mechanics - kill monsters, get better loot. It has classes and skills, and even a pseudo MMO mode, but that's not what it's about. Kill monsters, get better loot.

This key formula can keep me enthralled for months.

Yes the concept is a somewhat interesting post apocalypse. Demons have invaded. From hell. It's not as ridiculous if you say aliens from another dimension? Any ways, I haven't played through the campaign so I won't give my full comments yet. I also haven't tried all three character types fully, so I'll reserve on that as well. But if you have a machine that can run it, and it's fully Larry compatible by the way, it's got shed loads of style. An loot. Lots of loot.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cool to try

If you have some free time (about half an hour or so), you should try this. The Penny Arcade guys have been putting together a Podcast of the comic creation. The one I just listened to is pretty funny, If you're on the Gabe/Tycho wavelength. But whats really cool is they actually hammer out the comic on the podcast. So I listened to the 'cast with the comic in question in view. And you can sense the design coming together.

Ok, it appeals to the wannabe in me.
This comic and this podcast are what you need to try it.


(Oh, uncharacteristic so NSFW, btw.)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

(Non) Interactive Fiction

You have entered a room. There are two obvious exits, one north and one south. This room has no distinguishing features.

>examine room

This room has no distinguishing features.


Sitting Room

You have entered a Sitting Room. That is to say the room itself is intended for sitting, not that the room has somehow, in an anthropomorphic way, managed to sit down. The room features a fireplace, a chesterfield, a chair, a coffee table (lacking coffee). A small stack of what appear to be Gardening Magazines lies on the table. There is a doorway leading south. There are picture windows on the north and east walls. The room is lit by the windows only. You notice a fine layer of dust on everything.

>examine table

Sitting Room - Examining the Table
The table is simple coffee table, constructed of wood. It's age is difficult to determine. There is a stack of Gardening Magazines on the table. The table appears to have a fine layer of dust on it, which would seem to indicate that it has not be disturbed for some time.

>take magazines

Sitting Room - taking the stack of Gardening Magazines
After a few attempts you determine that the stack of Gardening Magazines will not fit in your pocket. You re stack them on the coffee table. The dust on the coffee table is slightly disturbed.

>examine dust

Sitting Room - examining dust
The dust seems to be disturbed. But not in a bad way. In fact it's calmed down quite a bit now.

>examine fireplace

Sitting Room - examining fireplace
The fireplace is empty, if somewhat sooty. You note a distinct lack of logs, kindling or other materials to burn. And don't even think about the magazines.

Friday, January 04, 2008


I really wish Blogger gave metrics. It actually makes me crazy that I have no idea if anyone reads my blog. Well, I know there are people who read it regularly. But they're mostly in the room, as it were.

On the other hand, the one metric I have access to actually causes alarm. 333 hits on my profile. Less the about 20 times I've viewed it to look at what I put there, usually after changing it, and I've got about 313 hits. That's about 310 more than I would have expected.

Using a fuzzy derivation of logic, I can extend that to mean a whole whack more people have been here than I expected. Or one of you has become horribly obsessed with the terrible picture of me, but can't work out how to "right click and save". I'm going with the former, honestly I'm too terrified to consider the latter. I guess that based on the idea that only a fraction of people reading posts click on the profile link.

I also wish I knew how to impose more control on the template. I really would like to jazz the place up with a more unique font, for example.

Yes this is related to the upcoming anniversary post. I will have a better sum of the year at that time. Until then, WAJ on my friends, WAJ on.