Tag Archives: Computer Games

Commodore 64

Kind of a funny story. With PezWitch away, I am fairly bored, I can really only spend so much time reading the internet and masturbating. I was entering the long dark tea time of the soul. So to entertain myself, I bought an untested (meaning broken) Commodore 64 with the plan to gut it and put a Raspberry Pi inside and use it as a retro gaming console or a media center. $50 I got the computer, a 1571 floppy drive and two joy sticks. I thought I could use the floppy drive to house a couple of hard drives, the joysticks were basically useless, but what the heck.

I opened the system to pull the motherboard out and I noticed a broken solder point. It looked like not enough solder was used during the manufacturing and at some point it got bumped, which broke the connection. I am pretty good with a soldering iron so again, I said the heck, if it does not work, I am out 20 minutes of my life and 3 cents worth of solder. So I go at it, most of the time spent was waiting for my iron to warm up and what do you know, the thing boots up and I am feeling pretty smug. But of course now I feel guilty for wanting to gut it.

c64So now what? Well I happen to own a copy of Basic Computer Games by David Ahl and Creating Adventure Games on your Computer by Tim Hartnell. Both of these are books about programming games in Basic from the bad old days of the 80’s.
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But first I need a floppy disk, which begs the question, who has 5 1/4 inch floppies laying around. It just so happens PezWitch works at a computer store that has a vintage computing display and what do you know, they have an old floppy they are will to give up to my grand experiment. This works great, for about 20 minutes and the then the drive stops working, my first thought is, bad disk because well the disk is at least 20 years old. So next step is find and buy some unused floppies. I find an unopened box of 10 for $10, including shipping and a couple bcg_coverof days later, I basically find out that is not going to work either. So back to ebay where I find a used sd2iec for around $30, an sd2iec is a device that makes an SD card look like a really big floppy disk to the C64. So again, I wait a few days and I am in business again. Problem is, it does not work either. Now I am beginning to think it is the serial port on the C64, but when I try to access it, I do get a blinking red LED, which tells me it is communicating on some level. While I am researching the issue, I note, that some SD cards from certain manufactures do not work and the one I was trying to use, is one of those cards. I did not really want to use one of my 32 GB cards, but that is all I have so, I give it a try. AND BOOM, works perfect and I am in business.

Virtual Reality: The Early Years

In very short order I believe we will move into the next phase of personal computing, Virtual Reality. Mind you, we are a long way from holodecks and cyberpunk style neuro interfaces, but we are entering into the very early stages. Oculus Rift is due out next year and on its heels will come products from Samsung, Sony and Valve. Personally, I am currently messing around with Google Cardboard, although instead of building a cardboard mount for my phone, I purchased a plastic headset that my smart phone mounts into.

Most of what is available right now is in demo land rather than complete games and applications. I also bought a small bluetooth gamepad to hopefully make this work. So when all is said and done, I in for about $50. Considerably less than the $300+ an Oculus Rift is going to cost, and I have it 6 months earlier. Of course the real question is, does the bloody thing work. The short answer is yes it does, the long answer is, yes it works, but there are some problems, this is not a consumer friendly setup.

First off, make sure you look closely at the headsets, not all of them are adjustable and don’t necessarily fit all sizes of phones. Not all of them leave an opening for the forward facing camera. Not all of them have adjustable lenses, which if you wear glasses, will be an absolute must, because you will not be able to wear your glasses with the headset. Make sure you know what you are getting and that it suits your purpose. Also be aware that these will likely be uncomfortable to wear, virtually all of them have complaints about the headsets hurting your nose, so be prepared to mod the headset with a foam nose guard.

Second, the vast majority of software built for this are demos, even the Google Cardboard app itself is nothing more than a cluster of demos. There are some games available, but so far most of them seem pretty limited with little long term play. I almost get the feeling no one is seriously developing for this platform simply because they are waiting for the Oculus Rift and everyone is just warming up for the big show.

However there is one app that extends the possibilities of whats to come. Trinus VR is software for streaming a game running on your desktop system to your phone. There are two pieces, the server software which you install on your desktop, which is free for the download and an Android client for your phone, which is $5. Of course the software is not perfect, for most games this simply means the phone is emulating a huge screen in front of your face rather than providing a real 3D environment. The other issue, is the head movement did not work in every game. Portal and Portal 2 worked great, moving my head let me look around the rooms. World of Warcraft on the other hand, head movement did nothing and I had to use keyboard and mouse for everything. It was also a bit fiddly to setup, they recommend a USB connection rather than a WiFi, but the WiFi was far easier to get working.

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, I would say this experience is a 2, meaning it is doable, but its not there yet, primarily it is the software that is the problem right now. Both the phones PezWitch and I use worked great, both handled the graphics just fine, and I do not think we taxed anything. I suspect Google cardboard will be a thing of the past by mid next year, unless Google goes all in does their own headset. The sad thing is, I really do think there is some potential here, all it would take is for some serious software development to take place. Unfortunately with the Rift on the way, this will fall the wayside most likely. Oh well, maybe the Rift or on of the knock offs will be under $200 by Christmas 2016.

KoL, Here we go

I could have ascended two days ago, but I decided to wait for Thanksgiving. Historically on Thanksgiving day, the game doubles the amount of food you can eat, and by extension, a lot more turns to play. I burned through 214 turns, it felt like a lot more while I was doing it, and I made it to 8th level today. This was a pretty good start day for a new run.

Day two pulls:

Equipment:
Time helmet (+3 turns)
Time Bandit Time Towel (+1 turns)
Time Sword x2 (+3 turns each)
Time Trousers (+3 turns)
Fudgecycle (+7 turns)

I am pulling these specific items because, if I equip these items over night, I will get a bonus 23 turns per day (20 for the items and a bonus 3 for wearing all the time gear together).

Food/Booze:
Stinky hi mien x3
Gimlet x4
Not-a-pipe x3
Milk of Magnesium

This combination of food and drink will provide me with an optimal number of stat gains and additional turns. I expect with the equipment and food, I will get between 200 and 225 turns to play each day. My last three pulls will be determined later, if it starts to look like I will hit the Sorceress’s tower before I am out of Ronin, I will need to start pulling items I need for that.

I had forgotten that my favorite class to play in this game is a Pastamancer. The reason is, with this combination of gear I can use most of my skills and spells for nearly zero Mana points, the Wizards hat reduces MP cost and almost all my other gear allows me to regenerate extra MP each turn, so even a Lunging Thrust Smack that costs 7 Mana, end up costing me nothing at the end of the turn. Additionally, I can pretty easily dole out 100 damage using even the low level spells.

KoL Play Theory

In Kingdom of Loathing, immediately after ascension, your character is in Ronin for its first 1000 turns. What this means is, you are limited to the amount of equipment you can use from previous runs. In my experience it is difficult to get more than 200 turns per day, so for the most part you are going to spend 5 days in the Ronin state. The hardest day is day one of course, my next run I plan to do as a Saucerer, so my gear is bent towards the Mysticality classes. This pull list gives me a complete set of Mr Store items and quality food and drink for the first day.

Jewel-eyed wizard hat
Camp Scout backpack
Sneaky Pete’s leather jacket
Staff of Queso Escusado
Jarlsberg’s pan
Pantsgiving
Mr. Accessory
Ms. Accessory
Mr. Accessory Jr.
Snow Suit or Plastic Pumpkin Bucket
5x Bat wing stir-fry
3x Gimlet
Milk of magnesium
Clockwork pirate skull

I may forgo a couple of the Mr Store Items and pull Meat Engine and Dope Wheels, this will save me having to wast time building the Meat Car and I can untinker the car and use its parts along with the Clockwork Pirate Skull to make a Clockwork Maid for my camp ground, which will give me a couple of extra turns each day.

The other thing I am considering is not pulling any food or drink and making my own as I go along. I can pull the Chef-in-a-Box and Bartender-in-a-Box which makes it so I do not have to burn turns to cook food or mix drinks. The advantage to this idea is 2 pulls rather than 8, plus I get the two -in-a-Box’s, the downside is I will probably end up with lower quality food and drink, which translates to fewer adventures and smaller stat gains.

Kingdom of Loathing

Back in January of 2006 Bruce introduced me to the Kingdom of Loathing (KoL). Over the next 18 months I obsessively played the game, I made 73 runs, one of which was a near perfect 2 day run, which put me among a small group of very successful players. By June of 2007, I had burned out having played too many successive games, in 2008 I came back and did a single run before loosing interest and moving along. Last Friday on my way home from work, KoL suddenly popped back into me head and I started think about how much fun I had building my strategy and preparing for that 2 day run. After the game on Friday night, I asked Bruce when the last time he played the game and he said he was still playing regularly and down the rabbit hole we went.

When I logged into my account, I found I was in the middle of a run and I was 15th level when I last played. I looked at my equipment and remembered I had sold off all my high value items and bought 2 “Tome of Snowcone Summoning” and gave one each to Bruce and Thor. I also donated most of my Meat (game money) to the clan. I still had some decent gear, but nothing close to my former epic self. So my first action was to go donate $30 to KoL, which netted me 3 Mr. Accessory’s (Mr A). These are powerful toys in the game and must have items for almost any player. The big thing here is Mr. A’s are the only legitimate way to convert real money into game money (Meat), for $10, 1 Mr. A can be sold for around 12,000,000 Meat, which then can be used to buy other powerful items.

The first thing I noticed is a 2 day run is now impossible and I am pretty sure even a 3 day run is impossible. Last time I played, I could start a run by pulling high quality food and booze, eating and drinking my way to 3rd level without doing anything else, and it was almost trivial to be 8th level by the end of the first day of a run. Now there are level limits on food, so I have to be 6th level before I can eat Hell Ramen for instance. This first run I make is going to be fairly slow as I build a strategy for my next run and learn the ins and outs of this updated KoL.

It is possible I will become obsessed with this again, if I do, I apologize now for the boring blogs I am going to write that 99% of you won’t care about.

Steam Summer Sale

So every year I break open my wallet and spend about $20 buying Linux games I will likely never play. While I am not a gamer, I would like to see Valve continue to develop for the Linux environment and I am willing to fork out a few dollars a year as a donation to the effort. This year I bought Sid Meier’s Civilization V and the Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, total expenditure, $18.98.

RE: Windows 7 and Magic: The Gathering

So here I am in my first week of using Windows 7 and it does not completely suck. I am annoyed that I must now care about malware and such, but otherwise things have went smoothly. My only real comment at this point is Windows is not a very amusing operating system.

The thing that has brought me back to my Magic: The Gathering addiction is, PezWitch, for whatever reason thought it was a good idea to buy me Duels of the Planeswalker PC Game. This is the moral equivalent of giving a recovering alcoholic a drink and saying, “Just have one, it won’t hurt.”. We will see how she feels about this when I have spent our life’s savings trying to acquire a special edition foil wrapped Black Lotus.

Game of the Year Awards

Video Game Awards have been announced and I am unsure why Skyrim won over all Game of the Year and why Bethesda won Studio of the year.

If you look at the stats – Portal 2 won Best PC Game, Best MultiPlayer, Best DLC, Best Voice Performance Male, Best Voice Performance Female and all Skyrim won was Best RPG. Portal 2 was nominated in 10 categories (twice in Best Voice Performance Male and also twice in Best Song in a Game) and Skyrim was nominated 3 times. It is obvious Portal 2 and Valve were the better choices for over all GOTY and SOTY respectively.

And I’m not nerd-raging about this, I am just confused.

(Blizzard did win the Gamer God Catagory which made me happy, I am a Blizz Fan Girl after all.)

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Tonight at midnight PezWitch’s WoW account will activate her download copy of Cataclysm. At that time, full control of all the remotes in the house will be mine, for at least 2-3 weeks. I will be able to watch full episodes of Star Trek without complaints of “You’ve seen this one already.”. I might even get around to watching some softcore porn. Wait do I even own any softcore porn ? If I don’t, I will have to buy some. I wonder if Netflix has any ?

Finally, a laptop to satisfy PezWitch

The Origins System EON17 laptop is a monster system starting at $2500. It has an i7 processor, 2 NVIDIA 480M video cards in SLI, 24 GB of RAM, Blu-Ray optical drive and three hard drives. My guess is this machine gets about 3 minutes of battery life, but who cares, this thing will laugh at you for playing World of Warcraft and demand you put a worthy game in it.

http://www.originpc.com/eon17-gaming-laptop-features.asp

http://gizmodo.com/5648868/an-ungodly-24-gb-of-ram-in-one-desktop+whipping-laptop

Battle.net, RealID and Facebook

In the near future, Blizzard games is going to be forcing the forum users to use RealID. The effect is, anyone wanting to use their forums will be revealing their real names to everyone on the forum and of course thanks to Google and Yahoo, they will be revealing their real names to the whole Internet. It is also interesting that Battle.net and Facebook have recently come together and are sharing services. This raises some concerns about privacy seeing as Facebook has had issues with this in the past. This article over at Filefront covers all the reasons why this is a bad idea. PezWitch is understandably annoyed about the whole thing.

My opinion about this is pretty much my opinion about Facebook or in fact any company whose policies you do not like. Vote with your money, cancel your account. Don’t go on line and cancel your account on a web page, call their customer support line and ask them to cancel your account and let them know why. There are a lot of other games out there besides World of Warcraft and many of therm are doing really cool and interesting things. Dungeons & Dragons Online is free to play, they make their money by selling in game extras. Turbine is considering converting Lord of the Rings Online to a similar system. Of course you also have Star Wars and Conan games, who wouldn’t want to play in a galaxy far far away or Hyboria. The bottom line is, you don’t have to put up with shit if you don’t want to.

New race leaked for next World of Warcraft release

For you WoW fans here is a leaked image of a new race to made available in Cataclysm. The pictures are of a female worgen, a dog or perhaps fox based race.

Eyefinity

The ability of computers to use multiple monitors has been around for a long time. The problem is it never worked well with games. ATI has changed all that with their Eyefinity technology, which allows a game in full screen mode to stretch across two or more monitor. Realistically however, three monitors is the minimum, that way your visual center is on the center monitor and not in the middle of where two monitors meet. PezWitch has been lusting after one of these video cards for several months now and yesterday she finally got it from NewEgg. As a side note, when doing this, all your monitors have to be hooked with a digital connection, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort, you absolutely can not use a VGA to DVI adapter, it will not work at all. Anyway, here is PezWitch demonstrating the immersion of Eyefinity. It should also be noted that somehow, I lost my second monitor to this project.
http://www.youtube.com/v/TNAKjCVrNsE&hl=en&fs=1

Stupid People

Okay, so I go to pickup PezWitch from work the other day and Chuck (of chuckisawsome.com fame) is helping this customer. Apparently he had upgraded his video card and this game he was playing no longer worked properly. Chuck hooked up his external hard drive and fired up World of Warcraft on the system and it played just fine. Then Chuck runs the guys game that he has been having trouble with. First thing that happens is the guys virus scanner pops up and gives a warning about the program. The guys says, ignore that it always does that when I play the game. Second thing, the intro screen to the program comes up and it is all in Russian. The guy explains that this is a game that has not come out yet and he is beta testing it. My reactions is;

1. It is beta software

2. It is from Russia

3. It makes his virus scanner go off

!!FACEPALM!!

Playing pen and paper RPG online

This is cross posted from The Hermits Hut:

I have been playing a regular game of HackMaster every week since June of 2002. All of my players are spread across the western half of the United States. I have players in Portland Oregon, Billings Montana, and various places in Texas. In playing this weekly game, I have never left my house and neither have any of my players. We play over the Internet using a program called OpenRPG. The program, OpenRPG is specifically designed for providing a game group with a virtual table top to play their RPG on. It provides a whiteboard to draw maps on, chat, die roller and nodes which can be used to build things like interactive character sheets. I have found this mode of play to be very satisfying and sometimes I can’t imagine playing any other way. Playing online has many advantages over playing Face to Face (F2F).

  • It is easy to get a pickup game going even at 3 AM and none of your friends will answer their phones or everyone is out of town for Christmas. Simply log into one of the high traffic servers and announce you will run a game of whatever and will take the first 4 people to reply.
  • You are not limited to your geographic location. If all the games in your local area are Vampire LARPs or 4E games and you hate both games, it should be easy to find other players in other locations who want to play your game.
  • If all the game groups in your area are comprised of people who smell like cat piss and you miss your old game group, you can still play like its 1979.
  • No lugging game books across town, all my books are within easy reach of your computer.
  • No after game cleanup.
  • Angry spouses and crying children only affects one player, not the whole group.
  • I only have to buy munchies for myself, no mooches.
  • It is much easier to accept the cute elf ninja chic if I can not see the 300 pound bearded man playing her.
  • It is easy to get rid of annoying players, simply boot them out off the server and change the password.

To be fair there are some disadvantages to playing online as well and it is definitely not for everyone.

  • Progress is slow, it takes an online group 4 hours to accomplish what a F2F group could do in 2-2.5 hours.
  • As with any online communications, sometimes it is difficult to know what people mean when you do not have body language and facial expressions to help judge, misunderstandings do happen and are more common in online games, especially among people who do not know each other off line.
  • It is easy for players to get distracted. Unfortunately it is easy to multi task with a computer and players can and will entertain themselves during the slow times of the game. They will watch TV, play Nintendo, surf the web and I have even been known to play in two online games simultaneously.
  • Computer hardware and software are not perfect and sometimes things just don’t work right. The server you are using might go down in the middle of a game or one of your players may have a hard drive crash and loose all of his characters, macros and game settings.
  • Cheating is much easier. I have not found an online client yet where die rolls could not be faked with some creative use of HTML or ASCII codes.