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Games. Tech. Musings.

Games offline and online. Technology. Random stuff.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New Guild Wars CM

In another what-a-small-world-it-is announcement, it turns out that Brinstar is the new replacement for Gaile Grey over at ArenaNet. Honestly, it's a pretty thankless job (people whine about everything) but I guess congratulations are due. Best of luck to her!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I'm experimenting with Twitter at the moment.

In the unlikely event that you want to know just how damn tired I am every day, you can now find out.


MTG Forge

Happened to stumble across a M:tG singleplayer game last week called M:tG Forge (although it's officially called Card Warrior 2 due to legal reasons).

I was saddened but not surprised to learn that it didn't have a real AI - just plays a card it can at random, basically. Still quite the achievement and the guy must have invested a staggering number of hours to get to the point he has. In a world of infinite time, I'd pitch in to build a simple AI - basic minimax, say. Alas, I suspect that the underlying game state model he has is too simplistic to make even a trivial position assessor & minimax analyzer in any kind of reasonable amount of time. Especially given the lack of spare time I have right now.

Anyway, I tried playing it and was immediately frustrated that I was having to continually scroll the playing area back and forth. Luckily, it was open source so I whipped out the latest version of Eclipse and modified the main gui class so it would resize properly. Better than nothing.

That patch was accepted in the latest version so hopefully that should help. If you're a Magic fan it's a fun way to while away some time, so check it out.

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Monday, February 18, 2008


Went to a party and met up with Matt E, Yang and Walter last night. I've been meaning to write something about one of Yang and Walter's projects for a while now: Guildomatic. If you're a WoW enthusiast looking for a better home online for your guild than a random php forum, this is probably what you're looking for. Yang and Walter are both very sharp and their stuff is always top-notch.

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Game Design: Lost in the Shuffle

WotC's Magic site posted a selection today from Richard Garfield's old Duelist column, Lost in the Shuffle, predominantly about general game design. Always thought-provoking stuff, it was one of my favourite parts of that magazine.

As a sidenote, one of the things Richard and Skaff Elias were up to recently was Spectromancer, an online card game mentioned on Penny Arcade the other week. I've been meaning to check it out for a while but haven't got round to it.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Status Update

It's been a while since I posted anything, mostly because I didn't have a whole lot to report. With the baby sucking up most of my free time, I'm not playing any Guild Wars PvP at the moment. By the time I get to play a game (usually 11pm or later), most of the guild is asleep and it's too late to go through the get-a-group rigmarole anyway.

So I've been playing Enemy Territory: Quake Wars instead. The 1.4 patch didn't end up coming out by Christmas, but it was released last week. I'll probably write more about that later.

Ok, so here's my current playlist. First, games I'm actively playing, in rough order of the amount of time I spend playing it:
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

  • Guild Wars (with the kids)

  • New Super Mario Brothers (DS) (with the kids)

  • Bioshock (yeah, I still haven't finished i)t

  • Brain Age 2 (DS) (when the wife isn't playing it)

  • Geometry Wars (DS)
And here's the list of other games I still want to play, but don't really have time until I cross some of the above off my list:
  • Half Life 2: Episodes 1 & 2

  • Team Fortress 2

  • Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

  • X3: Reunion

  • TES: Oblivion
I'd probably play more Bioshock but honestly it's a bit scary and I'm playing it right before I go to bed. Jump-out-and-go-boo horror isn't the most restful game mechanic in the world.

I've had at least 4 or 5 people point blank order me to go out and buy Call of Duty 4, but the list of shooters above is too long for me to be able to do it. Maybe once I've finished Bioshock and the Half Life episodes.

Quake Wars is still seeing play in the office. It's really very good, overshadowed by other big shooters released around the same time. Get the demo if you haven't tried it. I'm pretty bad but I feel like I at least make some positive impact for the team. For comparison's sake, there are some very well reviewed games in my list there but I still find myself firing up QW as my default game of choice at the moment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quake Wars 1.4 patch due out before Christmas

From the horse's mouth.

Adds a sorely needed Training Mode, adds QWTV (a la HLTV) and a ton of little goodies. Can't wait!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Beginner Tips

I've been playing a whole lot of lunchtime Quake Wars at the office as well as a little practice time against the computer at home. The more I play, the more I like the game. It's definitely got a learning curve though and a lot of things aren't obvious unless you read the manual in detail. Here's some of the things I've picked up so far, in no particular order:
  • Pressing “1” (by default) on any vehicle (including Icarus and Husky) launches a decoy flare
  • Alt-fire (right mouse button) with an Engineer’s mine makes it a laser tripwire mine instead of a proximity mine
  • You have to activate mines via looking at them and hitting f before they actually work
  • Grenades detonate enemy mines but shooting them with infantry weapons doesn’t seem to
  • If you’re playing a class with deployables (e.g. Engineer, Field Ops, Infiltrator, Covert Ops, etc.) you should have one placed all the time - they’re very powerful. Don’t forget that the medic class has a supply deployable!
  • If you’re the sniper class, your first priority is making sure that your radar is up all the time. Don’t forget the GDF side has the 3rd Eye radar, which is particularly useful indoors.
  • Multiple weapons are sometimes bound to the same slot (e.g. the deployable tool and the repair tool for the Engineer are both bound to slot 5). Pressing the same weapon key toggles between them.
  • Use your context menu (“v” default) A LOT to spot enemy vehicles and deployables. Also use it to request a gunner in appropriate vehicles, health from medics, etc.
  • When playing Strogg, learn how to use Spawn Hosts and Stroyup/Stroydown! Note that you can claim spawn hosts from the limbo menu as well as in play.
  • If you’re playing a Soldier/Aggressor in the outdoor sections, you probably want to pick a Rocketlauncher/Obliterator or MG/Hyperblaster instead of an Assault Rifle/Hyperblaster.
  • The Soldier’s HE charge (Aggressor’s Plasma charge) can be used to do a lot of damage to deployables. Place it, arm it and it will detonate after 40 seconds.
  • The GDF smoke grenade that the Covert Ops has is useful to cover up planted HE charges and infantry advances.
  • Covert Ops and Infiltrators can pretend to be members of the other team via looking at a body and using their Hacking Tool.
  • Alt-fire on Strogg grenades makes the grenade sticky.
  • Alt-fire on GDF grenades rolls the grenade.
  • F/mousewheel on scoped weapons zooms the weapon.
  • If you change class, any deployable you have built will self-destruct.
  • Deployables have a 170 degree field of view, so the direction you pick for turrets and artillery guns is important. Note that they will turn out of their field of view if attacked.
  • The Strogg Cyclops has a “stomp” attack to squish infantry close to it. Hit Jump (space) to activate.
  • The Strogg Cyclops and Devastator can enter “siege mode” to fire faster (although they can’t move then). Hit crouch (C by default) to activate and jump (Space) to deactivate siege mode.
  • Lots of vehicles have more than one seat. Press Use (F) to toggle between seats. It’s often pretty effective to have more than one person in a vehicle, so listen for people asking for gunners or ask for a gunner via the context menu if you’re driving a vehicle with extra seats.
  • The sniper weapons are good against aircraft.
  • If you get the Vehicle Drops XP upgrade, you can call for a Husky/Icarus to be airdropped to you via the context menu (V).

  • You can bring up a command map with "n" by default

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Friday, November 30, 2007

How to design a game

I'll spare you the pain of trying to find anything via the impenetrable Gleemax interface. My favourite game design ninja, Brian Tinsman strikes again with a series on how to design a game.
Mostly more relevant to meatspace game design than computer games although at the end of the day, both have the same primary aim: provide entertainment for players. Pay particular attention to the sections on emotional rewards - this is a really key area I don't think most designers think about in such concrete terms.