Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dream game

Being a little bored and a little depressed I didn't feel like talking to anybody yesterday, so I drifted about wikipedia articles about some interesting places and times. Soon enough it turned into reading about ancient conflicts, subject I used to love as a kid (Mithradates VI was such a badass), and that had to lead to a desire to conquer something once more. Having no such opportunity anymore, I could just reminisce about the beautiful times when I had been playing Medieval: Total War. It was the second and last game of the total war series I have played, it's hard for me to believe it's already ten years old. It had many successors and even a sequel, so probably nowadays nobody remebers or is interested in it. The whole total war series is renowned mostly for its battle engine, which allows quite realistic real-time battles with large quantities of soldiers, but I cared more for the campaign engine, since it was turn-based. One turn could take me a long time (tens of minutes, maybe even above an hour), spent on deciding what forces to send where.

For me it was more rewarding to plan a good military campaign and lead to battles computer could easily win for me than winning these (often epic) battles myself - at least in time it became so. It just seemed more real, just as a king of a big country should rather send generals to battles and oversee the whole at all times. But having absolute control over a country for hundreds of years gives such a big advantage that it's child's play to conquer everything the game offers for conquering. For many years I have longed for a game that would present the ruler's struggle for maintaining support of major powers within their country, dealing with succession issues and other political problems on top of the usual country control offered by games, and all that within the limited time of your ruling/life.

I don't even know if such a game exists or not, since I don't really follow the market for some years now. Before complete moratorium on gaming I've been investing less and less time, money and attention towards it, focusing mostly on 'games I have to play one more time' and not the new ones.

I not interested in playing anymore, but just for satisfying my curiosity, can anyone tell me if said game has been made?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Warcraft evolution

On the presented screenshots you can see W1, then W2 and W3. Each of those screenshots shows player's base and I didn't differentiate expansion packs, since they didn't provide any significant change. I think it's safe to say that w1 looks crude - very little detail, terrain all the same. W2 is much improved - terrain looks a little less all the same and there are more types of it to choose from, units and buildings are full of details, as much as resolution allows it. With w3 a lot changes, since now we're in 3D environment, gameplay change is more significant than from w1 to w2 (heroes, recalculated economy).

Now, w3 is almost a different game type than w1 - the general idea remains the same, but it doesn't feel the same. Some important differences:
  1. Fonts. W1 has everything written in capital letters, whilst it's successors offer normal writing. It adds crudeness.
  2. Notice the increase in alignment marks (colored elements) throughout the series. In w1 you basically see buildings that are someone's base, in w3 you see someone's base that is composed of buildings.
  3. This is only partially visible on these screens, but you know it's right: the icons get shinier, the objects on them exaggerated, buildings start as buildings, but in time they become more statue-like, more distinctive-looking, but less real (if this adjective could ever be used in reference to any warcaft product)
  4. In w1 there are just 2 races fighting each other, but from w2 they are great alliances consisting of 5 races, and from w3 there's a total racial pandemonium.
  5. Sounds. In w1 and w2 they're recorded without special effects, they're plain, but creative. In w3 they're there's more effect than sound and it's boring.
  6. Most important: roads! In w1 you built road to expand your village and connect it, and you built walls around your village. No towers, just clever wall-building and tactics. In w2 and w3 you can (with some exceptions) build anywhere on the map, so in w2 your base is a set of loosely standing buildings ranging as far as the terrain under your control. In w3 it can go either way, but there is no roadbuilding option.
Conclusion: w1 was a game about building your village and defeating rival village, it depicted something. W3 is primarily a multiplayer game aimed at providing some visual representation of a sporting event, that is a w3 match. And also to attract young age players, who like all the demon-dragon, shiny and colorful magic world-destroying (and saving) mayhem, who need all uits to be special, interesting and likeable - unlike real military units, which are plain, stupid and definitely not likeable.

Now I'd like to mention that I do not consider w3 worse game than w1, even though I miss the w1 kind of games, which had mostly died, I think. The roadbuilding and beautiful villages were absorbed by town-development games like settlers, knights & merchants or anno 1602 and their sequels (but don't get me started on settlers above 2). W3 achieved its goal of being very enjoyable and fair multiplayer game and I loved owning people in it (I almost liked being owned too). WoW shall not be spoken of on my blog, not now, not ever. Unless I'll have some interesting thoughts about it, of course.

Time for some lame pun: the best way to get completely stoned is to drink liquid concrete.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I've been neglecting the whole blogging world lately, and, frankly, all the other worlds too. For some time now I have been dealing with a family illness issue, the whole 'people who raised you dying' thing. Writing this blog has provided a nice distraction for me, but there are days when you don't need distraction, but to decide something. And lately there are more and more days completely filled with making errands for my whole family as I am the only healthy person with a driving licence.

But I often play games in my dreams. It was the same when I was quitting smoking - I dreamt that I had forgotten about quitting and smoked, and then felt guilt (still in dream). My friends also had such dreams when they were quitting, so I guess it's a good thing now.

One last piece of thought: if there is a person who wouldn't get depressed by their friend or close relative dying, it's probably me. I care about people, but I'm okay with death, probably even more than with life. But it has so many aspects and accompanying events/situations that the whole package is almost bound to depress anyone, even me. So unless your parents will die suddenly in their sleep or you really hate them, don't expect to go through their death unconcerned. Or maybe you will? Or already did? We're thought to be all different after all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The earliest RTSs

One of the most popular genres of PC gaming is real-time strategy. It's been born in the year 1992, when Dune 2 saw daylight. It was a little revolution compared to the completely turn-based games, but it wasn't a thunder from a blue sky. I remember Centurion (1990) had a battle module which did not allow much to do, but played in real time. Anyhow, Dune 2 is widely known as the first RTS. It looked like that:

Now, it wasn't until 1994 that a second most famous early rts game was released, and that game was Warcraft.

The two games started two biggest rts cycles - Command & Conquer and Warcraft series, each of which had their declared fans who engaged in harsh discussion in order to find the better game.

The Great Schism of the Strategy Games, which should be basically dated 1990-94, has led to a great decrease in the popularity of turn-based strategies, almost killing the genre (that may be why so many of you didn't play any).

The comparison between early rts and advanced rts will be presented in another post due to lack of time today.
Piece of wisdom:
 Experience is a wonderful thing. It allows you to recognize the mistake when you make it again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jokes and violence

Today I would like to post an example of a good joke, by my taste of course, and taken from xkcd of course.
(click to enlarge it)

It's funny mostly because peace, life and progress are considered good itself by our whole culture, but they're boring when achieved, and also static - social roles are given and hard to change. During wartime and other crises there are great losses, but also great (social and financial) gains. What I'm trying to say is maybe we like action (violence) so much not only because the feeling of danger keeps us from boredom, but also it brings us hope of radical changes (i.e. us becoming the wealthy, happy and loved, which most of us - by definition - are not).

At least I find this kind of motivation in myself - one of the biggest pleasures of gaming for me was to start as nothing and become everything.
Compared to that, life is slow and boring as we have little power over what we are (or at least I say we do). So today I'm not nostalgic of any certain game, I'm nostalgic of a certain world built with dreams. Also note that this great progress I had with games (and remember that strategy was my favourite genre) often involved finding solution to many social, financial and government problems and creating a happy city/nation/universe. But the hope of radical changes I mentioned before (connected with violence, crises and all the movies about them) is a selfish one: we dream for the social order to shake so that we wind up on top.

It has probably been a tiresome read, but it was an enjoyable write. As a piece of wisdom for today my thought of lately (I highly doubt if it's original, might be a movie or famous person quote that I subconciously remembered, so if you recognize it, let me know):

Manipulating opinions is quite easy, I'm doing it right now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mouse on the Keys

Busy and sad yesterday ended with going to see (more like hear, actually) Mouse on the Keys, japanese band starting as trio, playing as a quartet a year ago (previous time I saw them) and as a quintet now. Since they're not terribly famous, but are incredibly good, I decided to recommend them to any audiophiles. I'm not really good at specifying music genres, but remember MotK being called a jazz - post-rock combination, which might not be wrong.

The basic trio consisted of drums and two keybords, one of which always played as piano, the other sometimes as bass, producing a strong, rock-like sound - for me the perfect term would be 'juicy', mostly because the later on, with the aquisition of two brass instruments (I didn't figure which exactly) they experiment towards the increasing 'dryness'.

Here is an example, one of their more famous compositions (also the 'juiciest' one):

Also the newly created club didn't figure it's acoustics yet, so yesterday's concert sounded a bit like crap (you know the sound of crap, don't you? :D). Anyhow, that would be all.

A piece of wisdom: if at first you don't succeed, then skydiving probably isn't for you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

All-time classic

One game, two names, one of the biggest influences in the gaming history. Ufo: Enemy Unknown or X-Com: Ufo Defense, that's the game I'm talking about. Every gamer, even ones starting their gaming adventure today, should play this in my opinion. Two sequels (Terror from the Deep and Apocalypse) are optional - they're more challenging, but not as big part of gaming history as the first one. Later there were many UFO clones and remakes, I played one of them, seen another, but liked neither. Recently I've read of a strict remake called UFO: The Two Sides - from the screenshots it looks really nice, if anyone played it, then should tell if it's worth it.

You might also know it, but it still need saying, that UFO wasn't a fully original game - it's most famous part, the combat system, was taken from an earlier game called Laser Squad.

Laser Squad could be called the mother of all tactical games, since it had two very famous lines of descendants, one being the UFO franchise, the other - Sabre Team and then Jagged Alliance.

One of the interesting facts about UFO was that most of in-game messages and texts were written in a readable file, so translating the game into your language was really easy, and not even too tiresome (it took me one evening I think and it worked)

The looks of UFO:

And thus this quick post ends, I'm totally out of time today, so visiting all your blogs will have to wait for some hours, maybe even till tomorrow.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A bit on smoking

Right now I'm quitting gaming, but I also quit smoking only recently. I did it because it wasn't good for my finances, but I must also admit it wasn't very good for my health. After I had decided to quit, I still let myself smoke every once in a while when I was particularly happy or stressed. Generally, I still liked tobacco smoke, I still liked dark pubs where vision was impaired due to smoke.

Yesterday, contrary to my prior plans, I went out for a couple of beers with some friends I like, of which only one girl was smoking, and only a few cigarettes throughout the whole evening (back in my smoking days, social drinking events had always been a good reason to smoke like a volcano). Today I woke up feeling crappy, and it was due to my hair and yesterday's clothes still smelling a bit like smoke. I was never fond of yesterday's smoke, but it didn't bother me so much - now there's been a difference made in the universe. So from today I don't really feel like a smoker anymore, and I think it's both a good thing and a bad thing.

Of course I still support smokers as a discriminated group.

Today I'm feeling generous, there will be two pieces of wisdom connected to the subject:

"Quitting smoking is really easy, I did it like a hundred times"

If you smoke after sex, you're doing it too fast.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Games from 1994 mostly had either early rendered graphics (simple geometric shapes seen as environment) or drawn graphics at their best. One of the latter was Dominus - real time strategy game, which allowed you to become a ruler (probably an usurper) of some fantasy land, invaded by foreign armies of strange creatures (who might also be freedom fighters). You had to eradicate them with your armies, traps or even slaughter them yourself, risking death in battle. Other activities included (magically?) breeding your own kind of soldiers, producing traps, spells and interrogating captured enemy soldiers. I think Dungeon Keeper took many of its ideas from this game.

Dominus was also very difficult, at least to an eight year old. But I have one great memory with it - evil lord (me) stranded in a besieged castle, his troops all wiped out, with no more traps or spells, asking himself: "do I really have to lose?", watching the besiegers breach the castle and take floor after floor, he meets them for one last massacre. This happened several times, once the besiegers were also the last enemy army and when I repelled them on the top floor of the castle, I won.

When I think about Dominus today, first thing that comes to mind is: "I wouldn't name my game that, unless the main character is either roman or wears a lot of leather"

A piece of wisdom for today:

It's lonely at the top, but you eat better.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Today I don't feel like writing some hard-thought and hard-to-read post, I think I've done so enough in the last couple of days. Instead, I'd like to place some photos I made recently. They're a bit crappy, raw and idiotically spoiled by my phone's targeting device - in a word, they're just how I like 'em. I'm not generally interested in photography, I'm still not bored of sunsets and silhouettes, I don't know the rules of composition and I like the picture taken within 15 seconds after I thought: "this might be a good photo". It's may be the only spontaneous thing I do.

And a random piece of wisdom for today:

A nuclear war can ruin your whole day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

xkcd's accidents

Everybody knows or should know xkcd. I consider him probably the funniest guy on the internet (actually, by that I mean his jokes... don't know the man personally), and like him even more because he clearly states that he allows bloggers and other non or low profit pages to place his comics without asking, while many others deny it and want money.

Anyway, I was looking through his older works I have saved and found his accidents chart:

I've decided to re-do his research to see how things have developed. Here's what I got today (i kept the original order):

"died in a skydiving accident"....................4 700
"died in a elevator accident"......................200
"died in an elevator accident"....................8 900
"died in a surfing accident"........................2880
"died in a skateboarding accident".............6270
"died in a camping accident"......................874
"died in a gardening accident"....................214
"died in a ice skating accident"...................41
"died in a knitting accident"........................3970
"died in a blogging accident"......................4540

and for comparison, the generals:
"died in a accident"...................................240 000
"died in an accident"..................................5 170 000

1. Every number is increased so much it suggests rapid growth of internet or difference in methods.
2. The increase in knitting and blogging accident results must be caused by the chart's popularity.
3. The increase in skateboarding accidents is so big, it may mean that
         a) skateboarders don't know how to skate anymore.
         b) they're being ridiculed by the whole internet now.
         c) there's just an awful nuber of skateboarders.
4. Correct articles can mean the world.
5. Due to global warming, ice skating is losing popularity (or people finally got good at it).

EDIT: Valid points made in the comments made me try some more possibilities, just for fun (yeah, I do find odd things funny):
"died in a car accident".........1,860,000
"died in a diving accident".....69,600
"died in a sexual accident"....7
"died in a music accident".....2
"died in a musical accident"..1
"died in a reading accident"..1 (only result related to xkcd, so reading's pretty safe)
"died in a drinking accident"..600
"died in an eating accident"...2

Also, if you don't believe that people can die out of a blogging accident, here's a completely made up proof:
"Thomas Harrison, age 34, has been found dead in his house. The direct cause of death was cardiac arrest, believed to be induced by massive rage attack Harrison has suffered while reading comments on his blog. He is believed to be the fourth victim of the blogging wave America's been struggling with lately"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


   After my father got a decent 486 with vga graphics (finally! it was around 1994 I think) I would sometimes find new games there. Shortly thereafter he dropped games (not instantly, but eventually succesfully), but during the said time I once found a folder called Warlords 2. I figured out how to start the game, but at first didn't get the concept. It was my first turn-based strategy.

    Later on I learned everything about it and for about a year I considered it the best game of all, until I got acquainted with other turn-based strategy games, which became my favourite genre of all times. Apart from having the perfect balance between narrations and thinking, they offered effective multiplayer with just one computer ('hot seat' as it was later named in heroes of might and magic). But sometimes we (me and my friends) would just play the single player mode: one being the high commander (actually playing), others nominated advisors or rulers of some parts of land.

   So what I'm reminiscing here is not only a great game, but also a checkpoint in the transformation from a world kids come out and play to the world kids connect via internet and play.
   And of course I'm reminiscing my youth because we all do.

Here's how Warlords 2 looked:

And also to explain what I meant earlier: