30

08/11

Flea Market Finds

23:30 by akylas. Filed under: Games,Videos

Every Sunday, I attend a flea market close to my home, and have been doing it for about six or so years now. It’s about ten minutes away from my house so it’s incredibly convenient. There is not particular theme to this flea market (e.g. electronics, furniture, etc), so many of the tables are simply mini-yard sales. This means extensive variety on what you can find there some weekends.

This past Sunday I ran across an interesting selection of CDs, with half of them being imported from Asia. From what I could tell, they to be of Chinese origin, although that was just a simple guess.

The first interesting one appears to be a Chinese TV show from the 90′s.

Chinese Show (Flea Market)

Chinese Show

The purpose or topic of the show is unclear from the front or back of the case. I am guessing 90′s due to the quality of the video screen captures on the case and known dates of other CDs within the overall collection, and not really indicative of anything else. I have not tried this out yet, but I believe it’s a VCD so I should be able to throw it in a DVD player that couldn’t care less about regions, or simply toss it in my computer.

The second highlight of this collection is some sort of flight simulator or air combat arcade game. It might also be a collection of games.

Chinese Flight Simulator

Flight / Combat Simulator / Arcade

On the back it appears to list many aircraft, but these could be additional games or demos included on the disk. It looks relatively interesting, but the last one certainly takes the cake on the import CDs I picked up:

Chinese Simcity 3000

Chinese Simcity 3000

It’s a Chinese version of Simcity 3000. Whether it’s legitimate, a pirate version, or a knock-off is unclear. The front of it is certainly unique, and I didn’t even realize it was a Simcity-esque game until I got back into my car after purchasing it. Conducting a quick search on Google for any Chinese Simcity 3000 box art images yielded no results.

I definitely want to load up a Virtual Machine with Windows XP and give these finds a shot.

28

08/11

Interesting old id Software videos

18:55 by akylas. Filed under: Games

Ran across a couple sets of id Software videos while working on my research project that some may find interesting. First is a video tour of the id Software office back in November 1993. Much of the video is taken up by John Romero playing a near-finished version of Doom. A lot changed in that last month of development, as you can tell by the videos:

A Visit to id Software
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pek_JxmPonM
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDdrg-z4cA8
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krESUsuQMto
(Originally posted by John Romero at: http://rome.ro/wordpress/?p=52)

The second set of videos is a documentary of id Software by machinima.com:

All Your History: id Software
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YreEwtV7D0
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uvh1aZId_4
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZazceTEVufg
Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VPzu0Ehqwc
Part 5 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYKKvnKQkkE

There are quite of few other companies / games covered in their “All Your History” series that I have yet to watch. They certainly look promising based from the first couple parts I’ve watched of the id Software series.

24

08/11

Happy 15th Birthday Team Fortress !

23:03 by akylas. Filed under: Games

Today remembers a monumental day in gaming history that occurred 15 years ago. Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Caughley posted the announcement for the first version of their Quake C mod to the newsgroup rec.games.computer.quake.announce. This mod was Team Fortress and it would quickly become of the two most popular mods to grace the Quake community.

Fan-created Team Fortress Banner

Fan-created Team Fortress Banner

Team Fortress began only a month prior, the instant John Carmack and his team at iD software released Quake C to the public (the Quake C source and compiler). This opened the door to the community the creation of many forthcoming mods and patches and would keep the Quake series one of the most popular multiplayer games until Counter-strike took the stage four years later. Robin and his team already knew the plan, they just needed to get to work and build it.

From: walker@netspace.net.au (Robin)
Newsgroups: rec.games.computer.quake.announce
Subject: Multiple PlayerClasses QuakeC Patch.
Date: 22 Aug 1996 12:01:30 +0100

Announcing TeamFortress v1.0: (Excerpt from readme)

*==============================================================*
* TeamFortress v1.0 *
*==============================================================*
Introduction
------------

TeamFortress is a new QuakeC patch which radically changes
team games. It provides far more incentive for teams to
actually work as a team. Each member of the team has unique
weapons, items, and abilities.

Player Classes
--------------

TeamFortress uses multiple player classes. Whenever a new map
is loaded, all players start as an Undefined class. This
class has 1 health, an axe, and cannot pick up anything. Once
a player class is chosen, you cannot change class for the rest
of that level. To choose a class, just use the appropriate
impulse. (See Impulse Summary)

The classes implemented so far are as follows:

SCOUT: Fastest moving class. Can only wear a small amount of
the lowest absorption armor. Limited to the 2 Shotguns and
Nailgun. Low ammo levels.
Carries a Motion Detector, 2 grenades, 3 concussion grenades.

SNIPER: Medium speed. Wears only small amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Limited to Nailgun and Sniper's
rifle. Medium ammo levels.
Carries 2 grenades.

SOLDIER:Slowest moving class. Wears large amount of armor,
at all absorption levels. All normal weapons except Grenade
Launcher. High ammo levels.
Carries 4 grenades, 4 nail grenades.

DEMOLITION MAN: Medium speed. Wears medium amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Uses the ShotGun and
Grenade/Pipebomb Launcher. Carries 1 DetPack, 6 grenades, 4
Mirv Grenades.

COMBAT MEDIC: Medium speed. Wears medium amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Uses both Shotguns and the
Super Nailgun. Carries Medikit, 3 grenades, 2 concussion
grenades. Regenerates slowly.

==================================================================

Uploaded to ftp,cdrom.com and ftp.stomped.com
Source included, no progs.dat.

This is a _team_ patch. It is a lot of fun to play single player,
or deathmatch, (especially the sniper's rifle :), but it is
designed for team games.
If you've got a bunch of friends and play games regularly on a
LAN, this is the patch you've been looking for.

(If I may say so myself :)
---
Robin. (Bro in Quake)
walker@netspace.net.au
Robin.
walker@netspace.net.au
"Can you help me remember how to smile? Make it somehow all
seem worthwhile? How on earth did I get so jaded? Life's
mysteries seem so faded..."

Even though the team was quick on their feet, it would take another five months before the community began to blossom. Many game developers and publishers took interest in the mod, with the team getting offers for further development by iD software, and then Valve. The team was so amazed by the Half-Life engine that they abandoned their plans with iD software and started three month contracts at Valve to port Team Fortress to their Half-Life engine. Their contracts turned into full-time positions as the Valve team was impressed with their work. On April 7, 1999, this game released to the public under the banner ‘Team Fortress Classic’. While TFC was being ported, the team had already started the development of Team Fortress 2, who’s process actually started before iD software approached the team.

There would be many iterations of Team Fortress 2, with at least three confirmed different designs, all drawing different inspiration from Valve and the original Team Fortress team. Not much was heard from Valve about Team Fortress 2 after they abandoned their first design, ‘Brotherhood of Arms’ from 2001 to 2006. Many considered the game to be vaporware and ended up believing it would never release. In reality, the team spent this time hashing out ideas, and also working on the company’s next hit: Half-Life 2. It’s at this stage that Valve opened the curtain at the 2006 EA Summer Showcase event and revealed the Team Fortress 2 that we know today. It would release a little over a year later on October 9, 2007 as part of Valve’s Orange Box offering.

TF2 - TF 15th Birthday Image

Courtesy of Valve Software

Happy Birthday Team Fortress.

26

01/11

Apex Games Arrive

21:01 by akylas. Filed under: Games

A few weeks ago, shortly after Christmas, I ordered myself some of the best platform games made for the Commodore 64:

They finally arrived last week. Apparently the shipping delays in the United Kingdom have had far reaching effects on all shipments leaving the country.

Mayhem in Monsterland, Creatures 2, and Creatures

Unfortunately as it turns out, all the premium disks you see in the photograph above (the second row of the two) are in PAL. The seller I purchased these from, kindly gave me NTSC versions of Mayhem in Monsterland and Creatures 2, but not Creatures. I tried searching for a NTSC version of Creatures, but the three that I was able to find, none of them worked on my NTSC C64 (of course I used my XA1541 cable to transfer it). The only method I had of playing Creatures was through the VICE emulator, which unfortunately is not nearly as fun as in person. The sound does not even compare.

Left with no other option, I had to move onto Creatures 2, which I was able to play on the C64 using the included version from the seller. This game is amazing. It is even more amazing that it is able to accomplish all that it can on a Commodore 64. It’s a rather bloody game, which is pretty surprising given its otherwise tame environment (from the art and gameplay perspective). I’ve only gotten up to Stage 3 so far, since I’m not looking up how to accomplish the stages, but trying to figure them out on my own.

One final note, both the Creatures and Creatures 2 introduction screens are amazing. I only booted up Mayhem in Monsterland just to check to see if the included NTSC disk worked (up to the start of the introduction), so I haven’t actually seen its introduction yet or any gameplay.

07

01/11

Grand Strategy

01:12 by akylas. Filed under: Games

Grand Strategy games seem like some of the most interesting genre in the video gaming market. But why do I think I would enjoy the genre so much?

I always liked playing the early simple strategy games (e.g. Warcraft series). These real-time strategies eventually evolved into a competition predominantly surrounding how high your CPM (clicks per minute) was–at least in the online multiplayer (and let’s just say I wasn’t very good.)

Warcraft 2

The single player series were still decent, but if I can easily beat the game by waiting and spawning a ton of units and storming my objective all the time, it’s boring. Many real-time strategy games today have weak story lines, which quickly diminish their appeal to me. I’m more of a tactics guy. I enjoy finding the best mix of a limited number of units and determining the best way to tackle an objective. It’s efficient. I get much more of sense of accomplishment. Granted, there are tactics involved in these RTS games, but playing a game involving unrealistically mass-spawning units is just not fun.

After my stint with Warcraft, I dabbled in some of the other more modern RTS games, such as Command and Conquer, but I lost interest–until I discovered the real-time tactics video game genre. Rome: Total War was one of the first games I played in the genre, and I quickly fell in love with it. Why? Not only was the game broken up into two differenct experiences (game-board style overworld and tactical battles), but it was based on an historical premise. Imagine the board game Risk with realistic encounters.

Rome: Total War

Two years later Medieval II: Total War hit the scene. Same type of game but new background, new units, new graphics, some new features. Same experience. Enjoyed it even more. World in Conflict came out the year after, a real-time tactics game with an alternative history story line with the USSR invading USA. Who cannot like such a game? While the game did not let me create my own story-line within this background, the story itself was satisfying.

World in Conflict was the last real-time tactics game I played in years (and even some people consider that game a mix between real-time strategy and real-time tactics), until I was introduced by Steam to Hearts of Iron III. The first time I saw the game, I took a quick glance at it and was quite confused by it. I ended up buying a game from one of its sister series, Europa Universalis in late December of 2008. I first played this game with the idea of the Total War series’ overworld play style; Bad idea. I was quickly turned off by the pace and complexity of the game. I was used to creating an army and in under a few turns (10 minutes game play time), take over a city and promptly move on. I used almost my entire army to take a nearby city of another enemy, only to have them flank and cut off my supplies, quickly knocking me out. It’s the only time I played that game.

I revisited Hearts of Iron III a few times over the course of the next year. Reading the feature list on the Steam page made me think, “Damn, this sounds like an awesome game.”, only to then think about my experience in Europa Universalis and being discouraged. However, one evening during Steam’s 2009/2010 Christmas sales, Hearts of Iron III decided to go on sale. “$5? Might as well pick it up at this point.” Purchased. One problem, I didn’t have a computer to play the game at this point in time. My desktop recently started acting up two months prior, never allowing me to log into or reinstall Windows (the power supply eventually blew out, so it was probably due to a drop in the 5V). I had the game, but I couldn’t play it. Six months later, Valve released Steam on Mac. At the time, I didn’t really care. There weren’t many games that were supported on Mac. It took me two additional months to realize that Hearts of Iron III was one of the few games. I quickly busted out my Macbook Pro, installed Steam, and started to download the game.

Hearts of Iron III

This time I had different expectations. I knew this was going to be a complicated game. I downloaded the game manual and starting reading the game — something I should’ve done for Europa Universalis. Ten hours later, I finally knew what was going on. The fact that I could load up the game, play as any country I wanted in this epic alternative history / dynamic version of World War II, made it even more appealing. It was like an alternative history book playing out in real time. I could play as a core player, or I could sit on the sidelines and watch as the Nazi Empire defeats the British Empire and takes over Europe.

Hearts of Iron III isn’t the only grand strategy wargame out there. The genre was not born with that game, there are plenty of others. I have to say that HOI3 is the only game within this genre that I have played. I decided that I need to go back to the roots to enjoy this genre more. Many say that Storm Across Europe set the stage for the genre, and I intend to play it.

Storm Across Europe

There is another reason why these wargames, and even those real-time tactics games appealed to me. History interests me. Always has. I could also say I have a nostalgic way of thinking and what I enjoy. Alternative history interests me even more. I am fascinated by ancient history, and I’m just as fascinated about the two World Wars of the 20th century. I spent two weeks in France in 2009 just exploring World War II memorial sites and museums. When you take these grand strategy wargames, they are based on a specific situation / event / environment of the past, and the game lets you decide how it ends. A perfect alternative history game — especially when I get to choose how the game’s story evolve, and not based from some pre-defined script.

If you have a game based on history, is a wargame, involves tactics, operates at a grand scale (or at least appears to), and has a great story line, it is one I will buy and enjoy it. If you let me write the story line while playing it — even better.

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