Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

X3! Still surprises.

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I’ve mentioned this game before and those who know me well know this game is like an old lounge chair. When I’m bored I just settle in and blow a few hours in deep space.

So I’m sitting down playing a round this evening when I dock at a pirate base, sell my smuggled goods and head on my merry way. A minute or so later I get an audio from the ship computer:

“Anomalous cargo detected.”


Shields: Gone.
Hull: 35%
Energy Cells: Gone.
Various Cargo: Damaged or gone.


Apparently, this is a hidden feature that never struck me before. Sometimes when you read the bulletin board system (for missions and things) within a pirate station, you get a guy telling you to pay him for ‘protection’. Well I’ve pretty much always told this guy to space himself, but THIS time… boom. (It’s cruel too, because I forgot to even check the BBS, but according to the X3 forum, this will happen if the message is there… even if you don’t read it.)

Limping off to the nearest repair facility…

Don’t Panic!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

As seen on SlashDot:

Unreleased Infocom games found including a sequel to the text adventure classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

If this doesn’t give you little chills in your cerebellum, well, then I just feel sorry about your childhood.

Sweet! Lemmings online using Java!

Monday, January 14th, 2008
Tip of the wild green wig to Kim at Me and My Boys for this gem!

Try Lemmings for some nostalgia… in your browser using Java. I don’t seem to be getting any sound, though (the author seems to think it should work in most browsers… probably a plug in thing.

Whoops! Forgot the link…. Added.

Free Rice.

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Tip of the wooden bowl to my Sis for finding this little Internet site.*

Free Rice is a sort-of vocabulary game where every correct answer causes 10 grains of rice to be donated to food charities world wide. The sponsor adds at the bottom of the page are funding the donations.

My Sis has crazy vocabulary powers and managed to reach a score of 47. My engineering brain topped out at 44, but generally hung around at about 40.

Being the wacko I am, I clicked the first answer repeatedly until I could drive it down into the really easy words…. it bottoms out at 1.

* All credit to the Bad Astronomer for the “Tip of the [appropriate object]” language.

Better than real life?

Monday, October 8th, 2007

As most of you fine readers are aware, I’ve been playing video games since pretty much the term was invented. I’ve pretty much exclusively played PC games, as I’ve always found consoles to be a bit to impractical. Despite this, I’d like to share this item found on digg. I’ve been commenting for years in both movie computer graphics and home PCs that the visible limit of human perception is quickly being reached. Video games on my PC today have far better computer animation then movies made 10 years ago. Still shots are particularly hard to distinguish. Of course if you look at details like image grain, background and lighting you can usually ferret out the truth.

The PlayStation 3 game Grand Tourismo 5 has blurred the boundary between photos and photo-realistic graphics. Follow the link for the quiz and see how you do.

Honestly, I did quite badly, with a whopping 8 out of 14. Pretty much means I couldn’t tell the difference.

Answers (yes I clicked and clicked until I got them) after the break….

Welcome to Springfield.

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

On a whim K and I visited the Simpsonize Me!* website, which theoretically alters an image you provide to produce a version of you suitable for your own visit to fictional Springfield. Well, in short, it doesn’t work very well. However, after its initial attempt you can edit your features by selecting from various selection lists of hairstyles, eyes, noses, mouths, etc. After some effort, one can generate a fairly convincing cartoon of themselves. Ok… it takes some imagination, but it’s sort of fun. I took the various images produced by the site, combined them together and made some minor edits**.

Ta-dah! Here is our family portrait after moving in next door to the famous dysfunctional family:
The Schierers

* This site is sponsored by Burger King. No endorsement is implied or otherwise.
**I had to edit the one provided cat image (Snowball… or is it Snowball II?) to produce a believable Oreo. I also scaled myself so I’d be a bit taller than K.

Just 10 bucks, right?

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

I was talking with somebody the other day about flight simulators, and how I missed WW2 Fighters* (which is the best, i.e most fun, combat sim I’ve ever played to date). So then today I get the GoGamer 48 hour madness mail and what do I see, but…

THIS MADNESS IS RIGHT ON YOUR SIX! Get Combat Flight Simulator 3: Battle for Europe for only $7.90 and Save 73%!
This ain’t no free-flight, cloud-gunner, glory ride! Bombs shatter enemy airfields, trains, tank columns and more-as you streak across the European countryside! “The best-looking and most entertaining simulation in the series” (CGW)
Game Box

I admit it. I’m weak. I’m a splurge buyer. At least for things costing about $10 (with “Dirt Cheap Shipping”). I figure, what can $10 hurt. I’m hoping the multiplayer works… and that at least one person who reads this blog has (or buys) the game.

What’s sad is I know I won’t even get around to installing it any time soon. Let alone playing.

And of course when I DO get around to playing, I’ll realize that I just can’t fly without pedals.

And I’m sure my pedals are well and truly defunct (after several thousand hours of WW2, NFS** and lets not forget MW4 abuse). That will be another $150 or so.

But it’s just 10 bucks, right?

* In researching for a decent link for the game I found which seems to be a still active online community for the game. A game which unfortunately has an extremely buggy early multi player implementation. Anyone remember IPX networking!? I am AMAZED that enough people got the MP working to be worth still playing after so many years. This
** The Need For Speed franchise was a staple in my action gaming repertoire for years. I haven’t bought a NFS game since NFS:HS2, they got too modder-underworld-backstreet-oversized-glass-pack-tailpipe for me. If I’m going to drive a car in a game, its got to be something that teenagers can’t afford. Regardless, there is something very cathartic about running a police car into a bridge abutment at 150 mph with only a few scratches on your shiny Ferrari. Sorry mom.

Another addiction…

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

X3 Reunion Logo

Continuing in my promised line of revealing my addictions, there is another game, X3: Reunion, by Egosoft. This is a game of space exploration, flight simulation and trading. The motto of the game is “X3. Trade. Fight. Build. THINK”. This game has absolutely stunning visual impact. The beauty and remarkable sense of scale when you slide your ship between the support beams of a gigantic space station or zip a fighter down the side of a capital ship. Planets have clouds that move, space stations revolve, ships and stations can be illuminated by stars, planetary albedo or the rosy glow of a nearby nebula. Please don’t take my word for it, download a rolling-demo or a video. Even if you have no interest in playing a game like this, you owe it to your eyes to see what can be rendered by computer games in real time. Be warned, if your PC video card is not up to date, the rolling-demo may seriously tax your PC’s video card.


Beyond the view, this game has one of the most advanced economies I have ever seen in a game. It makes use of multilevel commodities (Use A to make B, use B to make C, use C to make D), supply & demand pricing, and literally thousands of AI ships who are buying & selling wares throughout the universe. One consequence of this, is that this game ALSO taxes the processor in your computer to keep the universe running. The fact that such a powerful machine is required, is probably the biggest drawback of this game,


This is definitely a long haul sort-of game. Despite that, I can easily sit down after work and play for 20 minutes to just blow off steam (of course I will also occasionally get sucked into defending against an alien invasion that has me defending the universe for over an hour).  I have been playing the same actual game since I started playing. I think I have almost 12 days (yes days) of play time into it. There is always more money to make, more ships to build, buy, more factories to outfit, commodities to control, pirates to wipe out… or you can be a pirate and prey on the law abiding economy of the universe.

The game contains 6 distinct cultures (plus pirate factions) which have their own ships, and access to unique technologies and commodities. Different species eat different things after all.

There is a plot of sorts, but I admit it’s pretty lame. The real attraction of the game is the fully living universe and how what you do and build has an effect that ripples across space. If you’d like to give it a try and you don’t mind downloading a 900MB file, there is a playable demo available.

Civ 4 is Crack.

Friday, December 29th, 2006

In response to my friend’s Blogging is Crack posting, I have decided a series of ‘what I’m really addicted to’ articles is due.

To get us started, addiction is defined by as:

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practicPluginse or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Anyhow, a recent video card purchase came bundled with Civ 4, a continuation of Sid’s world conquest series. I played the original one until my eyes bled, but eventually gave up because the computer cheated. Recently K acquired Civ 3 (we skipped Civ 2) and I played it briefly, but it was just too much like the original with even more micromanagement. Finally they nuked some of the annoying bits, and I think the game plays pretty well. Enough like the original to re-trigger the addiction, but different enough that I find it fun again (so far I have little evidence for obvious AI cheating… but I’m watching.)

With the holiday vacation I did in fact play the game all night long and well into the next day for a 16 hour single sitting. And I’m already mid way through another game…