Archive for the ‘Computer games’ Category


HoNoToGroABeMo Day Two: Chance

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

[The posts for this month are reposts from the site, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was
originally posted on 2011-11-02.]

(My Great-Great-Grandfather worked on the Baltimore & Ohio)

Today I’m stepping it up a bit, and going for something a little more dapper. Not much to report beard-wise — just a little prickly but otherwise nothing special to this normally scruffy engineer.
Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Zombie Dice

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Computer games, Reviews

Designer: Steve Jackson
Artists: Alex Fernandez
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Players: 2-99
Playing time: 10 minutes
Age range: 10+

(Image courtesy of mbrna@BoardGameGeek)

I’d first heard of Zombie Dice around the time it came out, but avoided the game because it has two marks against it: a) it’s a zombie game and b) it’s a recent Steve Jackson game. However, I got roped into had a chance to play it at Balticon 2012, and at gaming events since then, and I have to admit I was wrong about it.

The rules are very simple. There are 13 green, red and yellow dice, each with varying amounts of brains, running feet and shotgun symbols on their faces. The green dice have more brains, the red more shotgun blasts, and the yellow are neutral. Your goal is to roll as many brains as possible. First person to collect 13 brains (and survive the shotgun blasts), wins the game.

The turn begins by drawing three dice at random and rolling them. Brains and shotguns are set aside. If you have 3 shotgun blasts, then your turn is over, and you lose any brains you’ve rolled. Assuming you’ve survived, you can choose to re-roll, or you can score the brains you have. If you choose to re-roll, you take any dice with running feet, draw new dice at random to bring your total up to 3, and roll again. You can continue doing this until you get 3 shotgun blasts, or you choose to stop.

Zombie Dice is a nice little push-your-luck game, another one of those good fillers to have around. Admittedly the decisions aren’t all that difficult: prefer to re-roll green dice over red dice; stop if you have two shotgun blasts unless you’re behind. But it scales well to many players and it’s a good filler or beer-and-pretzel game. And if you prefer to drink alone, there’s also an iOS app for Zombie Dice, which is initially free for a 1-on-1 single player version, but only $.99 to upgrade to 10-player multiplayer. It’s fairly low frills but it gets the job done.

Verdict: Buy


The Fool and His Money Released!

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

I’m a bit tardy on this, so I apologize. In Podcast 27 I covered a great old Mac puzzle game called The Fool’s Errand. Well, about three weeks ago the sequel was finally released. The game is called The Fool and his Money, and gives the follow-up adventures of the Fool immediately after the completion of The Fool’s Errand. It’s available for both PC and Mac, and if you like puzzle games I highly recommend it. You can find out more about the game here.


Balticon Appearances

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games, General

For those interested, I will be attending Balticon this weekend, and have more than my usual level of panels:

Saturday, 9:00 PM (New Media Track) Chesapeake, Everything Old Is New Again: Now grandma and baby can both love Battlestar, If Hot Topic weren’t proof enough, all the stuff that’s old is new. Power Rangers, Doctor Who and many anime and science fiction shows aimed at younger audiences still keep their followings as they grow up. We explore favorite franchises and how much better they’ve aged than their fanbase.

Sunday, 12:00 Noon (New Media Track) Derby Room, Lovecraft Mythos Cagefight: Who Would Win in a Fight? Moderator Norm Sherman Cthulhu vs. Dagon? Yog-Sothoth vs. Shub-Niggurath? Would the match be a TKO or won on points?

Sunday 3:00 PM (Gaming Track) Parlor 1041, Creating Aliens and Their Culture, Moderator Kory Kease – One of the most exciting elements of a campaign, game world, science fiction/fantasy series (book TV, etc.) is the adventure of meeting and discovering new cultures that

Sunday 4:00 PM (Readers Track) Belmont Room, The Heinlein PanelModerator David J. Williams – How much math do people really need to know in our Age of Computers? Should we really have to solve a quadratic equation to be eligible to vote? How necessary is it to know calculus nowadays? Is there value in learning math beyond the solving of such problems?

Looks like there’s a little something for everyone there and I’m looking forward to every one of them.

In addition, I’ll be trying to attend all of Mur Lafferty’s events, and John Cmar’s events, and Command Line, and Jared Axelrod, and J.R. Blackwell… and… and…

Somewhere in there I need to sleep, too. Whew.

So much for every Monday. I let the links pile up until I felt there was enough for a post, and then got overwhelmed. Ah well, time to dig in.

In old RPG news, we have a few items. First, there’s the concluding articles to Ken Denmead’s Top 10 D&D Modules series: #7 Finale. I approve of both choices (but still no Barrier Peaks?).

Second, Allen Varney (no roleplaying slouch himself) has an interview over at the Escapist with Marc Miller, creator of Traveller.

The retro videogaming department is busy this week. For recent homages, we have Greg Costikyan at Play This Thing! with a review of a Japanese rogue-like and Z over at GeekDad with a review of a NES/SNES clone. For the latter, I’m glad Mur has her old SNES — this thing sounds like a cheap knockoff.

In nods to the past, Marc Cerny, creator of Marble Madness and contributor to many a Naughty Dog and Insomniac game (disclosure: I work for Insomniac Games) has been inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. And around the same time Marble Madness came out, there was Starflight, one of the most complex games of its time. Erin Hoffman at the Escapist covers the story of its development.

Finally, a rather interesting story about how partnerships can go awry. Apparently, Konami, the creators of Yu-Gi-Oh, discovered that someone was creating bootleg cards, thereby both profiting from their creation and polluting the market with counterfeits. Little did they suspect that someone was their partner, Upper Deck… Cult-Stuff has all the details.

I keep collecting links, so here are some more. As a side note, in a wild attempt at scheduled behavior, I’m going to try to store up my vintage-gaming related links and post every Monday.

Long time listeners will remember my very early review of M.U.L.E. Well, there’s another version out there, this time at I haven’t tried it out yet, but it looks like there are clients for Windows, Mac and Linux, and eventually Debian. You do register with the site, but I don’t think they have a central matchmaking server, as they mention using the forum for that. The one strike against them is they credit Dan Bunten, not Danielle Bunten, against her wishes, but it’s probably worth taking a look if you’re a M.U.L.E. fan.

In more D&D related content, we have a repeat of a series at GeekDad, where Ken Denmead reviews the Top Ten D&D modules he found while cleaning up his storage shed. I don’t see Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, but otherwise looks to be a good list of classics: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

In another GeekDad post (I need to get out more), Michael Harrison interviews Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, a memoir/rediscovery of the geek life. Plus, until January 13 (Wednesday), you can enter a contest to win a copy of the book. See the article for more details.

Finally, yesterday Terry Cavanagh’s retro platformer VVVVVV was released. I tried out the demo and it’s definitely worth it. It’s challenging and fun, and has a very nifty mechanic where you can switch the “floor” to either the top or the bottom of the screen. For a fuller review, check out this one by Anthony Burch on Destructoid.

Still trying to get my feet under me for the New Year — or the new year, however it’s spelled. In any case, here are some interesting vintage gaming links that have been sitting in my RSS feed:

First, James Maliszewski has a nice little article up at The Escapist, entitled “Founding Fathers.” In it, he covers the history of wargames, from von Riesswitz’s Kriegspiel to David Wesley’s Braunstein (the progenitor of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign).

Related to this is Monte Cook’s most recent article at the aforementioned The Escapist magazine about the original supplements to D&D record the evolution of the rules. This is a follow-up to his previous post on D&D, already covered here.

Second, Greg Costikyan talks about the background for his new board game, Megacorps, and how he inadvertently created a future history through game design.

Greg also has a review of the Civil War tabletop game A House Divided (designed by Frank Chadwick in 1981). I haven’t played this one, but based on Greg’s review I think I’ll give it a shot as I’m a huge Civil War (or the “recent unpleasantness”) buff.

Finally, on the video gaming front, Nathan Barry on Geekdad reports that Tatio has released a remake of Arkanoid for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Many are the hours I spent playing Arkanoid on my Mac SE — as it was pirated, perhaps I should purchase a copy to balance the books. And you should too, because it’s tons of fun.

Hope your holiday season was a good one and you got to play lots of games! And if not, you’ve got a whole year ahead so get to it…


Game Patent Extravaganza

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

(Via Joystiq) The Technologizer blog has a really great trip down memory lane, where they present patents from the early days of electronic games. They call it The Golden Age of Electronic Games. I guess I agree with that — though a lot of those games from early on in that age aren’t so much Golden as well… let me put this way. I have an old handheld soccer game that consists of a dot and a few lines. Does that compare with FIFA 09? Probably not except in the sense of nostalgia.

As a side note, they mention both the Magnavox Odyssey — as the first game console — and Simon — as a game that will survive the ages. The importance of these games isn’t a coincidence. They were both designed by The Father of Video Games Ralph H. Baer.



HHGttG Game Online

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

One thing I forgot to mention in this post, is that you can play the original Infocom Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game at the BBC website. Try not to let the fish slide down the drain this time…


Return to Dark Castle Released

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

I somehow missed the official announcement (I got an email in February announcing its imminent release, but not the actual event), but Return to Dark Castle is finally available for purchase and download. You can get it off of the SuperHappyFunFun site. There’s also some information on the ZSculpt site about the level structure for those who want to a head start on designing their own levels.

I’ll be purchasing my own copy tonight and I’ll try not to let it delay the next show any more than it already is. 🙂

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