(1) Tue Apr 12 2005 09:33 PST Easy Come, Easy Go:
A couple days ago I got a letter from the Clark campaign. They are wrapping things up and they have an outstanding paycheck for me and is this the right address? Apparently between the week where nobody got paid and the actual end of the campaign, I must have put in a few hours of useful work, because I have $50.80 coming to me.
Then this morning I did my Arkansas taxes and it turns out I owe the state of Arkansas another $53. So that money's just going to go right back to Little Rock.
Tue Apr 12 2005 21:27 PST Night Of A Thousand Game Roundups:
Cheap game roundup to celebrate that I sent off the revised copies of both my book chapters today. Yes, I am pretty much awesome. But enough about me. The stars of this particular show are the games, presented by ME! T-Rex!
- They say the neon lights are brighter on Broadway. But Cruising on
Broadway, a clone by Game Roundup veteran Paul Robson, is a
little dull. It looks nice but it's homomorphic to a very very simple
game of Pac-Man. Not his fault.
- Ever since I went on my Roundup rampage against snake games (not
to be confused with my Roundup of snake-themed Rampage clones), the
authors of said games have been lying low, disguising their snake
games as other sorts of games. For instance, here's SpacePong, which you'd
think would be Pong-esque but it's actually snake game-esque, with
echoes of the old DOS game Helius. See how I pepper my reviews with
knowing, incredibly obscure references? That's the sign of real
quality writing there.
Anyway, Space Pong is a pretty fun mouse-scribbling game. You're a
metal ball, controlled with the mouse, which bounces around space
collecting green boxes. Overzealous mouse movements send the ball
careening out of control, a dangerous thing to be out of due to the
sessile space mines and roving asteroids that would just love to have
you smack into them and have to restart the level. This is in sharp
contradistinction to most traditional snake games, where the major
threat is your own ever-lengthening tail. This is a bit unfortunate
for Space Pong because the "long tail" is the only aspect of snake
games that is hip nowadays.
- There are too many Angband variants! What we need is a
way to abstract away the differences between two variants and have
them use a common framework! What if we provided a series of roguelike
services? And it was written in the Java® Programming Language?
You'd have Ng, the Java Roguelike
Engine Project. It's a shoo-in for
this Roundup's HAS
prize, but even though I started writing this review
a long time ago and only came back to it today, it's still active. Despite its near-identical fit into the "incredibly ambitious software project sure to be abandoned" category, it's refusing to be typecast.
- Crummy: The Site is proud to tell you about SSC: The Game. This is a 2D
space combat game inspired by the venerable xkoules game that Andy and
I independently got addicted to in the late 90s. Wait, actually, that
was xkobo. Totally different space game. In this space game, you're
a yellow blob who shoots it up with blue dots. The graphics are basic
but there are several nice camera angles, proving that you can have a
game take place in 2D yet give it the 3D effects that the kids demand
SSC seems abandoned and the gameplay is pretty clunky (maybe my
computer's just too slow, maybe I should install THE FASTER CPU I
ALREADY BOUGHT), but it looks like the games I like and it has really
nice enemy swarming behavior. Running into the edge of the universe
gives you a huge wrestling-ring-rope-style boost of kinetic energy,
and the swarms of blue dots use this to propel themselves as a group
across the screen. Nice emergent behavior in this game.
- Continuing the seeming trend of games set in space is XGalaga and XGalaga++. I
found out about XGalaga++ first, but XGalaga is actually the better
game. Both have power-ups, cool aliens, and the dorky-looking
spaceship from the original Galaxian. XGalaga has much smoother
gameplay. On my scorecard, smoothness of gameplay has a huge positive correlation with perceived quality of game. Just a tip, in the unlikely event that people have started using my tastes as a touchstone for the games they write (surely before I reach that point I'll reach the point where people are emailing me URLs to their games without taking my tastes into account).
- This one's funky. E.T. Traveller is far
superior to the disastrous E.T. Atari 2600 game. In fact, I liked it
better than just about any Atari 2600 game except Combat, but I've
never been a big 2600 fan. In this game you "collect objects that have
been randomly scattered in 3D scenes", yielding an experience oddly
reminiscent of robotfindskitten. Except, I explored the one 3D scene
provided and there were no collectable objects, just sad cool-looking
buildings abandoned for billions of years until I, the E.T. Traveller,
came along to check them out.
Comes with a scene editor of which I can make neither head, tail,
hide, nor hair. Just to prove its incomprehensibility to me, the
scene editor can export to POV-RAY. Both game and editor have an approach to user interface
design I've never seen anywhere else: it opens up a GUI window for the
graphics, but prints text output to the standard output of the
terminal where you started it. I guess it's kind of like what you'd see with Freeciv if Freeciv printed stuff to the terminal instead of the text box within the frame of the game.
The winner: Strategic Space Combat, aka SSC. No limerick as I am done with writing for today. Submit your own limericks in the comments, why don't you?
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