Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

Russell, describing an old lady shown on SBS standing next to a younger female:
"The bottom's fallen out of the market mate!"
Nick was after a gravity experiment earlier, so it linked in well.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Card Chess

Not sure why, but this post didn't come over from VRWorld. Oh well, here now...

I was reading through some game design websites a while back and hyperlinked my way through to a discussion on creating board games and card games. I'd thought those areas were pretty much dead, but it seems there is still games being dreamed up all the time; even Settlers of Catan was only developed in '95. It prompted me to think about writing up the game that I made up in my teenage years when looking for something to do with a pack of cards handy. I started out thinking about how you could play chess with cards, and it eventually grew from there. Even though the game may not play exactly like chess in its current incarnation, the working title 'Card Chess' is still appropriate as the chesslike moves are enough for people to feel comfotable with the basic concepts. You can certainly apply your chess mind to it, as thinking several moves ahead and setting up multiple attack points are still core strategies. So here goes, Card Chess v1.1 ...

- A game for 2 players with a standard pack of cards inspired by chess.
- One player is 'red', the other 'black'
- Each player has an army of 2 Kings, 2 Queens, 2 Jacks and 2 tens of the colour they are playing.
- Players take turns to move one of their units in any allowable direction, as in chess.
- Instead of 'capturing' pieces, an attacking move is to simply 'cover' your card over an opponents. A covered card cannot move. If the card on top moves off to another position, the uncovered card is now back in play and can move freely once again.
- Since there are 2 kings, the game ends when one side has covered both kings.

- The remaining 36 cards are aligned in a 6x6 grid to form the playing surface. It is broken up into 3 6x2 areas; Black's starting area, the terrain, and Red's starting area.


B = Black starting area
T = Terrain
R = Red starting area

- Cards making the startup areas of the playing surface are played face down.
- To create the middle Terrain, shuffle all 2,3 & 5 cards (12 cards in total) and deal into place. This should give 6 red terrain segments and 6 black terrain segments.

- A King's movement is similar to a King in chess (one space in any direction). A queen moves like a queen in chess (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). A Jack moves like a bishop (diagonally). A Ten moves like a castle (horizontally & vertically).
- When moving in a direction (horizonally, vertically or diagonally), your unit may stop at any card on the playing surface in that dirction up to and including the first card of the opposing colour. EG: Playing Red would mean that Black terrain cards and black unit cards stop further movement. As a reverse of this, you can pass over or land on any turned over card on the playing surface, any terrain of your colour, or any card of your army.

2 modes of setup are currently used; one for beginners and quicker play, and one for a more competitive, balanced start.

1. Fixed starting positions
- Each player sets out their army in the same format as below:

TJKKJT <--- Black army
TJKKJT <--- Red army

T = Ten
J = Jack
Q = Queen
K = King

- You may wish to have cards of the same suit together (EG Diamons on left, Hearts on Right), but as there is no distinction between suits in the game, it is not important)
- This method give the players a known starting position with a random terrain in the middle to give slight variablity (you can even play without the terrain in the middle for training purposes with people that may not be familiar with chess movement)
- As with chess, the player starting first has a slight advantage.

2. Progressive starts
- Each player starts with all unit cards in hand and the playing surface completed.
- Decide who will play first, via coin toss or mutual consent
- Players take turn placing any unit in hand anywhere in their starting area that has not already been occupied. Players should keep in mind the terrain in play and also currently placed cards to judge the most effective position for the placed card.
- When all cards are placed, the starting player can now move units.
- The starting player's advantage of moving first is balanced by their opponent who places the last card in the setup phase

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Andy Preece - Retired

I've installed Football Manager 07 again since this system is looking stable, and since the writeup of A history of Briton for Rome: total war added more depth to the gameplay, I've decided to do a commentary piece again.

It so happens that looking around the fansites while waiting for the install to complete I found that LLMaddict is putting up prizes for a Low League Manager challenge. Say no more!

I've played barrow a couple of times now, and could pretty easily get them up into 1st division, so I decided to try another nore challenging tack. Start the game unemployed and skip the first 2 months. What this does is let the game stabilize with all the free players and coaches that are 'available' at the start of the game to be absorbed into existing clubs. One of the big exploits was to get in quick and nab some quality coaches that are at a loose end at the start of the game, so this gets around that and makes it a bit more difficult. So I started up a large DB with ~20 leagues and let it play ...

After 2 months there was only one position vacant, and that of a division 1 club that I'd hardly get (and didn't want to either, no point attempting a low league challenge from 1/2 way up the ladder). There was nothing to do but roll on the turns until another vacancy came up.

September ... nothing.

October ... nothing. I don't like the way this is heading.

November finally brought up a conference national appointment. I had been looking at the table and seeing Barrow languishing at the bottom I was kind of hopeful that Brian Keen would get the chop to let me in. It wasn't to be though, but another conference north team in Worcester had dropped to the depths of relegation when they were expecting a possible promotion battle. Andy Preece stepped aside, but still remained at the club as a player, so it left an interesting scenario to view my takeover of the club from a 3rd person's perspective (akin to what I did with Asterix in A history of Briton).

So I put up a new blog, Andy Preece's blog. Well, not really Andy Preece, but a documentary of the game from his perspective, as if he were writing a blog about it. I stripped out the normal date/time stamps of when the posts were written and replaced them with manual titles so that I can make it look like they have been posted from a time correlating to the game.

After putting up a few posts I then fixed up the title bar a little with some graphics. After spending the better part of a week working on the new St Luke's website it felt odd sitting there dog tired at 3am in the morning, making up transition fades and debugging CSS. Oh well, it's done and although it wasn't exactly the look I was after, it'll do for now.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Word of the Day: Curmudgeon

There's been a number of times that John Dvorak has been called a curmudgeon on TWiT , but in episode 93 a new level of cantankerousness was added.

Indie Games

Need to try Fastcrawl at home, doesn't work at work (heh).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

He expired in fearful agony ...

Sandy has been digging into some family history of late, and had come across some old news reports back in 1892:

Fatal Accidents at Bundaberg, July 25.
Two fatal accidents occurred on Saturday. A child named Sydney PASHLEY, 4 years old, was run over at North Bundaberg by a bullock dray, its head being severed from it's body.

At Fairymead a workman named Conrad RODEGER fell into a tank of boiling juice. He got himself out, but was fearfully burnt. He was removed to the Bundaberg Hospital, where he expired in fearful agony on Saturday afternoon.

Another fatal accident occurred to-day. A well known farmer named Joseph NEWELL, of Kalkall, was leading a horse which had been newly broken in to harness, when the horse bolted and threw him under the dray, the wheel of which passed over him, killing him instantly, his neck being broken.

Quote of the day goes to Conrad and the obit writer for terming his death as "expired in fearful agony". Ouch.

And I thought the current news was graphic ...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Virtual Terrain

In an attempt to get the research side of the PhD underway, I googled up a few more sites to do with procedural terrain generation. First a nostalgic look over Pierre Terdinam's terrain work from back in the amiga demo scene, then a trip over to Thatcher Ulrich's Chunked LOD stuff.

After poking around for a while I found an old project that I had thought had passed on, but it seems alive and well. The Virtual Terrain Project attempts to bring together all forms of data collection, storage and visualisation of anything to do with virtual terrain. Of most interest is a whole page on artificial terrain generation, which covers a lot of the bases that I had been looking at. Some recent IEEE papers on terrain synthesis make the scene look alive and well too.