Monday, March 24, 2008

GameLog 32

Sins of a Solar Empire (25h) - An email coming through alerted me to a 1.03 upgrade to Sins. I hadn't even touched it since the betatesting my pre-order over 6 months ago.

The game plays Ok, but is oh so slooow. It's especially true when you're trying to finish up the game. The game on Sunday night went for 7&1/2 hours, but I knew after the first 2 that I'd win. After the first 4 I had every tech and 1/2 the map, but it still took 3 hours to hunt down each race. I haven't even finished either. It got to ~2:30 am and I was nodding off waiting for my fleet to munch through their defences and colonize. Maybe another 1/2 hour for them to concede.

Dwarf Fortress (10h) - Soaking up my lunch hour at work along with a different dungeon at home. Convinced Sam to give it a go too.

Pirates! (8h) - Started getting hard to win the sword fights at level 5, and then got distracted with other things.

Football Manager 08 (2h) - Still debating whether to write up the Gateshead games from a manager + history buff wife's perspective.

Trackmania Nations (2h) - St Luke's CCG.

Monday, March 17, 2008

UniLog 3

17/3 (2h) - Went out to Uni after work today to hopefully meet up with more from the course. I didn't see anyone familiar, although I didn't look that hard. Spent the time in the lab going over the difference between teaching and pedagogy. Finally some time for the 'other' subject.

15/3 (3h) - Went out to Uni for the Saturday session. Didn't really achieve much, mainly a chat session, but it was a good litmus for everyone else's position in the workload. The time spent at reso is still paying off, but I'll need to get moving to keep up.

GameLog 31

Pirates! (25h) - After playing through PotBS test it reminded me of Sid Meier's Pirates! Matt had mentioned playing it over the christmas break and that had also made me reconsider digging it out. For some reason I didn't get much out of it the first time around. I don't think I even finished 1 character. The original on the amiga was awesome, one of the first truly open ended games. Maybe it was the fond memories of the original that made me critique the remake so much. It certainly felt a lot fresher going back to it and the ship combat was smooth and tactical. Certainly felt more engaging and 'getting down to the fun' than PotBS.

This time around it was really hard to put down. I'd spent most nights of the week up to at least 2am playing it with 'just one more battle' or 'just gotta get back to sell off that spice before dividing the plunder'. Hallmarks of a great game.

Dwarf Fortress (20h) - Soaking up my lunch hour at work along with a different dungeon at home. Convinced Sam to give it a go too.

Football Manager 08 (2h) - Dabbled a little. Still no more games though.

Trackmania Nations (1h) - St Luke's CCG.

Monday, March 10, 2008

UniLog 2

9/3 (3h) - Been waiting for the online tests to be available and a solid hour to attempt them. in the end I finished both test within 1/2 hour as well as documenting some oddities in the language. 9/10 and 10/10. Solid.

The netiquette questions I had used as examples for my forum thread happened to be in the actual test. Now it looks like I'm giving away actual test answers. The timing of the info should make it OK, but it looks suspicious. Hopefully people are mature enough to see the difference. The problem is that my comments about the inconsistency of netiquette rules when applied to 2 very similar situations now transfer to inconsistency in an actual test. I'm pretty sure the point I missed in the first test was for that, but I'm happy skipping a point for following what I believe is better netiquette than the tests were advocating.


While I was at the reso college I had an idea of making another log similar to the GameLog to track the effort I'm putting in to the Uni course. Hopefully this will also stir (shame) me into keeping up with the study.

25/4 (9h) - First day at the residential college. I had arrived to a waterlogged Rockhampton on Sunday and settled in at Adonna & Brett's place. Got to Uni early to have a look around the place, but it looked like everything was shut until ~8:30. I grabbed an access code to the education lab that happened to be Macs. Just needed to check mail and blackboard anyway.

Lectures started in pretty comfortable fashion and the day pretty much went to plan. I had resolved my placement at St Luke's by the end of the day. One problem fixed, 3 to go.

Got access codes to the IT rooms at lunch and used them at every break to go over the online coursework. May as well get the most out of being up here.

26/4 (10h) - Picked up the textbook, 2 jobs down. Most of the morning is general orientation with the other starting Uni students that could be safetly skipped. Spent the time in the lab going over the blackboard material. There's virtually no posts on the forums so maybe no-one else is hitting it this hard. I put my 2cents worth in about some anomalies in the netiquette tests.

Lectures are getting more involved on actual content rather than housekeeping. We go through using the blackboard and at least I found out about the GDLT overview course accessible from inside blackboard, but not from MyCQU. Cleared up IT/Maths instead of IT/Science, 3 jobs down. Only Student ID card to go.

Missed another meeting opportunity with Dennis Jarvis to talk about the PhD. looks like it's not to be.

27/2 (7h) - Get in early and use the labs to finish off the content for the first 2 weeks. Should be enough to see me through to a study group setup. 2 actual lectures today on coursework. Some interesting stuff, and it's looking like more work than I planned. All the preparation going into a lesson looks like total overkill and I'm sure no-one at St Luke's goes into that much depth. Maybe you get used to it and don't have to write everything down?

After being spurned by all sorts of departments in an attempt to get a student ID card in person, I finally find the right guy who simply asked for my drivers license and a minute later I had my card (dodgey license photo included). I'm happy. Everything outstanding is now done and it's looking all sorted.

Final lecture finishes 1 hour early and Riki's suprised. I take it as a sign to head home early, hopefully to arrive for tea.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

GameLog 28 & 29 & 30

Been flat out with Uni, Work and games. The sufferer? Gamelogs. Another combined log with times averaged across all 3 weeks so they are comparable to other logs.

Dwarf Fortress (7h) - A healthy dose of fortress building got me back into the roguelike mood. Unfortunately the game is incredibly complex to get into. It's almost impossible to play without the wiki. I was also looking at an article at gamasutra about ForumWarz where they purposefully designed their game to be simple to get into, commenting that "as if someone is going to sit down and read through a wiki before playing". I'd agree too.

The problem I think is that there is very little autonomy in the game. You pretty much have to tell them to do everything apart from eat and sleep (which they seem to enjoy doing far too often). The learning curve to build a fortress enough to get through to the first travellers is hard enough before worrying about goblin attacks or internal rebellion. It looks a much deeper play experience than Settlers or the like, but it also chows down on the CPU and memory like a modern game. It feels wrong for a character based game to struggle, but it must be doing some heavy calculations in the background (or be poorly written) to sit at a solid 50% CPU and 300Mb memory on an early fortress.

Pirates of the Burning Seas (7h) - Had a 7 day trial for Sandy and I to test out PotBS. We opted for pirates to get going and it played pretty well. The sea combat feels really good. Reminds me a lot of the old "Sid Meier's Pirates!" game for ease of naval battle and openness. The hand-to-hand fighting is a little dull until you start getting some special moves to use. Bombs work great!

The economy looks like it has potential, but relying heavily on a player based economy tree needed that area to be simple to get into and flooded with items to make the economy find its feet. Building factories seems to be very labour intensive and unrewarding pastime as you're not going to be making anything useful without 3 or 4 factories, let alone trying to build a boat. Personally I'd have liked to try the game at a more mature level to see what type of difference players could get by spending all the effort of building boats.

Warcraft 3: TFT (3h) - Gem TD was a welcome outcome from the LAN 3 weeks ago. It also made an appearance at last week's LAN, but the big LAN this week featured more of DOTA and worm wars.

TF2 (2h) - Suffered lots from the reso college causing a distinct break with normal playtime.

Trackmania Nations (2h) - St Luke's CCG + LANs.

Football Manager 08 (2h) - Managed to look through a couple more possible players, but on the whole it's been putting me to sleep rather than making time disappear.

ForumWarz (1h) - A little diversion after reading a good gamasutra article on the creator.

World of Warcraft (1h) - Poking my head in every now and then, but nothing too serious.