Saturday, December 07, 2013

GameLog 313 - 324

Been putting off doing a GameLog for a while mainly due to a site redesign coming up. Comments are now broken and there's other parts that needs a freshen up. Happy to stay with Blogspot for now, but am keen to completely redo the template.

Lots of things to be missed, but here goes ...

Warlock: Master of the Arcane (80h) - Armageddon map looked to add a whole lot more nastiness, but it still felt a little too easy once you get going. Tried a 1-city challenge on it and much more tense game. Final seal to fall and the mage guarding it seems almost impossible to take down with the set I have. Might just need to rush it and resurrect the unlucky.

Crusader Kings II (40h) - Fresh start and I'm already owning most of Scotland, Ireland and parts of France.

At the Gate (30h) - Closed Alpha testing.

League of legends (20h) - LAN stalwart. Slowing down the nightly need, but still ticking along. Alien Heimer skin!

Terraria (20h) - New patch has brought this one back into high rotation for LANs.

Path of Exile (16h) - F2P Diablo. Nice skill tree.

Card Hunter (10h) -After the month ended, it didn't really have the legs to keep me entertained. There's talk of expansions though.

Neptune's pride II (10h) - New release. Beginner game look to be Sandy's. Still in the 64 player, but only 1 planet left.

Tales of Maj Eyal (5h) - Seems easy for the most part, then an intense couple of turns when you know you're in trouble. Interesting how that's developing.

Long live the Queen (5h) - sounded like a better version of Persona or Princess maker, but the linearity of it got to me at the end.

Might & Magic, Duel of Champions (3h) - Sounded like an interesting CCG, but no single player past the initial tutorial. Little disappointing.

Legends of Eisenwald (2h) - Looked good, but still early beta or possibly alpha. Usually don't mind early release, but this seemed to just rub me the wrong way. Happy to wait a couple of months for it to get fleshed out.

Mount & Blade: Fire & Sword (2h) - LAN multiplayer.

Tower of Saviours (2h) - Moved distributors ofthe game and it took at least 1.5 hours to set up alternate accounts to keep the same save alive. Way to kill off a game!

F1 2012 (2h) - pre-race racing before the real F1

Hurl (1h) - VR Jumpy!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Crusader Kings II: Creating a character without the Ruler Designer

 When considering a new start to my Scottish campaign, I came up with a new method of designing characters that does not require the Ruler Designer. Even though I had the designer, I wanted a more randomised start rather than picking my stats, but definitely wanted to set up the name. For those that do not have the ruler designer, this method should work too. Here’s the shortened version:
1) Create a town and name it to your surname
2) Keep inviting nobles to court until one comes with that surname
3) Grant a landed, playable title to the new character.

Creating a town: 

 - You will need to choose any province with a blank space. If you have one in mind, awesome, but any province will do.
- You will also need 700 gold. This will equate to about 5 years of play as a king, or ~15 years of play as a duke. At maximum speed without any wars this takes around ½ hour for a duke. Don’t forget to assign ‘gather taxes’ from your court. You might want to save before creating the city if you feel like using that start for other surnames.
- Once paid for, the town will take about 2 years to build

Naming your town: 

- To rename a town you must be the highest independent sovereignty over that title. This means that if you are an independent earl or duke you can do it, but if you are an earl or duke under a king or emperor, then you need to save the game, load it as the king or emperor and rename the city.
 - Once renamed, load the game back as the current ruler of the province the city is in to pass it on.

Invite nobles to court 

- Once you have control of the direct ruler of the new city, invite nobles to your court until one arrives with the new city’s title. Congratulations! There’s your new randomly generated character!

Grant landed title 

- Now that you have the character, all you need is to grant him any title of earl or greater so that you can play them. It doesn’t need to be the same title as the city, but since you have gone to that effort to make a home base, it hay as well be your capital too.

Starting REALLY small. 

- Since your character has just been generated, you will have 0 money, 0 prestige, 0 piety.
 - You will also have 0 court if you took you new character over immediately after creating and assigning them a landed title. With no money this makes it rather interesting bringing in the right people to hold down council positions.

Good luck with the game!

Crusader Kings 2: A fresh Start

After playing through the Bo’ness clan into a position of ruling Britannia, I had made a couple of errors along the way that stalled the main goal; to build a strong Scotland for Europa Universalis IV. The critical failure was to claim Ireland and England. Even though I wasn’t going to do that at the start, it seemed an easier way to conquer the remaining parts of those kingdoms. Scotland still remained the primary title, but Ireland and England ceased to convert culturally to Scottish control.

Another misstep was to aim for Seniority succession. By the time the Bo’ness clan had embedded itself all over Britannia, there were ~120 living descendants in the family tree. This amount meant that the claimants were lining up and getting any more that 5-10 years out of a ruler was going to be lucky. It turned into an old-aged concession as more and more resources were spent just keeping everyone together during the early stages of a King’s rule. Seniority succession DID come in handy in the early game as that was how I claimed Lothian, and brought in multiple titles from passing on to another branch of the family. I was also hoping that the rapid succession changes meant an additional boost to score as there were more people coming in with an already established piety & prestige score, but the amount was dwarfed by a couple of years in the top job. For this playthrough I’ll aim at Primogeniture succession. This should make passing control from one generation to another even easier without the risk of breaking apart the realm, albeit not able to gather any more provinces from the succession itself. Hopefully the additional stability of a long rule will make up for the lack of gaining provinces. There might even be opportunity to start as succession, then swap to primogeniture, but I might just try to build it straight from the start and compare it to the Seniority succession game.

When considering starting again I also thought back to the start of the game. Even though I owned the ruler designer, I didn't really like the way it allows you to pick your traits from the start. Yes, they are somewhat balanced by points and age, but it felt a little contrived. For this playthrough I thought of using the ‘Invite a noble to court’ feature to randomly generate my dynasty line. Unfortunately in testing you cannot use the ruler designer to change the player from a save game, only from the starting periods. Another thought I had was that I'd created the Bo'ness city in Lothian that had spawned lowborn mayors with the Bo'ness title, so I tried to replicate that by playing forward until I could create the city, then promote the Mayor to an earl of the province. Unfortunately it also brought the city with him to the top title, turning it into an unplayable republic (even though I have the republic DLC :/). The final solution was to invite nobles to court after the city had been created in to hope that one would be of Bo'ness heritage. First one was that, excellent!

Another benefit to this method is to let the game play through a couple of years to get the political engine going. This makes it a little more natural to join in as well as having all the good unattached nobles be locked away by other nations.

 New Game, New Rules 

Considering the aims of this game, the current imposed rules for this playthrough are to be:
- Create a random character of the Bo’ness line
- Always have Bo’ness as the capital
- Do not own titles above Scotland
- Spread Scottish De Jure titles as far as possible

To keep Scotland strong I’m also going to have, as a general rule, Scottish courtiers and Scottish mentors. This might get a little muddy when bringing in people for marriages, but we’ll see how we go.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Calculation of win percentages

This article is part of a series on designing a tournament:
Part 1 - Designing a Tournament
Part 2 - A grading system
Part 3 - Calculation of Win Percentages (this article)

One holdup in determining a grade for different tournament system is to settle on an algorithm to give consistent win percentages that scale with the difference in true skill of the competitors. Initially I had used a 100% win ratio to the higher ranked player for determining the inherent bias in a tournament system so that the result could be clear of as many other biases as possible, however this precludes tournaments that attempted to add more games to a match for bias reduction. Without some chance for the lower ranked player to overcome a higher ranked player (even a slim chance) there would be no need to play best of 3 matches, best of 5 matches and the like for the better player to prove their worth.

 Ideally I'd like to come up with a system that gives a win chance similar to a standard deviation bell curve or some sort of sigmoid function that granted ever higher win chances the greater the skill difference was between players. As it turns out, the bell curve presented as a cumulative chance for success also appears as a sigmoid. Also, the idea of having ranks of importance to also determine the relative skill differences appeals as the difference between 2nd & 5th should be far more significant than the difference between 32nd and 35th. Even though there may not be a bell curve of skill displayed at the tournament, it would be prudent to assume that we have the top end of the bell curve in attendance.

After a couple of attempts at mapping the ranks of importance onto units of standard deviation, another mathematical nicety presented itself: The inverse ratio of each player's true skill produces the same ratio between ranks: 2:1. Eg: 2nd in true skill play 4th in true skill (1 rank apart) gives 4:2 => 2:1. 8th plays 16th (1 rank apart) gives 16:8 => 2:1. 2nd plays against 8th (2 ranks apart) gives 8:2 => 4:1. 4th plays 16th (2 ranks apart) gives 16:4 => 4:1.

This inverse ratio means a difference of one rank has 66% chance to win over their opponent, a difference of 2 ranks gives 75% chance to win, 3 ranks gives 88.5% chance, etc. Not quite as steep as the standard deviation steps, but follows along the same shape as cumulative chance for success. This should fit quite nicely for now.

Monday, September 30, 2013

GameLog 310 - 312

Card Hunter (40h) - Browser game that looks and feels like 1st Ed D&D, but plays with a rather interesting card mechanic.

League of legends (20h) - LAN stalwart & nightly ARAMs with Sam & Co.

Tales of Maj Eyal (15h) - Getting back into ToME to prep for Notorious

Crusader Kings II (5h) - Still a struggle with Seniority succession. England has broken away and will be a long war to get them back in the fold.

Tower of Saviours (2h) - Still entertaining, but the gaps between being able to do something different is getting longer and longer.

F1 2012 (2h) - pre-race racing before the real F1

Terraria (2h) -More multiplayer with Cam.

Hurl (1h) - Ooooh Yeah!


Lets play a game. Try to guess what country I’m thinking of.

I’ll give you a couple of hints, but it can be any country, so feel free to change your choice to another country if you think it will fit better.

 This country is in peace.

 This country has been in peace for a while, actually, and a whole generation hasn't experienced a full scale war.

 This country has lots of natural resources.

 This country has become prosperous by trading natural resources to other countries. Very prosperous.

 This country is prosperous enough that almost everybody is well off. They have somewhere to live, as much food as they want and enough money to buy something luxurious every now and then. Some are so rich that they can buy almost anything they want, especially those trading off natural resources.

 There are some in this country that aren't so rich, but there are so many opportunities that it’s really their own fault for not being able to carve out their share of this wonderful land. I guess you might say that they are bums, hangers on, dole bludgers.

 This country is a wonderful place to live. There’s parties on all the time and those with money really know how to spend it.

 Others wouldn’t mind living here too, but you don’t know what they might do when they get here. They might be dole bludgers too? It’s probably for the best to keep this country strong and make it hard for others to get in.

 In this country religion probably isn't as strong as it used to be. There doesn't seem to be as many people worshiping as there used to be, but nobody seems to really mind what with all the money and expensive things to get.

 There are obviously many religions in this country. What with all the people coming and going it’s a bit much to tell them who they should worship. They might stop trading with us?

 Ok, Hands up those who are guessing Israel?

 We didn’t read the Old Testament reading today, but if we did it might have been a bit more of a giveaway. Israel is in a period of great prosperity and wealth under the rule of King Jeroboam II. Israelites are highly affluent and the envy of close nations.

Into this mix, the prophet Amos comes in with a message from God, but it isn’t a good one for the Israelites: Here’s the Old Testament read from “The Message”
 1-2 Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life.
You assume you’re at the top of the heap, voted the number-one best place to live.
Woe to those who live in luxury and expect everyone else to serve them!
Woe to those who live only for today, indifferent to the fate of others!
Woe to the playboys, the playgirls, who think life is a party held just for them!
Woe to those addicted to feeling good—life without pain!
those obsessed with looking good—life without wrinkles!
They could not care less about their country going to ruin.
7 But here’s what’s really coming: a forced march into exile.
They’ll leave the country whining, a rag-tag bunch of good-for-nothings. 

 Come on Amos, surely it’s not that bad?
 Unfortunately it was that bad. In a few short years, Israel is attacked and they are all marched off into exile. All that money and wealth stripped bare. Nothing.

 We, too, could have played the guessing game with Australia in mind. How would we react if Amos appeared in our midst? Woe to us who live in luxury. All your building up of wealth. Where will it be when you die?

 Both the Israelites, and likely us too, are suffering from a deadly disease that is running rampant:
Affluenza, an influenza of affluence. The relentless pursuit of collecting stuff.
Once you have some stuff, rather than being happy, you desire even more stuff. Like a classic addiction, pursuing allfuence leads only more pursuit of affluence.
It spreads easily too. All you have to do is boast about your level of affluence to pass the disease on.

 Most people are infected with this insidious disease and are completely unaware that it threatens to destroy their eternal future. And saddest of all, most people do not even care. Whilst many are aware of the problem, they think that it is not going to hurt them or their families.

 Here today God is warning us of this danger and pleading for us to be alert, so that this problem does not destroy us. Through each of the readings today, God is seeking to make us aware of the dangers that are ever associated with this affluence - serious dangers.

 “Watch out!” he says, “these are distractions!”. “What good is there if you gain these riches, but lose out on the the gift of salvation and eternal life I am offering? What if you gained the whole world? It’s still nothing compared to this wonderful free gift placed before you.” I came down and died for you, and you’re playing with these baubles in the sand??”

 How are we to fight off this penchant for collecting stuff? It’s natural for us to do, and our bodies crave earthly desires too.

“Change my heart oh God Make it ever true,
Change my heart oh God, may I be like you”
With your eyes I can see the needs in others. With your hands I can be extravagantly generous With your voice I can spread the good news
Mould me and make me, this is what I pray.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GameLog 305 - 309

Crusader Kings II (240h) - Was a little ambivalent about Europa Universalis IV until I saw it had a CKII exporter. That led to another big playthrough as Scotland with a couple of artificial brakes put in place so I don't have the entire european world under rule by the time the expansion came out. Those locks fell off one by one with the need to keep going, so hopefully I'll play as a minor nation alongside the massive Scotland juggernaut in EU4. Been a while since I played and although I knew general strategies, I'd found myself rediscovering little tricks along the way. Will need to write them up or document them in some way before I finish this playthrough.

The Bo'ness clan has now expanded from a humble county ruler to the recent establishment of the Brittanic Empire. Circa 1240, so a couple of big power plays to go. Seniority succession should be good for the final score, but is getting to be a pain with no long term leaders.

 Shadowrun Returns (20h) - Finally finished another game! Found out later that the designer was the original Shadowrun guy, so no wonder it had captured the atmosphere of the original. Highly recommended, but you need to read all the flavour text to get the most out of it..
League of legends (15h) - LAN stalwart & Nightly FWOTD.

Tower of Saviours (10h) - Falling back to the hourly challenges and weekend gold runs, but still the best match-3 game out there.

Eador:masters of a broken world (5h) - On hold from the CKII juggernaut coming through again.

F1 2012 (5h) - pre-race racing before the real F1

Space Hulk (2h) - Plays like the board game, but a little lethargic. Will dig it out a again sometime.

Terraria (2h) -More multiplayer with Cam.

Friday, August 09, 2013

GameLog 299-304

Eador:masters of a broken world (70h) - Still plays well, and finally getting up in levels where it's starting to require level II units. The requirement for knowing your capabilities and the opponent's capabilities is still pretty high, unfortunately finding out whether you'll live is a savegame away. Contemplating replaying with autocombat turned on.

Tower of Saviours (50h) -Much better match 3 replacement for Candy Crush. In fact going back to candy crush is laughably random compared to the deep skill and strategy in each move of ToS. Monster choice (especially ally choice) makes a real difference too.

FTL (20h) - Another couple of runs. Still fun but I like the strategy I've built around Engi ships. Others aren't much chop, but would like to open up all of them for completeness.

Shadowrun Returns (13h) - Interesting story, and the writing fits right into the feel of the book / world. Pretty linear, but the story is keeping it going.

League of legends (12h) - LAN stalwart & Cam's goto multiplayer game.

Civ 5 (7h) - Couple of scenarios in ancient aztec lands. Quite interesting take on history, but didn't stay for the endgame.

Terraria (5h) -More multiplayer with Cam.

Rogue Legacy (5h) - Interesting take on the rogue permadeath where keeping the gold for permanent increases after each run, but losing any unspent gold upon entrance to the dungeon again, splits up the pain into more meaningful chunks. Bit contrived though. Would return to it if in the platformer mood though.

Company of Heroes 2 (5h) - Was really looking forward to it, but dropping right out of the radar now. I'm pretty sure I'll go back and at least finish the campaign at some point.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 : Platinum (2h) - I had a feeling that the 3D had taken the mystery off Sawyer's classic, but the amount of variety is refreshing. Economic fun.

Star Conflict (2h) - Free2play space dogfighter. Useful, but not noteworthy.

Skyward collapse (2h) - Pushed into the middle ages during the steam sales, but got distracted by the new shinies.
Monaco (1h) - Tried 4 player at LAN and it still was mayhem. Very interested in trying 2 player though as I think that's be the sweet spot. Possibly worth another copy since Sandy has shown interest.

Gnomoria (1h) - poor man's isometric Dwarf Fortress. Without any updates from DF though, any mirage is still worth chasing.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 (1h) - Party games for LAN.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Won’t you come home?

Won’t you come home?

Luke 9:51-62

 - Looking forward to adventure
 - Some things don’t make it in
   o  No TV
   o No Computers
   o No air conditioning
   o   No warm showers
   o   No comfortable & familiar beds
 - Turning for home
   o   Good to be home
In the gospel reading today, Jesus turns resolutely for home, For Jerusalem
 - Up to this point his journey has been rather exciting. He’s been baptised, he’s called his disciples, he’s healed the sick, cured the blind, had a mountain-top experience with his Father, Moses and Elijah, fed the 5000, told lots of parables, and, as we heard last week, driving out demons. But now it’s time to turn home.
 - This isn’t going to be an easy road home. Jesus knows what is to come and Jerusalem is going to be a different place. There won’t be comfortable sofa to flop into, but a hard wooden cross. There won’t be friends and family to welcome you back, but a crowd full of hate, wanting him dead. Still, Jesus turns resolutely and heads back.
When he started toward Jerusalem, people had mixed reactions to his journey. Some were eager to join in, others refusing to listen, others happy to tag along on their own terms.  Jesus has no time for any of them and cuts to the bone.

Some people were all too eager to follow him. There had been wild sensation about this new teacher who drew large crowds and performed miracles? Could he be the messiah? We hear of one man stating that he would follow Jesus wherever he went, but Jesus isn't interested in his promises because he knew his heart. Jesus responds with a somewhat puzzling
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head”
Herod, the regional leader at the time, was also known as the fox, and Rome’s insignia is the eagle. Foxes and eagles have a place here that they call their own, but not the Son of Man, not Jesus. The man thought that Jesus was coming to kick out the Romans and establish his own kingdom here, but Jesus’ journey was to the cross and victory over sin, death and the devil. 
Focus and listen, really listen.

We hear of 2 others that hear Jesus’ call to follow him, but ask for a little time first. One wants to bury his father. A reasonable request even in today’s society. Jesus replies
“let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God”
The Kingdom Jesus is establishing is not of this world. You think you need to spend time doing earthly chores, when a far more important a long-reaching task is being asked of you.

Another wants to say goodbye to his family first. Jesus once again cuts to the core:
            “No-one puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God”
The call to follow is NOW, not sometime later. There is work to be done NOW, not sometime later. You might love your family, they might really love you, but they can’t save you. 
Jesus says “Focus and work. Really work”

Our journey through life is short and fleeting. We’re on a camping trip. Sure it’s exciting sometimes, but there comes a turning point where we need to head for home. Our real home. Jesus' journey didn't end in Jerusalem, his real journey conquered the grave. He went home to heaven and is preparing a place for us. He’s there calling us. You can be comfortable here. 
Focus and listen, the turning point is now. 
Won’t you come home?

Monday, June 24, 2013

GameLog 297-298

Eador:masters of a broken world (22h) - Knife-edge balance between romping a map and being rolled. Everything's just got to go right or you could seriously lose the map or make it take 4 times longer to win. Begs to be save/loaded, but I'm resisting the urge unless there's monsters I haven't seen yet.  

Candy Crush Saga (14h) - Brain candy.

7 grand steps (10h) - Intriguing end of ages have kept this from getting a little predicctable. Got Sandy hooked too.

Kerbal space program (6h) - Attempting lunar orbits from the demo.

League of legends (5h) - LAN stalwart.

Terraria (5h) - I have a feeling that Cam's mates at school are now getting into this one, which has lead to more multiplayer requests. I'm finally out of my harcore character phase and have built a softcore to explore the current changes.

Warhammer Quest (1h) - iPhone game that I thought I'd get a little more mileage out of.

VR Demos (1h) - although the use of the Rift hasn't been as much as expected, it's certainly sparked an interesting array of questions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

GameLog 293-296

Eador:masters of a broken world (40h) - Plays like dominions 3 mixed with Heroes of Might and Magic. Some really interesting overland map decisions with simultaneous turn resolution, coupled with tactical hex based combat. Lots of weighty decisions and a difficulty scale that puts most 4x builders to shame. Lots of 3am's seen due to this one.

Candy Crush Saga (20h) - Light enough the get a couple of games in before work or on the way to bed. I'm not sure what it is, but F2P games like this don't really make me want to spend money. I see the ability to win levels without resorting to paying up for advantages a challenge, and one that makes me dig deeper to accomplish rather than relinquish cash to remove.

7 grand steps (7h) - interesting indie game with solid mechanics and a mechanical arcade machine feel. Works well and engaging enough for me to see the sun rise.

League of legends (5h) - consistent games with cam and still the LAN stalwart.

Skyward collapse (3h) - interesting concept and $5. Just what's needed from an indie title. I think I've glommed onto a winning strategy though, so it mightn't have the legs that I thought it might.

TF2 (2h) - oculus rift testing as well as Steam's trading card beta.

More from the missing 2 weeks?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GameLog 285-292

Hmm, 2 months last time, 2 & 1/2 months this time. Oh well, stretch the memory muscle.

Fallen Enchantress (35h) - New patch changed the way settlers are produced (locking them back to population again) and it's made a big impact on the way I play mainly due to freeing up the build queue for something other than settlers. Getting to a very nice place now.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes (27h) - Beta version is on steam. Big changes to the way you attract heroes, but still feeling like a Beta. Fallen Enchantress came together in leaps and bounds in the last incarnation of the betas, but I'm a little suprised how much they have attempted to rebuild things to give it that 'unfinished' feel again. Still, Steam achievements are a wonderful thing.

ToME (15h) - Couple more Characters into the ToME grinder. Still liking a dwarven alchemist and I'm sure it'd take me a fair way into the game if I cut out the stupid deaths. Due to the scripted outside world I'm finding there's more and more time between interesting choices at the start of the game, yet always a click away from getting in too deep and wiping.

SimCity (10h) - Seems more in-depth of a simulation than before, but still even easier to make massive amounts of cash. Lack of difficulty made this an early shelf.

Candy Crush Saga (10h) - Match-3 with varying maps for difficulty. The facebookiness has been toned down, but still present to get up levels every now & then. Starting to get to the point where you need to be lucky to progress.

League  of Legends (8h) - LAN standard, plus a FWOTD every now & then.

Warframe (6h) - Free to play FPS focusing on 3rd person viewpoint and parkour / ninja wall running and blade fighting. LAN group staple at the moment, but I'm still struggling to see how the whole upgrade path works.

Firefall (5h) - Bought into the beta on Greig's recommendation. An interesting over-the-shoulder FPS with dynamic quests. Probably still not as dynamic as I'd like, but better than nothing.

Stardrive (5h) - Indie 4x space game with real time elements. Feels like the interface need s little work to manage exactly what's going on at any point in time. Actually what it needs is an autopause once events occur like a scouted planet etc. Probably an EU3 / CK2 format would work. Also needs more ways to look after planet selection to see if they are taken or in a dangerous position.

Need for speed: Most Wanted (5h) - Present for EA's bungling of SimCity launch. Drives Ok for a racer, and might be worth a spot on the HDD for blowing-off-steam driving. Pity it isn't on steam though.

TrackMania Stadium (4h) - new version of TrackMania. Plays well, but probably much of the same to draw in any new crowd.

Civ4: Colonization (3h) - Found a mod to make it more like the original. Plays well so far.

Minecraft (3h) - Cam & Rachael's go-to game still. Set up a server so they can play with schoolmates.

Mechwarrior online (2h) - Enough time to kick it into gear for some LANs, but it looks like WarFrame has now wrestled the FPS mantle from it's grasp.

Mini Motor Racing EVO (2h) - Simple top-down racer for my birthday to bide me overuntil Company of Heroes 2 is released.

Monaco (1h) - Early Birthday prezzie. Almost bought a 4-pack. Looks like it can handle a couple of runs on the same levels to score-chase.

Neverwinter (1h) - Enough to clear the starting zone. Competing a fair bit for time in the F2P MMO space.  

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Google Earth data for QLD

One of the jobs this week was to let Google Earth download and operate through a rather restrictive firewall so that the company could make use of additional data provided by the QLD Government. It sounded like they got the link from some bulk email, so I thought it wouldn't be that hard to track down once I got home. 15 minutes later and I still didn't have the link. I found heaps of references to the data being available, but none had the actual link to the data itself (or any indication where it was). Luckily I knew it was in the mining and natural resources website, so a limited search in there for 'Google Earth' finally got what I was looking for (EDIT: Google is playing ball a little more now. Lots of salient links filtering to the top including the actual press release that had the link included).

This data is awesome. Truly awesome. To top it off there's flood levels and images from Bundaberg 2013 floods and other flooding events to dig into. There'd been a bit of debate as to the water flow over Bundy north, and the images included give a great amount of detail as to where the water was going and how fast it it was flowing. I'd heard from another colleague that there may even be maps with water depth & water velocity floating around somewhere, but I haven't found them yet.

Unfortunately the KML link that is given by the main website doesn't stay around when you reopen Google Earth, even when you're signed in. I tried a couple of ways to make it stick, but without swapping over to the enterprise version of Google Earth there doesn't seem to be a way to automatically point to multiple mapping engines.

While sifting through some documentation there was also an indication that there were other services on offer, including QTOPO and MINING. A topographic map of Queensland that's scaleable? YES PLEASE~! I found a kml file for the topographic map, but it takes ages for the topographic maps to load and they seem to be almost unreadable. What's worse is moving the zoom in or out to read the map more often than not forces a full reload of the image. The Mining data is even worse. Locked up by a password :/. I did find some tantalizing images of what might be in there though.
Another discovery was an old kml file that builds an information panel of all globe services rather than a direct link to load the QLD Govt engine. This panel can be saved to your "My Places" folder so it's available each time. Unfortunately there's no link to the main data, but it is manually fixable since the kml file is essentially XML / html. If you're game, look at the properties of the link once added to "My Places" and change this line:
<li>QLDGLOBE -</li>
To this line:
<li><a href="">QLDGLOBE</a> -</li>
 All in all, a good afternoon poring over maps and layering more and more info onto them. Don't tell Sandy she also married a map nut ;).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kite jumping & land skiing

All the wild weather over the past few weeks have at least made a couple of great days for flying the kite:

PC Down

I came home Tuesday to a sorry tale of a beeping PC preventing Cam from enjoying the afternoon. It managed to start immediately for me, but after about an hour it blue screened and rebooted. One long continuous beep, several flashing HDD lights, then another long beep. Thinking it might be heat related I left it until after tea, but was still met by the death beep.

Tried the usual trick of reseating RAM & graphics card, but still the long beep kept coming up. Finally it looked like I found the culprit; the upgraded CPU cooling fan was no longer turning. It would make sense that the lack of RPMs reported by the CPU fan would give an alarm, but I thought it was a little drastic to disallow POST.

Over the next few days I tried to pin down a local replacement. Apparently 90mm fans are a little hard to come by compared to 80 or 120, but eventually I got one home today (5 days after it went down). A quick change of the latches to lock it to the Cooler Master Hyper TX3 radiator and I was good to go.

Still beeping? Visions of a cooked CPU flooded my mind, along with the ramifications of being without a PC for an even longer period. I went back into diagnosis mode and hoped that memory or GPU had gone out in sympathy with the HSF. Changed out the memory and finally got the machine to POST to another beep code. Cool, memory it is.

Cleaned the contacts and inserted one of the G-Skill 4Gb memory sticks back in.
Success! No more POST errors.
Cleaned the other and replaced it too.
Looks like it was just a corroded contact, a popular outcome from living 50m from the beach. I'd thought I'd tested for that at the start, but it might have needed a good scrub and slot swap to kick it back into gear.

My suspicionss were also confirmed about the HSF not stopping the POST all on its own. I would expect a CPU heat sensor to finally halt progress after it had a chance to do work on boot, but not stop an attempt to start. How would they know that you weren't using a passive block, or water cooling with its own power system? Other pieces of the puzzle now fit too. The radiator was very hot to touch when the PC finally succumbed on Tuesday, and there had been a fan rattle for the past month or so that definitely sounded like the manual spinning of the defunct coolermaster fan. It would seem that the heat pump and radiator were enough to keep my PC going without the fan? Good news indeed. With the new fan it might even be worth overclocking before something else falls off.

Of more concern than the PC itself was the agitation that it caused me to not have a primary PC. Even though I had a sufficient laptop to do 90% of the games I'd likely play, that I have an iPhone and iPad for more casual retreats, that the game I've been waiting for still hasn't been delivered, and would have just as likely lounged in front of the TV for the same amount of time as I did, it still irks me when it's out of action.

This isn't the first time. There have been other occasions like this and it's the same feeling. Like something is missing, or wrong with the world, and I can't settle down and enjoy other pursuits. Typically this ends in a rather expensive bill and shipment of a shiny new PC. Thinking back it's not usually driven by an urgent need to play newly released game X, but to fill that PC shaped hole in my life and make the world right.

I lasted 5 days this time. Maybe I'm not as addicted as I have been ...

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Notoriously Tomed 0.0.2

After a long deliberation about where to go next with Notorious, a few Roguelike Radios have peaked my interest enough to return to ToME as a dev environment for at least building out a single player experience, possibly more with web server integration.

First off, review the old code and see if it works on the new ToME 1.0.0 engine. Moving the code over was easy enough, but it immediately fails with a lua file error. Looks like all new spells from the summoner code I pinched now have particly effect associated with them. Finding and copying the code is simple enough. Great! It works!

Next is reviewing the development path laid out from a year ago. Even though the design has changed a bit, the next couple of steps still seem to be the same as they were back then. I should Google doc it to make the tracking a little easier.

I'd left the code with lighting issues. What I'd like is that any arbitrary minion or hero can be linked to and highlight the map regardless of where they are. Turns out that it was only a case of changing to The first code looked only for entities within field of view, whereas the 2nd applies the light regardless. Nice & neat.

Next is to turn the heroes onto the other side. They still should be visible if they are carrying gems. Looks like the faction setting allows membership, so removing it from player affiliation makes it work.

Next is to place the heroes at a distance. The target code doesn't seem to work very well, and I'm thinking it's due to the realtime nature of the game not having the targeting in the same turn as the summon. Might be worth more investigation later as some talents might need a target. Arbitrarily placing the point 5 tiles below and to the left is pretty easy though. When approaching them the temporary war hounds go after them pretty well.

Rather than the warhounds chasing down heroes then returning to me, lets see if they can be anchored to the point where they spawned to give them a 'home base'. Hmm, seems easy, but having great difficulty locking down a suitable structure. It looks like there's late binding (or no binding?) on variables as well as the ability to pass completely different structures to the same variable. This is making for some imploding bugs later on, and isn't boding well for robust code down the track. Might need to see if there's a way to make Lua a little more tightly bound.

After a look into Lua's tables, the way they have been used in ToME started to make a little more sense. There is some scary bits:

> t = { apple=5 } > a = "apple" > b = "apple" > c = "app".."le" > print(, t[a], t[b], t[c]) -- all the same value because there is only one "apple"! 5 5 5 5

What .. the .. ?

.. Actually reading it again it's not as bad as I thought. They are using a,b & c as the keys, whereas I thought it was saying that "apple" is defined both inside and outside of the array.

Back to coding with a little more enthusiasm and after about 1 & 1/2 hours of digging into and around the problem, the solution was identical to what I had originally intended, I'd just applied it to the wrong summoning code :/.

Oh well, it still feels like time well spent getting to know the system. 4 hours all up to move the goalposts a little closer and get it to a more comfortable release point:

Notorious 0.0.2

Saturday, February 23, 2013

GameLog 276-284

Hmm, 2 months without a GameLog. This is going to be guesswork for the most part, especially since hardly any of the games have steam stats to help.

ToME (25h) - With toME being crowned the Roguelike of the year again, and it making the final push to 1.0.0, I put a couple more characters into the meat grinder. Funnily enough it's only recorded my last couple of attempts maxing out at level 14, but I'm pretty sure I've dug further than that in previous incarnations. Speaking of incarnations, the count is now up to XXXV in the current build.

Mechwarrior online (20h) - Plays pretty true to the mechwarrior series with a Word-of-Tanks-like upgrade system. Looks like they have thinned out the night maps too, whish has made it a little more approachable. With the ability to group up to 4 players, it's also more welcoming for LANs, alsthough it does suffer from the same fate as WoT in that it's almost more fun playing it single player. There needs to be a way to easily see your lancemates in-game and share comms or some such (beyond skype). Light mechs FTW.

League  of Legends (15h) - LAN standard, plust a FWOTD every now & then. Probably watched over 5 hours of pro LoL too.

Minsecraft (15h) - Picked up  a 2nd account for cam, and also set up a server for both of us to play on. I'd been contemplating doing that for a while as the Minecraft fad hasn't pushed past the year 3's yet. It's a little more meatier than him watching me do hardcore runs too. Rach is in on the act too, and most days there is either one of them puttting in several hours of creative fun in one of their worlds.

with it a more multiplayer environment in th
Guild Wars 2 (10h) - Couple of LANs. Most have lvl 80's now.

Highborn (5h) - new turn based strategy with a somewhat comical storyline. Didn't see a difficulty setting, but it seems to roll over pretty easily. Picked this instead of getting my own copy of Unity of Command (played Greig's over the hols). I think it's filled the need, but I've got a hankering for Philip of Macedon or some other grander strategy.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Notoriously Databased v0.42

Few more modifications & bugfixes before the LAN tonight.
 - Moved equipping minions up in the turn processing order so you can equip and use minions immediately to raid / attack. This is to help late game when you need to be able to attack others in the current turn to prevent a win, whereas bounties cope quite well for dealing with players in the next turn.

 - Check enough space for fortifications
 - Check enough space for elites
 - Check enough space for slaves.
 - Fix elite only raids returning with 1 elite.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2011 & 2012 Game Time


Continuing on from the 2008 Game Time , 2009 Game Time and 2010 Game Time summaries,  2011 Game Time has been added to google docs for further analysis of the GameLogs. The spreadsheet can be organised by total hours to see the winners, or by order entered to get a more historical feel.

Top 5 Game Time 2011
Shogun: Total War 2102
Fantasy Wars66

Grepolis claims another gong for soaking up my attention thoughout a VERY tough year for games while teaching. A couple of huge binges mixed in with consistent demands for my attention. Once again I can put down a lot of that to the guild I was in.

I'm glad Shogun placed up there, as it has been a standout for strategy in the past couple of years. The tactical battles are still much the same, but the overland map and campaign mode has been delightfully enhanced into a tough challenge on legendary mode.

Sengoku fleshed out the Japanese period, but it was really a filler for Crusader Kings II. 

Terraria just kept popping up as something to play with Cameron. I'm surprised at the number of hours it racked up, but still happy it made the list for a year it didn't appear in.

Top 5 Game Time 2012
Stronghold Kingdoms523
Football Manager 2012160
Crusader Kings II151
Guild Wars 2113
World of Tanks90

The Grepolis crew moved over to Stronghold Kingdoms and it had the same effect on my game time, leading the count by a considerable margin. Once again the interaction with clanmates and added incentive of Sandy playing along kept this one high on the priority list for a long time.

I'm a little surprised Footy Manager made a return to the top of the list as I'd almost forgotten about the massive stint on this game 6 months after I'd bought it. 2013 version may suffer the same fate.

Crusader Kings II was one of the standouts for the year and kept my attention more than XCOM, Warlock, Fallen Enchantress and Shogun (again) that all just missed the list.

Guild Wars 2 was also buoyed by clanmates, but this time all the local LAN guys as well as the old QGL crew kept the interest up. Sandy continued long after I did, but the time was definitely well spent. New generation of MMO.

World of Tanks did a Terraria to creep into the list from continuous play rather than standout binges.  First wins kept it rotating slowly, but the lack of decent multiplyer hampered its ability to become a mainstay of the LAN.

GameLog 271 - 275

Final one for the year. Next up a Gamelog summary I promise ...

Endless space (33h) - Didn't particularly like some of the distractions on launch, but it's turned out to be a rather refined, enjoyable version of Masters of Orion. I even caught myself thinking "This game really needs planet compositions based on star age/colour" before finding out it actually does have that. Beat it on hardest with a custom race, but it definitely has legs for the future. Multiplayer needs a way to have co-op against a team of AI's though.

Hegemony Gold (10h) - Greig had picked this one up on steam and it looked the most interesting thing to sink into during the holiday up north. Went North first, before heading east instead of the traditional south to Athens.

Fallen Enchantress  (10h) - Completed the campaign with my custom race, plus another partial game. Still playing well.

Unity of Command (5h) - Another pick from Greig's place. Mentioned many times on Three Moves Ahead, but only having one campain going at once doesn't lend well to sharing. Left Greig with map 3 done with 550 / 600 completion.

Notoriously databased (5h) - A fair few more playthroughs at LANs and New Year's Eve with my brothers. It's turned the corner from being a test into a more complete game in it's own right, along with specific bug fixes and tweaks to make it more streamlined.

AirMech (1h) - Snowball MMO.

Planetside 2 (1h) Snowball MMO RTS.

Hall of Fame

[Press play, then read]

Year 12 are on the home stretch. Tomorrow they have their prom night, then a day at the beach before the final Friday of their schooling life. I, too, am on the home stretch. The final lesson I'll ever teach was cut in half to accomodate graduations song practice, along with a heartfelt message from the principal and head of campus to "remember this time".  Michael W Smith's Friends are friends forever made the cut, along with the more recent Hall of Fame by The Script. I'd heard it before on the radio, and the tune itself lends toward memorable occasions, but does it really represent a christian perspective?

The main point of contention is the chorus line "where the world's gonna know your name". Get out there and do it. Why? Because it'll make you famous. This is inherently a selfish motivation, and undermines all the inspirational lead up that the song provides.

An interesting way to think of the song is to read this line as a statement of fact rather than a guide for yourself. "The world's gonna know you're name". Who's name? Who's the most famous person in history? Jesus. Did he try to be? No. Did he want to be? No. Funnily enough, the song all makes sense if Jesus is the focus throughout. A praise anthem.