16 September, 2005

For Science! (JO)

Hi Mike! Here's more stuff blowing up.

I was playing on an interesting server the other night. Friendly fire was on, and there were no bullet traces, so you had to use your ears (or the killcam postumously) to figure out where enemy fire was coming from. So when I saw a sniper setting up shop outside our main base, I had to land and introduce him to Mr. Knifey. Imagine my surprise when I turned around and realized where I had landed my chopper. :D

Ever the scientist, I decided to get in his chopper and take off.

As you can see, the chopper on the blade fell off. It subsequently exploded. The interests of science were served.

Here I am driving around in a rigged jeep. It's better when you have a partner to do the mad bombing, but whatcha gonna do?

Research in lightweight materials for APC construction must be progressing nicely. He got at least four feet of air.

Here I am as the top scorer on the winning team. But I was a medic and didn't blow too much stuff up, so I don't really even know why I included this photo. :

For another change of pace, here I am running over a guy with a nice powerslide maneuver. There were a couple really good tank hit and runs yesterday, but I failed to capture them on film. Luckily, that gives me a reason to blow more stuff up. For science!

13 September, 2005

For Mike (JO)

In honor of Mike's trip across the sea. I attempted to blow some stuff up.

This one was a heartbreaker. Here I am planting my satchel in a chopper.

Here I am flying it to the objective.

And here I am shot in the head. I was amazed I even landed in the middle of the compound. Another second, and I would have gotten at least three kills. I may have to reconfigure my controls to make the clicker easier to get to. Who really ever bothers to lean left and right anyway?

Here I am in the middle of an enemy villiage. I've jumped out of my jeep and am preparing to blow it up.

The enemy jeep pushed my jeep back to the bridge, which rendered me perfectly safe when I blew the satchel.

In the midst of all the shooting and chaos, I somehow managed to commandeer another jeep and head for the enemy base. My heart was pounding. Visions of satchel mayhem danced in my head.

Then, in traditional Joint Ops style, my jeep glitched on a tree and somebody shot me. But this last attempt made it all worthwhile.

While driving across the bridge, I ran into an enemy jeep. I jumped out onto the hood of my jeep. I can only wonder what the enemy was thinking as his jeep, my jeep, and me were all pushed along the bridge.

Whatever it was, he didn't have long to think it. w00t!

Bugs (JO)

Starship Troopers Demo
Reaction seems to be heavily divided on the Blues News forums regarding the quality of this demos. I fall on the "it's crap" side. The guns are pea shooters. This in itself is not a bad thing, if it forces some kind of strategy. In this game, it just forces a lot of backpedaling. Only Serious Sam forces as much backpedaling, and that was my least favorite aspect of that game as well. The pathetically underpowered grenades didn't help at all. The controls are totally unresponsive on higher detail levels. That's just bad coding. The inability to use turrets at the base was frustrating. Even with the difficulty on easy, surviving the wave of bugs that swarm over you when you pick up the mine layer is very difficult. I tried three times. By that time the lack of quality of the demo and fact that you can't save and so have to work your way to the overly difficult encounter (Easy means easy.) all over again had burned up all of its fun potential, and I uninstalled it. Sometimes games don't really come together until the final polishing stages. This game would have to get pretty spectacular reviews for me to bother finding out if that was its problem

Joint Ops
Mike has been conducting more experiments with high explosives. I swear, if we could just strap our satchel charges to our chests and become suicide bombers we would. In the meantime we settle for escapades like last night where we took out two apcs with nothing more than our satchels and a raft. We were doing the same to boats, but boats are much better equipped to handle rafts and much more aware of rafts as a legitimate threat since any monkey with a pistol can shoot the unprotected crew of a boat. Here we are doing the Charlie Chaplin heel kick at getting wasted by an enemy boat.

So we landed helicopters on them.

Here, Mike lands on the docs next to an enemy in a boat.

Here, everything goes boom.

Sure, our kill to death ratio isn't that great, but we laugh our asses off. I figured out how to use the line in plugin for WinAmp to record our games in progress. My windows startup noise is now from a little maneuver I executed. A tango had stolen an APC and was killing people in our base. I threw a flashbang in the front, blinding him. I ran around the back and threw a satchel in. I yelled a battlecry, clicked my clicker, and enjoyed the boom. So satisfying. In the future I may find a place to post those sound files so that you can enjoy them. I'm recording low fidelity MP3s, about 7 megs an hour, but I'll make sure to slice out just the highlights if I post them. I would be sorely tempted to post last nights, but for some reason only the microphone was recording, not the game noise and Mike's silly comments.

09 September, 2005

BWAAAAAhahahaha (JO)

It's been a while. I took a break from gaming for a while. Now that I'm back, here's what I've been up to.

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War

I probably should have kicked up the difficulty on this one. As it was, I could always follow a two step process. Secure resource point. Take next resource point. I never had to restart a map. Heck, I had a hard time losing troops, and with the tiny unit caps in the game, that means I would have had to deliberately throw men to the wolves to build more cool units. Mind you terminators would have been worth it, but I'm not that ruthless when I don't feel any serious pressure.

Sid Meier's Pirates!

I haven't finished this one, and I'm not sure I'll bother. I wanted to have fun being an explorer, but the crew on the ships doesn't like exploring, so there's frequent desertions and mutinies. Actually, the mutinies are great. Your men take a ship, then you attack them and take it back, somehow magically ending up with more guns and food then when you started. Still, it takes way too long to get to the point where you're ready to look for lost cities. And the dancing mini game that you have to do over and over to get to that point is pretty lame, too. No, the most fun I had with the game was modding it. I did it as a birthday present for a friend of mine, adding lots of Monty Python quotes and songs and a few other choice blurbs. I also made sails for his ship that more express his personality. The flag says DIE! and the sail has a picture of the cyberdemon from DOOM with the words "Mister Fancy Pants" on it. :) Also, when you're doing well in a sword fight, Matrix music kicks in. Heheh.

Joint Ops

This is where today's update gets its title. I have seen sillier things in Joint Ops than I dared imagine. I even caused some of them. We'll start at the non-silly and work up.

Here I am watching a helicopter leave the enemy main base.

This is on the Sulawa Spaceport map where you have to constantly ferry tanks from your main base to the island where all the objectives are. I swam over to the hovercrafts there and placed satchel charges on them. Someone drove a tank onto one of them and headed out.

So I did the obvious thing.

Next we have a new tactic that I invented. Only and idiot like me could have come up with this. First, you dump satchel charges on a vehicle.

Then you drive up next to an enemy vehicle.

Then you blow yourself up.

As you may notice, the person driving (in this case me) is totally fine. That's because you can't hurt players on your team with your explosives, just yourself. But it gets better. Sometimes, through a bug in the game I don't fully understand yet, you don't even hurt yourself. On one occasion there were three APCs attacking one of our bases. We drove by one, detonating our charges, and blew it up. Both of us survived. Then we restocked the hood, drove by again, and blew up a second APC. Then we got killed, but the point is that as soon as I can figure out what we did that made it so that both of us lived through the explosions, we'll be taking out tanks and APCs left and right. Fear the lowly amphibious jeep. Lowly no more. In fact, you can even attach the charge to a motorcycle, exploding it as you zip between enemy vehicles. You could also jump off the motorcycle as it rolls into the enemy base and detonate the charge from a safe distance. I'll just sum it up by saying that I expect to be enjoying experiments with satchel charges for a while.

But that isn't the topper for the evening. Oh no. Check this out!

Yep. That's a hovercraft parked in the treetops.

Then it fell onto our resupply truck.

I could not stop laughing. I'm also still not sure how His Shadow got the thing up there in the first place, but I give him kudos for a job well done.

29 August, 2005

Check It Out (JO)

If you like DooM and Duck Hunt, there you go. I recommend the single barrel shotgun as the best weapon in the early stages. I also recommend the cheat codes as the game is still duck hunt, and therefore, dull.

Mike and I are still having fun with Joint Ops. The funniest thing we've done recently doesn't photograph well, I'm afraid. We've been parachuting out of helicopters, flinging smoke grenades willy nilly, and causing trouble in the ensuing chaos. But that's not the funny part. The funny part is when we forget to reload our parachutes and fall to our deaths. :D That actually used to be a regular tactic in Joint Ops. We'd get rocket launchers, fall out of a chopper and waste an APC before going splat. The ultimate in kamikaze charges.

A lot of the stuff that's hilarious also happens too fast to be photographed. I'm sitting in an APC on the Kalatu Mines map, minding my own business, pasting the occasional motorcyclist that tries to zip into our base. Suddenly there's a helicopter hovering right in front of my face. This can't be happening. Nobody's that stupid. I huck a few fifty caliber rounds through the windshield, killing the driver. The helicopter lands with a clunk. I pause, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nothing. Okaaaaaay. What on the face of Joint Ops did that numbskull think he was doing? I don't know if it was the same pilot or not, but a few minutes later, as I'm just minding my own business again, an exploded helicopter carcass lands thirty feet away from my still parkerd APC. I'm just glad Wayne was looking over my shoulder to witness this weirdness.

Weapons Grade Stupidity (JO)

Matrix Moves
Here we are at Objective A of Twin Islands. Everybody's waiting for a helicopter to spawn. Well, everybody but Mike, that is. Mike is yelling at everybody waiting for a helicopter to spawn. As such they shoot at him to shut him up. (There is no friendly fire on the vast majority of Joint Ops servers.)

Instead of shutting up, though, Mike leans back and forth and jumps into the air, pretending to dodge their bullets. This, my friends, is weapons grade stupidity.

Tony Hawk, eat your heart out!

Here's another one we're not even responsible for. This dingus "landed" his helicopter like this and started screaming for people to get in. Yeah. You first.

Fun with High Explosives
While engineer rockets are powerful, even more powerful are rifleman satchel charges. Look as Mike stands there with his satchel charge, so innocent, so pure.

Now look as he throws it into a friendly chopper.

Don't worry. The chopper's fine. Mike's dead, but the chopper's fine. It just looks gnarly, the side effects of no friendly fire at work.

Here's an attempt for distance.

He definitely got good height on this attempt.

Here's a bit of sleight of hand. Now you see him.

Now you don't.

And here he his, blasting himself right at the camera. Isn't that restful looking?

It wasn't too long before the server automatically kicked him off. Servers have no sense of showmanship.

25 August, 2005

Follow Up and a Slam

In a previous post, I said I would talk more about bypassing enemies.

In Neko, bypassing enemies was one of the things I liked about the game. It let me feel a certain sense of freedom, like I had a choice about how to play the game. That can be pretty rare in homebrew games. Heck, it can be pretty rare in all games. [begin stealth game diatribe]

I rarely bypass enemies in supposedly "stealthy" games. It just means more chances to get caught. I kill them all. If I am detected, I have a much better chance at survival because I've reduced their numbers and have a good idea where the bad guys are coming from because I've cleared a lot of rooms already. Why would I do that though? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of playing a stealth game in the first place? Yes. It does. But that's because all stealth games I've ever played don't work. I've played Metal Gear Solid. I've played MGS2 (up until the Raiden parts, anyway). I've played Hitman 2. I've played Far Cry. These games all purport to allow stealthy play. But you can be as careful as you like and still get caught. The only way to go through these games in complete stealth is trial and error. Trial and error is not game design. Trial and error means you failed as a game designer by not giving the player the proper tools to tackle the problem and are falling back on the save game system.

And now for the slam.

Snowboard Assassins

The idea was fine: SSX with guns. But the execution is crap. You can't board up half pipes, like you can in SSX. It's hard to tell when you're going to catch air, so it's easy to crash accidentally. It's not easy to shoot people. You don't get much ammo for your main gun, and your secondary gun sucks. The levels I played are dull and sparsely populated. Many of the SSX features are missing, including rail grinds and turbos. And the default control scheme is crap. In fact, the control scheme in general is pretty awful compared to SSX, Tony Hawk, and other trick based games. It's also not even obvious how to finish a level. I boarded to the end. That didn't end the level. Then I blew up all the snowblowers on my way to the end. No dice. I could have gone back and made sure to kill every single bad guy, but there comes a point where you realize that the game you're playing isn't designed well enough to deserve your time. All that said, it's still a lot of fun to pull a method 360 while shooting a guy, but it's not enough to save this game.

I also played a little flash port of an old Macintosh game called Bill the Demon. The graphics were cute, and it was fun to make demon screams and eat people, but it became repetetive very quickly.

24 August, 2005

Three Reviews and a Picture (JO)

First our picture. This is us getting killed on one of our golf cart runs. Feel the love. Catch some air. (Thanks to Mike for taking this sweet picture.)

Evil Invasion
Ah yes, the game that made me reinstall Crimsonland (which I registered). Evil Invasion is a fantasy themed Crimsonland minus the cool weapons, simple upgrade system, and fun.

Liero Xtreme

One of the 2DNow forum users (DVDmanDT) turned me onto Liero as a good old low-res game. It's definitely pretty cool, with a huge amount of mods. I particularly like the 8-bit warfare mod where you can use all your old favorites. It had Mario's fire flower, Tapper root beer mugs, the Contra spread gun; Bomberman bombs. It even had a gun that launched the centipede from Centipede. Unfortunately, it crashes a lot, so I'll probably never spend much time with it. Also there was another game along the same lines that had a nicer mouse based control scheme. I wish I could remember the name.


DVDmanDT also mentioned C-Dogs as something to check out. If it didn't come so highly recommended, I wouldn't have looked twice at it. As it was I played the first couple levels and got painfully bored. Search room by room to find the keys to open the doors to the rooms with the stuff you need to blow up to complete the mission, then return to the start point. The isometric perspective is annoying because my bullets pass through the enemy much of the time. The slide move was cool (although some animation for it would have been cooler). Also, since I don't have DOS sound drivers, I had no sound. I'd call C-Dogs a decent game, but not a classic.

He also mentioned Shadows Over Riva which I had heard of, but I don't have time for RPGs.

23 August, 2005

Once In A Blue Moon (JO)

I know this picture doesn't look like much, but trust me, it comemorates a peak experience. Mike wasn't even on headphones to hear me screaming about how cool it was.

First, let's set the stage.

We're playing an attack and secure game on the Kendari Airport map. Mike and I like the map for its go carts, but we were in a more serious mood that day. There was a storm coming. We had taken Objective Foxtrot (a bunker on top of a hill overlooking the airport) the team was trying to get down into the buildings around the final objective, Objective Golf. They were taking the objective with five of our team to three of the enemy. Suddenly the enemy somehow had eight soldiers on Foxtrot. Unless a miracle happened, we were going to lose Foxtrot and Golf. I was that miracle.

While friendly choppers distracted the enemy soldiers, I chugged it across the tarmac to the hill. It was eight against one. I figured the best way to at least take some of them with me was a grenade. From down the hill I threw all three of my grenades. The first bounced off the window. I could see an enemy on the ground outside that would probably get caught in the blast. The second also bounced, I couldn't see where it went. The first went off, killing an enemy. The third sailed through the window as the second went off, killing an enemy I hadn't even seen. Joint Ops only displays three lines of obituaries at a time unless you have the leisure time to check the message screen, so I can only say that at least three were killed by it. Regardless, it was now two against one.

I heard gunfire coming from the roof. On pure instinct, I grabbed my knife and hauled myself up the outside ladder. Sure enough, an enemy soldier was taking cover behind an air conditioner, firing away at one of our choppers. As I backstabbed him I was rattled by the sound of a fifty calibre machinegun opening up less than twenty feet away. I wheeled around, whipping up my rifle to see an enemy manning a jeep turret and thanked my lucky stars he was firing at a chopper as I put two through his head. I leapt down off the roof, expecting enemy reinforcements or a sniper to attack at any second. But all was quiet. Stunned at the suddeness of it all, I looked up at my heads up display. One friendly (me). Zero enemies. With the help of a great distraction, I had completely wiped out the enemy force. That's the kind of joy you just don't get every day.

Expansion Pack Fun (JO)

Mike and I did get a chance to play a little Joint Ops. I think all the screen shots I've shown thus far are from the original game, so here are a few fun elements of the expansion pack.

Element One: Tanks

Tanks are fun. Here we are on a motorcycle, driving away from a tank that is trying to sneak up on the back of our base.

Here I am detinating the satchel charges we placed on said tank. We drove up next to the tank, threw both charges, and drove off. If the tank driver had bothered to have even one person with a pistol on lookout, this tragedy could have been averted. Also, the tank driver heard us drive up. If he or she had just bothered to hop out of the tank and shoot us, that also could have saved him or her. But no. This tank driver is dead because this tank driver is stupid. Mike and I are truly the chlorine in the Joint Ops gene pool.

Element Two: Golf Carts

When we discovered these little beauties in the expansion pack, we knew we were in love. They're small, silly looking, not very fast, unarmed, and sound like space ships from The Jetsons. They are totally ridiculous as a means of military transportation. As such, it is incredibly humiliating when we run over people with them.

Here is the view from the passenger seat. That's right. The passenger can only see out the back (and a little to each side). This renders the passenger virtually useless, most of the time.

Unless of course, he's carrying satchel charges. Here's the enemy spawn point. I've just dropped a satchel charge in the middle of it. Unfortunately we were over a hill when I detonated it, but rest assured, many lives were claimed. Oh yes, and we were honking our little go cart horn and yelling the entire time. Congratulations. You've just been killed by a clown car.

22 August, 2005


So I'm a Dirty, Stinking, Good For Nothing Liar. Here are some more Joint Ops pics. Mike and I are trying to work out an hour in the day we can both set aside for Joint Ops. We both have irregular sleep schedules, so this is probably a Good Idea. In the meantime...

It really amazes me how effective sniping is, but it also amazes me how bad some people are at it. Here's what you do.

Phase one - Go prone. Your shots aren't accurate beyond a couple hundred meters if you don't.

Phase two - Use your binoculars to get set your rifle's scope elevation.

Phase three - Kill.

The kill I got after this was instructive, as well. A raft not too far from the boat started returning fire. Here is me killing him.

The moral of the story? Don't neglect steps one and two! This guy saw me fire on the boat and had me dead to rights. He fired three shots to my one. But because I was prone and used my binoculars, his three missed and my one killed. (And in case your thinking he had the disadvantage of being on a bobbing raft at sea, don't. This is Joint Ops. Unmoving vehicles at sea remain perfectly still.)

Phase four - Move. If you think you've given away your position, or know that there are tenacious sniper hunters about, don't wait for that enemy sniper bullet or knife to cut you down. Of course, if you set up in a position where moving exposes you to more fire than staying put, just lie in the bed you've made and take a few of them with you. Don't forget to set a couple claymores, as well. There are few things in life more satisfying than watching your enemy slip on a shrapnel banana peel.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Time for lesson two. Here I am assaulting an enemy base.

The first defender goes down with a couple three round bursts.

As I enter the bunker, another eats my blade.

As those nearby rush to the defense, they too taste cold steel.

As I lie in wait, the readout in the upper right says our team is winning six to one.

I continue to do the lords work.

An enemy sets a claymore outside, but doesn't live to tell about it. Unfortunately we're losing one to three at this point.

Eventually the inevitable catches up with me.

The moral of the story? You can be the knife god of all time, but if you don't help your team establish a perimeter, it will do you no good. When I recognized that we were winning six to one, I definitely should have taken up a position outside. I believe I was even carrying a rocket launcher which could have helped deal with the APCs that decimated my team.


I took a look at a couple more indie games, as well.

It's a classic 2D exploration adventure. But you can only visit space stations and talk to ships. One of the main things I loved about StarCon2 and Starflight was exploring planetary surfaces. I also loved that their interfaces were less confusing. I wanted to tractor in some asteroids for money. The documentation never mentioned that I had to have a target lock on the asteroid for the tractor beam to work. And then, after an hour of mineral gathering I accidentally ran into another space ship and instantly died, which in Flatspace means all your save games are deleted. I suppose I could hack the game like Uplink and backup my save files, but Flatspace isn't fun enough to bother.

Lebeth Strikes Back
A guy is trying to make games by taking feedback from the net. If this is the result, it will never go anywhere. The game basically consists of a fifty foot woman standing in the median strip of a highway, batting at trucks. If a truck gets by, she moves further up the highway, making it harder to judge attacks. If she hits the top of the screen, the game is over. Who cares?