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?

21 August, 2005

Just for Mike (JO)

Here's some more Joint Ops for my buddy Mike. We haven't been able to play at the same time, so we're sending each other pictures of our exploits. I tend to play more seriously when I'm on my own, so here's my cavalcade of honor, shame, and laffs.

Here's Straights of Mallac (or Mallaca, the server browser and load screen have different names). It's a sniper paradise with lots of hilly islands. Well, maybe it's not a paradise. A paradise would also include no pesky vehicles. :) But I had a pretty good time on it.

Let the calvalcade of kills commence!

I was really surprised how easy sniping turned out to be after all the complaints I'd heard about it being nerfed (made so ineffective it would be like using a nerf gun) after the expansion came out. I generally just find a good vantage, use the binoculars to get ranges, and go to town. As long as no one is nearby, I can rack up quite a few kills. In fact, here's a double.

Two kills with one bullet: for the army on a budget.

400 meters seems to be the preferred range as it's still close enough to hit slow or unmoving targets, and it's really hard for someone with a regular rifle to shoot back and actually hit anything.

Oh, here's one I took when Mike and I were playing. Some people just don't take the hint. Mike had just blown up a copter on the launchpad, but that didn't stop these nitwits from trying to take off.


This is definitely too serious. Even my ten kill knife run isn't very interesting. I won't bother with any other Joint Ops posts unless I get really great, goofy photos.

In other gaming news I tried a couple more freeware games (brought to my attention by tigsource.com, I believe).

Control a cute kitty and fight bad animals with your yarn ball arsenal. It has pretty good graphics, but the feel is off. You move very slow. I suppose that's expected from a bipedal cat. But you jump very high. Weird. You also jump off of climbing ropes at warp speed for no apparent reason. The level design seem basic but effective. It kept me moving forward by giving me at least a couple different tasks to keep track of. Collect all the milk. Collect yarn for ammo. Use special yarn powers to get buy impassible terrain. Yarnify bad guys or just pass them by. I actually liked the fact that there were more than a few bad guys you could bypass. More about that in my next update.

Nikki the Ninja
Some guy using a game maker utility made this and the next game. The foreground art is 3D. My guess is it's free 3D models from the web, because the backgrounds are total crap by comparisson. The gameplay is pretty bad. You shoot with the mouse and move with the keyboard. I consider Abuse the be the best game in that genre, and I was sick of it by the time the demo was over, much less the actual game. Abuse was too slow. Nikki is both too unresponsive and too slow. Ninja combat should feel quick and precise. It takes what feels like half a second between pressing the attack button and actually attacking. That's totally unacceptable. Ten times that fast is the minimum I'd consider for responsive feel. The problem could also be cleared up with some interim animations showing the wind up. At least I'd have some reason Nikki wasn't attacking quickly and could use the animation to gauge whether I should follow through on the swing or jump away. I could go on all day about improvements that could be made to Nikki, and it's tempting because the game has enough decent ideas to make it worth saving, but I should probably just get back to making my own games.

Duke Nukem: Waiting Forever
It's a fan game by the same guy (or guys) that did Nikki. It's pretty similar in style, but with no free 3D models, the characters are pretty cheesy. I'm going to say this once. If you can't draw, simplify your graphics enough to where it looks like you meant them to be that way. See my earlier demo for an example of this principle in action. If I can do it, pretty much anyone can.

Well, that's it for now. I'm going to try to cut back on the playing and focus on the developing now. If Mike's around, I'm sure we'll give you a Joint Ops screen or two, and like I promised, there'll be some opinions on bypassing bad guys in my next update.

19 August, 2005

Just a Snippet (JO)

No new games today, just another Joint Ops screen shot (or two). My buddy Mike and I have discovered many ways to make assclowns of ourselves, but no matter how dumb we are, there's always someone dumber. Observe.

For those of you not familiar enough with the game to understand the sheer brilliance of this maneuver, I shall explain. Before the expansion pack, there were no parachutes in Joint Ops. Out of concerns for game balance (or perhaps just not wanting to bother), there are no chutes in the old maps. On water maps, that's not such a big deal as you can drop into water from half a click up and not even muss your hair. But what if you absolutely just have to drop onto land? You could use a chopper, like my buddy Mike and I usually do. I discovered that if you leave the pilot seat, the chopper heads straight down at maximum speed and takes no damage when it lands. But that is still pretty risky as surface to air missiles still track you, and any schmoe with a rocket launcher can probably hit a still fairly slowly descending, helicopter sized target.

But suppose you're not in a helicopter? No. Suppose you're in an inflatible raft. Yes, that's right, a raft. Because it's pretty easy to get a raft stuck on land, the programmers of Joint Ops allow rafts to move very slowly across it. It'd be faster to pick it up and carry it, but whose got time to write that code. And code to handle a raft exploding if dropped from a great height? Like that's ever gonna happen. As a result, you can drive a raft up into a transport chopper, fill it up with up to four assailants and drop them like a rock on the enemy base. No fuss, no muss, no... freakin'... way. Possibly even more hilarious, the three guys in the picture all have names indicating that they are two corporals and a sargeant in the US Marine Corps, and if you look very closely, you can see where one of the guys in the boat (the corporal in the middle) is asking if anyone wants to join the marines.

If war was this goofy, me and my army of flying robot monkeys would have already conquered the world.

18 August, 2005

Introduction (JO)

I'm Blain. I like games. Scratch that. I love games. Scratch that. I am games. Games == Me evaluates to true. Okay, so I'm also a huge geek. But I'm an entertaining geek. I'm also rambling.

The purpose of this blog is to entertain myself and my fellow gamers by writing about games I've been playing. I'm also trying to develop games, but that's really dry reading, so I'm keeping that in a separate blog. So, let's get blogging.

My latest plays are a couple indie games and an old favorite.

Glace is an indie platformer. You could call it an action platformer, since you blow stuff up. But it's too cute to feel like an action game. It's so cute in fact, it actually got me a little misty at the end when Glace gets adopted. Awww. Glace is short, fun, and a small download. I took a quick peek at the changelog and saw that the developers have been making solid improvements to the gameplay as well. The only things keeping Glace from being great are slow pace and lack of significant power ups. All you ever get are more beads to throw. Yay. :\ Then if you added more levels and collectibles, you'd definitely be able to charge money for it. If this has piqued your curiosity, check out Glace.

Endless Fire
Endless Fire is an old school shooter with abstract glowing vector graphics. It also spams with so many bullets that you spend all your time dodging and wishing everything wasn't so glowy so that you could actually see. While it looks impressive, I got bored / frustrated after fifteen minutes. If you like dodging glowing vector bullets, check out Endless Fire. I think one of my main problems is that you have to pump roughly three dozen bullets into any opponent to make them go down. And your ship is a little bullet hose. It's just spamming and gives me no satisfaction.

Silver Wings
Apparently based on a Quake engine modification, Silver Wings is also a vertical shooter. Silver Wings, however, totally sucks. It's slow. Trying to blow stuff up usually just gets you hit, so there's no good reward structure. Even the pretty graphics are not enough to get me to include a link.

Okay, that's it for the indie games. Now back to my longest lived VG love since Devil May Cry. Yes, I'm talking about Joint Operations. I love that game. I love it carnally. No game has consistently given me such moments of pure happiness. "But wait!", you say. "Joint Ops has cheesy graphics, kiddie vehicle controls, few people playing, gets laggy when there are 60 people on a server, has lots of goofy bugs, and totally isn't as good as Battlefield." You hit it on that second to last one. Joint Ops is the most hilarious game since Day Of The Tentacle, but not on purpose. Where else can you...

land a helicopter on the blade of another helicopter

fall half a mile into the sea

swim up to an amphibious personel carrier and throw a satchel charge on it

and blow it up

fill friendly helicopters with smoke grenades

roll around on the floor while waiting for helicopters to spawn

and play broken back knife fighting

Nowhere. That's where. And I haven't even talked about the sniper hunting, running over people with tiny amphibious jeeps, water knifing, boat invading, and abusing the voice chat. And those are just the things we did last night. Joint Ops is, without a doubt, the most assclown intensive gaming experience of all time.