About the pdf version of the World of Near

People have been asking about this, so I might as well inform everybody at once. Read the rest of this entry »

Playing Doom with a source port

Doom is in retrospect probably my favourite video game insofar as real play hours can be used as a measure. For a couple of years in the mid-90s it was a solid baseline for my gaming; not a memorable experience of art like Ultima Underworld or some of the other games of the era, but a staple that defined the well-balanced action game for me. This includes Doom II, Heretic and Hexen, which are all basically variations on the theme.

I installed Doom last week out of a random impulse, as has been my wont through the last couple of years now and then. I’ve been gearing up to play the Inferno (the third episode of the original game) on Ultraviolence (the fourth difficulty level), mostly because I played through Knee-Deep in the Dead and Shores of Hell (the first two episodes) a couple of years ago, I seem to remember. Inferno is hard, though! I might have to gather some momentum by looking at Shores of Hell again; I’m not quite convinced that I actually finished it last time I had the game installed. Perhaps a run through that will hone my rusty skills enough to allow me to finish the Slough of Despair (the second level of Inferno) with some ammunition left. Read the rest of this entry »

Diplomacy: the Greek opening for Italy

I’m playing Italy once more in a postal game with hellishly long deadlines. It’s 1901 spring now, and it’ll be a week before the year is out. I’m going to time-delay this post until later in case my fellow players read it and get any ideas about my play. Not saying that I’ll use this, but I might.

The actual topic here is to describe a pretty nice Italian opening strategy that I’ve tried out a few times over time. The basic concept is to take Greece and then proceed flexibly to gnaw both Austria and Turkey as the situation warrants, including an especially sweet double-stab against Turkey. I don’t know if it has an actual name out there somewhere, so I’ll just call it the “Greek opening” for reasons that’ll become obvious. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tuonela line of card games

One of the highlights of the boardgame conference in February was that the local game publisher Jussi Autio invited us to check out his game store. Tuonela has this sweet run-down business locale within walking distance of downtown Oulu; it’s small and grunge, including the stock of boardgames, which veers towards the eccentric, local and rare – Finnish games have the pride of place. It’s more like a specialty boutique than the more typical gaming superstore, reminding me of a small record store that insists on quality over quantity. The sort of place that I’d love to have carry my stuff, really.

Anyway, one of the things I did was that I grabbed the chance and purchased a few copies of the new Tuonela card games for sale in our own webstore – we sell roleplaying games, usually, but Finnish games are also a tradition, and I for one don’t really care about the divide, so might as well try it. I haven’t yet gotten around to adding the titles to the webstore, but I have played the games themselves. This is surprisingly good stuff! Read the rest of this entry »

The pitfalls of narrative technique in rpg play

This is going to rpg be theory stuff, just so you know.

A thing I’ve noticed lately specifically at Story Games, but also on other gaming fora, is the increased acceptance and advocation of narration authority sharing between players in a roleplaying game. It’s a nice technique, but I also find that it is being recommended and utilized in ways that might have unexpected consequences that need to be considered in depth. I’ll write a short treatise about the topic here – I don’t particularly want to piss in anybody’s cereals if they find that unrestrained sharing of narrative authority brings them happiness, but it’s not correct to call it the universal panacea of roleplaying, either – there are solid reasons for refusing to introduce this technique into every single game you might ever wish to play. Read the rest of this entry »

The boardgame conference in Oulu

I’ve been busy, obviously – editing and laying out a genealogy of my paternal family line, mostly, but also some other stuff, such as participating in an interesting boardgame conference in Oulu this last weekend. Some notes follow – this might interest any and all Finnish game design and development people out there. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Browser Shareware

I thought that I was done with my browser game reviews, but I’ve been continuing to play, and I’ve encountered an interesting phenomenon – browser shareware. These games operate at a rather high level of ambition, and are in fact available as stand-alone applications for pay. The browser version of the game is just a marketing device to hook the player into paying the 10ish dollars or so that these games seem to generally cost. This is interesting, as shareware isn’t nearly the phenomenon that it used to be even ten years ago, and these games have to compete with a cornucopia of excellently thought out free games.

My brother Markku recommended Creeper World to me a while back as is his wont. The game’s full name is Creeper World Training Simulation, which – alongside the ambitious plot – sort of hinted at the game’s shareware nature. I found out about the shareware angle after finishing the free Flash game; it was amusing, I hadn’t considered the shareware approach myself for browser games. When I stumbled on Now Boarding (or rather, Now Boarding Episode 1) yesterday and found out about its similar shareware angle, I had to conclude that this is apparently a feasible model. However, a shareware browser game needs to be really good to compete with the likes of Space Game – do these two games have what it takes? Read the rest of this entry »