The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Games (Video and Otherwise)

Posted By on September 27, 2007

Video Games: I’ve stopped playing Baldur’s gate for a bit – it just got too monotonous, and makes me long for real RPG’s. So, I started playing Warzone 2100 again, when I realize that it suffers from a fatal flaw – you can’t restart a mission from the beginning. If you get to a point where you can’t win, even from your last save point (easily possible with the time limited games), you start over from the beginning. I did, and it keeps locking up on me. Now, I’ve gotten past this point before, so I’m not sure why it is happening now, but I’m not going to chase it down. Given that what I was really looking for was a RTS fix (like StarCraft), I figured I’d just install Starcraft and play that. True to a vow I had made to try all these games under Wine before loading them on the Wintendo, I did. You know what? It worked. Almost flawlessly. We’ll call it 95%. Game installed. Expansion installed. Patch installed. Running the game worked, but sound was choppy and I could still see the top and bottom taskbars from my window manager. A quick firing up of wineconfig and a tweaked the sound emulation settings and the “let WM manage windows” for Starcraft.exe (apparently you can have per-executable emulation settings, so if Starcraft wants to behave differently than notepad, it can. Very nice.) Of course, then I was talking about this to a friend of mine, and he was mentioning X-Com. Since I have the collector’s edition which runs under Windows, I tossed that in under Wine as well. Doesn’t work. The app DB says it does, but it doesn’t. Well, it runs fine in a Window, but not full screen, no matter what I tried. Tossed it onto the Wintendo, only to find that it runs too fast. Not too fast to be playable per se, but fast enough to be annoying. I googled around, and happened upon UFO: Alien Invasion. This is an open source game based around one of the Quake engines and done in the style of the original X-Com. Aside from the various issues one would expect of a game in development, it is very, very good. However, the unwillingness of the developers to add an “in mission save” button basically makes it unplayable. I am an adult. I need to be able to save and quit a game NOW because something else demands my attention. I do not accept this from other computer games (and I take a hard look at console games which lack this feature as well, going to far as to make such a stink that the store let me return Black. Resident Evil 4 gets a pass because I can save at any time – as long as I go find a typewriter, which is usually only a few minute walk away. Call of Duty autosaves at checkpoints which are about 5 mins apart, so that’s okay too. Red Steel annoys me because it doesn’t allow a proper save except at the very end of a mission. But, anyway…) When that failed to hold my interest, I installed UFO Aftermath. The problem with this one is that the fonts are all goofy in the Wintendo. Maybe it’s the video card, maybe it’s the game – who knows? It worked on my laptop, so it’s cool on XP, it just doesn’t seem to work on this box for some reason. At this point, I’m a little annoyed, so I think I’m going to go back to playing console games and working on other hobby related stuff… which brings us to…. Tabletop games: I found a local gaming store, RK Sports, which has local game nights, but it’s cramped and seems to cater to more of a younger crowd. The “sports” in their name comes from the fact that they do a brisk trade in sports cards. They seem to focus on Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Their prices are good, but the selection is small, though they can order you whatever you like for less than it would cost to order it from GW (sticker price is MSRP, but then everything is discounted a variable amount depending on what you buy). I am not sure if I will show up and play. 40K is nice, but I like to play other games too. Regardless, I have some retooling of my armies before I can. My Tau army seems to be up to date, I just need to paint it. My Dark Angels Army got a new codex. A first glance, the net result is that things will cost about the same, but some options go away, others I get for free, and my squad sizes are no longer limited by the size of the transport, but rather the size the codex says (this holds 6 guys, but I can only have 5 man squads, so the extra space is wasted). I’ve also decided to fix a problem with the paint scheme. Basically, I had used a light green highlight color which looks sharp but is a pain to get right. The problem is, in order to paint the new guys without it, I have to go back and paint over the color on all the old guys, then hit them with a shot of varnish so it doesn’t rub off. I’ve been hesitant to do that, but I think I’ll just bite the bullet on this one and just do it. It will save time in the long run, and it will stop people from thinking these guys are some custom chapter, since this highlighting makes them not look like Dark Angels. I’ll also be casting more blocks and building terrain, painting Battletech minis, and painting microarmor for FOW Modern (or any other modern game). I should note that I have no idea when I’ll play these games, but it is a hobby which keeps me entertained and allows me to de-stress, and that counts for a lot. Oh, there is a local con put on by the Schenectady Wargamers Association, which I was considering attending, but they charge con fee (normal) plus a per-game GM fee (this is a dead idea which no one does anymore, since waiving the GM’s con fee (which these guys do as well) is more money than you make off the players, and the $10 or so you’ll get from the players for running the game is not even remotely worth the time. Be a bigger person and do it for the love of the hobby). As such, I refuse to attend. These guys also run weekly gaming, but it’s the same deal – per game fee. Now, that might be a deal worked out with the venue; I’m not sure. I accept this from stores, who look to make money – they stay open another 4 hours to do a 40k night and everyone who shows up to play contributes $5 and the store makes money from the game night. Now, I don’t think this is good business practice, but I at least understand it. But not from a gaming club. I’ve also been thinking of posting an entry over at Pen and Paper Games. Put it out there, see what comes up. The problem is, gamers can be .. sketchy. I’d much rather meet someone and get to know them and then game with them, rather than meet them through gaming, not like them, have a falling out, etc. Maybe I’m just paranoid. After all, that is kind of how my first group got together. I was in the coffeeshop, talking about RPG’s, someone overheard us and say “hey, my boyfriend and I would be interested, and maybe a friend of ours, etc.” and before I new it, I had 5 players.

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