Monday, June 23, 2008

I bought some games....

Yep. After thinking about it and writing about it, I went out and purchased legitimate copies of John Tiller's Campaign Series and The Operational Art of War 3. Wow! Years more of gaming here I tell you!

Haven't really played either game yet, but spent quite a few hours poking around in their innards. Here's some of what I've found...

East Front has probably changed the least. There are a few new scenarios and unit types, but basically unchanged in its dimensions.

West Front has expanded to include the Spanish Civil War and, I think, the Greek Civil War. Particularly with the first, you can imagine how excited I am. I am already thinking of writing a whole suite of scenarios at Battalion and Brigade level, with everything from Assultos and Civil Guardia units to Dinamiteros and Moors, French F17 WWI tanks blasting away at armoured trucks, Hs 123s battling it out with Chatos. The included SCW scenarios are limited to 3, one being complexity level 5 and the other two, 10. So a bit of variety is called for! I also notice that there are Brazilian units, so the game is expanding into the numerous 'small wars' of the Carribbean and South America.

Rising Sun now incorporates the Chinese Civil War from around 1933 until 1950, complete with Nationalist and Red opposing forces, as well as Japanese. The expansion of the game to now include armoured trains, controllable warships, etc will have perhaps its greatest impact on this set of scenarios.

Apparently the whole mechanism has been tweaked as well. Very Impressed.

The Operational Art of War 3 contains a whole 20th century of warfare at operational level, including those conflicts of the balkans and middle east prior to WWI, WWI itself, WWII (of course), and the more famous international conflicts since. So now I can land at Gallipoli or invade the Grenadas or fight over taiwan, using the same game system. And a damn good system it is too!

They haven't got a SCW or Falklands scenario included. Their absence is a bit of a surprise to me, as both of these conflicts seem ideally suited to adaption to this system. Something for the designer bug in me to work on, no doubt...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hurricane v Donier 17s

I've been flying again a bit over the past week. Using IL46 flight simulator after a break of several months. Trying again to get my skills up. Doing it slowly. Have created a scenario using the 'quick mission' menus, 3 Do17's flying in near Smolensk and me in a Hurricane IIc trying to shoot them down before they either land or shoot me down, or I run out of ammunition. In maybe 7 hours and 30 attempts I've shot all three down on one occasion, though it was a close thing as I was left behind enemy lines without elevators. Shooting two down isn't too difficult.

Once I can consistently get all three and land back at my base I intend stepping up the difficulty by putting a Bf109 into the mix as an escort for the hapless bombers. When I am good enough to deal with that perhaps I'll go online again and not embarrass myself so much as I did last year!

Review - John Tiller's Campaign Series

I recently posted this comment on a review for John Tiller's Campaign Series over at, a bit cheeky considering I haven't yet seen a copy. Haven't been able to source a legitimate copy in Australia I'm now debating whether to a apply a crack to the copy I've found or, for the first time, pay good cyber dollars for a game. There'd normally not be an issue here (with my ethic of internet=free) but I, and I think so many other ubergeeks, who have enjoyed the game since it first came out as East Front in the early nineties feel some kind of moral obligation to reward the folk who have ensured we can continue playing long after XP is becoming a memory (East Front etc don't play on Vista).

Saturday, June 07, 2008

An Ancient Impulse Indeed

So why didn't Plato ever think to deck out a dungeon for his fellows to loot? ...
Many indie games are very close to being products of an anarchist collective.

"Dungeons and Dragons Owns the Future," The Escapist [7 June 2008]

While recently reading Jeff's Game Blog I followed the links in one of his posts to the above article (and a few others). I had found a genre of game culture which accepts that gaming is, in many ways, a modern analogue of an ancient impulse. In this deep level of metageekdom, the cultural invention of Aeschylus - ancient greek playwright who introduced dialogue to the story teller's art - is fairly equated with the later invention of Gygax and Arneson (publishers of the original D&D). Taking the conception a step further, Living Epic: Video Games in the Ancient World recognises the significance of emerging digital techne, creates a multidisciplinary syllabus for the study of online video gaming which draws on our understanding of the classical cultural roots of western culture (and, indeed, studies classical literature by drawing on our experience of online gaming).

All very interesting to me, what with my anthropological interest in these dimensions of the human experience.

So much so that it takes my thoughts back into the study of the phenomena which is occurring in PBBGs such as Renaissance Kingdoms. It'd be nice to tell that tale in both its 'internal' and 'external' dimensions. Is this the pursuit which the frustrated anthropologist in me has been seeking for?