Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trad RP leaks into my Cyberage

With the importance of D&D, Traveller and Call of Cuthulhu in my personal history, I still have a hugely soft spot for the genre even though it's been over a decade since I last played them. And the legend and lore of Role Play (RP) influences my reading and activity even, when I well on into my cyberage. And as interested as I am in the new technology and how it can add to the RP habit, I still draw inspiration from the olden days and the olden ways.

Hence I am lodging here a few addresses of very very developed D&D blogs, Advanced Gaming and Theory and Campaign Mastery, as well as the Cartographer's Guild (a forum site for map freaks).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bligh and Blighty

This is my new Cap'n Bligh avatar which I use on the forums surrounding Cross Fire. It is a picture of the real and famous Captain Bligh, of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' fame. This picture is from 1806. Fletcher Christian had mutinied about 16 years earlier.

I have been reading a book about the 'other' mutiny experienced by Bligh. He was governor of New South Wales (the convict colony which Australia then was) in 1808 when the evolving kangaroo capitalists and the New South Wales Corps staged a bloodless military coup in Sydney against his governorship. Bligh was subject to house arrest for a year, and it took another year to (bloodlessly) prise the rebels out of power. Bligh was not reinstated. He still holds the record, I believe, for leading his crew from the Bounty in an open boat across the pacific ocean, a distance of some 6000 miles (?!). He would have had some leadership ability I'm sure.

Anyway ... I joined a 'clan' in Crossfire. It is called 'Blighty'. How could I resist? I'll see how it goes, reporting back here. I would like to think that it will lead to a few steady ingame partnerships, evolving tactics, etc. We'll see.

Cap'n Bligh's motto, by the way, is "Swing 'em high, Swing 'em low, but keep 'em swinging".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Machine Gunner Bligh

Capn Bligh is enjoying himself. He has been promoted to Sergeant (2nd class(?)) and totes around an M60 machine gun. So he kinda lumbers around, not much good on a close in fight (unless he has the surprise advantage), not good at creeping around and twitch-shooting, but pretty handy for setting up firelanes to protect the flank of an assault, covering breaktrhough points, supressing snipers. He is saving his money to get himself a highpowered semiauto hand gun for those close in moments.

Crossfire Servers evolve

Over the past week I have put in a few hours on the Crossfire servers. They, on the otherhand, have reorganised their servers a little in a cool kind of way. A nice contrast to the chaos that prevails in Renaissance Kingdoms whenever they muck around with their servers.

The change they have made is pretty obvious when you see it. Previously one had a choice of Servers; A, B, C or D, each which had up to ten channels, each with up to (say) 20 games, each of up to 16 players. They have now changed that to a Newbie server (ranks trainee to private), Training server (kill/death ratio 0.700 or less), and four main game servers, three of which are for private and above and one for anyone.

Capn Bligh has been haunting the Training Server. He has been learning aspects of the maps, basic tactics and teamwork, his weapon.

Capn Bligh's Machine Gun

The machine gun he chose himself as his special weapon (rather than the more common assault rifles and submachine guns) is the heavy, slow firing, high recoil M60. On the other hand, its bullets pack a punch and leave big holes, it is loud and noisy, and it can fire long sustained bursts.

If you set up an area for a fire base you don't have to move far. Despite it being a machine gun, it works best on a 'sustained semi auto' mode for supressing curtain fires, and aimed fire against specific targets - saving full automatic for emergencies. And one can adjust for the recoil sometimes by the way one 'walks' the gun over a target zone. There are a few tricks to being a machine gunner.

This leads to amusing situations when Capn Bligh is, unfortuntately, eliminated. When this happens, his weapon remains visible to the other players for about 5 - 10 seconds. At that time it vanishes, unless another player has picked it up. In this instance, players can pick up and use weapons other than those they entered the game with. Lots of them can't resist picking up a machine gun if they see it lying around (machine guns are rather rare).

Usually, the person who picks it up will be the person who eliminated Capn Bligh. Trouble is, machine guns are pretty tricky things to use well so Capn Bligh likes to hunt down these machine gun toting assassins and show them how to use the weapon they so foolishly picked up. Only met one other player so far who picked up the machine gun and new how to use it.

Where to now for Capn Bligh?

Capn Bligh is now achieving kill/death ratios of between 0.800 and 1.200 on the training server. He has nearly finished his apprenticeship amongst his equals. Soon it will be time to re-enter the main game arenas.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The plight of power

Only a few more days do I need to hold the position of Steward of Scotland in Renaissance Kingdoms before the National Assembly selects another as per the Constitution. I won't be standing for the position again. Not really my cup of tea. Not so much the job, or the RP potential that goes with it, but the fact one becomes a target for assorted psychpathic souls who populate the renaissance world and troll around for something to do or someone to harrass. Also, my view of the job varies a fair bit from most other 'movers and shakers' in the land.

An army that wants to hunt down the robbers and extrajudicially execute, Judges who want a functioning court, Counts and Dukes who want their own particular County to be 'number one', robbers who demand their rights, travellers who complain as much about an army that is too busy with its own affairs as they do about robbers who own the roads more than they do, clans who wish to rule their own particular towns, mayors who feel they are discriminated against, an Assembly that won't listen, a Speaker of the Assembly who locks me out of the hall, etc etc etc.

All good fun and predictable. I guess I just want to spread the joy. Hopefully I'll get a chance to veto a law before I go. I always wanted to do that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crossfire - change of game name

Well, I used 'devolved' to learn the basics of online First Person Shooter games. And totally trashed my prospects of ever having a respectable kill/be-killed ratio. Which would prevent me joining a clan one day in the crossfire world, or mean that i would have to go hunting newbies which I don't particularly want to do. I mean, I have a hard enough time keeping up with reflexes of most of the other players (perhaps being twice their average age has something to do with it).

So, I looked to see if I could eradicate my character and start up another. No such option.

So I had to use an old email address i use for such situations. I don't like creating multiple sets of characters anywhere. Can lead to problems sometimes (eg. permanent eradication in some worlds).

One thing of interest in Crossfire is its 'honour' system, whereby the code allocates an 'honour ranking' upon a character, starting as 'neutral' and then changing depending upon one's actions ingame. Not sure exactly what it measures, but Devolved developed a 'highly honourable' ranking at the same time as his kill/be-killed ratio plumetted. I think this is why I get chosen by the system as 'host' for the room I'm in if the current host departs the game (the host sets the 'map', victory criteria, duration and mission type of a game - as well as determining when to hit the 'start' button). Ironic, at times, with the least experienced and most ineffective of up to 32 soldiers being chosen as game host.

My new ingame tag is Capn_Bligh ('Bligh,' for short), btw.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Medieval Total War II

I recently picked up the almost latest in the Total War series of comp games. Having missed the initial 'Samurai', loved the original 'Medieval', played 'Rome' for many hours, I was keen to finally pick this copy up. I had to wait until they released the latest 'Empire' game for the price to drop. But it finally did, so I did.

It's quite like Rome Total War in its gameplay, albeit with DVD quality battle scenes etc. Haven't played it enough to get a grip on whether the ingame action has improved or not.

I have only the 'basic' version of Medieval II with none of the expansions included in the 'Gold Edition'. Thus, I only get the 'short' or 'Long' campaign options for each of the five basic nations - England, France, 'Germany', Venice and Spain. I am hoping that the options open up like they did in Rome once one has successfully completed a short campaign.

Both short and long games start in 1080 ad. For my first attempt i am playing the Holy Roman Empire (Germany). Hopefully that will let me have some teutonic knights and some Knights Hospitilar to play with in time.

More on it as I get the hang of it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cross Fire - Free online chaos

Long time readers of this blog will know that I can get quite passionate in the online world of games. Low tech strategy (Medieval Dip, Diplomacy), Flight Simulation (IL 46), Cut throat management strategy (Ogame), MMPORG text based (Renaissance Kingdoms, Tribal Nations). I've looked at a few others, but most of them don't interest me, or they irritate my belief that the internet must remain free.

To date, I've not played First Person Shooters online much at all, except for a brief period of Ghost Recon. That's now changed. I discovered 'Cross Fire', a well rendered, well populated and free FPS. All you need to do is download the client and logon.

Set in a vaguely hyper modern world one can choose to base one's character on either SAS, SWAT or Spetnaz type troops. These determine your overall 'look' and basic weapon load. Then it's a brief try out of the keyboard commands in the 'tutorial' and you can then enter the world as a 'rookie'. A few hours of being shot up online on the various maps (transport, columbia urban, monaco (part of the car circuit!), Egypt, Mexico village, ship, harbour, train, industrial) and in a few of the mission 'types' (I've tried 'team death' and 'mission' so far) and you're on your way.

As you gain experience you gain experience points (surprise surprise) and gold. You get promoted through XP, you buy new equipment and maintain the old with your gold. Advancing through the ranks opens up better weapon possibilities for you to purchase, allows you to join and eventually form clans. I understand there are organised 'scrims' (clan v clan duels) and associated hierarchies. All good fun.

Anyway, if you want to check it out, go here. I'm out there having a ball.

I am 'devolved' ingame, btw.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Passed up a game of Squad Leader

In the weekend just passed a gaming buddy looked like being relieved from his childrearing duties. He immediately suggested that he had a +3 mod on being able to have a game of Squad Leader with me. I, however, was feeling rather unwell (have had heavy two weeks at work and a resultant summer 'cold') and dodged (-2) the request for Saturday.

By Sunday, I was feeling better, to the point that suggested to an intermediary that a game of Tigris and Euphrates might be okay, me not being up to the intensity of Squad Leader but keen for a social game.

Didn't happen, in the end. Our LOS diverged from same target and we went our merry ways.


Anyone else out there still get to play the original Squad Leader?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Table Top Teasers

Steve the Wargamer has reproduced the wonderful series of articles published by 'Military Modelling' and 'Battle' in times past by the legendary wargames god, Charles Grant (CS Grant wrote the book that introduced me, at the tender age of ten, to wargaming). I remember as a youngster being huddled up in public libraries studying past copies of the aforesaid magazines, reading some of the very articles that are now reproduced on THIS SITE.

Steve the Wargamer keeps a number of blogs and resources out there. Good on you Steve.

I've added the 'Table Top Teasers' site to my wargames resources links.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

An Elfish Gene in Cyburbia

There's a book out there called The Elfish Gene, which I came across over at Jeff's Game Blog (where he's reading it). From the book there is a blog (or is it the other way around(?)), and from the blog there are links to radio interviews about the book. When I listened to the second of these, found here (Jan at about 14 to 24 minutes in the hour long program (11 Jan 2009, part A)), it sounded a bit to me like a dude talking about some of his ol' gaming nights with his buddies and who's a bit surprised that he's found himself on the radio talking about it.

No comment on the book as I haven't read it, but i note on the blog the author says on January 31 that he is thinking of toning down the negativity about the gaming community that is apparently evident in his book for the soft cover print run. He says this has come about following conversations with gamers since the first print run. Good on him for being flexible enough to do this. I hope his publisher is as flexible.

I'm reading Cyburbia - a kind of ethnographic montage of history observation sociology of the shift into cyber space that has occurred over the past ten years, much of it during the life of this blog. The book covers a big space of ideas, and I don't know how much i agree with its conclusions, but it is intriguing in that it is looking at what I think is the subjective experience underlying online existence (!) that interests me in my anthropogical mode. If I pull of this back to gaming specific stuff, I'll let you know.

For now, back to the Renaissance...