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This page collects recent reports on my gaming activities. This complements the GameReviews with some empirical evidence. Which games am I actually playing? Something I have been wondering myself. Right now it seems that I’m not playing much, anyway. RSS Search

2014-05-08 The End of the World

A game idea about the First World War. We start with a simple variant without diplomacy. Every country produces a number of soldiers, and a number of guns. Every year you give orders, sending troops here or there. When armies meet, the weaker one falls back automatically until it reaches mountains, woods or a river. There it digs in, increasing its defense significantly.

Instead of moving, armies can dig in, further increasing their defensive advantage.

Losses are computed every year depending on the ratio of attacking and defensive power. Additionally, in winter, losses happen everywhere. Winter losses are grave for any army in foreign territory or any army that has recently moved.

I envision the game being about the decision to send millions to their grave. At the beginning there will e nice and colorful pictures of cavalry and breastplates and sabers. At end, there will be pictures of corpses and trenches and victims of poison gas.

The game will also be about making it hard to quit and about the hope of finding a breakthrough. As defense is always better than offense in these times, it will be an atrocious grind.

Once the basic game play stands, I would like to add details such as “taking Istanbul” (and the Dardanelles and Gallipoli) and theaters outside of Europe and add fleet combat.

More importantly I would like to write a “story generator” that takes these events and archive material and generates news reports and letters home and a rotation of generals and politicians to make it more immersive. There will be joy in reading about Armageddon.

Ideally every year will consist of one or two turns by the player and the game will end after six to ten turns. An ever increasing weariness of war will result in countries giving up and signing a separate peace.

The question will be—and I’d like the story generator to support this: what if? And then you try again and again. Go for Africa, first. Next time, use the fleet. Next time, push the Western Front.

Perhaps long term it will be possible to add technology like early tanks and bombers and we can release more and more upgrades to push the question. Would you have won the war if you had fire bombs? What about poison gas?

It’s terrible, I agree. I wonder whether there’s a little market for the morbid obsession about war. I think tapping into the alternate history via the story generator is important to differentiate the game from a strategy game.

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2014-01-31 Virtual Photography

I just stumbled over EVE Travel, with pictures and stories from the EVE Online world. What a wall of text. But the pictures! Never having played EVE, I keep getting reminded of my days as a kid playing Wing Commander 1 & 2 on a computer that would be unfit to be my phone’s audio processor, I guess. I’ve seen blogs with photographs of virtual worlds before, and it just keeps amazing me. How far we have come!

Some black and white images from Sykrim, for example. Or hipster Instagram pictures from Mirror's Edge.

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2012-11-10 Borderlands

Today I’ve bought Borderlands. I don’t know why, exactly. I switched on the Xbox, fully expecting to be playing some The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Then I saw the ad for some Borderlands 2 stuff, and I thought that I hadn’t played a good shooter in a long time. The old game was available for download and cheap ($19), and I had been thinking of Jet Set Radio for a while. The cell shading mesmerized me. Now that I’ve played it for a bit, I’m sensing boredom around the corner because of the repeated “get quest, move there, fight, move back…” (I must admit that I have the flu, so that might explain it all.)

I really enjoyed playing Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2. What would you recommend? The review I read about Future Soldier basically said that the best part was mutliplayer online gameplay – something I’m not planning to engage in.

Back in the days I also liked Medal of Honor: Frontline. There was a mission on a train, however, that proved to be too much for me. I was frustrated and never finished it.

I guess I’m spoiled!

  1. I want more realism and tactics like in G.R.A.W.
  2. I want more radical differences in missions like in Medal of Honor
  3. I want more meaningful plot elements like in Sykrim

I’m just happy that Borderlands doesn’t keep spewing forth enemies like the Call of Duty games. I hate it when the game forces me to advance instead of letting me pick off enemies from a distance before moving in.

One thing I really like right now is the soundtrack.

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Summary: The overwhelming number of Skyrim quests is in fact a bit of a problem for me, I agree.

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> ----
> The overwhelming number of Skyrim quests is in fact a bit of a problem for me, I agree.
> -- AlexSchroeder 2012-11-11 12:41 UTC



Andreas Gohr
I’m on my second play through of Borderlands 2 currently. Somehow it doesn’t get boring for me. Unlike Skyrim which overwhelmed me with the amount of quests and the time they needed!

Get well soon.

Andreas Gohr 2012-11-11 09:32 UTC


The overwhelming number of Skyrim quests is in fact a bit of a problem for me, I agree.

AlexSchroeder 2012-11-11 12:41 UTC

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2011-04-20 Computer RPG To Play List

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3076/2829578321_71e5689754.jpg

I want to play all these games – except when I’m at home there’s table top role-playing games prepare and run and play and when I finally have some time off there’s also blogs to read, books to read, DVDs to watch, and sunny weather and coffee houses and bike rides and all the rest of it.

Thus, the current state of affairs is this:

  • I haven’t finished Mass Effect. I’d like to buy and play Mass Effect 2.
  • I haven’t finished Fable II. I’d like to buy and play Fable III.
  • I haven’t finished Dragon Age. I’d like to buy and play Dragon Age 2.
  • I haven’t finished Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, nor Elder Scrolls III: Oblivion. I’d like to buy and play Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim.

This is hopeless!

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Comments on 2011-04-20 Computer RPG To Play List

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Summary: Planescape runs nicely in parallels, otherwise. I have a much nicer experience with parallels than with wine. And I didn't like DA2 at all. Many . . .

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< I did like the original DA, though, and ME2 is great.

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> I did like the original DA, though, and ME2 is great.



Adrian
You should also play Planescape: Torment, though that probably requires an inferior computer to what you now possess.

Mass Effect 2 is lots of fun, better than the original I think. Combat and character progression in Dragon Age 2 is better, but I don’t think the story is as cohesive.

Adrian 2011-04-20 22:04 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Planescape: Torment has been on my list for a while now, but I don’t know of any cool sequels that are upcoming, so it didn’t fit the pattern. :)

In addition to everything else, the problem is that the thing ought to run on Mac…

AlexSchroeder 2011-04-20 22:27 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hm, some people play Planescape via CodeWeaver on a Mac. No Windows license required since it works via Wine. That sounds very cool.

AlexSchroeder 2011-04-20 22:38 UTC


I was really disappointed from the Dragon Age 2 Demo, I couldn’t even get myself to finish it…
Skyrim looks and sounds great but I guess one will need a rather powerful PC to play it.

– Florian 2011-04-21 07:29 UTC


Planescape runs nicely in parallels, otherwise. I have a much nicer experience with parallels than with wine.

And I didn’t like DA2 at all. Many conversations are completely immersion-breaking and not fitting a fantasy setting, and the fight mechanics are completely broken and stupid. Using any kind of strategy instead of spamming the 2 or 3 combos that give you +600% dmg actually makes your fights last longer. And bossfights….Yay, hit x button for 400 times until the boss is dead. :(

I did like the original DA, though, and ME2 is great.

– Jonas 2011-04-21 16:09 UTC

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2011-02-03 Schwarzkopien

Schwarzkopien und der Umsatz

“Die Playstation 3 legt zu, […] bei Links zu Schwarzkopien von Spielen. […] Zwar wurden weniger Konsolen verkauft, aber die Spielenachfrage für die PS3 zog an.”

Wem fällt etwas auf?

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2009-12-28 Gaming This Year

How was 2009? MJ Harnish’s gaming in 2009 inspired this post. :)

Hagfish Tavern – the Rise of the Runelords campaign started in December 2008 and was going strongly in 2009. We had an intermezzo with Secret of Smuggler’s Cove, continued the campaign until some players complained that it was too tough and they felt they didn’t really have an in-character motivation to fight ogres. So we had a second intermezzo written for a party two levels below current party average with Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale. We’re slowly returning to the campaign, however. This is my Monday game and it’s firmly in Paizo’s hand. It went from weekly to biweekly at some point because some of the players didn’t want to play every single week. In a way that relieves me of some reading pressure, but on the other hand it also takes out some of the drive. We replaced two players: One had started a family, the other spent weeks and months visiting his girlfriend in the states. And there’s still a player on the waiting list. Amazing!

Campaign:CityoftheSpiderQueen City of the Spider Queen – when Hagfish Tavern went biweekly, one of the players volunteered to run City of the Spider Queen by James Wyatt which he didn’t like since it was a big combat fest and we moved into the Silver Marches by Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (both adventures by Wizards of the Coast). It was a fun romp from level 10 up to 13, but then a little kid arrived on the scene and the DM had to drop a game…

Montags in Zürich – when City of the Spider Queen was canceled I had a second biweekly Monday slot to fill and decided to give all the small games a chance. I was ashamed of all the unused rule-books on my shelf. I started looking for people interested in one-shots and two-session games. And surprisingly, I found some! We really liked Spirit of the Century; I didn’t like how Blossoms are Falling (and Burning Wheel) went; I liked Western City; the others tell me that My Life With Master and Legends of Middle Earth are very cool. Legends of Middle Earth will in fact replace Rolemaster in our Middle Earth game! We also playtested Death Frost Doom using Labyrinth Lord which was ok but not mind blowing. I’m looking forward to some Warhammer RPG 2nd edition and many more strange and weird games. We have a long list of systems we want to try.

Mouse Guard – we played a few sessions and it just didn’t quite work for us. It felt passionless and dry. I think I need to see some actual play or sit at an awesome table in order to find the missing link. I think I’m not alone in this “want to like Luke Crane games” camp.

Echoes of Heaven – the campaign ended prematurely. Some players left and we never really managed to recruit new ones. The DM was afraid of cat piss men and method actors – the two of us having been bitten before – and when we needed to reschedule, it didn’t work out and nobody was unhappy about it. Luckily all four of us still play in other campaigns together, so all is good.

Alder King – still my favorite game on two Sundays every month. We use D&D 3.5 and the Lenap map of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. There’s hex crawling, players setting goals, Entourage Approach, and soon we’ll have a mass battle. The success of this campaign is giving me thoughts regarding the Monday game and all the Paizo material I’m subscribed to. I love having the Pathfinder Adventure Paths and Modules, but if I’m not reading them (because I might end up playing them), and I’m not running them (there’s not enough time!), and I’m not liking them as much as the organic campaign I’m running in my Sunday game – then perhaps I should consider canceling my subscriptions? I don’t want to do that. But the seed of doubt has been sown.

Golden Lanterns – we’re still playing in the Shackled City adventure path! It’s a monthly Sunday game, so it’s crawls along at a snail’s pace. We’re approaching the end, however. I don’t know what James is planning to run for us in 2010. He’s a big Paizo fan, so I expect Second Darkness or Legacy of Fire.

Kaylash – I started a (Mongoose) Traveler game. I’m still not sure I whether I like it. I think my main problem is that I lack role-models for good science fiction adventures. I’m improvising a lot. We also treat trade and routine skill checks for hyper jumps as part of the regular game. We’ll see where that goes.

Grenzmarken – the West Marches style game I’m in will end in a few sessions. It has been great fun and it has shown me that you can run a campaign with more than ten players. You just need to make sure that there are never more than a handful of players at the table. In this campaign sessions often went as follows: players come together, get a mission from the DM, small fight, big fight, loot, and return to base. Somehow the campaign was never really player driven. We’ll see what Peter has in store for us next. I heard it was going to be Warhammer RPG 2nd edition with a strong online/wiki component.

I also played some Battle Lore, some Iron Tide, some Pandemic, and some Bang! I’m looking forward to some Race for the Galaxy and Dominion: Intrigue. I was unable to convince a friend to try De Bellis Antiquitatis.

I didn’t play through Fable 2, didn’t play through Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, bought Dragon Age: Origins and played it a lot at the end of the year.

My wishes for 2010:

  1. I want to run a B/X D&D campaign using Labyrinth Lord rules.
  2. I want to run a Swords and Planet campaign in the vein of Carcosa, Planet Algol, or Savage Swords of Athanor
  3. I want to run a Babylonian, Assyrian, Swords and Sorcery campaign, possibly based around XP1: The Spider-God’s Bride.

My interest in roleplaying games was rekindled three years ago, and it hasn’t collapsed, yet! :)

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Comments on 2009-12-28 Gaming This Year

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Summary: Rollback to 2011-01-23 19:28 UTC

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Just saw Robin’s post about his top games. :)

– Alex


Don’t forget the spider queen sessions.

– Sektat 2009-12-29 23:57 UTC


Absolutely. That was a crazy game. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-12-31 23:57 UTC

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2009-05-01 Ur-Quan Master

Ur-Quan Masters Screenshots Following the link chain from Erol Otus Interview to An interview with fantasy artist Erol Otus to The Ur-Quan Masters I ended up wasting a few hours playing this game. Multi-platform (Windows, Mac OSX, various GNU/Linux and BSD variants) awesome using astroid-like navigation when in combat (turn you ship clockwise or counter-clockwise, thrust, and shoot) with lots of weird aliens that you need to convince of an alliance.

The Ultronomicon is the Ur-Quon Master wiki. Go to the non-spoiler hints and look at the First Things To Do page. :)

Also, check out Wikipedia’s Star Control for some context. The Ur-Quon Master game is equivalent to Star Control II. Originally published in 1992!

Makes me want to play Ultima IV again; the xu4 port is available for Windows and Mac OS X, gratis but not Free Software. I love using a ship and firing those cannonballs at monsters!

Also check out Old Guy RPG Blog’s work on a player’s handbook for Ultima, I-III, OD&D style.

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I managed to waste the entire day playing Ur-Quan Masters and Ultima IV instead of drawing maps or preparing my D&D games.

AlexSchroeder 2009-05-02 01:05 UTC


How can a day playing Ultima IV be wasted?

– Sektat 2009-05-03 09:17 UTC

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2009-04-08 Tide of Iron

I’ve played Squad Leader for a bit (2008-01-19 Squad Leader), played some Battle Lore, and today I played Tide of Iron. I’m still not happy. :(

Squad Leader is nicely abstract, but the rules concerning the carrying around of machine guns, the huge stacks of units, and monolithical turns are a bummer.

Battle Lore is nice and simple, but simulating hit points using little plastic miniatures is a mess to set up, and the cards introduce a strong element of chance that is sometimes aggravating.

Tide of Iron seems inspired by all the wrong ideas. Not only do we have even smaller and finicky plastic miniatures to simulate unit strength, now attack values depend on unit strength and various miniature types can be combined into units, further complicating things.

Somehow it seems that it should be possible to assemble the best of the various ideas into the “perfect” game.

I think I’d like something that plays like Advance Wars. That would be simple and cool. Does something like that exist?

I also faintly remember there being a turn-based squad fighting game on the C64 that we used to play – each side gives commands to a squad of ten people. People had names such as Garret and Mario. I remember there being a garrote to use, a church to defend or blow up, and so on. I wonder what it was called.

Maybe I should take a closer look at De Bellis Antiquitatis. Not a new thought, either. I would not care about the painting of miniatures. I’d try to play it using cardboard rectangles. :)

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Comments on 2009-04-08 Tide of Iron

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Summary: Lol! Yeh, I seem to have that effect on people :D What's great about DBA (ok, one of the many things that's great) is that it's been adapted to . . .

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> ----
> Lol! Yeh, I seem to have that effect on people :D
> What's great about DBA (ok, one of the many things that's great) is that it's been adapted to many different genres too, so if a 4,500 year spread isn't big enough there's more. I've player DBA World War II and that worked well. I'm pretty sure there's a variant set in the world of Warhammer 40K out there somewhere.............
> -- [http://blog.microlite20.net greywulf] 2009-04-09 12:35 UTC


Computer Ambush!!

– Marcel 2009-04-09 05:57 UTC


Padooka, Richfield, Bastinelli, Lawson, Garrity, Cheng, Wheelock, Hoss, Marootian, and Dumke!!

AlexSchroeder 2009-04-09 07:51 UTC


DBA is one of my all-time favouritest games, ever. I play once every 4-6 weeks with my Persians, and hopefully that’ll increase now I’ve found a local friendly wargames guild. Woot!

It’s quick, simple and immense fun to play. A quick game can last just an hour and a full blow campaign over a rainy Saturday afternoon with a bunch of friends. One £6 booklet gives you all you need to play (just add dice and cardboard counters or minis and a tabletop) and you’ve got everything you need to play in any era from 3000BC to 1500AD.

The only downside is that the rules aren’t exactly written in an easily understandable manner. That’s where the Unofficial Guide to DBA comes in. That’s essentially the rules rewritten in Plain English, with examples. You still need the Real Rules of course as they contain the full army lists, etc. This page at DBA Gamer is a terrific primer.

Me, I love it.

greywulf 2009-04-09 11:42 UTC


Ok, you finally convinced me. Printed the unofficial guide, ordered the official rules.

Gaaaaaaaaah!

How long before you will make me by Mutants & Masterminds + Warriors and Warlocks!?

BTW, DM Peter has suggested Marcel and I start playing Warhammer 40k. Hm… DBA sure looks cheaper. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-04-09 12:20 UTC


Lol! Yeh, I seem to have that effect on people :D

What’s great about DBA (ok, one of the many things that’s great) is that it’s been adapted to many different genres too, so if a 4,500 year spread isn’t big enough there’s more. I’ve player DBA World War II and that worked well. I’m pretty sure there’s a variant set in the world of Warhammer 40K out there somewhere………….

greywulf 2009-04-09 12:35 UTC

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2009-02-04 Spieleclub Zürich

Hat heute wieder Spass gemacht. Mittwoch ist ja mein “Joker” Tag – entweder spielen ich in Peters Grenzmarken Kampagne, oder ich spiele Battle Lore mit Marcel, oder ich arbeite bis spät in die Nacht (auch das ist leider möglich) – oder ich gehe an den Spielabend im Quartiertreff Zentralstrasse, der von Beat Liechti organisiert wird. Heute haben wir Comuni gespielt. Die Spielregeln waren kompliziert und nicht schnell zu begreifen, aber nach der zweiten Runde hat es dann doch Spass gemacht und Claudia hat gewonnen. ;)

Mit Beat habe ich dann abgemacht, dass ich einen Website für die Spielabende in Zürich einrichte. Natürlich werde ich einen Wiki verwenden – und zwar Oddmuse.

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2008-08-03 Soul Calibur IV

So, Zeno and I have been playing the new version for quite a while. My fingers are about to fall off.

  • In Soul Calibur III we always ended up playing Mitsurugi vs Kilik, because we felt those were the best characters.
  • Today we played a lot of other characters. In the end we played a lot of Sophitia vs Siegfried
  • Setsuka didn’t suck at all.
  • Big slow fighters like Rock still suck.
  • Guard blocks and counters are still difficult as hell.

In other news, GreyWulf mentioned De Bellis Antiquitatis in his blog [1] – now I want to own the rules and play some. But I still have Battle Lore and Tide of Iron at home, and they’re not seeing much play either. Aaargh.

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Comments on 2008-08-03 Soul Calibur IV

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Summary: Heh. You could always give DBA Online a try :)

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Heh. You could always give DBA Online a try 😊

GreyWulf 2008-08-03 08:27 UTC

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Define external redirect: De Bellis Antiquitatis