October 10, 2010 at 12:28 am | Posted in games | 1 Comment

Minecraft is like a Lego sandbox.  Except instead of having pieces to build with from the start, you have to mine them first.  Or chop them down.  Or dig them out.  With smelting or crafting in between.  So here’s what I’ve made:


Yes, a giant tree made from trees and a view from the treetop of a mario mural I made.

There’s not much to say really.  It’s fun!  Also the foresight and design of the works of art that other people produce is amazing.

The Empire of Wu Zetian, part 1

October 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Posted in games | Leave a comment

The almighty Empress Wu Zetian founded Beijing one hundred and twenty six turns ag-  I mean somewhere around 3600 BC.  It was situated on the coast, next to land suitable for rice paddies and cattle, marble deposits ripe for mining and ivory on the side.  Still young and inexperienced, she heeded the words of her advisors and concentrated on small projects, setting workers to improve the city.  Warriors were sent to scout the land outside of the borders.  The aging advisors suggested recruiting explorers, but the young queen would have none of that and ignored their advice, instead training an extra pack of soldiers to survey the lands.

The warriors brought back reports of meetings with other civilisations and independent city-states, as well as reports of potential locations for expansion.  Wu Zetian kept those a secret, away from her advisors.  They never seemed to want to talk about expanding borders and establishing new cities.  “They are like old dumplings,” she thought.  “Dumpling shaped, fat and wrinkly.  And unwilling to move away from their warm casket.”  As time passed by, Beijing grew.   Citizens built farms on rich pastures just outside the city, incentivised by subsidies, expanding its borders.  Neighbouring civilisations took notice.  The Empress was invited to tea with George Washington and General Bismark.  The US of A had settled down in the south-east, while Berlin had been establish down south.  The Empress negotiated lightly, unwilling to expose her inexperience or commit to anything.  She kept a distance and did not go out of her way to engage with her closest neighbours, the independent city-states of Venice and Florence.  They did their own rebellious thing while she did hers.  She did manage to meet and chat with Darius of the Persians at a dinner party, but found him to be a shallow young lad.

More time passed.  Technology progressed.  As she had personally predicted, they became able to harness the power of the cattle and marble more effectively.  And when reports surfaced of Berlin and Washington creating new colonies of Hamburg and New York in Beijing’s direction, she took the opportunity to push past her advisors with preparations for establishing a new city, Shanghai a little to the South East.  to ensure that the baby city would flourish, she also sent along half her army and half of all her workers to protect and accelerate construction.

More colonies started appearing around the map.  Aggressive government spending was used to expand the borders of China and avoid being blocked in, but eventually she found the actions of her neighbours a bit too much and started amassing an army in secret.  It was rude when some nation from the other side of the world decided that it would be a good idea to build something in between two rapidly developing countries.  She enlisted one of her elite guard to oversee the training of a large army of archers, who would be protected by one of her armies of veteran warriors.  Ignoring all the agreements she had made earlier, which she thought were rather infantile anyway, she marched them down to Pasargadae, the silly little colony that Darius had created and rained hell upon the city, before her warriors marched in and took over the city.  America sent a letter of protest at her show of violence, but she chucked it in the trash.  All talk and no action.  Plus, they were too far away to do anything.  The resistance was lower than she had expected, and as a gesture of goodwill, she let army help the city rebuild itself and do whatever it wanted, before continuing her slow march downwards to the next city that was in the way of Beijing – Hamburg.

There were a few seconds before issuing the command to attack when Wu Zetian had doubts about attacking Germany, but then remembered Bismark’s bad taste in fashion and became even more motivated.  Initial battle reports indicated that the Hamburgers were showing resistance, but splitting the archers into two groups reduced cases of injuries and split the ability of the city to react effectively.  She gave control of the prosperous city back to it’s mayor, making sure he was aware of the changes in affiliation, and left them to rebuild themselves.  Seeing as her army was a bit wounded, she let them take a break while she ordered the training of a second batch of archers, as well as the construction of several wonders, including the Great Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens.  Bismark even asked for a peace treaty, which the Empress agreed to, since she had put him back in his place.  In the short time of a few hundred years, she had managed to double her borders and influence.

The weakening grip of her neighbours made Wu Zetian pay a visit to her two neighbouring city states of Venice and Florence.  While still wanting to be  left alone, the two cities realised that they were sitting in the doorstep of a very strong nation, and so readily agreed to an alliance for their own survival.  As a gesture of goodwill, the Empress amassed her rejuvenated army and led them to launch an offensive against Singapore, a state that Venice had been rivals with for over a thousand years.  Unsurprisingly, Singapore was a bigger, better and prettier country than Venice, the Empress noted as they raced through the countryside to the capital.  Of course the Venetians were envious. “I shall take this city for myself, and not crush it as the silly Italians would have wanted,” Wu Zetian thought herself.  The enemy was prepared.  They even had archers stationed, providing twice the offensive power of any foe she had faced so far.  Fortunately, the Empress had doubled her firepower too, completely denying Singapore the chance to recover in between attacks.  the archers and the city walls fell like dominoes.  By the time George Washington’s letter of disapproval had arrived, Singapore was already in the hands of China.

“Now what?” the Empress wondered.

Games and Education

June 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Posted in games, me | Leave a comment
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Inspirational article:


This article got me thinking – educational games?  When was the last time I played a game that was educational?  When was the last time you played a game that was educational?

The game I had in mind was Desktop Dungeons. ( http://www.qcfdesign.com/?cat=20 )  A turn-based dungeon-crawling rogue-like, where all the rules are simple and well-defined, it is one of the few recent games where I have spent significant amounts of time paused in thought (not paused in game, turn-based combat means time doesn’t pass until I make a move).  The attack power, HP and special effects of you and revealed enemies on the map are clearly displayed, meaning that at times I would have notepad and calc open while I calculated the current maximum damage I could deal without dying.  In my mind, I would be thinking – “So I have enough MP to cast fireball three times without the enemy retaliating, each cast dealing damage equal to my character level multiplied by 4 *fiddles with calc*, and then I have enough hp to survive two hits, so my maximum damage output is 72, lemme see which monsters have 72 or less HP”

Unfortunately, this seems to be a much too convoluted method of teaching multiplication or percentages, though I suppose this concept could be simplified and distilled even further to allow the game to guide the player (or student) more smoothly into making such calculations.

On a complete side note, each game only has one level, which is randomly generated every single time.  That should have been rather obvious – “It has randomly generated levels!  Leo will probably like this for it’s replayability.”

My mind then branched out to other games which might potentially be more educational than previously thought.  Failing to find any, I tried to understand why a regular RPG does not exhibit similar educational features.  One major obstacle is the arbitrariness of the numbers, where the attack rating of weapons do not directly correspond to damage dealt and where there are many other factors that affect the final output.  The numbers that you see are cloaked behind so many layers of “game mechanics” that eventually, the only calculation that I end up performing is a comparison of the running averages of damage dealt to various enemies, and all potential of education value is lost in a mass of complicated equations.  Moreover, the mechanics of Plants vs. Zombies (yes, there is DPS data on PvZ plants), or frame data from Street Fighter are much too deep to be approachable by younger children.  More specific uses such as using rollercoasters in rollercoaster tycoon or Mario in Super Mario to demonstrate various aspects of Physics are too specialised. So no, I cannot think of any games which could easily be used to teach basic arithmetic or language skills.

Street Fighter IV Silliness

May 30, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Posted in games | Leave a comment

I officially have internet.  After screaming at my internet service provider for not providing me with any service and telling them to cancel my frigging contract.  One other minor problem is to find a program that runs on windows 7 that I can use to continue my comic strip.

Dwarf Fortress Promo

May 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Posted in Dwarf Fortress | 1 Comment
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Seven juvenile dwarf delinquents, tired of lazing about in their mountain home playing counterstrike all day, enchanted by adventurer’s tales of sleeping beauties (sleeping beauty and the seven dwarfs?  Snow white and the beast?), have decided to gang up and strike it out on their own.  With a photocopied map made by garden gnome cartographers, they roam the countryside in search of the perfect location to play some more computer games, far from the prying eyes of their elders.  And maybe attract some chicks along the way.



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