For Fuck's Sake!
Anti-copyright tip: Stay.The.Hell.Away.From.Sony.
have just been sued about their other DRM standard, the
MediaMax. It is not as big a security
problem as XCP was but it meets the criteria set for
spyware. The user is not informed of the program's
features and that it reports his actions to Sony servers.
Even if the user refuses to accept the user license,
MediaMax still installs 12 megabytes of data on your
computer. It is as of yet unclear what that contains and
what exactly MediaMax is reporting to Sony. But as we
have already seen, anything is possible, even the
impossible. XCP was detected after about 3 million sales.
There are more than 20 million MediaMax records out
there. Currently only EFF has sued Sony about this but
the state of Italy is reportedly conducting its own
cyber-security investigation into the matter.
Just when I had got the latest rant on
girls and gaming off my chest, YLE (Finnish State
Broadcasting Company) makes me angry about it all over
again. They come to Rovio to do a piece for some youth
program and our CFO tells them that we do "wargames,
action games, horror games and roleplaying games".
Then the reporter asks: "What about games for
girls?" If I am in the picture, you can probably see
a little dark cloud over me with lightning flashing in
CFO, well aware that I was within earshot
and approaching the point of spontaneous combustion,
replied: "I don't think there is such a thing as
'games for girls'. Girls are just as fragmented customer
group as boys are."
It was an excellent answer. First class.
Within top-10 of the game industry answers to such a
question, actually. No other gaming company in Finland
(with the possible exception of Remedy; I have never
heard their reply to this question) and very few in the
whole wide world would have said it. It is the obvious
truth, isn't it? But neither the media nor rest of the
game industry dare face up to it.
Here is my prediction on the future of
gaming: Just like roleplaying games, within 10 years (and
after several restrictions on content) digital games will
be considered a "girly hobby" and both boys and
the media will have moved on to something else. Luckily,
I am already doing games for girls. You know; games about
war, action, horror, roleplaying and the like.
Society and Gaming Girls
Let's kick off by saying that Marika's
mini-column "Writing on the Wall"
(Seinäkirjoitus) in November Pelit -magazine was
excellent and gave me a whole new perspective into the
idiotic assumptions associated with gaming women. Her
point was that although women now play video games, the
common assumption is that women are "constructive
instead of destructive", do not like competition,
are less aggressive and all that crap. This assumption is
based on the Western society's idea of the feminine,
which also affects the upbringing of girls. Girls are
poorly included in the gamer sub-culture, have smaller
allowances and their parents won't buy them computer
games. Showing controlled aggression is socially
acceptable only for boys. Girls are supposed to be
caring, nurturing and social. Deep down, everyone knows
this is bullshit but that is how the social roles in our
I was told yesterday by several women
that when parents are not around, Barbie games for little
girls really go for the hardcore and the dolls bear the
brunt of their frustrations and suppressed aggression.
For a girl, it is not proper to express such sensations
in a company and hence the shock caused by the idea of
girls playing aggressive games. This shock forms a social
treshold for girls potentially interested in games and
not all of them can cross it. Still, Mariosofia
(2002) observes that 43% of seventh-grade girls (by
now high school 1st and figure is likely to be higher)
plays video games at least once a week. A non-gamer lady
doing her master's thesis on Gamer Women told me that the
figure was followed by some pretty interesting
assumptions. Having Mariosofia on my shelf, I
looked it up. Sure enough, it did.
For example, it had a piece of interview
where teen-aged girls first lamented the fact that all
games seemed to be geared for boys (and judging by their
reactions) were not proper for them to play. But
when the interviewer asked what kind of games they would
like to see on the market, they were well-satisfied with
the current offering (of violent racing, action and
strategy games). I've seen this thing also myself: in a
train a teen-aged girl enthusiastically tells her friend
2 is all about, in great detail. Then the
train reaches Helsinki and it is time for the girls get
out. "Luckily I don't play it", says the girl.
"I might get hooked." Having thus re-asserted
her femininity to herself and her female companion, she
exits the train.
Mariosofia also draws some
strange conclusions on the numbers so that their findings
conform with the expectations of society. While 43% of
young girls played games, they still aren't considered
gamers because they only play games 1-4 times a week. It
seems that a boy gamer who sits glued to his chair for 6+
hours a day (and who is by medical standards an addict)
is the norm here. If a girl goes to ride horses once a
week, she is considered to have riding as a hobby. But it
is not a hobby if she plays games as often. The society
around them defends itself agains the idea of women
gamers by re-definining the criteria of a
"hobby" into something that would be better
described as "compulsion". It is the same thing
I commented earlier: if a gaming company puts "must
be fanatical about games" into a job ad, they are
getting more applications from social misfits than gamers
of either sex.
Is it a coincidence that the public alarm
about the violent content in games made front-page news
around the same time that gamer girls showed up on the
radar? Nobody cared shit about boys blowing each other to
bits in virtual battlefields but the prospect of girls
joining them was too much to bear for the self-appointed
social controllers. Girls are also invisible in the gamer
community and mostly keep silent in the media, thus
contributing greatly to the stereotypes. Why? To avoid a
social backlash. To keep their hobby private. To hide
this demonstration and outlet of aggression. It is the
same reason why Barbies only get drunk, beat each other
up and have girl-to-girl sex when played alone.
Making Myself Useful
I have been doing all sorts of useful
stuff lately. Oh, to hell with it! I've been mostly
playing EVE, although I did finish Praedor v1.1 for
printers and agree on a Stalker test-play campaign for
spring. Even now I am writing this just because EVE has
its daily maintenance shutdown and I am bored. I get
these spells like every now and then, followed by a
hangover period during which I almost quit the game and
close the account. EVE has this cunning system where you
can just select a skill to be trained and then stay out
of the game. Even if you are sick of the sight of the EVE
interface, the game still does something for you by
training your character.
There was an interesting discussion on
p&p roleplaying in the world EVE in the IRC the other
day. EVE has the same problem as books written about a
setting: it only offers a very limited viewpoint (that of
a pilot) into the setting. The short stories on EVE
website are crucial in understanding the rest of the
setting and the role of ordinary people, like the myriad
crewmembers who perish every time you lose a ship. The
scifi boilerplate "adventuring party + ship"
format would work here as well. Most of the group would
be the crew and the pilot in his pod would be a kind of
an omnipresent entity around them during the trip. At
destination they dig the pilot out of the pod and give
him a fusion rifle, and team leadership transfers to a
ground operation specialist.
I am not going to do a game on EVE but I
have been thinking about writing a short story, running a
small adventure or how an FPS-mod set in the EVE Universe
would look and feel. There are plenty of opportunities
here; perhaps even more than CCP has realised. Then
again, EVE fan community is one of the most active in any
mmog. I would expect the fan asset output of WoW to dwarf
it because of the sheer subscriber volume, but for a
community of 70,000 gamers these people are very creative
and smaller communities abound.
I am becoming established as an author of
quasi-realistic mobile wargames. Sales-wise War Diary:
Burma is doing extremely well despite its oft-criticized
combat resolution system. War
Diary: Crusader is out now and got slightly
better reviews. And while Airgamer.de lamented the lack
of a map (the play area itself is supposed to act as a
map but people don't always think what you want them to),
this time they applauded the combat resolution mini-game.
I just hope it will sell as well as Burma. However, it
will be the last War Diary with a separate and often
rather abstract mini-game for the combat. Future War
Diary games will have context-relevant combat interfaces.
I am the last person in the world to talk
about raising kids but some of my friends have some of
their own and as usual I could not keep my big mouth
shut. I intend to give my godson a complete freedom of
choice from our home DVD collection by the time he is 4,
provided he does not watch anything alone. Our home DVD
collection has obviously an ample selection of war,
horror and violent science fiction action movies.
"You can't be serious?!" was the immediate
reaction. Oh, but I am. Dead serious, although I will
obviously give my godson viewing recommendations as he is
unlikely to be literate at the time and he would be old
enough to tell me what he is interested in. At the age of
4, I saw Star Wars: Episode IV in a movie theatre. I
could not make heads or tails of what was happening but I
loved every minute of it.
If my godson (when he is 4 years old)
wants to watch Aliens: Director's Cut with me, I will let
him. I would have loved it at his age. But he could not
do it alone and there would be have to be pauses where I
explain what is happening and who said what. We will also
have a pre-condition that the film is stopped the moment
he wants to stop watching. Under these conditions,
anything from Apocalypse Now to Underworld is okay.
There was a moment in my early childhood
when I realised there are people who try to prevent me
from watching certain films, reading certain books or
listening to certain kinds of music. All my life, from
that moment to this, I have fought them. Although the
final triumph only came with age, I scored several
victories, especially with war films. They became my
great passion when I was about 10. I have never had any
trouble in separating fact and fiction, but that trait
did cause me a few problems at the elementary school
classes on religion...
Imagine a small and cute white-haired kid
straight out of a Victorian painting raising his hand and
saying politely (and speaking in perfect book Finnish):
"Excuse me teacher, but this is the dumbest thing
I've ever heard".
Yeah, they were shocked too and came up
with non-denominational education when I moved on to
comprehensive school. It made a whole lot more sense.
Anti-copyright tip #11:
Don't buy Sony products.
I've been asked what's the word on
Code/X. It is true that has been no news since version
0.7. The first reason is that experiences from Code/X
have also been useful for Stalker and the Flow in general
and I've been applying them to Stalker (and to the Flow
as a whole). The second reason is the same old: too much
to do, too little time. I am working at Rovio games (check this out
if you don't believe me), writing game reviews for Enter
magazine, keeping up this blog, trudging on with getting
Praedor v1.1 ever closer to the printers, writing Stalker
and contemplating Varjojen Tarha.
Third reason is that I came up with a
really cool idea for a Code/X campaign and it has been
eating up my Code/X bandwith. I am calling it Code/X:
Vostok because it is set in the near future in and around
Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Those of you who are good with
Google will soon find out that Lake Vostok is a body of
liquid water in the interior and trapped under four
kilometers of ice. It has been out of touch from the rest
of the world for at least half a million and possible
several millions of years. The exact shape and size of
the lake is unknown but the main body, observed from
seismic echoes, is thought to be long and narrow with the
surface area roughly equal to Lake Ontario (or Lake
Ladoga, if that is easier to grasp). Now what do the
players do down there? Kill monsters, obviously.
But it isn't so simple. I like my games
to follow the conventions and even cliches of their
respective genres. Just like Praedor tries to recreate
the pulp fantasy action (as well as the more
thought-provoking bits Petri likes to put here and there)
and Stalker (hopefully) retains the feeling of being
science fiction with an edge of social criticism, Code/X
is all about recreating the settings, characters and
attitudes found in contemporary video games of the
contemporary/near future shooter genre. The first version
of the game was actually a fan game of an existing IP:
Half-Life as a whole is one of the top-10
intellectual properties in gaming. While a freely
downloadable fan RPG by a private person would not
probably register on Valve's radar (or they might
actually be supportive of it), Burger Games as a business
entity could not take that chance. Just as I wanted to
make the rules simpler and more action-oriented, I also
needed detach the setting from its Half-Life origin and
replace with something of my own creation. The default
Code/X-setting seemed like a good idea at the time, as it
supported importing all kinds of survival horror
scenarios within the same setting. In playtesting it
worked, or at least met all the requirements I had set
for it. But I was never really that hot for a
"generic survival horror game" myself. That is
why writing even the generic descriptions of the
different facets of the setting took ages.
Having now established the bloody obvious
fact that writing a game that works and a game that you
like are two different things, you can probably see how
my enthusiasm for the first Code/X -setting faded away. I
like the system and it works as a good, dice-based
comparison for the Flow. The two are effectively
interchangeable. But I will neither write nor publish a
generic rules system. If I publish an RPG built in the
manner of video game shooters, it would have to be the
kind of a near-future shooter I would make if asked to
design a near-future shooter for PC.
Hence, Code/X:VOSTOK. Especially now that
whole shooter genre seems to be moving backwards. I can't
stem the tide in video games but I can do my share in
bettering the derivative products. My only problem is
that I would need lots of good-quality art.
Holy Hell, Sony!
Anti-Copyright tip #10: Sony
has a new slogan: "If you are going to fuck it up,
fuck it up good and hard!". I have to admire those
guys. After creating one of the worst information
security crises in history with their rootkit DRM, they
manage to top that with the removal program!
That's right! If the rootkit did not screw you, their
removal program will! For some reason the Finnish media
is trying to keep a lid on this news, while other sources
tell me that rootkit and the removal have brought down
over 700 mainframes. In a country this small it is a
But wait! It gets even better! Sony
BMG Finland goes on to state that no rootkit protected
"CDs" were sold in Finland and all
problems are caused by "grey imports" from the
United States. To underline the supposed illegality of
this they quote the most relevant part from Lex Karpela
where importing stuff from outside ETA is prohibited
except with the consent of the original publisher. Bad
move, boys! Private consumers are still allowed to order
their media from wherever they wish! So that press
release of yours is a big, fat, stinking LIE! That part
in Lex Karpela is only meant to bankrupt small
counter-culture retailers (which sucks, but it is not the
point here). Finnish consumers are still protected by
other parts of national law.
Besides, the libraries of Espoo
report they are removing rootkit-protected CDs from their
collections and they are not ordering those from abroad
or from shady retailers. You guys at Sony BMG Finland don't
have a clue as to what you are talking about,
But it gets even better than this.
Sony BMG Finland concludes by saying that since the
records were ordered from outside ETA, it is the fault of
the customer (and retailer in EU, if any) in Sony BMG's
products break their computers and destroy their files! I
would have expected the recent events to make them a
little less arrogant, but no. Now where can I get that
kind of a poker face.
Would you believe that it still gets
Oh yes. First4Internet,
which did the rootkit DRM for Sony has prepared for the
worst... by removing the contact addresses of its
management from their website. And believe me, they have
a reason. Their DRM program is using parts of open-source
software in a non-open way and is therefore in breach of
the many licenses covering open source programming. As
icing on the cake, somebody managed to dug out the
copyright information of Apple from the rootkit code,
implying cut-and-paste copying their software.
Well, First4Internet, your biggest
customer just recalled millions of "CDs" and is
being sued by consumer groups and hounded by computer
security companies. Microsoft is labelling your content
as malware and will include countermeasures against it in
their next security update. And you, First4Internet, are
going to be sued to death.
By now you must be aware that your games
have the highest suck-per- production-cost ratio of all
premium publishers. With some regret I must now add Shadow
Ops: Red Mercury to your growing list of
(under)achievements. The game is your stab at the
military action shooter genre, challenging titles like
the Delta Force series and Ghost Recon. The premise was
not bad and although your cinematic sequences are
crappiest this side of the millennium party, you did
manage to make the hero an actual character.
To start with, how the hell is it
possible that a Polish garage band Techland can do bigger
levels, better graphics and immensely better vegetation
effects on an outdated game engine built on Java?! The
lush jungles of Chrome: Specforce are light-years ahead
of your static pipeline Congo levels. Furthermore, their
game also runs smoothly on older computers, where as your
requirements for SO are only now becoming mainstream. Oh,
you can use vehicles in Specforce too. Ever thought about
You did some things right: FPS is a
reflex-based genre and your shooting is not only fairly
accurate, but people shot with CAR-15 actually respond as
if they had been shot with an ultra-modern
high-penetration assault rifle. You've read your Black
Hawk Down, so an extra star on that. Another good
point is a separate key for throwing grenades, thus
making them actually useful in combat. And at least in
the easy level the damage model on the player is quite
friendly. Actually, the process of aiming and shooting in
your game is exemplary.
Then you go fuck it up with some severely
bad design. If you are doing a quasi-realistic FPS, there
are some mortal sins which are immediate game killers and
you got two of them. First are the psychic enemies. All
enemies are constantly aware of where you are, unless
scripted otherwise as part of the mission flow. They have
pretty much instant reflexes and are dead accurate even
when firing beyond the visibility range (approximately 50
metres) of the game. The last one is not a problem in
urban warfare but your bridge mission was plain stupid.
Somebody was taking potshots at me through a solid wall
of fog. When I did bag them, I did not find any IR
goggles on them you know.
Your other mortal sin is scripted enemy
spawning. There is nothing in the whole genre that can
kill any sense of immersion more effectively. Basically,
this means that enemies appear only when reaching certain
points or intermediary objectives in the game. Before
that, they do not exist. This results in some very
interesting incidents, which you probably attribute to
the fog of war. The fog is between your ears, boys and
Before entering a house, I lobbed a
grenade through an open upstairs window. Bang! No one
screamed. Upon entering the house and climbing their
stairs, I find the upper room filled with enemies,
strategically positioned around the stair case. They did
not exist before I reached the stairs. Or, I am told to
hook up with a fellow operator on the street. I do a
little scouting ahead to see if I have to fear someone
sneaking up on me and then circle back to meet him. Well,
after the meeting all the places I just checked have been
magically filled angry insurgents. Or you clear an
African base by lobbing a grenade into every hut but as
soon as you touch the local radio, enemies start running
out of the very same huts. Or, I check carefully if a
watchtower beside a bridge is empty and even fire couple
of rounds to make sure nobody's hiding behind the low
fence. Then I run down a flight of stairs, still keeping
my eyes on the tower and lo! Enemy sniper materializes
out of thin air!
Scripted spawning makes tactics
practically impossible. If your crappy game engine can't
handle many enemies at once, by all means spawn them but
make damn sure they are already there when the locations
become visible to the player for the first time. Enemies
spawning out thin air is quite alright in fantasy or
super-science genres. Shadow Ops is supposed to be
realistic and I don't want to see the Islamics warping
back and forth between this world and their virgins. I
recommend that you stick to re-skins of Unreal II from
With ever-dwindling respect,
VILLE "BURGER" VUORELA
Turmion Kätilöt made headlines when
they had stage dancers perform (imitate) oral sex on them
and some reporter lacking a better story turned it into a
scandal since there was no age limit to Räntärock.
Nobody present saw the hundreds of traumatized children
but many people who have just read the paper have
established a psychic rapport with them. Big deal!
Children do not keel over and die if they see something
sexual. I also hope TK did the oral part properly so the
kids get it right the first time. I saw Turmion Kätilöt
on stage at Ruisrock. The taller vocalist was stark naked
and for some reason the cameraman had focused on his
penis, which was then displayed on two big screens for
all to see. Pretty standard, uncircumsized cock. Bigger
than mine but that's how they always are. If I remember
correctly, Ruisrock did not have an age limit either. It
was just plain bad.
did it again: George Martin's "Storm of
Swords" is out, translated as
"Miekkamyrsky" and it is even better than the
first two books. Not only is the story a real killer, but
this time also the translation was impeccable. I actually
missed one night's sleep because of the bloody book: once
started, I just could not put it down. I don't usually
recommend translations but if you have any trouble with
complex English and courtly terms, this time you won't
miss anything by reading the translation. Quite the
opposite, perhaps. Extremely good work, Satu.
Congratulations, both from me personally and from Burger
Praedor v1.1 is now complete, apart from
the table of contents. The biggest obstacle to
publication is the lazy bastard who should get the TOC
done, do the final check-up, compile the files (pagemaker
files, fonts, pics) on a CD-Rom, contact the printing
company and mail them the bloody disc. Unfortunately, I
also have to contact the tax office and ask my
VAT-register status to be restored. You know what I hate
about government officials? It is the smell. I feel
saturated by it. I can taste their stink! Blech!
Stalker... Stalker Stalker Stalker. After
writing so high and mighty about gamemastering combat in
Flow, I am now struggling my way through an updated
equipment list. Including only stuff that might be
relevant for Zone expeditions, I am collecting
"packs" or "kits", so that instead of
going through every item the player could just decide his
character is taking the camping gear, leaving others to
argue about whose turn it is to carry the jars and
containers, or the medical kit which no one ever hopes to
see used. And then there's weapons. I have an idea of how
weapons can be compressed into a few basic models
corresponding roughly 90% of the worlds firearms. But it
still has to be put in practise. After that I need to
create a sample character and write the descriptions,
lights and shadows for all talents. That is going to take
a while but it also makes the Player's Guide fairly long.
I hope I get the game done before next
Ropecon. I really do.
Anti-copyright tip #9: Not
really a tip, but a really, really good idea. An IRC
quote from bash.org
<DmncAtrny> I will write on a
huge cement block "BY ACCEPTING THIS BRICK THROUGH
YOUR WINDOW, YOU ACCEPT IT AS IS AND AGREE TO MY
DISCLAIMER OF ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS WELL
AS DISCLAIMERS OF ALL LIABILITY, DIRECT, INDIRECT,
CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL, THAT MAY ARISE FROM THE
INSTALLATION OF THIS BRICK INTO YOUR BUILDING."
<DmncAtrny> And then hurl it through the window of
a Sony officer
<DmncAtrny> and run like hell
Being an industry insider, I heard
Shadowgrounds came to stores on Wednesday and got mine
from Savepoint, even though the official starting day for
the sales was Friday. It is a good game, especially for a
middle-price-point of 30 euros or so, but since I wrote a
review about it for the Enter magazine I am not going
through it in detail here. But do try it out. Together
with Serious Sam 2, I think it does more than its fair
share in bringing fun back into shooters. If only they
had not dropped their brains in the sink before they
started planning the multiplayer. Jesus, Frozenbyte: You
can be 133t coders but you don't know shit about how to
sell a game! No major complaints on the design, yet. Well
ok, Weather Station hangar with the roaches around kind
Using my work benefit game budget I also
bought Area-51 and that turned out to be a mistake. Ok, I
don't have quite the recommended machine to run it but
come on! The game should still look better than Unreal
2!!! And don't even get me started on the broken
transparency. It is such sloppy programming I want to cry
and having famous actors for voices does not help to save
it. I love the opening intro; very Code/X-like, but it
all goes downhill from there. Weapons are hideously
underpowered, team mates are morons and instead of
monster location plotting you just have spawn points: a
window, a door that you can't enter, a broken ventilation
shaft. When you are close enough, they start spawning
monsters and once you've killed a preset number of them,
it is all over. Any surprises are of the Doom 3
"BOO!" variety. Crap, I say. I hope Doom the
Movie does better.
I keep hearing only good things about
Halo the Movie. Not only did they give it a good budget
and put Bungie in artistic control, but they also follow
the whole metaplot, starting from the Fall of Reach. It
is the start of the book trilogy but only implied in the
game. Nevertheless, if done right it gives the movie
setting great depth. Now the only two ways they can still
screw it up are going for the PG-rating or involving
George Lucas. The only way that man can do a good movie
is by accident. BTW, I talked with a co-worked about
media studies and he told me that students are
effectively brainwashed to like low-budget art films.
When they finally graduate, they want to be respected and
impoverished alternative art film directors. It takes
years of exposure to the real world to make them
understand that Citizen Kane is an overhyped, over-acted,
over-melodramatic and boring piece of artsy bile.
I'll be waiting for your letter bombs.
Combat in Flow
Now that those morons are torching cars
in France in the vain hope that one of them might be
Führer Karpela's, it is a good time to discuss combat in
Flow. As everyone knows, combat is the last bastion for
munchkins and rules lawyers even as immersionists and
Turku schoolers are swarming over the walls. I am not
going to deprive them of their last refuge, but instead
give them some new weapons to fight with. If you've been
in the scene you have probably heard the argument that
combat should not have its separate rules section.
Indeed, streamlining combat to use more or less the same
rule mechanics as the rest of the game is in vogue.
Still, even in the most lightweight games combat tends to
be rules-heavy and Gamemasters find themselves looking at
endless charts of modifiers and crit tables. Why?
Well, some of it is fun and some of it is
traditional. But for the most part I think that while
Gamemasters have no problem with arbitrarily setting
difficulty values for non-combat tasks, combat is
something we rarely encounter in real life. Thus it is
not covered by our common sense. On top of that, if the
player fails in an ordinary task, he can always try
something else. Failure in combat could result in the
death of the character. Many Gamemasters prefer the
impersonal dice to bear at least some of the
responsibility (and blame). It is not a sign of weakness:
roleplaying games are supposed to be fun and doing
something that isn't just because it is part of the game
and genre really sucks.
Then there is the chaos factor. Even real
life combat sees the most amazing things. Victories
against incredible odds. Freak accidents nobody could
have foreseen. Black knights tripping over the own feet.
Peasant throwing his spear right into the eye of a
tyrannosaur. Dice can replicate all that. Even with a
Gamemaster like me who otherwise tweaks the rolls to
achieve his goals, exceptional rolls are left to stand to
add a little more flavour, triumph or chaos into the
game. Properly managed, no alternative form of
roleplaying can beat the traditional dice-fest in the
sheer fun factor.
If you don't believe me, watch Kalle
"rpr" Marjola in action. He dropped the rules
but kept the dice. By all accounts it is a blast!
Well, can combat be fun, chaotic and
diceless all at once? It can, but let's face it: if you
are a traditional roleplayer, you will probably like the
dice-fest better. In a diceless system, both players and
the Gamemaster have to re-think their whole approach to
combat encounters. And yes, you do have to rely on common
sense, even if you don't have any. It is easier to do in
the Flow than in other diceless games, but the Gamemaster
is still a big part of the equation.
The Flow is not interested in turns,
combat rounds or specific measurements. Instead,
defeating the enemy is a task and the player gets to
describe how he would do it. This is then rated like any
other task description and it tells the outcome of
the plan, not the course of events.
Events are up to the Gamemaster. What did the character
plan to do? What was the enemy plan? How do they respond
to character actions? How did this affect the rest of the
characters' plan? It is still a lot of work for the
Gamemaster but at least there is a method to the madness.
And variables which can lead to unexpected results.
Combat usually does not end with the first plan. But if
it was a good one, you might have taken quite a few
enemies out of the fight.
It would be easy for me to say that
Gamemasters should set difficulty tresholds the way they
feel. Problem is that most of you would not know what you
feel. So lets look at the odds. Let's begin by dividing
enemies into trained and untrained. Untrained enemies are
those with little or no actual combat experience.
Shooting someone in the back in a dark alley don't count
and actually most criminals are sissies in a real
firefight. The default treshold against untrained foes 9.
For trained foes like soldiers or predatory beasts it is
12. For something really bad ass like the Delta Force or
Siberian Tiger it is 15. Then think in terms of
advantages and disadvantages with regards to your
opponent. Every advantage makes it one level easier to
succeed. You have more firepower? That is an advantage.
They have bullet proof vests that can stop your rounds?
That is a disadvantage and they cancel each other out.
You can probably think of four or five different things
that could tilt the balance one way or the other.
In the real world, most fights are
hopelessly one-sided from the outset. Why should Stalker
be any different?
Your actions scored well above the
treshold? Good for you. Your plan worked perfectly and
that is a solid hit on two or three guys (if you were
aiming for that), now roll for dam... uh, sorry. No hit
rolls? How do I know how it went? No damage rolls? How do
I know what happened? Forget it is combat and try to
think of it as any other challenge? Did you succeed? If
yes, was it barely or with a good margin? Success means
the plan worked and whatever you set out to do was
achieved to a degree determined by the quality of your
If the objective was to take out incoming
enemies, a minimal success might be enough close calls to
keep their heads down. You're still okay yourself but a
whole clip of ammo is gone and all you did was to
convince them that at least their plan was not
working. Okay, what are you all going to do next? If you
succeeded by a decent margin, you forced the others down
and perhaps nailed one. With a critical success they did
something stupid and you went Rambo on them. Survivors
are still running. And vice versa. If you plan failed
just barely, you escaped with a scratch but your next
plan is better to be a darned good one. If you missed it
by a mile, they didn't.
Aargh! I am hit! How bad is it? Well, it
depends where you were hit, what kind of protection you
were wearing, how much energy and penetration the round
had left at the time of impact and a thousand little
variables regarding your guts. In short, a realism does
not come with dice rolls. Roughly speaking there are four
possible kinds of hits: grazes are just annoying, wounds
hurt like hell but you're still moving, shocks which drop
you right on the spot and insta-kills which decorate the
walls with your brains. What was the situation like?
Could the enemy have missed and if he could not, you can
probably imagine where the bullet hit. Was there anything
to stop it? Probably not. A solid hit from any weapon is
almost always a shocker and a haphazard hit from anything
up to a missile is a graze. And to make it even simpler,
for NPCs you only need to know if they are still in the
fight or not.
If you are grazed, you leave gene samples
all over the place but can recover without medical
attention. If you are wounded, it will slow you down,
leave a trail of blood and will eventually kill you...
the bullet weighing down your guts like it was an anvil.
Plan and describe accordingly. Shocker is a bad one. It
leaves you at the mercy of your enemies... or your
friends if they are to drag your sorry ass to safety.
Insta-kills should be avoided. Unless the plan was not
just bad but outright suicidal.
So, we are all doomed? Not really. The
Flow has Drama Points, or "FX" depending on
version, and getting wounded falls under the jurisdiction
of "Fitness" attribute. Use a drama point and
it never happened. Or did, but it was not as bad as it
looks. Besides, having a pierced lung lets you still
breathe for hours. Maybe using Dramatics on Fitness does
not save you but it keeps you in the game. Just a little
while longer. And really, neither combat nor damage needs
to be any more accurate than that.
Yeah... I am turning 32. Actually I am
writing this just past midnight and my hour of birth is
still some three hours of away. And even then they had to
pull me out. I was some two weeks too old and already a
little too big. Unfortunately it did not make me big
later in life.
I used my monthly 50 euro game budget
from Rovio to buy myself a birthday present: Serious Sam
2. After playing it for awhile I have a confession to
make: I am in love. Apart from the humour and
tongue-in-cheek attitude, Serious Sam II is the game Doom
III should have been. Not skulking in the shadows killing
one zombie at a time but vivid colours, large, if heavily
railroaded spaces, hordes of enemies and kill counts
running into 300+ on the second easiest difficulty level.
Getting the controls right was a bit of a
struggle (very bad interface) but once there, the game
configured its graphics to match my system and even
though my screen was crawling with Zombie Stock Brokers,
Onan the Librarians and Gatling-carrying demons with Nazi
helmets, it ran smoothly and gore was plentiful. Corpses
did not remain on the ground though, which is a shame
since the battlefields would have been a pictoresque
sight. SS2 plot is somewhere between absurd and insane
and the game is loaded with gags mocking the cliches and
classics of the FPS genre. If you know the genre as well
as I do, it is bloody hilarious. It is also a very long
game. After a full evening's play, I am still on the
first planet, helping little blue-skinned savages to
fight off a rather bizarre assortment of creatures. There
are six more planets remaining.
Going for hordes of enemies and bright
colours instead detailed modelling and realistic lighting
means that graphically the game is something of a
throwback. My "Medium" graphics would have been
top of the line around 2002, being basically on par with
Unreal 2. This is offset by stylistic choices, making the
world cartoonish so you won't even be expecting
photorealism on this one. Rock surfaces look cool though
and the lush vegetation will do, but with 50 enemies
charging towards you from all directions you have little
time for the scenery.
50 enemies in an FPS? So why ain't I
dead? You've been playing modern games too long, my
friend. For the first time in God Knows How Long, we have
weapons that actually HURT the enemy. They have balls,
sometimes literally. Imagine a horde of zombies and
monsters coming towards you. You are shaking with the
rhythm of your automated shotgun. The whole front row of
the enemy is being ripped apart (literally, limbs and
heads flying off with splashes of green goo and red blod)
and every now and then a grenade goes off beneath their
feet, throwing chunky kibbles sky-high. Beautiful! THAT's
what Doom was supposed to be! THAT was what attracted me
to FPS gaming in the first place. THAT is how to make an
FPS if you are not aiming for realism.
One thing that does stand out in the game
engine (apart from very smooth game play) is the physics
modelling. Trees, fences etc. are all destructible.
Barrels, boxes and all other items can be pushed around
or even picked up and thrown. The tutorial level
footballs are a case in point, but you need this ability
later to build access ways to out-of-reach goodies. On
the other hand, why bother climbing if you can knock a
power-up off its shelf by tossing something at it. The
world may look cartoonish, but it feels like a real
In industry reviews, SS2 has gotten
grades from 3 to 8.7 on a scale from 1-10. People either
love it or hate it. I love it and give it 9/10 because
this is exactly what I need and have been looking for for
a long, long time. It's like I have been suffering from
withdrawal symptoms for 10 years and suddenly someone
gave me another fix. I am Seriously happy with this game.
Oh yeah. Wrote some stuff for Stalker and
will try to get it ready by next Ropecon. Got the last
ads for Praedor v1.1. Who cares?
01-Nov-2005: Scared Shitless
Anti-copyright tip #8: Remember
when Führer Karpela said her ministry was waiting for
the next-generation DRM-technology to appear on audio
"CDs"? This is what she meant:
The article refers this blog:
For the less technically inclined
among you: Playing the "CD" on your computer
automatically (and without asking you) instals a
purpose-built malware program (you can think of it as a
virus) that hijacks the administrator rights for your
machine, goes through your mediafiles periodically,
prevents DRM-protected tracks from playing and could in
theory do whatever it pleases.
Your average Windows user cannot
remove it except by re-installing Windows. According to
the bottom article, it takes up about 2% CPU power and
cannot be turned off. I would guess that multiple DRM
systems from different record labels (and in some cases
from different records from the same label) will bleed
performance and cause serious stability problems.
Apparently current versions will just spy on your media
files but with a rootkit only the sky's the limit in what
it could be made to do.
The guy who wrote the lower article
and did the research is a true h4x0r wizard who knew his
Windows from top to bottom. Even so, removing the rootkit
messed up his computer. The wizard got his Windows up and
running again but trust me, you won't.
Fortunately this Sony DRM application apparently works
only on Windows. Then again, with a 90% market share I
would not be too surprised to see IT support specialists
getting a lot of calls in the near future; even from
people listening to completely legitimate
BTW, I emailed the urls above to our
IT support guy at Rovio and he was scared shitless.
Instructing people to be sensible with their computers,
email and web use does not help much if even major
corporations start pushing and hiding malware in their
Oh Hell! My Bad!
Oh hell! Devil truly is in the details.
If anyone in the Petri Hiltunen film crew is reading
this, I am sorry, sorry and yet again sorry for my
foot-in-mouth statement at the Kirjamessut interview.
Damn! When the interviewer asked about the prospect of
Petri making a Praedor movie next, I lamented the fact
that Petri's movie productions have this sort of an upper
limit that cannot be exceeded. He asked what it was and I
swear to Totem Hippo with two fingers on my testicles I
meant "Budget". What came out of my mouth was
I spent the rest of the interview looking
for a graceful way to retract that.
As everyone knows, budget and quality are
two different things. I actually liked Petri's
"Saturnuksen Sotavaltias" movie quite a lot,
especially because of its clever use of real structures
as sets (e.g. interior of the submarine Vetehinen used as
the interior of a pulp science fiction -era spaceship).
As a hobby project it was very good and the way it
achieved its goal of replicating pulp science fiction era
atmosphere and cliches it was fucking brilliant.
Then little old me calls it shit. By
accident. In front of a live audience.
Sheesh! I know there were people from
Petri's film crew in the audience. I don't know if you
noticed or cared and I was too embarrassed to apologize
immediately after the interview. Will you settle for my
severed finger or do you want the whole arm?
28-Oct-2005: Women In Gaming,
Anti-copyright tip #7: Apparently
all 69Eyes CDs are copy-protected. It says so on the CD
cover, although CDex never noticed. Anyway, The 69Eyes
under boycott from now on. Sad, really. Good goth metal
gone to hell...
Another artifact of evil is the
official Warcraft Soundtrack, which is not only
copy-protected by also tries to install its own software
on the hard drive. Apparently it is just its own player,
but who knows what evil code might be hiding in there.
Easy... easy... put down the chainsaw...
and put the pin back in the grenade and blow out the
igniter in the flame thrower... whew!
As much as I like Frozenbyte and their
upcoming Shadowlands, their
interview in Ylioppilaslehti left me seething with
rage. The journalist bears some of the blame but really,
the whole article left me wondering where all these
misogynist game-development-cavemen are coming from. Then
I realised the answer is right there in the article: the
original complaint was about Sumea and both Sumea and
Frozenbyte are companies that grew up from someone's
garage. They have never paid actual attention to market
studies. And not knowing too many women, they cling to
their teenage stereotypes and make foot-in-mouth
statements. This time in public.
My friend Jaana Wessman put it extremely
well in her blog
which was also sent to Ylioppilaslehti as a reader's
Oman kokemukseni (ja käsittääkseni
myös niiden vähäisten tutkimusten, joita asiasta on
tehty) mukaan naiset sekä ostavat että pelaavat
pelejä, ja aivan samoja pelejä kuin miehet,
räiskintäpeleistä seikkailuun. Myös käänteinen
pitää paikkansa: esimerkiksi mainitun The Sims -pelin
pelaajista merkittävä osa on miehiä, ja draama ja
ihmissuhteisiin perustuvat juonet muissakin peleissä
vetoavat myös miehiin.
As someone from within the industry I can
only say HELL YEAH! to that. She also made an excellent
comparison in IRC: dismissing girls/women as a customer
group for games looks just like how they were dismissed
as customers for fantasy literature and roleplaying games
some 10 years ago. But between 1995 and 2005, fantasy
literature has almost become a "girl thing"
(they used to be thought as adventure stories; now they
are thought as unisex fairy tales) and the image of
roleplaying games has softened (and also expanded) quite
a bit, not least because of the many women active in
Ropecon, gaming clubs and the LARP scene. It is no longer
an act of civil courage for a woman to admit she is into
fantasy and roleplaying games.
But while MMOG forums are awash with
bloodthirsty valkyries (many of them playing male
characters and some being mothers of other gamers) and my
girlfriend likes biting heads off space marines, video
games are still seen as a boys' club where the odd female
gamer is a freak. Pretty poor thinking for the
second-biggest media industry sector out there, eh? This
attitude is not just fucking stupid but it also costs us
game developers MONEY!!! Really, women are not just one
of the many customer groups but there are women in all
customer groups: action gamers, roleplayers, adventure
gamers, strategists... Whether they need extra attention
is up for debate but pretending they are not there is
pretty fucking stupid!
Whoah... calm down... drink some more
diet coke... take off your glasses and lay back... give
your heart time to slow down and blood pressure to
Ladies, get organized! This morning in
the train I listened to a teen girl eagerly explaining
her friend what Battlefield 2 was all about. Let's put a
turbo-charger to the word-of-mouth here. Start a club.
Put up a website. Publish a webzine. Something, anything,
to drive home the fact that you exist, not just to us in
the industry but also to the female gamers still in the
closet. Burger Games will assist if it can and the Finland Chapter of IGDA
(International Game Developers' Association) is always on
the lookout for gamer activism.
Anti-copyright tip #6:
Coming back from Italian warmth to snowy
Finland proved too much and I've come down with a flu. As
usual, I really don't have the time to be sick so I am
just taking one day off and even so will be doing work
stuff from home. I don't mind the runny nose: it is the
pain in the ears and throat that I detest. That, and the
clumsy feeling of fever, like your head was swollen and
about to burst out of the skull. Sore throat,
sandpapered, making you want to drink more and more until
your lips crack. Weakness. Getting exhausted from almost
any exertion. And I have to clear up this place for the
party on Saturday. Waah!
I've received some feedback on putting a
diceless system in Stalker, so let's talk about it. To
most people, "diceless" means Amber and a
playstyle where almost everything is resolved in
inter-player dealing. Whether for or against the idea,
that single gaming style is their sole vision of a game
without an external randomizer. This is why most people,
including myself until last summer, are so suspicious of
diceless systems. Amber and ordinary pen&paper
adventuring are so far apart that adopting a diceless
rules system is not just about game mechanics but also a
gaming ideology choice. It is more than the system that
keeps Amber fans and others gamers for far apart.
Enter Burger, the Ron Jeremy (or was it
Edwards?) of Finnish roleplaying, renowned for his
disgust for ideological labels, bashing of theorists and
blatant embracing of mass markets. Back in Game Design
Challenge I was thinking of a system that would enforce
roleplaying and immersion but as soon as I was writing it
down, I already wanted a diceless system you could use in
Praedor or D&D without giving up on any of the
essential features of the game. Adopting "Flow"
would be a choice of game mechanics, not ideology.
Therefore the treshold of moving between it and other
p&p gaming would have to be low.
Resolution and variance are they key
here. Gamemasters make arbitrary gameflow decision all
the time in every system. Apart from combat, randomizer
is used mostly as a moral validator, so that if things
take a turn for the worse, players take it out on dice
instead of GM. Furthermore, even if the chance of lucking
out against desperate odds is astronomical, you'll feel
better knowing it is there. Search your heart, my
son/daughter, and you know this to be true. Variance and
high result resolution are fun. Most diceless systems
take away variance and therefore even the tiniest chance
of ever beating the odds. Things either succeed or they
don't and that is final. Binary system resolution is
boring and there is no chance of player-induced numerical
Enter the Flow. The basic principle of
Flow is that you describe the actions of your character
and the gamemaster rates your idea and roleplaying with
values from 1 to 5. These values are then multiplied by
each other, giving a quantifiable result range from 1 to
25. In addition, you can also determine
"things-you-can-do", or (in short) abilities
for your character. If you have an ability relevant to
the task, both values get +1 bonus, so you have a range
of results from 4 to 36. Of course, the rating is decided
by your tyrant of a GM but so is the number of dice you
roll in Praedor. And if your idea was better than
expected or you really put extra effort in describing how
it was carried out, you can still luck your way out of
any situation. Naturally the Gamemaster does not have to
tell you the numbers or the odds, but you'll know they
Knowing gamer psychology, GM's are likely
use values from 2-4 pretty easily and it should not be
too difficult to get an occasional five in at least one
of the two values. Presto! You have randomization,
variance and even probability curve with its occasional
surprises right there! There is nothing fundamental in a
dice-based system that Flow could not do. With a maximum
of 25 for untrained things, any difficulty level is
achievable, while you can use the margin of success or
failure for determining all sorts of things. Yes! Flow
has numbers! It has values! It has Stats!!! Friends of
diceless roleplaying are horrified by the complexity,
while dice gamers are horrified by the lack of it! Make
up your minds, people!!!
The name "Flow" was invented by
a veteran gamer who complimented me on creating a system
that could make diceless gaming palatable even for the
ordinary gamer in an "ordinary game". In short,
you don't have to be a
to understand and enjoy "Flow". And if even
that is not enough to convince you, let me tell you of a
cheat option: Number-to-number, "Flow" works
perfectly well with Code/X 1.0. It is no Rolemaster but
it sure as hell got dice!
Anti-copyright tip #5: Running
low on new tips. Maybe I am not going to give one in
every entry, after all. Levyvirasto
sells Indie recordings not covered by Teosto. Of course,
not all indie bands are that good...
Speaking of Indie bands (while the
Nightwish storm is blowing itself out), another band I've
paid more attention to lately is Turmion Kätilöt.
Although not strictly indie (they are published by Ranka
Recordings which in turn is owned by Spinefarm), they are
a very interesting band. For now I've only got their
first album, "Hoitovirhe" (Malpractise) but
both "Teurastaja" (Butcher) and
"Kärsi" (Suffer!) are excellent songs. I saw
them at Ruisrock but the concert was mixed so badly I did
not pay them any attention.
Praedor v1.1 still in the works, although
all I am really waiting for is the last ad and then I
have to re-do the table of contents. It will be be out
before Christmas (and quite probably a quite bit before,
even). Also working on Stalker where the introduction of
Flow has actually opened up quite a few new options for
writing the instructions for "Zoning". Then
again some people are disappointed at not having a
kick-ass Praedor mod for their cyberpunk campaigns. Sorry
but my inspiration counts more than yours.
Book Festival is again next week. To my astonishment,
I found myself from the programme.
I am to be interviewed together with Petri on Sunday and
nobody told me! Well, I called Petri. He had not known
about it either and contacted the organizers (Helsinki
Science Fiction Club people) and told them he won't show
up. They panicked and contacted the interviewer, who'd
been told months before by the publisher that the
interview was off because Varjojen Tarha was
incomplete. On top of that he had also moved to Estonia
(hopefully not in retaliation). But nobody had informed
the Festival, so the interview was technically still on.
The interviewer panicked and contacted me. Scifi people
were still in panic because this interview was supposed
to be in the middle of a long stream of interviews during
their "scifi Sunday". It was impossible to
alter the schedule less than a week before the event.
Well, I agreed to come and the
interviewer agreed to visit Helsinki for the event. It
will be awkward to talk about Praedor at a book show
without Petri, though.
BTW, Ron Edwards has publicly confessed
owning a copy of Taiga. I don't know why anyone would
care but I was told that something with Ron Edwards on it
is a big thing.
I Wish I Had an Angel
Anti-copyright tip #4: There
is a Russian webstore for digitally distributed music at www.allofmp3.com.
Even new stuff like Bon Jovi's "Have a Nice
Day" costs only $1.51 to download and is available
in various formats, including ogg and according to rumour
even flac. They claim this is all legal and hey, how is
the ordinary consumer to know otherwise? In the light of
my previous copyright comment, I hope they are, because
they would be a cheap, conventient way to buy music past
Over 5000 thousand names in the
address to the president! Unfortunately not one of them
counts! Pro-law side arbitrarily changed the date when
the law was submitted to the president and thus the
adress came too late. Just think about it: Ministry of
Education spreading false information, breaching the
constitution, fixing dates and imposing limits to the
freedom of speech. Government corruption (Liedes my man,
you really opened my eyes), tweaking the agreed (if not
legislated) procedures of the Parliament and calling the
activity of concerned citizens a "terror
campaign". And the whole Sara Nunes issue. They have
used every dirty trick in the book and screwed us so hard
my ass hurts.
I guess they must be thinking that
"If you got them by the balls, their hearts and
minds will follow", to quote the Yes, Minister -tv
series. Well, my ass wants revenge and my heart and mind
are starting to follow. Since Führer Karpela thinks I am
a terrorist, it would be only fair to do some
I planned to dedicate this entry to the
wonderful concert Nightwish
gave last Friday, but their dismissal of the vocalist Tarja Turunen
right after the show sort of stunned me. In short, it was
a fantastic gig by the best band ever to have sprung up
in this country (sorry Tarot, but that is the way it is).
It also confirmed my view that if I am going to pay for a
concert, I want a seat. Some of my friends (including my
girlfriend) would have liked to be in the standing (and
jumping, and pushing) crowd right in front of the stage
but I had my fill of that with MC Cannonball at the
Motörhead concert. From now on, if I can't have a seat,
I won't go.
Motörhead was cool because I really
wanted to see Lemmy live but they played far too loud and
all those two-metre bikers trampled my feet. The two
concerts this year that I can honestly say to have been
worth all the trouble were Skyclad at Tuska and now
Nightwish at Hartwall Areena. In both shows I could just
sit down, watch the spectable unfold and let the
audiovisual storm wash over me. Besides, I was so far
back in Areena that I did not even have to use earplugs.
People saying that the band was too silent should have
their ears examined Come to think of it, I've never
cheered at anyone before. Applauded, of course, but not
cheered. Damn... I've got to get that concert DVD when it
Oh yes, Sonata Arctica who did the
warm-up did not sound half-bad either. They have come a
long way from their terrible Stratovarius-copycat days.
As for other Finnish bands, HIM is in America and
hopefully never comes back. And what the hell is
Negative? Something to do with Type O Negative, I hope?
Errare Romanum Est
Having been out of the country for a
week I have no new anti-copyright tips in store. Of
course, Rome and all Mediterranean cities are great
places to find pirated music and films but this is where
I draw the line. Pirate factories are run by real
criminals and supporting them means supporting also other
forms of organized crime. It is not worth it.
I just got back from Rome, Italy. Lucky,
really... the flight departed two-and-a-half hours late
and for hours we just sat there, in the plane, while rain
and the Italian air control made a mess of holding stack
for incoming planes. The pilot gave us periodic updates
on the departure status and you could hear frustration
from his voice. At least it did not rain inside the
airplane. In the airport it was pouring right through the
roof at places, which is fairly descriptive of Rome in
general. Good thing five days out of seven had
Rome is famous for its ruins. What most
travel guides neglect to mention is that the rest of the
city is practically in ruins as well. Where as Prague had
the air of being rebuilt for a great future and London of
being in her prime, Rome looked as if even the rest of
the city was just waiting for the bulldozers. Of course,
here and there were pretty spots but the overall
cityscape was ugly as hell. It smelled of engine fumes,
spilt booze and urine. I've never seen so much graffiti
in my entire life (A-line subway trains ought to be put
on display). Parks were nice, though, apart from all the
litter floating in the ponds.
Oh yes, the Romans. I've had my fill of
ruins. As much as I like history, a pile of bricks is a
pile of bricks, even if it is one of the biggest and
oldest piles of bricks in the world. Colosseum, which to
its credit is every bit as big in reality as it is in
pictures, was a bloody big pile of bricks. Palatine Hill,
which holds ancient city centre, had smaller piles of
bricks scattered over a wide area. With so much
experience on rampaging foreigners, Roman officials had
figured out that charging people 10 euros for piles of
bricks could make them go all Gothic, so they figured out
alternative uses for their ruins. The incredibly boring
Colosseum was a part museum about the secretive cults
that flourished between old Roman religion and
Christianity. Palatine Hill doubles as a park, and a
fairly nice one at that. Once you get the piles of bricks
of out of the way.
By the way, Rome is the global leader in
the manufacture of headless marble statues. They also
doing strong in the castrated statue industry.
Saint Peter's Cathedral, the heart of
Western Christianity, was surprisingly non-impressive on
the outside but astounding from within. It is big but
designed in a way that you tend to forget how big it is
and it strikes you again and again. I saw dead
people ...lying about in windowed sarcophages.
There were also enormous statues, which usually had
little staircases behind them and crypts beneath. They
were off limits, of course but really made me wish for a
sword and a torch. The altar window at the end of the
Chruch is the best representation of a magical gate in
Praedor I've ever seen. The artist sculpted angels and
stuff around it, but with the light coming from the
window, they look like a chaotic mass of shadows straight
out of Chtulhu Mythos, forming a ring around a bright,
fiery gate into another world.
THAT is the place to see in Rome. Forget
the bloody ruins.
Italy is about expensive (or only
slightly cheaper) as Finland and uses euros. Snack food
is really cheap and I'd like to see the pizza snack bars
making their way into Finland as well. I was told Italian
pizza was poor eating, but I beg to differ. They weren't
packed like Finnish pizzas, but the crunchy crust (they
really value the crust over fillings) and hearty tomato
sauce made them good eating and also far lighter than
their Nordic counterparts. Gelatterias selling home-made
ice cream are also worth checking out. Actual restaurants
have cheap portions but the Italian dinner consists of
4-6 different dishes, building up both cost and calories.
And it is really, really greasy. Even the steaks.
Sometimes it was too greasy for me to handle and believe
me, that is no small achievement. I am seriously
considering becoming a vegetarian for a spell.
Roleplaying is doing great in Finland but
it is not doing too badly in Italy either. Of all the
foreign gaming stores I've barged into, Strategia
e Tattica is the best (remember that Finnish
gaming stores are nothing short of incredible by
international standards). I asked the clerk to recommend
me original Italian RPGs and she fetched some guy who
turned out to be the owner. He showed me Italian games
and gave me a short presentation about the Italian RPG
RPGs came to Italy with the translation
of Red Box D&D in 1980 (I bought one of those) but
really became popular in the 1990'ies with World of
Darkness. WoD obviously dragged sales of other games up
with it, creating a big and vibrant scene with lots of
activity. Like in Finland, experienced gamers tend to buy
their games in English, but the game translation industry
is alive and well because it acts as a mechanism for
bringing in new customers. For example, they had just
translated the latest edition of Warhammer FRPG and its
major supplements into Italian. And unlike in Finland,
they also translate the brand names: "Martelli de
Bello" (or was it Belli?). They had also made new
covers for all translated Cyberpunk 2020 materials and
especially the Italian Chromebooks were astonishing
(remember that the Italian interior art for CP2020 main
rulebook is now used in the official RTG edition as
They had five good-quality original
Italian games on sale and recommended two of them, which
I bought. They also tried to explain me what the games
Elish is supposedly a
diceless, story-telling based gothic fantasy RPG in the
form of a brick-sized softcover book. I can't make head
or tails of the text but the illustrations, diagrams,
star charts and stuff are all so weird it is creeping me
out. I'm guessing it is one of those games with only a
few fans but they are all fanatic about it.
I Cavalieri Del Tempio
is an occult historical game set in the age of Crusades,
where players play the souls of great knights, moving on
from one body to the next as the Crusader Period unfolds
around them. Or that is the picture I got. It is a hard
cover book only slightly thinner than Praedor. Although
it has only few illustrations, it has plenty of
ornamentation and the font itself is some kind of
fraktura-font resembling those of the earliest printed
books. It is very pretty, all in Italian and almost
impossible to read irrespective of the language. I've
gotta to try this!
Whew, a long entry. I'll save my findings
about a mid-80'ies attempt to create a Pan-European
fantasy gaming franchise for later.
Burning Midnight Oil
Anti-copyright tip #3: One
of the best programs for converting audio CDs into files
Most people use it for making mp3s but with suitable
settings and plug-ins it can also make oggs or flacs. It
is open source and freely downloadable. Nevertheless I
recommend donating a few bucks to the authors to keep
them going. Up-to-date versions of CDex can circumvent
most forms of CD copy protection (read: all I've come
Just a few hours left before our plane
leaves for sunny Italy. No point in going to sleep. If
somebody now thinks I am supposed to boycott Italy for
Berlusconi's comments on Finnish cuisine, stuff it.
Finland has good foods, no doubt about it. But Finnish
cuisine, the Finnish Food Culture, comes from the same
pit of Hell as Finnish attitudes to customer service.
I've come to the conclusion that restaurant business is
not going over to immigrants because they are happy with
lower salaries but simply because we Finns can't do it.
Berlusconi is a pure-blooded crook but in this issue he
was spot on.
I wished to have Praedor v1.1 out by now
but some people are taking incredibly long to come up
with adverts. Yes, Jyrki, I know what you are thinking
but you are not only tortoise around. Anyway, these are
just inconveniencies and not major issues. The book
should come out some time in November, just in time for
To the dismay of all simulationists
who've been drooling to get their hands on Stalker combat
system I have some very bad news. Stalker will be a FLOW
game. While dice are not banned, the core rules are
diceless rules built up from the FLOW basics. Some of you
might consider this a tragic loss or a big mistake, but
really, I needed it to re-invigorate my interest in
Stalker. It worked and without it you would never have
the game. Instead of making "just another game with
PRAEDOR rules", Stalker is now a showcase of a
completely different design philosophy and hopefully
something to be proud of it.
I feel the need to rant and hype but NDA
forbids it. My current employer, Rovio Mobile, is showing
surprisingly keen psychological instinct. When I, their
somewhat stressed out and slightly depressed (because of
the less-than-glowing reviews of War Diary: Burma) senior
designer was about to go moping in a foreign country,
they promptly held a publishing board meeting. It is a
small high-level meeting for approving new game concepts
into production and company waiting lists. But the
concepts approved into production this time... Holy Hell!
I can't wait to get back!
Cooler than a body on ice
Hotter than a rollin' dice
Wilder than a drunken fight
You're gonna burn tonight
AC/DC was clearly singing about our
games. But now I am getting out of here. For about a
Anti-copyright tip #2: Not
all material out there must be paid for. www.magnatunes.com
is worth looking at, just as
legaltorrents.com. I especially like the
video clip called "Trusted
Nobody has asked it and I am not sure why
want to talk about it, but I do. Why? Why am I suddenly
making noise and risking legal action against my website,
company and person? Why do I want to make trouble with
people and factions more powerful than I am? Maybe this
is a message, or a wake-up call. It might be a warning.
Then again, it might be stupidity.
It has been demonstrated over and over
again that the general public ignores the erosion of
their basic rights right up to the gates of gulag.
"When they came for me, there was nobody left to do
anything" and that sort of stuff. Works like a
charm, every time. Nobody cares about anything until it
affects them personally. I am lucky that I got hit so
early on. They forced me to take a long hard look at what
they were doing but left me with a chance to do something
about it. Few years from now they could have just taken
me away and then it would have been too late. Copyright
argument is part of an attack on our access to
information and freedom of speech.
I shit you not. When the law comes into
effect, certain topics of discussion, irrespective of
medium, become criminal. Coffee table talk, web forums,
anything. Mention certain things, even though they were
facts and not incitement against any religion, people or
race, and they can toss you jail. It is all legal and
there in the law, if you care to look. After setting this
precedent, the list of prohibited words and topics can be
easily extended. Having read more than my fair share of
history (they haven't started burning my books yet), I
can see the implications and they frighten me. It is a
very small thing, a single step over an invisible line
but since the general public remains indifferent now,
they will ignore the next, and the next, and the next...
I am not a pacifist. Some things I would
die for. Some things I would kill for. Freedom of speech
is pretty high on that list.
07-Oct-2005: Screwed Up
Anti-copyright tip #1:
Since breaking the copy protection of a legally purchased
CD will be punished more severely than downloading an
actual pirated copy from the net, Burger Games Public
Advisory Committee recommends the latter. Also, if you
can't choose between buying a copyrighted CD you would
then listen on an MP3 player, or burning Mrs. Karpela's
car (with nobody inside), we have to recommed the latter
since the punishment is likely to be less severe and the
act itself provides more satisfaction. Sending email to
members of parliament is an act of terrorism (and
political machination) and therefore discouraged. Even
more so than burning their cars.
One of the more common ways to
acquire pirated products from the Net is getting them as
BitTorrent files. It is often also the only way to
acquire interesting game demos, documentaries or foreign
TV series. You can start by downloading
Azureus or installing some other BitTorrent
loader. Then you can go shopping. I recommend Pirate Bay,
which has a wide variety of products but no eminently
illegal material, such as child pornography. Note that
the files in question do not physically reside on Pirate
Bay servers, which is why their activities are legal but
service can be slow.
Finnish Government and Parliament aren't
the only fuck-ups around. Electronic Arts has exceeded
itself in releasing the PSP (Playstation Portable)
release of Madden´06 Football Game with so
many bugs that the game is next to unplayable and EA
forums are running out of server space. The game is so
bad that there is even a website demanding
its recall and a customer refund, setting a dangerous
precedent for the entire industry. No wonder EA
management is scared. The whole incident bears curious
similarities to the copyright debate, especially with the
original responses of the EA reps. They were similarly
dismissive and tried to label budding consumer activism
to be the work of a few individuals with ulterior
PC game developers, who can always
publish patches at later date, have truly appalling
quality standards. For every game that works right from
the start there are five with minor problems and two
which are essentially unplayable. Pelit magazine
occasionally refuses to give such games a grade, since
the anticipated patch is likely effect a major change to
the play experience. My copy of Boiling Point won't
launch even with a patch (I've changed it twice and it
works, albeit sluggishly, on my workplace computer). If
that happened in any other industry the publisher would
have been sued long ago. And don't get me started on
Well, ok. Have you ever seen a roomful of
people hanging from the ceiling by their heads (Anarchy
Online)? Have you ever seen the sky turn into the
contents of your backpack (Neocron)? Entire houses loaded
with hard-grinded goods vanish into thin air (Star Wars
Galaxies)? 20-metre Warbot Titan spawning (and getting
stuck) inside a building (Neocron)?
Not Part of the Plan
Oh yeah, let's start with the copyright
legislation vote since opposing it was the first
demonstration I've ever been in. We lost, obviously (the
will of the people cannot prevail against the will of the
interest groups) and members of the parliament supporting
the proposed legislation gave the lamest excuses ever as
to why the law was necessary. And after wawing an
"ooh-so-thick" stack of papers at us, MP Säde
Tahvanainen from the Social Democrat Party summed up her
view of the sticking points in the proposal as:
"Don't you worry, you'll still have mp3s." She
must have thought that to be a cool thing to say after
breaching the Finnish Constitution, proving that the
system was corrupt, making millions of ordinary citizens
criminals and wiping her ass with the very principles of
democracy and freedom of speech.
I don't know what kind of a popular
reaction she was aiming for, but this is mine: "Fuck
you very much too, Ms. Tahvanainen. I'll burn your car if
I find it."
Burn a car? Isn't that a criminal
offence? Oh well, if the members of parliament don't take
legislation too seriously, why should I? Tahvanainen is
far from being the only culprit in this fiasco but she is
the one who decided to rub it in.
On a lighter note, I decided to become
more active in the Finnish
IGDA chapter (International Game Developer's
Association). Out there in the wide world IGDA has been
seen as a digital games industry organisation, but the
Finnish chapter hopes to cover all sorts of games and to
build bridges between different mediums. I am all for it
and will probably organize something IGDA-related for the
next Ropecon. After all, I have a sneaking suspicion that
video games have exceeded literature as the way new
people are coming into contact with roleplaying games.
Instead of dissing video games and
MMORPGs like some people do, I really want to help gamers
find out how roleplaying games can be used to expand
their gaming experience. I am also interested in merging
the roleplaying and video game experiences. Just like
Myrskyn Aika at least attempted to enable smooth
transition between tabletop and live-action media, I'd
like to see ways to facilitate a similar transfer between
digital and non-digital games, plus the use of
computer-based metagames for character creation, downtime
and adventure seeds. Computer-assisted roleplaying and
roleplaying-assisted computer gaming.
For the benefit of both.
Someone is spreading a rumour that
Praedor supplement comes out this winter. It won't.
Instead, the Real-Soon-Now-To-Be-Released Praedor v1.1
will contain additions, modifications and supplemental
adventures. No further Praedor material is forthcoming in
the foreseeable future, but at least the artists who
submitted art for the supplement will get to see their
work in print. I have to remind myself to send them free
copies. What I am trying to finish this winter is
Stalker, so that when everybody is fawning over Miska and
his amazing Heimot RPG at the next Ropecon, I don't feel
What then? What after Stalker? Sometimes
I feel I should just retire when my laurels are still
fresh but everybody knows I can't do that. Obviously
Code/X is in the works all the time. One idea that I'd
like to carry out, either as a free publication or a
campaign is called Code/X: VOSTOK. But I am waiting for
Doom the Movie to really fire me up on that one.
Of the serious concepts that might end up
as printed books the one I've been thinking about most
lately is INFRA. As a hard science fiction game (assuming
the genre label can be valid in the first place) it would
not compete with Heimot (which is full-blown space opera)
and since EAD-blokes are not moving their lazy butts,
somebody's got to do something. Besides, Stephen Baxter's
Evolution has the coolest description of the
Cretacious Mass Extinction I've ever read and I'd really
like to extrapolate a similar event on modern Earth. Plus
the atmospheric change. However, while I am good at
science trivia, a full hard scifi game on the
terraforming of Mars and the destruction of Earth will be
tough going. Then again, I am not doing this because it
I got a great digital game idea today,
right there on the morning train. It struck me like a
bolt of lightning. If Rovio Mobile does not want it, I am
going to request getting the digital rights back and will
find a way to make it real on a PC. Perhaps the world's
Linux community would have use for a good, deep,
action-adventure with excellent graphics? Even if Rovio
Mobile does want it, I might still request a permission
to do a full PC version of it once the mobile game is in
the oven. Sheesh, I am shivering. It is so good.
I am a big fan of Starship Troopers the
movie and something of a fan of the TV series as well
(Starship Troopers 2 is good only for a drinking game).
Mongoose Publishing, whose only fault is using
D20-variant game systems through OGL
(Open-Gaming-License), has released a Starship
Troopers RPG and a miniature
game based on the first movie and especially the TV
series. Some things have been altered, like the role of
Skinnies, but other than that it is all there. Military
scifi does not translate to roleplaying all that well,
but it can be done with an eager (fascist) gamemaster. I
did it with Renegade Legion, many have done it with
Mechwarrior and UNSF is still out there.
It. Must. Be. Mine.
If I start collecting arachnids, will
prospective players start collecting humans?
I have played EVE Online for more
than a month now. It is still a blast. Although true
roleplayers are as rare in EVE as in any other mmorpg,
the environment seems to suit casual roleplaying better
than most. Even the most jaded griefers seem to do their
trash talking and after-kill boasting in-character. Sure
there is plenty of out-of-character talk out there but
most of the time you could not really tell. It is
perfectly reasonable for two spaceship captains to
discuss the numeric benefits of different equipment or
properties of their enemies, in-character or out. EVE is
an in-character game. Bloody marvellous.
Having a character that you find
interesting does not hurt either. I created my character,
Rogue Roy, as a character for a story set in the
EVE universe. Well, I never wrote the story, but Roy is
living it just as I hoped he would. He has his own blog,
diary or whatever, consisting of EVE events, experiences
and in-character fiction. It probably does not interest
anyone but me, but what the hell, here is the
I am also putting a permanent link icon
to the character blog on the left side column. Call me a
Law Proposal OK'd
According to pro-law politicians, the
e-mail campaign against the law was "an act of
terrorism". Politicians used to be concerned about
the public's indifference towards politics. Now, when the
public finally does show some interest, they label it
So, what they want is a nation of zombies
with a 100% voter turnout.
"Power comes from lies... When
you have people believing something they know in hearts
to be crap, you got them by the balls..."
-Senator Roark, Sin City
Finland is the least corrupt country in
the world, or so said an international survey some time
ago. Lucky us. The problem is that it is a crock of shit.
What the survey was looking for was bribes and other
traditional symptoms of corruption. In a very small
country, anyone with big shoes knows everybody else worth
knowing. Bribes are used to establish networks of
contacts, informants and dependants, but in Finland, all
the connections and dependencies already exist. The inner
circles controlling politics and trade all fit into one
Sauna and thus have no need to throw dirty money around.
So while corruption is rife and cartels flourish, the
survey was measuring the wrong things. Finland is a rural
village, not a modern state.
Finnish Parliament is about to sign (or
has signed already) a new copyright law, which basically
makes everyone I know a criminal. Burger Games as a
business is bound by laws and cannot take a stand on the
issue without endangering its status as a business. Ville
Vuorela as a private person is equally bound by laws, but
can choose to defy them without endangering his status as
a private person (this is not a totalitarian state). I am
not going to go into the details here: if you live here
but are not aware of the key sticking points in the new
copyright law by now, you are a moron.
Nobody is going to get killed over
copyright legislation. There will be no death camps for
MP3 player owners. But what does an honest citizen do
when faced with a law he intuitively and intellectually
knows to be unjust and serving only a small and corrupt
interest group? Some argue that a law is a law and ought
to be obeyed. That might hold true for cops, but if Joe
Average obeys it, then Senator Roark will have won. It is
not only in my best interests to break this law and
encourage others to do the same: It is also my duty. The
most idealistic and noble thing I've ever done.
Let's save our balls.
Just when I though I'd gotten over the
worst of this coughing disease and I might start dieting
and going back to gym, thermometer jumps to 37.8,
coughing gets wet and my feeling matches it all. Blech. I
am never gonna get well.
Thanks to Puolenkuun Pelit
for arranging the Roleplaying Night last Saturday, where
me, Tuovinen Bros and some "Ben" from America
were allowed first to present our games and the run them
for selected audiences at Munter's (huge!) house. The
whole event was about such tabletop-gaming elitism it
made my heart glow. I had written a scenario and divided
it into three parts. Then I ran it to three groups who
all shared characters, so that the next group continued
from where the previous group left off. Tuovinen bros of
course ran Piruja Mieheksi, and damn well too from what I
heard. Me and Eero got along, although I did consider
throwing him off the balcony when he referred to me as
"Gary Gygax of Finland". He took it back and
said I was the "Ron Edwards of Finland". I
don't care if I am the Ron Jeremy of Finland as long as I
am neither Gygax nor Siembieda. Achilli would not be too
There is lot in the works with Rovio Mobile and even
beyond but I can't say a word about any of that.
Sometimes having an NDA really sucks. My contract allows
me more leeway with intellectual property than most, so I
am also seriously contemplating expanding the role of
Burger Games beyond the pen-and-paper medium. Don't hold
your breath, though. It is just an idea and a designer
does not a development group make. And in any case it
must be presented to Rovio first, even if their chances
of using it are next to nil.
Speaking of ideas, I am keeping tabs on
promising Finnish RPG projects and science fiction seems
to the talk of the town this fall. Miska sent me a beta
of his dark space opera setting "Heimot" (which
has its own forum).
What he should have done is to put a disclaimer on the
cover stating: "If you are a game designer,
reading this can cause fits of jealous rage".
In short, there might be better space opera settings out
there but I've never seen one. There are no rules to it
yet, but if it all turns out this well and has
illustrations to match, Miska will be scraping Star Wars
off his boots. Humph. From now on, Burger Games will keep
its hands off space opera. There is no hope in hell of me
ever matching that.
Well, that leaves holocaust,
post-holocaust, cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, science
fiction, scifi horror, and hard science fiction. The last
one would be a tough one if EAD (Etäasema Dakota)
authors got their act together and published their
excellent and well-detailed setting as a pen & paper
RPG sourcebook. Fortunately for me, they are larpers and
thus lacking common sense. The one time I suggested this
to them, they told me it could not be done because then
gamemasters would make their own interpretations of the
setting. No, you didn't misread this. When they die,
their brains ought to be preserved for science.
I have requested the latest info on a
science fiction project called "Neljä Kuuta"
(Four Moons) and the authors promised to get back to me
on it. Maybe in the next entry.
Looking at my virtual desk drawer, there
are some science fiction concepts in there. StormZone,
my ill-fated mecha/power armour/military scifi game
suffers from the same reality clash as all mecha games
do, but INFRA is really something else; more
serious, complex and mature. I'll probably follow up on
that some day. I just don't know if my scientific and
technical knowledge is sufficient for convincing hard
science fiction. Then again, GDW told everyone 2300AD was
hard scifi and got away with it, so it can't be that
difficult. But in the meantime, I am writing Stalker.
Okay, I am supposed to write it and I do, at least from
time to time.
But mostly I am playing EVE Online. I'm
even thinking about setting up an in-character webpage
for Rogue Roy, my sweet little Minmatar pilot.
Good Things (for a change)
Still coughing, having chest pains and
medication continues for another two weeks of medication
left. Also my diet is failing so I am slowly turning back
into a walrus. But other than that, things are looking
up. Except that a tooth filling has come off and I've
probably swallowed it. Quicksilver (amalgam) is supposed
to destroy brains. No wonder everything feels so
complicated these days...
I got the cover painting for Praedor 1.1.
Definitely better than the original, but I have to admit
and my and Petri's views on the ultimate cover just don't
seem to meet. But he is decides the art and that is that.
It is different and may require some further changes into
my cover layout design, but will also tell people there
is something new in this. Version 1.1. will be 260 pages
in total and besides the new material I've a done little
rewriting here and there. It is now September 17th. I am
hoping to get the game into print by the end of next
week, which would put it in stores at the start of
October. It is out before Christmas, anyway.
I am still undecided on the size of the
print run. 100 or 200 copies? 200 would increase profit
margins for a bit, but the initial no-risk financial
calculations based on agreed sales to retailers would be
screwed. What if the game does not sell? What if it takes
a year for it to get back in black? Waah, I want be a
millionaire so I don't have to worry about putting aside
some money for insane projects!
On the workside, although
wirelessgaming.it rated War Diary: Burma only 8/10, they
did give it an award for excellence, which did much to
restore my professional confidence. And while it is not
customary for Finns to discuss money (helping employers
keep the salaries down), I've pocketed a raise which
should make life a little easier from now on. Not enough
to go spending it wildly on extra large print-runs,
Chrome: SpecForce is a good game that
also looks good, if you don't give a shit about
bump-mapping. And I don't. I'll take open playfields,
long and varied missions, and lush vegetation any time.
All games have their faults, in C:SF fun factor
definitely exceeds frustrations. I might be writing a
game review for Enter magazine, so I won't be commenting
it further here.
Some of you might know I've begun playing
a MMORPG again: Eve
Online The game has changed quite a bit for the
better since my last spell at it about a year ago, and it
is also doing good financially. While everybody is
talking about World of Warcraft and its 2 million
subscribers, EVE Online subscriber base has also grown,
exceeding 70,000 just now. Not enough to build a business
empire on, but more than enough for a small/medium
development studio in Iceland to live comfortably. Many
new MMORPGs fail because they want all the markets to
themselves and thus compete against other
well-established superbrands. But if you don't have an
investor demanding exponential growth, you can grab a
certain niche market and be the biggest fish in a small
pond. Besides, unlike in all the MMORPGs I've ever tried,
I've played EVE for a month now and still have to meet
the first 133t 1d10t griefer. I've been pod-killed once
but that is what I get for going to a 0.3 system with
just a rifter.
Last night was one of my most pleasurable
mmorpg experiences ever. Many players in EVE get their
primary income from asteroid mining. I have a policy
against the freaking rocks, so I settle on NPC pirate
hunting. The system had plenty of miners around and they
hailed me whenever pirates showed up in their belt. Then
I warped to the location, made mincemeat of the bogies
and collected a reward with kill bounties and the
battlefield loot. Everybody was roleplaying at least a
little bit: nothing too deep just enough to make it fun.
It was a sort of an act we all suddenly got into (or
those who didn't had the sense to shut up) and I think it
made the day for everybody. It certainly made mine. By
the way, there is a new EVE
trailer. Check it out.
No, I still haven't made a penny from the
partnership program. I've even forgotten my password for
checking if I have any credits for enticing new players.
But I do want to make a contribution to keeping the game
alive and in the black and blogging costs me nothing but
Something Wrong With Me
There is something wrong with me, or more
precisely with my left lung. Antibiotics did not work and
now the doctor says the earlier diagnosis of bronchitis
was wrong. After an x-ray and blood tests, she prescribed
me some new drugs usually associated with asthma,
although my symptoms don't match that either. They were
more straightforward at the chemist: these drugs are for
relieving the symptoms, not treating the cause, so the
doctor is trying to keep me alive for the next three
weeks hoping that the infection will go away by itself.
If it does not but I am still alive, she'll probably
"try" something else.
Meanwhile, I have a life to live, even if
it is with a chronic respiratory disease. I'll go back to
work next week and trust that medication and avoidance of
physical excercise will keep the symptoms down. I have
trouble with my voice, though. That means all roleplaying
sessions are off for the immediate future, with one
exception. Next Saturday, 17th of September, I will run
an audience session of Praedor at Puolenkuun Pelit in
Lahti. I was hoping to do it with 1.1 edition but I am
still waiting for the cover so it will be with the 2001
edition, which is the same as most of the books out
there. Other than that, I hope to avoid overt speaking as
my throat is already sore from the cough.
I am Chromed!
was one of the most underrated games of 2003. It is
a mission-based science fiction shooter with very large
levels, some RPG elements and really cool-looking terrain
and vegetation. Unfortunately, it suffers from some game
design issues and came out the same time as Far Cry,
and as every FPS gamer knows, FC beats the crap out of
anything else out there (ok, if Half-Life 2 had less
linear levels...), so its beautiful sceneries and open
landscapes did not make the impression they should have.
As an interesting technical detail, Chrome was
programmed in JAVA and no, it is neither slow nor
requires a monster of a machine. And it looks good and
plays well. Better than most modern games (done C++ or
something) do. It also won some kind of Java-reward last
year from the original creators of the language.
I did like Chrome even the first time but
the enemy detection system and feeble implants infuriated
me. Now when I tried it again, I had learned enough JAVA
to make some changes to the game files, like removing the
super-fast implant overload, and voila! The game plays
like an angel. For some reason it plays even better on my
workplace laptop, even though it is an inferior machine.
I've had some infuriating crashes playing Chrome with my
home system, but workplace laptop never had any problems.
Anyway, there is a sequel now (or
storywise it is a prequel) called Chrome
SpecForce and I just got it by mail. The
original Chrome had an international distributor but the
is a small Polish workshop who, like so many others,
first set out to create a commercial JAVA-based 3D
engine. Like all the others, nobody bought the engine, so
they made a game out of it. The original Chrome did not
sell too well so they are distributing the sequel
themselves. Having already done my share by buying my
game from their webshop, I can only hope it works out for
them and they get a decent reward for all the hard work.
SpecForce is supposed to have extensive multiplayer
features, so if there are servers out there you just
might get to kick my ass.
Low ratings for War Diary: Burma were
something of a blow for me professionally but operator
reactions, especially with operators that count, have
helped me recover. And that is good, because War Diary:
Burma was a test case for a whole new genre of casual
hardcore war games. Assuming decent sales, I would not
mind becoming the father of such a genre. Whether the
critics like it or not.
Praedor 1.1. is still in the works.
Basically, I am waiting for the cover image by Petri, and
he has to do stuff that will feed his family first.
Skewed priorities, if you ask me. Anyway, Praedor 1.1.
will have 260 pages, with additions consisting of
adventures and little bits of else here and there. No, I
am not going to publish the changes as a separate errata
for earlier versions. If you are so interested, go buy
the book when it comes out :)
In truth, the changes are minor.
While Praedor is on hold, I've been
working on Stalker for a change. Adding stuff, editing
stuff and deleting stuff. My primary Stalker artist sent
me a new batch of pictures, which are, as always, of
amazing quality. That and some inner revelations have
inspired me to work on Stalker once more. It seems like
the game might actually get finished some day.
Orcs do exist!
There is a massive, ultra-realistic
post-holocaust LARP going on at New Orleans, but who the
hell came up with these rape gangs and renegade snipers
taking pot shots at rescue helicopters? They've brought
the airborne rescue operations to a halt! It is so stupid
it is unreal and I would have never included anything
like that in my post-holocaust scenarios. I thought it
was bad design to have some kind of "gangers"
around that you can shoot at without thinking about it.
Right now, I hope the US National Guard shoots every last
one of those motherfuckers and hangs their dead bodies
from lamp posts. Mental note: add "hordes of
bloodthirsty idiots" into all modern settings. Orcs
Today, my apparently harmless but
unusually long-lasting coughing was diagnosed as
Bronchitis and I was prescribed medication to match. I
always thought Bronchitis was a viral disease and as such
would eventually heal and could not be helped with
antibiotics. The doctor apparently disagreed and
prescribed something that will supposedly kill anything
up to the size of a small dog. To keep me in good mood,
she also threw in a bottle of Codesan comp. cough
medicine which the apothecary called "happy
juice" and took away the recipe because this stuff
is widely abused as a drug. Apparently there is some kind
of a bronchitis epidemic going around. Maybe it is