Feb. 20th, 2014 11:38 pm
boutell: (shave)
I have won my last several games of 3x3 multiplayer Starcraft. Instead of losing three out of four.

This is happening because I switched from complicated, careful tactics to a dead-simple "hey guys I am kicking their asses, how about you follow me" strategy.

This is a good approach to leading a group of random people you don't know: keep it simple, take the biggest slice of risk and let them follow you to victory.

This means something.

For those who actually care about such things, I've become a big fan of proxy gateway rushes. Most players I'm encountering are much better than me at the long game but completely fold when faced with this silliness.
boutell: (shave)
I usually play four-against-four pickup games.

I have reached the point where, nine games out of ten, my teammates do not actually yell "dude you SUCK!"

Hey, that's progress!

Generally one of two things happen:

Either (a) the other team decides to target me, in which case I'm supposed to be an easy kill but I'm not and it soaks up a lot of their resources although I don't get to accomplish much else, or (b) they don't, and I go long and build a decent army and have some impact while somebody better than me leads the big crusade.

I just finished an exceptionally good game in which I saw more things trying to blow each other up at once than I had thought my computer was capable of depicting. And then it went on for another 20 minutes. Wow.
boutell: (shave)
I am terrible at doin' nothin', hangin' out, not seeking any self-improvement for an hour or two. Unless you count bouncing distractedly between Facebook and Twitter and email, ugh; I'm trying to cut back on that. It's not real relaxation, not if you're doing too much of it.

There are lots of activities I can do in alternation with my day job that are somewhat relaxing and shift me into a different place, but I need some true downtime as well, not just sneaky self-improvement.

PG-rated activities that do function as relaxation for me and are not sneaky self-improvement (For the most part):

• Salsa dancing (*)
• Reading science fiction
• Truly silly programming projects like the snowcam
• Playing Starcraft 2.

I still remember discovering the original Starcraft: I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law. Jason had a dedicated office-slash-gaming-room. He didn't have a PC, he had a rig, you know what I'm saying? It was a good cave in which to discover a game.

Speaking of caves, though, I love how you can fall into Starcraft and then come out again. Each match is self-limiting in duration. Nobody's trying to force you to "farm" all fricking day to get anywhere in the game.

Because it's a GAME. It's not a REPLACEMENT FOR YOUR LIFE. I like that.

After a concerted attempt to get good at playing the Terrans, I have rediscovered the joy of playing the Protoss... the one species in all of known space that can set up a decent static defense and build a slow, inexorable, overwhelming offense.

All of those things are good if you have never had the fastest reflexes in the world.

Plus, they have voidrays, which are terribly satisfying and strike more terror in one's opponents than their actual stats deserve.

And a decent build seems to come naturally to me, while I find the Terrans much fussier to play. I'm still not, y'know, GOOD. But I'm hardly ever that guy all the thirteen-year-olds are making fun of at the end of the game anymore. So... I win?

(*) OK, salsa can be sneaky self-improvement, especially in the early days of the learning curve. But at my level of experience going out to the club and spinning the ladies for a couple hours is strictly recreation.
boutell: (Default)

Geek: Game of Champions is now on the iPhone! Whee! Apple surprised me by approving the game in two days, although they'd advised an average delay of two weeks. Very cool.

This was a rather straightforward port. I think touch works well with the original "click (tap) where you want to go" idiom that dates to the 1995 JavaScript version.

The game is free. The iPhone has a glut of great free games, it would be silly to try to charge for this.

Eleanor Grant created the music and sound effects. The better graphics (i.e. the bugs, wall tiles and floor tile) were updated by Kate McDonnell, way back in the day (but not quite as far back as the original 1995 version). The rest is my fault. I redesigned the Geek for this version, and I rather like the typography-based Geek, so I'm thinking about doing a game entirely with typography-driven graphics.

Geek is my second iPhone app. My first, Sync and Speak, is far more practical and does sell a copy every week or so (booyeah! papa needs a brand new... um... gumball?).

A slightly different Java-based web version of Geek is still available, so those without iPhones needn't cry too loudly or often.

boutell: (Default)
The iphone store app upload process is a mess.

Here are some quick notes to save myself and other devs some trouble when they are almost at the finish line and run into Apple Code Signing Hell. I am assuming you already watched Apple's how-to video and have done the basic (yet quite difficult) things like generating all of your certificates and provisioning profiles and etc. You've done everything right but Apple still rejects your uploads. You see:

“Application failed codesign verification. Please see the console log for additional details"


"The signature was invalid, or it was not signed with an Apple submission certificate."

So try these steps:

1. Clear the XCode Cache. The menu option for this is on the XCode menu (that is, to the left of the File menu). Then do a "clean all targets" and a "build." Do that early and often, actually. Without clearing the XCode Cache you can wind up signing your app with a provisioning profile intended for one of your other apps. I don't know why.

2. Try this command (assuming your app is called geek.app and you're in the distribution subdir of your build dir):

codesign --verify -vvvv geek.app

If you get errors, you don't have your provisioning certificates set up right. Fix your settings on the "build" tab.

3. DON'T use command line "zip" to create geek.zip from geek.app. For reasons that don't seem at all adequate to me, iTunes Connect will reject it with an inscrutable error complaining about your signing identities. You MUST use the "Compress" option in the Finder.

I wasted four hours of my life today figuring out #1 and #3, and this is not my first iPhone app. Apple, please take steps to make this process less painful. Thank you.

(Oh yeah: Geek, Game of Champions! is now in the App Store approval queue. Whee!)
boutell: (Default)
You can play the classic text adventure Zork in your web browser, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] marnanel, who wrote a z-code to JavaScript compiler, and some other people who turned that into a fully prettified web page, or something.

There are lots of additional games, including [livejournal.com profile] nerdsholmferret's Goose, Egg, Badger.

The late, beloved Star C. Foster's Slouching Towards Bedlam can also be played on the web using a different technology (it's a Java applet, which is 100% COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from JavaScript; the similar names are just one of those dumb marketing decisions people made every day in the nineties). Perhaps those in the know could help that game find its way into the other collection as well, since it is also a Z-code game at the end of the day. The JavaScript-engine-based games seem to start up very snappily. By contrast, waiting for Java to start up in Mac Firefox is not only an exercise in patience, it's an exercise in faith... there's little to no feedback during the process.
boutell: (Default)
We're all deeply upset here at Casa Boutell.

In our home, and all good American homes, Uno is played as follows:

When you cannot make a play, you must draw a card. If you can play that card, you must. If you cannot play that card, you must CONTINUE DRAWING CARDS until you are able to play.

This is obvious and essential and none of us can remember a time when this was not true. What can be more awesome than watching someone who has just called "Uno" get socked with 58 new cards?

But when we consulted the rules today we made a horrible discovery: play goes to the next player as soon as you draw one new card that you cannot immediately play. We immediately decided this was a dumbed-down, candy-ass rule added in a recent addition in order to soothe the fears of contemptible cowards, and ignored it.

However, I have since investigated the matter thoroughly on the Internets. And it seems that the official rules of Uno have always been lame in this regard.

But... but... but... there's nothing wrong with me! There must be something wrong with the universe!
boutell: (Default)
Eleanor circled Sid Meier's Civilization IV in the school's so-called "book club" flyer. At least half software, those things. But in this case I was all about it. I agreed to pay for it as a birthday present.

She started playing yesterday. She's thoroughly hooked at this point. My bloodthirsty little empress, coming soon to a banana republic near you!

In completely unrelated news, our vegetables have emerged from the ground in edible form. Yeah, I'm a little scared too. We have radishes, which Eleanor loves, and arugula, which I love. Both are super-easy to grow, and radishes mature particularly quickly. We also have a rather impressive hill of zucchini, and the blooms are just beginning to emerge. Fingers crossed for actual zukes.

The edamame soybeans were pretty much devoured by bugs right away, just like the last time I tried to grow them. But a few may survive to maturity this year.
boutell: (Default)
I'm well aware of the microgenerational divide between Atari 2600 kidz ("Pitfall Harry!" "Pitfall who?") and Super Mario kidz ("super mushroom!" "No thanks I haven't done drugs since college").

Due to the vagaries of individual households, it's not a 100% age-linked trait. Super Mario came out in '85 but my family stuck with the Atari and the Colecovision until college.

But I ran into a new aspect of this today.

Eleanor received a Nintendo DS for Christmas, with New Super Mario Bros., which is pretty much Super Mario Bros as you remember it although the levels are new. [livejournal.com profile] solestria and Eleanor have been taking turns playing it all morning. [livejournal.com profile] solestria is one of the Super Mario kidz, and she's good at it. Eleanor often prefers to watch a good player rather than playing herself.

Then they talked me into playing level one.

I sucked, of course. That's hunky-dory with me. But what surprised me is that the two of them kept yelling "give me that so I can show you this" and "give me that so I can show you blah."

Rilly? This is acceptable? Back In My Day (tm), you didn't gank the Atari stick from the other guy during their turn. That was hugely bogus behavior.

I think this is probably because games like Super Mario allow for longer interruptions (you won't die just because the controller was between players for two seconds) and have vastly more complex gameplay, where there's actually a point in showing someone how to do something... and something else... and something else... and then something else. As opposed to just letting them learn the kinesthetic trick that is the one and only skill involved in that particular Atari game (you don't show people how to play Kaboom or Space Invaders, you might show them how to jump on alligator heads in Pitfall but it doesn't take all day).

So I guess it makes sense. But oh man it cheeses me off. "Hands! Off! Game! My! Turn!"
boutell: (Default)


Just watch and laugh.

Also note a considerable number of awesome related videos.
boutell: (Default)
Escapist Magazine is running a very funny cartoon-format review of a game called "Peggle."

It doesn't matter if you have ever played Peggle (I haven't); the reviewer is commenting, hilariously, on the entire genre of "casual games"— games you can pick up how to play in a second, and play it until the boss peeks in the doorway. There's no learning curve to speak of and no fancy equipment required. Bejeweled and the rest of the Tetris family tree are good examples, but "cannonball / penguin baseball / frog golf / etc" is another subgenre, and there are many more.

I like the reviewer's comments on how PopTop's success might affect the chances of independent casual game designers, but I don't think they are preventing the next Truly Novel Casual Game from finding its way to your desktop. If it's as compelling as Tetris, and as novel as Tetris was on first release, it will propagate.
boutell: (Default)
So d'you remember that cool graphic novel about the alternate universe where Tom Boutell grew up in the Soviet Union instead of the United States? And nobody gave a shit?

Yeah me neither. But someone very like me loved the Soviet video games of their childhood enough to preserve them. I wanna play these games!

Check out the 15-kopek museum's photo gallery (be patient, the server is struggling a bit).
boutell: (Default)
There is an official, free web version of Sinistar on the Midway web site. It's very small, and clunky to play on a keyboard, but still way fun. I found it via the Wikipedia entry on Sinistar.
boutell: (Default)
The joysticks that come with the Atari Flashback 2 do work just fine with the real thing. Rock! They are also pretty much indistinguishable to the eye, it's a very close copy.

Coming in handy - one of the sticks that came with my "real Atari" is in bad shape.

I bought the machine to develop on, so I wasn't worried about the quality of the games that came with it. Most of them are crap. But I'd forgotten all about Megamania. DIE ALIEN SCUM
boutell: (atari)
Atari 2600 in good condition: scored for $15. I found someone selling it as an "Atari Video Computer System" rather than "2600" or "VCS." Other people can't be arsed to type all that. I WIN!

I gather you can also score on ebay by looking for misspelled listings, although ebay has made greater efforts to help sellers avoid that problem in recent years.

Three days from now I'll bag a Starpath Supercharger at a bargain price as well. I hope. But that's a rare item and indispensable to a homebrew developer, so I'm willing to pay what it's actually worth.


Feb. 4th, 2007 12:24 pm
boutell: (atari)
Last night I won a green iPod nano in a raffle. Mint. So to speak.

I'm ebaying it.

With the proceeds, I plan to buy an Atari 2600 and a Starpath Supercharger, or maybe an EPROM burner - something suitable for prototyping Atari VCS games on the real hardware.
boutell: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: The BBC has a story today about pacemakers. The govt have paid some researchers GBP 1m to develop a pacemaker which is self-recharging like a self-winding watch. At the moment, people have to have operations under general anaesthetic every so often to fit a new battery, which costs GBP 10,000 a time
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: Well duh
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: I mean, pay 1m once off, or pay 10,000 per person every few years
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: Who wouldn't do that? and why haven't they done this before?
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: Well...
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: Giving people research money because they say they think they can probably maybe do something possibly is different from buying X amount of things that definitely work for Y time at a price of Z dollars
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: Well, I suppose, yes
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: it doesn't exist yet
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: so they are not mutually exclusive
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: but the watches do, so it's not a completely bizarre idea
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: in fact, it's the classic Starcraft scenario! Do we develop self-winding tech, or take out the enemy's base with a rush of battery powered octogenarian troopers?
[livejournal.com profile] marnanel: *laughs*
[livejournal.com profile] boutell: IM IN UR BASE WINDIN UR PACEMAK3RZ

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