Archive for July, 2015

27
Jul
15

World of Warships

I didn’t get to posting this weekend because I’ve become pretty much addicted to World of Warships which is now in open beta. I hadn’t played the other games because I’m not as interested in tanks or warplanes, but when I ran into some videos on youtube from the Mighty Jingles, I just had to give it a go. I thought I’d give some of my first impressions.

You start out with some basic ships, the US Cruiser Erie and Japanese Cruiser Hashidate. There isn’t much difference between the two really, but the Hashidate mounts its guns in twin turrets making any damage to them worse for your firepower. Both ships are basically just gun boats, which is a good thing because extra features you run into later can complicate matters.

Initially you can only play in co-operative play against AI opponents, again a good idea. The AI is a bit gentler than human players and gives even a new player the chance to get some good shots in. It isn’t stupid however and will provide a challenge or even win if you aren’t careful. I recommend doing co-operative play whenever you’re trying new stuff out like a new ship class. Most games are random battles you play against other players.

There are four basic ship classes, each useful in their own right. Destroyers are the smallest ships, but because they are hard to spot and pack powerful torpedoes even the largest ships need to fear them. Cruisers are the jack of all trades, they often can hold their own in a gunnery duel and have some armour protection. Some have torpedoes and good anti-aircraft defenses and can serve many roles. Faster cruisers can avoid torpedoes (but not always) and even dodge battleship fire if they’re lucky. But battles ships will win a one on one fight usually.

The two larger classes of vessels whilst powerful require protection in one way or another. The battleships have large guns, but they take a long time to reload, so a cruiser can pummel one if they can avoid their fire. Torpedoes are a terrible hazzard and everyone who can will shoot many in your direction. Some of the faster battleships can dodge torpedoes, but will often take a hit or two. Luckily they have thick armour, so they can take a lot of damage before they finally sink, and the big guns can and will punish anyone foolish enough to be in their sights.

Carriers are an entirely different beast. They can attack anyone of the map, but if the enemy has good anti-aircraft guns they can run out of aircraft and hence combat effectiveness. They are also vulnerable to pretty much any other ships gunfire or torpedoes, so they need to hide away and have some kind of escort.

The ships are organised into tiers with older less powerful ships at the bottom ranging to the most powerful at the top. I’m still on lower tier ships at the moment, so the battles are closer tougher dog fights because the range of the guns isn’t as long.

Using a lower tiered ship doesn’t disadvantage you as much as you might think. Ships like the St Louis have enough firepower to threaten cruisers and destroyers further along the tier system. Although most of the time the match maker manages to fit you with similar players, it’s not a disaster if you’re only a little lower on the scale.

In terms of historical accuracy, there are some areas which have been tweaked to ensure things are nicely balanced. But there is certainly a lot of realism despite this. The way shells interact with the armour of a ship has been modeled, including the effect of the angle of impact. Shells can deflect off armour causing little to no damage. High Explosive shells don’t penetrate as much, but cause damage such as fires. Personally I think they generate too many fires, but that’s just my opinion.

So far I’m really enjoying playing World of Warships, it’s easy to get into and learn, but deep enough that strategy and skill count. It is also hard to sink even smaller vessels, so newer players won’t be killed before they have a chance to fight. I look forward to the new ships from other nations as they come out, particularly the UK and German fleets. I’d like to try out HMS Rodney, HMS Hood, Scharnhorst or Admiral Graf Spee.

The game is free to play with transactions for some premium ships, and things you can do, but it certainly isn’t a pay-to-win game. I saw the price on some of the premium ships and thought they were a bit expensive at $39 AU for the Battleship HMS Warspite for example, but other items such as extra ship slots are much cheaper. I am happy to invest in this game because it is so good, but the price tag for a single ship is a bit much. Maybe if the Australian price comes down I’ll reconsider.

 

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16
Jul
15

Photos from Home

I’m about to leave my parents place to head back home and back to work. I always quite enjoy the trip here to Narrabri and find it a much needed break from the stresses of every day life. Today I thought I’d share some of that with you in the form of photos I’ve taken over the years along with a description of what makes this place special to me.

Continue reading ‘Photos from Home’

12
Jul
15

Wooden Ships and Iron Men

Wooden Ships and Iron MenI’ve come back to my parents place as I do this time of year for a quick holiday before work picks up again after the semester break. This time instead of covering some technology I thought I might do something different. Today we’re looking at a board game we played as kids called Wooden Ships and Iron Men.

It was originally made by Battleline publications but later re-published by Avalon Hill. We had a few other Avalon Hill games, one for the D-Day landings and another of the Africa Campaign fighting Rommel. These games were great fun to play, and taught us about strategy and planning. We used to play these with Dad mostly, but occasionally me and my brothers would play each other.

The board

The board

I forget when exactly I was given Wooden Ships and Iron Men, but I suspect it was a Christmas or birthday present. Unlike the other games we had played this is a naval combat game for ships from the 18th – 19th century.

The ships log book

The ships log book

Because we were kids at the time we chose to play the basic rule-set the most. We were also way too ambitious, having set up stupidly large fleets instead of more manageable encounters. This meant that we rarely completed a game because of how long it took the three of us to command and manage the ships. We still enjoyed playing, and had fun with some of the interesting ships like fire ships.

Combat Tables

Combat Tables

The game uses log sheets for each ship to record its hit points for various parts of the ship such as hull, crew, guns, and rigging. The log is also where commands are written during the planning phase of play. You record the ships movements and whether the guns are fired or reloaded. Once everyone has planned, all the ships are moved (whilst checking for collisions) and then dice are rolled to resolve any of the combat or events that may occur.

Ship Counters

Ship Counters

I think ideally you need to either keep the number of ships down or play in teams to make larger fleets more feasible to get the most out of this game. It is quite fun, and will give you a glimpse into what naval warfare in the time of Nelson and Napleon was like.

 

 

03
Jul
15

Robomaze III: The Dome for DOS

WetwareSince I’m still setting up my computer lab space today I’m looking at a game called Robomaze III. It was made by a company called Wetware for MVP software back in 1991. This is of course a sequel to Robomaze II, but unlike it, this game is a top down adventure game.

Robomaze III: The DomeThe story seems to be a continuation of the last game where you defeated everything in the tower. Now you’ve traveled to The Dome in order to defeat the dictator currently dominating the land. Unfortunately you left your gun in the tower and your suite of armour doesn’t work in the Dome.

In the beginning there were no weapons

In the beginning there were no weapons

Whilst the story between the two games is continuous, both games don’t feel very connected otherwise. The environment, enemies and weapons of both games is quite different with the only real commonality being the main character. In Robomaze III you fight various fantasy style enemies using weapons such as swords and axes. Guns do enter the game later, but they are effectively just more powerful arrows.

Witches House

Witches House

Again graphics support comes in the form of CGA and EGA and like many older games there is a different version of the game for each mode. I used the EGA version which runs at 640x200x16, which is unusual for games of that era, but does allow for more effective use of the dithering technique. I think the graphics are implemented a little better this time around, although I did see some flicker. Sprites are easier to identify this time around and animations look reasonable.

Sometimes it's easier being green.

Sometimes it’s easier being green.

Sound is once again PC speaker exclusive and again the title screen has some of the worst music ever. In game sound however is much better, but isn’t strictly important to the experience. It’s perfectly playable with the sound on or off, so choose what you think best.

A hospital with guns?

A hospital with guns?

Game-play wise Robomaze III is an adventure game more in the vain of Zelda on the NES rather than a normal PC adventure game. There is an over world  of sorts which connects everything together. Traveling around is fairly simple, but because you have a large sprite (larger than many trees!) it can be difficult to maneuver.

Licked the red frog.

Licked the red frog.

You encounter enemies randomly with the exception of a few fixed enemies that usually have something for you to pick up. Combat involves flinging your weapon or ammunition at the bad guys. Unfortunately it can be difficult to hit them if you are shooting vertically, so shoot at enemies from the horizontal if possible.

Field of Death!

Field of Death!

This has to be one of the harder games I’ve attempted, the first weapon you get is incredibly weak and not really strong enough to defend against even the weakest enemies. Normally it’s best to avoid combat, but that can be tricky, and some enemies need to be killed to make progress. The only way to make the game a bit more balanced is to engage all the cheats so your weapon is more powerful and power-ups have more effect.

Luckily you can continue the game after you die, retaining everything except your score. Because the combat is so awkward even with the cheats enabled you will die on a regular basis. It’s not punishing, but it makes the combat feel largely pointless.

Robomaze III has not really aged all that well, mostly because of the poor combat mechanics and balance. Otherwise it has some redeeming features such as relatively nice graphics and large area to explore. However I feel this is probably one game best left to those who remember it fondly, the problems in game-play out-stink its good qualities.

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