Thursday, December 30, 2004


No, you didn't just go crazy. It's a new theme. It's almost the new year, a time for change. Sorry for any accidental deaths, murders, or deaths as the result of murders.

It's Anarchy Online Again, Sorry....

It's not like this hasn't come to be expected by anyone who reads this site with any amount of frequency. It's happened before, and it will surely happen again - deal with it. As you already may have guessed, instead of Part 2 of the Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup, I've decided to spend this week's post talking a little more about Anarchy Online. When I posted about it last week, I hadn't yet had the time to explore the intricacies and deeper areas of the game. That's not to say that I've seen everything the game has to offer, but now I definitely have a better idea of what's happening in the world of Rubi-Ka.

My character, at present, is a level 23 (male)Adventurer, which(as the link above confirms) is supposed to be one of the easiest professions to learn the game with, as well as one of the better all-around character classes. I've had quite a good time getting to where I am although, up until this point, I've played entirely solo. I've mentioned things before that, while based on a slightly different subject, still explain my reasons for being largely antisocial in a gaming world that encourages exactly the opposite. Much to my surprise, people in Rubi-Ka can do quite a bit to change that attitude.

A few days and quite a few more levels after starting my character, I was sitting near the mission terminals in Old Athens searching for a mission that I felt like doing, when a character who will remain as nameless as my own asked to see my pistols. Quite skeptical, after thwarting many a scammer in Eternal Lands, I did as I was asked. The stranger also asked how many credits I had, a question to which I replied honestly, "not many". As I answered, this mysterious character vanished and I assumed I was too poor to be scam-worthy; then they returned. A trade window opened, and my previous assumption that I was too poor quickly vanished, apparently anything was enough. A private message appeared - "Accept" - no cash request. I did, and what I received was a backpack full of weapons much better than my own and 1,000,000 credits. All the stranger asked was that, when I outgrew them, I would pass the weapons on to another low level Adventurer who needed them. I assure you, I will.

I'd quite wrongly assumed that outside of the free, open-source community everyone would be worse than they are in the free games; for all I know, that could be true. I'm not really so sure though, everyone I've had a chance to talk to was nothing but helpful, and I've not personally encountered a rude person since beginning the game. Even if it's not the paradise I'm describing, it's certainly a world worth exploring so, once again, it gets another plug. Again, it's only free until January 15th so, if you want it, hurry up. By the way, it's entirely possible to get Anarchy Online running under Linux, as long as you don't mind using Cedega.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not That Kind Of Anarchy, Unless...

Although this wasn't planned, I'm taking a bit of a break from the Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup to touch on something that the majority of GNU/Linux users probably won't give a damn about. That something? The recent "free for a year" release of Anarchy Online.

Expansion packs excluded, the developer(or publisher, or whatever) of Anarchy Online has decided to provide folks with a Christmas present/gateway drug in the form of a free client/no subscription double whammy for the original, "classic" Anarchy Online. Being the type of person who really can't turn down something free, I decided to take a look.

My experience only being with the free MMOGs out there, I've always made sure to try to look past certain bugs and "issues". Sure, it's technically free, but that still doesn't excuse all the bugs and aforementioned "issues" that seem to plague Anarchy Online. Frequent crashes, unbearable lag, and a few much smaller problems were all mentioned in reviews when this game first came out, years ago. The fact that they still exist is annoying, but it doesn't keep Anarchy Online from being an enjoyable online experience.

I'm a fan of sci-fi and, besides Vendetta, Anarchy Online is really the online MMOG out there with the exception of Star Wars Galaxies, which is a big plus in my book. Even if I had to pay for a retail copy of the game, minus the monthly fees, it seems as if it would be a worthy purchase for a year. If it's totally free for said year, why not. Of course, that's assuming you have broadband to download it - over 800mb is quite a hefty download for dialup.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup: Part 1

Yes, once again it's time for another roundup. RPGs and UT2004 mods have had their share, now it's strategy's, ahem, turn.

This week, however, it's not turn based strategy, but the real time variety. Now, no free strategy roundup would be complete without a nod to the Stratagus engine(formerly known as Freecraft) and the one game worth playing on it, Invasion - Battle of Survival. Anybody familiar with Starcraft is going to feel very at home with what is presented on the screen after starting a mission. The graphics aren't quite as spiffy, but you definitely know what you're supposed to do as soon as the game screen loads.

Therein lies the one major flaw in Invasion - Battle of Survival. If you haven't played any of the *Craft games, you'll have absolutely no idea what you're supposed to do. Even if you manage to find out what the objective is(destroy all enemies..) - which by the way you have to look for - you'll still probably get trounced while you're gathering resources, assuming you've figured out how to do that by now.

I love Starcraft, I still play it all the time, so I knew what needed to be done right away. If you're familiar with the way RTS games work, than you'll probably have as good a time with BoS as I did. Once this game can get some sort of tutorial and/or campaign mode to slowly fill in those who aren't RTS veterans, it'll have it all.


I forgot to actually publish last week's post, so here it is:

This week I've been playing Scorched 3D, which is an open-source, prettified clone of an older DOS game, Scorched Earth. The game itself is a simple yet addictive "artillery combat" sort of game. You'd almost think of it as a strategy game if you could actually control more than one unit, but at it's core it's a turn based action game, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

As the name Scorched 3D implies, yes, it is in 3D. Quite lovely 3D actually, at least for the most part. The terrain, water, and skies all look great, as do some of the explosion animations. What isn't as impressive are the models for the units. While they do a good job of looking like what they're trying to look like, they just seem to pale in comparison to everything else. Some units you'd expect, such as tanks and helicopters, sit alongside other units you'd never expect, such as the grim reaper(I don't know, maybe the rockets come out of his ass). It's a cool feature, but it's one I wouldn't have missed in favor of some more highly detailed(or at least bigger) models.

The main bread and butter of Scorched 3D is in the online play, which I haven't gotten around to trying out yet. I've taken a look at the server browser, and some pretty filled out games always seem to be happening, but I'd like to get a better hand at aiming(which is controlled by rotation, elevation, and power - quite tricky) before I take on some real competition.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hell On Mars: It's Vaguely Frightening

Well, last night I downloaded the Doom 3 demo. Why so late, you ask? Because I like to steadfastly remain behind the times. All of them...

When I first loaded the game up, I was a bit more impressed than I was prepared to be at the opening sequence, when you first arrive on Mars. More so than any other game I've ever played, the idea that I was in a outpost station on a strange world was thoroughly reinforced. Maybe somebody at id software decided the best course of action would be to simply travel into the future, see what it was like, then built it into the game and turned off all the lights. The creepiness factor of the station can not be denied although, at least in the beginning of the game, it's a very real kind. The same kind of creepiness you feel when it's your job to go into the freaky basement alone.

As soon as all hell broke loose and I was tasked with trying to make it back to HQ, my peers screaming in terror over the radio, I lost interest and went to sleep. Now, I'm pretty sure that was not the reaction that id was looking for, but the speed with which the game turns into a prettified Doom 2 with a stupid flashlight mechanic is startling. The flashlight issue has been maligned over many times by many people since the game first came out, so much so that mods exist that place your flashlight smartly on your gun. The second issue is more of an issue I have with games in general. Some RPG's aside, there is never a point in most games where things calm down again, you never get a break. I'm sure that a lot of hardcore gamers out there feel that they don't need a break, some may explicitly not want a break, presumably to keep up the intensity levels.

My realization was that I'd prefer Doom 3 without the monsters and combat. I could perfectly happy wander around the station for hours, performing the occasional menial task while I continued to discover the backstory of this strange place on Mars at my leisure. Of course, I'm entirely sure that id would not have had a very good time of selling the game in that state, except maybe to me.