Local Loop

Posted on Dec 14th 2010 at 09:41:06 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under PC gaming

Now is the perfect time to try something different.  Good Old Games (GOG), is holding their holiday sale and Steam will be doing their mega sell probably starting next week.  So if you have ever been interested in trying pc gaming now is the time to give it a go.

I know I know, the biggest complaint about PC gaming is cost.  It cost so much to game since you have to upgrade your pc every few months (which Is bs but we are not getting into that argument tonight).  Well fret not, this is where GOG comes in.  GOG sells old games that are worth playing, hence their name.  Right now you can pick up about 200 games that will run fine on a netbook with no tweaking whatsoever and all for under $10 each.  Hows that for expensive?  When you buy a game from GOG you download an executable (EXE) and just double click on it and follow the prompts, 9/10 times it will autoconfigure everything for you.  Simple and inexpensive, we have moved up in the world. 

However being that this is digital distribution I know a lot of you are hesitant to jump on board.  Physical copies are superior  no one here is debating that.  My thoughts on this are simply that spending $3 to get a copy of Rise of the Triad that installs without me playing around with it for two hours is well worth it.  Or if you were an early adopter of Unreal Tournament 2004, like I was  those five cd installs get tedious, isnt $6 worth it to not do that anymore? 

There are other advantages to GOG.  They strip the original DRM from the games and release them DRM free.  So games that I would not have bought previously  Broken Sword 3 came with Starforce (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starforce), are now purchase worthy.  Also, though this is frowned upon by some, if you bought a multiplayer game, say Unreal Tournament 2004, you could install it on multiple computers and play with/against them.  And if that wasnt  enough they will even GIVE you games.  They have several free to download aslong as you have an account games  Tyrian 2000 was added to that list today.

So if any of that sounds interesting to you, head on over to www.gog.com and give a company that does Digital Distribution for old games right. 

Personally, I am picking up copies of:
Baldurs Gate 1  my copy is scratched
Baldurs Gate 2
Rise of the Triad
Serious Sam 1
Serious Sam 2
Neverwinter Nights Diamond  Those half a dozen cds get to stay on the shelf now
Total Annihilation
Planescape Torment  I figure its about time I play the game everyone keeps telling me is one of the best ever created.
Thats almost a years worth of gaming for well under $40.

Posted on Dec 9th 2010 at 09:17:32 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under SNES, SFC

Battle Cross, one of my favorite hidden gems of the Super Nintendo.  This Japan only release combines two of my preferred gametypes into one svelte package: Arcade Racers and Party Games.  Imagine if RC Proam and Bomberman loved each other very much and had a child that had a steep learning curve, and you have Battle Cross.  The basis of it is that you are racing four other people on jet bikes and shooting each other with laserbeam looking bullets.  Battle Cross is also one of the few SFC/SNES games that is five player. 

Now there are some downsides:
- Hard to find/can be expensive  ie there are none on ebay right now
- Learning curve is higher than other games (steering is alittle funky)
- Can be addictive

If nothing else, do yourself a favor and give the rom a go.

Posted on Nov 17th 2010 at 04:08:05 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Query

So I have a question for the community.  Would you be interested in a web series where they take lesser known videogames and turn them into movie trailers? 

I have had this idea rolling around in my head for about a decade and figure it is about time to jump on it.  I am about to start a film troupe  similar in the back of the house to Monty Python, but not in what is produced.  One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time is take lesser known games and turn them into trailers.  Something like Deja vu in the style of film noir or Hybrid Heaven in the style of a modern scifi movie.  These would not be specifically comical bits, ala Mega 64, but trailers that are trying to look as professional as possible. 

I already have another gaming related film project in the pipe  it is big and if it works will be awesome, but I am curious to the interest in this idea.  I think I am going to do Deja vu regardless, but beyond that is up in the air. 

Your thoughts?

Posted on Oct 27th 2010 at 07:53:41 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Rambling

So November is a month of many things.  But the most pertinant is Nanowrimo:
Nanowrimo means National Novel Writing Month and it is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novella in 30 days.  Thats 1667 words a day.  I have participated in Nanowrimo every year since 2001 except last year (family medical issues) and still have never finished it.  So I am taking out all potential writing distractions until I am at atleast 30,000 words.  So no new posts from me for awhile folks.  Granted I update this thing really haphazardly anyway...

And let me answer the question alot of yall are thinking - why try to do this since the resulting novel will be crap?  Well the answer is quite simple: because many say it is impossible.  And to quote Firefly "We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."  Personally, I do it because I feel that a story is the greatest thing one can give to another.  And to have a story written down, as poorly as it may be, is an even greater gift.  Call me old fashion, but I would still love to have a published book.

Posted on Oct 27th 2010 at 07:49:09 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Rambling

Yall may not realize it, but you have all played a game based on a FASA work.  They created analog games for two decades and there titles live on in both video and analog game forms.

FASA stands for Freedonian Aeronautics and Space Administration.  Which if you know your classic films is the country in Duck Soup.  For those of you who dont know their Marx Brothers films:

Its kinda like how two of Queens albums are named after Marx brothers films.

One of the greatest films of all time aside, FASA created or fostered a lot of classic American game series.  Their analog games and RPGs are top notch  Battletech, Crimson Skies, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and the shortlived Doctor Who and Star Trek RPGs.  FASA closed their doors in 2001 and their properties were scattered to the four winds.  Luckily, Smith and Tinker have obtained a lot of them and have been bringing them back in full force (Sorry Wizkids, you had your shot). 

However there have always been videogames based on FASA titles.  Those videogames run the gamut of good to unplayable.  Out of those we are going to concentrate on their three biggest titles:
1.   Battletech
2.   Crimson Skies
3.   Shadowrun

1. Battletech
Battletech is probably the best known of all FASA series, however not in its original form.  Battletech provides the universe for Mechwarrior.  While Battletech was more cartoony, Mechwarrior was more gritty.  The two coexisted mostly sharing the universe until one fateful day in 1990 when the first Battletech Center launched.  Battletech Centers were arcades that ran large pods that were pretty much Mechwarrior cabinets: the newest model  Tesla IIs, run a modified version of Mechwarrior 4 distributed by Mektek.  There is no good way to describe a Battletech pod.  You get in it, there is a throttle for your left hand, a joystick on you right, five monitors infront of you, lots of buttons and switches, and you are piloting a big robot.  It is worth whatever the cost to play it atleast once, regardless if you like the game or not.  I would easily consider it in the top three gaming moments possible.  A couple months ago I interviewed the guys that run Mechcorps in Texas for the Racketboy Podcast, itll go live in a few weeks with lots of pictures, but you really just have to play it.  (it went live without pictures last week)

But to get back on topic, Battletech is Mechwarrior, and Mechwarrior has some great games (Mechwarrior 2 and 4) and some horrible ones (Mechwarrior 3050 and MechAssault Phantom War).   Overall the Battletech video games are stellar and span several Genres.  From Simulation, to RTS, to Arcade.

2. Crimson Skies
Ok Ill admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for the 30s styled pulp and noir.  Crimson Skies is a boardgame that takes place in an alternative history 1930s where the USA has become nothing but an area for air pirates to rule.  Aptly described by the creator as 16th Century Caribbean in the skies of 1930 America.  Essentially, you build your squadron and try to take out the enemies.  It is a lot of fun, but very expensive to get into (all lead minis twenty years out of print does that).  Wizkids did a reboot that was ok, but like the Mechwarrior one it only survived for a short time (much shorter than Mechwarrior though). 

Crimson Skies was turned into four pc games.  Two arcade games: one of which I have NEVER seen in the wild, the other is in one of those rotating pods made by Microsoft.  There was a soso PC game and an excellent Xbox game also released.  I would go so far to say that Crimson Skies is in my top three exclusive titles for the original Xbox (under Halo and Steel Battalion). 

3. Shadowrun
Futuristic D&D with magic and guns is all one of my friends had to say to sell me on the concept of Shadowrun.  Rolling fistfuls of six sided dies would have sold me faster - I am one of those gamers who would play a game about growing plants if it means I can roll 40 dies at once.  Shadowrun is an RPG set in a future where magic coexists with technology.  So elves that blend into the building walls while they sight their prey in their sniper rifle.  And dwarves that command radio controlled helicopters with machineguns on them.  If that sounds up your alley, yes it is a lot of fun if you have the right group playing it.

Shadowrun was turned into three specific videogames (there are more but we are looking at three).  An RPG for the Genesis, an RPG for the SNES, and a FPS for the 360/PC.  The RPGs are fun little titles but apart from the universe have little to compare to the actual game.  Dont get me wrong, Shadowrun on the Genesis is a fantastic rpg, just not as good as a campaign.  But Shadowrun on the 360 is terrible.  It is Counter Strike with magic and the ability to let PC players play against console gamers.  Well thats sounds great on paper, but with no auto aim and having to rely on sticks to turn around instead of a mouse, well the servers that let both types of players play were shutdown for obvious reasons. 

Posted on Oct 5th 2010 at 01:52:53 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Rambling

So in talking with a coworker recently, I realized how unique our hobby really is.  As gamers we use our spare time to become characters in another world.  Sure there is some of that in a book or movie, but that is a linear story, and there is nothing wrong with that, I love stories.

Like I said, I was talking with my coworker who is a gamer this morning about the new Front Mission and about my experience with Dogfighter the last couple times and it really struck me that our hobby is really unique.  Most of my coworkers go home, watch sports or the news, play with their kids, and thats it.  Done.  I was recently placed in the middle of two other teams for crosstraining purposes and out of the thirty people, that is what 27 of them do daily.  Well last night I piloted an aircraft (Dogfighter) and later drove a 37 ton robot around a battlefield trying to rid my planet of hostile forces (Mechwarrior 3).  The night before I was on a quest to save some princesses (Castle Crashers).  So when one of my new coworkers asked me this morning what I did last night what did I tell them?  I said that last night I was trying to figure out why a utopia fell to madness (Bioshock).

Ofcourse this is a common thought among the gaming population, but when you sit down and think about it, we really do have a magical hobby.

And yes, I know I am late on the Bioshock wagon  shut up.  I was a Wrenchlord of the Deep.

Posted on Sep 11th 2010 at 02:09:23 AM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Atari 7800, Autograph

So I go to alot of conventions over the span of a year.  Last year the final count was 23, this year Ive already gone to 22 and still have three left in the year at the minimum.  At about half of the cons I run retrogaming panels, and at all of them I promote a handful of websites.  Dragoncon is one of my favorite cons of all time.  Not only is it in my hometown con, it has let me meet so many cool people and it is pretty much my college reunion.

So what does this have to do with gaming and/or the 7800, you say.  Well last weekend at Dragoncon I ran/moderated seven panels for my friend who runs the animation track and had the idea that I should try to get everyone I do a panel withs autograph on something.  Well I got all but two (since I forgot it one day).

The final count was seven autographs, out of the nine it should have been.  They are as follows:
First row:
1. Johnathan Frakes - Xanatos from Gargoyles and Riker from Star Trek - Gargoyles panel
2. Marina Sirtis - Demona from Gargoyles and Deanna Troi from Star Trek - Gargoyles panel
3. C.Martin Croker - Brak and Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast - Bizaroo Saturday Morning panel

Second row:
4. John Dimaggio - Bender from Futurama - Futurama panel
5. Billy West - Bugs FRIGGIN Bunny and Popeye - Futurama panel
6. Phil Lamar - Samurai Jack - Futurama Panel

Third row:
7. George Lowe - Space Ghost - Story Time with Uncle George

8. Dana Snyder - Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force - VA panel
9. Tom Kenny - Spongebob Squarepants and one of the nicest guys on the earth - VA panel

The reason for the Atari was because a it was something gaming related and unique that some of the guys signing would get a kick out of.  This idea started with this:

Signed by Bruce Campbell with a prop from the set of Burn Notice on it.

Suggestions on the console to get signed next year?

Posted on Sep 10th 2010 at 02:19:31 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Gamecube, Zelda Four Swords

So my buddy Noiseredux goaded me into showing my Gamecube setup.  Which is funny since I dont have any pictures of it myself and it is currently living in a plastic container. While it is rarely hooked up it is one of my favorite experiences from last generation.  See I am a huge Zelda fan, so when Zelda Four Swords came out, I bought it, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, and another GBA to GC link cable (the only one the store had).  Only then did I realize that at that time I did not have anyone else to play it with 

A couple weeks later one of my little cousins came over and had his GBA with him.  We fired it up and went to town.  Playing through the first four stages in short time and had a ball.  The game was a lot of what I wanted in a Zelda game.  It took away my absolute favorite part (exploration) but was combat heavy and really fun.  Throughout the years I beat it a dozen times and obtained a fourth GBA to GC cable and three GBAs but that wasnt enough.  It wasnt until one day when I was driving home from work that I had an epiphany.  If the Gameboy player is inherently a Gameboy Advance attached to a Gamecube, wouldnt it work with the GBA to GC cable.  So I grabbed my second Gamecube and gave it a go with Pacman Vs and two tvs.  When Pacman showed up on the side tv, well I was sold.  Then I remembered Four Swords and FFCC.  Two games that did not get enough love from the gaming population and they are both stellar.  So I decided to fix that.

Over the next year I obtained two more Gamecubes, three more Gameboy Players, a Wii, and a bevy of controllers.  I borrowed tvs from some friends and setup a brilliant Four Swords setup for conventions and whenever I get other tvs.  I know I know a picture is worth a thousand words, well whats video worth:

I have set it up a dozen times and it has never been empty.  If I ever can find four 10inch ish screens Ill be buying them and just leaving it setup in my gameroom.  It took two games that was honestly middle of road solo, and made them top tier.  I honestly spent about $100 on the other (now 3) Gamecubes, Gameboy players, and controllers. 

Future goals with this one are:
1.   4 same size/model tvs
2.   Arcade controls for each player
3.   Ultimately turn it into an arcade cabinet  but this will probably not happen.

I will probably going to do the arcade sticks as two sets of two, just to keep the arcade feel to the game.  Unless I can get four decent arcade sticks for the Gamecube/PS2 for cheap.  Anyone familiar with PS2 arcade sticks have any suggestions?  Looking to spend no more than $60 per.

Posted on Aug 26th 2010 at 05:22:31 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Retrogaming

Despite the story from yesterday, some days it feels good to be old.  I do a lot of promotions and events with Momocon (www.momocon.com), which is the largest free fanrun Anime/Gaming/Miscellanea convention in the USA (possibly the world).  For the actual convention I just run boardgames and play backup medic, but I use to run a smashing retrogaming room.  The last time we did it I brought out about a 1000 titles on 20 platforms.  Well we ran out of space for my little side room (and my second in commands wife had a baby on that weekend) so we made do with what we could.

So the convention creator, a small staff, and myself, created a side event that we called a Gameday.  Simply we rented several of the big rooms that we normally hold the convention in, setup some tvs and tables, and played boardgames and old videogames with whoever decided to come in (it helps when the convention is on a college campus  Georgia Tech).  Subsequent Gamedays have lost the retrogaming room due an illness I had and the fact that I dont have access to a van anymore, but we still host them (ie this Saturday [and yes we realize we are crazy to do it a week before Dragoncon]).  And no we dont play games like Sorry and Monopoly.  Its all about Dominion, Cosmic Encounter, and Pitchcar this weekend, atleast for me  we will have around a hundred games there.  But lets get back to the story.

So at one of these events I was running the retro room and these two kids walk up to me, no older than eight.  They are obviously brother and sister and their eyes are wide.  We had the fourswords setup going, a Genesis, two SNESs, an NES, a N64, a 7800, a Dreamcast, a Saturn, and Two PCs (one running doujin games the other dosgames).  The sister, the older, came up to me and asked if they could play anything.  I said that they could play whatever console they wanted, aslong as no one else was playing, and we could change the games out if they wanted.  She and her brother look around, most of the room is filled.  They tried playing a couple games, Bubble Symphony on the Saturn is the only one that I remember specifically, but then they saw the 7800.  It had Defender loaded up and they tried to play it. After a few minutes they gave up and came back to me, what they said almost made me tearup.  They asked if they could play a different game, so I pulled out the box of Atari games with me and before I could open it they said Like Galaxian or Millipede.   I set them up with Millipede and they went back and played.  It was just like when I was a child playing with my older brothers (actually they were playing on the same Atari I use to play on, probably the same cart now that I think about it). 

A little while later their father comes in visibly upset.  He walks up to them in a huff and saying how they were playing something bad for them, then he sees what they are playing.  He comes over to me and asks if I had Joust as his other son walks up.  The NES was currently vacant so I said tell you what, give me five minutes and all four of yall can play.  I setup both the 7800 and the NES with Joust and sticks (ok so Advantages on the NES) and the entire family lit up.  They started goading eachother on from one machine to the other and the entire room got in on it.  It was just like being in an arcade again.  Afterwards, when I was cleaning up, the father came up to me and thanked him for keeping the classics alive.

Somedays it feels good being old.

Posted on Aug 25th 2010 at 06:17:50 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Retrogaming

Some days you just feel old.  I bought a flashcart for my DS mostly so I could only carry one device with me when traveling and finally put my Palm Pilot to rest  - thank you DSorganize.  But since I could, I threw on a PC Engine/TG16 emulator (Nitrogfx) and a SNES emulator (SNemulDS) and a couple games Ive been meaning to play  Military Madness and Secret of Mana mainly. Well after Church one Sunday I was waiting for everyone to leave so I could lock up so I decided to play alittle Military Madness.  One of the kids in our youth group came up to me (knowing me since I provide them with DDR every year for the lockin) and asked what I was playing.  I showed him and explained to him what he was looking at.  His response was thats lame, I thought you were playing something cool like Call of Duty and he left.  And sure we all have stories like this but it made me realize how old I was.

Heck Im only in my late 20s but over the past two years I have had more than a few of these experiences.  I met a kid at an anime convention in Alabama (Anime Alabama) last year who had never seen an original Gameboy in person, and asked me if Sailor Moon was a new show coming out.  And anyone who has known me for awhile knows of my last experience in a Gamestop (where I was called a casual gamer for buying the NeoGeo collection on the Wii by people playing Guitar Hero), and some days I think it is time to rethink this hobby. 

I never do, I still am trying to justify the $100 for Bubble Bobble 2 on the NES, but it gets to me sometimes.  How can so many gamers not have respect for the titles that built up their hobby?  I give retrogaming panels all over the USA for Retrogaming with Racketboy and Momocon on Tour (mostly in the Southeast), and often I asked why retrogame?  I mean there are some obvious answers: Nostalgia and price being the most obvious.  But the one I have started giving people is History.  That knowing how something has evolved over the years helps me appreciate what it has become.  The last time I gave a panel (June) the person who asked laughed at my answer.  So I gave them an example.  I said lets take first person shooters for example and asked who knew the first one ever made.  The resounding response was Doom, the guy who asked said Wolf 3d.  I said they were all way off.  I broke down the first twenty five years of the genre as best as I could (from Maze War in 74 to Halflife in 98  ok so thats twenty four years) with certain hallmarks.  Many of the people there had no idea that you could play an FPS without a mouse 

Ok so sometimes being old is a good thing.  The kid asking if Sailor Moon was an anime coming out still gets me though.
And if you were thinking about Nitrogfx and you have a DSiXL, be forewarned the screen is not properly formatted and you can not read see the edges.

Posted on Aug 10th 2010 at 09:44:53 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under PC Gaming

I bought an EEE two years ago and have been questioned about it ever since.  My original purpose for buying it was two fold: I had just broke the keyboard for my palmpilot and a new one cost the price of the refurbished EEE, and I am a sucker for mobile computing.  Several of my friends have just never understood my purchase, since I own several laptops and desktops, and they didnt know what to think when I told them the way I envisioned using it.

For the past five years Ive used a Tapwave Zodiac as my pda.  It is a great device with a bit of heft, brilliant screen, and a decent library of games.  More importantly it had a fantastic emulation scene.  But when the keyboard broke and the EEE was the same price as a new one, well I bit the bullet, but kept the same mentality. 

I did not view the EEE as a replacement for my desktops or laptops, but more as a Gameboy for pc gaming.  What do I mean by that exactly?  Well the Gameboy is usually a generation down in power and has a handful of ports from the previous generation.  So a Gameboy for PC gaming would play games from 5-10 years ago as well as some new ones.  So when I got it, I threw on XP and a copy of Lucasarts Outlaws and went to town.  Sure the 9inch screen is not big enough for some genres, and the GMA 950 really hinders what 3d titles you can play, but there are still quality games out there for you to lose track of time with. 

Overtime I had to replace XP with a variant of linux for work  it was Ubuntu but is now Mint, and only kept Dosbox and a handful of Scumm games installed on it.  Recently my old man decided to pickup an iPad and no longer needs his EEE with a bigger harddrive.  So what was the first thing that rolled through my head?  Thats right boys and girls, I am getting a new Gameboy (one that wont be converted to work). 

A fresh install of an nlited version of XP, updated drivers, and I was set.  I threw on Dosbox, Scummvm, a couple console emulators, MAMEUI, and decided to do something wild.  I went back to the Goldbox and installed Pool of Radiance on it.  I had never played Pool for more than a few minutes, but I had been told more times than I care to think of that I had to play it.  Ofcourse it ran fine and ate away the rest of my night. 

The linelevel Netbook runs an Intel Atom at 1.6ghz, with a gig of ram, and a GMA 950 gpu.  So if you think of it as a good gaming pc from 2000 you will be on point for what games can run on it.  Sure you can play some more modern games (you can play a lot of them if you play with tweaks (I got Battlefield 2142 to run on one and Oblivion [via Oldblivion] on another), but that is a lot of work for not much reward. 

But if you look back there are hundreds upon hundreds of great PC games just waiting for you to play them on a netbook.  To keep things legal, lets go to our good friends in Poland, Good Old Games, and see whats on sale.  For those of you who dont know, Good Old Games (GOG) is a website that takes old pc games, strips them of DRM, and sells them for digital download.  They have sales every weekend and are just a bunch of great folk.  The game selection is growing weekly (today 8/10 they added Raptor Call of Shadows) and I am sure there is a game there that will fit your fancy.  From Kings Quest to Unreal Tournament 2004.  Ofcourse there are abandonware sites out there if you are into that sort of thing.

Whats the point of all this?  Simply, dont dismiss netbooks as puny internet only devices since they cant play relatively modern games well.  And sometimes it just takes a different way to look at something to make it all click.  Many of my older gaming friends have all gone out to buy netbooks simply to have a portable DOS machine.  One surprised the hell out of me and hacked a Zipit2 (Instant Messaging device) and to run DOSbox.   Very similar to what this guy did:
A DOS gaming pc, in your pocket.  Oh how I longed for you twenty years ago.  Loderunner and Fate of Atlantis in my pocket.

I am still waiting for a cheap enough tablet pc/ipod knock off that I can turn into the ultimate ScummVM device.  For now I will sick with my G3 iMac:

Posted on Jul 28th 2010 at 09:13:07 PM by (fastbilly1)
Posted under Classic Gaming, Analog Gaming

So I am an avid videogamer, retrogamer specifically, but I was first and will always be a boardgamer.  I started playing boardgames with my family at a very young age.  My grandfather taught me how to play cards like he learned in the Navy during WWII and one of my uncles had several titles in the Avalon Hill Bookcase line, including Acquire (think Monopoly for grownups), Civilization, and Kingmaker.  Many days of my childhood were spent slugging through dungeons, building empires, and trying to apply glass cannon tactics to the Patton's Third Army.  This is not to say that I did not play videogames, I did grow up in the 80s, but boardgaming is a hobby of mine that is simply cathartic. 

Some gamers prefer to play Catan on their 360, others prefer to actually roll the dice.  I dont know how to explain it, something about the smell of the paper, seeing your opponents, and actually rolling the dice, makes boardgaming impossible to replicate in a videogame for me.  Luckily in highschool I met some people who thought the same way and they introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons.  Now a whole subset of RPGs kinda took off in my life.  In college this led me to meet other gamers who played a lot of boardgames and RPGs but some never videogames, and this kinda irked me.

Now I am fairly openminded when it comes to hobbies and collections.  I mean I have friends who spin their own yarn, blow glass, and some who are trapeze artists.  But I have never met a more stubborn group of people than gamers.  Some gamers will not branch out from their path at all.  I have dealt with a lot of RPGers who call all videogames kiddy or simple games and I have dealt with videogamers who say worse things about RPGers.  Well since I sit in the middle of all of these, like I am sure some of yall reading this do, and since I can never keep my mouth shut, I started to do something about it. 

I first started with RPGs and couldnt find footing.  So I asked a friend of mine for help.  That friend was Gary Gygax and when I asked him about it and a truncated form of his response was:
The CRPG captures vividly most of the essential features of the true RPGexploration, problem solving, combat, acquisition. What is missing is the inter-personal role-playing and the vast range of possibilities provided by the game master.

Furthermore he suggested that when I brought up CRPGs (Computer RPGs) with RPGers I should present them as interactive movies instead of RPG games.  He also said it probably wouldnt work, which ofcourse he was right.  As I was asked to leave one of the groups I was gaming with after trying to bring it up. 

So I decided to shelve the idea.  Years later one of my friends asked if I knew any games like Final Fantasy Tactics.  I named off a handful I knew off the top of my head that he could get at a Gamestop at the time: Tactics Ogre Knights of Lodis, Zone of the Enders Fist of Mars, Front Mission 3, and Xcom (Since I knew he had a GBA and a PSX).  He surprised me and said that he loved Ogrebattle on the PSX and did not know that there was a sequel.  As I was talking to him I had the idea come back into my head.  I asked him when was the last time he played a boardgame.  He responded with boardgames are for children.  I asked him if he would humor me and try playing a few.  He was hesitant so I bucked the tiger and made a deal with him.  I said that if he would humor me and try two boardgames and if he did not like either I would give him a copy of Tactics Ogre on the GBA (I had two copies from when we use to battle a lot in it at work).  He said fine and he was going to come over that Saturday. 

I had one chance to make this work and decided on the two games to try based on that conversation we had.  Since he liked Ogre Battle I decided on the most Ogre Battle like game I had  Titan.  And since he liked SRPGs we went with the simplest SRPG like game  Heroscape.  I know what some of yall are thinking right now: Heroscape that sounds familiar well it should, it is in every big box store you go to.  From Frys to Walmart, and has been seen at some Riteaids.  Bear with me and youll see where I am going with this.

So Saturday came around and several of my friends came over to play boardgames.  There were four of us total so we started with Heroscape. 

Heroscape is a very simple miniatures wargame created by Hasbro in 2004.  It was targeted at the 8-16 ages and the rules reflect that.  The game comes with two rulesets, simple and advance, and a whole mess of options.  This is important since you can play the game with most anyone and have a pretty fulfilling experience.  The game itself takes characters from all over history and fantasy and drops them into battlefields fighting for dominance for their avatar (the Viking in Valhalla who brought them to the battlefield).  So your team might have part of a Roman legion, an Elf, and a team of Robots and that is normal.  But there are two very big draws to Heroscape:
1. Customizable hexagon terrain
2. Pre painted miniatures
So every time you play the game should be different. 

Gameplay utilizes a fairly simple IGOUGO (I go You go) mechanic.  You have a card that represents each type of figure you have on the battlefield.  So your Elf has an Elf card, your Legionnaires a Legionaries card, etc.  And you are given four little shields that have the numbers 1,2,3 and an X.  You put the shields down on your units cards to signify what round you want to move them, the X is obviously a decoy.  Whoevers turn it is moves and then the person to their right, etcetera until the all three rounds are complete and the turn is over. 

Combat is achieved by rolling fistfuls of specialized dice.  Each unit has an attack number which equates to how many dice you roll.  Each die has Skulls, Shields, and blank spaces.  When you are attacking all that matters is skulls, defending needs shields.  If the attacker rolls more skulls than the defender rolls shields, the unit hit looses wounds.  Once the wounds are gone the character dies.  There are special abilities, combinations, and a variety of other elements that make the game more complicated, but we do not need to go into those here.

Very simple to learn, very elegant in execution, and almost infinitely customizable.  The game has had numerous expansions, some of which go for lots of money, and still draws large crowds at conventions and tournaments. 

I cannot tell you too much about the game we played, I do remember using one of my ghosts to take over one of the other guys Orc riding a Tyrannosaurs and then ran him back into his own men, but other than that I dont remember that much.  I do know that despite my ghosts being on point, I ended up losing the match.  The newbie enjoyed himself but thought it did not have enough meat for him to really buy into it, or care to play it again.  So that is when we switched gears to the behemoth.

Titan is, for lack of a better word, a pain of a boardgame.  It is complicated, takes a long time to play, expensive (fixed with the rerelease but at the time of this playing a copy went for $200+), and is confusing.  The first time I played it I read through the rulebook a dozen times and played with people who had played before and still had no real idea of what I was doing.  But lets see if I can explain it anyway.

The goal of Titan is to defeat the enemies Titans.  To do this you send your armies around the map recruiting other units, upgrading said units, and trying to avoid your enemies.  When your stack of units runs into another stack, they are revealed and ushered to a battle board on the sidetable to duke it out.  These battle boards are small hexagon boards with terrain on them based on what square the battle commenced on the main board.  In battle you move your units, they move theirs, and you roll D6s based on your units statistics.  Your Titans can upgrade and if you play your cards right you might be rolling a whole fistful of dice by endgame (the Serpent unit rolls 18 when it attacks). 

Now Ill be honest, despite playing the game on and off for fifteen years, I am no where near as versed in the rules of Titan as I should be  Blame Advance Squad Leader and TFC.  But that has little to do with the event, more to do with the writeup.  We did play with one house rule: Game is played until one person is eliminated.  Then you figure out who won via various scoring methods.  This way the game does not end up taking up all day  the average game of normal titan can last upwards of eight hours. 

Our newbie was the one who lost, by pure chance to he ran his Titans army into another players just by bad luck and he happened to have a dragon and his Titan in it.  However this was after several battles and about three hours.  His verdict was that it was some of the most fun he has ever had and wanted to buy a copy. 

So in six hours I had taken a diehard videogamer and made him interested in boardgames.  And since that time his collection has grown to dwarf my own.  Slowly I will corrupt all of my friends to other types of games.  As seen in this next story.

With the accomplishment of the first friend I was riding high and thought I could do it again (or that is the story I am going to tell you.  In reality it was about a year later).  So I called up a buddy of mine from middle school who I use to try and play Magic Realm with (a very complicated fantasy boardgame).  I called him because I knew he lived in town, and that he hated videogames.  I knew this was going to be a challenge but figured it was worth a shot.  So we got together with some others to play Twilight Imperium (a 4x boardgame  think if Masters of Orion was a boardgame).  About halfway through the game, the board was destroyed by a cat when we were taking a break so we all just gave up.  After we packed it up were sitting around talking, so I made my move.  I had one of my laptops in the car and they had one of the Gateway 2000 32inch CRT monitors as their tv.  So I hooked up the laptop and fired up Civilization 2. 

We started playing it as a lark and my mark was not enthused so he stood, grabbed his book, and started to leave the room.  I called him out and asked him to atleast stay and talk.  He reluctantly agreed.  We had played for about an hour just taking out barbarians and the Americans and then I heard a suggestion that I never thought I would.  My mark had grabbed the manual and tech tree out of my bag told us exactly what to research because it would be the fastest way to dominate the seas, therefore giving us the world.  He had worked it out on a piece of paper and just handed it to me.  I was just dumbstruck.  Here was the guy who had told me that I was a child for playing videogames, with a breakdown of the weapons in Civilization 2. 

Turns out, later that night he went and bought a copy of Civ2 for himself.  Last I talked to him he had just bought a copy of Alpha Centauri and was about to move to the other side of the country.  I havent talked to him since, but I know I made a videogamer out of him.

What was the point of all this?  Well if you have a friend who is a gamer of some kind, but is stubborn, just try finding a game that fits.  In these examples, both gamers were of above average intelligence and it was easy to convince them to play a complicated game of the other type, this gets shakier with other types of gamers.  You should also try to not be pushy.  Take your time, plan the best time to try, and give it a good shot.  If it works, it works, if not dont worry too much about it.  There are always other potential gamers out there.  But I know how painful it can be to have three friends to play a game with when you really need four.  Patience is key, as always.

Next time lets talk about something lighter.  Like custom arcade sticks, why I own five Gamecubes, or point and click adventures.

This is fastbilly1's Blog.
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The sometimes unedited, often confusing, ramblings about random topics revolving around videogames. With a heavy focus on retrogaming and exotic projects.

From the mind of the promotion coordinator for Retrogaming with Racketboy and Momocon On Tour.
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