Category Archives: What a Geek!

Really! What a Geek!

Lich King is Finally Down

Time and Tide, the Raid Group i have been member of for about two years now, has finally managed to kill the Lich King on 25-Man Difficulty. After weeks of failing to do so, mostly caused by the huge fluctuation in players we had over the sunmer, we went in last night for an epic battle.

And when the dust settled, we had killed him – on our first attempt of the night.

A well deserved victory, and a joyous event; even if I did not have enough DKP for Glorenzelg.

At the end of the fight only one burning question remaind: What the hell are we gonna do for the rest of the week?

Raider of the Lost Instance

I recent weeks I’ve done something I’d never actually seriously considered before: I am now raiding in World of Warcraft. Raids, in case you are not familiar with the lingo, are larger groups of adventurers than the basic 5-man party. Currently, WoW uses 10-man and 25-man raids, though in the past there have been 20-man and 40-man raids as well.

Raids take on challenges that’d be much too hard for smaller groups. Naxxramas – a floating, undead citadel – was the primary raid in the current content; last week, Ulduar was added. Ulduar is a fortress inhabited by titans.

After joining raids fro some weeks now, I’ve gotta say: I am kind of glad I did. They are much more interesting and challenging than small-scale encounters. They require 25 people to work well together; there’s a leadership structure (though we’re kind of casual about it) and people have more specialized roles. Everybody needs to do their job well; a weak link means a wipe – death of the entire raid. For example, on one boss in Naxxramas, I have to use my hunter’s ability to set freezing traps to help neutralize a large group of zombies, and I have to use my tranquilizing shot to calm down the boss when he becomes enraged. Positioning is much important as well. In short, it’s much more about tactics than most other fights.

It’s really fun to do this. Naxxramas is a bit too easy, but Ulduar is very tough for us. This is in part because it’s just a hard area, but it’s also because we’re still learning how to defeat the bosses there. There is immense satisfaction in taking on a big, bad monster, failing for many attempts, and then finally working out the right approach for a successful victory.

Very gratifying.

Razorscale - Ulduar 10-man

Project Dragongate and Project Deadland

I couldn’t believe my eyes: I have found a bunch of old screenshots on an ancient CD. First of all there were five additional screen shots from Project Deadland, an attempt to build an isometric tile engine in the style of UFO/XCOM.

But it gets even better: In 1995, two years before I wrote the Deadland engine, I was attempting my hand at an U6 style tile engine. That project was lost a long time ago, due to combined hard disk and floppy-disk failures. There was even a whole design doc for this one, complete with a worked out story and all. It was a really big setback to my game programming ambitions when I lost all of that. Still, it’s cool to have at least some screen shots – I had thought that none survived.

Attentive readers (Hi, Pedro) will probably notice that some of the tiles look a lot like the one in U6, and indeed that did serve as the basis for many of them. But already you can see in these screens that I was working on replacing them (the walls, for example).

Defcon After Action Report

I played a long game of [Defcon](http://geek.pandemonium.de/2006/10/18/defcon-review/) last night. Easily 2 hours, I would say. What a thrilling game. It was tense and I was actually sweating through parts of it. Game setup:

* Diplomacy mode
* Random territories
* 6 players

The game began and I found myself in Europe. A tough place. I quickly contacted Russia and suggested we should stick together when thing would begin to fall apart. He agreed.

South Asia began the nuclear war very quickly. (The player was new to Diplomacy). He tried a full-out launch against Russia and Africa, and to a lesser extent, Europe, and was promptly removed from the global community. He did cause some damage to Russia, but he didn’t get many nukes through; the combined Russo-European Anti-Missile Defense system worked effectively. Russia retaliated by trying to take out as much of South Asia’s infrastructure as possible. Africa joined the war with a massive bomber assault on South Asia. As the commander of the European Strategic Forces, I sent several bomber wings South-East as well. We succeeded in taking out most of South Asia’s defense installations.

Meanwhile, I had received reports of African subs in the Atlantic. The African leader agreed to withdraw the subs. I also took this opportunity to place a full submarine fleet into the Mid-Atlantic, and a smaller fleet into the Labrador Sea. North America had also a large fleet there, consisting of at least a carrier group and a battleship group. The European diplomatic corps asked them to kindly stay out of our territorial waters, to which North America agreed. A mistake on behalf of a European bomber crew nearly led to a break in the Alliance between Russia and Europe, as they accidentally dropped a nuke into Western Russia (_I mis-clicked_), but fortunately, no damage was done, and the diplomats were able to defuse the tense situation.

The global war began to expand, as South America used the chaos for a sneak-attack on Africa. Africa called for diplomatic sanctions, which were enacted. It was at this point that North America also left the global community, and allied itself with South America. The North American fleet in the North Atlantic began to attack the European forces in the area, and the peace-loving Europeans found themselves thrust into an unwanted war against the Americans.

This war dragged on. Africa had been severely decimated in the attacks, but Russia honored its commitment to the alliance and sent a battleship group as well as bomber support. With much effort, the Russo-European fleet managed to hold of the naval assault in the North Atlantic. Bombers and submarine launches began to decimate North American defense installations. The submarine fleet in the Labrador sea was sunk during this attack.

Eventually, North and South America began a launch of their ICBM silos. They nuked Africa, but most of the missiles sent against Russia and Europe again failed to penetrate the Anti-Missile shield over Eurasia.

Finally, as most of the nuclear forces in the world had been exhausted, I ordered my forces into a full retaliatory strike against the Americas. The silos launched first, and were joined by the Atlantic submarine fleet. Enough nuclear missiles made it through to devaste cities across the Americas, but the remaining Anti-Missile defenses especially in South America proved that they still had teeth.

As the European counter-attack subsided, the survivors surveyed the devasted cities and counted their losses. Radioactivity in South Asia and in Africa would make those areas uninhabitable for years.

_During the final stage of the counter-attack, Russia did backstab me and launched some left-over nukes at London and came out. That attack, however, was purely motivated by being on top#1 spot, so I feel it was done “out of character” and should not be part of the “in character” narrative._

Lessons learned:

* Diplomacy games require patience. It is not advisable to be the first to launch, because this gives others a good opportunity to attack you.
* First attacks should be made by bombers. They have no “launch detected” warning, they are mobile, and you have lots of them.
* Submarines are very, very vulnerable once they surface. Handle with care.
* Only do a retaliatory strike at the end of the game if you really must. It will distract you, and you’ll spend your nukes for no reason.
* If you lead and someone is close in second place, he will most likely backstab you. Take out his silos and stuff at the very least, but do not disable your air defences completely.
* Radars should always be nuked first. Always.
* The best way to overcome AA is to take out the radars first, so the AA has less reaction time, then overload the defences. You have plenty of nukes, they have few silos.
* It’s too bad there are no “alliance victories” in the game.

Thanks to all the players for a great game last night.

Neverwinter Nights 2

The game’s great. It’s buggy, it’s got performance issues, but the Obsidian people did a lot of the right decisions, and what’s more – The “single player” campaign is a lot of fun. Full review is still being written, but so far I do not regret buying the game!

And the Obsidian people are pretty accessible. Been submitting my bug reports directly to Faergus Urquhart. As a result, I now know what happened to the Wyvern. Ha! Watch my connections to the entertainment industry in action! /gloat