Interrupting our regular deep introspection with a brief note about playing many games at once

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And for the past week I have spent my energy on many different games.      Many.    Different.   Games.

War Worlds expansion continues.    The north corner of my “square” is getting better defined, and as I continue to move it southwards I get closer to having a large area being worked north-to-south.     I still have my ships moving in that direction all along the loose line from Inkdium to what is left of Curufin, and have passed 6.5 million population.

Mafia II turns out to be quite a bit of fun.    The game is advertised as a shooter, which it is in a certain sense, but I have a much stronger feeling of being inside a Mafia movie instead.    Taking care of the family, and business, and crushing those you don’t know under your bootheel.    So far I’ve gone from rags to riches, to rags, twice.     I assume I’ll end up with riches again but it’s a scripted movie game so who knows for sure.

One thing driving me crazy about Steam is the screenshot method.    When I take a screenshot, it gets saved in some crazy numerically-named folder deep in the folder tree.   This has more or less sapped my desire to get screenshots during the games, which is silly, but I have to be honest with myself.   I want to find it two or three deep in a clearly marked folder, and anything else just doesn’t work for me.     Now, what it works well for is publishing screenshots on your Steam feed, but otherwise, meh.    This is why there’s no images in this post.

I now have the “Pre-Alpha” version of Carmageddon, which is a lot of fun in a limited sense.    I can take out pedestrians and race the other crazy personalilties, just like 20 years ago when the game first came out.    It needs work, no doubt, and I’m waiting for additional updates.    I was misinformed thinking that the game was finished and ready to play.     And so the excruciatingly long lead time for my initial Kickstarter investment continues to tick off.

I have reached Level 23 in Fallen Earth and moved on to S2 – The second map, where there be many factions and the large city of New Flagstaff.   I’ve done some adventuring, but I decided to catch up on my tradeskills.    I now have an ATV as well as my horse, and I’m currently working on making my last Ballistics book before I hit 90 skill, which is the next point at which I can unlock more recipes.    I’m running low on materials (finally) and at some point will need to go out and do some more harvesting.    With 7 red chips (7 million total, I believe) and nothing auction-wise to spend them on, I am buying plenty of Scrap Paper, Pens, Scrap Lead, and Weak Botanics to continue the tradeskilling spree.

I have only three tradeskill slots given that my premium has expired.    This is encouraging me to log in for a few minutes at a time, whenever I know I should be done making whatever was last in the batches.     Then I set up an additional 3 recipes and quit the game.     Play some more War Worlds, etc, then when the time is right head back into the game.  Planning to rinse and repeat until I’ve done everything I can with tradeskills.     So far, the only limiting factor is collecting salvaged wood – I know where to collect tons of the level 1 materials, but I need a bunch of salvaged wood as well.     I’m sure I’ll figure it out later.

Having bought the latest expansion whose name escapes me, I went ahead and fired up Civilization 5 again.     This time I am Ramkhameneanang or whatever the Siamese leaders name is, on Warlord level with Terra map and no goody huts.    I am doing OK and trying to get the hang of the new artistic winning method.    Without the goody huts the game is significantly harder, but more fun, and we’ll see where I end up when it’s all said and done.    A win will tick off another achievement, and Civ5 always has the advantage in that it’s easy to interrupt.   Now looking forward to Civilization : Beyond Earth.

I’ve pretty much finished the good parts of Flatout 2, and plan to start the next game in the series which is Ultimate Carnage.     Quick races when you can squeeze them in are pretty good, and easily shareable with kids.

What happens when you die IRL ?   Good question.    But I now have my failsafe plan in the event that I should pass away suddenly – IRL friends (2 of them) now have the keys to this blog and are supposed to post to it.    I think about Jeff Freeman every so often, and his amazingly fun blog which has disappeared after his passing.  I do want all my regular readers to know if I disappear suddenly, why.    Not that it’s expected, but you never know.

And with that, back to Real Life outside gaming.

Retro Gaming LA

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God yes !    I’ve been waiting for years !    It finally seems to have happened – retro gaming is returning to Los Angeles.

A friend circulated the news on Facebook about 82 – also know as eightytwo.la – which is a new barcade now open somewhere in Downtown.   Seems opening weekend was March 28th.    Googling revealed that not only is this one man’s private collection – he’s getting pinball machines from someone else’s, Molly’s Pins and Needles.

See a real estate blogger’s entry with pictures, and salivate with anticipation like me.

Pins and Needles has apparently been open for the past year, but it’s not the barcade format – it’s more for the hardcore kind of guy.    I’m hardcore (or I used to be), but none of my friends are.   With an actual barcade I should be able to make it down there with the crew and we’ll all have a blast.

I note with approval there’s an actual Star Wars Cockpit game, which I would love to play again; Lunar Lander, naturally; Tempest, not something I’ve seen for many years; Street Fighter 2 which I’ll again kill all my buds at; and the immortal Space Invaders, naturally.

Have you been there ?   Plan to go ?   I’d love to hear about it.    Or about any barcades worldwide, I know there are many in America, concentrated in the Chicago area if memory serves.

Other Activities

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Having lost interest, generally, in World of Tanks, I do have to note that this weekend is the 3rd anniversary of the game, with some very good specials, and quintuples available.    I did update my client to 9.0 but didn’t play.     And I very much enjoyed Karl, the April Fools 8-Bit Tank.

Finished a fascinating book about….. chess.    Yeah, I said chess.    The entertaining book by Paul Hoffman describes his encounters as a chess writer/sportscaster and it inspired me to try out internet chess again.    The last time I had looked, things were still pretty clunky – but then again, I doubt I’ve played much online chess at all.

I did set up an account on Chess.com and have decided to mess around with Blitz Chess.    This is chess with an incredible 5 minute timer per side.     There will be no thinking with this format – you simply have to move and make decent moves.     The whole idea intrigued me after reading the book, since I realized up in the big leagues the time you take to move actually matters, as opposed to me sitting around a chessboard ruminating forever.    So, I’ll find out how well I do as I continue to play a few games.

The 5 minute game has another attraction.   In the distracted and interruptible world I live in, I can get in games and actually finish them, one way or another.     And I did win, at least once !    On time, which is a very new thing for me.

Beat him with the clock.

Beat him with the clock.

Having played only kids for many years I doubt I’m much good any longer, but it’s a fun thing to do if nothing else.

Square Off !

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War Worlds continues, at a slower pace given I attended and presented at a professional conference this week.

Neutral Good has been eliminated, and I have a stable and flat northern border in the game.     I have Coricyn (Inactive) on my northwest and northeast is empty.     So since you always need a goal to keep your interest in a game like this, I’ve decided to see if I can double my empire size and “Square off” the western portion of my border.    What on earth do I mean, “Square off”?

Everything on the west is a ragged mess of curves, and twists across the map.    From the border with Inkdium (Inactive also), I am going to attempt to go straight south and establish a more solid line.     It’s not easy to tell, but I believe this is a gigantic area of space.    Since my only neighbors are the cluster of empires north-east, and I have to go after natives to expand, this seems like a reasonable idea.

Drawing a line with systems on the west.

Drawing a line with systems on the west.

I went ahead and looked around for other empires.    Several screens west (and south) of Inkdium are a couple of multi star empires, small things.     I can be prepared for these people.     Several screens east of my northeast corner is what could be a growing empire.

The MIGHTY Vodkarians.   I wonder what he drinks.

The MIGHTY Vodkarians. I wonder what he drinks.

Very small empire, need to monitor.

Very small empire, need to monitor.

There’s not much need to worry, most empires in the game are inactive, plus he’s small.     So I will continue to assume I’m all alone in this quadrant of the galaxy and eat the natives.

It’s amazing how much time this game can eat up.    At this stage of the game, I can play an unlimited amount based on the game rules – just expand across the entire border.    But there isn’t enough real world time to do that – I can’t spend every hour of the day expanding.     But given the competition among top empires to stay on the leaderboard, you get sucked in and find yourself encouraged to never stop moving ships and establishing colonies.     Money is a trivial thing at this point in the game too – nothing matters except time.

You can go at least three ways that I can see – 1) Organize a guild and lead others in developing, 2) Expand like a virus 3) Make incredibly-long-distance warfare.      Having tried #3, I am going to stick with #2.

Progress Report

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The Burbankanova empire continues to expand, pretty much along the parameters from last post.

Still bearing down.

Still bearing down.

The Coricyn empire shows no activity, and I’ve moved in further and chopped them down.   This front is getting less attention than Neutral Good however.    That area is taking just a ton of time and effort to assimilate so I’m not too hot on wiping out Coricyn for the moment.

The shrunken remnant of Neutral Good

The shrunken remnant of Neutral Good

Having pulverized his tiny fleet and filled in nicely the swiss cheese that was his empire, he’s looking pretty small.    Colony ships are on the way to the next ten, and this will progress until he’s gone.    True to his word, he’s offered no resistance.

If he could have turned his empire more “green” and filled everything in we’d still be neutral neighbors.    Well, if you don’t have time to play, I suppose this is inevitable.   It was really driving me crazy.

Just two stars in the middle and it's time.

Just two stars in the middle and it’s time.

I am the pink on the right side.   Inkdium is the green line of systems going north and south.   And Coricyn is above us both.     I’m very close to saying hi, once that colonizer gets where it needs to.

I have a vague idea to expand straight southwards from here and give him something of a “box” to expand in.   He’s clearly very very very slow.   I want to get off to the right foot with him, which I really didn’t with Neutral Good.

Population is climbing over 5.5 million, but only really noteworthy once I pass perhaps 10 million – if ever.

Call me the Pink Putin – Wars of Aggression

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War has begun.    The Curufin front is waiting for colony ships to lock into place to continue expanding southward and clear out the enemy.

Lopped off the top several colonies already.

Lopped off the top several colonies already.

No resistance, and no communication.     This will be like fighting the natives.

And the hot war against Neutral Good is moving along.

Advancing in across the entire border

Advancing in across the entire border

All I had to do was declare war, to finally get another message from Neutral Good, who is clearly a class act.     He doesn’t have time to play the game.    Rather than resist, he’s emptying his bank into the Chosen’s alliance bank, and says “Go ahead.   Take my empire.   I really need to run my business anyway”.     So I expect little resistance.    His entire fleet consists of 50,000 ships anyway.   I make that many every day.    So he has no capacity to resist in any event.

That doesn’t mean I’m not looking for the sneak counterattack through a wormhole by Chosen.

A closer look at the neighbors

A closer look at the neighbors

In my northwest corner, I have the inactive Coricyn who is really the only one I’d been paying any attention to, and expanding along his southern edge.    One of his neighbors is a Diminutive player, Inkdium, who has built a wormhole and is therefore clearly active.    He has maybe 10 stars.    Genesis and Qaen are two players north of Coricyn.   Genesis is a million person empire and clearly a big concern, assuming he is active.  I don’t think so, but who knows.

It seems I have a nice buffer state (Coricyn) between me and any threat.    I like this.    I plan to expand up next to Inkdium and say hi.    Further moves in this corner ?    Who knows.    I’ll wait until I get intelligence (if any) from Inkdium.    Have to see if he needs help or money as well.

Major Milestone

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When I first started War Worlds, I looked at the players with 5 million population and thought, “Wow how could that ever happen ?”.    And then, it did !

Over the hump !

Over the hump !

It’s very clarifying to look at the amount of empty space around me, and how much I have managed to fill with my colonies.     I will never encounter another player with the rules set as they are currently.    They’re just too far away.     Hopefully the changes Dean has mentioned, wherein new players start in areas of abandoned empires, happens at some point.     Maybe it already has and I just need to sit tight, because otherwise this is a game against the natives for me.

But then, there’s wormholes.  The cloaked scout bug has been fixed, allowing my fleet to run rampant against the enemy.    Seems my war template will include building one-world outpost systems, then scorched earth, throughout his empire, letting the nearby allies pick up the systems.    Total to date is an unimpressive 3.

What I also notice is his population is continuing to rise.    That makes me question the value of the war unless he’s surrounded, but I think someone is working on that.    I’ll do my part – it doesn’t take that much effort in the first place.    It does take plenty of money.

In the meantime, I am going to eat Curufin and Neutral Good and clean up after this insane expansion spree I had initiated.

Defeated before even beginning to fight!

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So much for the plan – establish a base, then go fight.      I think establishing the base got my fleet stuck.

Attacking !     (attacking what?)

Attacking ! (attacking what?)

When this happens to a colony ship, it rubber-bands back to the destination from which it came, and you simply change the stance from aggressive to passive, and regain control of the fleet.    Not so this stack.     Changing the stance does nothing.     Nor can I merge it with the single fighter I rush-built, so I guess I just have to wait until it gets undone, somehow.

I am confused about if this is the “Cloaked Scout Bug” I am hearing about or not.   I don’t think that’s what went wrong – this stack was fine until my colony ships arrived.   They immediately began attacking some 0 stacks of native fighters which were still existing on the system, despite my 100k fighters sitting there.   The combat stopped after the fighters fired at the natives – presumably, destroying them – but still went for 50 rounds.   And after that is when I noticed I couldn’t move them.

I bet if a non-ally moved ships (like, 1 fighter) to this system, I would destroy them and be unstuck.    I wonder if I can convince someone to do this.

Another thing went a bit wrong for me – having my base and its sensor array didn’t matter in the slightest.    My allies have taken care of all of the enemies colonies in its range.  No matter.  I built a bunch of scout ships and am going to select targets and rush build replacement fighters, and troopships.    Scouts should arrive by 6 am PST.

But that’s on the traditional warfare front, which I haven’t really explored yet.   And clearly, I’m not so good at.   On the “Expand big” front things are moving along.

Delta now 240k.

Delta now 240k.

This is after one full day of little else besides War Worlds.   I managed to settle a bunch of stars and get closer to Gargron, but I’ve spent all the colony ships I had parked on other stars.     The guy must be unemployed, or account sharing, to be able to put in this many moves.    Me, I’m just not doing any real work; total slacker.

I sent a last set of messages to Curufin, since I was surprised to see he has some colony ships with cryo freezers on them.    I thought that was a more recent invention than when he had been active.     If he doesn’t answer, he’ll be attacked in a week or so.     Also taking empty stars – which Neutral Good claims are his, then never colonized for 3 months, even though colony ships are SITTING on the stars.     Yeah.    That bugs the hell out of me for some reason so they will soon be mine.

Learning to fight

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How to start attacking an actual, live player ?     With the number of alts, spies, malcontents, and bad actors present in the game, along with the constant chatroom freezes, it’s not a topic that’s easily talked about.

I sent a few scouts through one of the Dominion’s wormholes to an unnamed enemy.    I see now, where he has a few thousand ships guarding several planets.     This prompted me to send 100k fighters through, and begin the process of moving them into attack formation.   But there are other Dominionites in the area, and who knows what they are doing.    I can’t see their ships, and again, its hard to chat about it.

When you spend $1m to move a group of ships, you want to be VERY SURE you aren’t attacking someone an ally is also moving towards.

For this reason, along with the obvious “Need a place to build troopships”, I decided to establish a one-world base in the enemy player’s area.    I can starve it later when it’s not needed; for the moment, it can have everything built upon it and serve me as a forward base.     Its sensor array will show me where all the ships are.  My colony ship should arrive around 5pm PST tomorrow.    So until then I’m a blind observer of combat in the sector.

In the meantime….. I continue to expand with reckless obsession.    I am playing the game at work.    At night.   During the day.   In the car.    In bed.   No amount of time is too small to make a few more adjustments, and it’s paying off as I pad my population numbers and increase my tax base.

Moving on up

Moving on up

I have moved in a bit on Curufin.     I even went after a neutral system which he seems to have had fighters on.   And I lost !     Minimum force will be no good against a real player, even AFK it seems.

Killed by a bunch of troopships.

Killed by a bunch of troopships.

I am in the process of pincering him.   It’s actually feeling a bit sad – he’s so small, compared to me.    He will be crushed.    But realistically, he’s no different than the natives given that the guy isn’t playing.   Plus he’s salmon colored – almost the same as me.    This cannot be permitted.

The Blob will engulf you.

The Blob will engulf you.

I am the type of player known as a “Massive Colonizer”.    I have few enemies nearby (or none) and am constantly expanding.     There are perhaps five of us playing the game – and playing a battle to keep interested.

Knocking over natives one after the other can get repetitive and boring.   This is why I focus on 1) The Leaderboard – where I’m expanding faster than some of the bigger players, and 2) Battling the Dominions Foes.    All in all, I’d rather knock over easy natives and play the leaderboard game, but we’ll see what happens eventually.    Perhaps Neutral Good will wake up again.

Someday, I’m going to touch against a second active empire.

First Steps with Wormholes

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And the new era finally hits, for real.     At 8:00 am Pacific suddenly Wormholes appeared in War Worlds.    The two that I had built were visible.

Looks pretty neat actually.

Looks pretty neat actually.

You can name them anything you’d like, and these names will be visible to your alliance members, so you can tell where you would like to connect them.    One thing they do not do, however, is ever move again.    Once deployed, looks like the wormholes are there forever.

The view screen for the Wormhole

The view screen for the Wormhole

Ships appear in the bottom left pane and can be organized by bottom right buttons.    At the top are the rename and tuning buttons.

It costs (relatively) a lot of money to build a wormhole, and to move it to its destination, and normal travel costs to get ships to them.    Travel costs through the wormhole are apparently zero.

While you can tune wormhole #1 -> #2, you also need to tune #2 -> #1 if that’s what you want.     And it appears you can tune #1 -> #2, #3 -> #2, #4 ->#2, et cetera.

To go through the wormhole, just click “Enter” with a fleet selected.      After you use the View Destination, you will see your ships orbiting the wormhole on the other side.    And you can then move them, assuming that you understand what you’re looking at.

After I tuned one of mine I had the devils time trying to figure it out.     I know my allies color – who are the other guys over there ?     And how am I going to scroll the galaxy map to that spot ?    Well, I suppose all this gets worked out over time.

I have slipped in the rankings down to #10 as Gargron is clearly determined to continue colonizing for quite a lot of time each day, and has moved up to #7.

Over 20 million ships though.

Over 20 million ships though.

My empire continues to ooze southward.    It is simply a massive area of space I am trying to eat up and it takes a while.     I also started colonizing a few stars up in the neighborhood of Neutral Good, who appears to have quit playing the game.    I am trying to provoke a reaction since he doesn’t answer PM’s right now.    I’d prefer for him to be playing the game still.

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