Mtrek

July 21st, 2014

Michael Lopp remembers how playing Mtrek set him on the path that led to his becoming a software engineer:

Mtrek is a real-time multiplayer space combat game loosely set in the Star Trek Universe. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Check out a screen shot.

Mtrek screenshot

OoooOooh yeaaaaaaaah.

Designed and written by Tim Wisseman and Chuck L. Peterson in the late 80s at University of California, Santa Cruz, Mtrek is completely text-based. To understand where an enemy ship was, you had to visualize the direction via the onscreen data. If this wasn't enough mental load, it was absolutely required to develop a set of macros on top of the game's byzantine keyboard commands in order to master a particular ship. Furthermore, if you weren't intimately familiar with the performance characteristics of your particular ship, you'd get quickly clobbered.

[…]

After months of playing, I learned that one of the the game's creators, Chuck L. Peterson ("clp") was a frequent player. After one particularly successful evening with my Romulan Bird of Prey, I mailed clp and asked if there was anything, however small, I could do to help with the game. Without as much a signal question to vet my qualifications, he gave me a project. […]

By way of contrast, consider Robin Sloan's piece, posted earlier today, on The secret of Minecraft. Twenty years from now, will we see a generation of coders inspired by Minecraft?

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The first 15 years or so of life are just tutorial missions, which suck. There's no way to skip these.

February 5th, 2014

Life is a game. This is your strategy guide:

Your Character

I never was much good at games.

[Via Tao of Mac]

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'One rarely disappoints with a skull on one's crotch.'*

April 24th, 2013

I'll confess to never having played Warhammer 40K or read any of the tie-ins, but even so I'm quite prepared to believe that this truly is the Best Warhammer 40K Costume Ever:

Best Warhammer 40K Costume EVER?

* Post title courtesy of MeFi user Halloween Jack.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Two Step's just zis guy, you know?

April 22nd, 2013

A telling vignette from Businessweek's article about Eve Online:

[A number of prominent Eve Online players…] were in Iceland's capital to meet with executives from CCP Games, the company that created Eve. The seven make up the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a group elected by other Eve players and flown by CCP to Iceland every six months or so to discuss how the game should evolve. It's a kind of super-user focus group, but also a channel for players' complaints. In 2011, when CCP rolled out some controversial changes, the company summoned the CSM members to Reykjavík for an emergency meeting in an effort to stem a user backlash. "At the time, I had been dating a girl for only three weeks and was terrified," says Joshua Goldshlag (Eve name: Two Step), a 35-year-old CSM member and computer programmer from Massachusetts. "I certainly did not want to mention that I had been elected as an Internet space politician."

[Via Longform]

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You're the boat boss

April 18th, 2013

If the folks behind Leviathan: Warships are as good at writing turn-based strategy games as they are at making trailers for said games then I may have to seriously consider buying Leviathan: Warships when it comes out:

[Via Pop Loser]

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'Once I step foot outside the rectory, all bets are off.'

January 30th, 2013

A group of former prep school friends take their game of 'tag' very seriously, having met up at a reunion and made a pact to spend the month of February each year resuming the game of 'tag' that they started back in school where it left off. The idea is that whoever is 'It' at the end of February remains tagged until the start of February the following year:

One year early on when Mike Konesky was "It," he got confirmation, after midnight, that people were home at the house where two other players lived. He pulled up to their place at around 2 a.m., sneaked into the garage and groped around in the dark for the house door. "It was open," he says. "I'm like, 'Oh, man, I could get arrested.'"

Mr. Konesky tiptoed toward Mr. Dennehy's bedroom, burst through the door and flipped on the light. A bleary-eyed Mr. Dennehy looked up as his now-wife yelled "Run, Brian!" Mr. Konesky recalls. "There was nowhere for Brian to run."

It's an odd, charming story. I'd imagine that even as I type this a few screenwriters are taking the core of the idea and running with it. The only question is, which type of story do they want to tell?

  • A dark tale where the encounter described above ends with Mike Konesky shot dead because Brian Dennehy forgot it was February and assumed that his family was the target of a home invasion?
  • A politically engaged story about tensions within the group because some members of the group are now senior executives who can have their office managers run interference for them every February and who can use some of their frequent-flier miles to drop in unexpectedly on a friend/target in another state, whilst other members are stuck in their home city or state due to their financial circumstances or work responsibilities?
  • A comedy about how the partner of one of the friends has come to terms with the possibility that for one month a year she might find a strange man crouching in a bush surveilling her house?
  • A farce about whoever is currently 'It' having their suspicious pattern of inter-state travel noted by Homeland Security and thus finding themselves being followed even as they track their target?

So many possibilities.

[Via kottke.org]

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Glitch out

December 11th, 2012

Massively Multiplayer online games that close down tend to do so in a highly unsatisfactory manner, with a date being announced for the servers to be turned off and little fanfare beyond that created by the players themselves. Tiny Speck, the company behind Glitch (official site | Wikipedia article) took a much classier approach:

Tiny Speck resurrected favorite rare in-game items, such as the Stoot Barfield Pullstring Doll and the 2010 Glitchmas Yeti, as rewards for participation in the last feats. The company also continued to release new content, from feats to recipes to new areas, until a few days before the closure. Players raced to earn new achievement badges and take screenshots in the just-opened areas. […]

Players enjoyed the fresh content, and developers enjoyed creating it. [Glitch designer Stewart Butterfield…] said that much of that content was almost completed when the staff was notified of the game shutdown – and the jobs that would go with it. Letting staffers complete their own pet projects was a way to recognize their work.

[Via rc3.org]

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Pinball wizardry

December 1st, 2012

Designer Sam Van Doorn has made a way to render your prowess at pinball in tangible form:

I deconstructed a pinball machine an reconstructed it as a design tool.

A poster is placed on top of the machine, which has a grid printed on it. Based on this grid you can structure your playing field to your desire. By playing the machine the balls create an unpredictable pattern, dependent on the interaction between the user and the machine. The better you are as a player, the better the poster that you create.

Pinball wizardry

[Via Flowing Data]

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600 lines

March 12th, 2012

Journalist Billy Baker was writing a book when he found himself talking to Kelly R Flewin, who runs a web site devoted to tracking video game records. At which point, Baker's research took an odd turn:

"It's funny," I told Flewin. "We have an old Nintendo Game Boy floating around the house, and Tetris is the only game we own. My wife will sometimes dig it out to play on airplanes and long car rides. She's weirdly good at it. She can get 500 or 600 lines, no problem."

What Flewin said next I will never forget.

"Oh, my!" […]

[Via Longform]

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(Not) Rescuing Natalya

February 20th, 2012

Real Life Goldeneye 64. I've never even played the game but I still found this video hilarious.

I'm reliably informed that there are several in-jokes and references that take it to a higher level if you misspent multiple hours in your youth trying to get Natalya out of there alive.

[Via MetaFilter]

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