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Tag / Computer Games

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Shadowrun Returns.

Way back in 1989, FASA Corporation, publisher of role-playing games, wargames and board games, released the first version of Shadowrun, a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game. It was cross-genre, taking elements from both cyberpunk and urban fantasy and putting the player in a world where humans co-exist with elves, dwarfs, trolls and other exotic races, where magic and cyberware are common and the Matrix1) is accessed by deckers, jacking into the network with cyberdecks connected directly to their brains.

I was introduced to Shadowrun while attending middle school by some older friends of mine with long hair and/or glasses who were heavily into tabletop role-playing games. Over the years we tried many different games, like Vampire The Masquerade and the GURPS system, but Shadowrun was always the one we returned to and the game that gathered most players. Shadowrun has continued to thrive since its release as one of the most popular tabletop role-playing games and in July 2013, Shadowrun Fifth Edition was released.

The Shadowrun universe has spawned a massive amount of properties, including action figure games, two magazines, over 50 novels and four more or less successful video games. The latest video game installment, Kickstarter-backed Shadowrun Returns, was just recently released and this is my quick and dirty review.

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Leisure Suit Larry in etc, etc: Reloaded.

How well does the Reloaded version of Al Lowe’s adventure game Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards stack up against the original?

Back in April last year, Replay Games surfaced on Kickstarter with the news that they’d managed to convince long time conjurer of dirty jokes Al Lowe to come out of retirement for this top-to-bottom re-imagining of his 25-year-old graphic adventure game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards.

The game puts the player in the driver’s seat of the story of Larry Laffer, a middle-aged, balding man trying to seduce attractive women. Larry was a nerdy geek all his life and eventually became a computer programmer. He now finds himself in Lost Wages, in front of the bar Lefty’s, with a bottle of breath spray and $94 dollars in his wallet.

I guess I was around 12 years old when I played the original Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards with my friends and even though we never managed to leave Lefty’s, Larry introduced us to new words from the English vocabulary, like “mount”. I think we even got our hands on an uncensored version at some point, but in all its EGA resolution glory, I doubt we really noticed any difference.

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Vote With Your Wallet.

Today is a great day in the world of computer games. 10 years after the previous SimCity franchise game, SimCity 4, was released, a new instalment is being launched in the US of A. Simply titled “SimCity”, the new game brings a lot of changes from SimCity 4: Up-to-date 3D graphics, multiplayer, finite resources simulation, curved roads, a brand new simulation engine and much, much more. Many of the things SC4 players complained about have been addressed and the feedback from the closed beta tests and previews of the new SimCity have generally been positive.

The original SimCity game was one of the first simulation games I played as a kid and I can still remember having vivid dreams about it the night after I’d created my first city. What I’ve read about the game itself makes me want it and I want it bad. But I will not cave and give publisher Electronic Arts and developer Maxis my hard earned cash. No matter how much I want to lock myself in my man cave for a week to create the perfect utopian city, I will not buy SimCity. And here’s why.

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Space in 2D.

Back in November last year I told you that I’d bought a book about Java game programming and that I had grand plans for the future. Since that post it has been awfully quiet and not much has been written on the subject. The main reason is that I turned out to be a pretty crappy game programmer.

From the book, Killer Game Programming in Java, I managed to create a decent framework that handled events, object rendering in Java 2D, frame skipping and other fundamental aspects of a game engine. But the first real hurdle came when I was trying to do something as simple as moving an object from point A to point B on the screen. The object moved all right, but never in a straight line. This is not something that should be hard to implement: Moving an object along a straight line between two points in a coordinate system means moving it along the same coordinates that would be used to draw a straight line between the same two points.

Unfortunately, I suck at computer graphics programming. Thinking back to my time at the university, computer graphics was one of the subjects I just couldn’t get my head around. That’s probably the main reason why I’m usually tinkering in the backend as a professional programmer. But other people have been drawing straight lines on computer screen for ages: Bresenham’s line algorithm is an algorithm which determines which order to form a close approximation to a straight line between two given points. And since I managed to find a Java implementation of the algorithm, my straight line problem was solved.

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Limit Theory and Procedural Generation.

One of the Kickstarter campaigns I supported last year was Limit Theory (Kickstarter campaign, official site), an infinite, procedural space game. “Procedural”, a word used 19 times by campaign creator Josh Parnell to describe his game on Kickstarter, in this context refers to procedural generation – that the content of the game is generated algorithmically rather than manually.

Here’s how Josh describes the way procedural generation will be used in Limit Theory:

Well, almost…the music and sound effects will be hand-made. But everything you see will be procedural. Planets, nebulae, stars, asteroids, ships, stations, textures, and so on. Thanks to cutting-edge procedural generation technology, Limit Theory will have the ability to keep providing you with new experiences. No matter how long you play, there will always be more to explore, see, learn, and conquer!

Every mission, every event, and every asset that you encounter in game will be unique – and it won’t be the same next time you play. You’ll never “beat” the game, nor will you ever know it like the back of your hand. When you feel that it has become too familiar, all you must do is click “New Game,” and you will once again be completely lost.

That is some seriously impressive stuff right there.

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