Videogames

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Tasks

@Nathan Wailes: Write an article you can post to gamasutra proposing that gaming sites get revenue by being paid as consultants while the developers are making the game.
@Nathan Wailes: Write an article about how game reviews need to evolve. I think a Netflix-style recommendation system with Amazon-style reviews would probably be better. I think Steam already kind of does that. But I'm not sure how well it handles new releases.

My thoughts on misc videogame-related topics

Why are so many videogames about war / shooting / fighting?

  • Most sorts of diversion in men, children, and other animals, are in imitation of fighting. - Jonathan Swift

  • I think it's an instinct in people and animals to enjoy games that are really just practice for fighting.

What I like and dislike about videogames (in general)

What I like

  • ...

What I dislike

  • Not being able to easily take the actions I want to take in the game.

    • I find this to be a big problem in games where I'm controlling lots of units, where I feel like I should be able to just "tell" the units what to do, but instead I need to navigate annoying menus.

      • Ex: OFP / Arma, Total War, Combat Mission

      • I suspect that this problem will go away once voice recognition / interpretation becomes really, really good.

    • This can also be a problem when trying to play an FPS with a controller rather than with a keyboard and mouse.

    • I found this to be a problem in Rocket League, where I couldn't do things that would be easy in real life (like "pass to that guy over there").

  • An unpleasant learning curve / progression (I guess another way of putting it is "the game is too hard").

    • Examples:

      • TIS-100 puzzles that feel too hard.

  • Boring gameplay (aka "the game is too easy"?)

  • A lack of feeling of reward when I achieve something.

    • I like the end-mission screens in Hotline Miami.

    • IIRC Knights doesn't have much special that happens when you solve a puzzle.

  • Bad and/or repetitive music

    • I suspect getting sick of a game's music may actually make me not want to play the game anymore, even if I don't consciously realize it's the music making me feel that way.  I'll just be considering what to play, think about the game in question, have a gross feeling in my stomach, and decide to play something else.  I suspect that gross feeling in my stomach may sometimes be caused solely by the game's bad, repetitive music.

Platforms

DOSBox

  • To launch a game, drag the game's EXE onto a DOSBox shortcut.

  • To create custom DOSBox settings for a game:

    1. Copy a shortcut to DOSBox into the game's folder.

    2. Create an empty dosbox.conf text file in the folder.

    3. add -conf "full-path\to\dosbox.conf" to the DOSBox shortcut.

    4. To launch the game, drag the game's EXE file onto the modified DOSBox shortcut.

  • Custom settings I used for ATAC:



    • [cpu] cycles = fixed 10000 # use this to get the framerate of the game higher [sdl] fullscreen=true # Sets the game to switch into fullscreen mode immediately. fullresolution=desktop # I don't understand what this does. #fulldouble=true output=overlay windowresolution=1440x1080 # Sets the resolution when the game is running in windowed mode [render] aspect=true scaler=none



  • Issues I'm having:

    • I can't get ATAC to have crisp graphics in fullscreen mode, even though it looks right in windowed mode at the same resolution.

PC

  • One thing to keep in mind with PCs is upgradability: after a few years you may want to buy a new graphics card, more RAM, etc.  If you buy a laptop or a PC that's custom-built to be small, you may not be able to do any upgrades.

Desktops

Monitors

General info
What resolution to aim for
Screen tearing
  • Example

    • 2013.11.02 - YouTube - ViolentRumble - Battlefield 4 PC Gameplay Screen Tearing

      • In the comments:

        • @quadead freesync is just a variation of vsync, it does not have the same quality as gsync. freesync monitors can only prevent screen tearing in a limited fps range. gsync can prevent screen tearing at any frame rate

          so yea, he has an amd card, the best he can hope for is freesync, it wont solve the problem. the only 100% solution is an nvidia card + gsync

          @nogston a 244hz monitor does not prevent screen tearing unless it is gsync, because the problem is not the hz of the monitor, the problem is caused by the frame rates being out of sync with the monitor, which can happen at any hz of monitor

          vsync attempts to solve the problem by limiting the number of frames produced in an effort to minimize gpu stress. it doesnt always work, plus it limits your frame rates

          freesync attempts to solve the problem by locking your monitor at a lower than normal hz range while expecting you to vsync within that range, its a pretend solution that doesnt actually work any better than vsync does by itself since it only works within a limited range

          gsync (patent by nvidia) is exclusive in that its the only tech that allows your monitor to actually dynamically change hz to match current framerate output to always be in sync, thus gsync can fully prevent screen tearing at any frame rates

Comparison articles
Specific monitors
Monitor tests

Graphics cards

GeForce

Keyboards

Why use a mechanical keyboard?
  • My opinion

    • Things I don't like about mechanical keyboards

      • I don't like how high the keys are.

        • I like to rest my wrists on the keyboard or the desk to keep my arms from getting tired, and with mechanical keyboards that feels uncomfortable, like it's going to give me carpal tunnel syndrome.

      • I don't like how spaced out the keys are.

        • Your fingers need to travel further to type.

      • I don't like the gaps between the tops of the keys.

        • It makes it impossible to just run your fingers across the tops of the keys the way you can with a chiclet keyboard.

      • I don't like it when they make noise.

        • I find it distracting.

  • 2018.12.26 - Reddit - r/unpopularopinion - Mechanical keyboards are overrated

    • jmaman - For 99.9% of people they’re exactly the same as digital switch keyboards. The only time it matters is is if you’re playing a game which requires synchronization of movement and are at an elite enough level where milliseconds matter. A good example of this is high level CS:GO. Pros need the mechanical switches so their strafing is perfectly synced with their shooting for accuracy.

      • I don't know enough to say if he's correct or not, but it at least sounds plausible that professional twitch gamers could benefit from their keys having hair triggers.

  • 2016.12.21 - YouTube - Leutin09 - 60FPS+ ARMA 3 Zeus PC - Build Overview

    • He got the parts for free, it would cost over $3000 (as of 2016.12) if he were to actually pay for it.

    • 2:49 - He says Arma 3 performance is most often hindered by the CPU rather than the GPU, and that Arma 3 is single-threaded, so you want to prioritize choosing a powerful single-threaded CPU.

Laptops

MacOS

  • A timeline of different macOS releases.

  • How I'm getting MacOS 8.1 running on Windows so I can play old MacOS games like Hellcats Over the Pacific:

  • Dealing with sound issues in older games in Basilisk:

    • Information about the problem: 

      • https://www.emaculation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5038

        • An explanation of the issue: Some games under Mac OS 8.x and up don't sound at all, because they use the Sound Driver in System 7.x or lower. In Mac OS 8.x and newer there's the Sound Manager, which is not 100% compatible with the old Sound Driver and the result is no sound in most older games.

          I read that this applies to Mac OS 8.x and up (I've seen several times topics like "no sound in game xxx under OS 8.x"), and that they only sound under system 7.x or lower depending on the game. If you try to play Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade without Drigo's patch under OS 8.x you won't hear any music (you'll hear the sounds, though). Games such as Vette!, Larry 1 (original version), 4D Boxing and Bill Elliot don't sound at all, though they are enabled on the game configuration.

        • A dev responds: There are no separate sound driver files in System 7.x or 8.x. Maybe different QuickTime versions make a difference? Else you may need to try downgrading your system to 7.5.5 or 7.6.1. Of the two, 7.6.1 is the more stable one, especially on PCI PowerMacs.

      • https://www.emaculation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5641

        • I'm trying to get the game Chex Quest to work in BasiliskII. It works very well except in one area: sound.

          Its not working very well and in some cases, not at all. I saw two pieces of software in the README. They are Quicktime 2.0 and Sound Manager 3.1 (though they suggest getting 3.2 as soon as its available).

          I've been looking, and I dont see either of these softwares. Does anyone have them or links to them?

        • A dev responds: 

          QuickTime 2.1 is part of System 7.5.3, so any system 7.5.3 or later will have QuickTime 2.1 or later. (See in Extensions folder)

          Sound Manager is not always present as a separate extension. In 7.5.3 and later Sound Manager 3.2 is incorporated in System. Sound Manager 3.2.1 is incorporated in System in MacOS 8 (or 7.6?) and later. Sound Manager 3.2.1 may be installed in pre-OS 8 systems as a separate extension with QuickTime 2.5 if a previous separate extension Sound Manager happens to be present.

          Sound Manager 3.3 is installed with QuickTime 3, but isn't that version of Sound Manager PPC native?

      • https://www.emaculation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5282&start=175

        • A dev: A "Sound" extension does not exist. Maybe adespoton refers to the "Sound Manager" extension. It was available in early System 7.5 versions and was removed in System 7.5.3. A later "Sound Manager" extension was again installed with QuickTime installations.

          Someone else replies: Yup; I believe that's the one needed for 7.1 sound in BII. From viewtopic.php?t=7890 installing Quicktime 2.5 in System 7.1 appears to install the correct extension. The installer is available from Macintosh Garden's quicktime-2 page.

    • Stuff I tried:

      • I installed Quicktime 2.5 on macOS 8.1.  It didn't seem to have any effect (sound still wasn't working in Hellcats).

PlayStation

Xbox

Nintendo

Troubleshooting

How to find good games

Individuals who are good at finding underappreciated gems

Reviewers

YouTubers

Lists of YouTuber reviewers

Let's Players showing initial impressions

Games

Age of Fable

  • http://www.ageoffable.net/

  • I like the pictures that accompany the text.

  • At first I found it boring, but I gradually got more and more involved in the universe that it was discussing; it was kind of like being hypnotized into forgetting about my life and instead being sucked into a dream.

  • It seems like in order to get sucked into the dream you need to have it be different enough that you won't be reminded of things that you're encountering in your real life, but similar enough that people can understand the images you're trying to convey.

AI War

General thoughts

  • First impression from reading the developer's prose in the tutorials is that this guy sounds competent.

General advice

  • Turn the music off.

Summary of the tutorials

  • The AI do not play like humans.

    • (I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean.)

Basic Tutorial 1: Exploring the galaxy

  • Like most RTSes, there is no in-game unit that represents you.

  • Press P to pause.

  • Hold the tutorial (and in-game chat) with the Alt key.

  • Home Command Stations are the most important unit. If you lose all of yours, you lose the game. (Analogous to the King in chess).

  • You can click on units or click-and-drag to select units.

  • Zooming:

    • The easiest way is with your wheel mouse.

    • You can also use Page Up and Page Down

    • You can also use preset zoom levels with QWER.

  • Panning:

    • Move your mouse to the edge of the screen...

    • ...or use the arrow keys.

  • Right-click to issue a Move command.

  • Use Tab to switch between the view of a single planet and a view of the galaxy map.

  • You can see your selected ships in the bottom-right of your screen.

  • To issue a wormhole command, Ctrl+Right-click on the wormhole in the planet view, or right-click the desired destination planet in the galaxy map view.

  • The galaxy map has a sidebar on the left with P0-P9 buttons. Those are used to assign priorities to different planets, as "essentially a way to take notes" to remind yourself which planets are important.

  • Shortcut: Press Alt+<0-9> and then left-click on the planet to assign a priority.

Basic Tutorial 2: Building your economy

Basic Tutorial 3: Military operations

Basic Tutorial 4: Hacking

Intermediate tutorial: Campaign simulation

---

Online: Fast facts: A crash course on AI War

Online: AI War wiki (Important!)

Avernum: Escape From The Pit

  • General thoughts on the game

    • On its default setting, Avernum had a very pleasant difficulty; it was mostly "easy" in the sense that I didn't really ever die, but it was difficult enough that I needed to be paying attention or I would die. And there would be parts that would get more difficult. That in-the-zone / constant-progress-on-easy-problems feeling reminded me a lot of other games I had made significant progress through (or even finished) without stopping: Max Payne, Diablo 2

  • Advice for playing

    • Combat

      • When you fight someone out on the world map, the enemies will often drop an item or two that you can sell for money, and you need to make sure to send one of your people over to pick it up before you finish the battle or you won't automatically pick it up.

      • Just as the documentation says, the basic strategy for fights in this game is to use your casters to do the real damage (like artillery), and to use your melee people to keep the enemy away from your casters.

    • Item management

      • Pick up everything that can be sold for money! You don't get a lot of money otherwise.

      • Use Ctrl+Click when looking at items on the ground to send them straight to your junk bag! I was most of the way through the game before I figured this out.

      • I eventually settled on a strategy where I would give all of the Wisdom Crystals (which give free experience points) to my melee people to boost their HP / dodge chance, and I would spend most/all of my money on buying training for my casters at the trainers you see in the various towns. This is because there's no real way (as far as I know) to get your casters up to Level 3 (the highest level) with their various spells without getting them trained, whereas the training you can buy for your melee people is exactly the same as the boosts they get for gaining another level.

      • I recommend keeping all of the unique / rare items you get, especially if they have some kind of resistance bonus. I never needed to do it, but I could see how you could end up in a situation where you might want to equip certain items when facing a particular opponent just to boost your resistance to their most-damaging style of attack (eg melee damage, fire, poison, lightning / magical (this one was a real pain for me), mind effects).

    • Traits

      • I think it's a good idea to get the 'Negotiator' trait among all of your characters ASAP (it gives you extra money from selling loot). I also got the 'Quick Learner' traits ASAP and I think it was a good idea.

      • There are definitely skills / traits which seem useless. For example, I never really needed Cave Lore, and I only put a few points into Luck and still don't understand what exactly it does, but I don't seem to have hurt from it.

      • Usually the best way I found to pick traits / stats was to pay attention to what my pain-points were, and to just allocate stats to relieve those pain points. The game is really good that way; it lets you do that, instead of throwing you into some completely-unpredictable challenge.

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls

  • General thoughts on the game

    • I really like how the menu music plays full volume once and then fades to a much lower volume. I don't think I've ever seen that before.

  • Criticisms

    • Honestly, after having beaten Escape from the Pit, I feel like "Why the hell am I going back to Avernum? I escaped!" Even though your characters in the game haven't returned to Avernum (they're stuck there like your characters in the first game), I felt as a person like I'd returned.

  • Advice for playing

    • If you have Windows' "Zoom" setting set to > 100%, it'll make the game screen too big.

    • If you click the sunburst icon on a potion in your inventory it will immediately use it. I'd been wondering why that was happening while playing the first game.

    • Press the space bar to skip a character's turn.

Banished

  • Thoughts on the game

    • This feels *exactly* like Stronghold's economic (non-castle-building, non-warfare) game.

    • I don't like how the game doesn't let me bring the viewpoint totally horizontal.

  • Questions

    • How do I know if I've allocated an efficient number of workers to a particular job? (e.g. fields, cutting down trees, etc.)

  • Advice for playing

    • Just keep an eye on your food reserves and your resource reserves.

Braid

  • Braid really does a brilliant job of ramping up the difficulty. It doesn't get too difficult too quickly, but it also doesn't stay easy for long stretches of time, which can bore you.

  • Another nice thing is that it mostly avoids the problem that many games have where if you leave them for a while you forget so much of how it works that you can't really pick up where you left off.

  • Tip from Braid: If you attempt the task in the most-obvious way, you're unable to solve the puzzle. This prevents players from brute-forcing the puzzle (trying random things) and forces the player to grasp the interesting fact.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zK8ItePe3Y

      • He also uses sequences, pairings, and reprisals.

      • You'll encounter a simpler version of a puzzle immediately before a more-complicated version of it.

      • By using familiar layouts, you can see how the consequences have changed.

      • He subverts the rules you're used to.

      • He throws out traps for people who aren't thinking hard enough.

      • He's ruthlessly curatorial, eliminating puzzles that lack a sense of surprise, or that overlap with each other, or fail to say anything interesting.

      • He will leave something in the game, even if it isn't fun, if it is interesting or it would make the game feel incomplete to not have it.

      • A puzzle is never just a puzzle; it's a communication of an idea from the designer to the player. Solving the puzzle is the player's way of saying "I understand".

      • Mechanic --> Rule --> Consequence --> Puzzle

      • The "harder" puzzles are only about understanding the consequences in different set-ups, layouts.

      • The levels are small enough that you can consider all of the moving parts at once.

      • There are no or few red herrings, and few arbitrary steps to finish.

      • Once you've found the solution, it's relatively effortless to execute it.

      • "The more that a puzzle is about something real and something specific, and the less it's about some arbitrary challenge, the more meaningful that epiphany is."

Brigador

General thoughts

  • What I like

    • This is a beautiful game. The art and effects are all very well done.

    • One fun thing about this game is trying to lead your targets at a distance, and then seeing your stray shots blowing up buildings. The gun sounds and effects are very satisfying.

  • Criticisms / suggestions

    • I really don't understand why they have the ammo / shield pick-ups left by downed enemies expire after a certain amount of time. It forces you to take otherwise-unnecessary risks. [Later: I think they do it on purpose to discourage you from playing the realistic way, which is to pick off enemy units one-by-one from a distance]

    • IMO the infantry are way too easy to stomp. They don't move out of the way / run away. And they're way too hard to hit with 20mm rounds. [Later: My guess is that it might eat up a lot of CPU to have the infantry be smarter, and also it might end up frustrating for the player.]

    • The game should show whether you have line-of-sight to where your mouse cursor is, the same way it works in Combat Mission.

      • One of the most-frustrating things about this game is just trying to hit the enemies.

    • I found the gameplay to get a bit stale after I'd played a dozen or so missions and understood the basic strategy for winning. I think the game might have benefited from a more Hotline-Miami-2 approach, with fewer missions that are more deliberate about creating changes in gameplay.

    • IMO the campaign progresses too slowly and there's too much repetition between levels.  As opposed to something like Braid where it's a very focused experience and each level is very different from the others.

    • I used the dev console to unlock every mission and played the last one in the campaign, and slowed the game down to 50%, and it reminded me a lot of how when I played through Donkey Kong Country on the Miyoo Mini I was save-scumming, and it made me feel like just how in DKC the game used uninteresting tactics to prolong the game (like stuff appearing on the screen with you having very little time to react like in the minecart levels, and then you need to play through the entire level to get back to that point, and if you run low on lives you need to redo old missions), similarly in Brigador it feels like the fast pace of the game is an uninteresting tactic to make the game harder by giving you less time to react, and also to hide the stupidity of the AI and have them beat you by swarming you rather than from good tactics like you might see from a human opponent in a game of Combat Mission.

Advice for playing

  • If you're picking up the game after a while, replay one of the earlier missions with a tank that you haven't used before on that mission.

  • Weapons and ammo

    • When you shoot at stuff, you need to actually put your cursor ON the target rather than just have the line from your tank to the cursor going THROUGH the target, because the latter method will result in shots missing.

    • It's good to use big powerful single rounds to make the first hit against a stationary enemy, and then follow up with a 20mm cannon barrage to finish them off once they start moving around (and they're harder to hit).

    • When you're near a floating ammo icon (after destroying an enemy vehicle), you need to press 'R' to actually pick up the ammo. It isn't picked up automatically.

    • Be aware that different weapons are differently-effective against armor vs. shields.

    • Don't spend ammo destroying structures until you've cleared the level of all enemies.

  • Vehicle-specific advice

    • Sleepwalker

      • Advance backwards, b/c you run faster forwards and it's important to run away.

      • Use your laser to drain shields and then hit them with the anti-armor black poison thing and run away and wait for them to die.

      • Try to avoid getting close to a powerful enemy vehicle if there are several of them. Keep them at a distance and draw them in a few at a time and finish them off.

      • Stealth is more useful for running away than for attacking.

  • Enemy units

    • Units with eye icons are scouts. If they see you they'll set off an alarm that'll alert all nearby enemy units to your presence.

    • If you blow up a pipeline or building, enemies will investigate it (rather than your weapon sounds).

  • Tactics

    • In "Joy Ride" I started without ammo and basically had to get one unit to destroy his friendly units with his horribly-delayed ammo.

  • Buildings

    • Destroying all Comm Towers will increase radio call time and shrink enemy reinforcement radius.

    • Crashing into the comms towers damages you a little (maybe 15% of shields) but may be worth it to save ammo.

Braid

  • I put off playing this game for a long time because the elaborate art style made me think it was going to be an artsy experience with not-great gameplay, but I actually had an amazing time playing it, it's probably up there with Hotline Miami as one of the most-engrossing and most-novel videogame experiences I've had in years.

  • Varied sound effects for common sounds (pressing escape)

  • Beautiful art

  • Beautiful music

  • It can be frustrating to not know how to solve a puzzle. The puzzles kind of quickly get to that point.

  • The story seems kind of superfluous.  After I finished the game I looked up explanations of the story and found out it was all supposed to be about a scientist who helped create the atomic bomb. The fact that that didn't come through to me at all seems to me to suggest that the story wasn't as effective as it could've been.

  • It's pretty clear the main achievement here is in the puzzle mechanics, like how the main achievement with Cuphead is in the art.

  • I don't know if it's my imagination but I think the game gives me slight motion sickness.

  • I suspect the suddenness with which the player stops moving is part of what gives me motion sickness.

  • Also the enemies and environment (basically everything other than your character) seem to get blurry when you move.

  • The thing in the first world where the picture creates a new platform that makes some of the puzzles possible made me distrust a lot of the puzzles for a while, because I kept asking myself, "Is there some other element that I don't yet have access to which is necessary to solve this puzzle?"

  • Braid is a great example of a game that answers the question, "We have so much more computing power than 30 years ago, what can we do with this extra power other than just making the graphics more detailed?"

  • The last puzzle in the second world ("A Tingling") that I struggled with made me infuriated because it relied on this characteristic of the platform that it makes what you do invariant to time as well, while you previously in the same level were on a similar platform that had no such effect.

  • Also, the first puzzle piece of that section is invariant, but it's not to do with that puzzle, but rather the following puzzle, which relies on you rewinding back to the start of the level.

  • Just generally, if you see a tingling-green piece for a first puzzle, that means that solving the second puzzle requires rewinding to a point before you got the first puzzle's piece.

  • Being able to skip around with the puzzles was a huge help for me to avoid getting frustrated.

  • Jonathan Blow on Braid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSwgEYAJUko&t=2m10s

    • "When you zoom in with your attention on every little part, and then you add all the parts together, that's just a lot of effort."

Butcher

What's good about it

  • The graphics, tone, level design, and sound are all competent.

  • The controls feels responsive.

  • I find myself getting better every time I play, so even if I have to replay the earlier part of a level many times I find myself getting faster and faster at getting through it, which is kind of satisfying.

Why I stop playing (when I stop playing)

  • It's annoying/boring when you die and get sent back to the beginning of the level and have to re-fight enemies you've already fought before.  I've heard this same complaint about Dark Souls.  The nice thing about Hotline Miami is that each level is broken into fairly short "floors" (of the building), so dying generally doesn't cost you more than 10-30 seconds of lost time.  On the other hand, you do die a lot more in Hotline Miami.

  • I'll stop after I finish a level because I'll dread having to basically memorize another totally-new level in order to beat it.

  • The atmosphere of the game is depressing; in Hotline Miami you have those energetic songs and colorful levels keeping you feeling upbeat / excited, but here the graphics are dark and brown with fire and blood and the music is dark.  It's the same problem I had with Limbo.

Advice for playing

  • Controls:

    • Mouselook

    • WASD movement (W jumps, S has you drop through traversable platforms)

    • Space to activate switches

    • Q/E/1/2/3/4/Mouse-scroll to switch between weapons

  • Like in Heat Signature, when enemies see you they have a brief moment before they start shooting.  I think an exclamation point shows above their head.  Unlike Heat Signature, you can't pause and aim right at them, so you need to react quickly.

  • Like in GoldenEye, if you hit an enemy they will get stunned which seems to make them not shoot back at you.  That makes the shotgun much more useful in this game than it is in many other games because it's very good at stunning enemies at medium range even if your aim isn't perfect.

  • Like in Hotline Miami, sniping people from afar and popping out from behind cover to take a quick shot seem to be good strategies.

  • One secret I saw opened when I flipped a switch and then I could suddenly walk through another nearby wall.  So maybe many secrets work like that.

  • There's sometimes a definite advantage to moving around a lot, as enemies' aim seems to be delayed enough that if you're moving fast and perpendicular to the direction to the enemy then they'll generally miss you. I need to figure out when this strategy is preferable to bunkering down. It may be a matter of how many enemies there are that would be able to shoot at you, how much cover you have available, etc.

  • Not just running around but also jumping. Jumping can be very effective in having enemies miss you.

  • For the last level of the Jungle area, I found that a combination of moving when enemies were still spawning, taking cover when there were a lot of enemies worked well. Also just spamming the flamethrower helped when there were a lot of enemies. Also keeping up top seemed to be a good idea as my flames could go further.

  • When facing the big rocket-shooting demons, I like to clear out the human enemies first because their weapons are harder to dodge, and then I'll just use the flamethrower or grenade launcher on the big demon. You can sometimes just jump over the rocket as it's coming towards you and that'll be enough to keep it from hitting you.

Close Combat

Close Combat: Gateway to Caen

  • Mortars don't need line of sight to provide accurate fire.

  • The normal 'move' command is very slow, and even the 'fast move' command feels slow.

Assault St. Mauvieu
  • After looking at the mission instructions a day after having played, I see I didn't play the mission correctly; I was supposed to select at most one tank and two mortars, but I had two tanks and the rest of my support was mortars (so, like 5-6 mortars).

  • The positions of the units in the picture are the default positions for the mission, not the positions I settled on.

  • My plan was to take advantage of the fact that I could assume that the enemy would start on their side of the map to position my units as far forward as I could, and then at the beginning of the mission I have them fast-move forward to capture the flags nearest to me (F1, F2, F3, F4, F5) and basically just try to grab as much territory as possible and set up a defensive position on the top half of the map around flag F2 that the enemy would have a hard time attacking.

  • That's basically what happened. The enemy lost a lot of infantry trying to attack flag F2, and even seemed to pull away all of their meant for the southern half of the map to attack in the northern half. My platoon in the south didn't encounter any combat, with only the Churchill tank I had on my southern flank taking out enemy SdKfzs in the northern flank at the very end of the battle when it had reached positions T7 and later T8.

  • I suspect this would have been a very different experience against a human opponent.

Combat Mission

Command Ops

  • Command Ops seems to be basically a realistic Panzer General.  It's the same scale (operational-level), but no hexes.  It's apparently used by the Australian and US military to train people.

  • I've known about it for years but haven't yet been able to get over the initial learning hurdle.

Command Ops 1

Tutorials / Guides / Manuals

Video
  • YouTube - Panther Games - Command Ops: Game Concept

    • Summary:

      • The motivation for this game was to have as realistic a simulation as possible of commanding a corps (50-300k soldiers), division (7-22k), or brigade (3-5k).

      •  The core gameplay they're aiming for is to have players: 1) assess the situation, 2) develop a plan, 3) issue orders, and 4) react to developments.

      • They wanted to realistically model orders delay, which would in turn require the commander to think and plan ahead.

      • The game uses 1-minute time intervals and 100m movement grids.

        • This is unlike hex-based wargames, where turns represent hours or days and the hexes represent several kilometers.

      • Units can occupy multiple grids and can move in increments as small as 1 meter.

      • The game uses "Pausable Continuous Time" (PCT).

        • It's not "real-time" because the game runs faster than real-time, even at the slowest speed.

  • YouTube - Panther Games - Command Ops Tutorial

    • This seven-part video series is recommended by TortugaPower in his video series on Return to St. Vith (in which he's using Command Ops 2).

Command Ops 2

TLDR Quickstart

  • Camera controls

    • Hold right-click and drag to drag the map around.

    • Zoom in and out with the mouse wheel.

  • UI

    • The grid lines are every 1km.

    • As units fire, you will see yellow, red, and grey fire lines emanating from the unit firing toward the target. The yellow lines are for anti-personnel, the red for anti-armor, and the grey lines for indirect fire. Thicker lines indicate heavy fire.

  • Unit types

    • Use Annex D in the manual (“Unit Types and Symbols”) to understand what your units are.

    • Order engineers to secure bridges so they don’t get blown.

Key features

  • It models fatigue and the need to rest/sleep.

  • It models orders delay.

  • It models supply down to individual bullets.

Tutorials / Guides / Manuals

Written
  • Bie - Quickstart Guide

  • Bie - Basic Guide

    • This is a more in-depth guide than his Quickstart Guide.

    • Steam version

  • Steam - Command Ops 2 : The Absolute Basics

    • CO2 is an RTS but it’s realistic: you only see what your subordinates think they see.

    • You don’t need to micromanage your units.

    • Click the Cntl (“Controls”) button on the bottom and keep that window open as you’ll use it a lot.

    • The Tool button lets you see Quickest/Shortest/Covered movement paths for motorized/nonmotorized units.

    • Stacking orders (basically giving waypoints with different probe/attack/defend orders) is an important way to deal with order delay.

    • You’ll want to fine-tune your orders (“1TE” / “Edit Task”).

    • Using the Order of Battle window is the fastest way to set orders for all of your units.

    • Misc advice:

      • Set orders in groups of threes. Adjust after that.

      • Give orders to the HQ's, except in the case of recon units.

      • Don't be afraid to micromanage if necessary, but usually the CO on the ground can do it better.

      • Fire Support is your friend. Bombarding a target, or ordering AT guns to fire on it, will make an attack much more successful.

      • Be wary of night time intel. You could end up sending an armored platoon after some bicycles.

      • Don't get too aggressive. Your units can get flanked in a hurry.

      • Don't attack at night unless absolutely necessary.

      • There's no such thing as too much 155mm bombardment.

  • Official Game Manual

  • Return to St Vith Tutorial AAR

    • This was recommended by DeReam as being "probably the best tutorial AAR I've ever seen in all my years of gaming".

Video

Online communities

Misc

Criticisms of the game

  • CO2 is a brilliant game concept but the implementation is tedious and boring, for one simple reason: You cannot rename a unit. You are constantly dealing with names like "D Coy. 83th Recon Bn," "AG Pl 48 Arm Inf Bn," and "2 Pl H Coy 3/32 Armored Rgt." All units have cumbersome names like that. They are historic, but oh sooooo tedious. A simple option to rename any unit---to give it a friendly name just for gameplay purposes---would make all the difference in the world. Names like "Buffalo," "Tuxedo," "Joe's Bunch," or anything the user chooses would make all the difference. I love the game but gave up playing it, because of the tedium of horrid names. And, historically, a commander will not pronounce all that ladeeda (such as 275 Arm Fd Arty Bn) while giving orders. No, he will say, "Tell Johnson to have his guns support Owens on that left flank." Can you imagine Patton saying, "Tell the 275th Armored Forward Artillery Batallion to support 2 Pl H Coy 3/32 Armored Rgt on the left flank." I don't think so. Great generals love efficiency and not longwinded pronunciation of tedious and impractical formal names. (Source)

Counter-Strike

Why it's fun

  • It has a nice mix of motor-skill (aiming) and strategy (where to go, what to buy, how to move).

  • Each "mini-session" (round) of the game starts automatically after you finish a previous mini-session. This is in contrast to games like Starcraft, Chess.com blitz games, etc. where you need to explicitly press a button to start a new game. I think that throwing the player back into a new round automatically plays a large part in helping people to avoid quitting after a loss (although rage-quitting is still an issue if you lose enough times in a row).

How to play well

  • Ambush people

    • Try to wait at an unusual angle. If there's a place where peope "typically" camp, try to camp before or after that spot to catch your opponent off-guard.

    • Try to keep cover to your front and get an angle to the side.

Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal

  • This seems to clearly be based on Starcraft 1, especially bunker missions vs. Zerg.

  • It has a very gentle difficulty curve.

Crusader Kings 2

General thoughts

  • This game is beautiful.

  • I like the wind sound effect when zooming in on the map.

  • Turn the music volume down.

Summary of the tutorial

  1. When your character dies, you need an heir to take over.

  2. The game is historical and thus not balanced. So check the difficulty of whatever faction you decide to start as.

  3. For your first game play the special learning scenario.

  4. The world is divided into counties.

  5. CK2 is real-time.

  6. Click the date in the top-right to pause / resume the game.

  7. Click the portrait in the top left to get info on your family

  8. Click the crest in the top-left to get info on your country.

  9. You can pick an "Ambition" for your character which is a short-term goal that'll give you a prestige / piety bonus when you achieve it.

  10. The main currencies are wealth, prestige, and piety.

  11. The prestige and piety of all your characters will be added to your final score at the end of the game.

  12. Every character in the game has an opinion of every other character, which will dictate the behavior of the AI.

  13. Character portraits can have little symbols on them. A star means that's the character you're currently playing as. A crown signifies your heir. A drop of blood means they're of your dynasty.

  14. The bottom right of the UI has a bunch of different map mode buttons.

Summary of the learning scenario

  1. Something about de facto and de jure titles.

  2. To choose an ambition, open your character window and click the small button on the right side under the crest section.

  3. To get married, click the character's picture and then the two-gold-rings button. Then right-click on whoever you want to marry.

  4. Unless a character is a ruler, it is usually their liege who responds to your proposals.

  5. In the tooltip for the target's acceptance of a proposal, if the number of green plus signs exceeds the number of red minus signs, the proposal will be accepted.

  6. Each county contains at least one Holding (castle, city, or temple).

  7. The Holdings held by you personally are collectively called your Demesne.

  8. There is a limit to how many Holdings you can control directly.

  9. The Demesne Limit is why you need Vassals.

  10. Vassals will give you a part of their troop Levies and Taxes.

  11. There is a limit to how many vassals you can have, so you'll want to aim to have more powerful vassals.

  12. Vassals can have vassals.

  13. Vassals of the lowest rank (below Count, with a copper portrait frame) are not counted toward the limit.

  14. Your vassals' opinion of you controls how much tax and levies they will give you. If they dislike you enough, they can join rebellious factions, which can lead to civil wars. Bishops (priestly vassals) who like the Pope more than you will send their taxes to him instead.

  15. Opinions are represented by a number ranging from -100 to 100, and you can hover over the number to find out the reasons for the number.

  16. To improve your vassals' opinions of you, you can give them land, an honorary title, or a gift. To do this, open your character view, click "Vassals", then right click on the one you want to interact with.

  17. To deal with revolts you may want to raise your levies. Go to the military view (top left of UI). By holding down Ctrl you'll avoid raising levies in counties with enemy troops.

  18. To move armies around, click their shield icon to select them and then right-click on the province you want them to go to. You can also drag-select.

  19. It's a good idea to gather your troops together before attacking.

  20. When you have all the armies in the same province, click-and-drag to select all of them and click the "Merge Troops" button in the Army window.

  21. You can assign and change the leaders of your army by clicking the name bar above each flank. Leaders can help win battles at the risk of getting injured or killed.

  22. When attacking across a strait or river, you'll get a penalty. Click on a province and hover over the river icon (if any) to see what border the straits and rivers are on.

  23. As I quit they were about to explain fleet operations with an attack on an island off the coast of West Africa.

Crypt of the Necrodancer

  • Look for dirt walls that have one or more blue specks in them. Those have diamonds in them. It seems like there's one per level, and that it's always in the first layer of the walls.

DCS

UH-1 Huey

  • How to get back into playing:

    1. Don't try to refresh your memory of everything the first time you play.

    2. Do the 'Harbor Tour' Instant Action mission with no shooting and where you start already in the air, and just try to follow the other helicopter around.

    3. Try some landings.

    4. Try more of the missions that don't have any shooting.

    5. Try a mission that has a cold start to refresh your memory of how to start the helicopter.

    6. Try one of the Instant Action missions that have shooting to refresh your memory of how to control the weapons and gunner ROE.

    7. Throughout all of this, remember you can search the in-game controls menu to check how to do something.

  • How I start the game for VR:

    1. Get the Quest ready:

      1. Turn on the lights in my room so that the Quest doesn't have trouble doing motion tracking.

      2. Connect the Quest to the PC with the link cable.

      3. Power on the Quest.

      4. Confirm your Guardian area (stationary guardian).

        1. I use a room guardian and make it larger than my actual seating area so that the blue warning wall never shows up.

      5. If the Quest doesn't already ask you to enable Link Mode, go into Settings and enable the Quest Link.

    2. In Steam on the PC, launch DCS in Steam VR Mode.

    3. When the game launches, I reset my view (a Quest feature)

  • Core controls I use:

    • Hardware I use:

      • Oculus Quest 2

        • I pinch my fingers to select menus; I don't use the Quest controllers.

      • Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

      • Mouse to click through the DCS menus and to toggle switches in the cockpit.

      • Keyboard to press various hotkeys.

    • Keyboard shortcuts I use frequently:

      • Startup:

        • Close cockpit doors: 

        • "Start engine" button: LCtrl + del

      • In-flight:

      • Night ops:

        • Toggle night vision: h

        • Increase / decrease night vision polarity: LShift + h / LCtrl + h

        • Flashlight (to see your instrument panel when starting the helicopter): 

      • Gunners:

        • Toggle copilot / door gunner ROE (hold fire / return fire / fire at will): LCtrl + 2 / LCtrl + 3 / LCtrl + 4

    • My joystick setup:

      • Toggle gunner ROE UI window visibility: one of the buttons on my joystick.

      • I have set-trim and trim-release bound to buttons on the actual stick near my thumb.

      • On the six flat buttons I have controls for opening and closing the map, toggling the on-screen gunner ROE UI

  • Checklists / How-to

    • Startup

      • 1 Minute DCS - UH-1H Huey - Startup Tutorial

        1. Ensure all the controls operate freely.

        2. Overhead middle panels:

          1. AC Power panel → Set to AC PHASE.

          2. MAIN GEN to ON and put switch cover on.

          3. VM to ESS BUS (essential bus).

          4. BAT (battery) to ON.

        3. Lower middle panels → Engine panel → LOW RPM to OFF to silence to low RPM warning.

        4. Overhead middle panels:

          1. Right side → Adjust the panel lighting if you want to.

          2. Left side:

            1. ANTICOL (anticollision lights) to ON.

            2. POSITION (position lights) to ON.

        5. Lower middle panels:

          1. Make sure your dispense and jettison systems are set to safe (near the armament panels).

          2. Set your comms and nav systems as you like.

          3. Take the IFF MASTER out of the OFF position (top-left most panel).

          4. CAUTION panel: Test and reset the warning panel.

        6. Front panel: Test the fire indicator (push to test).

        7. Lower middle panels:

          1. ENGINE panel:

            1. Make sure the RPM governor is set to AUTO.

            2. Turn on the fuel pump.

          2. Top-right-most panel:

            1. Turn on FORCE TRIM and HYD CONT (hydraulics)

        8. Throttle:

          1. Engage the idle-release switch.

          2. Roll the throttle to fully-on (roll it to the left).

          3. Roll the throttle back (to the right) and it'll stop at idle.

        9. Close the doors.

          1. You can click close the pilot door but will need to use the keyboard to either close the copilot door directly or switch to the copilot seat to click the door closed.

        10. Press and hold the starter button.

          1. There's no way to press it in-game so you need to use your keyboard.  I bound it to Left Ctrl + del.

          2. Hold it down until the GAS PRODUCER gauge on the front panel is at 40.

        11. Overhead panel: Set INVTR (power inverter) to ON (MAIN).

        12. Increase throttle to full.

    • Radio setup:

      • 1 Minute DCS - UH-1H Huey - Radio Tutorial

        1. Switch to the copilot seat by pressing '2' so you can see the radio panels more easily.

        2. Panel names:

          1. Your VHF panel is the one with 'VHF COMM' at the top.

          2. Your UHF panel is the one with 'SQ DISABLE' at the top.

          3. Your Signal Distribution panel is beneath the UHF panel; it has a row of switches and two knobs.

        3. VHF:

          1. Click the wider ring knob at the bottom of the left knob to turn on the VHF radio.

          2. Click the 'Test' button to make sure it's working; you should hear radio static.

        4. UHF: Set the function selector to T/R (transmit/receive).

        5. Signal Distribution panel:

          1. Make sure all the switches are in the UP position.

          2. The big selector switch knob lets you switch between radios:

            • PVT: Hotline (?)

            • INT: Interphone, i.e. internal comms (?)

            • 1: VHF FM i.e. internal crew comms (?)

            • 2: UHF i.e. primarily air-to-air comms

            • 3: VHF AM i.e. ATC, Tower, and secondary air-to-air comms

            • 4: No Function (?)

        6. The first thing you'll need to do is to contact the tower for permission to take off and for a hover check.

          1. Set the frequency for the tower on the VHF panel.

          2. Set the Sig Dist selector switch to 3 for VHF AM.

          3. Press the radio trigger on your stick to open the on-screen menu and request permission to start.

        7. You can also use the knob at the top of the UHF panel to switch between preset channels.

    • Takeoff

    • Navigation:

    • Avoiding in-flight accidents / failures

      • The 'normal' cruising speed is apparently ~80-90 knots.  You can push it further but the airframe will start to vibrate and you may also risk an engine fire.

      • UH-1H Huey: How To Avoid Engine Fires & VRS | DCS WORLD

        • Summary:

          • Engine fires:

            • Engine temperature limits:

              • Max continuous (green arc): 400 to 610 deg C

              • Takeoff power (max 30 min): 610 to 625 deg C - risk of engine fire after 30 min

              • 10-second power limit (max 10 sec)(Engine Hot Start): 675 to 760 deg C - Only for engine start and acceleration

              • 5-second power limit: 675 to 760

              • EGT Redline: 760 deg C - If exceeded in flight, high risk of engine fire.

            • What can happen first before a fire is that your RPMs can drop ~200, so you'll lose power/lift.

            • The higher your altitude and the heavier your helicopter, the more likely it is that you'll run into these limits. (You can see an example of this happening at 6:20)

            • TLDR: Make sure your EGT never exceeds ~625 (the first red line on the 'EXHAUST' gauge) and you'll never need to worry.

          • VRS:

            • VRS is when you 'fall out of the sky', it generally happens when transitioning from fast to slow speeds when comi