Videogames

Table of contents

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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

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

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!)

Armoured Commander

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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

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.
  • 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, division, or brigade.
      •  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

Tutorials / Guides / Manuals

Written
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

  • When your character dies, you need an heir to take over.
  • The game is historical and thus not balanced. So check the difficulty of whatever faction you decide to start as.
  • For your first game play the special learning scenario.
  • The world is divided into counties.
  • CK2 is real-time
  • Click the date in the top-right to pause / unpause the game.
  • Click the portrait in the top left to get info on your family
  • Click the crest in the top-left to get info on your country.
  • 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.
  • The main currencies are wealth, prestige, and piety.
  • The prestige and piety of all your characters will be added to your final score at the end of the game.
  • Every character in the game has an opinion of every other character, which will dictate the behavior of the AI.
  • 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.
  • The bottom right of the UI has a bunch of different map mode buttons.

Summary of the learning scenario

  • Something about de facto and de jure titles.
  • To choose an ambition, open your character window and click the small button on the right side under the crest section.
  • To get married, click the character's picture and then the two-gold-rings button. Then right-click on whoever you want to marry.
  • Unless a character is a ruler, it is usually their liege who responds to your proposals.
  • 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.
  • Each county contains at least one Holding (castle, city, or temple).
  • The Holdings held by you personally are collectively called your Demesne.
  • There is a limit to how many Holdings you can control directly.
  • The Demesne Limit is why you need Vassals.
  • Vassals will give you a part of their troop Levies and Taxes.
  • There is a limit to how many vassals you can have, so you'll want to aim to have more powerful vassals.
  • Vassals can have vassals.
  • Vassals of the lowest rank (below Count, with a copper portrait frame) are not counted toward the limit.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It's a good idea to gather your troops together before attacking.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Doom and Doom II

General thoughts

General advice

  • Turn off the music.
  • If mouselook seems to not work when you start a level, just click once and see if that makes mouselook start to work.  In my experience this only happens with the first level I load when I start the game.
  • Doom and Doom II are broken into "episodes", each with ~10 levels.  Once you beat an episode, to start the next episode you need to select "New Game" from the main menu and then choose the next episode.  Very confusing IMO.
  • Use this fix to disable mousemove: https://steamcommunity.com/app/2280/discussions/0/558755530198510315/

Things I noticed

  • Doom has lots of switches that result in parts of the level moving: platforms raising, walls lowering, etc.  And it always(?) involves some part of the level that you were already exposed to revealing some hidden feature.  And the change is usually(?) in the room you are in so it's easy to see what changed.

Things I like

  • The sound effects are all great (your guns, the enemies, the doors, etc.)
    • The Jaws-like enemy sound that the invisible monsters make is especially scary.
  • The level design is great.
  • The textures are great.
  • The use of darkness is great.

Things I don't like

  • It can be frustrating when you've killed all the enemies that you can find but you don't know where to go next to get to the next area.  I've had this happen to me numerous times while playing Doom.  In GoldenEye I think the biggest examples of this are maybe Control and Aztec.
  • I can't tell what level corresponds to what savegame, so when I came back to the game I didn't know which savegame was the latest one.

Why I stop playing (when I stop playing)

  • Alt-tabbing out of the game makes the screen shrink to a tiny size and there seems to be no way to make it fullscreen again, so you need to save the game, quit, start the game again, load the game you saved.  It's a pain in the ass.
  • The textures, guns, and enemies can get a bit stale from one level to the next.  GoldenEye is great because between every level it's mixing up the guns, level textures, level design, enemy models, music.  GoldenEye does return to some levels (e.g. Surface and Bunker) but it does so after a bit of a break, so it's not as annoying as if it was the same level twice in a row.

Doom

Advice

  • ...

Things I like

Things I don't like

  • The mouse sensitivity isn't high enough even on the highest setting.

Similarities with GoldenEye

  • I remember reading or seeing in a video that the GoldenEye developers were playing a lot of Doom when they were making GoldenEye.  I noticed independently (maybe even before I heard that they were playing Doom) that GoldenEye has a lot of similarities with Doom in its gameplay.
  • Side-strafing in Doom works just like in GoldenEye: you move fastest if you press the "forward" button and the "step sideways" button at the same time.
  • The combat works the same way in both games: you side-step out of cover, take some shots before the enemies can react, and then side-strafe back into cover. (At least, this is how Doom's combat works with the insta-hit enemy soldiers.)
  • Doom has "par times" which GoldenEye also has (called the "Target" time).  IMO GoldenEye made a great choice by tying beating the target time to unlocking cheats.  I was a little disappointed when the devs announced that there's also a way to unlock the cheats using a series of seemingly-random controller button presses.
  • You don't need to worry too much about where you aim; in Doom aiming up and down is handled for you by the game. In GoldenEye the game automatically pulls your aim towards enemies if you're aiming reasonably close to them.

Differences from GoldenEye

  • GoldenEye's music is much, much better.

Doom II

Advice

  • ...

Differences from Doom

  • It seems like it may have more enemies(?).  Which would make sense for a sequel.  That's what Hotline Miami did as well.

Don't Starve

  • Initial thought from playing it: it's like Minecraft's survival mode, except harder / more elaborate.
  • Criticisms
    • I didn't find the game very fun. I may just need to put more time into it.

Dungeon Warfare

  • It hit that sweet spot of difficulty that Avernum also hit, where if you're paying attention it's not hard, but you do actually have to concentrate on what you're doing to win.
  • The menu's animation style and "Victory" voice seem very similar to that of Broforce.
  • One interesting thing is that it really hammers home the idea of a "kill zone" as Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Spaulding described it: you want to 1. funnel people into a small area, 2. slow them down, and 3. concentrate your fire on that area. It made me wonder if there might be a way to make a game that's halfway between Dungeon Warfare and Combat Mission, where your "traps" are things like barbed wire, mines, machine guns, etc.
  • It also hammers home the idea of "avenues of approach".
  • The game runs totally smooth on my laptop, even when you have it on 4x speed.
  • In the TD games I used to play there was no way to stop or redirect the enemy forces (IIRC).
  • Being able to pause but still move around the map / sell / buy traps makes the game far less frustrating (just like with Heat Signature) and less like a test of your APM and more like a puzzle game.
  • re: Gold Rush (the level):
    • This was one of the hardest levels I've faced. The way I ended up winning was by using a demon/spike-trap/box combo right outside the enemy's entrance on the left, then doing the same on the right for the 3rd wave, then selling everything on the right before the 4th wave when the top units would start coming, and using a demon/firetrap/bolt-trap/box trap up top. I also put a spike trap on the top-left door's tile to get any units that slipped by. At the very end things got hairy and I needed to sell everything on the left and move my defense back right next to the door to take out heavy units that slipped by my first line of defense (I probably should've added a bolt trap there to take out the heavy units). But I was able to beat it with no enemy units reaching the portals.

Advice

  • Turn off the music.  It's not horrible but it is repetitive, and I got sick it to the point where I think it was making me not want to play the game.
  • One great way to take out dwarf bombers is to have 2 rows of level-3 dart traps with a level-3 slime trap right at the enemies' spawn points.
  • The best way I've found to take out enemy units that can't run through your units is with a combination of level-3 demon traps to stop the enemies (at least 2 in a row so if the first group of demons is killed the second group can serve as back-up) in combination with level-3 spike traps and level-3 bolt traps to destroy the enemy units that will bunch up behind their front line (the ones engaging your demons).  It's especially good if you can create a twisting avenue of approach using some boxes so that the bolts can hit 2 or 3 squares of enemies (as opposed to having the bolt traps perpendicular to a single square of the enemy's avenue of approach).
  • Harpoon traps seem to be great value if you have a bunch of places along the enemy's avenue of approach where they can be used.  It's well worth upgrading them.
  • The best way to take out thieves seems to be using slime traps in combination with dart traps.  Harpoon traps also work well.
  • Upgrade your traps.
  • The best kill-zone I've discovered is to use 1-2 demon traps to stop the advancing troops, and have spike traps and bolt traps, with everything fully-upgraded. Look for a part of the path that has only 1 square's width of to the path, or use boxes to create such an area. And if you put the trap as close as possible to the enemy spawn, your early spike traps will hit *way* more enemy troops, although I suspect having demons stop the advancing troops could get you that benefit anywhere along the path.

    • (Later:) I've also found that if you set up a kill-zone (i.e. use demons to stop advancing enemies) next to some kind of instant-death tile like water, using a push-trap can be even more effective than the spike / bolt combination.
  • I didn't understand the point of the trap upgrades as the bonuses seemed so small, but now I realize that the *real* goal is to get to the higher levels of the traps. So Level 5, 10, and 15 are especially valuable because those are the points at which you can upgrade to the next-highest level of the trap.
  • If you have *too much* firepower in a given square you risk wasting resources if multiple traps kill the same unit where only one trap would've worked fine, or if the traps do more damage than would be necessary to kill the enemy unit.
  • For a long time I didn't understand why you would use darts instead of the bolt trap, since the bolt trap does more damage. Now I understand: the dart trap is much better for doing damage to fast units like the Thief. The first time I played Hondon of Chaos I had a *lot* of thieves that were able to run right past my demons.
  • For dealing with the Thief enemy type, just focus on having a long line of traps that can do moderate damage, and the thieves will die from the damage. They'll just run right past a line of your demons. The dart trap and a long line of spike traps worked very well, and the demons did help to slow down the thieves and do a little damage.
    • A good thief / fast-unit killer I just discovered is the grinder (floor trap).  Put 3 level-3 grinders in a row at the rear of your defenses and they'll be able to take out any fast units that run past your demons.
  • If you lose a level, see if there are any traps that you were using for only some of the avenues of approach, and try to think if there's a way you could have put those traps somewhere else where they could have been used against every avenue of approach.

Level-specific thoughts

The cellar

  • It was the Veteran enemy type that got me.  They don't take damage the first time they get hit.  A flame trap or dart trap near their spawn might be the best way to beat that.

Dwarf Fortress

Else Heart.Break()

General thoughts

  • First reaction: Wow this game is beautiful.
  • Later: Great sounds, great music, great animations.

Summary of the tutorial(s)

  • Click on the ground to move.
  • Click on items to use them.
  • Once you click on an item, possible actions show up in the top-left.
  • WASD to rotate / zoom the camera, or hold RMB and move the mouse.
  • Run by double-clicking.

Notes on my progress / reminders of what's happened

  • You're going from your parents house to a city called Dorisburg, staying at a hotel called Devotchka
  • There's something called "The Burrows"
  • The hotel assistant used some kind of portal device to change my room from a bathroom to a totally-differently-sized bedroom.
  • As of my last save, I'm still trying to find the guy who gave me the Soda job. Someone invited me to an afterparty but when I showed up to what I thought was the location, there was only one person there. Someone else invited me tomorrow to do something with her friends, I think she said to meet at the Yvanna at 18:00

Enter the Gungeon

  • This is the first game that has made me understand the appeal of shmups that have you dodging enemy fire.
  • The music is nowhere close to being as good as Hotline Miami's music.

Euro Truck Simulator 2

  • Praise
    • Before I played it I didn't quite understand the appeal, but having played it I understand.
    • It reminds me a lot of why I love Vietnam Medevac: there's a great pleasure in mastering the controls of a not-so-easy-to-control vehicle, especially one that you've seen a lot in real life but have never been able to control yourself.
      • In ETS2 I especially feel that pleasure when I park the truck.
  • Criticisms
    • I feel like many of the highway turns are too sharp for the posted speed limits. It feels too fast.
    • I wish I had the option to have the right-side blind-spot mirror on the HUD.
    • What's with the toll amounts? 36 euros for a toll?
    • The way the AI vehicles turn doesn't feel realistic.
    • The AI vehicles don't drift around in their lanes.
    • Once I got comfortable with parking and had done a dozen or so jobs, the game started to feel stale. This is what happened with Vietnam Medevac.
  •  Driving
    • Turn down the default mouse sensitivity.
    • If you're using keyboard and mouse to drive, it's much 'safer' to enable the on-screen right mirror rather than using your mouse-look to rotate your view over to the right to look out the mirror. I've had multiple accidental mis-steerings as a result of trying to use my mouse-look to look out the right mirror when changing lanes.
    • Keep your eye out for those speed limit sights (circle with red outline and white in the middle). They seem to generally indicate a change in the speed limit, which can get you a ticket easily.
    • Pay attention to the green arrows on the GPS map, they'll indicate when you need to change lanes.
  • Parking
    • It is much easier if you 1) lean out the window, 2) keep your eyes on the back of the trailer, and 3) move as slowly as possible, and 4) try to get your cab and trailer as straight as possible before you back in (because it's easier to visualize how it'll behave).
      • To lean out the window, just hold down the right mouse button ('look around' mode) and move the mouse all the way to the left.
    • I was parking once and the white space indicator wasn't turning green (to indicate that I had parked correctly), and it turned out I just needed to go back further. So be aware that the white indicator of where your cab should be may not be accurate (it may be too far forward).

FlatOut

Praise

  • The game is surprisingly fun despite its age and simplicity.
  • It runs great on my laptop.
  • Flying out your windshield when you hit something is hilarious, as is seeing another driver fly through their windshield when they hit something.  It's clearly meant to be over-the-top.
  • The car deformations are awesome.
  • The sound of cars hitting each other is awesome.
  • The debris everywhere is great, it reminds me of Driver.
  • Having your car bumping around as it drives over debris and small bumps is awesome, that also reminds me of Driver.
  • The speed-boost feature is ridiculous but I do think it helps to keep the game fun.

Criticisms

  • The game is largely about memorizing each track.  I guess that's what real racing is like, too, though.
  • One difference from Forza that I noticed was that in Forza I can go on a track alone and gradually go faster and faster around the track to memorize it (starting out at 10 mph and increasing by 10 mph each loop), but in FlatOut AFAIK you just need to do the race over and over again, and having the other cars bumping into you makes it far harder to memorize how to take each turn.
  • The menus are pretty bad. You can't see all of the options at once, so I still get tripped up on which menu has the "Exit Game" option. Also the background color and graphics are just ugly.
  • The fact that you can't turn off the end-of-race replays is obnoxious, it means you have to do ~3 more button presses just to exit the race.

Things I noticed

  • There seems to be a lot of rubberbanding.

Advice

  • Turn off the music.
  • Turn down the volume of the actual cars to reduce your stress.
  • If you can get out in front at the beginning you are far more likely to win because the other cars will be bumping into each other and slowing each other down, and you will not have other cars bumping into you.
  • One good way to get out in front at the beginning is to just hold down the accelerator as much as possible (more than you normally would).
  • Another way to get an advantage is to look for some shortcut that the AI cars aren't taking.
  • Always spend as much of your money as possible on upgrades before every race, as it has a dramatic effect on how easy it is to win each race.
  • The best way I've found to learn a new track is to just keep restarting until I can end up in 1st place early on (like, before the mid-way point on the first lap).
  • On the high-grip racing surface I found I could benefit from just holding down the boost button (Left Ctrl) at the beginning of the race when there's a lot of jostling among the cars for position.  Obviously it depends on whether there are any tight turns early on but it's something to consider doing.

GoldenEye

Advice for playing

Multiplayer

  • No matter the scenario, it's crucial to know how to move as fast as possible by "side-strafing" (turning 45 degrees away from the direction you want to go in, pressing up on the joystick, and holding the appropriate yellow button to side-step "forwards").  If you don't do this you won't be able to run away from 
  • Pursuers have an advantage on levels that have slowly-opening doors (like Temple and Facility).
1v1
  • Using guns
    • Body armor is the key to success.  Your top priority when you spawn should be to get body armor.
    • Once an experienced player has the upper hand (i.e. has killed the other player without losing much health and has full body armor with one of the better weapons on the level), it can be difficult for the other player to recover.
    • On some levels (like Facility), if Player 1 kills Player 2, Player 1 can then wait in the "middle" of the level (in Facility, it's where the lockers are) such that as soon as Player 2 respawns, Player 1 can reach Player 2 before Player 2 can get body armor and kill Player 2 again.
    • On some levels (like Temple), rather than camping in the "middle" of the level and focusing on trying to , Player 1 can camp between Player 2 and the body armor.
  • Using proximity mines
    • This is a lot of fun and is a totally different experience from using guns.

Graviteam Tactics

Heat Signature

  • The thing that makes it less interesting than Combat Mission is that:
    • In Heat Signature the counters for things are very clear, and they're often black-and-white, so that you clearly either can or cannot do a mission with the tools you have and the opposition you face. For example, a crashbeam is useless for killing armoured guards; it's not merely 'less useful', in the same way that an infantry squad is 'less useful' against a tank than an AT gun is against that tank.
    • In Heat Signature you can always use your counters against the appropriate enemies, whereas in Combat Mission you can end up in a situation where you *do* have a counter to a particular enemy unit, but your counter is not positioned where it needs to be to counter that unit. So Combat Mission requires a lot more planning. I suppose you could also say that Combat Mission is more random in that way as well: if the enemy shows up where you weren't expecting them and don't have an appropriate response ready, you can end up in a bad situation, and that can just be a matter of luck. Heat Signature feels more deterministic, which is nice but if there aren't that many unique states, it makes planning ahead trivial and uninteresting.

Hidden Folks

  • How I would make a good Hidden Folks:
    • Make it really easy for users to add content to particular levels.
    • Make it colorful.
    • Make it funny.
    • Make it have variety.
    • Only have one person you need to find.
    • It's not really about finding stuff, it's about watching the world play out and marvelling at all of the action going on.
    • Don't try to make it really hard to find the person (e.g. hiding him behind things you need to click on).
    • It's debatable whether you really need to be able to interact with the world (e.g. clicking on things). I'd call this a 'nice to have' but not essential.

Human Resource Machine

IL-2 Sturmovik

Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka

Invisible, Inc.

General thoughts

  • This game seems like a spin on Gunpoint. It seems very, very similar to Gunpoint's concept / theme.
  • The story is that you work for some kind of spy agency that just got attacked by "the corporations", most of the agents were killed, and now you need to raid "the corporations" for "supplies".

Summary of the tutorial

  • Click on a person to select them.
  • Right-click on a square to issue a move order.
  • Hit 'Enter' to end the turn.
  • P to peek
  • Move next to an interactive object (including guards) to have options pop up on the object.
  • Click on the options to activate them (including knocking out guards).
  • KO'd guards will wake up several turns later and begin looking for you.
  • Standing on a KO'd unit will delay when they wake up.
  • Peeking out an open door will reveal more information than peeking out a closed door. You can open a door from the diagonal squares to it.
  • PWR is basically like your MP
  • Hit the space bar to activate 'Incognita', who I guess lets you hack stuff(?).
  • Distracting a guard will cause them to investigate the lure on their turn.
  • Opening a door that is within sight of a guard will arouse the guard's suspicion and cause him to walk through the door.
  • You can select an 'Ambush' action in the bottom-left corner to ambush guards that you've lured towards you.
  • You can peek around corners without exposing yourself by clicking the 'Peek' icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  • Cover objects create blind spots one tile behind them that you can hide in.
    • Note that some of these blind spots look ridiculous (it looks like the guard should easily be able to see you). Just use the beige striped color on the floor to know if it's a working blindspot or not.
  • You can 'Observe' guards (click on them) and you'll know what their patrol pattern is.
  • You cannot hack a terminal from the diagonal squares.
  • Every turn the security level goes up by one. New security measures are added every 5 increments (every 5 turns).
  • Tab to switch between operatives.
  • Stun guns take 2 turns to recharge.
  • Hacking doesn't take any AP(?).
  • Peeking takes 1 AP.
  • Additional guards (starting at alert level 4) show up at those red double-doors.
  • You don't exit the level from the same place where you entered it. You're looking for a four-square elevator. The levels are sort of linear in that they're expecting you to move through the entire level to get to the exit.
  • It looks like PWR may carry over from level to level.

KNIGHTS

Advice

  • At the beginning of the puzzle you may have a lot of degrees of freedom(?), so you can kind of just wiggle the pieces towards where they need to be, get all but one or two of them in-place, and then that's really when the puzzle starts.

Limbo

  • It's such a depressing environment.

Magic Duels

  • What I like about the game (not including thoughts on the card game, just the interface / set-up)
    • I think they've done a brilliant job of easing people into the game.
    • I love that there are very short, very quick challenges that are used to introduce each new gameplay mechanic.
    • I love that they highlight (with a red outline) the cards that you can choose from in any particular part of the game (e.g. choosing a card to play, choosing a target for a particular spell, etc.)
    • I love that they give hints (which you can turn off) about what card you should play next (they do it with an arrow pointing downwards at the card they think you should consider playing).
    • I love that there are only five missions per 'story', so you get a real feeling of accomplishment when you finish one of them.

Metal Gear Solid

VR Missions

I watched this longplay: PSX Longplay [288] Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions

  • They use the same levels multiple times with small variations: A sneaking mission, a sneaking mission time-attack where the guard positions and patrol routes are sometimes (often?) different, a sneaking mission with a SOCOM pistol where you also need to *kill* all the guards, and that last one with also a time-attack element.
  • The number of guards, guard positions, and patrol routes are sometimes (often?) different in the different appearances of a particular level.
  • The levels are generally small, the levels are quick to start, and you start right next to the action, so there's no lost time in getting right into it.
  • One possible 'imperfection' in the levels is that the technique being tested is often not necessary to beat the level, and in fact is often not the fastest way to beat the level.
  • Another possible 'imperfection' is that the level designs are fixed; there's no variation to ensure that the player can handle new situations rather than simply memorizing the guard/camera/spotlight patterns for a particular level. I'm seeing this a lot in this longplay.
  • The time attack levels provide two similar-but-different challenges: the first challenge is just being able to pass the level within the hard time limit, and the second challenge is figuring out how to beat the top-3 times.

Weapon mode

SOCOM
  • For the first level you don't need to aim, you just need to move in one direction and shoot. It has multiple targets, I guess just to reinforce the fact that each target takes 3 hits to destroy, the same number of shots it takes to kill the guards.
  • The second level also has you just move forward, but has the targets to the left and right, so you need to actually aim left and right.
  • The third level introduces moving ("patrolling") targets. The shape of the level is funny (a smiley face), and it actually does seem to work with the constraints that the level has, but it seems to be only a way of keeping it visually interesting rather than as an integral part of what's being taught.
  • The fourth level introduces pillars that can block your line of sight.
  • The fifth level shows targets that periodically "disappear", I don't understand what that is supposed to represent. I think it's purely gamey, it's not meant to test a skill that will carry over to your interactions against guards.
  • There are only five levels for SOCOM training, vs. 15 for the sneaking training.
C4
  • The first level is the simplest possible thing you can imagine: a short line with a single wall that you need to blow up.
  • The second level introduces the idea of blowing up multiple targets with a single C4. It has 4 sets of 2 cube targets.
  • The third level seems to introduce the idea of chain reactions of explosions.
  • The fourth level encourages you to use chain reactions to blow up floating explosive targets.
  • The fifth level seems to continue with trying to get you to use chain reactions. It seems to have an extraneous part of the level that I can't see the use of. I suppose it allows people to see a part of the level that they wouldn't otherwise be able to see.
FAMAS
  • The first level just has three targets.
  • The second level has explosive targets; I don't see how this helps teach the use of the FAMAS.
  • The third level just has a bunch of normal targets arranged in lines. I guess the idea is to introduce the idea that the FAMAS is great at rapidly taking down lots of grouped enemies?
  • The fourth level seems to continue this theme but with explosive targets, it's a question-mark-shaped level where you can run-and-gun and take down targets that line up with each other.
  • The fifth level is in the shape of an exclamation mark and doesn't seem to introduce any new idea. It changes the camera angle to a lower perspective, which would seem to limit the use of this as a trainer for the normal game (which doesn't use such a low camera angle).
Grenade
  • The first level has five explosive targets, three of which are at the same level as you and two are below you. So it seems to be introducing how to use the grenade as well as the fact that you can use grenades against enemies on lower levels from you in a way that you can't use your guns.
  • The second level seems to just show three explosive targets that are slightly elevated from your position and separated from you by small moats, with only small "shelves" that the grenades can land on, so I guess the idea here is to force you to throw your grenades either more accurately or in such a way that they are stopped by the cube targets so that the grenades don't fall off the shelves.
  • The third level seems to introduce the idea of timing, greater accuracy, and the arc of your throw: there are two targets that move, one of which is behind a wall (so you need to take into consideration the arc of your throw), one target that's in mid-air (so you need to cook the grenade first), and one target that's far away with a small shelf (similar to the second level) but at an angle where you can't toss the grenade at it perpendicular to its side, so you need to throw more accurately.
  • The fourth level just seems to be more practice with moving targets. I don't see anything new here.
  • The fifth level seems to be just more practice with cooking grenades.
Claymore
  • The first level introduces the idea of crawling to avoid setting off claymores and instead pick them up, and how to use a claymore to destroy a target.
  • The second level just has two targets; I don't see anything new being introduced here.
  • The third level just seems to be more practice against more targets; the level is in the shape of an 8, which is the number of targets.
  • The fourth level also seems to be just more practice against more targets. You seem to be confined to a smaller space, so I guess they're making sure you won't blow yourself up.
  • The fifth level also just seems to be more practice against more targets (16).

Advanced Mode

  • These seem to be just like the SOCOM sneaking missions except with all of the different guns: your goal is to take out all enemies on the level.

Special

  • This mode has a bunch of different things:
    • 1 minute 'take out as many as you can' mode, with different levels for targets and for human opponents.
    • "Kill 12 opponents" levels where you seem to be gradually given less and less ammunition.
    • "Mystery" levels. These actually seem to do a good job of training you to deal with the kinds of small in-game puzzles MGS will throw at you, like when you battle Psycho Mantis.
    • "Puzzle" levels - Very gamey.
    • "Variety" levels - Random challenges that don't fit into the themes of the other level groupings, like "can you drag this guard this far without killing him from choking him too much?", "Can you weave through this tight-knit group of guards?", "Can you hit these targets that are weaving between guards without hitting any of the guards?" Also has silly missions like "Take out the UFOs" and "take out the giant guards".
    • "VR Mission" - A 10-levels-in-15-minutes infiltration mission challenge. This looks legitimately difficult.
    • "Ninja" - 3 samey missions, this seems to just be a short-and-sweet little addition to spice things up.
    • "NG Selection" - I don't understand why this is distinguished from the "Variety" mode.

Monstrum

  • General thoughts on the game
    • This honestly plays better than Alien Isolation.
      • It doesn't have a boring story mode: you're thrown straight into the scary bit, with just a few minutes of being left alone before the monster comes for you.
      • It isn't limited by the Alien's man-in-a-rubber-suit monster design.
    • When I was first playing it was so terrifying (because I had no idea what was going to happen / how the monster behaved) that I couldn't play; I would just hunker down in a room for five minutes and quit the game. It became much less scary when I finally understood how the monster behaves and how I can evade it.
    • I love the changing level design as you move up and down the different levels of the ship. The changing scenery has a real impact on how you hide yourself.
  • Advice for playing
    • Your goal
      • Your objective is to escape from the cargo ship that you're stuck on.
      • There are at least three ways to escape: using a life raft, using the helicopter, and using the submarine.
      • To escape each way, you need to find three items (different items for each method) and bring them to the escape location.
    • The monsters
      • It appears that there are three monster types: a big / strong fire-eyed monster, a floating purple monster, and a skinny black insect/Alien-ish monster.
      • It appears that on each run you're only facing one of the three monster types.
      • You are warned when the monster is nearby, you just need to learn what the warnings are.
        • The big fire-faced monster makes a lot of noise as he's running around, and the noise doesn't seem to be limited in a realistic way. For example, I would estimate you can hear him from maybe 50+ meters away in any direction, even if he's several levels above or below you.
        • I think I observed that when the purple monster is nearby, the lights tend to flicker.
      • My impression is that the monsters do not hear your footsteps when you're walking or even running.
      • My impression is that the computer cheats and has the monster patrol around where you are, even if the monster has no reason to believe you're around there (i.e. the monster hasn't seen you and you haven't made any noise as you've moved into that position).
    • How to proceed
      • Advance cautiously, looking out for sounds / sights that indicate the monster is nearby.
      • Turn off the music at first; the music makes it harder to hear the monsters, and also makes the game way scarier.
      • If you set off an alarm, you may be best off running ~50m away before you hide.
        • I set off an alarm near the bridge and then tried hiding nearby rather than moving, and the purple monster showed up about a minute later. As far as I can tell I didn't get any kind of audiovisual cue that he was getting closer (flickering lights). That may just be because it was the bridge. IDK.

Mount and Blade: Warband

Praise

  • This is a brilliant game. I'm surprised the idea still hasn't been ripped off by a triple-A studio.

Criticisms

  • General
    • It crashed when I alt-tabbed right after a fight had ended.
  • Campaign
    • You should be able to turn off the enemy previews, where it tells you exactly what units another army has.
    • I wish there was more variety in the dialogue. That should be easy to add.
    • The AI on the world map sometimes behave stupidly, like repeatedly approaching and then running away from a much-larger band of enemies.
  • Battle
    • You should be able to choose how aggressive archers should be in targeting enemy units that are close to friendly units.
    • The battles should be slower.
      • Later: You can somewhat control this, but not as much as I'd like.
    • Units should move slower during combat.
    • Fatigue during combat should be simulated.
    • The problem is that the group combat doesn't seem very tactically interesting. It's just a free-for-all. I can't see how a tactical decision could make much of an impact from what the free-for-all outcome would be.
      • The rock-paper-scissors of spearmen-archers-cavalry just doesn't seem to be very strong here. Archers aren't effective enough against infantry, and cavalry don't go specifically after archers.
    • The K:D ratios are ridiculous at times. 45 enemies killed with only 3 friendlies killed?
      • Later: That's because I had the difficulty set so that my friendly troops only took a fraction of the real damage.
    • I feel like arrows aren't significant enough.
      • I did a 200v200 test on the oasis map with 200 Vaegir infantry vs. 200 Swadian archers, where I had the archers stand back and fire at the infantry as they approach (they could hit the infantry once they got about halfway through the map), and 79 infantry were killed by the time they finally were able to attack the first archer.
      • Arrows don't seem to disable units at all. They just reduce health points.
    • You should be able to direct your cavalry to go specifically after the enemy's archers.
    • The game should simulate confusion when you have different kinds of soldiers (different uniforms). I'm considering only using Swadian soldiers because it'll make it easier for me to tell who's on my side.
    • Everyone immediately knows when the last person has been killed.
    • The enemy never routes, which is when most of the casualties should happen. There should be entire "battles" which are just the enemy running away and you slaughtering them.
    • Enemies never surrender during the fight.

Recommended settings

  • Turn the music off.
    • The music gets really old. They really should invest in some variety in the music.
  • Hide banners on friendly troops.
  • Hide casualty-reporting.
  • Hide shot difficulty.
  • Change number of corpses to 150.
  • Change blood stains from "near player" to "on".

Tactics

  • Maybe only use only footmen and archers, with maybe a 4:1 ratio.
    • Horsemen are probably helpful when going up against horsemen.
    • Later: Use the custom battle simulator to get a feel for what unit mixes are the best.
  • Your main job should be to get on a horse and 1) draw away a significant chunk (5-10) of the enemy force, and 2) hit the enemy force with arrows. (Not having troops on horseback will make it easier for you to hit the enemy main body with arrows before your troops get there).

N++

  • This game seems to have a really great progression of levels that teach various abilities and gradually increase the difficulty.

One Finger Death Punch

  • The game does a great job of teaching you how to play.
  • The ongoing spoken tutorial is extremely helpful.
  • The graphics are really amateurish.
  • The fake asian accent used for the tutorial is hilarious.

Operation Flashpoint / Arma

Orcs Must Die

  • Having to spam clicking to kill orcs is annoying.
  • The simplicity of identifying the best way to place traps is disappointing compared to Dungeon Warfare.
  • The 3D in-the-fight perspective is great.
  • There's no gradual increase in price for traps so you're incentivized to pile in on one or two traps.
  • It's a good idea to get as close to the orcs as possible when firing your crossbow, and use your alt-fire to stun them and get more hits in.
  • I do like how every level gives you a new trap to play with.
  • The crossbow is pretty OP. I think it would be better if your weapons were used to take care of loose ends rather than as a main method of defense.

Papers, Please

  • I got stuck when I had to deal with the guy who didn't have a passport, I didn't realize I needed to click on the counter rather than on him.
  • What's the point of interrogating someone rather than just immediately denying their admission?
  • I got stuck *again* when I needed to use the search scanner to search for weapons. There seems to be no explanation of how to use it. And because the game is so time-sensitive, it's infuriating when I'm losing time because the game hasn't explained what I need to click.
  • It's kind of annoying how much of the game is about how quickly you can click on the stupid little actions like changing pages, etc.
  • You get new warnings every day, so it's worth taking some risks about letting people through.
  • The theme is pretty neat (novel), while playing it I was definitely thinking people could make more games like this to show people what happens when people are made cogs in a machine.
  • There are a ridiculous number of ways for an application to be invalid, and the rate of invalid applications is ridiculously high.
  • The game is set up for you to fail, so don't feel bad when you do.

Poker Night at the Inventory

  • Advice for playing
    • Your opponent's behavior and the frequency of the blind increases seem to have been tuned for each game to end after ~20-30 minutes.
    • The AI will call and even go all-in with garbage cards (like 9-4 offsuit), so don't be afraid to bet / raise.
    • Play somewhat conservatively while there are several players at the table and gradually expand the cards you'll play as people get blown out.
    • Try to win one or two hands while there are several people at the table to get to ~$15,000 - $20,000.
    • After losing once or twice and learning how the AI behaves, I've not lost again.
    • I lost one all-in going heads-up that totally reversed our position, so I would say if you're in an advantageous position don't get too impatient.
    • If the AI starts betting somewhat aggressively (e.g. $4,000 pre-flop or on the flop), and continues betting aggressively, they do have somewhat good cards about half the time.

Pony Island

  • It's like a polished, but simple, mash-up of other games.
  • It has the ominous / mysterious tone of Hotline Miami. It also uses effects seen in Hotline Miami, like rotating the view to make things seem off, and having the title of the game in the main menu rotate.
  • It has super-simple versions of the TIS-100 puzzles. It even uses the start-up and shut-down sounds from TIS-100 (or sounds very similar to them). And the concept is the same: a corrupted program.
  • The TIS-100 puzzles have portals (from Portal) as well as duplication of your character (from Braid).
  • I feel like the main gripe I have with the game is that I don't feel like I'm experiencing anything new. I feel like I've seen all its parts before. It doesn't feel like it's exploring some new direction.

Quake

  • Oh wow...Turok is clearly based heavily on this. The movement speed, the jumping "Huh!" sound, the head bobbing when you run.
  • This game has a weird palette, everything is different shades of brown.
  • What made this game revolutionary at the time was that it was using 3D graphics, whereas everything else up to that point had been sprites (e.g. Doom, Duke Nukem).
  • Another thing that makes this game revolutionary is the ability to use mouselook.  Apparently (from looking at the Wikipedia entry on Free Look) it wasn't so much the singleplayer as the multiplayer for Quake where the superiority of mouselook became clear.
  • This game is way better if you turn on mouselook, which isn't on by default for some reason.  Just type "+mlook" in the console (`).
  • It's interesting to alternate playing this and playing DUSK. The enemies attack way more quickly in Quake than in DUSK, and the level design forces you closer to the enemies, whereas in DUSK you're often in outdoor areas where you can take out enemies one at a time from afar.  The enemies in this game are also much more visually intimidating than the enemies in DUSK, which are more colorful and cartoonish.

Rainbow Six

Advice for playing

  • You need to treat this game as first-and-foremost a puzzle game that's trying to get closer to realism rather than as a true sim / realistic game. If you go into the experience expecting total realism you're going to get frustrated at all of the unrealistic parts of it.
  • Remap the controls!
  • This isn't explained by the game AT ALL and the training doesn't help AT ALL, but it seems like the way the game is meant to be played is that you're supposed to use the heartbeat sensor to determine the best time to call the go-codes for your team to advance.
  • You NEED to use the heartbeat sensor. The enemies react unrealistically quickly and with unrealistic accuracy, so if you don't use the heartbeat sensor you're going to get extremely frustrated.
  • My experience has been that you should always choose the level-3 armor unless you know for a fact that your guy isn't going to be in any danger (e.g. a sniper).
  • It seems that on hostage missions you need to kill everyone quickly enough or they'll kill the hostages, so there's basically a countdown timer for the mission, but you aren't shown it.

Things I like about the game

  • I love the atmosphere of the game.
  • I love the cramped, realistic proportions for the interiors of buildings.
  • I love the context-dependent music (it changes depending on what's happening in the game).

Things I dislike about the game

  • The exact implications of each type of gun, camo, body-armor-level, etc. are not explained.
  • Unrealistic AI.
  • Lack of control over your persona (inability to lean, for example).
  • Lack of ability to communicate with your teammates as you would in r/l (Ex: "Gimme your flashbangs.").

Receiver

  • I wish there was a lean option.
  • The bullets seem to be generally near the turrets, and not really hidden. They glow.
  • The game runs abysmally slow when you get close to enemies, even when the graphics are set to "fastest".

Shelter 2

  • After the pups joined me and I hunted a bit, it's not clear to me what I should be doing; just hunt more? What's the goal I'm working towards? What additional gameplay, if any, is there?
  • It's an attractive game.
  • The controls don't seem as responsive as they should(?) be when hunting rabbits and other fast-moving creatures. This is the same issue I noticed with superflight: both games have the player mimicking animal movement, but the controls don't allow for as much of a brain-movement connection as is possible and would be realistic.

Shenzhen I/O

Solitaire mini-game

  • Once you get good, you can win almost every hand dealt to you.
  • I suspect that there are unwinnable initial positions, and I also suspect that these are dealt to the player (so the game isn't protecting you against unwinnable positions), but I don't have proof.
  • Your goal should first be to get rid of all the top-left cards (dragons?), because that will make getting the top-right cards sorted away very easy.
  • To decide which dragon to go after first, look for the one that has the fewest dragons on top of its cards.
    • If a dragon set has two or fewer other dragon-type cards on top of its cards, that is often a good dragon-set to go for first.
  • Normally when you lose it's because your playable area gets filled with dragons that you can't move anywhere. So you generally want to try to minimize the number of dragons that you move to some free space.
  • Open spaces are very valuable. You want to aim to increase the number of open spaces when you can.
  • If every dragon-set has three other dragons in front of it, or if the number of open spaces you see is not enough to get rid of one of the sets of dragons, you may be better off trying to clear off / stack up a bunch of numbered cards first to try to get more open spaces.
  • Look for stacks that are all numbers. Those are candidates for being combined, which can free up a space (which greatly increases your chance of winning).
  • Having a '9' on top of a dragon is basically the same as having another dragon on top of it, because moving that 9 is going to require a free space, just as with the dragon. The 9 can't be put on top of anything.
  • If you're feeling stuck because you have 2-3 free spaces but that's not enough to move enough cards around to get rid of the dragons, and you're combining the numbered cards to try to free up spaces, AND you see a stack where a single dragon is covering up 3+ numbered cards, it can be a good idea to use one of your free spaces to get rid of that dragon on top of the stack so that you can use those numbered cards to keep combining numbered cards. I had an amazing game where I won that way.
  • Whenever you get rid of a dragon, re-do your count of how many dragons are blocking the other dragon-sets to see which dragon to go after next.

Silent Hunter 3

  • The Grey Wolves - GWX3 Mod
    • This seems to be a must-have.
  • This game feels a lot like B-17: The Mighty 8th. The graphics style and the UI style are very similar.
  • It would be cool if a sequel had animations for you actually moving through the ship. Jumping around breaks immersion.
    • A: The sequel does have this! And in fact the GWX mod for SH3 also allows you to do this.
  • The game doesn't simulate the speed of sound, so you hear artillery fire immediately, before the rounds arrive.
  • There are surprising spelling / grammar errors in the mission objectives and UI explanations.

General advice

  • Turn the music off.
  • I wish there was a way to disable the Free View button and all the other similar buttons that break immersion.
    • A: You can! Change the realism settings in the Single Mission screen.
  • Don't try to go for 100% realism from the start. There are a lot of processes to learn if you want to play at 100% realism (firing and navigation are the two big ones).

Summary of the tutorial ("Naval Academy")

  • Note that the "In-game tutorial" sections below refer to the text that shows up when you're on the screen to select whether to start a training mission as "Training" or as the "Exam".

Navigation

VIdeo tutorial
  • Basic Controls
    • To switch between the stations (roles), use F1-F12 or move your mouse to the left edge of the screen and click an option from the sidebar that pops out.
    • Dials
      • The leftmost dial represents the ordered speed. Beneath the dial is a numerical representation.
      • The middle dial allows for easy control of the boat's direction. Left-click the exterior disk to order the boat to steer towards that direction. The inner dial represents the boat (so it remains in place, with 0 degrees at the top and 180 degrees at the bottom).
      • Underneath each dial is a circular switch that switches the dial to an alternate mode that allows for finer control.
      • The rightmost dial is the depth dial. The default mode allows control up to 25m in depth, while the alternate allows you to dive to the maximum safe depth.
      • Know that diving takes time, and some U-boat types dive faster than others.
    • The officers (bottom-left corner of the UI) allow you to perform special actions.
  • Navigation Tutorial
    • The black icon represents the U-boat
    • To pan, move the mouse to the edge of the screen.
    • Move the mouse to the pop-out navbar in the top-right corner of the screen to access map tools.
      • Zoom in and out with the mouse wheel.
    • To plot a course, select the course-plotting tool and click on the map, and the boat will follow the course automatically.
    • To speed up long-distance travel, use the time compression buttons in the bottom-right corner of the UI.
      • Time compression will stop automatically as soon as a ship is spotted.
    • Click a contact on the map to learn information about it.
    • Blue icons represent friendly units.
    • The navigation officer (bottom-left corner of the UI) has several navigation-specific actions.
    • You can alter a course by click-and-dragging waypoints.
    • At night the map lighting changes to map the lighting in the U-boat.
    • When you spot an enemy contact:
      • Use the ruler to measure the distance to the enemy contact.
      • Then drawn an estimated course of the enemy.
      • Then draw a probability corridor in which you expect to find the enemy.
      • Then adjust your waypoints to go back and forth diagonally across this corridor.
      • Use time compression to shorten the time until you spot the ship again.
Training / Exam
  • Objectives:
    • Enter the channel to the SSE.
    • Navigate through the channel.
    • Dive to periscope depth and navigate underwater.
    • Navigate submerged towards the south at a depth of 25m.
Thoughts
  • I'm confused about the "Radio Message Received" notification, because sometimes I'll get it but my mission objectives will not have been updated. So what was the notification?
  • When it says "Radio Message Received", that can mean just that your objectives have been updated.
  • It seems you can't actually do anything while sitting in the radioman's seat.
  • The second and third mission objectives bugged out, and I had to retrace my steps to have them trigger.
  • When all the mission objectives were completed, the mission didn't end, and when I hit Esc it asked me if I wanted to abandon the mission. So how do I "win"?
    • A: Click "Abandon mission" and then "Return to base" on the screen that pops up.

Naval artillery

Video tutorial
  • Use the binoculars to check the target
  • Assign crew to the deck gun (left sidebar) by double-clicking on the position. You can also click-and-drag individual men to the gun.
  • Order your watch officer to open fire by clicking the "Deck gun" option from his orders.
    • You can tell him the range to engage at and what part of the target to aim for.
  • Crew performance is influenced by their experience and the range to the target.
  • You can control the gun manually.
  • Pay attention to the ammo type, quantity, and reload time (bottom-right corner of the UI).
  • Press tab to look through the gun's targeting system.
  • Press the up arrow to increase the gun sight's calibrated range.
  • Ships have various vulnerable spots, like fuel or ammo reserves. Hitting a ship there can sink it much faster.
In-game tutorial
  • You can only use the deck gun in good weather.
  • Press the space bar to fire.
  • There are two ways to man the deck gun:
    1. Click the watch officer, then Man on Deck, then the deck gun.
    2. Click the crew management screen and double-click the deck gun.
Thoughts
  • Q: What are star shells?
    • A: Flares that light up over the target.
  • Q: What are the different use-cases for AP vs. HE?
    • A: My guess is HE is for merchants, AP is for escorts.
  • Q: When manning the deck gun you see an option for anti-aircraft shells. When are anti-aircraft shells ever used by the deck gun?
  • The AI deck gunner was missing a surprising number of shots. It seems like in a serious situation you'd want to take over the gun yourself. And he was missing *wide*, which doesn't make sense; I could understand going over or under.

Flak gun tutorial

Video tutorial
  • Order your watch officer to man the gun and then order him to open fire.
  • You can also choose various things about what he should target.
  • Use your binoculars to identify the target.
  • When using the binoculars, you can change the target the gunner should be firing at by pointing at the new target and pressing the space bar.
  • You can take manual control of the gun.
  • Press Tab to zoom in on the targeting reticle.
  • It's best to wait until the plane filles the reticle before opening fire.
  • Beware that the ammo is easily emptied.
In-game tutorial
  • Use LMB to fire.
  • Planes can be on fire and still fly around, which looks ridiculous.
Thoughts
  • The AI gunner is way, way better than me at shooting down aircraft.

Torpedoes

Video tutorial
  • The vertical column on the right side of the UI in the periscope view represents the position of the periscope head, where the head is the red arrow, and the surface is the top of the yellow liquid.
  • To the right of the vertical column is a lever that lets you raise and lower the periscope.
  • You can choose which torpedo tube to fire with, and you can fire it with the red button.
  • The data notepad (top right corner) is used to collect target data for torpedoes.
  • The "Gyro Angle" shows the angle at which the torpedo will be fired. It's set to where your periscope is looking.
  • The chronometer will show the estimated time to hit the target.
  • The recognition manual shows the information you need to identify a ship.
  • You can move the periscope left and right by clicking on the circular view and moving the mouse left and right.
  • At the top of the periscope view you can see the bearing of the view.
  • Press Tab to zoom in the view.
  • To quickly access the recognition manual entry for a particular target that you're zoomed in on, click the part of the data notepad (top-right) that lists the type of ship.
  • When the tube indicators are green, that means they're ready to fire. Red means they're not.
  • Just pick a tube, aim with your periscope, and press the "Fire" button.
  • For each torpedo you fire, you'll see a torpedo icon in the top-left of the UI. Clicking on it will show the estimated time of impact on the chronometer as a red indicator.
  • It's a good idea to fire more than one torpedo at a target in case a torpedo misses or misfires.
In-game tutorial
  • In order to hit a target you need a "solution" for the torpedoes.
  • Assisted targeting:
    • Just aim the crosshair over the target.
    • Q: What is "assisted (to be replaced) mode"?
  • Manual targeting:
    • First, identify the target using the recognition manual.
    • Click the checkbox on the page for the ship you've identified it as.
    • Range:
      • To find the range, you need to know the target's maximum height (it's in the recognition manual).
      • Left-click the range entry in the notepad.
      • Line up the crosshair on the ship's waterline and click the small icon in the lower-left corner of the page.
      • Then line up the crosshair on the top of the ship and left-click to automatically calculate the range.
      • Confirm the result by left-clicking on the check icon.
    • Angle on bow:
      • Click the corresponding entry on the notepad.
      • Click your estimated position relative to the ship.
    • Speed:
      • Click the speed entry.
      • Aim your periscope at the ship.
      • Click the chronometer icon in the bottom-left corner of the notepad.
      • Keep the periscope aimed at the ship for at least 10 seconds while the chronometer is ticking.
      • Left-click to stop the chronometer.
Training / exam
  • To win at this one, feel free to chase the ships around. You don't have to just stay in place.
    I sent two torpedoes after the biggest ship, then went full speed at the other ship that's just to the right of the biggest ship when you start, because it *always* starts moving and stops right in front of you when it sees the torpedoes coming near it (on their way to the big ship), but if you stay in place and fire at it you'll have a hard time hitting it unless you fire in front of it (which is confusing too because can't it see the torpedo is not going to hit it if the ship doesn't move? So why does the ship move then?). After hitting that ship I turn 90 degrees to the right and hit the grey tanker, and then turn another 90 degrees and went after the ship that starts roughly behind you (you can also try to hit that ship with your aft torpedo when you're firing at the second ship). And then I went after the ship that starts to your right, and finally I went and finished off the biggest ship (C3 cargo).
Thoughts
  • I had torpedoes bouncing off the merchant vessal...
    • A: It seems they can also bounce off if they impact at too much of an angle, which can happen if you're facing the ship at an angle very different from 90 degrees, or if the ship has already been hit by one torpedo and thus has one end lower in the water than the other, and your torpedo hits at the raised end. And also apparently the torpedoes in 1939 were not as reliable.
    • It might be useful if the captain could adjust the sensitivity of the detonator.

Convoy attack

Video tutorial
  • To find out if there are any ships around, dive to periscope depth and use the hydrophones. They work further out than watchmen, and are stealthier.
    • Q: Why do you need to dive to use the hydrophones?
  • Once the hydrophones pick up something, bearing lines will show up on the navigation map.
  • A red line marks a warship contact, while a black line marks a merchant contact.
  • Once a contact is signaled, check the surface with the periscope.
  • The hydrophone indicators aren't always perfectly accurate. In this example, two indicators were put on the nav map but there was actually a small convoy. Accuracy depends on crew experience, distance to contact, the contact's speed, and your speed.
  • Before you attack, take note of the position of any possible threats (escort ships).
  • When attacking a convoy, select the most-valuable target for the first attack.
  • Once a convoy is aware of an attack, the merchant ships will begin evasive maneuvers, while the escort ships will begin searching for the U-boat.
  • The ideal range at which to engage a ship with torpedoes is between 500m and 1500m.
  • It's best to fire more than one torpedo at a large ship to guarantee it'll sink.
  • One of your officers will tell you if the ship is destroyed ("Enemy Unit Destroyed").
  • The best angle from which to attack with torpedoes is at 90 degrees to its side.
  • The best gyro angle is between 340 degrees and 20 degrees.
  • When engaging smaller ships, firing one torpedo is generally enough.
In-game tutorial
  • Approach a convoy at Ahead Slow to remain undetected by the escorts.
  • The best chance of success is when:
    • You're within 1000m of your target.
    • You maintain a straight course.
    • You attack targets from abeam.
    • You engage merchants first.
    • You don't keep the periscope out of the water for long periods.
  • The enemy will begin evasive maneuvers as soon as you hit a ship, so try to attack more than one ship with your first volley.
  • If you're in a good position to attack a ship, act promptly.
  • Plan to reach a good attack position while your crew is loading the torpedoes.
  • If you damage a ship without sinking it, fire a second torpedo at it to guarantee a kill.
  • Going up against.escorts:
    • The best advantage you have is to remain submerged and undetected.
    • Your worst disadvantage is your slow speed while underwater.
    • The escorts' hydrophones have limited range, so as long as you don't get too close to them you should remain undetected.
    • Escorts' hydrophones cannot detect a submarine behind them because of the noise from their own propellors, so if you're in such a position you can move fast without being detected.
    • If an escort has detected your u-boat, dive to at least 50m.
    • When an escort launches depth charges (when they start detonating near you?) you should move with Ahead Flank speed and turn hard to one side or the other.
    • As long as you have torpedoes, you should try to gain a good position for another attack.
    • Don't bother trying to use torpedoes on escorts, because they change speed and direction too frequently.
Training / exam
  • To beat this one I think I did two initial salvos, which had several misses IIRC, then dove to 25-50m, switched to silent running, at the Ahead Slow speed, and moved to the other side of the convoy, then used my aft torpedo. Somehow while I was down at 50m the escort was destroyed. It was almost as if the armed trawler was firing at it, from what I could see with my periscope out down at 50m. I then surfaced, destroyed the disabled C3 Cargo with my deck gun, then chased after the convoy, destroyed the armed drawler with my deck gun, and then destroyed the rest of the ships with my deck gun.
Thoughts
  • Q: If you can hear the sonar pings from escorts, does that mean they know where you are?
  • Is it realistic to be able to use the periscope underwater to see nearby ships while you're below periscope depth? I feel like the visibility underwater should not be more than a few feet.
  • Q: Can escorts detect you with their hydrophones if you're moving at the slowest speed, or stopped?
  • Q: Is it better to just keep hammering a ship with the deck gun in the same spot?
  • It would be more immersive if the game showed sailors abandoning ship.
    • A: I think the GWX3 mod does show this. SH4-5 may also show this, I'm not sure.

Soldier of Fortune 2

Thoughts

  • This is a pretty good game.  I can see how it would be frustrating if you were trying to play it like Call of Duty.  It's definitely more fun once you learn how the AI behaves, because then you get killed less.
  • I can't lie, the realistic gore is what made me want to play the game, but it actually doesn't seem over-the-top, it seems generally pretty realistic.

Advice

  • The way to do well in this game is to crouch-walk through the levels, 'slicing the pie' of each room / area to take on the enemy one at a time.
  • The pistol and the M4 are always perfectly accurate, so (unfortunately) there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to ever use something else, like the shotgun or M60.  They should've required you to press some key to hold your breath to get better accuracy for the pistol and M4 and have a wide spread otherwise, that would make the shotgun actually useful for CQB.
  • The AI are less accurate when they're further away and so you should prefer to engage them when they're further away.
  • If you're playing carefully, one of your biggest remaining dangers is grenades, and your best defense against them is keeping distance from the enemy (I'd estimate you want to be at least 40-60 feet away from them if possible, and further away is better).  so what you want to do is get to the point where the enemy is shooting at you and then fall back to a position where you're far enough away that they won't be able to throw a grenade at food.
  • The enemy seems to be much better at hitting you when you're standing up so you want to stay crouched pretty much the entire time, only standing briefly to look / shoot over objects that are preventing you from seeing further.
  • When you're using the M4, use single-shot.
  • Rebind your keys!  Off the top of my head, these are the changes I made:
    • 1 - My main weapon (M4)
      • I did this so I could quickly switch back to it from my binoculars on the jungle mission.
    • Shift - Hold to run
    • Ctrl - Hold to crouch
    • G - select grenade
    • B - select binocs
    • Tab - Zoom binocs / scope
    • F - Use door / pick lock / disarm trap
    • Space - Jump
    • Right-click - Secondary fire / zoom scope
    • R - reload (I don't remember if this was the default or not)
  • The linear design of the levels gives you an advantage when fighting the AI, because you can always(?) safely retreat while facing forwards towards new threats; you never(?) need to worry about enemies behind you.  You can use this to your advantage by using your gun to get the attention of enemy AI that are in a good defensive position and thereby drawing them towards you, and then falling back to a position where you can eliminate them more easily.
  • You can usually hear the enemy soldiers' footsteps when they're pretty close to you, and that can be a good time to use grenades if you can be sure that they won't have time to get to you before you can pull out your gun after throwing the grenade.
  • If you use your binoculars to zoom in on an enemy, that seems to actually make them more likely to spot you–even if you're difficult to spot–so don't zoom in too much on enemy soldiers with binoculars.
  • You'll pick up health and body armor if you're even the slightest bit below maximum health/armor, and so on the harder difficulty setting you may want to wait to pick them up if you're already close to full health/armor.  But you should remember where they are so you can go back to them later in the mission if you get shot.
  • This game on its hardest difficulty is actually more forgiving than Operation Flashpoint.
  • Penetration doesn't seem to be modeled; a tent will protect you from an M60.

Spelunky

  • The main cause of death I'm seeing is combinations: an enemy will not only do damage to you but also result in you being thrown in the opposite direction, which often ends up with you falling off a ledge, or being pushed into a trap or another enemy.

Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell

  • This is actually pretty cool to play.
  • The game is clearly based on Metal Gear Solid.
  • I think it's hilarious that he has these three glowing green dots on his face when he's trying to hide in the shadows.
  • The game seems to use the light and sound ideas from Thief.
  • The first mission feels extremely linear.
  • One downside of the game is that succeeding is heavily dependent on save-scumming. It's not like a roguelike where you're learning a set of skills that you apply on-the-fly.
  • Ridiculous game logic: two guys are in a large room on their computers, just maybe 30 feet from each other, and you can knock each one out without alerting the other.
  • As of the third mission the game feels extremely basic / linear; it's just a series of extremely-simple challenges where you just need to know which of your tools you need to use next. It's nothing like OFP, where a ton of how to proceed is left for you to decide.
  • The game is at times a frustrating quiz of figuring out exactly how the level designer wants you to proceed, rather than using a set of skills you've been developing to win. It's more trial-and-error than victory-through-skill. For example, the opening to the CIA mission has a very short timer for you to get through the AC shaft, but you're not told where the AC shaft is, what it looks like, etc. I just had to restart over and over until I eventually figured it out. And there's often issues where I can't easily do what I want to do, like step up onto a ledge I should clearly be able to step onto, or failing to grab a ledge that the level designer clearly wants me to grab.
  • It might be a cool difficulty option to FORCE you to get door keycodes from people instead of from datasticks, and to have it not be clear which person has the keycode, so you need to interrogate everyone.
  • I think Splinter Cell may actually have more minutes of gameplay than Metal Gear Solid. I think MGS tries to keep it short and sweet with the gameplay and then mixes it up with cinematics, while Splinter Cell provides more gameplay with a less-interesting story and cinematics.

Star Wars: Dark Forces

  • The sounds are great
  • I like how drastically shooting lights up the area around you, I don't remember seeing as dramatic an effect as that before.
  • Like in GoldenEye, there are some missions where you need to retrace your steps and face new enemies along the way (like mission 2).
  • I find the firefights are similar to the firefights in GoldenEye
  • The aim assist seems similar to GoldenEye
  • There's a nice delay between when an enemy sees you and when he'll fire.
  • The third level, the sewers, is AMAZING. It's not afraid to put you in absolute darkness, so that the only way to see is by shooting your blaster. The enemy design is great (the swamp monster), and I love how the sewage system pulls you along.
  • The music is not great, nowhere near GoldenEye-level.

Advice for playing

  • Enemies don't shoot at you if you're far enough away, so staying far back and picking them off with your default pistol works pretty well.
  • Your pistol is more accurate than the stormtrooper blaster, so it's better to use your pistol for anything other than close-range fighting.
  • The stormtrooper blaster is best for in-close fighting because of its rapid rate of fire and inaccuracy.
  • Strafing really seems to help to avoid getting hit. Face your target and strafe to the side while shooting.

Startopia

  • Use WASD to move around and hold Left Ctrl to enable mouse-look. Keeping your left hand in that position (WASD + Ctrl) makes it way, way easier to move and look around. I actually find it easier to move / look around than in Shogun: Total War and Combat Mission.

  • Turn off the music, it's annoyingly bad.

  • Reverse the mouse wheel zoom direction (change it in the controls from +3 to -3) and also consider reducing the sensitivity (making it -2 or -1 instead).

  • They misspelled 'deceased' as 'deseased' in the message that pops up when one of your soldiers dies.

  • The game feels claustrophobic because of the walls, the ceilings, the relatively small playable area, and the fact that the floor curves up into your field of view.

  • The clapping when you complete a mission and the "YOU'RE A WINNER!" text feels infantilizing.

  • While playing the first mission I did get a hint of that satisfying feeling you get from watching some process / machine you've made (e.g. watching customers in Theme Park / Rollercoaster Tycoon or watching your factory in Factorio).

  • Second mission:

    • The second level is surprisingly challenging for a second level.

    • The aliens are bored but I don't know how to fix that. None of the buildings I've been shown so far or given access to seem to be able to fix that.

    • I built the sick bay but I don't see the grey aliens using it, and other aliens are dying.

    • The second mission is where it started to get interesting. You're basically racing around trying to make sure the various issues you have are being taken care of. It's like a lower-stress version of a game of Starcraft.

  • It's annoying that they use the same conversation over and over again with the traders and your advisor.
  • It's cool that you can lock your camera to one of the aliens on the ship.
  • Mission 3 seemed relatively easier than the second mission. There doesn't seem to be any time pressure to achieve the goal.
  • I didn't really feel any tension / excitement this mission, probably because of the lack of a time limit.
  • I failed the third mission on my first attempt but it wasn't clear to me what I could've done to prevent criminals from doing bad things.
  • I think one thing I could've done was to hire every criminal that gets rehabilitated, or at least a bunch of them. I didn't hire *any*.
  • Failed the second attempt as well.
  • Succeeded on the third attempt. It was just a matter of paying attention to *why* I was failing and how to prevent it. What I learned was that the way the mission works is that visitors arrive with red
  • Mission five was boringly easy.
  • With mission seven things started to get really complicated. Now I see that the previous missions were not intended to stand alone, they were essentially a continuation of the tutorials, introducing the various systems within the game, and that the idea is to eventually combine all of those different systems in a single game.

Steamworld Heist

  • I really don't like the way you need to "open" the loot you find on each ship like it was a lootbox.
  • I don't see what's so interesting about this game. It looks like the only thing it has going for it is the mechanic of bouncing bullets off walls. Graphically it looks professionally-made, but gameplay-wise I don't understand the appeal.

Steel Beasts

Superflight

  • Stay on the "outside" of the map to stay safe. You can easily just "camp" in that position and rack up as high a score as you want.
  • You may want to increase your sensitivity to the max (both horizontal and vertical) once you get the hang of the game, as it makes it easier to escape from dangerous situations.
  • I wish the game had you turn faster when you're in a straight-down orientation.
  • Almost no UI, which adds to the immersiveness.
  • I can't see as much as I want to; I want to have ~360 degree vision so I can see if I can make a turn in a drastic direction, or see what's behind me. Birds have their eyes on the sides of their heads so that they get great peripheral vision.
  • I still don't feel like I have as *much* control and as *low-latency* control as a bird does. I get frustrated when I want to execute a maneuver and it feels like my brain is fast enough to give the commands but the small number of keys I have to use as input and the input lag combine to make it far more difficult for me to execute the maneuver.
  • It seems like the horizontal controls don't have much lag but the vertical controls are delayed by maybe 0.1 seconds.
  • A lot of the fancier maneuvers (e.g. going into really tight spaces) seem to depend on having a good knowledge of the map. For some hypothetical competitor it might make sense to have people using the same map for a while so that they can develop a knowledge of how things are laid out.
  • You don't generally gain enough extra points from aiming drastically downwards to make it worth it. It's only really useful in short bursts to get out of situations where there's no way to continue in a somewhat-horizontal direction.
  • I could see slow-motion being useful in a game like this, although it would take away from the feeling of skill that comes from mastering the controls.
  • Another problem I'm noticing is that I'm having trouble gauging the distance between my character and the surrounding environment. Maybe VR would help with that? (Stereoscopic vision would help give depth information).

Teleglitch

  • Thoughts on the game:
    • This seems like a good game for people who beat Hotline Miami 1 and 2 a while ago (so it's been a while since they've played a top-down shooter) and would interested in something similar but different.
    • Some of the weapon sounds are brutal. I really can't think of more-brutal weapon sounds I've ever heard in a game. They seem to be a lot shorter in duration and have a lot more of a crack to them than in most other shooting games.
    • I honestly think it may have given me slight motion sickness from having the camera constantly rotating and zooming in and out. I get why they do it, but it's not very pleasant. I need to check if there's a way to disable that.
    • There's something very stark about the game. Maybe because of the lack of music(?).
  • Advice for playing:
    • Settings advice
      • Turn off the rotation and zoom.
    • Definitely start by playing the arena missions.
      • It'll make the campaign a lot less frustrating, because in the campaign you can sink a lot of time in as a new player to get to the third level or so, and then die, which is very annoying.
    • General tactics
      • Teleglitch isn't meant to be played like Hotline Miami, where you take out one guard at a time.
        • The ammo is given out in such a way that you're incentivized to run forward and avoid fighting the melee enemies for a while, wait until you get a crowd of them following you, and then use RDX_500 on them. That's the most-efficient way to get rid of them.
        • This should also solve the issue of levels taking a long time to beat. You can literally just rush through them in a minute or so.
        • I figured this out while playing the arena missions.
      • When facing large crowds it's very important to not get backed into a corner. You need to have a circular route of hallways that you can run around to buy yourself time.
      • If you want to use an explosive against a crowd, look for a big open square room, and then run against the back near corner, and as they come in work across the back wall to the far corner from the entrance, then up the opposite wall, so you get them all in the room, and then drop the explosive.
      • To survive you should move forward cautiously (with your gun out), and once an enemy starts chasing you, run backwards and decide what weapon is the most efficient one to kill them with.
    • Enemy info and enemy-specific tactics
      • You need to kill enemies that have guns ASAP. They'll drain your health quick.
    • Weapon info & weapon tactics
      • Heavy rifle
        • hits instantly
        • slow reload
      • Revolver
        • Weak
        • Best for taking out weaker enemies without using ammo you need for tougher enemies.
      • Weapons aren't nearly as accurate as in Hotline Miami. There's a much bigger emphasis on explosives.
      • Ammo is very limited, so you need to be a lot more careful with your ammo than in Hotline Miami.
      • You want to conserve pistol ammo for use against single weak enemies so you don't end up needing to waste more-damaging ammo against them.
      • The AGL-1 is good against those green-and-white tougher enemies that look like they have multiple arms. It'll take them out in one direct hit, whereas with a pistol it'll take ~6-8 shots.
      • You may need to throw nailbombs, as I think I took a lot of damage from dropping one, even though I got a fair distance away.
      • When using a spray gun (e.g. double-barreled nailgun or shotgun), try to get a crowd of people chasing you and then get them to funnel into a doorway or around a corner, then open up on them.
    •  Campaign:
      • It seems like a good idea to fully explore each level rather than just quit the level as soon as you get to the teleporter, because you can find more weapons by exploring.
    • Arena
      • The bad thing about the arena is that it doesn't seem to really teach you ammo conservation. I feel like you get a lower amount of ammo in the campaign for each enemy you face than you do in the arena.

Thief 2

  • I remember when I first got my PC back in late 2000 and Thief 2 came with my graphics card (IIRC), and I didn't enjoy the game at the time because the fantasy elements seemed ridiculous to me. I was more interested in games attempting to get closer to reality, like Rainbow Six and Operation Flashpoint.

  • What made me finally understand what Thief 2 was all about was playing Heat Signature.

TIS-100

Total War

Shogun: Total War

  • I love this game.
  • If you buy it on Steam, you'll have the most up-to-date version installed (including patches).

What I like

  • I love the variety you get from hopping back and forth between the Risk-style gameplay and the battles.
  • The music is fantastic.
  • I think it looks beautiful, including the menus.
  • The voice acting is great.
  • The difficulty is neither too easy nor too difficult.

What I dislike

Guides

General advice for playing

  • You need to use the time control to speed up the uneventful parts of battles, because you're going to be fighting a lot of battles.
  • A big part of the game that isn't immediately obvious from looking at screenshots is balancing your armies across your different borders to prepare yourself as best as possible for an attack on any border.
  • Shinobi are extremely powerful, it seems even more so when your opponent has switched to Christianity.
  • Grouping and ungrouping will not be shown immediately on your UI if you have the battle paused. That also goes for formation changes. To ungroup just click on the unit and click the group button again.

  • Units *can* recover their exhaustion state from 'very tired' to 'quite fresh' if you wait. I suspect the speed of their recovery may depend on how much they've done up to that point.  There may be some level of activity after which the unit will never recover.

  • You almost always want to switch your units to a loose formation once they come under arrow fire while not in combat, and you almost always want to switch your melee units to a tight formation when they're fighting, so a lot of what you're actually doing during a battle is just switching units back and forth from a loose to a tight formation depending on their situation.

Questions I have

  • Question: what are these different terrain types and how do they affect units? is there a 'mud' terrain that I have to watch out for?

Full Campaign

Sengoku Jidai
  • Shimazu
    • Won – Don't fight anyone! I just teched up my 2-3 provinces that are the furthest from enemy territory (including the one that can produce better no-dachi), Imagawa got eliminated and his territories and armies went to me because we were allies, and I just kept teching up. IIRC Imagawa had invaded Oda's territory and then Imagawa was killed in battle, and the result of this was that there were Ronin / Rebels that had Warrior Monks units, and they ended up causing a lot of trouble for the Mori, which kept the Mori from attacking me. I captured the first province on the island to your right when you start, and the remaining province on the bottom of the island kept the Mori busy as well, as it kept producing No-Dachi (and even got 2 Kensai), and the Mori would keep throwing units at it. After I teched up I started swapping out units: I would disband Ashigaru, Yari Samurai, and Archers with lower stats and replace them with Warrior Monks or Archers with higher stats. I did this to keep my expenses low, so that I could tech faster. Once I was totally teched up winning the game was pretty easy. One thing I made sure to do was to use a bunch of Shinobi to keep provinces loyal as my army advanced. Another thing I did was to use Ninjas to assassinate enemy generals as I attacked. I did end up creating a Geisha that destroyed two rival factions (Oda and Hojo IIRC), and it seemed so overpowered that I think I'm going to refrain from using Geisha in my future games. IIRC I went the entire game without fighting a single battle (or if I did fight battles, I don't remember them). I basically won via the campaign map, auto-resolving all battles since they were strategically uninteresting (i.e. I had already won with my macro, and the particular K:D ratio I got in the battle wasn't that important).
  • Uesugi
    • Lost – I abandoned the two southernmost provinces (the ones totally surrounded by other factions) because I figured they'd cost me more to defend than they'd bring in revenue (they were highlands). I immediately started building all of the mines and farm upgrades. I created alliances with the Hojo, Tamagawa, Shimazu, etc. The Hojo then backstabbed me and attacked one of my provinces (the north-eastern one), and basically all of my allies abandoned me and sided with the Hojo. I was able to re-attack the next turn and recapture the province, and at that point I stopped building and started creating Yari Samurai to discourage people from attacking me. Once I'd created a bunch of units I kept building the farm improvements and then started teching up. I noticed the island I controlled in the west could build an armory so I figured I'd probably have that as one of my main places for building units, but I ended up teching up all three of the provinces I controlled out of necessity, even though two of them bordered other factions and were liable to get invaded and have my buildings destroyed. At one point I noticed that the Hojo had already teched to Warrior Monks and had like 4-5 units of them, so I immediately stopped building everything else I was building and instead got Buddhist monasteries and started replacing my Yari Samurai with Warrior Monks (disbanding the Yari Samurai units as the Warrior Monks units were created). Once I'd done that I just kept teching up, making sure to keep as many or more Warrior Monks units on my border as I saw the Hojo had. Then I got my lucky break: the Hojo had already destroyed the Takeda in their area, and then allied with the Oda against the Tamagawa. IIRC they at some point asked me if I wanted an alliance and I accepted (and I had actually been seeking out their Daimyo to offer an alliance myself). They then moved basically all of their Warrior Monks to the south to attack the Tamagawa provinces, and they captured a lot of territory. I knew that if I didn't attack now, they'd quickly get extremely powerful. So I attacked the two originally-Hojo provinces to my south that were big moneymakers (a lot of farm / mine revenue), destroyed all their tech buildings, and when I didn't see much resistance coming after me, I kept pushing south-east into the heart of Hojo territory, destroying all of the Hojo's tech buildings and even reaching their Buddhist temple and destroying it. After that it was pretty easy to clear out the rest of the Hojo territory (it was just a matter of time and producing the units to replace my losses). Once I'd taken over all of the territory the Hojo had captured I finished off the Tamagawa, then pushed into Oda territory and eventually finished them off. At one point the Shimazu reappeared (their Daimyo had been killed and their provinces had become rebel territory), and they got 14 provinces when they came back, and so they became the main threat, and forced me to move quickly to finish off the Oda. Once the Oda were finished off the Shimazu had a lot of somewhat-upgraded No-Dachi and they were getting ridiculous victories against me even with regular units, so I started commanding personally rather than autoresolving battles. They were slowly gaining ground (but at a heavy price), and in one battle they managed to get my Daimyo to route and hole up in a castle, and immediately basically all of my provinces rebelled, so I think it was because my Daimyo got holed up in a castle. At that point the game was clearly lost, because the Shimazu had too much of a lead by that point, and I lost all of the territories I used to produce units so I had no way to fend them off.
  • Imagawa
    • Lost – Your provinces in central Japan don't actually produce that much income, but they're right in the middle of a bunch of warring factions, so I literally abandoned them and had all my troops move to my provinces in the south (next to the Shimazu), so that the Shimazu couldn't take those provinces from me (those provinces generate MUCH more farm income). I then maxed out the farming, then added ports, then teched straight to Warrior Monks, trained some monks to replace my yari samurai, then maxed out everything. I tried to keep just enough troops to discourage the Shimazu from attacking me, but not so much that I wouldn't have any money left to keep teching. I was literally just hitting "End turn" over and over, waiting for the buildings to finish. Just as I'd finished teching up, Mori died, and his provinces joined my faction. I decided to use them to help me attack the Shimazu. Once I captured the entire southernmost island it was a pretty straightforward process to keep taking over more territory. I ended up losing when I was basically in a winning position because the Hojo sent a geisha after my daimyo and heir, even though they were getting destroyed by the Uesugi and it would've made a lot more sense for them to send the geisha after the Uesugi daimyo. I had a geisha myself but the enemy geisha had much higher honor from having killed generals and so my geisha couldn't get a successful attack. I also think I noticed that the AI factions seemed to be set up so that a rival faction would emerge (in terms of number of provinces controlled) at the same rate that you expanded. So for example I basically "camped" for many years while I teched up, and I didn't see really any change to the strategic map in that entire time, but as soon as I started expanding I noticed other factions getting larger as well. Another thing I learned: naginata cavalry seem to be great for leading an attack across a bridge against enemy arquebusiers. They charged across and kept the enemy busy long enough that my warrior monks could get across without getting fired on.

My AARs of the Historical Battles

  • I'm honestly kind of surprised at how few historical battles there are (9). It's nothing compared to CMBO, although admittedly CMBO's scenarios are mostly(?) from players.
  • I was able to beat 6 of the 9 on Expert in a single session. I got sleepy at that point, otherwise I suspect I could have finished the other three.
  • The battles are just listed in alphabetical order.
  • One of them has its difficulty as "Medium" while two others are listed as "Moderate". I suspect that was an oversight.
  • The battles have no time limit, so you can use that to your advantage by taking your time to pick off individual enemy units.
4th Kawanakajima
  • Won first attempt on Expert, kill tally was 453 to 86. I sent my cavalry archers out as scouts, saw where the enemy was set up, saw what units they had, then sent the rest of my force to a hill to the south of that army (not as a group at first so they wouldn't march quickly, but switching to a 'skirmish center' formation once they arrived at the hill). I then used my cavalry archers to bait the enemy general's unit (heavy cavalry) into chasing them away from the rest of the AI's army, and had my general's unit (heavy cavalry) charge into them closer to my forces. I then had a yari samurai group charge into the fight as well, and once the heavy cavalry were almost wiped out I sent in my cavalry archers from behind to fight with their swords to block off any escape for the enemy general. Once the enemy general was killed, I had my archers focus on the enemy's No-Dachi, which had started approaching, and cut them to 2/3 or 1/2 their size by the time they got to my army, and had my No-Dachi charge them, and they ran before the fight started. I then had my general (heavy cavalry) pursue them towards the enemy's lines and a general fight broke out. After some brief fighting the enemy forces routed and it was just a matter of chasing them off the map.
Anegawa
  • Won this first time (Expert), kill tally was 570 to 349. I had my forces rush the three bridges and get across before the enemy reached us, and then it was just a matter of making sure all my units were active (in the fight). I couldn't tell where the enemy general was but apparently he was at the front, and after he died most of the rest of the enemy army routed. I had all of my army pursue them to make sure they couldn't recover, and while some of the enemy army rallied (or didn't route to begin with), they couldn't withstand my heavy cavalry and they were soon routing as well.
Amnok
  • Won first try on Expert, kill tally was 1420 to 266. I'd never used Mongol troops before, they absolutely destroyed the Korean troops, like a hot knife through butter. Basically all I did was line up my cavalry archers on the banks of the river, noticed that the majority of the enemy was at one bridge, had my heavy cavalry rush the other bridge, was astounded at how fast they were, then just kept pumping my heavy cavalry through that bridge, using my local numerical advantage (as well as apparently my superior units).
  • I noticed the javelins from the korean skirmishers took out a *bunch* of my heavy cavalry units with one throw. It was like the majority of the damage they did. So it seems like the trick with the skirmishers is to figure out how to let them throw all their javelins.
  • I was very disappointed to learn that my Mongol advisor that announced the fleeing enemy general had an English accent.
Fukuoka
  • Won first attempt on Expert, 683 to 232. I started in the middle of the map, and when the battle started it looked like the enemy was within a single wood, so I advanced my troops to surround the wood with the idea that I could cram them into a small space and then use my thunderbombers to do a lot of damage. After surrounding the wood I just focused on doing good micro, pairing units up against enemy units well. I used my korean guardsmen to pair up with their naginata, then sent in my thunderbombers who routed the naginata. I sent in two groups of my spearmen against the enemy's heavy cavalry and the cavalry were destroyed. At that point the enemy forces started moving to my right out of the woods, and the enemy general (a No-Dachi unit) was moving away from my forces so I sent in two groups of heavy cavalry up against him and they absolutely destroyed the No-Dachi, routed the general (and the rest of the army), then killed him. A very easy battle against the AI.
Imjin
  • Ran out of time on the first attempt (Expert), kill tally was 284-215. I was trying to bait the enemy army into fighting near the bridge, but they weren't falling for it. At one point I sent my heavy cavalry (general) across the bridge to try to kill the enemy general, but the unit got totally wiped out. I think what I was supposed to do was to just rush the bridge, try to get a foothold, and then put my arquebusiers to work.
  • Won on the second attempt with less than 5 minutes remaining of the 30 allotted, the kill tally was 737 to 253. This has probably been the toughest historical battle I've played. My approach was to have two units of arquebusiers lining the river bank to the left of the bridge and a unit of cavalry archers behind them, and then to advance a unit of foot soldiers the minimum distance across the bridge to get the enemy army to charge them and get within the range of my ranged units. I would set the foot soldiers to use a loose formation while on the bridge so that they wouldn't get totally destroyed by the firebombs. When the unit routed, I would send in a new unit. I even sent in my general (heavy cavalry) and had them lose maybe 2/3 of their men. The cavalry archers would run out of ammo, so I would rotate in a new group of cavalry archers to the same position (I had three units of cavalry archers). I honestly thought I was going to lose at the end because I thought I needed to *route* 50% of the enemy force, but it turns out I could just kill 50% of them instead. So my idea of how I was going to win (route the enemy) was the wrong approach.
Mikata Ga Hara
  • Didn't win this on my first or second attempts, but I got it on my third try. The final kill tally was 1038 (me) to 627 losses. The key to winning is to realize that your main body of units are doomed, and your goal with them is to just try to get an OK K:D ratio before they die. You can try to make a break for the woods near your main force, but I was only able to get a single unit of yari samurai into it (but once inside they did a lot of damage to the opposing cavalry before dying). Have your general immediately take off to the smaller body of troops across the map (the reason I failed the first two times was that the first time my general stuck around the main body of troops too long and routed while he was running to the smaller body of troops, and the second time he got trapped in the fighting, lost most of his men, and then routed). Once your general is at the smaller body of troops it's just a typical defensive battle from a wooded hill that I've fought many times in the campaign mode, although you're up against way more troops than what I've seen in the campaign mode. You aren't going to kill all of those forces; your goal is to kill enough to make the rest route. The enemy general attacked (heavy cavalry), so I made sure to surround his unit with three groups of yari samurai and kill him. After that the rest of the troops kept fighting but would route more easily, and after a bunch of back-and-forth (them routing and then coming back), they eventually routed for good.
Nagashima
  • This is a great battle for learning how to use black powder against warrior monks / no-dachi samurai.
  • It has off-and-on rain, so you need to engage at the right time.
  • Lost on my first attempt (Expert), but I succeeded at getting almost the entire army to route. I didn't keep chasing them, though, which may have been what allowed them to come back and win the day.
  • My strategy on my first attempt was: hold the hill on the left (with the temple) at the beginning, send my cavalry archers across to do as much damage to the enemy no-dachi / warrior monks as possible, then keep them sitting there in a loose formation to drain the enemy archers of their ammo (in hindsight it may have been better to keep them intact to serve as a pursuing force). I then marched my army across the land-bridge in a skirmish-center formation (with arguably too-thick a link of musketeers). The enemy fell back to the forest, I then advanced to the right along the face of the forest to get to a more wide-open spot where I figured I'd have an advantage with my ranged units. The enemy ended up charging and it started raining a bit, and I didn't get to use my musketeers nearly as much as I wanted. One thing that worked well was using my heavy cavalry to bait his general (a warrior monk group) out, and they got the worst of my musketeers. I think one thing I could have done better would have been to retreat my units when it started to rain.
  • The second time I played it (Expert) I won. At the beginning I was somehow able to peel off two groups of samurai archers and a no-dachi group, I think by baiting them with a group of arquebuisers, and I was able to use my heavy cavalry to almost totally destroy one of those archer groups and kill 2/3 of the other archer group, while IIRC the no-dachi inexplicably didn't do anything (I think I may have hit them with my arquebuisers?). In any case, it was a very stupid move by the AI.
  • After that I moved my army in skirmish-center formation into the little farm-field thing in front of you when you start, and for some inexplicable reason the AI decided to split his army in two, with all of his warrior monks (including his general) in the woods on my right (where I fought last time) and all of his no-dachi, archers, yari ashigaru, and yari samurai in the woods on my left. I decided to try to kill his general like last time, so I moved my army up onto the land on the far-right like I did last time, kept my cavalry archers on the land-bridge to keep the other half of his army away, gradually got closer to the woods, waited for the rain to clear up, and ordered all of my musketeers to attack the nearest group of warrior monks. All of the warrior monk groups charged out at once, and I had my musketeers run back to my main group. (Side-note: I was definitely surprised at how many groups charged out at me. My musketeers were like less than 50m from the woods and didn't spot a bunch of the groups that were right in front of them. So staying concealed in woods is extremely effective.) At this time I also believe the enemy force from the other side of the map started marching over to this side of the map, and my cavalry archers began to engage them. Anyway, back on my side of the map, I had my heavy cavalry (which was my general) on my left flank (I had swapped my heavy cavalry on the land bridge for my cavalry archers to keep my general close to my army). I had the musketeers get far enough away from the woods that only maybe half of the warrior monk groups fully committed to the attack, and some of the groups stayed away or turned back (another stupid decision by the AI), but one of the groups that stayed attacking was the enemy general's warrior monk group. I wanted my heavy cavalry to attack them in the flank ASAP but they were closer to another warrior monk group on my left flank so I had them attack them first, they were destroyed surprisingly fast, and then I had them run over and surround the enemy general's group, which I now had surrounded by two yari groups and my heavy cavalry, and we killed him. Once he was dead the entire enemy army started running away. I had my heavy cavalry pursue a group of warrior monks and cut them down as they were fleeing, and I had my cavalry archers switch to their swords and cut down a group of enemy yari ashigaru.
  • Lessons: try to peel off groups from the AI and gang up on them. I would add "try to split your enemy's army in half and gang up on that half", but I can't really say I did that on purpose. At most, I took advantage of the AI having made that decision. Also, don't give up immediately if something bad and unexpected happens! I was honestly very close to restarting the battle after I got surprised by how many warrior monks appeared right at the edge of the woods and had my musketeers getting cut down as they ran away, but from having played chess I had learned to fight as hard as possible until the game was over (in this case, until all my units were routed)
  • The final kill tally was ~300 (me) to 200 (enemy).
Nagakute
  • I was able to "win" this battle on Expert without even fighting. At the start of the battle I noticed the enemy general (yari cavalary) on my right flank, near a hidden group of 1. archers, 2. yari ashigaru, and 3. my yari cavalry. I had my archers move to the edge of the forest to try to bait the general into attacking so that I could flank with my yari cavalry, but after four casualties and having the archers move up the general retreated to the other side of the map with some of his other forces. I next noticed a group of arquebusiers moving from that other side of the map to this side of the map, so my next thought was "let's try to figure out a way to attack them with my yari cavalry". After they advanced into a wood near the corner of the map, I ran my yari cavalry to the edge of the map that the enemy started at, blocking the arquebusiers from running back to where they came from. After maybe 30-60 seconds the forces from the other side of the map started marching over to this side of the map (the 'right' side from the perspective of my starting position), and I had my general fall back to the woods where he started, but then the entire enemy army ran straight off the map for some reason (it gave me the "enemy general is fleeing" notice). The kill tally was 4 (me) to 0.
  • It labelled the battle as a victory, but the mission briefing said the objective was to "destroy the enemy forces", so I'm not sure if it should really count.
Yamazaki
  • It's weird because the description makes it sound like you're attacking, but when you start the mission you're right next to the bridges across the river and your opponent is further away from them, which is typical of a mission where you're defending a bridge against an attacking force. So when I started I wasn't sure if the opponent would be trying to attack me across the river (in which case I'd like to stay on my side of the bridge) or stay on his side of the river (in which case I want to run my forces over to the bridge and cross them ASAP).
  • "Won" on my first attempt, we both lost our generals, IIRC the final kill tally was like 350 (I killed 350) to 450 (he took 450 of my guys), which seems very acceptable to me for attacking across a bridge.
  • My strategy was this: Although I started closer to both bridges than the other player, the bridge my force was further from (on my right) was even further from my opponent's army, and so I sent most of my force running for that bridge, with my heavy cavalry (general) running full-speed ahead of everyone to seize it. I had another smaller force that started well to my left, and I had them walk to the other bridge (the bridge on my left). I should replay this battle while trying to go for the bridge on the left at first.
  • For some reason his heavy cavalry seemed to do much better against my heavy cavalry, maybe because they caught them before all of my heavy cavalry were across the bridge.
  • Lessons: Fight as hard as you can until you can't possibly fight anymore! I would have normally given up after my general died and I had a large portion of my units annihilated (the ones around my general that routed after he died), but from having played blitz chess I'd learned to hang on, and I was able to use my remaining forces that I'd left at the other bridge to kill his general and destroy the rest of his army.
  • Admittedly, the AI was doing very stupid things. When I marched my remaining army over, the enemy forces didn't engage me all at once, but rather had one group at a time march over to me at a time, which was suicide.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

  • Note: my comments are based on my playing the PC version.
  • If you extend the draw distance you can see further than the AI.
    • This is probably just a result of the AI's vision distance being harder to change after-the-fact than the draw distance.
  • The draw distance is very short.
    • It's weird because GoldenEye seems to have a much farther draw distance despite being from the same era.  The closest I can think of is the Jungle level, which has a ton of geometry (trees) that partially distract from the short draw distance.
  • You move really, really fast.
  • You can run as fast backwards as the raptors can run forwards, which makes them much less scary.
  • The level design is pretty uninspired, at least on the first level.
  • The platforming seems superfluous, at least on the first level.
  • It plays like an easier Serious Sam.
  • I had to turn off the head bobbing / leaning to avoid motion sickness.
  • Nice variation in the death animations. I wonder if GoldenEye got the idea from Turok?
  • Nice that shooting dead enemies makes them react.
  • This game is significantly easier with keyboard and mouse.
  • I don't understand how combat with humans is supposed to work; when they shoot, it's immediate, so you can't duck behind a corner when you see they're starting to shoot. It seems like it may have actually been part of the original game to have the humans' view distance shorter than the draw distance, so that the player can shoot humans before the humans know the player is there.
  • For some bizarre reason the draw distance at the edge of your screen is significantly further than the draw distance in front of you.
  • You don't pick up ammo from enemies AND enemies respawn, so you really have an incentive to try to run past as many enemies as you can.

Twilight Struggle

  • Criticisms
    • I wish there was an explanation of what the different gameplay mechanics are supposed to be abstractions for.
      • I don't understand what the DEFCON status is supposed to be an abstraction for.
      • I don't understand what the Military operations requirement is supposed to be an abstraction for, and why it needs to be at least the DEFCON level.
      • I don't understand what the random choice of scoring locations (based on drawn cards) is supposed to be an abstraction for.
  • Advice for playing:
    • A lot of the time you just can't do a coup anywhere.
    • It looks like "Realignment rolls" are used when the other guy has gotten a single influence point in a country.

Ultimate General: Gettysburg

  • Thoughts
    • The thing about this game is that I can never tell how I did. It'll tell me "Major Defeat" but it's not clear if that's the intended outcome or not. It'd be nice if it had a Zachtronics-like feature where it'd show you how you fared compared to other people who tried the same mission.
      • Later: I think the game is designed with the philosophy that with perfect play it should be possible to finish every mission with a Major Victory, but I could be wrong about that (it would seem to be a hard thing for them to verify, given the different AI opponent behavior-types).
    • One great thing about this game is that you can really hop in and have a battle in ~15-30 minutes. It's a lot faster to play than Combat Mission.
    • I really wish it would tell you where the reinforcements are going to be coming from. It makes it a lot harder to plan when you don't know that, and it seems realistic to know that.
  • Questions
    • What's the purpose of skirmishers?
      • It may be helpful as a smaller infantry force to protect flanks / artillery from cavalry attacks.
    • How are infantry not able to destroy artillery at close range? I feel like if I tell an infantry brigade to charge relatively-undefended artillery, they should be able to take out the enemy pretty quickly.
    • Does a unit need to be within the influence of its own general to get the morale bonus? (If you have multiple generals on the battlefield.)
      • Answer: I think so.
    • What are sharpshooters good for? It looks like they've got a much longer range.
    • How can I tell when a battle is going to end? Especially when it says "Battle Delayed"?
  • Advice for playing
    • Use reverse-slope defenses to hide yourself from enemy artillery.
    • The "Fight Battle" screen gives some clues as to the differences between the Union and Confederate forces:
      • Union
        • Strengths: The Union deploys efficient artillery, better-drilled infantry and better equipment in their battles in order to tackle the enemy with orderly and intense fire.
        • Weaknesses: However, most Union generals are uninspiring comparing to the Confederate army leaders. This causes poor performance in close combat and average morale.
      • Confederate
        • Strengths: Confederate soldiers are universally high spirited and courageous. They are able to sustain heavy fire without breaking and are hard, experienced troops.
        • Weaknesses: Confederate equipment is though less advanced compared to Union and they lack professional military training, leading to a disadvantage in prolonged engagements at range.
      • From that, it seems like your basic strategy with Confederate troops should be to try to close the distance with Union troops ASAP, whereas with Union forces you should try to keep the Confederates at a distance and pound them with your artillery.
    • Keep your general close to your fighting force, and keep your fighting forces relatively close together. This is just like in Combat Mission.
    • If you start off with some kind of advantage, you really need to have your forces run to take advantage of it, because reinforcements arrive very quickly (like, within a few minutes).
    • Just as in Combat Mission, you want your forces running if it's something somewhat urgent.
    • As the Confederates, focus on keeping your units in cities and in the forests (i.e. in cover).
    • The video for UG: Civil War says skirmishers are good for scouting and harrassing.
      • Apparently UG: CW is  differently-balanced, so skirmishers may not be as userful in that role in UG: G, but it still makes sense that they could be used for those purposes.
    • I fought a huge battle for Cemetary Hill and had the Union on the verge of total collapse when the scenario ended, and the two options I was given after the battle basically were the same battle I had just fought. So I guess just go all-out. IDK. I never had my infantry charge, so maybe that would have done it.

Undertale

  • Monster has a yellow name when you can spare it. But you may have to do it when their name isn't yellow.
  • The writing is more clever than usual.
  • The gameplay reminds me of that weird frog game (not the one where you go underwater).

Unity of Command

  • Turn the music off.
  • You can access the game manual through the main menu.

General thoughts

  • The game has a weird vibe of being halfway between a wargame and a puzzle game.
    • Having the entire map constrained to a single screen (as is often the case, but not always) contributes to a puzzle-game feel, since puzzle games often have all the information on a single screen.
    • I think another thing that contributes to the puzzle-game feeling are the combat outcome predictions. In a puzzle game there's generally no ambiguity about the effect that a particular action will have on the state of the game, whereas in most war-games that level of certainty only comes with having played the game a lot.
  • I wish the game tracked what kinds of victories you'd gotten on the different scenarios.

Things I noticed

  • There's no fog of war in this game.

General advice

  • Don't attack with units who have been out of supply! They'll get destroyed.
  • ZOC doesn't apply if you have a friendly unit in that space.
  • I failed one mission because I didn't do an analysis of my likely avenue of approach, taking into consideration the major annoyance that rivers create.

Questions

  • What real-world ability is the "logistics" theater asset supposed to represent?
  • How do railways work with supply stations that are near the railway but not on it?
    • A: Railways only work for sources of supply that are actually on the railway.
  • What duration of time does a turn correspond to? A day?

Summary of the tutorial

  • Map scale is 20km (12 miles) per hex
  • Click and drag to move the view
  • G to enable / disable hex grid
  • Hold T to show terrain icons
  • Weather can be dry, mud, or snow. Hold W to show the icons.
  • P to toggle showing enemy territory as red.
  • You win missions by capturing objectives (just like Combat Mission).
  • Hold O to show a description of the objectives.
  • Your score is based on how quickly you capture the objectives.
  • Units represent divisional or corp-level formations.
  • Click a unit to select, right-click anywhere to deselect.
  • When a unit is selected, hover over the stats in the info sheet to see a description of what it's about.
  • The circles underneath a unit represent its strength.
  • A white arrow on the unit's icon means it can move (it has "Movement Points").
  • Action Points (AP) are used to attack. A unit gets (at most?) one per turn.
  • If a unit's icon shows a thunderbolt, it can attack (it has an Action Point).
  • The action point can be used instead to do "extended movement".
  • An orange outline showing the unit's movement radius indicates that the unit can attack. Black means it cannot attack.
  • When you select a unit, use the mouse wheel or space bar to switch to extended movement.
  • You can see an estimate of the outcome of a potential attack by clicking on the unit to attack with and then hovering over the potential target. If you hold Ctrl, you can then move the mouse cursor over to the info sheet showing the estimated outcome.
  • Zone of Control (ZOC) is the area one hex around a unit which will basically force enemy units to stop (so they can't just move around you).
  • Weak units don't exert a ZOC.
  • When you're considering moving a unit and have selected it, ZOCs will show up as orange dots within your movement radius.
  • To cross a river you must first position your unit next to the river and then have it wait a full turn.
  • If a unit has a grey AP (lightning) icon, that means the AP is "locked" and cannot be used for extended movement.
  • You get a certain number of air attacks every turn.
  • You can build bridges, destroy bridges, and repair bridges. If the bridge is near enemy lines, its destruction is not guaranteed.
  • Units can move through hexes occupied by friendly units.
  • [Later: This is false.] The second air attack on a particular unit in a single turn seems to have a dramatically lower chance of inflicting damage.
  • The one-turn example task presents you with several enemy units, but in order to capture the objective in a single turn you need to concentrate all of your units and airpower on one or two infantry units. So it teaches you that your goal in this game isn't really to inflict the maximum losses on the enemy; it's to capture those objectives as quickly as possible.

Summary of learnings from the introductory scenario

  • Hold S to show what hexes are in supply.
  • What's a "reinforceable unit"?
  • Does attacking have any kind of drain on the defender other than the "step" stuff shown? Like, if I attack with crappy Romanian infantry, and they get annihilated, does that have any draining effect on the defender?
    • A: From having tried it, the answer seems to be "Yes, but a very slight effect for entrenched defenders".
  • You want to use tanks to attack fortified positions.
  • You want to rotate your units against the enemy's positions. Look for units that'll have at least one movement point left after the attack (there'll be a "1" when you click on them and then hover over the potential target).
  • This is a good scenario to try to get a Brilliant Victory on. It'll teach you how to win.
  • Concentrate all of your airpower on a single enemy unit to try to get them to the point where an armored attack will cause them to be over-run.
  • There's a "CORNERED" modifier that seems to cause extra damage.
  • I don't really understand what I'm supposed to use these Romanian Infantry for.
    • [Later: I think they're useful for finishing off weak units. They're also good for rushing in to take an objective after your real infantry have been spent destroying the defenders.]
  • Units go from "Standard" to "Veteran" very quickly. Like, just a few attacks will make them veterans.
  • Don't concentrate your airpower on the front line of enemy units. Instead concentrate the airpower on the second unit behind the first one, then use your infantry to break the first line, and have your armor rush through and also destroy the second line.
  • After attacking an entrenched infantry unit in a city with several other infantry units, it would usually lose its entrenched status.

AARs

Black Turn: Operation Barbarossa 1941

Army Group Center
  • 2018.07.08
    • Axis Victory, Score: 750/1000 (Captured everything by turn 6)
    • I didn't capture the supply lines quickly enough. I noticed my units were just generally too far to the west by turn 4, when they needed to be at the east edge of the map. I think I should have sacrificed more infantry to be able to get the tanks / mechanized units through.  I was avoiding any fights where I would lose more units than I would kill of the enemy's, and I think that may have been a mistake.
    • I initially thought I would try to encircle the first line of Soviet troops, as the briefing seemed to suggest happened in r/l, but while playing I realized I couldn't really do that because they were guarding the train tracks that my units needed to stay in supply.  So cutting off the Soviet supply would also leave me out of supply.
    • Security forces seem useful for going after weakened units while your real infantry keep pushing forward.
    • Lone isolated enemy units will go on suicide missions to recapture objectives and cut off your supply lines rather than retreat to safety or surrender.
    • I captured the further Turn 3 city but then lost it when an enemy unit took it from me. I just generally wasn't doing a good job of guarding my supply lines and captured cities.
    • I should have used my infantry to destroy the first line of Soviet defenses, even if that meant taking heavy losses, and had my tanks and mechanized troops rush straight for the Turn 4 objectives.
    • I also wasn't doing a good job of rotating my attacking units (this was the first time I was playing in months), so I'd end up with units that couldn't move away from an enemy unit after attacking it, which would prevent my other units from attacking that enemy unit.

Unreal Tournament

Urban Dead

Vampire: The Masquerade

  • I encountered a bug at the very beginning, where I couldn't open a door to go upstairs: https://steamcommunity.com/app/2600/discussions/0/613956964593429056/
    • The fix ended up being to wait a second or two in front of the door.
  • The voice actors are pretty good.
  • Very impressive world-building. All the different vampires, the rules, etc. It all seems very well-thought-out.
  • The textures are nice.
  • The feeding minigame isn't nearly as focused-on as I thought it would be. There's literally a woman who hangs out at the Alyssium that you can feed on every time you visit there.
  • The world feels small :/
  • Something is up with the mouse acceleration in the game.
  • When going into the house to get the Astrolite for Mercurio, I thought, "Oh cool, this is like Hitman..." But it turns out you're powerful enough to take on all of them at once, so you don't really need to strategize to beat them. And there doesn't seem to be a non-confrontational way to get the Astrolite back.
  • The game reminds me of GTA. It would be cool to see a true open-world game like this.
  • The intro tutorial is great at easing you into the world, but the quests once you jump into the game don't really continue that good idea of slowly easing you into the world. You're just doing quests for some guy you don't know all of a sudden.
  • The world with all the different kinds of vampires is great.
  • The gameplay is pretty boring, it's a mix of a point-and-click adventure game with some boring fighting game.

Vietnam '65

Questions

  • Do bases need to have infantry in them to defend them? Or does the base include infantry automatically as part of its defense?
    • Answer: I think the bases don't automatically defend themselves, but I also I don't think the enemy goes straight for your bases the way they do in Starcraft.

General advice

  • A turn seems to generally represent a day.
  • Play through the full 45-turn basic training scenario. It seems like it's purposely made to be easier to ease you into the game.
  • Use Page Down to cycle through the units that can still take some action.
  • You can immediately build any unit, which is really helpful if you suddenly need another Huey to do resupply.
  • Infantry don't lose supply while in a transport.
  • General strategy
    • You want to build your firebase around halfway across the map.
    • You want to build forward bases between two villages.
    • You want use ARVN to go out from forward bases to get recon from two nearby villages. Maybe one ARVN per forward base (since recon opportunities don't refresh that often).
    • You want to use M113s as cheaper transports from forward bases to nearby villages.
    • You want to use Hueys to do resupply missions from the firebase to the forward bases.
    • You want to use the Chinook to do artillery resupply missions from the HQ.

Summary of the tutorials

  • Basic Training
    • You always start on the east edge of the map, the NVA come from the west edge, and VC spawn from "the Ho Chi Min Trail" (invisible points along the map).
    • You can sometimes get intel from villages about the location of VC units by having infantry / ARVN move into the village when you see a lit campfire on the village's icon. Even if you don't get intel, having infantry visit boosts your (Hearts and Minds?) score.
    • You can have your helicopters drop infantry right next to enemy units.
    • Units successful in combat get 'promoted' (become better in combat). So it's presumably better to have new infantry fight VC units and then use your more-experienced units to fight the NVA (if possible).
    • Green Berets are good scouts. They can train ARVN units at forward bases.
    • NVA bases cost you 250 political support per turn. Such bases are usually built near NVA-controlled villages.
  • US bases
    • HQ
      • Only one that can heal infantry and supply arty
    • Firebase
      • You only get one.
      • Resupplies units (except arty)
      • Arty position
    • Forward base (FoB)
      • The only place to train ARVN (you need to have a Green Beret unit in the base to do this)
      • Arty position
      • Limited supply benefits
        • Inf. resupply 1 per turn
        • Non-inf don't resupply, but also don't consume supplies.
        • Can be resupplied by helicopter.
  • US units
    • Inf - Your main fighters
    • Green berets - Scouts. Less powerful than regular infantry in a fight, but can train ARVN, can stay out in the field longer, and give combat bonuses to friendly fighters up against units the Green Berets spotted.
    • ARVN - Trained in FoBs. Less effective in combat than infantry but better at gathering intelligence from villages.
    • Engineer (M113 icon) - Can build bases, clear jungle, and build roads.
    • Mechanized - Can be repaired / refueled in the field by engineers.
    • Armor - Used primarily for fighting the NVA. Also can do indirect fire(??).
    • Huey - Used for transportation, supply, and as a medivac.
    • Chinook - Same as the Huey but can go further without needing resupply.
    • Cobra - Can do indirect(??) fire.
  • Victory
    • You gain rank by winning matches. The higher your rank, the faster airstrikes become available. So the game gets easier over time...?

Advice for playing

Vietnam Medevac

  • I love this game. Learning to fly the helicopter was a lot of fun, and gave me an amazing sense of accomplishment when I finally managed it.
  • The only weakness I can think of is that once you master the helicopter, the missions can feel a bit low-stakes. I suppose the permadeath career mode helps to rectify that.

Wolfenstein 3D

  • You can buy it on Steam.
    • According to one Steam review, a better version exists online on some website: "I still DO NOT recommend to buy the game. Why? Because there's a free online version in the official wolfenstein site where you can play the first three episodes directly through your browser... And if you look deeper in a search engine you can find another site with all 6 episodes AND the spear of destiny expansion. It looks even more polished and plays smooth as silk"
      • I like having Steam back up my savegames, it's worth the $5.

Brutal Wolfenstein

  • I like the ridiculous levels of blood.
  • I like the varied death animations.
  • This reminds me of GoldenEye.
  • I like the theme. I like it more than Doom's theme.
  • I like the gun sounds.
  • Guards will open fire almost immediately, so if you don't know if someone is around a corner, your best bet is to expose just a piece of yourself and hope to get any guards to make a sound or take a wild shot at you.
  • I love that bodies / blood / bullet-holes / casings stay in-place (like Hotline Miami) rather than fading out (like GoldenEye).
  • It's not ideal that you can hear footsteps through thick stone walls.
  • They really make a huge leap forward in level design from Wolfenstein to Doom.
  • Regarding the other episodes:
    • "The demo offer only the levels from the first episode of Wolfenstein 3D,but the final version will include all the maps from Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny"
    • 2018.05.04 - ZioMcCall: "Today Wolfenstein 3D is 26 years old and i didn't even started to make the second episode...seeing that i have various people loved and supported my project, for them i'll try to restart working the next Monday."

World of Goo

  • Good graphics.

  • Puzzles aren't mind-blowing but they're unusual and the goo-ball mechanic is something I haven't seen before.

  • The story is bizarre and kind of unsettling and leaves me with a gross feeling, similar to my experience with Human Resource Machine.

  • The music in this game is not very good, and there's no way to turn it down / off.

  • I really find the audio kind of annoying. I'm now just turning my sound off when I play.

World War II Online (WW2OL)

  • I vividly remember when this game first came out.

Flaws with WW2OL

  • The Battlfield-style gameplay (quick respawn, mostly urban combat) incentivizes people to rush about and make the maximal use of their time. Running with Rifles has the same problem. This is in contrast to a game like Counter-Strike where you have one life per round, so you're incentivized to be careful with it. I think forcing the player to do long slogs to the front is also maybe not ideal, so maybe there's some middle-ground where you can have the player do something mildly interesting while they wait a few minutes to play again, the way CS has you watch the rest of the round while you're waiting to play again. Maybe you can be stuck watching your squad-mates just like in CS.
  • Fast movement speed and lack of a tiredness system leads to more-chaotic or non-existent front lines.
  • Lack of AI combatants leads to empty-feeling battlefields

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