Sunday Extra: A Hint of Things To Come

I’ve never drawn out these guys’ logo before, and I don’t actually know if I’ve ever written much stuff to the public about them.

TranssolarLogo

As a side note, the teaser is more in the art-style than in the image itself. In the Orchestra universe, Transsolar is a megacorporation that specializes in high-tech fields such as space flight and energy weapons. They’re known for their ruthlessness and massive resources; those with a focus on conspiracy theories speak of everything from aliens to World League sponsorship and more when discussing how they rose to power and prominence, though nobody can prove much about the corporation’s shadowy beginnings.

More certain, however, is Transsolar’s current influence in the world. While they do not maintain any major corporate enclaves (a sign that some would say reveals their allegiance to the World League; their only extraterritorial holdings are a small New Californian retreat), they employ just under a tenth of the world’s general workforce; mostly through lesser subsidiaries such as their consumer goods retailers rather than as a research branch. As far as faceless megacorporations go, they keep out of the public sphere-they’re known to the masses for their space research programs, while the academic world knows them as manufacturers of laboratory grade lasers, scanners, and other electronics.

Transsolar has many major defense contracts with the World League, but there are rumblings that they may be terminated soon due to unsatisfactory outcomes. Some people suggest that they kept the best results of their research for themselves, but other than unverified reports of a massive gunship attacking a military police train outside of Tokyo little is known for sure.

Extra: Planetary Annihilation Alpha Impressions

I’m in the alpha for Planetary Annihilation; I’ve mentioned Total Annihilation here before, and I was a pretty easy sell on a spiritual successor, especially one in which planets can be weaponized. Since I have alpha access, I think I’ll post up some of my impressions here; nothing too far on the technical side, but some stuff that I found interesting.

Continue reading “Extra: Planetary Annihilation Alpha Impressions”

Extra: The Importance of Earnest Questions

I don’t spend as much time on Stack Exchange as I used to, but I used to frequent the sites, and one thing that I noticed very quickly was the amount of loaded questions being thrown around. Questions like “My friend said this, but I think it’s this. I’m right, right?” came up more often than one would hope. Disregarding the fact that this directly undermines Stack Exchange’s purpose, it’s also plain dumb, since instead of hearing the actual answers presented by the majority of posters, they accept whoever purports their position first as the “proper answer”, regardless of the facts. Continue reading “Extra: The Importance of Earnest Questions”

Extra: Gamer Guilt

I know a lot of gamers who won’t admit to it, or if they do will only admit to playing things like Portal or other cerebral but less mainstream games. Personally, I don’t go around saying that I’m a gamer either, even though I, of all people, recognize the value of gaming and I make it an important part of my studies, and have generally come to the conclusion that gaming tends to give people certain advantages. There’s a few reasons why I don’t really describe myself as a “gamer”.

Continue reading “Extra: Gamer Guilt”

Table Reflection: Playing with Women

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a guy (as in male, XY chromosomes, plentiful testosterone). Most of the people I hang out with and run games for are too. I don’t have insight into women from a marketing perspective, so I’m not going to try to talk about how to interest women in gaming. Instead, I’m looking at a simple thing; handling women and men at the tabletop while playing roleplaying games (this applies a little to any community which is male dominated and often perceived or legitimately believed to be actively hostile to women), mostly from my own experiences as someone whose table often includes a woman, written to guys who wonder why women don’t want to roll up a barbarian and join them. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Playing with Women”

Extra: Kyle’s Handy Game List

I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of games, and as such every once in a while I like to make a quick list of things that I like. I’ll be splitting this list into tabletop and video games. For the video games, I intentionally stray away from just saying the “best” games, and instead look at games that are unique or interesting. There’s no particular order to the list, and I’ll include both commercial and freely available games in separate sections. Continue reading “Extra: Kyle’s Handy Game List”

Game Design: Punishing For Success

One thing I’ve noticed when playing games is that many games intentionally or inadvertently punish successful players. Some of this is necessary, to prevent abuse, but other times it feels damaging to play, especially in a single-player experience.

The core example of this would be games with “adaptive difficulty”. This takes a variety of formats; sometimes they’re based off of a universal game slider of difficulty, but sometimes they just determine the challenges faced in the game. This would include something like the AI Director in Left 4 Dead, which will occasionally add more challenges if the players are doing exceptionally well to keep things interesting, but also like GearHead‘s reputation system. The problem inherent in GearHead’s system is that Renown is earned like experience whenever the player is victorious, but can ramp up quicker than players’ levels. Continue reading “Game Design: Punishing For Success”

Extra: John Smith, The Awesome

Now, this one is perhaps going to be best known by American readers, but the first English colonies in the New World was led by a man named John Smith. At first glance, looking at him through history, we don’t know very much about him. The truth? He was his era’s James Bond.

His accomplishments include: Continue reading “Extra: John Smith, The Awesome”

Table Reflection: Learning to Roll With It

Get it, because tabletop games usually involve dice?

Sorry, I figured I’d break the ice with a pun.

Moving on into more serious matters, tabletop gaming is one of my major hobbies-it’s cheap, entertaining, and social. Even though a lot of people who do it are often falsely labeled as anti-social (after all, who gets together to celebrate oft-violent narratives?) and some are rather accurately labeled as anti-social, I know a lot of great guys through the hobby, some of whom I’ve met online and some of whom I’ve met in person. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Learning to Roll With It”

Skyrim Versus Oblivion: A Game Design Perspective

Let’s quick get this out there: I love both Oblivion and Skyrim, and I’ve spent about an equal amount of time in each (I won’t throw out a number, but let’s just say that I could’ve made a lot of money by being productive in that time). The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages has a more mechanical list of these things, which can be found here: Differences Between Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Of course, I look at things from a slightly different perspective than just the mechanical, and look to see if any of the mechanical changes really had an impact on core play. Continue reading “Skyrim Versus Oblivion: A Game Design Perspective”