Thursday, January 16, 2003

I am considering attending the Owl Con gaming convention Feb 7 through 9. I may volunteer one day to get in free or just pay the $16.. Maybe I should also bring Wargamers for No War signs? Play Games, not War.

Other news: I got Space Empires 4 updated and running. Oh no...

One of the best things about the Gold Version, which I don't have fearing it is even more addictive, is an actual manual. While exploring, I accidently send a ship beyond it's supply range, in 4 there appears to be no way to send another ship to refuel it. Instead they make you limp it home while I imagine everyone is in suspended animation. In 3 it was an easy process to send someone else out and transfer fuel.

I have turned on no governors in my reintroduction to 4, I wonder how long that will last. I never played 4 on my own computer, just a few start up games on my nephews. Space Empires 3 was my addiction. The newer 4 Gold also has further improvements and a huge number of mods. The game is the best example of shareware - hobbyists who loved this type of game, started small, listened to feedback, and constantly improved the product.

You can download demo version of Gold at this link - 29 MB..

Some of the best things about Space Empires is the fairly smart AI of the computer opponents and they don't cheat, but they can be smarter than you until you learn the game. No commercial game like Civilization 3 can say that.

Oh, if you have Civ 3 you absolutely need the patch - The game has serious errors right off the CD. In addition the newest patch has:

"The v1.29f includes substantially expanded editor support, including the ability to create new units, advances and civilizations as well as place units and cities on the map. Additionally it adds a minimap and zoom functionality as well. There are new game features included such as Fortify/Wake All Units in a tile, the Accelerated Production rule and mechanisms to track the creation of Great Leaders. It also includes numerous fixes, tweaks and changes based on tester and customer feedback. Civ 3 Patch Download - Filesize: 9.91MB."

Update 03-01-25, you can share fuel my joining a fleet in SE4, just like in SE3. My non-Gold version of the game still badly needs a manual, I discovered by trial and error that combat sensors don't effect missiles and other seekers, although it gives higher probable hit numbers on the display. If a seeker intercepts the the target it hits 100% of the time. After spending time and money adding all of those combat sensors to warships only armed with missiles...

Very bad, major time consumer - this is a game where the short introductory scenario can take 60 plus fascinating hours with lessons on politics and governing and researching and designing weapons and battle strategies. Still, Civilization 2 or 3 is better in that there are more non-warlike thinks to do. Here, I am a peacenik for not commiting genocide and trying not to kill tranports carrying millions of fleeing refugees if I can avoid it . There are a few non-warlike things, one reason I got back to this version is the chance to build a Ringworld if I get scientifically advanced enough and am able to prevent attacks on my empire.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003 - Military robots training for war

In future wars, robots may drop from the sky by the hundreds from unmanned aircraft, swarming like giant insects over battlefields in coordinated, terrifying assaults.

Sometimes, Jette said, soldiers wanted an 80-pound workhorse like a model built by Foster-Miller of Waltham, which was also tested in Afghanistan. Sometimes, the PackBot was just the right size.

And sometimes, especially in towns, what the soldiers really wanted was a "throw bot" they could toss over a wall or through a window.

"The question is, can you get three-quarters of the capability of those robots at one-tenth the weight," said Robert Larsen, a program manager at Draper Labs, an MIT spinoff that is developing a military robot that resembles the PackBot but weighs less than 5 pounds.

Draper's device, though unlikely to be ready in time for Iraq, is cheap, too. Because it's controlled by an off-the-shelf device, Larsen said, it could cost as little as a few hundred dollars.

The small size has its disadvantages, however.

"When you get small, everything becomes an obstacle," Larsen said, struggling to drive the device over a reporter's crumpled coat at a recent trade show.

It's a prospective weapon whose effectiveness would derive at least partly from the sheer terror it could impose on an enemy.

"When you see one robot coming down, it's interesting and even if it has a weapon on it, maybe it's a little scary and you give it a little respect," said Arniss Mangolds, vice president of Foster-Miller's robot division. "But if you're standing somewhere and see 10 robots coming at you, it's scary."

Future War Scenarios Anyone?

Monday, January 13, 2003

I have found my copy of Space Empires IV which I lost over 2 years ago after installing on my nephew's computer. I had stuck it in a book in my car, later emptied the car stuff into a bag, without ever needing the book again it just sat in my closet until yesterday while I was looking for something else.

Now, I wonder where I'll find my large frying pan which I lost 2 weeks ago?

SE4 might go in my stack of computer games I really like but haven't played since I got interested in politics. Like Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, haven't played, Alien Crossfire, which I have never installed, and Civilization 3, not played, and Civ 3 Play the World which I never even ordered. Homeworld and Homeworld Cataclysm I decided I didn't like after two hours of Homeworld and Master of Orion 2 I never got into before the real world intervened.

Like Robert Heinlein said "Until you've been in politics, you've never really been alive. It's rough and sometimes it's dirty and it's always hard work and tedious details. But it is the only sport for grownups. All other games are for kids."
Games * Design * Art * Culture thinks that games are an art form.