Saturday, September 23, 2006

Free downloadable games with AI opponents

Boardgame Geeklist: Free Computer Version of Board and Card Games with Artificial Intelligence Computer Opponents

Check out Puerto Rico and San Juan. There are several versions of both. I have played several of the other games but not on the PC.

This list continues for several pages and includes comments and screenshots.

ADDED - while looking at the other pages I discovered one of my favorite games I can't get enough players for usually - Risk 2210 or Invade Earth as it is called here. There is also a link to the online version of Blokus.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

X-COM: UFO Defense

A fascinating atmospheric strategy game involving the Earth being invaded by several alien races and a team set up to combat, capture, learn, and reverse engineer new weapons as the war expands. Introductory video here. One of the classics of PC games.

It looks like it is now an abandonware game available here and an Windows XP patch here. You will also need a processor slowdown tool like turbo or dosbox.

An encyclopedic overview and strategies for the game is here. An X-Com utility for the game is here. There is still a forum for the game here.

A closely related sequel X-Com - Terror from the Deep concentrates on the underwater alien bases. It is even more atmospheric and plays off of the H. P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos.

X-Com Apocalypse was the much less popular final chapter in the series. It is interesting in that it draws a bit of inspiration from the Illuminati Mythos. This war is a later separate alien attack from another dimension that must be defeated. DOS - free download. Conversions to get it to run now.

The creators also produced Laser Squad Nemesis, more of a turn based strategy game playable by email. An old game and cracks are available if you go that route but it is less than $10 as shareware.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More free game downloads

SuperPower 2 Demo Only

Mission Risk 1998 Free Game.

Ceasar The award Winning game of building ancient cities is now freeware.

Titans of Steel Robot Mech war strategy game with network player mode.

Is this... The end? Mindless space shoot'em-up arcade style game.

Origins of World War I, a simple board game you build yourself from files on this page. A sequel to this, Origins of World War 2, became an award winning board game. Rules are pretty much each major power has influence chips they can play on countries and at the end of the game each side has different values for each country for their rank in amount of influence.

Free wargames. An example of one of these is Grav Armor, a 1982 microgame inspired by Ogre and G.E.V.. Pretty much simplified PanzerBlitz in the far future. A similar free game is Dirtside 2. There is a conversion called Full Metal Ogre that links the two games.

Many of the old games can be played by email with virtual counters and maps.
I wrote V_MAP so that war gamers around the world could play the games that they already own with other players. V_MAP is also a flexible tool for aspiring board game developers in that it can be used as a board game construction kit with minimal effort. To that end, gamesets never contain any rules unless the author have given me express permission to do so.
1ST ALAMEIN and The Russian Portfolio - free email using V_MAP or Cyberboard, or play as live board wargames of WW2 combat by Lou Coatney.
Policy Conflict Games

Wired News: New Games To Tackle Middle East Conflict
In contrast to the gritty, street-level view of Palestine, ImpactGames' PeaceMaker takes a high-status approach.

Here you can choose to be the Palestinian president or the prime minister of Israel. Instead of Palestine's adventure-RPG style, PeaceMaker takes the 1,000-foot-view of a turn-based strategy game.

After you make your choices, PeaceMaker uses old news clips to piece together realistic stories out of the Middle East, showing you the consequences of your leadership -- positive or negative. Television conveys events passively, explains game creator Asi Burak.

"Here we show it as something you chose to do," Burak says....

Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design and one of the creators of Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, says that games with a political message are nearly as old as gaming.

In 1985, Balance of Power tackled Cold War brinkmanship under a thermonuclear threat. In 1988, Hidden Agenda allowed you to play a South American dictator, balancing the threats of insurrection and coup d'├ętat against meddling U.S. and Russian influence.
Balance of Power was a great game modeling the Soviet Union versus American international politics that the typical warhawk gamers hated. If you started a nuclear war you lost, everyone lost. You had to play smart, not be a wimp but not let your emotions run away. The warhawks that played the game should have played it from the Russian side more - you learned their influence limitations.

I hadn't realized a sequel was made. The sequel sounds more like his original conception of the game based on the designer's book I have. He also talks about the development in another book which has the chapter online. Seems the 1990 edition was a pretty accurate simulation, which was also some views of the first edition. Balance of Power is considered a public policy game which I like.

The original Apple version is available as a free download as abandonware with the typical hacker idiot review.