Posts filed under Games

Old DOS Wargames

Last night I had a memory jump back into my head of eagerly waiting every day after school for a new computer game. I finally remembered that it was Broderbund's The Ancient Art of War. For a game that came out in 1984(!) it still stacks up against the generations of war and strategy games that it inspired. I remember first seeing it on my friend Mike Segelken's Mac (with deluxe monochrome graphics, no less), and I was instantly hooked. It's no surprise then, that AAoW still has a strong fan following on the web, and the game itself is available as a free download from this fansite. Now getting old DOS games to run on a Pentium-based Windows PC is more complicated than you might think (since Windows is still built on top of old DOS code). One problem is graphics, the big problem is speed. While I was able to get AAoW to work with by tweaking some properties for its BAT file, the best solution is to use a DOS emulator called DOSBox. It's a bit tricky to set up the program switches at first (you'll remember why it was so easy to give up command line interfaces for GUIs), but once you have a working shortcut, you're off to the races. I was even able to set up a virtual floppy drive so I could edit my own campaigns. For those of you who want to try, here's my command line:

'C:Program FilesDOSBox-0.63dosbox.exe' c:aaowwaret.exe -fullscreen -c mount a c:aaowa

(The AAoW files are in c:aaow, and I created a subdirectory c:aaowa to be the virtual floppy).

Turns out that The Ancient Art of War isn't the only great old DOS wargame available as what is called abandonware. I also found another favourite, Command HQ. I think this was the first game I ever played with two players over a modem. I can still remember screaming at my mom not to pick up the phone when Jay and I were trying to establish a connection. It seems the game supports LAN/Network play (it came out in 1991), but I'll bet trying to figure out DOS layer network drivers and getting it to connect over the Internet will make me nostalgiac the simplicity of a modem-to-modem connection. But if Jay's up for it...? :)

Posted on February 9, 2006 and filed under Games, Software.

Chessboard

I bought a beautiful set of chessmen a few years ago in Stornoway, Scotland that were modelled after the 'Lewis Chessmen.' These were a partial set of Viking chess pieces that were found on beach nearby to Stornaway, on the Isle of Lewis. Pretty cool looking, if I do say. The only problem (other than being a crap chess player) was that I didn't have a board. I wanted something suitably vintage to go with the medieval look of the pieces. Just by chance I was checking out an online auction site the other day and found a nice looking old board. As it happens, my €12 bid won an hour after I bid on it. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm hoping it'll live up to my expectations, and I can begin learning chess all over again.

Posted on August 10, 2005 and filed under Games, General.

Mayhem and Carnage: SOLDAT

soldat_screenshot.gifWho needs fully immersive 3D shaders and lighting effects, next generation AI, and real-world physics engines? I've gotten a bit hooked on a deceptively simple shareware 2D shooter called Soldat. The action is frenetically fast pace, with bullets and body parts flying across the screen, and the little toy soldiers respawning in a constant stream of mass destruction. There's a wide array of weapons available, everything from pistols to a Minigun, with secondary weapons like knives, and my personal favourite: the chainsaw (perfect for slicing through a pack of enemies). The maps remind me of a pen-and-paper game my cousin Todd and I used to play, with movement and shots determined by skipping a pencil mark across the paper with one finger. How far we've come (not far, apparently).

Posted on July 6, 2003 and filed under Games.

Join the Hype: Half-Life 2

gordon_freeman.gifWhat could cause me to break months of silence? Erm, a video game actually. Doing nothing to dispel my geek-bound reputation, I just had to join the chorus of excitement about the recently announced Half-Life 2. To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about the game when I first heard about it. I wasn't playing first-person shooters when the original Half-Life came out in 1998, but I bought the game last year (cheap) so I could play this Counter-Strike thing everyone was talking about. I never even played the actual game, just the Counter-Strike mod.

But after watching the 25-minute, 600MB demonstration video from the E3 convention, I was totally hooked. The graphics, physics, characters, AI, and gameplay of this game are simply way beyond anything that's currently out there, or on its way. So now, I dutifully join the legions of other geeks in anxiously awaiting it's Sept. 30 release.

Until then, there's of course the mandatory fansites for us all to lick of the tiniest scraps of rumours and news in anticipation of that fateful day. The forums at www.halflife2.net seem to be the most active HL2 online community, and are the best source of truth and rumours about the upcoming opus.

Posted on May 22, 2003 and filed under Games.