Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Medieval II: Total War – Making Use of Rebel Armies

December 17, 2015 Leave a comment


rebel armies in medieval 2 total war

Rebel armies can be a boon or a nuisance in Medival II: Total War

Roaming bands of rebels can be a real nuisance when trying to establish your dominance over the globe. In Medieval II: Total War, rebels can threaten your armies and cities, limit the movement of your units and potentially ambush and kill generals.

But despite the problems they cause, these neutral-faction enemies that crop up on your lands can prove to be very valuable resources if utilized properly.


Here are just a few uses for rebel armies:


  • Training assassins and spies – let your assassins get their first taste of blood by targeting an inexperienced and unprotected rebel captain. In fact, every turn let your assassin pick off a new captain and quickly develop his killing skills. Don’t worry, the rebels won’t run out of captains (or volunteers, apparently).
  • Improving traits of generals – By allowing your generals to get some practice and capture some easy victories on the battlefield, you can potentially improve some of their battlefield and command traits. This is especially true if trying to increase your generals hitpoints. By sending your general unit into combat and exposing it to some harm/risk, you can earn traits to improve the units longevity, such as being scarred or obtaining a shield bearer in their retinue.
  • Improve experience of troops -The more battles your troops fight, the more experience they gain. This experience shields numerous positive factors including enhanced discipline, improved attack and accuracy, bolstered defense and any further enhancements added when those units are resupplied and retrained at your cities and castles.
  • Blockers against invading armies – You are feeling the pressure of your neighboring aggressors or perhaps you are on the Pope’s shit-list and have a crusade called against you (God forbid!)–suddenly those pesky rebels that are ususually in your way are now in the path of your attacker. While these rebels might not stop massive invading hordes, they can certainly slow them down.
  • Emergency troops – If you are loaded with cash and have a good diplomat handy, there is always the chance you can talk the rebels into fighting for you. Why sacrifice your own noble knights when you can simply pay mercenaries to fling themselves into the mouth of war?
  • Destabalize an enemy city or province – This only applies to rebels that you help generate within an enemy’s lands. Use spies to create unrest in cities and send in assassins to destroy key buildings and facilities designed to keep the citizenry happy. In due time the peasants may revolt and provide an opportunity for you to seize. This method becomes doubly effective when coordinated with religious agents spreading a faith contrary to what your enemy believes.


Remember, rebels are not always  a negative force. The wise ruler will find the value in all events, and the cunning ruler will learn to reroute tragedy and hardship into advantage.



Project Zomboid: Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

May 27, 2015 1 comment


project zomboid

How long will you endure the zombie apocalypse?

The end of the world is upon us! Zombie hordes are shuffling in the streets, the water and power are shutting off and supplies are dwindling.

What are you going to do?

How will you survive?

Survival in Project Zomboid means staying fed, staying warm, staying protected and remaining free from zombie bites and scratches. But with the hordes moving in on you and the need to constantly be on the prowl for supplies, staying alive can be a dicey affair.


These are some helpful resources to aid you in the game:


being prepared is key for survival in pz

Get your supplies together, hunker down, stay quiet and prepare for winter.

Early Game Strategies

  • Arm yourself! – Zombies can be tough to take down, especially in numbers–grab a frying pan or your trusty golf club to take the fight to those pesky flesh-eaters.
  • Keep a low profile – Until you are properly equiped to handle groups of zombies, you should make an effort to be quiet and remain unseen. Otherwise, prepare to do a lot of running.
  • Use caution with firearms – Boomsticks make a lot of sound. You might have enough ammunition for the two creeps you put down, but do you have enough ammo for the 200 other zombies the gunshot just attracted?
  • You will get hurt – Always have medical supplies, disinfectants and a fresh suppy of bandages on hand. Who knew that climbing through shattered windows or jumping off buildings could have a negative impact on your health?


Long Term Survival Strategies

  • Store dry goods – Winter is coming, food will be scarce, do you have enough chips and soda stocked away?
  • Fortify yourself – As winter approaches, you will need a safe place to store supplies and build a fire without without the threat invasion. Board up the windows and, when possible, get yourself on the second story of a building and destroy the staircase.

    defend against zombies

    Fortify yourself against zombie attacks and snooping players.

  • Store fuel for fire – Cold. It’s so cold. You have already burned your books, sweater and shoes. All you have left is an abundance of CDs, playing cards and rubber ducks. Why didn’t you spend a few weeks stacking firewood?
  • Foraging is your friend – If you failed to pack food away or if you are just a hardcore outdoorsman, you can always fall back on foraging to supply you with a feast of crickets, berries and worms–not to mention the fixings for tools and campfires.


Traveling Strategies

  • Tent up – Make yourself a tent kit with a tarp, tent pegs, and some sturdy sticks. Tents will allow you to bed down in the wilderness or anywhere a comfortable sleeping spot isn’t available.
  • Take food and water – You could be on the move for a few days, or forced to hunker down and wait out a horde of zombies–make sure you bring enough supplies to keep you nourished and hydrated.
  • Sneak, creep and run – Remaining unseen and unheard is critical to surviving in Project Zomboid. Improving your skills with sneak, lightfooted and nimble will increase your chances of not drawing zombie attention. When all else fails, sprint your way out of trouble.


project zomboid

Don’t expect helicopters or the national guard to come save you. Better to stock up and arm yourself.



In the end, survival in any system will depend laragely on raw skill, preparedness and luck. Remember, Project Zomboid is the story about how you died. Don’t be discouraged by defeat, but do not go easy into the maw of the undead.






Why We Return to Old Games

September 9, 2012 1 comment


By Aaron Guzman


Classic Video Games Pong

“Oh, look–they have Pong on TV now!”

Sometimes the urge comes back. You get home from a long day’s work, pull off your shoes, pour yourself a beer, and plug in your classic 8-Bit Nintendo system. The ritual is a familiar one: you pull out the game you’ve been thinking about (the one creating that itch in the back of your mind all day), and clean out the cartridge utilizing one of the specialized techniques you picked up in your youth—usually blowing dust from the cartridge or shaking it. The Nintendo logo clicks on, the game starts, and a warm feeling comes over you—you’re home—the old virtual world has always been here, waiting for your return.

Considering the age we find ourselves in and the level of technology that defines it, many might find this perpetual return to the “classics” strange or overly sentimental. But if you ask any dedicated gamer from the 8-Bit era why these games are so important, you might get some interesting answers.



Classic Video Game Fan

No one will ever be as cool as this kid.

The obvious and honest answer. Video games not only transport us to the virtual world of the game, but also allow us to reconnect to the world of the past, when our personal existence was a simpler affair. This is a place where the classic Nintendo tunes still play crystal clear in our minds and little could outweigh the obligation to save Princess Zelda.

For some, video games are an integral part of their past and identity as such games helped to unlock and lay the foundations for various worlds in the imagination.


The Stories

The old games of our culture can be remembered for many qualities, but perhaps none are more enduring than the singular nature of the stories that comprise them. After all, how often do you hear tales of a plumber who must descend into the pipes beneath our cities in order to emerge into a secret “mushroom kingdom” so that he can save the princess who has been kidnapped by an evil, giant lizard. Perhaps “unique” is an understatement.


Every great story has a great beginning.

With the advent of role playing games (RPGs), stories in the realm of video games became much more expansive and in-depth. Instead of power-playing for 30 minutes and reaching the end of the game in record time, players were forced to slow down, immerse themselves, and experience the full arc of the story line. Games and their affiliated story lines transitioned from imaginative interactive scenarios to full-fledged quests that required serious dedication to see through to the end.

Most notably, however, is that video game developers of the past had much less to work with (video games were not the advanced hardware-driven beasts that they are today). Developers were severely restricted when it came to sound or graphics, and as such had to rely much more on harnessing the player’s imagination—story structure and creativity became the currency of the video game world.


The Characters

Rock Man aka Mega Man

The original Rock Man, a.k.a. “Mega Man”

It can be argued that, much like the flesh-and-blood people in our lives, fictional characters have a great influence on us. Before the rise of video games, people would look back fondly on classic cartoon, television, movie, and literary characters, letting their imagination run wild. Since the early 1980’s video games have contributed their own social influences with memorable characters such as Mario, Luigi, Link, Samus Aran, Sonic the Hedgehog and many others. Most people, even those who do not play video games, can usually recognize these iconic figures.
After all, who can forget the plucky plumber who shoots fireballs and smashes bricks with his head while in search of coins? Who can forget the forest-raised youth with a wooden sword, chucking his boomerang at enemies while pursuing the kidnapped princess Zelda?

While these characters do not always impart streams of life lessons and jewels of wisdom, they do serve as guides through imaginary worlds and epic stories—people, places, and events that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.


The Challenge

Super Mario Level 8

How many lives has this perilous jump claimed?

The greatest draw of old games is not their graphics, sound, or even their simplicity, but rather the grand challenges they propose. The great lure of old games is the need to return: to stick that risky jump in world 8, to survive the final boss, to earn enough gold for the special suit of armor, to level up.

Most of the video games from the late 70’s to early 90’s were simple in design, but that state of simplicity gave way to tremendous complexity, especially in the realm of puzzle and arcade-style games. The main task for game developers from that era was to create games that were engaging for players of all skill levels. Without being bogged down by today’s expectations and race for the fastest, most life-like graphics, developers were able to put far more effort into creating a memorable experience that could challenge players on multiple levels. What resulted were a battery of games designed to hone a player’s problem-solving skills, accuracy, reflexes, and memory. Games ranged in difficulty from child’s play, to pretty hard, to “oh my god.” In many ways, these games were “raw” in design, and as such were far more capable of testing “raw” talent.


Just because you have all the gear doesn’t mean you are up to the challenge.

Of course, the main reason we return to old games is for the fun. Whether it be the challenge, stories, or characters, we are able to enjoy ourselves and lose ourselves in the classic virtual worlds. What we must remember above all is that no matter what fantastic new creations are put forward in the world of gaming, it is the original games, the classics, that paved the way—and all other games must be measured against them.








Image Sources (from top to bottom): Atari, Inc., Nintendo, Inc., The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Super Mario Bros.,



Desktop Dungeons: Homage to the RPG

December 12, 2011 5 comments

In the more than 30 years that computers have been providing games for consumers, the most persistent genre among them is the Role Playing Game (RPG). Since the inception of the PC, role playing games have emerged in a multitude of forms, including the Ultima series, Dungeons and Dragons, and the immersive Zork. Todays RPGs are incredibly complex, decked out with the latest graphics and technology and encompassing storylines that stretch for hundreds of hours of gameplay.

Take a Quick Quest in Desktop Dungeons

The Desktop Dungeons gaming philosophy reaches to the past, to a time when game developers had to do much more with much less when creating an interactive experience. The game embraces simplicity: short 10-20 minutes games, simple yet smooth graphics, and a limited amount of resources in dungeons. While on the outside the game may seem simplistic, such refinement gives way to great complexity. The dungeons range from easy to tear-your-hair-out, and there are dozens of factors that influence the game: layout of the level (each level is randomly generated), amount and type of treasure available, types of monsters on the map, your chosen character class, your chosen race, and of course how you choose to make use of your resources.

Snapshot of a Partially Explored Dungeon

As in all epic quests, you must face-off against a sinister boss monster in each dungeon, sometimes two. Thus your strategy for conquering the dungeon must also include specific end-game tactics: allocating your skills and resources to outlast a powerful enemy with hundreds of hitpoints. Defeating dungeons unlocks new character classes, playable races, and even tougher dungeons.

A warning about this game: it’s damn addictive. Once a player grasps the basic mechanics, the game begins to unfold like a puzzle—and you want to figure out how to solve it!! Play the game in small doses or you might find time slipping by in huge chunks. Remember, the need to slay Lord Gobb, Chief of the Goblins, is not an excuse to call in sick for work!


Play Desktop Dungeons for Free

Helpful Hints for New Players

Zombies Meet Terminator in Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

What’s worse than zombies banging on your door? Worse than a cybernetic governor from the future in leather chaps? How about being stuck on a distant moon with undying mechanical skeletons armed with gauss rifles? Yep, that’s definitely worse (except for the chaps).

The Necron Rule the Battlefield in Warhammer 40K

The Necron have invaded the universe of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. This is bad news. With zombies, at least, you can shoot them in the head or, if all else fails, chop them into stew-sized bits and spread them across the countryside. Go ahead, shoot a Necron and see what happens. They get back up. Blow one up? They reassemble themselves, then stand back up. Chop up a Necron and spread it across the countryside? Another Necron comes along, picks up the pieces, reassembles his friend, and stands him up. In short, these guys are tough in a way that makes Chuck Norris look like a confused 14 year old girl. The Necron would truly be a nightmare to confront on the battlefield.

But they are a hell of a lot of fun to command.

Slow and steady wins the race. This is the design philosophy behind the Necron, whose infantry units plod along the battlefield at a leisurely pace, burning down all living things along the way. Another way to interpret this mindset is, Slowly apply pressure to your victim’s skull until it pops. While their major drawback is speed, the Necron are only slow until they aren’t: they can teleport to and from buildings, drop units onto any visible section of the map, and their super weapon, the fully-activated monolith, can teleport large distances. Suddenly the turtles don’t seem so slow. Combine their frightening maneuverability with powerful weaponry, resilient infantry that tend not to die, and a command unit that can resurrect fallen units. Wow. It almost seems unfair. But only for the poor souls to be stamped out under Necron treads.

Playing as the Necron in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade poses its challenges as well. This article is an introduction to playing the Necron race including basic strategies for combat situations and building your infrastructure. The article, posted on Suite101, should prove useful both for beginners and players trying understand how to play the Necron more efficiently.


Read the full article here.


Image Source: THQ