A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

[Let's Play] Party Like its 1987! Let's Experience the Atari Computer! Part Extra: Ebay Fun

Yes its a little bonus update posty thing.  Which will have a sequel possibly.  Or I will just add it to this post next week.

The sad state of computer game collecting is this: most stores don't stock retro computer stuff, especially not pre Windows era in the US/Canada.  All the retro shops or garage sales or flea markets have tons and tons of console goodies but computer stuff is virtually nonexistent.

Thus its off to the great rat race that is online auction sites, the king of course being Ebay.  (Yes I know about Amazon sellers and whatnot but sometimes they are worse than any bidding war.)

As someone who has used the Bay since the days of 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 I have some experience with it, both as a buyer and seller.  It has become mostly a buyer's market, albeit one sellers can make a quick buck or do a little legit price fixing.  Or make a quicker buck by undercutting current going rates with a good Buy It Now price.

But buyers have basically destroyed the whole auction concept by and large.  See many people use bidding services for things without a BIN and will put in microbids during the last minutes of an auction destroying the bonus money a bidding war might cause and almost making it pointless to bid on anything before then.

The only day of an auction that matters is the last unless again, it has a BIN and nobody bid on the lower price to make a deal.  I have done this and in a few small cases made the seller extra scratch as some other knucklehead with more money than sense (something almost every collecting hobby has TONS of) bids well beyond that price.

But here is the background to this fun mini project:

I have a number of items on search.  Some of which usually go for much more than my cheap and semi logical (for a collector anyways.  I am only mildly idiotic to the "Full Dipstick" of most collectors.) self is willing to pay.

One of them came up from a seller who put up a whole gaggle of tasty Atari 8 bit and C64 games.  Inexpensive shipping per item (always a huge thing!  Remember: SHIPPING SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WITH ANY ORDER OF ANYTHING.), which of course if I win multiples will get me quite the savings.  I bid on that item, and many of the others, mostly going super lowball bids over the starting price due to my desire for the items (come on.  Its just... STUFF.  I don't need it.  Its just for funsies!) and you know, being pretty broke.

We shall soon see what of these I win, for how much, and what the final bids in the final moments were:

Join me next week as we investigate this.  Wish me luck on around 50 total dollars including shipping of luck.  But not more than that otherwise I can't punch my credit card bill in the face as fast!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Retrocomputing Why Bother?: Part 6: Dosbox as Shown by Thexder

While I have mentioned buying computers to play classic games.  However there is an easier and more fun way.  EMULATION.

And if you want to play DOS or Tandy DOS games nothing beats the glorious DOSBOX with the somewhat slow and clunky but super handy D-FEND  RELOADED.

Now as folks who follow me on Facebook or deal with me in synirc.net's #retrochat IRC channel know I have bought a MISB Tandy Color Computer version of classic mech action game Thexder.  I even found my old Amiga disk of it.

This was MISB for 15 dollars.  It is no longer MISB.

Well as a user of DOSBOX I can play my classic PC games in a super easy way, saving me time, money, and space.  Plus with programs like JoytoKey I can effectively have as many buttons on a joystick as I own sticks with multiple buttons.  Which OWNS for Commodore 64 and Amiga titles but can be handy for classic titles that loathe various DOSBOX settings or never even had joystick controls!

Yet many games have odd graphics options and D Fend has a dozen or more choices for how to display your software.  

And remember how I mentioned the special graphics and music options of the Tandy 1000 series?  Well now you can play games that support it!  (Note for Tandy sound you need to have Tandy graphics options.)

 My recommended default settings for Thexder in Tandy mode.  Keeps them pixels.  Note 3x is my windowed option for every graphics option here that supports it.  If you don't mind 1/4th or so of my 1080p monitor settings in size on monitor.

 While there may be slight tweaking, in general its as accurate to the pure graphics output you can get.

You can even go with a CRT mode to simulate playing on a well.. CRT monitor.  Might be a good use for those classic CGA games that use Apple II/Tandy Color Computer styled tricks to get more colors out of a limited system.

Or you can go with TV/Composite Monitor styled scan lines.  Many classic gamers INSIST on them.  I do not.

For a not perfectly accurate look if you really hate pixels there is Advanced Upscaling..

With Sharpening if you want some pixels and sorta scanlines..

Or you can go Super 2Sai which does not allow for the 3x image size and instead only doubles it.  There are a couple types of this and honestly I don't want to spend all bloody day getting to this point in Level 1 of Thexder to show it to you.

 My default DOSBOX settings.  The graphics are dreadful and the sound?  PC SPEAKER BEEP MUSIC. The beautiful if somewhat repetitive music of Thexder turned into musical bleating.  It is to be shameful.

Practically zero difference for this game in CRT mode.  It just doesn't really matter.  

I could probably try more options for Non Tandy Thexder but even Super2Sai seemed to make little to no effect.  

This should give you some ideas though.  DOSBOX is an amazing program that really allows for DOS gaming to be more fun if somewhat less authentic.  However being able to do things like run fan made assist programs like All Seeing Eye,

or being able to have cluebooks open, or even a program to make or keep your own maps on screen, or use screen capturing or video making programs to show off some of your old favorites is a super great thing.  Also floppy disks and their drives are dying off just due to age and the elements.  Optical disks or all your games saved to a flash drive is a way of preserving them.

Though to be fair this little entry does make me want to go buy a later model Tandy 1000 anyhow.  I self medicate with buying stuff I do not need...

And let's see what EOB looks like in other graphics modes, eh?

 This here is EGA graphics.  Kind of uggo but.. tolerable really.  If one hadn't seen how it looks in VGA this wouldn't seem bad at all.  Still looks nearly as good if not a bit better than Dungeon Master, which came out on a 16 color Atari ST in 1987.

 Tandy 16 Color Mode.  It looks a touch better but otherwise nearly identical.  The sound is pretty nice and rich compared to Adlib/Soundblaster 1 but I am no golden ear or anything.

OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE MY EYES.  It is pretty much the same resolution as Tandy but the color limitations are hideous.  4 Colors at a time in CGA and it usually seems as if BLACK AND WHITE are always 2 of the 4 with the normal CGA palette choice being cyan and lavender here.  Since NUCLEAR GREEN AND ORANGE is even more painful to look at.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unboxing: Sedition Wars Battle for Alabaster Part 2: Miniatures

So many miniatures.  So many tiny little pieces for me to clean up and glue together.
And this is just what comes in the main box, not the extras and all from the Kickstarter bonuses!

 Here is most of the small based Strain models.  As we can see they have big ass "gate" marks left on them.  To be fair I thankfully don't see many mold lines though.  The plastic feels similar to the resin styled plastic Privateer Press is using.  Which is why they are superglue models and not model cement.

 Sadly no instructions are in the box, merely the finished photos on the box and in the manual.  When I took this picture I did not realize this was two large models.  I am quite worried about some of the smaller pieces though.  They are just begging to break.

And the rest of the Strain.  And the 2 female monster models again have tiny spiky bits that are begging to break.  Maybe I should have bought the foam tray they had as an option?

 Most of the Human infantry models.  The guns I think are for the male figures with helmets.  I think.  

The rest of our grunts and all the guns for the grunts in general.  4 of the ladies (2 helmet, 2 not) get special weapons as do these two guys.  Everyone else is the rifle.  I guess its like old NHL Hockey and the vets don't have to wear helmets?  

 All the included special Human characters and their drone robot thingie.  Again lots of tiny bits and wee sticky things begging to break.  And again I am not completely sure I have the right parts with the right model because there aren't any included instructions!  They are showing assembly on the web and are talking about making a booklet or PDF showing how they go together but its a big oversight really.

 All the sculpted bases showing your average space floors.  There are holes in the bottom you could core out for peg figures but other than the drone the minis all look like the kind you just stick to the base and hope your glue is strong.  

And a close up of the 7 styles of base.  One sculpt alone for the large, and 6 small types.  For the hardcore painter this will be really nice.  I also like they use more classical style mini bases rather than the Privateer style with the big overhanging lip on the sides.

Outside of the gate marks the miniatures look quite detailed and nice.  I cannot say I entirely look forwards to assembly but I think I will be happy with them.

Join me in a few days when I show some assembled and hopefully primed examples!

Unboxing: Sedition Wars Battle for Alabaster

Back in early June I helped to fund what was the second tabletop game I funded on Kickstarter which I am sure by now everyone knows is a mixture of super preorder program and project investment.

This second game is also the first project to actually give me something physical, albeit about a month late.

(The other tabletop project I funded was Ogre which went from due in November to.. DUE IN MAY BITE ME BITE ME BITE ME.)

Well now that I have Sedition Wars, let's take a quick look what I got.

But first, their Kickstarter page:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coolminiornot/sedition-wars-battle-for-alabaster

Now some of the extras I ordered won't be here till March or so and thus this is just what the first wave release is.

I picked up the "Biohazard" pack plus a good 50 dollars of later extras which as that link shows are in no way inspired by famous and semi famous Science Fiction films, Video Games, and TV shows of recent memory.  Nope.  Dunno what you are talking about...

Anyhow.. what did I get from the Post Office on my front porch where I only happened to look for laughs?

Well this massive box full of packing noodles had the 2 boxes included in my order.  Or something.

The top box was a smallish cardboard box containing nice bonus cards, my extra minis, the fancy dice, and a signed mini poster by Mike McVey himself .  That had a bend in the corner.  Also that silly little patch.  Hooray I guess?  The cards and miniatures other than the single under the dice are just repeats of the common units from the main game. 

 The game box itself is pretty big though.  A bit over 3" deep and 14" by 14".  Pretty huge.

 And 2 of the sides show some of the miniatures painted amazingly by Studio McVey.

Back of the box showing all the goodies you get in the box, retail or Kickstarter.

The manual.  A good 57 full color pages.

Its big and pretty.  11 1/4" tall and each page is 8 1/4" wide.  Its a big imposing book.

 There is this big tray with a canyon in the middle which contains all the game pieces in a giant zip baggie.

 We have standard pip D6 dice and the normal game cards.

 All the minis and goodies in the "canyon" and on top of the box walls which are empty inside.  I guess it could be thrown away?  Sort of a waste of space IMHO.  At least they could have made some cardboard trays or vacuform...

 The boards are semi geomorphic, full color, double sided cardboard of ok quality (a couple of mine have minor bends at the corners) that take up all of the interior dimensions of the box.  They are big.

 And two single sided full color counter sheets.

I am not entirely sure I feel like I got 100 bucks' worth out of it.. more like.. 75 or so maybe?  Once I build and clean up the minis I will be back with another post talking about them.  I need em for my Gamma World campaign anyhow.

Join me next time when we see exactly what the main box miniatures look like all sorted into their components!


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