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!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Game Collection : Third Third Third, Third is the Word

Well, Third Edition plus D20.

See, back in the 90s AD&D 2nd edition ran for nearly 10 years.  And considering it was little more than just a cleaned up 1st edition AD&D which was around from the late 70s game design had advanced.  A lot of the flaws inherent in D&D were annoying people outside of the hardcore fans.  Thanks to the owner of TSR at the time, the company died.

Once Wizards of the Coast bought them out they decided to revamp the entire game system but keeping its core design and foundation.  Only making sense now.  Plus the Open Gaming License and another more controlled license to produce content and add ons for the game saving WOTC the effort.  (Of course both of these things fell apart but.. we will get to that.)

Since I didn't keep up with all the news from Usenet (Newsgroups), or early news sites for RPGs like ENWorld this little free booklet I picked up from Waldenbooks let me know some of the basics of what was gonna go down.  (And looks basically how the 3rd ed books do internally.)  It got me HYPED.

 Going to something they did to a lesser degree in 2nd ed's time, introductory sets were made.  Except unlike the legendary D&D Basic Boxes these sets were not games onto themselves.  They were introductions to the game with some starter counters and generally not even allowing you to create a character.  I mostly bought the two larger sets as they came out for the miniatures and map tiles.  The first set was crucial when 3rd edition appeared.  (We will get to that.)

 And the backs of the two larger and more impressive Basic Sets showing the goodies inside.  (Click for larger as always.)    The minis themselves were selections taken from the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game which was a blind buy prepainted minis game.  (Rules and such for it will not be shown here.)  You could even download the cards online from WOTC and use the figures in the minis game nobody played.  (It did much better than the nonpainted metal miniatures released early on however.  But in this case bookstores carried the figures as well as comic shops.  And unlike the early D20 D&D minis game Chainmail which was another SKIRMISH MINIS GAME DOOMED TO DIE, the D&D minis were bought by people to actually use in their games.)

 Here are the 3 core books, my second copy of the PHB, and the Gazetteer.  You see these books came out months apart from one another so the first printings of the PHB had a "Get you by" list of things like monsters and some of the DMG bits.  The Gazetteer was an attempt by WOTC to make Greyhawk the default setting of D&D again and this low cost book was part of the plan.  While it had minor success as the RPGA club house setting.. Greyhawk went back to nobody but boring people caring about the boring world quickly.  Oh.. the PHB also came with a character generator program for Windows that was quite nice.  It never got updated and was supposed to be a herald for a complete suite of tools that never really happened.

Speaking of boring.. that is these books.  The PHB is practically a cure for insomnia.  Very very dry.

 WOTC added supplement books to the line as well.  Psionics Handbook was the rulesbook for doing stuff with your brains and had a VERY confusion set of rules for Psionic on Psionic combat.  The Forgotten Realms book was absolutely MASSIVE and added in rules for playing things like Drow and Deep Gnomes. Oriental Adventures gave you your Samurai and Ninja related needs, with options to run it as the Forgotten Realms subsetting of Kara Tur from the 1st ed days, or as the Legend of the Five Rings' Rokugan from the CCG of the same name.  Wheel of Time was one of a number of stand alone rulesbooks using the core D20 system.  (Also see my Lovecraft post for another instance.)    The Rokugan and Ravenloft books were by other publishers.  That more advanced license I mentioned?  Some companies took over supporting the world settings WOTC didn't want to bother with to avoid falling into the same trap as TSR did.  (They still made too much junk.  But more on the rules and power creep side.)  Rokugan took you even further into L5R territory but using a system someone might actually PLAY.  And Ravenloft was a mediocre revision of my favorite game world for D&D.

 L5R even got more stuff with these supplement books.  I got most of them cheap but its always cool to have more goodies.  The Dread Realms book and GM screen was a supplement covering the GM stuff the Ravenloft core book left out so players could use it too.  Expedition to Castle Ravenloft was a 3.5 era adventure during the time WOTC was pulling back and ending their license agreements.  It is VERY similar to the COMBAT ENCOUNTER gameplay style of 4th edition D&D and to me sort of screws up the classic D&D module it is trying to replicate.

The 3.5 PHB is the softback version of what I considered a money grab and the end of my buying a lot of D&D 3rd ed era product.  It fixed and tweaked some things but in general was just a thing to get everyone to rebuy everything they already owned and at a higher pricepoint.  The original 3rd ed core books cost 20 dollars.  While they did go up to 30 later on, 3.5 increased the price yet again.

 WOTC made some mini adventure thingies in the 3.5 era though.  These "Fantastic Locations" were a suite of encounters/adventures with 2 double sided poster maps to play on.  These maps also did double duty for the collectible miniatures game I don't really think many people ever actually played as I mentioned.

The inside covers showed the 4 map sides.  I am also showing an example portion of a folded map sheet and a page from the same module.  When you click for big you will even see some of the notations used in the collectible minis game.

 Castles & Crusades was an OGL license dealie where a company wanted to make something closer to 2nd ed AD&D with the better core mechanics of 3rd edition without the player customizing powergaming megadetail that 3rd edition had as its hallmark.  3rd edition REALLY started small and elegant.  Then ballooned into a slow and overcomplicated mess.  C&C was a mixture of Basic D&D, AD&D 2nd ed's HP, Races, and Classes, and the good central mechanics of 3rd.  It is one of my favorite RPGs in spite of the company constantly doing minor revisions to the rulesbook and taking years to get out the honestly not totally needed DMG which has rules for adding back in some of the 3rd ed POWERBUILDING I mean "Character Customization" and the like.  I have the Quickstart Rules I got from some convention that were released on one of the barely promoted or even participated in Free RPG Day .  The Castle Zagyg Dark Chateau adventure was a prelude to said Castle which was a co production with D&D's cocreator Gary Gygax to do a proper setting series on his Castle Greyhawk setting and megadungeon.  It was this module and a single expensive box set that instantly went out of print when he passed away and his wife wanted to do other things with his IP.  (Mostly nothing from what I can tell.  Unless she had like a few hundred copies of the set and planned on making mad bank on ebay.)  Fright at Tristor was an RPGA adventure module I got from being in said club for a while.  Its honestly the only thing that I got out of being in it for a year.

As an example here is my D&D 3rd ed Character sheet book with a sample Barbarian blank sheet.  Above is an enemy I used in my Dragonlance campaign made with the 3rd ed PHB's Chargen program.  Look at the ridiculous amounts of info on those pages.  (Yes Half Orcs aren't in Dragonlance.  He counted as a very big Hobgoblin.)

Here is the FULL Castles & Crusades sheet.  Notice how its mostly fluff and non mechanical info while there is more mechanical bits on the top part of the 3rd ed sheet?   Yeah.  EXACTLY MY POINT.

3.x era D&D's biggest problem is how integrated all the rules are.  While in previous editions many rules could be skipped and not seriously harm things (though perhaps damaging balance while speeding up gameplay..), in this edition almost nothing can be removed less the whole game fall apart.  Skills, powers, feats?  All connected to other rules, classes, spells, and balances.

(Though at least now all races and genders are equal and can level up to maximum.  Though making a Half Orc Mage is kind of a challenge!)

Monsters got more complicated too.  From the final issue of Dungeon here is the stat line for an ELITE KOBOLD.  Lots of info.  Later on in this very issue the stats for Demogorgon take up an ENTIRE PAGE.  Whereas in the original AD&D Monster Manual Kobolds took up about 1/3rd less space for all their rules than the example above, and Demogorgon's statlines and rules basically fit in the amount of text these 3rd ed Elite Kobolds do!

Here are some more supplemental games/settings using the D20 ness.  X Crawl is an alternate fantasy Earth where its a bit like D&D meets Blood Bowl meets Running Man the movie version.  Teams of adventurers take on dungeons which are broadcast across the empire.  Sponsorships!  Less lethal collegiate teams!  Intrigue!  DMs as celebrity course designers!  Plus the DM screen and an adventure.  I really wouldn't mind running this.

Munchkin is basically doing a parody D20 supplement set to sort of run the oversaturated (and not that good IMHO) card game/super franchise using the D20 rules.  They were cheap and somewhat amusing I guess?

More adventures, supplements, and conversions, most gotten super cheap.  Blood Royal was a mistake on an Ebay seller who was supposed to send me the Mekton Zeta GM Screen so it was effectively free cuz they messed up.  (And my Mekton game never happened sadly.)  I think Centauri Knights was more designed for the D20 Modern stand alone RPG.  Nile Empire and Vlad the Impaler were part of Avalanche Press' cheesecakey covered sourcebooks/adventure modules that did semi fantasy versions of historical settings.  As silly as these covers are some of their other ones were WORSE.  I wished I was kidding!  Broncosaurus Rex is a setting I want more books for.  Basically its Weird West.  In SPACE.  WITH DINOSAURS.   D20 meets Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs meets Jurassic Park?  YES SIR I THINK I LIKE THAT.

Two more cheapie mini adventure books.  And some other cheapie modules that went with a super sort of campaign collection for the Dungeon Crawl Classics line.  See before Goodman Games took DCC and made an RPG for it due to the shenanigans WOTC pulled on everyone they made adventure modules for 3rd edition and even a couple for 4th (in spite of it having a MUCH more restrictive licensing agreement.  So bad it turned more people off than the current information about the X Box One has!).  This was what the OGL was supposed to do.  Smaller demand/lower profit products like adventures were to come out from the little guys leaving WOTC to make mass appeal books (Though according to one report, the MINDBLOWING TO WOTC 70,000 preorders of the above Psionics Handbook made Hasbro executives ask why they were even bothering to print it!) that would sell to everyone as opposed to just to DMs who didn't grow their own adventures.  5 adventures for 20 dollars (before Borders discounts and coupons) for a full campaign was a GOOD VALUE I jumped on.  With a couple of the smaller modules and a few extra I bought on clearance sales I have an entire multi year megacampaign with self contained stories in an episodic ish format taking PCs from Level 1 to 16!

The DCC line as you see was meant to remind people of early 80s AD&D modules.  No bad thing really.

Yet as I mentioned WOTC's move to 4th edition changed EVERYTHING.  And many many MANY people were not pleased.  Including companies like Paizo who took over the duties for Dungeon and Dragon magazine and even made a short term EFF YOU 4E Dungeon replacement magazine when their license expired.  

Well they took the name of this new adventure magazine and brought back 3.x edition.  It has come back so well it basically beats out D&D in sales.  Which isn't a thing that has happened since the 90s and D&D was out of production for a few months in between the end of TSR and WOTC taking over.
PATHFINDER.  While many online hobby gamers will cry and whine about CASTER SUPREMACY, the sales don't lie.  Pathfinder is more what people want.  It is a prettied up and modified 3.5th edition D&D.  This Beginner Box here is my style and jam.  Less 3.x rules and crap.  Less classes.  Less spells.  Sadly they never made an Expert or Companion box to bring the level cap up a bit more and add in a few new races or classes.  Thankfully they have most of the full rulebook rules on their site I can print out and take what I want, mixing in bits from 3rd edition or even 4th ed D&D if I so choose.  It is really closer to what not only I want out of my D&D RPG, but what others do as well.  Customizing for the power gamer sort, rules light for me.  And the box is a hell of a value!

It has caused me to pick up the GM screen made of nice hardback book matertals, and some of their inexpensive Companion series minibooks.  Roughly 32 full color pages of extra fluff and rules you might want to use in your game.  Plus Pathfinder Goblins are the best Goblins.

And even more info on the Pathfinder settings' religious stuff.

Now this Game Collection entry does not show the Map Tile sets (which in various ways continue to this day by WOTC AND Paizo amongst others!), or my Dungeon & Dragon magazine collection such as they are.  Nor does it show the CMG or the minis.  That is just getting into Sillytown!  (And would make this post stupid big.)

But this is what I have.  I have a lot of affection for 3rd edition in spite of me having MAJOR issues with it.  One of my best RPG campaigns of all time was run with this system around the time of 9/11 and I still have friends and acquaintances from the games I played and ran in.  I also learned from my mistakes both gaming and being a human being.

So it did that.  I even have people asking me to continue or restart my Pathfinder game.

Who knows what the future will bring?

(Probably getting me to buy more stuff I don't need.  3.5 Psionic's Handbook fixed up a LOT of things!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Game Collection: Bill Gates Sees a Window and He Wants to Make it Suck

Ahh yes.  After DOS.  The days of Windows.  The somewhat backwards compatible OS most of us endure.  While never very good it tends to have a lot more compatibility and popularity than OSX on Macs do.  (BITE ME 10.7)

I didn't get Windows 95 (Let's face it.  Very few people gamed or did anything outside of business stuff with 3.1.  Unless Solitaire counts.) till my Pentium Pro 150 bought in late Winter 97.

By that point very few PC games at all were DOS only outside of budget rereleases.  Even the big hits were dual format by then.  So I mostly got on Windows 95 at the right time.  While I would have DOS support via dual boot options for the short term, long term DOSBox would arrive in the early 00s and give all my older games a second lease on life.

Windows 95 began the online era effectively as well.  Microsoft saw the future and coded (sort of) for it.

And here is my collection of games covering Windows 95, 98, XP, and 7.  (I skipped ME, Vista, and 8.  Windows is sort of like Star Trek movies.  Many are ok but some are downright AWFUL.)

Now of course because of the eras of Windows there are some incompatibilities even within modern Windows (and more during the shift to 64 bit versions) so what is sad is I can play more of my DOS collection right now than Windows!

(For those who forgot or haven't seen, the previous PC games collection posts:
There.  Enjoy.  Now come back.)

But let's start with the 9x era.  Mostly in the age of large cardboard boxes I was a big stupid and threw away.
 The Activision Packs were early retro collection disks.  My PSP and PS2 Activision packages gave you a lot more games for your money.  But these came out years before.  The C64 pack never appeared elsewhere though many of the games one would want from Activision on the 64 are not on here. (Licensed titles like Ghostbusters, Aliens, and Transformers.  The 2600 ports that were superior on the 8 bit micros.  Great job Kotick.)  Age of Empires 2 and its expansion are still one of my favorite RTS games.  Beast Wars was a VERY flawed action game based on the Transformers show running at the time.  The Japanese language tutor I still haven't even tried.  Just like Betrayal at Antara, the sequel to Betrayal at Krondor.  (Without the Riftwar license.)  Chessmaster 9000 is a Chess program.  From a venerable franchise.

Civilization 2 Gold is the best and most complete version of that legendary strategy game.  And the best version.  Command & Conquer Red Alert is still my favorite RTS.  Descent 3 is a great 1st person action flight game.  Dune 2000 is an ok update to Dune 2.  Never even tried Dronez.  Diablo was the action RPG that really made that genre take off.  Dungeon Keeper 2 is the fun RTS base building game.

 The original manuals to Fallout 1 and 2, plus the RPG's Tactical semi sequel.. Tactics.  The Space Flight simulator Freespace and its sequel.  The funny action game Giants, and of course the legendary FPS Half Life.

 Half Life's superior mission pack, Opposing Force (made by the now reviled Gearbox), the interesting 3d Space RTS Homeworld, the flight sim Jane's USAF I haven't messed with, and an Intellivision collection that again has been replaced by more comprehensive collections on consoles & portables.  (Until they all realized they could sell one game for 5-10 dollars as opposed to 20 odd games for 20.  And not even have to press disks!)  Missionforce Cyberstorm was an ok turn based Mech wargame.  Myth 2 is an RTS game I haven't had time to mess with.  I mostly bought it back when I was trying to get a Mac games collection going when I foolishly thought I was gonna be a turtleneck wearing hipster computer user forever.  Luckily it is dual format.

 Need for Speed High Stakes is a fun racing game one of my Voodoo cards game packed with.  Rollercoaster Tycoon is like Theme Park only with massive Coaster making.  Its surprisingly addictive.  The two Star Wars things are basically what we get on Special Features for our expensive Blu Rays and DVDs.

 Jedi Knight is the legendary FPS sequel to Dark Forces.  Rogue Squadron is the action flight game.  TIE Fighter and X Wing Alliance are Spaceflight sims.  System Shock 2 is an amazing FPS/RPG hybrid.  Thief is basically the same concepts as System Shock but instead of Sci Fi, its Fantasy and more like playing a FPS where you are a D&D Thief class.  Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is the excellent Extreme Sports action game.

 Unreal is the stupidly overhyped FPS that was supposed to be a Quake 2 killer and merely heralded the stupid design decisions Doom 3 would use.  Virtual Pool 2 is a 3d Pool simulator with amazing for the time physics modelling.  Warlords 3 Darklords Rising is the sequel to one of my favorite games (Warlords 2).  Sadly it makes the whole thing a bit too complicated.  And it doesn't like Windows XP-7.  War Wind was SSI's attempt at countering Warcraft 2.  It never got much notice.

Worms Armageddon is the excellent installment of the Worms franchise.  An action turn based enhancement of the old Artillery Duel game.  X Com Apocalypse was the disappointing sequel to the traditional X Com in DOS.

Luckily I did keep a few games from this era in their boxes, or they were other odd format boxes from the later days.  Here they are.  (And two games I hastily added because they weren't properly put in with their ilk.)

 Wizardry 8 was the interesting but flawed final US/Canada made RPG in that classic series.  Wing Commander Prophecy too was the last of it's franchise as we know it.  Batman Arkham City and Doom 3 are Windows 7 era DVD case games that I mentioned should have been above.  We will see Arkham City again in a future project.  Also I need to play it and its predecessor which I have for the PS3.  I have mentioned Doom 3 above as well with its stupid monster closets taken from Unreal.  And its silly light system which this edition apparently fixes.)

 Morrowind is the FPS RPG I couldn't get into but upgraded my videocard to play.  Interstate 76 is kind of like Mechwarrior 2 but with cars in an alternate 1970s and I need to give some time to.  Links LS 1998 is a golf sim that gets replaced in a couple years.  (But I can transfer some of the courses over so cool.)  The Movie Collection I only bought for the Star Wars game (haven't even played the first two) which is the Star Wars universe in the Age of Empires 2 game engine.  SWEET.  Longbow is sadly a limited version of the full game (SPECIAL EDITION MY ASS) and again not a replacement for Gunship on the Commodore 64.  Which is one of my two favorite Flight Sims.

Starcraft Battle Chest is the complete collection of Korea's favorite game.  I do not care for it at all.  Voyager Elite Force is an excellent FPS taking place during a bad TV show.  X Wing vs TIE Fighter and its expansion were more Spaceflight Sims except with a more multiplayer bent.  In a day before that had caught on.  And Warcraft Battle Chest is the RTS I played through mostly because the story was cool as hell.  And I am not a big RTS guy.

 These are most of the pack in CDs from the first run of Retro Gamer, a UK magazine about old gaming I will cover in depth another time.  (I found another disk or two after the photo was taken.)  While a lot of this is freeware stuff, plenty of it is like giving me legal copies of many classic retro UK games.

And keeping in that theme, we get to my CD Case Only titles.  Mostly 9x compatible games or early XP releases put into jewel cases and sold in the ghetto racks section of Staples, Target, and Wal Mart.  (Though these days it's 90% HIDDEN PICTURE crap.)  

 Civil War is a massive scope turn based game covering the entire war while Gettysburg is more a proper light turn based hex wargame.  Capcom Arcade Hits is another of those things replaced by PS2 era collections.  The Computer Gaming World disk is a HEY FREE GAMES thing.  Just click for big and look. Gives me Thief 2 legit.  Disciples 3 Gold is a turn based wargame/kingdom sim just like Heroes of Might & Magic 3 complete there.  And Heroes 5's Orc standalone.  Divine Divinity is a Diablo like Action RPG.  Dungeon Lords is a real time RPG I haven't even tried yet.  Fritz Chess is another Chess game.  The two Microsoft Flight Simulators are what they say, but hurt due to the poor tutorials of the original era and these jewel cases not having big manuals I could read.  Pinball Arcade is a prototype of the modern Pinball sim.  This does a fantastic job for its time, but many of the tables are pre 1970s and are more of historical interest than something to play for pure fun.

Septerra Core/Shogo was a neat dual pack.  Septerra is a western made JRPG, and Shogo is an FPS where you have Mech segments.  Silent Storm is a Tactics styled RPG possibly hindered by the vile Starforce Copy Protection.  Sim City 4 is that City Sim game I haven't played since the SNES Sim City is still my favorite.  Super Frog I honestly thought was a different game of the same name that was famous on the Amiga.  (And now semi infamous for having a dirty furry making the opening cinema.)  Oh well, I can get the game I wanted from Good Old Games, or wait for the remake in progress.  The two Star Wars games are FPS titles but Republic Commando hates both Windows XP AND 7.  Which is a shame because the demo on the original X Box was rad.  Was only 2.50 at Toys R Us though.  X3 is an Elite like space fighting/exploration/trading sim game I also need to actually try.

Now we come to the XP era or late 98.  See consoles were beginning to completely dominate and the PC games manufacturers thought one of the problems were the differently sized game boxes and most of the game boxes being stupidly large.    Games that sell to a smaller market in larger boxes taking up more shelf space?  NO SIR.  So... the industry decided to come up with a roughly standard sized box.  It lasted a few years but PC shelf space continued shrinking.  And the boxes were still twice as thick (if not more) than console games.

 Arcanum is the buggy but interesting Steampunk RPG.  Atari Anniversary is another of those retro collections I keep buying and getting replaced by easier to use and more game laden console collections.  Civilization 3 Complete is like Civ 2 Gold.  Only not as good IMHO.  Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 is Red Alert's sequel.  Meaning the spinoff series now has its own sequels.  Good though.  Defender of the Crown is a TERRIBLE remake of the Amiga/C64 classic.  Deus Ex is a well regarded FPS RPG.  Diablo 2 and its' expansion are the sequel to Diablo that is better in some ways and worse in others.  Dungeon Siege is a mediocre Action RPG like Diablo but with a party AI so good you don't have to really DO anything.  I bought it as it was to be used for some Ultima fan projects.  Which took many many years past the game's release.  Ooops!

Freedom Force and the sequel are nifty Real Time RPGs that are also probably the only good comic book styled RPGs period with a heavy Jack Kirby influence.  I need to go through all of the sequel eventually.  Freelancer was a disappointing Elite styled game.  Galactic Civilizations 1-2 were disappointing Master of Orion 4X games.  Without the awesome spaceship combat.  And the fact the company behind it is run by a foul and terrible man.  Konami Collector's series is the NES ports of my favorite two NES franchises.  And it was only 10 dollars.  Rad.  Laser Squad Nemesis was a weird X Com like game by the same original creators only sort of real time and multiplayer focused without the base building.  Links 2003 is the last of that legendary series on the PC and probably the best Golf game ever made.  Massive Assault is a great Turn Based Wargame.  Until it inevitably locks up and crashes.  Starfleet Command 3 is a dumbed down sequel to the first 3 now taking place in the Next Generation era without all of the Starfleet Universe races.  So.. less ships with less complexity.  Eh.  Not awful but.. not the way that series should have ended.\

Battlefront is the Star Wars equivalent to the Battlefield franchise team FPS series where you can climb into vehicles and stuff.  Bridge Commander is sort of a Star Trek Next Generation simulator where you get to put your Picard on.  I couldn't get into it.  Taito Legends is an awesome collection of Taito arcade games.  EXCEPT WHERE IS ARKANOID?  Titans of Steel is a TERRIBLE turn based Mech Wargame.  Trackmania is a cool as hell Racer/Puzzle Game/Construction Set hampered by having Starforce.  Ultimate Battle Pack I bought for the Apache game.  Like every other Flight Sim collection the lack of a proper physical manual KILLS IT.  No idea what the other two games even are.

And we end in the modern era but not counting Steam or Good Old Games digital downloads.  The DVD case has won out.  Its the size and format most physical media comes in nowadays.  While some disks have thicker boxes for multidisk titles, and a PSP case is taller than a 3DS, they are all basically designed to fit on the same media storage racks.

(Two different media racks.  Note how Blu Ray, Wii, 360, PSP, PS3, and DS games all fit together pretty well?  Standardization son!)

It is in this time that the twilight of the PC as a product to buy retail games is in.  The PC is awesome and loved but.. it keeps getting shoved aside for more Brogamers playing COWADOOTY and giving each other handjobs hi fives when they get a sweet headshot.

 Angry Birds Star Wars I haven't played yet but its that casual game everyone talks about but Star Warsed up!  Battle Academy is an excellent turn based wargame hampered by the Battle of Bulge campaign being impossible.  Best of Games RPG is a collection of a lot of mostly unknown Eastern European RPG and Adventure games.  Disciples 3 is the sequel to Disciples 2 up above.  Elven Legacy is a turn based game of some sort I got cheap.  Eschalon Book 2 is the somewhat flawed turn based RPG sequel to the first one I never got.  I finished this one on the Mac but.. you have to be VERY careful with how you build your character otherwise the game will become unwinnable.  Fallout Trilogy is the collected version of the original 3 Fallouts I got super cheap and now won't have to worry about finding patches.  Fallout New Vegas is the first game here where it is more or less a Steam game in a box.  But it is the second 3d FPS Fallout and the superior one.  King's Bounty Armored Princess is another Heroes of Might & Magic like game.  And its awesome even if your heroine needs more clothes.  (Her Mage class outfit is.. err..)  Lego Indiana Jones 2 I haven't played at all but its another silly fun Lego action game where you solve simple puzzles and laugh at the loving jokes at the source material they mock.  Got it super cheap.

 Lock On is another Flight Sim that probably should have had a manual printed with it and may have Starforce.  Memento Mori is an Adventue game I mostly bought because cheap and the lead heroine looks pretty and isn't dressed like a sex fantasy.  Sam & Max is the collected series of formerly downloadable Adventure game installment Adventure games.  Solace is basically Axis & Allies: Fantasy Edition which makes it good as it can be balanced and doesn't have to worry about historical accuracy.  Sin Episode 1 is a FPS on Steam using the Half Life 2 engine (and including the original cruddy Sin) that never got it's whole story finished.  It was the first Steam required game I bought.  TMNT is a Brawler I got free with the Movie DVD of the same name, and Transformers War for Cybertron is a 3rd person Action Game/Shooter I really should just restart one day.

Witcher 1 and 2 are action RPGs where your choices matter.  I bought them both super cheap and in later editions as shown where some flaws were fixed.  The problem is the main character is basically a grimdark Fantasy World James Bond.  And seems to use women in the same way.  Whenever I get to them hopefully I can choose to not play a misogynist bastard.  X Com Enemy Unknown is the true GOOD sequel to the original X Com.  In fact its BETTER.  Fixes all the flaws while still having hardcore options for the loonies.

And there we have it!  All of my PC games.  Between this, the Hobby Games Gone Computer, Id Software,  MMOs, and the DOS installment you can see my massive collection of PC games acquired since I got Frankenstein the Tandy 486 back in 1993.  

So many games.  Many I never played at all, sometimes only a little, a few completed entirely, others absolutely exhausted in time played, others about halfway and never returned, and many I would love to play but incompatibilities have harmed and going through VOGONS ( http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7mpMtJVRmxwA4ilXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTE1cGJjOWFlBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA01TWTAxMV8xMTM-/SIG=11gphddos/EXP=1368794316/**http%3a//vogons.zetafleet.com/ )  to find possible fixes is like pulling teeth.

But..  in spite of all the effort, all the money, all the lack of passion and social support console gaming gets from people (and support in general from retailers) it is honestly worth it.

Computers and playing games on them just.. CLICK with me.  While there are many console games I absolutely adore, gaming on a home computer is always the tops with me!

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Fun With the Commodore 1084 Monitor!

A while back in my Atari 8 bit project, I covered our main solution to video display, the mighty Commodore 1084 Monitor.  http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2011/11/lets-play-party-like-its-1987-lets_19.html  (If you want to go back and look.)

And even further back I covered various video options for the Super Nintendo : http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2010/07/retro-video-game-video-part-1-quick.html

Well, the Commodore 1084 (sadly mine isn't the boss as hell S Stereo model.  Heck, I believe I spotted one of those in Paranormal Activity 3.  It was like the only good thing about that movie.  And I didn't even have to pay to see it!  That or I am a really big dork.) continues to prove it's worth.  Those composite/Chroma/Luma cables on the back continue to be my friend.

I did both Chroma/Luma and Composite tests with the Genesis that came out quite nice to the point I am not sure which is which:

I didn't write down which one was which but.. both look very good.  See, the Genesis has the same video out pin system as the Atari 8 bit so I gave it a try and it works.  Sadly the S Video cable from the Atari did not seem to work with my October 89 Genesis.  Oh well.  I can play Genesis and Master System and Sega CD titles nicely now.

Yet there is another system I can muck about with that I have a cable that does let me do S Video.  I already said which one, the SNES.

So I hooked up this Gamestop Universal Cable Thingie I got for under 10 bucks a couple years ago and saw if my SNES would be groovy with it.  Now, I am unsure if it is doing proper Chroma/Luma inputs or standard Stereo A/V Composite.  It does have S Video output though.  So maybe?

Well, with my shoddy camera pointed at the screen and a couple of recent retro pickups, let us see how it looks eh?

(As always, click for larger.)
 Batman Returns was my first try.  Now the colors and brightness had to be adjusted, which the 1084 makes a snap.  However with a proper suite of vivid colors and a fair brightness there is a little bit of color bleed.  But.. it is sharp and crisp even as a camera pointed at the screen.  I mean the text is all fully readable.

 The character select screen for Ninja Warriors (a hidden classic IMHO).  Plenty of sharp detail here too.

 The Kunoichi's reds kind of bleed a lot but.. tons of detail and all the text is readable.

 Heck, you can see the buttons on the telephones!   I had trouble getting any cool action shots as the game dims when you pause.  So the few shots I could get were ones without anything going on.

 Me about to beat the final boss (after a half dozen or more tries to figure out his gimmick).  

 And the blue Ninja character in Hard mode.  Again a little bleed on the bright blue but otherwise it is sharp and clean.

Mode 7 scaling and rotation graphics look good too!  Some bleed on the bright red biplane but you can make out pixels and everything.

So a good monitor with RGB, Composite, and Chroma/Luma inputs like the Commodore 1084 can be a great authentic feeling while still looking good solution to much of your retro gaming and computing needs.

Perhaps I will cover this again soon with more Genesis/SMS titles and maybe even test out some light guns? Possibly the Nintendo 64 which also uses the same video output plug as the SNES as does the Gamecube?  Maybe even get the Super Game Boy and compare the Game Boy Gamecube player and the SNES one?  Maybe do a little 3d polygonal test with the 32x, SuperFX Chip games, and the one big 3d game on the Genny itself?

See not only is it good to see what great video output you can get, but its more time PLAYING the games as you try things out.

But here is some info that started the Genesis thing.  Info from an old source:

Back in the 90s, the hated Electronic Gaming Monthly had extra magazines.  One of which was this one dedicated to Sega systems.  (I hated them because their way of doing things effectively killed the superior Videogames and Computer Entertainment, a magazine that reviewed the games out NOW with in depth writing and coverage as opposed to EGM which had tiny paragraph scores and was more interested in THINGS COMING OUT IN THE FUTURE MOSTLY FROM JAPAN YOU WON'T EVER PLAY.)

 And there was this little article.  It was in fact the first time I had ever heard of S Video.  It was something to ooh and ahh over.  And then go back to playing on a cable ready RF jack.  For the next decade plus.
(What shames me is the living room TV we had from the mid 90s till I replaced it in 06/07 with a HDTV had  S Video and I NEVER KNEW IT.)

And here is the Atari 130XE manual's picture of it's monitor jack plugs.

Knowledge is power folks.  I bring you that.  And also a lot of swearing because the 6th and 7th level bosses to Ninja Warriors were cheap SOBs.


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