Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking, and playing, Demigod over the last couple weeks. One of the things I’ve been thinking about and meaning to write on is character design and balance, specifically balancing out all of their spells. I went to David Sirlin’s talk at GDC on balancing competitive multiplayer gameplay and it is very relevant to this game. One thing he specifically warned about was dominant strategies. Dominated strategies are bad, but people just don’t choose those and the game continues. Dominant strategies are bad because people pick them and it ruins everything else.

The general trend right now is that Lord Erebus is overpowered and ought to be nerfed, and I’m inclined to agree with them, but I want to mention a few things about Erebus and dominant strategies. Another way to look at a dominant strategy is a dominant talent. All of the heroes have many different spells and you aren’t required to take any of them. You get to pick and choose and for the most part all of the heroes can be played many different ways. But some heroes have dominant spells. They have spells that you, while maybe aren’t forced to take, should always take. There is little reason to not take them. They are as good or better than all of your other spells, so why not get it?

Take for example Erabus’ Bite spell. This spell is available at level 1 and offers several effects: damage, heals yourself, slows the enemy, reduces the enemy’s armor. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. It has a short cooldown and isn’t too overly priced. Erebus is special in my opinion in that ALL of his talents are very useful. Other characters I’m happy to take some spells, leave others, but with Erebus, I would take all of his spells all the time. They give him so much variety. But Bite is special. I always take Bite. I can’t think of an Erebus build that doesn’t take Bite. I could make a build that doesn’t use minions, or one that doesn’t use Bat Swarm, or Mist, but Bite? Bite is always useful. In the beginning of the game I use it to heal and harass the enemy. Later on I use it to reduce their armor and slow them. In my opinion, Bite is a dominant spell and should be nerfed, not because it is too powerful against other players, but because the decision to take it is trivial.

There are other spells like this and this is really just in my experience: Rook’s shoulder towers, Sedna’s Heal, Unclean Beast’s Spit. I’m sure you all have your own. And having your own “must have” spell is fine, unless it is everyone’s must have. Then it should be nerfed or the other spells buffed so we have to make some real decisions picking a build.


April 25th, 2009


I picked up Demigod recently. It’s been one of only a few games I’ve been looking forward to over the last year or so and I was really excited when it came out and started getting decent reviews. In case you are unfamiliar with it, Demigod is a game very similar to Defence of the Ancients (DotA), a custom map for Warcraft III that I spent countless hours playing back in the day.

(Note: I mostly playe DotA 3.7 by Eul and not DotA: All Stars, so don’t come complaining to me that my statements about DotA don’t apply to All Stars.)

The gameplay mixes some RTS elements, some RPG elements, into an action based arena game. You control one hero amidst a battle between a friendly army and an enemy army. Your objective is to destroy the enemy’s citadel (Demigod has a couple different modes, but I’ve only played this one) and protect your citadel. Your hero levels up by killing the enemy NPCs that spawn (creeps) and killing enemy heroes. It sounds simple, but there are so many other things to consider: enemy towers to destroy, flags to capture, as well as items to buy for your hero and upgrades for your citadel, there’s a lot to keep track of. And yet, compared to most RTSs it’s less frantic as you only have your one hero to control.

I’m really enjoying the game so far. Using my mechanics vs. content model, Demigod is very clearly on the mechanics side of things. There’s very little in terms of back story and no single player campaign worth speaking of. The game is shamelessly designed to be playing with others. This is exactly the kind of game I enjoy playing and designing, so I’m having fun.

Enough dilly dallying, I want to talk about how this game differs from DotA, what seems to work and what doesn’t, and then some of my thoughts on the different heroes. The gameplay really is just like DotA, no striking differences although there are a few. Half the heroes are assassins and half are generals. Generals have the ability to summon more units to fight for them. There was a little bit of this in DotA, but not too much. I was a little concerned before I played demigod that the generals would be a huge change in gameplay and might break it. But after playing all of the heroes, they definitely fit and are just as, if not more fun than the assassins. It doesn’t feel like playing an RTS, just a different kind of RPG hero. Demigod introduces flags, control points around the map that give your team various bonuses: more mana, more hit points, stronger stats, or more concrete things like controlling a gold mine giving your team income or a portal that will spawn units for you. This was another aspect of the game I wasn’t sure I would like, and while it gives the gameplay a different feel from DotA, it works. On some of the larger maps it seems like you spend more time capturing flags than fighting, especially if the flags are off the beaten path. Last but not least in my list of differences is the citadel upgrades. I’ve played enough other DotA style Warcraft III maps that have citadel upgrades that this didn’t really shock me and it does give you something to think about other than just buying weapons for your hero. It works, adds variety and options, and keeps heroes from being completely overpowered against creeps and towers late game, an issue DotA did have.

One more expected change from DotA, is different maps. DotA, as a custom Warcraft III map, had only one layout and I know it very well; three paths, one right up the middle and two more on either side of it with very few ways to get from one path to another. With five heroes and three paths, you had to carefully pick which paths were going to have two players and which player would be alone. Demigod has an interesting variety of maps ranging anywhere from almost completely linear with Crucible to huge with many criss crossing paths on Mandala. None of them feel as tight as the original DotA map, but that just be because I haven’t played them enough. My favorite so far is probably Exile, a windy sort of map that takes place on the backs of two snakes being wrestled by what reminds me of a Greek god sculpted out of stone and floating in space. You can see constellations in the background and if you look down you can see a green planet. Which brings up an important point, the game looks amazing. The maps are especially beautifully with their detailed backgrounds, although the terrain itself is completely flat. The heroes are also exquisitely detailed. One of the heroes, the Rook, is a huge lumbering castle. One of his upgrades adds a trebuchet on a tower above his head. If you zoom in, you can see the gears turning on the trebuchet as it fires! The game runs on the Supreme Commander engines and lets you zoom far out so you can see the whole map, which is really useful in terms of surveying the map and seeing what goes on. It also gives you a good view of the fog of war, which actually looks like fog; very cool.

Now to the heroes! There are eight heroes in Demigod, four assassins and four generals. I’ve played all of them at least once and most of them several times. Unlike DotA, each hero has a tech tree requiring the player to choose how they want to build their hero. As the Torchbearer, do I want to focus on my fire attacks or my frost attacks? This really adds a large amount of depth to the game compared to DotA. In DotA you had 10 skill points, 3 abililties you could put 3 points into, and 1 final super spell. By the end of the game every hero had all their skills maxed out. By offering a large tech tree, you can play a hero very differently from one match to the next. From my experience, and reading online, there are few must have skills or completely worthless ones. I’m sure this will change as people play it more, but for now there is a lot of experimenting. Even though most of the heroes seem decently well balanced, there’s also the issue of how fun they are. Obviously, this changes from person to person, so my thoughts on the heroes are my opinion and even though I may not like one hero, it doesn’t mean no one will. Also, there’s some back story on all the heroes, go read about them somewhere else if you are interested; I’m just going to talk about how they play.


Torch Bearer

This guy is the closest thing to a typical mage. He relies on his spells to do damage and is pretty fragile. He’s one of two heroes who have two forms. His are fire and ice. In his fire form he has three spells (instead of a 4th, he has a “switch to ice” spell): Fire Nova, Fireball, and Circle of Fire. Despite being a mage type character, two of his three fire spells require him to be in the thick of things. Fireball is a ranged “spike” spell and very useful to taking out towers or enemy heroes, while Circle of Fire throws down a circle of flames that do massive damage over time, and Fire Nova is an instant cast that will throw all small units around him into the air killing them instantly as well as doing damage. In his frost form, the Torch Bearer has Frost Nova that does an AOE stun around him, Rain of Ice which throws down a bunch of ice crystals at the targeted location, and Deep Freeze which is the frost spike and interrupts the target. The Torch Bearer is pretty fun. He is amazing against creeps, and can dish out a lot of damage against enemy heroes, but he is super weak and will die if attacked much. None of the items buff your spell damage, so late game he is forced to buy health and armor items it seems, reducing his offensive capability. I don’t know if this is a problem yet or not. I just know I end up with a lot of money wondering what to do with it. Most of my experience is with fire, but I plan on trying out a frost heavy build soon and then a half and half build.

Fun: 4 Strength: 4

Unclean Beast

Your typical… demon dog thing. He reminds me of Naix the Lifestealer from DotA. Small, fast, uses his auto attack to do most of his damage. The Unclean Beast also has a variety of poison and diseases that allow him to harass the enemy from range and is one of the most effective hero killers in the game. If he can close the gap on one of the weaker heroes, it’s an almost certain kill. He does feel a little squishy though, especially at the beginning of the game. He’s one of those characters that late-game, if you got the money to get good items, he is an unstoppable juggernaut, but if you didn’t then he’s worthless.

Fun: 3 Strength: 5


Regulus uses his crossbow to attack from afar and as the squishiest character in the game, he does very poorly up close. If you focus on his hero killing abilities, of which he has several including Snipe an ability that reaches halfway across the smaller maps doing more damage the farther you shoot it, he doesn’t do very well against creeps and generals with a minion army. While I can appreciate his strength, he seems rather boring to me, which kind of surprised me. I love playing as dancing hit and run characters in games like this. It just seems like there aren’t too many interesting abilities for him. Get a good weapon, buff up his passive abilities and just auto-shoot.

Fun: 2 Strength: 4


The big walking castle you see on the box. The epitome of a walking tank, the Rook is very slow, quite powerful, and extremely impressive. He’s got some pretty cool passive abililtles. He can grow towers on his shoulders that shoot arrows and light beams and on his head a working catapult! He can also pull towers out of the ground that shoot enemies, and if need be he can suck the life out of those as well as enemy towers to heal himself. Seems like the Rook can be a decent hero killer with his stun and hard hitting Hammer Slam, but you need the enemy to commit to being close, as the Rook isn’t running anyone down. Instead, focusing on taking out enemy towers is a better strategy. I’m not sure if I like the Rook yet or not, he has potential, but with so many relatively passive abilities he almost falls into the same category as Regulus.

Fun: 3 Strength: 4



This guy is badass. He’s a huge, clanking suit of armor that summons ghosts from every unit that dies around his totems. Very moment dependant, he can be very hard to stop in a push, and with his invincibility shield that he can cast on friends, is very powerful with a teammate. I have played him with more of an assassin build, no minions at all, and he is still pretty powerful. He’s got some decent attack spells and a lot of spells that heal and buff him. Definitely one of my favorites so far.

Fun: 5 Strength: 5

Queen of Thorns

The Queen of Thorns is kind of odd. As the only other hero, apart from the Torch Bearer, with two forms, she’s a little strange to play. In one of her forms she wraps herself inside of a flower gaining improved armor, health and mana regen and can summon minions as well as shield herself. When the flower opens up, she gains access to damaging abilities that make her effective against creeps. With little to no hero killing capability, she seems instead relegated to support and indirect attacks. She can be very hard to kill if played properly and is an excellent support hero, but her lack of offense may turn off some, and she doesn’t feel very intuitive to play. Definitely a character I’m looking forward to figuring out.

Fun: 3 Strength: 3


The healer. There was one on each side for DotA and there’s one in Demigod. Supposedly, she can be pretty powerful and can have one of the strongest minion armies with all of her healing auras, but she just seems boring to me. With really only one offensive spell, Pounce, doesn’t seem like you do much with her other than heal and silence the enemy. She’s no doubt very powerful, but I just can’t get myself to play her.

Fun: 1 Strength: 3

Lord Erebus

Ah, the vampire lord; cheesy and ridiculously powerful and fun. This guy has everything: an army, a damage spell that heals himself, an AOE stun, LOTS of self healing and healing auras, an ability that lets him teleport short distances doing damage and either surprising an enemy or escaping one as well as a superb creep killing spell that leaves in invulnerable while using it. All of his abilities are useful and I’m really looking forward to playing him with as many different builds as possible. His true strength is that he is almost impossible to kill, but he is an excellent hero killer as well. I can’t say he’s terrific at pushing towers, and instead needs an ally or creeps to help with that. Fun: 5 Strength: 5


So there ended up being a lot of 5’s and no one below a 3 in terms of strength with only one character getting a 1 and 2 for fun, respectively. This is pretty good. When I was at GDC, I heard David Sirlin give a talk on balancing multiplayer and one thing he said is that you want all of your characters to feel powerful, and most of the characters in Demigod do. My own personal distaste for Regulus and Sedna probably reflect poorly on their perceived strength; from what I hear they are both very powerful characters. I’m not hearing any huge uproar over one character being ridiculously overpowered at this point.

Demigod is a lot of fun so far. I’ve spent two nights in the lab until 3am playing with some friends and I expect to play a lot more. I’ve been looking for some really good LAN games over the last few years and my friends and I always resort to custom Warcraft III maps and TF2, but I think we have a new challenger for keynote game.

I’d like to post some more on specific heroes and what I’ve found to work and not work, we’ll see how busy I am with the end of the quarter coming up.

Army Ants Download

April 4th, 2009

A download for Army Ants has finally been released!

We demoed it at GDC last week and got a lot of really good feedback, as well as hearing from recruiters over and over that I need a playable demo of any games I’ve worked on. Thus, this last week I’ve really pounded away at a few nitpicky things like GUI, controls, menu and got it in a state that it can be distributed. Please, go download it and try it out and let me know what you think.

Edit: Official site

Capstone Day 3

March 11th, 2009

Yep, development on my capstone project has started and it is the beginning of day 3! I will try to keep this blog updated with our progression as well as some more in depth articles on what I’ve been working on.

On Monday, I began work on my deferred renderer, trying to get multiple render targets (MRT) working but didn’t have much luck. Yesterday was much smoother and I got MRT working, however it became apparent to me that a standard pipeline with some simple scene graph management was more important right now than a fancy deferred renderer so I switched over and started implementing the scene graph stuff I designed last quarter.

I would like to write up a more official post on the system later as I’m quite proud of it, so for now I’ll just tell you that it is a 3-part system.

  • Scene Graph
  • Spatial Graph
  • Render Graph

Scene graph updates hierarchical transforms and passes that on the spatial graph which manages collisions and frustum culling and passes objects in the scene to the render graph which can do render state sorting as well as batching and instancing and does the final draw call. That’s what I’m working on today.

Zone with a purpose

August 1st, 2007

In World of Warcraft (WoW), there are many different zones or geographical regions. Each zone has a variety of monsters to fight and quests to complete. Zones are designed for characters of a certain level range. Some zones are places where low level characters can fight, quest, and level while some are for high level characters. I think zones could be organized better than they are now.

When playing in a zone, a player has the option of taking on quests. These quests might have the player talk to or deliver an item to an NPC. Or he might be asked to kill a number of monster or kill a single powerful monster or retrieve an item that is guarded. Whatever the quest is, the player receives experience and gold and sometimes an item for their work.

Some quests have follow up quests. A player might get a quest that asks them to kill 10 small monsters, then 5 big monsters, then kill the boss monster. Some quests are elite, that is they ask you to do something very difficult and are for groups of people to accomplish. Some of these elite quests are dungeon quests. That means you must go into a specific dungeon, filled with elite monsters, in order to complete the quest. Elite quests and elite dungeon quests generally give the greatest rewards in terms of money and items.

Quest lines are a great way to give players continuity to what they are doing and give them more of a purpose than simply being given a smattering of unrelated quests. I believe that more can be done to give players more of a purpose and a direction and make the quests and the zones more compelling.

I propose that quests in zones should be related and should guide the player along a mini-story. After finishing with quests in a region, a player will have completed a variety of quests leading up to defeating the overarching evil boss in the zone’s dungeon. While some quests will be unrelated to this path, most will progress the player along a branching series of quests. To give you an idea of how I imagine the quests to work, here is a graph.

In this image you can see several nodes with direction lines connecting them. The square nodes are normal quests, the hexogonal ones are elite. The line signifies what quests unlock another quest. In order to start the “Kill 10 Blobs” quest you have to have completed “Talk to Quest Giver.” However the lines are not requirements in that all must be completed, the line only means it unlocks a quest. The “Kill Mini Boss” quest doesn’t require you to complete all 3 prerequisite quests, only one. This means that if you loathe collecting quests, you can avoid those and focus on the killing path. Or maybe you want to complete all of them, you are free to do that. I think the number of quests in the area and the experience given should be such that a player need not complete all quests in order to level past a zone, letting him pick and choose.

I would expect a real quest graph for a zone would be much more complex with some dead ends, unconnected branches, but this would be the general shape. The idea is that all of the quests leading up to the dungeon quests, are preparing you to face the end boss. As you work your way through the quests you learn more about the evil boss and all the horrible things he has done to this zone and why you must defeat him.

This method of organizing quests and displaying a quest graph to player (information to be filled in as players discover each quest) means that players know they are working towards something as they play through a zone. The best rewards come from finishing the elite quests and running the dungeon. They have choices on which quests they want to do on the path to the elite quests. By requiring players to finish a series of quests to get the elite dungeon quests, players will feel more of an accomplishment and purpose to running the dungeon. I feel that dungeons right now are rather unattached to the rest of the zone.

Nick Ohrn on Wombat

May 14th, 2007

My teammate on the Wombat game, Nick Ohrn, has posted his first impressions of the project now that we are wrapping up. We actually gave our final presentation to the rest of the class today. Nick has this to say:

This game has been a treat to make, and I’ll post a video of the final product next Friday when we have to have it done. As far as implementation details go, we’ve been using XNA Game Studio, but that’s a whole other post (Preview: I like it a lot!). If you’re interested in playing the game when it’s done, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

Now, my contribution to the project has mostly been in the realm of tool-set editing and map creation. In addition I’ve been somewhat of a lead artist (HA!), which has been somewhat interesting.

He also has a short video of the game in action. Unfortunately, it’s pretty poor quality. We’ll see if we can get something better for you guys soon.

Fun With Tiles

April 6th, 2007

This blog may or may not turn into “fun and exciting experiences Matthew had while writing his game.”

My engine is coming along nicely. It loads and draws a map and can draw units. I was doing some refactoring because the TileEngine class was responsible for loading the Map and I thought the World class should be doing that. So changed some code so it was the World that created the map and then passed it to the TileEngine for rendering. Lo and behold once I got it compiled and ran it I was displayed a beautiful blue screen, which is the background color. No tiles! I was very distraught as there were no exceptions to trace and no null variables I could locate. I had no idea why it was no longer drawing my game.

And then I remembered two little lines of code that I had deleted and forgotten to replace.

myWorld.Map.TileHeight = 48; myWorld.Map.TileWidth = 48;

These numbers specify the number of pixels in every tile of the map. These variables are used everywhere in my rendering engine. It uses it to specify the size of the tiles; it uses it to determine where to draw units. I had forgotten to set these values and thus they were the default C# value: 0.

Behold, my rendering engine was working properly! Only it was drawing all the tiles with 0 height and 0 width. It was drawing and infinitely small map. I added the lines back in and everything worked.

Programming Tip of the Day

April 5th, 2007

And now for the Programming Tip of the Day. The first piece of code is not equal to the second piece of code. Can you spot the difference? It took me about a half hour to realize that this was the reason my units were jumping around and not moving smoothly.


(int)((myUnit.PosX - myCamera.TileX) * Map.TileWidth)


((int)(myUnit.PosX - myCamera.TileX) * Map.TileWidth)

Graduate School & RIT

February 23rd, 2007

I got accepted to RIT!

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has a brand new graduate program entitled Master’s in Game Design & Development. I applied there and a couple days ago was informed that I was accepted! Right now I haven’t applied to any other schools, such as USC, so I need to figure out if I would even consider those if they accepted me.

Among other things, I’m on quarter break right now which means I have exactly one more quarter to go!


January 30th, 2007

My roommate and a guy across the hall each bought a Wii on Saturday. I have to say it is a love-hate affair with it. I really admire the way they implemented the controller. Most of the Wii Sports game are spot on, Warioware is very clever. I love it when I play well. But sometimes everything goes wrong. This usually happens when I play someone else. I don’t mind losing, really I don’t. But I get very frustrated when I play poorly. So sometimes I really enjoy the Wii, sometimes I hate it.

World of Warcraft Plugins

January 18th, 2007


I will be updating this last occasionally as I find new mods. If you people have anything you use and suggest I use, feel free to put it in the comments.

I should have a screen shot of my interface up soon.

Over the past couple weeks, I have begun playing WoW again and quickly realized I needed to find some good interface plugins. It has been over 8 months since I played last and I expected the mod scene to have changed. How right I was.

My friends were using Titan and I remembered this one, it may have been the major plugin I had used, but I wanted to see what else was out there. I found Ace. Ace isn’t a plugin, it is a framework for plugins. It gives plugin authors a base to work with as well as supply a plugin download program that makes downloading and updating plugins easy, important when every single patch can break a plugin or development is moving quickly.

Most of the plugins I had used before I found a replacement for with Ace. There were a few that I did not and had to download seperately. I would like to give you my list as well as a short description of what it is and why I recommend it.

To use the Ace plugins go to and download the AceUpdater executable. You can place this anywhere, I put it somewhere in my interface AddOns folder to make it easy to find.

Essential Ace Mods


Perhaps the single most important add on, this lets you specify icon bars, the ones you put spells on, change their size, columns, scale, location, and numerous other options. I recommend this one for EVERYONE.


This one changes the display of your current status, health, mana, buffs, as well as the same status for your target and your group or raid group. There are many options for how it displays and it lets you move, scale, and do lots of things to the display. I recommend this one for _EVERYONE.


Not really a useful plugin all on its own, it is instead a docking tray for many other “Fubar” plugins. If you want any of those, you need to get Fubar.

Here is an alphabetical listing of my favorite Fubar plugins, bold are what I consider essential.

  • agufFu – lets you access the AG_UnitFrames menu
  • BagFu – tells you how full your bags are
  • ClockFu – displays the time
  • DurabilityFu – displays the lowest percentage durability of your items, and on hover displays all durability.
  • ExperienceFu – displays current experience gained, how much till the next level, how much rested xp you have earned, xp/hr, estimated time till level, etc
  • FriendsFu – displays number of friends online and on hover shows who and where they are
  • GuildFu – the same thing as FriendsFu but for your guild
  • LocationFu – tells you where you are, information about that area, and recommends other areas and instances based on your level
  • MailFu – alerts you to mail when you get it and displays the subject
  • MCPFu – allows you to enable and disable all of your plugins
  • MoneyFu – displays how much money you have
  • PerformanceFu – I like to push WoW as far as it will go on my system and this lets me know my frames per second, ram usage, ping, etc
  • QuestsFu – shows how many quests you are currently on and on hover displays their names
  • SWStats2Fu – lets you access your SW Stats plugin menu (SW Stats itself is not Ace)
  • TopScoreFu – displays the greatest values for normal and crits on your spells and attacks
  • TrainerFu – displays what you can learn from every trainer you have visited and when you level can tell you what you can now learn and how much they all cost (for spells and professiosn)

That’s it for the Fubar plugins. As you can see there are a lot of them, and many more I don’t use.


Replaces your map and does so much more. There are many modules for this and which ones you want are up to you. Some things they do are: remember quest location givers, trainers, treasures, vendors, and much more.

h2 ColaLight

Remembers how much items sell for at the store. Essential for when you are out questing and your bags fill up and you want to know what you should throw away.


Displays information about your currently equipped item when you hover over any armor or weapon. Makes it easy to see if you want to use an item.


Very useful for displaying the current heal of a mob. Also necessary for MobInfo2.

Essential Non-Ace Mods

MobInfo2 & MobInfo2 Browser

Not an Ace mod, you will have to download it seperately. Records and displays information about mobs: life, mana, whether they run, dps, what they drop, what they are immune to. Very useful. The browser just lets you look at all the information you have stored.

GFW Levelator

This displays the level of a quest before you accept it. Not anything earth-shattering, but its how things should be.


Displays nifty maps of different things. Displays dungeons better than Cartographer in my opinion.

Useful (nonessential) Ace Mods


Scrolls through battle events, such as when you do damage or when you take damage. Basically just records everything that happens to you during battle and lets you see it.


Displays how long it takes to fly from flight path to flight path and displays a progress bar while you fly.

OneBag, OneBank, OneView

OneBag displays your bags in one giant bag, no more worrying about what is in what bag. Lets you see the divisions of bags if you really care.

OneBank does the same for your bank.

OneView remembers what is in your bank and lets you see that anywhere.


Colors player names based on class in the chat box.


Shows you what debuffs are on your allies.

ClosetGnome & ClosetGnome_Mount

Allows you to create a set of armor and then put on that set of armor with one click. The mount module lets you specify which sets should be put on when you mount and when you dismount. Carrot on a Stick anyone?

Dice Wars & kdice

December 23rd, 2006

I’ve been holding back as best I could, but it is finally time for me to post! I’m sitting around waiting for my laundry to finish and contemplating taking a shower before I fly home for Christmas break and I am playing kdice. What is kdice you may ask? It is an ingenious little multiplayer game you can play in your browser! But what is it? First, we must discuss Dice Wars.

Dice Wars is a Flash game similar to Risk. There are many territories and you must conquer the entire board. Your armies are little dice. When you attack another territory, all of your dice are rolled and all of their dice are rolled and whoever has the greatest sum wins! It is an addicting little game and you should go play it now. The beauty is in its simplicity and speed of play.

Once you have the hang of that and are ready for more, then you can move onto kdice. kdice is a multiplayer clone of Dice Wars. For more information, check out its Wikipedia page.

I’ve been playing kdice quite a bit and my score has climbed. Yes, it keeps track of points using a system similar to that of Chess. You can view my profile here. Go sign up now!

Capture the Flag AI

November 15th, 2006

This last quarter I was taking an AI (artificial intelligence) class. Our final project was to create an AI player for a simple capture the flag game. At the end of the quarter all the teams would compete in a tournament. Whoever won the tournament got an A on their AI and bragging rights!

My friend Jonathan, the same one who went to Florida with my roommate Eric and I, was my partner and we put in many hours on it. Unfortunately we were unable to polish it up completely. We had no idea how well we would do in this tournament as there are a lot of really smart people in the class who spent a lot of time on it.

We found out the standings today. We got 4th place! Check it out

To read a paper we wrote about our player, you can read the rest of this post.

Read the rest of this entry

Respect for the Classics

October 23rd, 2006

IGN just finished compiling a user’s top 100 games of all time list. As I look through it I see games I’ve never heard of, no surprise having little console experience, and games I do recognize. And the games I do recognize are coming in at abysmally low rankings. Starcraft at #74?! Starcraft is ranked lower than Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30? Yet another WW2 game that came out last near, that is no doubt good, but better than Starcraft? Doom3 at #58? Last I read, Doom3 wasn’t being applauded for much other than its graphics. Where are the strategy games on this list? Starcraft and Rome: Total War are the only ones I recognize. Half-Life doesn’t even make an appearance although Half-Life 2 is #5. The top 10 list is made up of mostly games released in the last 2 years! Come on people, let’s respect the classics a little bit more.

I must admit that my enjoyment of classic games isn’t necessarily so much that they are good, as my appreciation of them puts me into a more elite group of gamers who knows secrets that others don’t. But still, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas as the 9th best game of all time?

Halo Evolution

October 8th, 2006

I recently discovered a video made by some of the developers of Halo where they comment on a video of Halo at different stages of development. It starts way back when Halo was going to be an RTS. Its really cool to see how it progressed as well as humorous to hear the developers joking with each other.

View the full article to watch the video.

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