Happy Holidays

I’ve been more busy than I like recently, working overtime to finish a project before I go on a business trip this coming week to California. I’ll be gone all week, soaking in the sun and coding in a cubicle.

Christmas was very good. I got just about everything I wanted and then some. Rice cookers are good people, and Axis & Allies looks exciting, although I haven’t played with the new board yet. There is a suspiciously good looking strategy involving Germany taking the British Isle on the first turn, but it’s probably too risky. My boss kindly managed to snag me his family’s copy of Fireball Island, a favorite game of my childhood.

The prize for best unrequested present goes to my mother, who bought me Mister O, a cutely dark comic book.

I also bought myself a digital camera. One of the main reasons I purchased it is for sharing pictures online, so hopefully I’ll have a gallery set up soon, just use Flickr, or both.

So yeah, a very happy holiday for me.

The best gift I gave was to my ex Lydia. She was in the market for a Dreamcast (mostly to emulate NES games). So, I ordered one off of eBay and created a NES CD using NesterDC. But the pièce de résistance was finding a favorite game of hers Twinkle Star Sprites for Dreamcast (a very rare, released-in-Japan-only game) on eBay.

I also surprisingly enjoyed spending some time with my extended family. I particularly enjoyed one moment sitting down before dinner:

Aunt #1 is sitting with her enormous dog Sam when my mother asks what Sam’s bark sounds like.
Aunt #1 responds, Oh, deep and loud, before leaving the dog behind to get some food.
My mother says, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Sam bark. There is a pause for a few moments.
Aunt #2 says, Let’s make him bark.

Texas Hold ‘Em In Your Mouth

My friends Dave, Nick, and Marc and I, after watching the excellent Triplets of Belleville, decided to play a little cards. Being cheap, however, we don’t like to play for money and being gamers, we don’t like to play for nothing.

All was well, for after putting our heads together, we decided to kill two birds with one stone, as Nick has a tub of Fireballs that he wishes he didn’t. I present to you a marriage between Texas Hold ‘Em and Fireballs, which I call Texas Hold ‘Em In Your Mouth.

The basic premise of betting being committing to increasingly undesirable effects in the hope of being the one to experience a desirable effect, the rule of this game is that the more you bet, the longer you must hold Fireballs in your mouth.

Each bet you make (represented by wrapped Fireballs themselves) increases your time by 10 seconds with a base time of 20 seconds. So if you bet four Fireballs, you’re in it for one minute. After the specified time, you are free to spit out the Fireballs. We found that one Fireball wasn’t enough of a deterrent, so we recommend two Fireballs at once for the allotted time. It is considered sporting to move them around in your mouth for maximum effect.

People who fold before making a bet need not eat Fireballs. Even though the folder has the base 20 seconds, it isn’t enough time to get the pain going and it prevents completely wasting the Fireballs. The winner also gets to avoid Fireballs. As the result is the same for folders and winners, a non-blind player’s incentive to bet at all is merely to make other people suffer. Since that isn’t always enough, blinds are important to encourage play.

The upshot of this is that you have entertaining punishment, people can improve at the game without losing money, and you can ditch a Fireball surplus. Everyone wins.

I find it interesting to note that this entire game revolves around having the least to do with a candy that people apparently buy without duress.

Splash Damage is Insane

I have recently discovered the joy that is Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. It is a completely free game created by Splash Damage and planned to be published by Activision. However, Activision canned it at the last moment, and not wanting to waste a good thing, Splash Damage released the game for free in 2003.

The game is multiplayer-only, featuring more of the same of Return to Castle Wolfenstein’s multiplayer component. There are not many changes: some streamlined classes, the addition of experience, and more complicated objective-based maps. Experience, while sounding cool, doesn’t work so well in practice, as it discourages class-changing and creates a disadvantage to the new player. Nonetheless, it is an eminently enjoyable game which, again, is free.

Did I mention that it is available for both Linux and Windows? For free?

Speaking of games that are available for Linux, I was enticed into playing Savage, a novel FPS/RTS game whose demo impressed me enough to pay $20 for the real deal. I was also impressed that they let me pay them directly and download the game — a more convenient method for me and a more profitable method for them.

However, I was not impressed when a few months after I bought it, they release a new, incompatible patch only for Windows. There is a workaround for Linux, but it involves third party software and is a little complicated. The rumor is that their Linux developer left the company, and they are incapable or uninterested in picking up his work. Needless to say, I’m disappointed and will take my Linux gaming to ET.

14 Feb 2004

xpad

Well, I’ve scaled down my designs for 2.0 a bit. It’s basically just a port to GTK+ 2.4 at this point. The OO-ifying will come later down the 2.x branch.

mterry.name

I went ahead and got myself my own personal website. It’s fun to have a domain that you control yourself. I ended up using a mom and pop hosting company based in California. Dirt cheap and enough for my simple needs right now.

Crystal Chronicles

I’ve also been playing a bit of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. A great game if you have friends; not a very good single player game, though. I highly recommend it. The gaming industry has been short on cooperative multiplayer games for a while.