All posts for the month March, 2008

Mythic's upcoming Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has been delayed, much to the dismay of our unsatiated but repressed MMORPG addictions. Every so often, we crave some kind of mindless persistent entertainment that requires no effort. Since quitting WOW and DDO, nothing has been able to broach that hunger, but WAR may change all that. Just look at this historic occasion… the greatest collector's edition ever!

We're talkin' 128-page hardcover graphic novel, 224-page hardcover art book, limited edition figurine, open beta / head start keys, and a staggering amount of in-game goodies… all for $79.99??? :yikes: Well, I got our two pre-orders today, I just didn't have a choice. I was held at steampunked gunpoint, while the acrid sting of saltpeter smoked off my credit card.

So I read up on some Warhammer lore, being only vaguely familiar with it before, and was shocked at how many ideas Blizzard took for their Warcraft series. Granted Blizz did a good job, and Warcraft lore is exceptionally well written, but it's hard not to say that Blizzard losing their Warhammer project and then going on to appropriate the remnants into the beginnings of Warcraft must have been the best thing to happen to that series. The wealth of imagination within prognosticated success.

In other marginally related news, Atari got delisted from the NASDAQ. That is Atari, the developer formerly known as Infogrames, who thought owning that legendary name would do them good. Instead, not even their attempts at leveraging the venerable Advanced Dungeons & Dragons franchise could save them. I'm sure dear old Gary Gygax is… well I'll let this Penny-Arcade comic finish the joke:

I haven't time to comment much on the economy recently, thanks to Super Smash Bros. Brawl and… oh who am I kidding… I didn't even do a portfolio postmortem for last year. We are clearly in a recession right now, something I predicted in 2005 after much research, and my wishes go out to everyone in the American workforce… except those in the game industry! We don't need it! We are recession-proof! Hah!

Well, predicted sounds arrogant… I didn't predict a recession, I just tried to point out the mountain of evidence that it would happen. It's no surprise to me that games are recession-proof, though. Entertainment in general follows different fundamentals than other industries. Games often get compared to film, but there are two key differences that have made us an industry that has begun to intimidate Hollywood in size. …

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I can't believe I spent almost the entirety of my Sunday evening learning CSS through painful de-engineering of this blog's source code to try to get back the look I had before the latest MyOpera changes took away the template I was using. It's not done, but now i'm committed to getting this page better looking and less "stock" than before. I'd be proud of myself if it weren't for the fact I'd be embarrased to brag about it to anyone in person.

Saturday night, I waited in line at midnite outside an EB Games to get my pre-ordered copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The nerd mass extended almost two blocks, a bit short of the Halo 3 line, and was quite impressive. I stood behind a midget and every assortment of Fanboyicus ultimus you could think of. I foolishly made a bet with a co-worker against the chance that people would cheer as the door opened. Sure enough, the door opened and a squeaky roar erupted, nearly knocking over the Kirby-esque midget in front of us. My co-worker went on to predict that the first person to get his copy would walk out with his copy held high above his head, lips puckered into a shameless woot. Sure enough, exactly that happened.

And that is the phenomenon behind this game. Boys near tears came out of the store skip-trotting in an effort to reach their cars and get home asap with minimal dignity lost. All in vain.

Anyways, I immediately had a mini smash party the next day, and it was good. The game is everything you loved (or hated) about the previous ones, but with utter content overload. My brain staggered when, after unlocking nearly a hundred trophies, I went to my trophy gallery to see that I had barely covered up a speck of the trophy room. The amount of polish is unbelievable for a game this size. The only real downer is Nintendo's friend code system, which makes it a pain to add friends to play with. The WiFi connectivity is smooth as butter, and anyone who disagrees probably has their wireless set up incorrectly. Even the Wii controls aren't all that bad, although I still use the Wavebird.

Six years later, I am still playing a game that kept my college years unproductive. Nintendo, sir, is genius, or we are all fools, blissfully smashing away.

There is a party game played called Werewolves, also known as Mafia. I’ve figured out a pretty strong strategy for villagers to win, but they have to work together, they have to trust each other, and trust logic of the system itself, because, after all, the game is just liars versus truth-tellers. The rule set that we played by is simple…



Gather at least 8 people into a circle, and also get one neutral narrator.

  1. With everyone’s head down, narrator assigns two people as werewolves (made men), the rest as villagers, and one villager as a priest (informant).
  2. Every round, everyone discusses and tries have a majority rule vote to kill off a player. If a player is voted off, he leaves the circle, and admists to his real role.
  3. Between rounds, players put their heads down for hte night phase. Narrator asks the werewolves to look up and silently pick a target. If both agree, the next round the narrator announces who was killed at that night.
  4. After werewolves choose a kill in the night phase, if there is a priest, the narrator will ask him to look up and point to a person in the circle. The narrator will nod if that person is a werewolf.
  5. The game is over when either 1) both of the werewolves are eliminated, or 2) there are an equal number of werewolves and villagers.

Now, there are many variations. But for the one I’ve described, here is what villagers do to win:

  1. Wait until roughly half the players are killed off, or until the priest has identified at least one werewolf. The latter is hard to know, so there is some luck.
  2. If you are a villager, announce the following: “I may or may not be a werewolf, but this strategy works regardless of my truthfulness. At this point in the game, the priest must step forward to admit is identity if he feels there is enough info. Then he will proceed to tell us everything he knows about who is innocent and who is a werewolf. If you think this is a werewolf ploy, that’s fine, just vote me out, but consider the logic behind this plan. It does not need my survival to work.”
  3. A couple things will happen if the priest complies.

Scenario A: He confesses and then tells the group some information to help narrow down which are the werewolves, but likely sacrificing his life.

Scenario B: Another werewolf pretends to be a priest and offers false information.

Scenario C: Both werewolves pretend to be the priest, using teamwork to thoroughly confuse the villagers as to the real priest.

So the scenarios boil down to A) having solid information, B) two possible priests and one possibly hidden one, or C) priests and werewolf roles all laid out. Clearly, this is a trap for the werewolves. The best thing they can do at this point is to go with scenario B and have only one werewolf pretend to be a priest. Otherwise, players will either know the truth, or will have the candidates narrowed to three people.

In scenario B, villagers should NOT vote anyone out at first. The reason is simple. The werewolves will have to vote out the priest, who will identify the hidden werewolf, or identify villagers and address them directly. But if werewolves kill off the priest, then they’ve fallen into a trap. Clearly, the other candidate at the time was the werewolf then.

This strategy isn’t foolproof because it relies on the priest complying (in one game our priest didn’t come forth, a werewolf did) and the faith villagers have in the logic of the system. However, it is designed to give villagers an edge as long as players want to win… that means villagers tell the truth and werewolves save their skin. You will be accused of being a werewolf, and likely voted off, but that doesn’t matter. If your villagers are reasonably intelligent, they will see the logic here and follow through.