Probably not a good sign for my stress levels that I’m back to looking at the TinyBox, but eh.

So, TinyBox.  For those that are unfamiliar with the concept, here is my previous attempt.  In short, I was really only working on it to distract myself from stress, but it was a DOS gaming machine designed to be as small as possible.

Well, times and technology has changed.  MiniITX motherboards are no longer ridiculously overpriced, processors have become a lot faster (not that it matters so much for direct DOS gaming…), and emulators have come a long way.  I mean, I can play Daggerfall at full speed now upscaled even.

So, I return once more to thoughts of a TinyBox.
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So, spam. I knew I’d end up with a fair amount of it on this blog, which is why comments are all moderated. It doesn’t really bother me that much anymore, as I’ve just accepted it as a fact on the Internet. So the fact that I’m getting comment spam doesn’t aggravate me – once The Googles had crawled my site, I knew I’d be getting spam.

Sure, the comment spam is stupid – I mean, they make it as generic as possible in order to get it through spam filters, after all, so it reads like some air-headed ditzy human decided to post something just to make himself or herself look like he/she’s participating.

No, the part that pisses me off are the typos.  Intentional typos, that is.

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Taking a break from the previous postings on the character creation for playtesting, as that’s a boring subject matter that most people won’t care about anyway.  :)

My current Pathfinder/D&D Hybrid game is drawing to a close soon (probably this month) and, as usual, I’m charged with figuring out just what the hell is going on in that campaign world.

..  let me step back a couple of moments and explain with this post.  My campaign universe for Pathfinder is known for subverting, crushing, and utterly destroying the trope of Status Quo Is God.  At least one major event per campaign in that universe changes the course of everything, and it isn’t usually intentional.  As a result, I have a campaign universe where the phrase “Always Alignment” means nothing, a major group of devils and demons are chaotic good native outsiders, the average lifespan of a deity is slightly below that of an elf, there is an entire race of people with a (totally justified) abject fear of magic, and there are giant holes in the campaign world where battles have rendered the nearby area inhospitable to life.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that almost all of these were caused by player actions?

Welcome to Mion…  and Teningur…  and some other world…

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So, as detailed in my previous post, I’m creating Hero.  Given that he is a remake of a remake, his backstory is already finished and so is his personality.  I’m working on the crunchy parts of making his character and fleshing out some of his 2D-ness (which is odd, since he is actually an extremely intelligent person with actual depth, but he acts completely two dimensional).

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Consider this part of a series.

So, my friend Antimerus is the creator of a system called Yume En, or “Dream Play”.  This is the newer name of the remake of a system formerly known as the Anime RPG system.  I’ve been helping the process along by being a sounding board, devil’s advocate (which, as people who know me should know, I’m damn good at), and number cruncher (finally a use for that Mathematics degree of mine!).

Another friend of mine, rekenner, has decided to run a game in the remake of this system, using characters that we had in his previous campaign, in the original Anime RPG system.  Confused yet?  :)

In any case, I’m remaking my character Hero.  This is actually the second remake, but that’s beside the point.

Hero is… not nearly as generic as his name would appear.  He is a older teenager from the country of Viylyasin, a relatively small modern-tech country with large amounts of magic.  He plays a lot of video games and has, over the course of his playtime, become confused and has problems distinguishing reality from fantasy.  He really believes that he’s the main character of an RPG (or any other type of game, really) and frequently references tropes from those games.  Which, given that he’s a PC in a pencil and paper RPG, means he’s often genre savvy – just sometimes the wrong genre.

He believes he is the perfect main character.  Nothing could be further from the truth – in fact, he’d actually be classified more as a supporting character.  In the Yume En system, there are six stats:  Strength, Agility, Health, Intelligence, Charm, and Will Power.  A standard leader-type character would be expected to have high Charm and Will Power, and probably a high Agility or Health.  Hero?  He has below average charm and Will.  He’s me making fun of video games, basically.


I’m going to start detailing the process of recreating Hero and actually use my blog for something at least one person other than myself will read.  :)  However, the next set of posts will likely be confusing to people who know about the remake and extremely confusing for those who don’t.  I’ll be giving a recap at the end of all of this, so you might want to just skip Parts 2-N.

I run a couple of games – one online game and one offline game, and my offline game is ending.  This isn’t a sad event or anything, this is actually the epilogue of a campaign with the party so horribly broken that I’m not even trying to balance things.  They’re all overpowered in different ways, so it generally works out.

I have been asking said players what type of game they’d like me to run next.  I view myself as a pretty flexible GM; I can run just about anything save Horror (I’m just not very good at it) or Kick-In-The-Door (I get bored with it and my combats last way too long).  In this case, my players wanted me to run a Steampunk setting game.  I’ve never run one before, so I’m going to need to do some background research in the setting (so I don’t end up basing it on the couple of steampunk sources I do know), but that’s not the hard part.

The hard part is the system.  You see, my offline group is familiar with Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e and Pathfinder.  Two of the players are also familiar with Yume En (given that one of said players is the creator of the system and that both players are in my online Yume En game), but the other two players are only familiar with Pathfinder/3.5e.

For some of you reading, undoubtedly you’d have the thought of, “I don’t really see the problem; just use a different system.”  Almost certainly, you all are either heavy into RPing, already know more than one system, or aren’t out of college yet.  You see, this is a very casual game; we’re playing to blow off steam from long working days and high stress jobs.  All of my players have cerebral-oriented jobs that basically require them to think for a living, and I’m certainly not an exception to this.  Chances are, my players aren’t going to want to learn a new system, especially if it is too far from what they are comfortable with.

On the other hand, playing in a refitted system brings its own problems.  For one, adapting Pathfinder to a Steampunk setting is going to be.. interesting.  Either I can go the d20Modern style approach, where I set classes to be more generic and just play fast and loose with equipment, or I can go the “bolt-on” approach where I change as little as possible and you’re really playing Pathfinder, but with Steam and Guns.  This causes rules to get a bit wonky; my players are already hitting that with my homebrewed Epic rules for 3.5e/Pathfinder for their Epilogue game, having recently leveled to 23.  Inconsistent rules can make for a not-so-fun adventure as well.

At the moment, we’re going to run a demo game of Yume En (revised/updated version that is in playtesting right now) and see if they like it.  Not that Yume En is specifically a Steampunk system, but it is more GURPS-like in that it is a rules framework that a lot of different styles of games can be run using.  Of course, since it is a lot less strict about rules than Pathfinder/3.5e, this might be a bit challenging for the players as well.

I’ll probably post some comments about the demo game.

tl;dr version: Anyone have any TBStrategy games that don’t fall into common AI tropes?

I’m a big fan of turn-based strategy games, typically referred to as 4X-style games. I’m also kind of good at them (like a world champion body builder is “kind of good” at lifting things).

I’ve played a lot of them, and sunk a very large number of hours into them, and while I love playing them, the AI is, shall we say, disappointing. It isn’t capable of figuring out when to hold them and when to fold them, as the case may be. It isn’t capable of realizing that certain strategies are good at different times in the game and not so good at other times. To borrow from chess, you have a beginning game, mid game, and end game. Using a beginning game strategy end-game doesn’t work.

This saddens me. It also makes me wonder if I can do better. Sadly, I’m not much of a coder and I’ve never tried making an AI (well, more like a decision algorithm), so I have no idea if I could do better or not. However, I can be an armchair developer/designer and pick at AI foibles.

Problem #1: Deciding when to attack. Read More →