sid_meier_aufmacher

Sid Meier

It is a rare thing to be able to point at someone and say” He created an entire Genre of video game”.  Sid Meier is a Canadian programmer who was born in 1954 and he is a bit of a hero of mine. I am a geek, I fully admit that, and it doesn’t bother me at all. Sid is a geek too, but he is cool, because he was a geek when nobody else was. Sid has written or has been in some way involved in a large percentage of my favourite games over the years.

In the good old days of the 8bit computer, when I was young and carefree and the happy owner of a Commodore 64, there was a company that created rather stunning games called Microprose. My personal favourite was Silent Service, which was a rather spiffy

Silent Service

Submarine Simulator set in the Second World War. I spent hours blowing U-boats out of the water, hunting down Nazi cargo ships and protecting convoys. Silent Service was such a good  game was so good, that twenty years later I am still convinced that if you put me in a submarine I could drive it quite easily. Sid taught me how when I was eight years old.

Gunship 1986

Lets not forget another Microprose creation either, the fantastic Gunship – 1986. Thanks to Sid, I was flying the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter when I was nine years old. By the time I was ten years old, I could shoot just about anything out of the sky and take down enemy tanks from nearly two miles away. It turns out that flying the worlds most advanced Attack Helicopter is actually pretty easy once you read the manual and you get a bit of target practice. In fact they practically fly themselves. Death defying piloting skills haven’t been much use so far in my adult life, but it is reassuring to know I can blow up an enemy weapons depot should I need to. You never know when these things will come in handy do you? Cheers Sid.

Civilization

A couple of years later, Sid taught me everything I could ever need to know about business in Railroad Tycoon. I am not a millionaire yet, but that is simply because I haven’t had time to deploy everything Sid taught me. Instead I have been practicing to become God, thanks to Civilization, which is Sid’s most famous creation. Civilization is just what it sounds like, you are given control of a civilization and your job is to make it thrive, grow and prosper. You have the choice to win your enemies over with diplomacy and trade, or simply to go to war and wipe them off the face of the map. The choice is yours.

Of course Sid has been teaching us to be deities for a long time now, and Civ has been though many incarnations / sequels (at least seven different versions each on different platforms by my count), and a new one is due out later this year:  Civilization V – I can hardly wait!

There can be no doubt then that Sid Meier is a very talented chap. I must admit though, that I didn’t understand just how talented he was until I saw the video below. Sid’s old university runs an annual competition for students who want to become games programmers / writers. The contestants are given 48 hours to design a fully working, bug free video game. Every year Sid is one of the judges, and this year he decided to have a go himself, although his entry wasn’t going to be judged. Take a look, I think you will be very impressed, I know I was.

Enjoy!

ZenEmu

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Dark Age of Camelot

Dark Age of Camelot

In 2001 a company called  Mythic Entertainment released a Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG) called Dark Age of Camelot. It was good, it was difficult, it was hard, but above all it was time consuming.

Dark Age of Camelot is an old game now. It has had several expansions released for it over the years, some of which added to game play others, if I am honest detracted from it. The thing that makes DAoC really special is its unique 3 realm player vs player system. There are three realms: Albion, Hibernia and Midgard and each of these realms has its own geography, history and unique races. Each of these realms meets on “The Frontier”, which is where player vs player battle takes place.

DAoC Raid

The story doesn’t end when you get to level 50. In the Frontiers there are not only opposing players to fight (in groups or travelling solo), but keeps and towers to take. Your realm will occasionally work together to capture the other two realms “Relics”, which will make your realm stronger and their realm weaker until they take it back. as you capture keeps and towers and kill opposing players you will earn more Realm Points, improving your character and allowing it to learn new abilities.

DAoC also has a strong Player vs Enemy element. There are dungeons to explore, vast areas full of monsters to kill, and many of them drop useful items which will help you on your way. There are 50 levels for your character to get through before you will really be ready to battle in the Frontiers, but in the meantime there are battlegrounds suited to low level players where you can practice Player vs Player and learn more about your race and earn a few Realm Points, which will help to improve your character. A new Battleground is available every 10 levels, and adds a nice touch and some fun game-play to break up the leveling, which admittedly can get a bit boring after a while.

Avalon MarshesAnother aspect of DAoC is the crafting system, and although not for everyone, it is a useful way to make extra in-game money. Characters all wear armour and weapons of varying qualities. Crafters can make new items and imbue them with certain properties to give extra improvements to characters.

Now the downside. In Europe, Mythic Entertainment licenced DAoC to a company called GoA, which made a complete hash of hosting it. Silly mistakes like overcharging subscriptions, loosing and breaking accounts, slow underpowered servers and appalling customer support put a really large dent in the number of subscribers DAoC had. Incidentally Mythic made the same mistake with Warhammer online, but all that is another post entirely. Luckily Mythic have recently taken back the European subscribers and are now looking at merging many vast servers together to give DAoC the population it deserves.

I’ve played many MMORPG’s and most are fairly pale interpretations of DAoC. In my opinion it is still  the very best. If you haven’t tried it yet, download the free 14day trial and give it a go. It doesn’t cost much to subscribe (around $14 or £6.50) per month and these days all of the expansions are included in the subscription price, so there is nothing extra to pay.

Here is a link to the free trial:

http://www.darkageofcamelot.com/

Have fun, but be warned that DAoC will take up a lot of your time if you get into it :)

Zen Emu

Joshua & Mom

Video – Joshua 12 years old with Aspergers.

Joshua & Mom

Sorry, just a quick post today as I am incredibly busy rewriting this site and swearing at my laptop which now has a battery life which can be measured in seconds.

I recently came across this fantastic little video about Joshua, a 12 year old boy with Aspergers Syndrome. I thought this was amazingly well done and it reminded me of, well me :)

I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks to the guys at http://storycorps.org/ for making it. You might want to check out there youtube channel too: http://www.youtube.com/user/storycorps

I hope you enjoy. I liked it.