Sunday, March 19, 2006

Star Wars or Web 2.0

Courtesy of, test your Web2.0/Star Wars geek level:


First try, I got 41 out of 43.

Please do not mock the blogger.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Starforce Boycott, Revisited

A few posts back, I referenced a call among PC gamers to boycott games laced with Starforce protection, but was unsure whether it was time to jump on the bandwagon or not.

Now I'm sure.

(Via BoingBoing)

Turns out that Stardock (the makers of gaming and utility titles such as GalCiv, Astral Master, WindowBlinds, and ObjectDock) decided to release its recent title Galactic Civilizations 2: Dread Lords without copy protection. Rather than assuming that all of its cutomers are criminals, Stardock chose to place a little bit of trust in us and release this game free of crippling DRM {cough}Starforce{cough}. In their own words:

What we do is provide a serial # that users can choose to enter when they install and use that unique serial # to download free and frequent updates.

Our license allows you to install the game onto as many machines that you own that you want as long as only one copy is being used at once. How many sales are lost because people want to have a game on their laptop and desktop and don't want to drag CDs around so choose not to buy the game?

In response, a moderator of Starforce's message board posted a link to downloadable pirated torrents of the game.

So, one company does the right thing and stands by its customers... another promotes illegal methods in an attempt to punish them. Guess who joins my list of companies to avoid, and guess what game I'll be buying as soon as opportunity permits?

Until Starforce straightens up their act, no games protected by their DRM will be knowingly added to my collection. It's not much, but it's what I can do.

Stay tuned, I'm sure there will be more...

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Best Games You've Never Played, Vol. 2

A couple of fun, free time-wasters that I have run across in my search for entertainment are from an understandably under-represented genre: computer hacking simulations.

The first was mentioned recently in Computer Gaming World (and on as one of their 101 Best Free Games. Chen Luu of X-K Security has produced a short series of text-based hacking simulations that, if nothing else, reinforce some basic networking ideas such as DNS lookup and telnet connections. Not completely intuitive, I had to read through the instructions a couple of times to get the general idea of what I needed to do. I found v 3.1 to be the most polished and easily approachable, and while no two games are identical, the overall approach to each quest is basically the same: look up the IP address, ping it, do a port scan, then telnet in and crack the password. Same steps every time; what differs is the payload -- you may be asked to copy a file, delete a file, or insert a virus. Other than that, though, gameplay is fairly limited. Being a network technician, though, I find it challenging to get in and out in as short a time as possible while still achieving the quest goals.

The second game is actually one I found a couple of years ago, most likely while I was searching for something else. Decker, by Shawn Overcash, isn't so much a hacker simulation as a cyberpunk hacker RPG. Playing as a mercenary, um, 'computer intrusion specialist', you pick and choose among contracts which pay greater or lesser amounts to achieve various goals -- changing database information, erasing critical files, inserting a virus -- but with the added bonus of getting to keep anything else you find while sneaking around inside the target's computer. Of course, the target systems don't sit around and let you have free run of their data -- you have to deal with (or avoid) countermeasures which may disconnect or even kill your character.

With the money gained from sucessfully completing missions and selling off odd bits of information you acquire, you can pay for hardware and software upgrades to your cyberdeck: attack, defence, concealment, regeneration, and decryption (plus many other stats) are affected by the quality of components you can afford and the distribution of skill points.

The only thing that threw me off when first playing was the graphics -- although you have a character sprite in the main window, you don't actually move it around. Think 'Legend of Zelda' -- yes the original one. When you were in a castle, you had a main screen that showed Link and the enemies in a given room, and an overhead map in one corner that showed the room's relative position in the castle. In Decker, your character sprite doesn't actually move around the inside of the room -- directional movement only occurs between rooms on the main map. A little disorienting at first, it does allow for fast and easy gameplay when you get used to it. Of course, Decker's source code is available under the GNU Public License, so if anybody feels like changing that, let me know.

All right folks, that's it. Nothing more to see here. Now go out there and get your hack on.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


More new games, courtesy of drevil361:

Vietnam: Black Ops
Beyond Time
Battlefield 1942
Half-Life: Blue Shift
Assault Rigs
Microsoft Soccer
Deer Avenger
and Deer Avenger 2

Some nice additions to the collection in there. Thanks for a great transaction, drevil361!

Dollar shop special, part 2

So I stopped by the dollar store to see if they had anything new to pick up, and walked out of the store with multiple copies of Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich and Apocalyptica.

Apocalyptica might not have been worth the whole dollar, but FFvtTR more than made up for it. And according to the guy at the register, there should be some more big-name games on the shelf in the next day or two, but it sounds like they'll be more of what I picked up last time. Still, it's worth checking out.