Posts tagged ‘games’

A better form of Dungeon Crawl!

Most of my friends know that I really like the roguelike game Linley’s Dungeon Crawl and play it often (it’s similar to NetHack and Angband, if you’re familiar with those). In it, you wander around an (ASCII art) dungeon fighting monsters and getting equipment and treasures. The object of the game is to get the fabled Orb of Zot, which is in the Realm of Zot. You can get there from the dungeon by opening the Portal of Zot using three Runes of Zot (see, there’s a theme here…). It has a wonderfully detailed play structure, and provides hours of entertainment.

The only problem, in my opinion, is that it’s impossibly hard: not only have I never won in my 6 years of playing, but I’ve never gotten a single Rune. There are also a few bugs (most notably, it seems to lock up if you’re controlling your teleport destination). I had thought that development stopped in 2003, but it turns out I was wrong: Linley and his friends stopped developing, but there is a branch called Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup that continues on. It has some really nice extra stuff added in. For instance, if there are no monsters around, you automatically pick up gold, food, potions, and certain other objects that you almost certainly want to get. This turns off if you can see a monster. The targeting for ranged weapons/spells is much more automatic. It now has a path planning algorithm in it so that you can walk to any location in the level (and it automatically stops if you encounter a monster along the way). The morgue files (summaries of your character after you die) are much more detailed. Event messages, stats screens, and your inventory are more detailed. It’s still impossibly hard, but DCSS makes some of the basic mechanics much simpler. This is great!

If you’re interested in a fun, easy-to-learn game that offers literally unlimited play, give DCSS a try.

An idea for a video game

Take a classic game that makes heavy use of a simple physics engine (such as Asteroids), and add in general relativity to the physics engine (and set the speed of light so that the game has very noticeable relativistic effects). For the Asteroids example, asteroids traveling at high speeds relative to you would exhibit Lorenz contraction, asteroids coming towards you would be bluish and those going away would be reddish, firing your gun would propel you backwards a little, etc. I’m not sure if accelerating would have different behavior than in the usual version (sure, the asteroids would age faster, but that wouldn’t be noticeable in-game). Stuff displayed on the screen would be what the spaceship pilot would perceive “now.” I suspect it would be an interesting twist on a classic game, and give people a better intuition for relativity (assuming people like it and play it a bunch). I can’t find such a game already created on the internet, but I haven’t looked too hard.

Any thoughts?

It’s good to work at the Google

I realize it’s old news at this point, but President Bush is still out of touch with the world.

This evening after work, Dustin, Josh, Caitlin, Dave, Dominic, Nick, Nick’s boyfriend whose name I never caught, and I went out to dinner at Houston’s. We then walked around the Third Street Promenade for a bit, looked at the Puzzle Zoo (a game store), got some gelato, and went back to Google. Why would we go back to work at 9:00 in the evening on a Friday, you ask? On the second floor, we have a lounge complete with pool table, ping-pong, foosball, 2 XBox 360’s, a GameCube, a PS2, an Atari, and probably some other video game systems (I should point out that the video game systems are all owned by individual Googlers who have permanently lent their stuff to the lounge; I don’t think even Google would buy that stuff for its employees). This is enough entertainment to keep all of us, along with several other people who stopped in, busy for the whole night. I left work around 1:15 AM, and there were still 4 people playing foosball when I left. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be working at such a great company, with such fantastic benefits and perqs.

One of the coolest parts of the evening was how nerdy everyone was, but at the same time how intelligent and comfortable they were with their nerdiness. Some very nerdy examples →