Command and Conquer – Playable in Your Browser!

I’ve recently stumbled upon a game in the Chrome Web Store that caught my eye.  I first saw it had Command and Conquer in the name.  That immediately reminded me of the late night LAN parties and early internet dial-up battles of the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of NOD (NOD) I had years ago.  So I figured it would be pretty neat to say the least if someone had figured out how to leverage the graphics power of the modern web browser to replicate the game without the need to download and install anything.  So I went and added Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliance to my Chrome web browser’s list of “apps”.  I was very surprised to find out how this game was different yet similar in many ways to the original series.

Chrome web apps aren’t really applications as most of us know them.  For the most part it’s really just a hyperlink to the web site where the web application is actually hosted.  So when you click on the icon in your “apps” page in Chrome it takes you to the alliances.commandandconquer.com site.  It turns out this game is one of those free to play games.  And by free to play they mean it costs nothing to play but if you want to slip them a few bucks you can quickly gain an advantage over your rivals with an easy, direct relationship to the amount of bucks you throw their way.  The game can quickly be summed up as Farmville but with infantry, tanks, and air support – a Warville if you will.  Similar to most MMORPG you get to choose a world which is to say a server then your base gets randomly placed along the outside edge of the giant circle that represents all of the usable land in that world.  The goal is to get to the center of the world where the hardest and highest level bad guy bases are.  As you take over POI they are called you can earn bonuses for all of the other players in your alliance.  You’ll get bonuses to infantry attack strength, higher defense for your home base defense units, and extra resources gained per hour to name a few.  You’ll set up harvesters to gather resources like Tiberium and Crystals that you’ll use to build the other buildings, like a barracks to train infantry and a factory to build tanks.  These resources will build even if you have your browser closed and your computer off.  So another great feature is you can log on and play this game for almost any computer!  Over a friend’s house and need to check if you have enough resources to finally build that mega killer tank?  Just log on and check!  Need to upgrade your defense HQ and resource silos while waiting for your code to compile?  Just sign on real quick and get it done in only a few seconds!

CnCTA_BaseViewThe big twist in this game is that instead of GDI vs. NOD it is GDI + NOD vs “The Forgotten”.  So you can have players in your alliance that chose to play as NOD and some that chose GDI on the same team both fighting to drive out the Forgotten.  So if you like a game where you play for a few minutes upgrading your buildings, adding troops and tanks to your forces, and researching better technology like laser guided missle tanks then log off and check back in hours or days later, then this game is for you.  In fact, I wrote this review while waiting for some resources to build up that I need in order to repair all the damage my attacking forces sustained on my last attack on a Forgotten camp.  Let me know if you play this game in the comments and join my alliance, Red_Tide!  You can search for Command and Conquer Tiberium Alliance in the Chrome App Store or just go here to get started: http://www.tiberiumalliances.com

Geek Groceries: Pebble Smart Watch

Now that almost everyone has a smart phone it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and pick up a smart watch to go with it.  One of the latest smart watches is called the Pebble.  It connects to your iPhone or Android device via bluetooth.  Its main function is of course as a time piece so you’ll be spending most of your time changing out the plethora of watch faces.  They also have an SDK that lets you program your own watch faces.  The screen on the watch is actually a backlit e-paper display so you really only get one color.  But the trade off is an insane battery life of 7+ days.  Since e-paper only uses power once to update the display as long as nothing is changing it uses no power.

Other than a completely customizable watch face it also shows the caller ID of whoever is calling you so you can see without fumbling for your phone.  Then you can even dismiss the call to voice mail by pressing a button on the watch.  Handy!  Similarly you can see incoming text messages right on your watch.  It even has a vibrating motor to alert you when you get a notification like that.  It also has a 3 axis accelerometer so you can have apps that react to how its positioned like making the backlight turn on when you just bring your arm up to look at it.

Oh it’s also waterproof so you can swim in your pool or even shower with it.  Imagine being able to change tracks on your phone that’s playing music on the sink while you shower!

As far as RPG games are concerned I can already think of a few custom apps to put on there:  a dice roller that lets you pick how many of how many sided dice you

PebbleWatches

want then shake to roll.  How about a custom life counter you press the up or down side buttons to increment and decrement as well as shake to reset?  I would also imagine a custom app that lets you pick from various background music or sound effects on your phone like a soundboard a DM could use while their phone was plugged into the stereo for super RPG immersion.

Comment below if you have any ideas for a custom app for this smart watch or if you plan to get one.  I know I plan to get one really soon!

Geek Groceries: Rocket Dice

If you haven’t backed anything on Kickstarter yet you may very well back this project as your first.  Especially if you have any kind of space-related games in need of a few D6.  Introducing ROCKET DICE.  It’s a D6 AND a rocket ship!  How cool is that?  Answer: very cool.  They even made sure to design the tail fins so they both look cool and absolutely do not get in the way while it is rolling.  And by rolling that’s exactly what I mean.  They are designed to roll like a log due to their awesome shape.  This shouldn’t change anything mathematically for its randomness though so you don’t have to worry about those strict DMs so much.  I wouldn’t take these to Vegas or anything but still…

They only asked for $5,000 to get their project funded to pay for printing and manufacturing but with almost a month left they already had a ton of people pledging to back this project and made it up to $23,106!  I already backed it at the $10 level to get a set of six.  Take a look at the different levels you can back it and get your rocket dice today!  They only have 26 days to go before theyRocketDice become available to order separately and normally at a higher price.

Comment below and let us know if you plan to or already backed this great project to get some rocket dice of your own.

If Only WOTC Would… Make a D&D Game for Google Glass

You may have heard about the heads up display from Google which they just call Glass.  If not, you can learn all about it here: http://www.google.com/glass/start/

Several ideas for gaming jumped right inside my head the first moment I saw them sitting on someone’s head.  One neat idea for D&D would be a better way to send secret messages between the players or even from the DM to the players or player to DM.  Imagine sitting around the table and a message pops up in your field of view.  This way you can read the message without anyone else even knowing you got a message in the first place.  The old way of writing a note on paper, or whispering in their ear gives away to the other players a message of some kind has been shared.  With Google Glass you could make the whole thing a big surprise!  Of course you’ll still need to get out your phone and TYPE the message but no one will know who it went to.  Another great idea would be for a DM to have things like initiative order, current player’s stats or HP etc. and other information in the field of view all while never taking their eyes off of the map or board.  Maybe even put the story or dialog for the current part of the campaign in the DM’s eye so they can read it while looking at the players instead of looking down at a book or paper to read.  This would make the storytelling part of the game more focused and intense and help get the players into the game.  There are a lot of different aspects of the game that could be shown to the players in their Glass while playing such as current HP, who’s turn it is, and maybe even some sound effects in everyone’s ear when something happens that could be controlled by the DM’s smartphone/tablet.  I could easily come up with hundreds of ideas if you’d give me just a few hours but I’ll leave SOME of the work to WOTC!

Comment below with any idea you might have for using a heads up display in D&D.

If Only WOTC Would… Make a D&D game for Wii U

Imagine if you will, four players each with a wiimote to control their character on the big TV screen when their initiative rolls around while the Dungeon Master can see everything they need to see on the screen of the Wii U gamepad.  I’m not the first to come up with this idea but I can say I probably thought of this around the same time as Penny Arcade did.  I agree this would be PERFECT for the way the Wii U was set up.  This could go along with any sort of game that requires one person to see something different than the other players see on the TV.

I can see the campaign playing out now:

A player with the wiimote gets initiative.  The interface on the TV pans over to that character’s current position on the map.  It then shows the fog of war and the black areas where that character can’t see or doesn’t know about.  They can then pick from a menu which actions they want to take and pick on the map where to move.  When it’s time to attack, check a skill or otherwise roll dice the game automatically picks up the correct set of dice (2d6 and a d20 for example) and the user has to shake and throw the wiimote to roll the dice!

Then when a monster gets initiative the Wii U gamepad vibrates and makes a neat sound through its speakers to signal it’s the DM’s turn.  While he picks through menus and such on the gamepad’s touchscreen there could be several animations and sounds playing through the TV to add suspense or give players clues depending on the options the DM picked on his screen such as flickers of light from certain directions or sounds from certain directions.Wii U Gamepad

You could even use the MotionPlus features of the wiimote when it’s a player’s turn to have them very carefully disarm traps like a virtual game of Operation where one wrong move will spring the trap instead!  Then as that character’s disarm trap skill increases the disarming traps “mini game” would get easier requiring less perfect motions of the wiimote.

It would be fun to be a part of the design phase of this game and I think I could come up with several metric tons of ideas.  Being a Wii U owner myself I can see exactly how all of it works together and could easily dream up new ideas on a daily basis.  Maybe I’ll keep updating this post with any new ideas I come up with?  Who knows!  Leave a comment and help add to the ideas!

Kickstarter Review: Quantum RPG

Any Shadowrun fans out there? Here’s another, yet new and updated future-tech, urban based RPG. This game is the brainchild of Joshua J. Frost. He’s worked on several games like Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft TCG, Lord of the Rings, and Shadowrun, among others. If you’ve played Shadowrun then you have a pretty good idea how this RPG will play. If you haven’t played Shadorun then allow me to give it to you in a nutshell.

The game is played in a future, fictional world where technology and magic have come together as one. Humans are now mostly machine with bionic implants that give them more strength or bionic eyes that connect to their laser guns so that it shoots where ever they look. In this game, Quantum, there is a giant corporation called the Progenancy, that controls all aspects of the city you’ll be playing in. They even control a puppet government as their public arm.

The main city you’ll be playing in, Akyrema City, is divided into five districts each populated with the same type of beasts and bad guys.

I’m planning to play this as soon as we get a copy and look forward to getting my tech upgrades on!

If Only WOTC Would . . . Make a Magic the Gathering Game for Wii U

Think about it.  With the extra screen on the controller, each player can see their own hands and the table would be on the TV screen!  Having a screen on the remote would make ANY card game work on the Wii U.   It seems really useful for a game like Magic because there is often a lot of sifting through your deck and graveyard to find things and with an electronic interface each card graphic could have links to draw those cards automatically.  Also, with Magic on the Wii U, I’d never have to find something to use as counters, keeping up with effects, or making sure I turn my cards 90 degrees when they’re tapped.  Probably the best part would be never again having to worry about bending one of my four Black Loti.  Okay, stop laughing, a man can dream, can’t he?

Honestly, I probably won’t sit through the freezing cold in a camping chair for six hours playing my Nintendo DS waiting on the store to open when the Wii U comes out on November 18th, but I will try to get one for myself as a Christmas present.    At $299  for the base model and $349 for the upgrade which includes a nifty controller charging cradle I’ll probably opt for the upgrade.   Then again, I am a sucker for gadgets and an early adopter who doesn’t mind paying the “nerd tax”.  Now, I’m thinking a battle tech game would be super neat on this system too, but I guess that’s another article for another day.  If you want to find out more about the WiiU, check it out here.  If you have any other  ideas or thoughts about this upcoming system then leave a note in the comments for us! 

Josh’s Guide to DragonCon

This isn’t complete and is just a copy/paste from the Google Doc I made to give to my other con-going friends that are DragonCon noobs.  Feel free to comment and give me more to put in the doc for future DragonCon noobs!  Also feel free to make fun of me and any mistakes I made.   Have fun at DragonCon and look for the Crimson Bastards running around Saturday, Sunday and Monday wearing our logo tshirts running some D&D gaming sessions on the 3rd floor of the Hilton.

Continue reading “Josh’s Guide to DragonCon”

Another TableTop Episode Review: Elder Sign

If you still haven’t taken the time to watch an episode of TableTop starring Wil Wheaton on Youtube, you owe it to yourself to watch this latest episode. Other than starring the beautiful and talented (and oh so geeky) Felicia Day, along with the CEO of Blizzard and the co-creator and writer for The Big Bang Theory TV show, this game turns out to be another fun one to watch as well as play.

Continue reading “Another TableTop Episode Review: Elder Sign”

CLANG Project Kickstarter Review

In keeping with my kickstarter project reviews I found (and backed!) another project on kickstarter.  This project was actually the brain child of Neal Stephenson.  Yes, that Neal Stephenson.  The guy who wrote the books Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon is now trying his hand at creating a new genre of video game.  He decided that we all needed a better way to play sword fighting games that was more realistic than just pressing a button on a controller to swing in pre-programmed motions.  Instead this game, code named CLANG, will use existing hardware and the Unity game engine to create a better way to make this happen where the user actually has to go through the motions of swinging a sword to play.  People already asked why not use the wii remote or the xbox kinect but it turns out those aren’t sensitive enough to reach the realism they are shooting for.  Instead they are going to use the Sixense Razer Hydra mouse/controller.  This provides the quick and speedy updates of real time angles and position as well as the millimeter precision needed for sword fighting.  Also with the latest update from the Unity project will now support Linux then this game SHOULD be able to come out on all three PC, MAC and Linux.  I’m hoping this will turn out better than what they are thinking and becomes the new standard in sword fighting genre video games.  The only problem I can see not being able to overcome is the sudden stop two swords make when they CLANG!