Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Once upon a time in the Bandit Kingdoms…

Many years ago, there was a giant Dungeons and Dragons campaign called Living Greyhawk, where the organizers carved up this giant fictional world and matched them up with states and countries in the real world.

Each state in the union (and quite a few foreign provinces) were matched up with countries in the world of Greyhawk.

Texas was given the Bandit Kingdoms, a group of lawless frontier kingdoms full of thieves and criminals.

Then, as part of the overall plot development in the world, an evil king named Iuz moved in next door and started turning everybody into undead slaves.

Each region in the Living Greyhawk campaign had a web site to keep their particular group organized. The Bandit Kingdoms site was my favorite. It featured a list of t-shirt slogans that I regard as a masterpiece of dark humor and game geekery.

If you ever played Dungeons and Dragons, if you ever rolled a character in Greyhawk, this list should be good for a smile at least.

T-shirt design debate

Being co-ordinated by Pat.

List gathered by Marcia: Please thank her.
Wanted, Demonslayers with HP’s, AC’s, GMW’s and a better healer.
“We came. We fought. He kicked our asses!”
“You can serve me just as well dead as alive!”
“We keep planting the paladins but the population never seems to grow.”
A friend in need is just another opportunity for profit.
According to the campaign rules, you can play any non-evil alignment, so you can choose anything neutral or suicidal.
All our heroes work in Hallorn.
All you need for speak with dead is the head, right?
An average of 2 lost characters per player and growing.
Anything that is not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose is NOT nailed down.
Anything that is not nailed down is ours. Anything we can pry loose is NOT nailed down.
As a matter of fact I DO detect as evil
Bandit Kingdoms Underground – Resistance or Death!
Bandit Kingdoms: Good is only skin deep. Evil goes all the way to the bone.
Bandit Kingdoms: The Original Rogue State
Bandit Kingdoms: Where the plot hook rarely catches you in the mouth.
Bandits R’ Us
Been there, done that, got the whip scars.
Brains, its what makes a body good.
Can someone give me a hand with the paladin? He tried to detect evil again.
Can’t we all just get along?
Children go hungry, demons walk the streets, and an evil demi-god rules over the land…looks like everything is back to normal.
Conga line of death starts here.
Dead adventurers are the biggest portion of our economy.
Death: it does a body good
Dishonor before death.
Don’t antagonize the Demon. He’s dating your sister.
Don’t antagonize the Demons! They run the tax office.
Don’t cut off their heads it ruins the resale value!
Don’t get excited — it’s just another demon.
Don’t oppress me, I get plenty of that back home.
Everything’s worth something to somebody.
Evil schmeevil
Free Lords Forever! (Time to kick Iuz’s butt)
Free Lords Forever, viva la Revolution!
Give me every thing you got. Yes even the boots.
GM: “You hear screaming at the end of the hall.” PC (40′ from the end of the hall): “I take 10 searching the square in front of me.”
Greyhawk the bodies!
How many evil acts does it take to be removed from the campaign?
How much do you think we can get for this?
I *AM* the lesser evil.
I came, I saw, I lost some levels!
I don’t have to outrun HIM; I just have to outrun YOU!
I exemplify all the BK virtues: Jaded, cynical, and amoral.
I gave my soul to Neroth and all I got was this stinking T-Shirt
I kill him and take his shoes.
If the bounty gets high enough, I’ll turn myself in!
If you’re reading this, RUN! The forces of IUZ are right behind me!
I’m not touching that.
I’m right behind you.
In the BK no one can hear you scream.
In the BK we don’t believe in evil, we believe in opportunities.
It’s a dead body; let’s just shoot it from here.
It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye… then it’s down right hilarious!
It’s no use killing the city watch. They’re already undead.
It’s not an evil act if it hurts Iuz in any way.
It’s not theft if he’s dead.
Its only meta-gaming if you haven’t actually encountered Osyluth’s and Cornugon’s before.
IUZ is offering 500gp for my head… I wonder how much he’d give for the rest of me?
Iuz’s Conscription Center: We Want You Dead or Alive
I’ve been to the Old One’s silver mines, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.
I’ve got your back.
Jaded, cynical, amoral, but not bitter. Never bitter. No.
Just say ‘No’ to Paladins.
Looting and pillaging contribute over 66% of our GDP.
Mercy is for the weak.
Morality may be relative, but all my relatives have moved to Furyondy.
Must be nice to have ruler who doesn’t eat human flesh.
My region can kick your region’s butt!
Never surrender; never give up
Never trust a doublin.
Nice kingdom you’ve got here. Be a real shame if something were to ‘happen’ to it…
No mission too dangerous, no fee too high!
Of course we get to keep anything we find. Now, let’s discuss our *fee*.
One man’s medusa victim is another man’s lawn art.
Our cops are demons and undead. Our ruler eats souls for breakfast.
Our Zombies could kick your Zombies’ asses.
Over 10 billion souls reaped.
Paladin. It’s what’s for dinner.
Pick a direction and let’s go kill something.
Possession is 10 tenths of the law.
Providing charitable services at reasonable prices since CY 591.
Relax, they just drain levels.
Remember the Steelbone Meadows
Resistance is futile
Scream once for ‘Run away’, twice for ‘Help’.
Selling out our grandmothers since CY 591.
Serving the lesser god of evil since CY 591.
So, we get to keep *anything* we find in the mine other than the gems, right? Great. We’re gonna need a few mules.
Somebody tell that Lawful Good Bozo to keep his mouth shut!”
Soul, I don’t need no steenking soul!
Squeeze the little gnomes and watch their heads pop off.
The Bandit Kingdoms – Home of the Good, the Bad, and Old Ugly
The Bandit Kingdoms – Resistance even if Dead
The Bandit Kingdoms – Where every step may be your last!
The Bandit Kingdoms – Where the only ones you CAN trust are the bandits!
The Bandit Kingdoms – You’ll be screaming for your mommy.
The few, the proud, the Bonehearts!
The few, the proud, the undead
The Good, the Bad, and Old Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the BK
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
The Old One – out of sight, but never out of mind!
The Quick and the Dead
The Quick and the Undead.
The reward’s too low and they didn’t spell my name right.
The town has been destroyed by fire? We search the place for any valuables that might have survived.
There is no lesser evil. There is no greater evil. There is only Iuz.
Trust me.
Uncle Iuz wants YOU in the Bonehearts!
Undead, Demons, and Betrayal. It’s nice to be home!
Under the heel of the Old One
Wanted by Assassins of the Temple Grimacing
Wanted for Questioning by the Forces of Iuz
We BK the bodies.
We didn’t start out like this
We need more paladins! It’s almost lunchtime!
We strip-search the corpses and take everything with us.
Welcome to the BK. While you’re reading this, my partner has picked your pocket. Thank you.
We’ve got two kinds of heroes: the dead ones and… Never mind. It’s just one kind of hero.
What are YOU looking at?
What are you talking about? We *are* the wrong hands.
What the heck is a doubling?
What’s in it for me?
Where the good men are dead and the smart ones don’t eat jerky
Where ya get that huge frickin badger?
Who cares about thing that go bump in the night. I care about the ones that go wooooohooooo!
Yeah, I’ll hold that for ya.
Yeah, show’em your holy symbol, that will go over REAL big!”
Yes, that IS brimstone you smell.
You go first.
You may HATE him, but WE have to live with him!
You’ll want to choose me. I’m the lesser evil.
Your money or your life? What kind of pansy bandit are you, giving people a choice?
You’ve got three options: quick, smart, and dead. Choose two.
“The Bandit Kingdoms: Where the good men are dead, and the smart ones don’t eat the jerky”.
The Bandit Kingdoms… where ALL (live) bards have fighter or barbarian levels….

Written by Michael B. Duff

May 20, 2011 at 08:18

Posted in Games, Humor

EA removes ‘Taliban mode’ from Medal of Honor

EA has changed the name of “Taliban mode” in its Medal of Honor game after receiving complaints from military families. Their apology seems particularly eloquent and sincere:

We have also received feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. …
While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, we are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service.

You can still play the enemy in multiplayer. They’re just called “Opposing Force” instead.

Note that in previous games you could play the Japanese or the Viet Cong and no one complained.

That brings up an interesting question. Is it simply wrong to play the enemy in a game based on a current ongoing war? Should game companies limit the ability to play Japanese and Viet Cong forces as well?

If game companies stopped including Nazis, the entire industry would collapse.

Do you agree with EA’s decision here? Where should we draw the line?

Written by Michael B. Duff

October 1, 2010 at 14:20

Posted in Games

Farmville 2.0?

Buddy in my office just came up with a great idea.

Was listening to This Week in Tech #267 and heard that Farmville moves a Petabyte of data a day. They’re buying 1,000 new servers a week.

I mention this to my officemate and he says: Do you think this annoys real farmers? They need to come up with a drone system where you can do flyovers of actual farms. Issue commands to irrigation robots, get data from soil samples, juggle market prices, etc.

Made me wonder if Farmville is sparking interest in real agriculture. Are people being inspired by Farmville, to the point of looking into Agricultural Science programs?

Could I ask that question of a real Ag Science advisor without getting punched in the face?

Written by Michael B. Duff

September 29, 2010 at 09:26

Posted in Facebook, Games

Starcraft II available for early download

Blizzard is trying something strange and clever. The client is not available for digital purchase until June 27, but you can start your download of it now.

They’re basically letting you download the client in advance so you can beat the rush. They’re making digital downloads available on the same day as the retail release, a nice change from the Lich King download, which lagged behind the retail release by a week or two.

I’m starting my download now, and I’m glad I’m starting early. My estimated time is sitting at 12 hours. If I had to wait 12 hours on launch day, I would be…annoyed.

Written by Michael B. Duff

July 22, 2010 at 21:36

Posted in Games

Tagged with

Designers reveal their favorite memories as World of Warcraft turns five

World of Warcraft turned five last week.

By way of comparison, heroin is 135, cocaine is 154 and we’ve been making alcoholic beverages for 9,000 years. I would put the debut of World of Warcraft on par with these events, comparable to when the first caveman fermented the first grape.

But this isn’t another tedious game addiction column; this is a tip of the hat to a game that has brought thousands of hours of reasonably-priced joy to people all over the world…


Written by Michael B. Duff

December 4, 2009 at 09:32

Posted in Columns, Games, Warcraft

Christmas is coming; don't buy your geek the wrong gift

It’s almost Christmas and you haven’t done any shopping yet.

You know what to buy for your parents, your siblings and all the little kids, but what do you buy for the geek of the house?

Your first concern is obviously price. The more you’re willing to spend, the easier your decision will be. The world is full of expensive geek toys. If you’re willing to devote some cash to the project, you can get your geek a game console. If they already have one, they probably want the other one. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what game system or software titles your teenager (or console-friendly adult) wants, just ask them.

Or, if you’re a purist, committed to the idea of a Christmas surprise, call their best friend on the phone and ask which games they want to play together that they currently can’t.

This is an important step that many people forget when buying gifts. It’s easy to make a mistake here. Parents and spouses who are not tech-savvy can end up with wasted money and hurt feelings if they buy their geeks the wrong hardware. Making the choice between Xbox and Nintendo, Wii or PS3, or PC and Mac is a big deal.

Some parents think all computers are created equal, but when you commit to a brand, you’re locking your kids into a specific platform, and if it’s not the same system that their friends have, you’ll end up wasting time and money on a gift that will never be used.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 25, 2009 at 15:33

Posted in Apple, Columns, Games

‘Fallout 3’ will take you to an art deco nuclear wasteland, if the Super Mutants don’t get you first

It’s 3 a.m. outside Megaton. I’m wearing sunglasses and a dirty business suit. I’m carrying a Chinese Assault Rifle and a blaster I retrieved from an alien spacecraft.

I haven’t eaten any corpses yet, but my failed attempt at peacemaking led to the mass murder of a dozen angry rich people. I’ve killed a hundred mutants, a thousand raiders and one uppity robot, but am still considered a good person.

I have a dog. He tries to run off and get killed every 10 minutes, so I’m thinking about trading him in for a giant yellow-skinned mutant who likes to quote Zen Philosophy.

I have recently become a homeowner, after disarming a nuclear bomb in the center of town. I am mildly radioactive and I have recently broken two of my own limbs for money.

Yesterday I accidentally drank radioactive water from a toilet. Then the lady at the general store offered me money, so I went back and did it again on purpose.

I’m sitting on the hood of a ’77 Corvega, a 2077 Corvega, eating Iguana Bits and listening to the radio. Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters are singing a song from 1948.

The DJ is a friend of mine. He’s helping me find my dad. I left a life of comfort and safety to venture across a radioactive wasteland in search of my father. Dad likes to do science and quote Bible verses. It may seem strange to quote the Book of Revelations to a toddler, but shoddy parenting is the least of Dad’s problems.

I tried to go back to the Vault after the ghouls murdered all those rich people, but nobody was particularly glad to see me. My grade-school girlfriend lured me back there and tried to enlist me into some kind of revolution.

I helped the rebels and everybody said I was a great hero. Then my girlfriend said I was a bad influence and kicked me out forever.

I would have tried to argue with her, but I had just put six bullets in her father’s head and she wasn’t really in the mood.

I tried to flirt with this blond chick in powered armor last week but she’s not really the type you settle down with. Doesn’t really matter, I guess. I’m pretty sure that the toilet water made me sterile, and the Capital Wasteland isn’t really a place to raise kids.

The DJ says I should find my Dad and fix this machine that can save the wasteland, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be killed and eaten by Super Mutants before that.

I saved a kid from some giant ants last week, but then I stuffed him in a personal fallout shelter and kind of forgot about him. I didn’t give him any food and he’s been in there for a really long time. I’m kind of afraid to go back.

There’s a shack in the wasteland where you can cut the fingers off bad guys and trade them for money. I killed 30 guys yesterday and I’m hoping that shack is still there. I’m trying to save up money for a jukebox.

IGN and GameSpot both picked “Fallout 3” as one of the Best Games of 2008. Bethesda has a special “Game of the Year” edition coming out on Oct. 13 that will include all the expansions. I should have saved the wasteland by then, if the Super Mutants don’t get me first.

Written by Michael B. Duff

September 17, 2009 at 15:16

Posted in Columns, Games

Creative, complex web comics reach for audience beyond the funny pages

For most readers, comics come in two flavors: the venerable, kid-friendly stuff on the funny pages and the intermittently hilarious panels on the editorial page.

But the web has created a new kind of comic — a thousand new kinds of comics, as varied and eccentric as the people who read them. Just as blog publishing has turned everybody with an Internet connection into a political commentator, anyone who can draw stick figures can start a comic and build an audience online.

In fact, my favorite comic is nothing but stick figures. It’s called The Order of the Stick, available at www.giantitp.com. Creator Rich Burlew started OotS in 2003 as a kind of parody of/tribute to the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game. Early strips were full of story tropes and gamer in-jokes, but Rich has matured as an artist and a storyteller — crafting a brisk, engaging story full of nuanced characters and deeply satisfying plot twists.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 20, 2009 at 15:08

Posted in Columns, Games

Dear Bioware, Please save me from your new Star Wars game

I’m going to write about the new Star Wars game today, but this is not a preview. This is a cry for help.

I spent three happy years playing “World of Warcraft,” and three years playing “Ultima Online” before that. I could hedge my language and try to wiggle out of it, but the technical term for my condition is “addict.”

I kicked my Warcraft habit last year when the novelty finally wore off. I played every class in the game and even tried my hand at high-level raiding for a while. Then the Lich King expansion came out and I realized if I wanted to keep up with my guild I would have to have to work my way through 10 more levels of crap.

I did everything I could to relieve the boredom but at that exact moment the game became work. Kill 20 of these, collect 10 of that. Carry this item to this person and spend 30 minutes watching an animated bird carry you across the world. I couldn’t take it anymore. I actually grew to resent the game. Logging in felt like a job, a duty — a chore I had to complete before I was allowed to do anything “fun.”

It was a strange feeling, to feel contempt for something I used to be addicted to — like I had suddenly developed an allergy to ice cream or come to despise the sight of cupcakes. Perhaps I should thank Blizzard Software for ruining their game. They killed something I loved and let me get my life back.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

July 30, 2009 at 15:24

Posted in Games

The Agency brings superspies to the MMO arena


Here’s a video from Sony’s new game The Agency.

At first glance it’s a James Bond-style superspy and mercenaries game that you can play in a persistent world with other players, but it’s got some innovations that I’m really looking forward to.

In this game you’re not just managing your character, you’re actually building your own spy agency, collecting NPC operatives who will work for you and perform missions while you’re offline.

That’s the part that really grabbed me. The notion that you can assign tasks to your operatives right before you log off the game. You can assign sub-agents can infiltrate enemy bases or set your Q-Section to work on an amazing gadget and they’ll make progress on that goal while you’re at work.

Your agents can even “phone home” and reach you in the real world, sending emails or text messages to alert you when those tasks are done.

That’s a powerful concept that I haven’t seen done before. You know your guildies are still playing when you log off World of Warcraft, but when you introduce the NPC labor element, you end up with a game that never ends.

You can break up your real world life with updates from the game and (hopefully) get real-time info about what rival agencies are doing. At the highest level, this could turn the game into a kind of active-passive balancing act, where you turn your non-game time into a kind of passive NPC chess match and back it up with real time raids when you get home.

I’m not particularly interested in first-person shooters, but I love the idea of being a spider in the center of this web, dispatching agents via text message to sabotage my enemies while I work on TPS reports.

I’ll be curious to see how well this is implemented, and what it will look like when other companies take it to the next level.

Written by Michael B. Duff

May 26, 2009 at 09:03

Posted in Games