Category Archives: Gaming

Bunko, A.K.A., Bunco

Bunco, sometimes spelled Bunko, is a party game using dice. Looking around the Internet, there seems to be no “Official Rules of Bunko,” rather a general consensus of the rules.
You need:
12 people. Alternatively you can have 16, but it probably doesn’t work so well with 20 or 24 and so on.
A bell.
3 tables with 4 people each. Obviously if you are playing with 16 people, you’ll need a fourth table.
At each table you need 3 dice, 2 notepads for each team’s “temporary” scores and a pencil or pen for each notepad to mark the score. Alternatively, you can have one notepad and pencil at each table with one scorekeeper per table.
Each player will get a scorecard, to be talked about in a moment.
There is an optional rule for a large fuzzy dice or other soft object.
There is yet another optional rule for another soft fuzzy item.
Not required, but perhaps helpful is a 3 or 4 place holders to say which table is which. You’ll learn more about that in a bit.
Also not required, but as it is a party game, food and drinks is a good idea.
Read on to learn more. Continue reading Bunko, A.K.A., Bunco

Only 48 Pro XBox 360s locally

After looking up my local Best Buy‘s store number, I checked it against the list of BestBuy Store Xbox360 Unit Allocation Numbers. It looks like the North Canton, Ohio Best Buy is getting 48 premium units (the only one to really get), 14 core units ($100 cheaper, but you basically need the stuff that comes with the premium and separately you’ll spend much more then $100 to get them). That is the best allocation for the local area. No word yet on how many each Wal-Mart will get, though they are supposed to get more cores then other places. The advantage of Wal-Mart is you get to wait indoors, and get to pick-up your unit at midnight, so no waiting outside in the cold. I did that last time with the regular XBox… There will be no getting a premium system from the video game stores for a long time as they have lots of pre-orders to fill. Best Buy is getting the best allocation as they are the retail partner with the launch. The local one has the XBox 360 demo unit on display right at the entrance of the store on a large Sony screen.
Of course a lack of cash will keep me from doing anything this time, beyond the fact that there are no must have launch titles. If they had released MechAssault 3 or something that I would need to have.

Hard game

Remember the old puzzle where a man had a fox, a hen and some seed. The man had to take them in a boat one at a time to the other side of a river. You can’t leave the fox alone with the hen or it will eat the hen, you can’t leave the hen alone with the seed or it would eat the seed. The tick is finding a way of getting everything on the other side of the river alive and intact.
Well, there is a new improved version of that old river crossing IQ game. Click the big round blue circle, and the game is on. You can’t leave the father alone with a daughter, you can’t leave a mother alone with a son, and the criminal can’t be left alone with anybody but them self or the cop. Get them across the river. Good luck.

Hex168 Viral Marketing

With all the fun of the Lost viral marketing campaign going on, it is sometimes easy to forget the masters of viral marketing has been XBox related. Indeed the XBox 360 viral campaign has had a few interesting ones, the most interesting was the whole I LoveBees campaign.
The newest has been the Hex 168 campaign. Featuring pictures such as the below all over XBox 360 boards.
Hex168 - Tulsa Photo
168 is equal to 360 in the hex number format. The circle is part of the the XBox 360’s logo (notably they call it the “rings of light” and it lights up in quadrants much like the 4 part circle in the photo), the Hex probably a clue to the hex number format. The number 168 as noted earlier is the same as 360 in hex.
There is a countdown timer, and it would seem a sneak preview of the XBox 360 somewhere, or perhaps the official start of the Hex 168 game.
The cities they use in the photos are all large cities except Tulsa, so perhaps the debut will be Tulsa related? Or it is the launch of store demos. I doubt it is a contest to win the XBox 360 early. How would they give them away? Contact the poster of a message to say “You won!” Some of the clues do hint at a pre-release copy of XBox 360. Other references are to the blades in the interface. The silver ball thing in the middle of the controller…
Potentially a Halo 3 campaign, but I doubt that guess.
I get nothing using Dr. Lutz (the name on the campaign) in the Anagram server, nor just Lutz. Doctor Lutz doesn’t really come up with much useful. Using Doctor John Lutz gets some interesting results, but I didn’t see clues there.
The coutdown ends the 18th about 3 p.m. EST (or is that EDT?)… So I guess we’ll see…

Perhaps it is a Lost game on the XBox 360, there are two campaigns going… Along with the bigspaceship1 thingy… Okay probably not…
EDIT: To try to get the wordpress plugin trying to make a link to Thessalonians in the above… as there is no chapter 168… Anytime I put The and a number after it, it tries to link it to Thessalonians…

Best Board Game?

In the new Knucklebones magazine, Erik Anderson writes an article on the Top 10 Essential Games. Feeling a deck of cards is cheating, he goes on to the list, with Chess as the #1 spot (which he admits “If listing a deck of cards is cheating, this is close.”I agree, it is cheating but hey…) and his #2 choice is The Settlers of Catan made by Mayfair Games, a game in it’s default form for 3 to 4 players. Now, this isn’t the first time I have heard about this game and how great it supposedly is. I have seen it listed as one of the best if not the best board game from many websites that sell games as well.
In the game you setup hexagonal pieces that make up an island, this is apparently random in order so the game is different each time. Each pieces has a resource and is further enhanced with a dice number from 2 to 12, so if you roll that number you collect that resource if you have a settlement or city next to it… We really need a picture here.. An example might serve, you have a grass field who’s resource is sheep, on the top 3 sides of it is water, on the bottom left is a wheat field resource who’s resource is grain, directly below it is a mountain who’s resource is ore, and the bottom right is a forest who’s resource is lumber. You then add a dice value to each, here we’ll say 8 for the grass field, then 10, 3 and 4 for the others in order. You place your first initial settlement at the intersection between the grass field, the mountain and the forest, and then lay a road along the edge lines somewhere. Now, if you or an opponent rolls 8 on the dice you collect 1 sheep resource, if a 4 is rolled you collect a lumber resource as they are the areas you are next to. You want to be in a spot where you can collect the most resources so you can build more settlements (you get two at the start), roads (outside of your first two settlements, the rest must connect to one of the first two by a road), change your settlements into cities (raising the value or resources collected to 2, so in the above example rolling a 4 would net you two lumber resources after the settlement was changed to a city), or buying developer cards. Developer cards either move a thief marker, allow you to build roads without the resources required, give you extra points to the end game, etc.
Now the thief marker is moved on rolls of 7 on the dice, or, as noted, with a soldier developer card. The person who rolls it, moves it next to a settlement/city and steals one of the cards from the player who owns it. The resource that the thief is sitting on will not give up any resources to anyone near it until the thief marker is moved, so you don’t put it next to yours even if you stole from another player who is sharing the same resource.
During each player’s turn, the rolling player may trade resources with the others. They may offer a trade to him, or he may offer a trade to them. You may need one more ore to change your settlement into a city, so you offer a brick resource, which is refused, you then offer two bricks and somebody takes you up on that.
You get points for each settlement, city and for bonus stuff like having the largest army, longest road and the like. The game generally ends at 10 points, and goes fairly fast so long as people don’t spend too much time trading, or raising the end game point value past the rules stated end.
The game was invented in Germany by Klaus Tuber, who apparently is a well respected game designer, mostly because of the Catan games. Seems lots of the more well respected games (not the mainstream games like Monopoly, etc.) come from Germany, not sure why that is…
Anyhow, the game has lots of expansion packs. There is:
Settlers of Catan: 5-6 Player Expansion which as one can see, allows up to 6 players to play the game.
Seafarers of Catan: Expansion Game of Seafaring, Exploration, and Trade, which the Mayfair site says “Expand your Settlers of Catan game in new directions, add Islands, Pirates, Gold, Ships, Islands and Trade.
Explore and colonize the newly populated Archipelago of Catan. Building settlements, roads, and villages by trading commodities from the land and islands around you. Trade sheep and wood for a ship, bricks and wood for a road, build new settlements and improve settlements into cities”
There is Seafarers of Catan: 5-6 Player Expansion which expands the Seafarer’s expansion by allowing up to 6 to play.
There’s Cities & Knights of Catan Game and of course a 5-6 player expansion in the form of Cities & Knights of Catan: 5-6 player exp.
Replacement cards and stuff is available from Mayfair, along with lots of variations on it, like Settlers of Canaan, Kids of Catan and more.

So is it the best board game? I don’t know, but it sure gets lots of good ratings (click the links to the game itself and the expansions to see the Amazon reviews) from everyone, so it must be right up there.

The Wikipedia entry on Settlers of Catan has a far better description then I do…

New Grow game

There is a new Grow game, Grow Cube. Once again the goal is to find the order to put stuff on the “planet” to get stuff to max out. For example, if the water isn’t there, the seeds won’t take root and grow, and if the springs are put in too early, they won’t have a chance to be where they need to be, and if the ball is put to early it will just drop… at the same time, if you put an item too late, the items that depend on it won’t max out. Have fun.

More Sudoku

I have been using Sudoku Works and Pappocom’s Sudoku program for a while now. Another program, which I haven’t tried yet is SadMan Software: Sudoku.
Yet, another alternative that I found today is Simple Sudoku, which is freeware. It has a few tools that makes learning a few strategies easier, such as auto-pencil, filtering out the pencil marks so only certain ones show, and pairs. Auto-pencil, in my opinion, can take some of the challenge out and should be used only as an aid in learning the strategies. Like Pappocom’s Sudoku program, Simple Sudoku generates symetrical puzzles, which would be my only real complaint against Sudoku Works. Simple Sokoku claims that there will be only one solution, a claim not made by the other two, but I would hope to be true.
If you are going to be printing the puzzles out to solve later, you can’t beat Pappocom’s Sudoku program, as it can print several puzzles per page, and many pages of them. The solutions can be printed next to the puzzle on the same page or on a seperate page. The depth of options for everything seems better.
Sudoku Works offers the uniqe advantage that it can output as a bitmap graphic file. While I would prefer JPG, PNG or GIF over bitmap, this is a nice feature. It also has specific game numbers, which allows you to repeat a puzzle, or if your friend has Sudoku Works, to play the same puzzle. I am guessing this is like Free Cell in Windows, where the game number is the seed number used to generate the random number, in the case of Sudoku Works, this gives them nearly 10 million puzzles.
Even if you skip the auto-pencil option in Simple Sudoku (also available on Sudoku Works by the way), Simple Sudoku offers other tools to aid in solving puzzles, such as coloring a square.
Pappocom’s program offers the ability to use letters rather then numbers, or colors and shapes (helpful for kids).
As noted before Simple Sudoku is free, Pappocom’s Sudoku program is $14.95 and has a 28-day free trial. Sudoku Works is about $10.50 or so, depending on the exchange rate, and has a 9 day free trial (a bit short it seems). SadMan’s Sudoku is $11.95 and has a 30 day free trial (again, I haven’t tried it yet).
Sudoku Works and Simple Sudoku win so far as pencil-mark placement. 1 will be in the upper left, with 2 in the top middle, 3 in the top right, all the way to 9 being in the bottom left. While Pappocom’s program has the option of placing them in order, or where in the box you clicked the mouse, I prefer the other methods.
I prefer the overall look and feel of Sudoku Works over the others.
Enough of the mini-review of the programs tried so far. I doubt I’ll really try the solvers out there. All these programs can solve on their own, so I see little need for a separate solver.

Sudoku strategy:
The people who make Simple Sudoku offers this page for solving Sudoku, while SadMan Software offers this page of Sudoku techniques. Both get into some complex stuff for solving harder puzzles. Give them both a try after you have solved a few easy puzzles and perhaps a Medium or two before moving on to the harder puzzles.

(Text edited 9:33 a.m. 15 August 2005 to add bit about pencil-mark placement & remove some redundant text.)

Sudoku addiction

Like so many others, I am becoming a Sudoku addict. Here is a nice page of Sudoku links, leading to many fun Sudoku pages. (Some call it Su Doku, others SuDoku while others Sudoku as I am using here, until I hear an official way, I’ll stick with that spelling.)
I have seen two reasonable programs to play Sudoku on your Windows computer. Sudoku Works, and Sudoku: The Program, which the links page noted above says is made by the guy who supplies the Sudoku to The Times (UK newspaper). Personally, I prefer Sukoku works… and they are fast to answer emails, I emailed them right before I started writing this (it’s 2:33 a.m. here in Ohio) and they already sent an answer… hey its only £5.95, which is like $10.60 or so at the current rates.
Anyhow, enough playing Sudoku tonight… I need sleep, I need to be at work at 12 noon.

Grand Theft Auto… my view

Here is my view on the whole Grand Theft Auto situation…
First, for those that haven’t been following along, Grand Theft Auto is one of the, if not THE most popular video/computer game series. In it, you play a crook, and you go around carjacking people, shooting and killing people, running drugs and the like. Basically you live a life of crime. The games are rated ‘M’ for Mature, meaning that they are not to be sold to people under the age of 17. Most of the chain stores require proof of age to buy M rated games, which is fine since almost all games are purchased by adults. A little aside, the average age of game players is 30, with buyers about the same age. Despite the big warning on the front of the box about the game being rated M, lots of adults buy it for kids, be it their kids or their grandkids.
The game series has been under attack for some time for its “glorification” of violence, and a few cases where people copy-cat the game in real life crimes and killings. This brings me to my first point of view. To me, it doesn’t matter that they copy-cat the game or inspired them, the game designers, writers, programmers, publisher and everyone else connected to the game are not to blame. We as a society seem to forget that people are responsible for their own actions. It’s like when the whole Columbine shootings took place and people wanted to blame video games and movies then as well. The kids who did the shooting are the ones to blame, nobody else. If blame can even remotely be shared by anyone it would be the kids parents who didn’t notice their kids building bombs and sawing off shotguns, or making videos and web pages saying what they were going to do. Anyhow, the point is, the person who committed the crime is ultimately responsible for their own actions. I truly don’t understand why people must assign blame elsewhere, and refuse to let people be responsible for their own actions. If the game publisher went to somebody, and somehow forced the person to play the game, then forced them to do the crime in the same style, then we would have a case against them. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything, so these people have to take responsibility… there’s that word again. We need to look at the fact that 99.99998% of the people who play these or any other game, never commit crimes like those in the games, or become violent because they played the game. If car wrecks were as rare as video game related violence is, you would hear about every car wreck in the country. It simply is something the media can make a big story out of, something I’ll touch on again soon. Don’t buy the hype.
So, the big story of the moment is the newest incarnation of the series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andres. Again, the game is clearly rated M, and again the game is a violent free for all. The controversy over that was no more then usual, but then something happened. Somebody made a game modification that allowed you to have simulated sex in the game. Suddenly it is a media firestorm. The crazy thing is, had the media not made such a big deal out of it, most people would never have heard of the modification and it would have been an even larger non-issue. There are lots of things to talk about here and it’s hard to decide where to begin…
Let’s talk about the fact that this isn’t just a simple cheat code. You don’t just hit a special key combination and you can play this mode. No. You have to first find the modification somewhere on the Internet, download it, then know how to install it and launch it before you can play it. So from this point, the designers, programmers and publisher are all in the clear. Another issue is that this modification only works on the PC version, not the better selling PS2 and XBox versions (though thanks to the media coverage, the PC version probably sold more then it would have otherwise).
However, while the designers at first said that the modification put the content in the game, it was confirmed later that the content was always in the game but turned off and that the modification simply enabled the code that was never meant to be turned off. With this fact, we get to the fact that I think Rockstar, the people who designed the game, should be fined for what seems to be misrepresenting the product to the ESRB, the game rating board. Had the ESRB known that content was in the game, they probably would have labeled the game AO, which stands for Adults Only, which they have since done. It isn’t clear to me yet if the publisher knew the code was in the game. I have to wonder if the code wasn’t going to be used anyhow, why did they leave the code in the shipping version? This is another issue that needs to be looked at. All this doesn’t mean we can justify the current witch hunt going on. The FTC should investigate to see if the designers purposely mis-represented their product to the ESRB and why the code was left in if it couldn’t be turned on via any means inside the game itself, then they should set a fine that would insure that the lesson is learned.
Then there is the issue of our countries insane puritanical attitude to sex, but generally acceptance of violence. It’s okay to kill the hooker but not okay to have sex with her? I have to think that the long term negative effects of the violence may be worse then the long term effects of the sex in the game.
Gamemaker Sued Over Hidden Sex in GTA, is a story about an 85 year old woman who purchased the game, again clearly labeled only for people over the age of 17, for her 14 year old grand-child. She is now suing the developer and publisher for engaging in “false, misleading and deceptive practices.” Okay, while they may have not told the whole truth to the ESRB, I think this is a bit of a stretch. Again, in order to get the scenes that she finds so offensive, you have to locate the modification, download it, install it and then use it. The story doesn’t say if the version she purchased was even a PC version since the content can’t be accessed on the PS2 or XBox, and given when it was purchased, I have to lay odds that she got the PS2 version. This is yet another example of how stupid the lawsuits in this country have become. Oh my gosh, the coffee is hot? Oh my gosh, a violent video game where you kill people and is only intended for people over the age of 17 has content that a 14 year old shouldn’t see? Duh in both cases. People like this lady deserve the Darwin Award if it wasn’t generally an award for people who manage to kill themselves by being such an idiot.
The really bad thing about it, the thing that truly scares me is that should Rockstar and Take Two be found truly liable for a modification that they didn’t make… this would have a crushing blow to software development as a whole. Most games allow for them to be modified as it greatly increases their longevity. The original Half-Life wouldn’t have sold nearly as well was it not for the Counter Strike modification. Game modders often use the modifications to show off what they can do, and get hired because of them. Games aren’t the only thing that can be modified. The whole open source software movement could come under attack since the source code is freely available for people to modify. Microsoft Office is modifiable… heck, clever hackers have found ways of modifying Windows itself in ways that aren’t Microsoft approved, but still legally sell said modifications. Again, blaming Rockstar and Take Two for the modification is casting blame. If people want to point a guilty finger, point it at the guy who made the modification, point it to the media who took what would have been a little known modification and turned it into one of the biggest news stories of the moment. Making software impervious to modification is impossible, and we should continue to encourage people to make modifications for their software by providing the tools to do so… at least where practical, since modifying Typepad would be kind of silly…

Grow RPG

Grow RPG is a new free online game from the people who made, Grow ver.3. In them, you simply drag one of the items from the side of the Grow globe, onto the Grow globe in a special order to achieve the desired end result. Certain items may make previously placed items grow in power, or stop events from happening. For example, in the RPG version, the enemy at the top, jumps after each item is placed, breaking off pieces of the globe until you place the water, giving the world an ocean. The trick of course is to see how much water you need, how much forest do you need, etc. It’s easier to actually play then to try to describe it, so give it a try. It took me 9 tries to solve the RPG, which has far fewer items then the version 3 does. Good luck and have fun.

FreeCell

I was thinking that it would be cool to make a website about FreeCell, the card game that comes with Windows. I figure I would make a site to document every possible solution to every possible deal. It would be a big effort since the original FreeCell on Windows had 32,000 deals… but somebody already did it… sort of. They don’t list every possible solution, and as a matter of fact, don’t give a solution to all 32,000 deals, but there are sites out there devoted to FreeCell.
Before giving the rundown on FreeCell sites, here are some facts.
The original Microsoft FreeCell has, as I mentioned, 32,000 deals. Of these, only deal #11982 is impossible to solve, all the rest can be solved.
Microsoft upgraded FreeCell for Windows XP, while the original 32,000 deals are the same, it now has 1 million deals. Of those 1 million, only 8 are not solvable. (Beyond the 11982, there is 146692, 186216, 455889, 495505, 512118, 517776, 781948).
The program(s) do not have a table saying the Jack of spades on deal 1941 (one of the hardest, if not the hardest solvable deals in the original FreeCell) is the 3rd card from the bottom, 2nd column, rather it relies on the fact that if you seed the random function with 1941, you will get the same results each time… “True” random numbers on a computer are generated by counting the seconds from some time in history (who’s date and year and time escape me now) to the time the program calls for the number, so in theory, two computers using the same program at the exact same time will get the exact same number… which makes it kind of not a true random number at all. Anyhow, it is this predictability in random numbers that make FreeCell work. Give the random number generator 1941, and it will produce the exact same numbers every time.
Anyhow, I doubt anyone here really cares about how hard it is to get a truly random number out of a computer, or how FreeCell generates the cards, so on to the links.
Solitaire Laboratory has a FreeCell FAQ, General Information and Solutions, Difficult Deals List, an Illustrated FreeCell Tutorial, and is the location to download FreeCell Pro, a program that records your solutions, solves hands, lets you set the number of free cells from 0 to 7, and many other cool features.
FreeCell.org is the first site I ran across, and where I’ll end this list. Lots of it’s links come back to the above links anyhow, but it is still worth a stop.

Awsome version of Minesweeper

If you like Minesweeper, there is a cool new game out called, Inspector Parker in: Betrapped, obviously from the same people who made another really good game, Inspector Parker itself. If you enjoyed the original Inspector Parker and/or are fans of the book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events (the first 11 of which are available from Amazon as a shrink wrapped set), and which is being made into a movie with Jim Carrey, then this game, based on them may be of interest. It is basically a modified version of Inspector Parker with the characters and incidents from the books/movie in it. The game play is modified to move things rather then just remove things. All three games should be available to play online at either Yahoo or MSN or both.
And hey, even if you don’t like Minesweeper, you should check it out… check them all out.