Thursday, April 30, 2020

Galactic Empire: Witty Title Number 4

Galactic Empire puts me in a curious position. I haven't reached that far yet, I'm reluctant to continue, and yet, I'm the only one in a position to keep hacking away at this. It doesn't take a genius to figure out my focus on Midwinter is due to me being able to actually get something done, even if I crash out this time too. Looking back on this, I am trying to break down a brick wall with a diamond toothpick and I don't know if I'm going to make it. What do I do against a soldier invulnerable to my attempts at attacking and also necessary to defeat to advance? I guess there must be some way to advance without violence that I missed. Might as well do it in the DOS version now, since the Amiga is a bust. This turns out to be a wise move on my part, as it turns out that I missed a place for the manual. The manual doesn't tell me much beyond flavor text, I've gotten as far as the manual will help me.
To get us up to speed, Ether is undergoing a civil war between multiple factions, one are the Scarlet Militia, currently the new regime, a group of racist anti-imperalistic militias against the Empire, lead by Voltar, who won't be happy to meet me. Another is the Tekno faction, divided between one that opposes Voltar's new regime and one who just want dosh. Non-humans are not in favor of Voltar's regime either, but they aren't organized.
Part of the problem of this civil war is that Ether's economy is balanced around tourism, specifically the weird wildlife. The wildlife is short-lived, all carnivores, capable of breeding with any other native of the planet, and quite capable of destroying my puny person transport. The planet has little in the way of resources and few craftsmen and needs off-world help in this regard. Effectively, this would be like a bunch of white people taking over Hawaii and declaring an end to the reign of the American Pig-Dogs.
Starting the game gives me a new meaning to the intro, and I even discover that this version has music! The DOS version of a 1990 game is better. Just think, two years from now, in Ween: The Prophecy, the opposite would be true. The game promises the ability to have a better draw distance as long as my computer is beefy enough. Unfortunately, the game doesn't run in DOSbox. At all. Music hangs, nothing happens. The game won't run, at all. I want to continue this by mentioning the manual says the number of FPS you get is 8. 8. This explains a number of things, most of all its obscurity. I've had problems with Corporation by Eidos too, but that has a console port. Back to the Amiga...
I guess I'm wrong in that I didn't learn anything from the manual. The Arachnopistol stuns people, in a way that armor can't protect against. I'm better suited to using the flamethrower on unprotected targets. He wasn't guarding anything, so his presence and this exercise was completely pointless. But there are other paths.
Pumping a merchant for information reveals nothing I didn't already know, except that "the greens are against us". No option was available for asking about that. Another faction, or internal name for the Tekno split?
I journey past another soldier, unclear if he is my enemy or not. It doesn't matter, no, what matters is that I have advanced through the game! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It takes a good time. I'll be on the surface of Ether. All the progress, it finally paid off! Will I have to fight more soldiers where I'm dropped off?
Look at that. Look at this! Not a single place on the internet shows a yellow interior. That means one of two things. One, I have gotten as far as anyone has decided to show, or two, this is going to change when I go outside. I think people would show that loading screen, so I'm betting the later. There's more shown in the area I've just been to elsewhere, but nobody's been here.
What the hell is this supposed to be? I can't interact with it. No matter, I have things to see.
Look at that! Look at that plant! Damn, I should have gotten a radar up there. I'm sure I'll find something eventually. HAHAHAHAHA! I'm free! Free to enjoy whatever I want. Well, I better try to advance my main quest, as it were. I'll try to not kill soldiers now, but I intend on keeping my objective against Voltar, unless a plot twist comes up. I genuinely don't know what's going to happen here.
That also applies to where do I go now, but at least now I feel like I have some choice in the matter. This does lead to me not knowing where to go or what is what. The area seems to have nothing in a certain radius, and forbidden zones further out. This building offers a complete service, convenient if I need to repair. Hopefully I didn't burn through it with one use. Now, I might as well enter the forbidden zone. What's going to happen, eh?
Amazing. Is the reason why nobody got here because nothing was here? I think I'll have to ponder that question. Actually, another one, if the HUD is supposed to be me viewing the back of the main character's head, why does it still show up outside. I realize the answer to that is it costs money, but...

This Session: 1 hour

Time: 5 hours

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Midwinter: Sky's Unclouded

Previously, Sergeant Llewellyn had just convinced ski teacher Virginia Caygill to help protect the free villages against the evil General Masters sneak attack. Captain Stark left off as he was attacked by a tank deep inside the enemy's territory. Llewellyn and Caygill go their separate ways, in order for them to best recruit more people in the hopes of repelling this invasion...assuming Stark doesn't just take out Masters powerbase all on his own. The following takes place over the course of 12 in-game hours.
Virginia was a wise choice to recruit, as she is very good at skiing, or I'm lucky enough to get a good patch. She goes northwest to where she recruits Jenny Adams. From there, she goes northeast, to a cable car to get across the mountain, where she will attempt to recruit Professor Kristiansen to the cause. Unsurprisingly, the old man joins up. The duo accidentally travel across the same stretch of land, before Virginia goes northeast where she recruits Davy Hart, her other pupil. Then, its off over another mountain to get Rudel, a hunter. He says he won't be able to join up, like she asked him to repair a snowtractor or something.
Jenny is 11 and a better shot than a small child planning on being a doctor has any right to be. She goes northwest, hopefully to convince some of the PCs up there to do something. Only the cruel will be able to resist a child saying the evil men are coming. I'm not actually sure what I'm going to do with all these people. She also has some good skiing, probably because she's 11. She can also drive very well for someone who is 11. She only ends up losing the buggy because I didn't react in time to a tree. I half-expect her to kill a dozen people. After, she recruits PC Wright. After a brief rest the duo head north, where Wright gets off at a cable car. Jenny continues driving in another buggy, along the west coast of the isle.
This location takes me through some great scenery, probably the flatted part of the island. Surprisingly isolated too, not many places of interest. PC Cropper, the fellow she finds there, is eager to help. Unfortunately, he lacks skills such as skiing, hanggliding, endurance and driving to a certain extent. Better than having an 11-year-old drive, I say. Its quick journey north, but a gas-guzzling one. One mostly for nothing, as the inhabitant there is interested in helping neither of the two people. Apparently some can resist a child saying the bad men are coming.
Llewellyn barely makes any distance, probably because...uh...I don't know of a Welsh stereotype that'd make him slow, sorry. Somehow, he manages to take out an enemy buggy with a gun, although he's now lacking for bullets. He eventually reaches a garage, which makes his next recruit easier to reach. Unfortunately, the town he reached was held by the enemy, and thus, the taking up of more time. Fortunately, the person inside, PC Muller, is not an ungrateful ass. I bring him along in the buggy, because he'll probably help in recruiting people.
To the northwest, there is a man I previously tried to recruit, PC Jackson, who has many enemies. Muller can't recruit him, despite Jackson getting locked up.
Stark loses his snowbuggy after taking out a bunch of cars. This area is swarming with the enemy, which is to be expected. Hopefully taking out those vehicles and a warehouse will do some damage. Escape is difficult, as Stark is as fast as a Welshman on skis. Shooting a gun at a tank with little rhyme to the direction it goes and breathing like crazy, also difficult. After the first two hours Stark is left many miles away from a garage or any settlement beyond the one he just blew up. So I just have him sleep, he needs it. According to the manual that's a concern. Staying up for a good twelve or so hours probably does things to you. Sleeping for four hours helps him a good deal, but anymore is a luxury right now.

I assumed that the area had nothing of interest beyond towns. I was wrong, but its hard to reach the right area when there are dozens of vehicles in the immediate area. Getting shot twice. Stark loses the ability to use both his arms, making sniping things impossible. He can't use his arms anymore.
Kristiansen, the newly recruited electronics researcher, is old and terrible at such things like skiing, shooting, and things required for people rushing about in the snow, trying not to be killed by an evil psychopath. However, he's good at blowing things up, and the manual tells me that if he gets to a radio, he might just have a shot at recruiting people over the airwaves. While skiers don't travel together, he does travel along the same path as Virginia, until I have Davy drive back in a car for him. With the radio he was going to journey to captured, I have him go in another direction.
PC Wright, who apparently suffers from being too nice for PC Jackson's taste, is the generic character with generic stats. He seems like a good choice to assist Kristiansen or Stark in blowing things up. So, after leaving Jenny at a cable car, he wisely takes off in a hangglider, safely lands slightly uphill of the next town, then skis down. All for nought, as Dr. Revel, the inhabitant, doesn't particularly care for Wright. He's polite at least. The radio here is held by the enemy, not a good sign for wherever Kristiansen has to go. I have him climb back up to the top of the cable car, where he'll try to take off for a real amount of distance.
Davy Hart is 12 and also a good shot. He's Kristiansen's grandson and I have him ski northwest to get a buggy to get his grand papa to a radio. With that done, I have no idea what I'm going to do with him. I just have him go along with the professor. To the east, and then to the enemy's HQ.

So far, I've done some damage to the enemy's supplies, but not so much to the enemy's forces. I've got a good shot at destroying them in the long term, but not so much in the short. The manual says I can win by keeping at least 1 heat mine for 40 days, then the Masters's troops will revolt. I think you have to be really good at this game to do that, as a sort of challenge.

This Session: 4 hours

Total Time: 11 hours

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Midwinter: Extreme Cold Weather

Its pretty easy to look at me restarting the game twice as a method of failure. I guess that's a fair statement. Inability to continue after suffering losses. Its one of the reasons why in my own games, I don't make the after effects of your failures readily apparent. Which is something more games should do. Or do it early and have a whole half of the game dedicated to that section. Is it because most people refuse to lose in a non-pride protecting way? I.E., I didn't lose, I merely gave up.
The next few minutes don't prove me that I'm not just doing that. I start off at a place with a nice snowbuggy, and outside is one, maybe two enemy buggies. Since this is literally just me starting out, I reload over the course of the half-dozen times I lose the buggy. After a pathetic showing, I head southeast, which is held by the enemy. Fortunately, this time I know what I'm doing.
You see, you can't reclaim towns, but you can blow up the places a prisoner is held. This let's you recruit the prisoner as if you just casually walked up to them. Fortunately, Sarge Wales here doesn't seem to have an issue with Stark, but I'm sure someone else would complain despite nearly dying to the enemy. What this is, right now, is just two guys in a snowbuggy.
So, without much wisdom in the idea. I decide to head east, roughly the location of the enemy's base, the two nearest recruitable characters seem unlikely to join up with either of the two guys I have right now. Although halfway there I decide to take a detour north east, as the town isn't out of my way and you never know. It might be held and I can do some damage to their supplies. I also take out the production plant here, because I should be doing that.
This takes more time than I really wanted to engage in. Apparently, I can't drive a snowbuggy without its skis reaching for the sky. Whenever I do, I forget Llewellyn or I accidentally press the SOS button, which is the most useless thing. Its like getting captured, but you choose to do it. Anyway, Flint, the guy I assumed wouldn't join up with two policemen, doesn't join up. Because he definitely hates Flint and probably dislike Stark. I do get some more explosives for Stark, dunno about Llewellyn. Anyway, onward to the next town.
There, I basically only destroy some things. This is where the two split up, with Llewellyn going northwest, to recruit some people, and Stark going east, to use his explosives, assuming he has any left. I love it when games are so descriptive about how much of something I have.
Another fun two in-game hours pass. I'm pretty sure I crashed my snowbuggy twenty times. I'm going to put this down at me being horrible at driving in this game, not anything to do the quality itself. Well, maybe all the sudden dives are crap, but otherwise. Write a bunch about people not accepting failures and don't accept failure yourself. On the other hand, some of these crashes don't make any sense and some of these smooth sailing doesn't. Which is the only interesting thing that happened, except some of the time I got crushed by an enemy snowbuggy firing a single missile.
The next two in-game hours consist of a lot of tedium on my part. This is what I'd like to call, "Save-scumming to get over a mountain". Which is, you know, a very good idea for very smart people. Stark is climbing over a very tall mountain in order to reach a town...I guess, at the top of a mountain to destroy a radio tower. There's no real point on my end for this. Climbing down the mountain is also so rage inducing, but at least Stark is back on solid ground and near the enemy's area. It'll be interesting to see how this part goes.
Meanwhile, despite crashing his buggy, Llewellyn journeys fine. Almost had to rest, but fine. There, he meets the ski instructor Caygill. Fortunately, she has no problems with the local rozzers, but if I brought Dr. Revel instead she'd probably tell him to go soak his head. The manual says that because Caygill is a civilian, she won't attract as much attention from the enemy. Additionally, I suspect very few characters will say no to an attractive blonde woman.
And its here I shall stop. I'll plan my next actions around this new character.

This Session: 3 hours

Total Time: 7 hours

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Midwinter: Empire Now

I regret picking up this game opposite Galactic Empire. With two very similar weird, early FPS ancestors its hard to muster up the energy to alternate between them. Two people won't make the game go any easier, but hopefully I can get a car this time...again.
Okay, last time I found another member of the...guard force? I guess that's what it is. Doughty gives some helpful hints on who he can and cannot recruit. Some guy named Courtenay considers him to be a "noisome troublemaker". A very British way of saying things. This game was designed by the very British Mike Singleton, known for Lords of Midnight and the Indiana Jones game no one remembers. The one people say no one remembers, but they vaguely know what it is, not the actual one no one remembers*.
My plan for this session is to have the guy I just picked up go around south and pick up some other people, while Stark goes north, gets a buggy, and pick up some people, and his girlfriend. I fail to see how this can go wrong.
The new good friend heads south to a cable car station, because I plan on going over the mountain. This seems to go along without much incident. I figure the flashing thing and the sound are some kind of radar, not the actual sound the enemy equipment is supposed to be making. I get some good fortune in knocking out an enemy snowbuggy.
Stark, meanwhile, encounters nothing but some smooth skiing. I just had Doughty draw them off, didn't I? Well, he's be okay. He looks like he's having a good time.
Situation report, 1 down against...a lot. Joy. That's another two hours, but this time it felt a lot shorter. They all feel a lot shorter now. I think that's because I know what I'm doing.
This time I go with Stark at first. He's got a snowbuggy now, and driving at 30 MPH seems to be a safe bet. No thought yet as to how this is going to handle when the fighting goes down. At the first of my next new friends, we'll see how that goes at the end of this phase. Doughty still has a bit to go before the cable car station, he only reached a supply depot. His journey also turns out smooth, and I learn something regarding skiing movement. It actually functions semi-realistically. I say semi, because I don't imagine most people are going to be capable of going 14 MPH in the snow in full military gear. In mouse mode, I move up and down to control walking speed, and when he starts going down, the mouse doesn't really control the speed anymore. Like skiing. Hence why at times it can suddenly stop for no reason despite being otherwise fine.
My luck slightly changes for the worse when the local guard, named Grice, tells me to stuff it. There's always one of those. The manual helpfully tells me he's bitter and has no friends. Specifically, bitter about Stark getting promoted above him. I'll have to send Courtenay, the only person he respects, back to get him. So far, he's looking like the only guy who's capable of using explosives on something. Yeah, plan for this one, go north, get PC Flynn, have him get Courtenay, have Stark go east to his girlfriend and have her pick up some others. Things are looking up.
I gotta get a better shot of these missiles
Even an encounter with another snowbuggy does nothing to screw me over. A little bit of spinning then one missile out. If I ever catch it, you'll see its nothing special, just flies away like a rigid body in zero g. Two down, this is going really well.
Doughty starts off easy as well, I made it to the ski lift last time, so I start him off with a ski lift. Its not very impressive, but its nice just not being shot at or having to navigate. Up here, I can hangglide. Ha. Even if I could, Doughty is crap at it. I see no way just skiing down to the other side could go wrong.
Its more intense in motion.
Its quite intense, but thankfully nothing goes wrong. The little bit of climbing up I have to do is offset by managing a lot of distance downhill. I'm still quite a ways away from the village proper. But I'm getting there as he starts to run out of health. This ends up being a double time for ol' Doughty, as I must have went way over time moving around as Stark. So after a brief rest, I make it to where I wanted to be.
Leading to another fun dialog where a PC refuses to join. His little profile in the manual says he was nearly thrown out of the force for being suspected of stealing. Real winner here. If I have the time for it, I'll get him, but otherwise Doughty gets a meal. There's a garage here, but Doughty's driving skills are below par. I don't want to know how bad that'll be. This is fortunately, a relatively recruit rich area. And what do you know, Muller, one of his friends, is near.
Also, they put him in a sleeping bag for some reason
Then, suddenly this gets bad. Stark is captured...somehow, and when I reach Muller, the area is also held by the enemy. There doesn't seem to be anything I can do to make it unheld. I unwisely choose to blow up the heat mine here. That does nothing. At this point, I think I'm going to restart. Call it gaming the system, but I think its best if I start off in a village that has a buggy to start with.

This Session: 1.5 hour

Total: 4 hours

*This would be the Indiana Jones text adventure. Yes, that is real.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Galactic Empire: Moving Ever So Slightly Onward

Third part of my LP, and yet, I am still well within walking distance of the starting area. I can't help but feel if I read these back-to-back its going to be fifty percent me narrating nothing happening, and fifty percent me whining about nothing happening. Also, during this session, I realized that the HUD contains what is supposed to be the PC. The thing in the center is a helmet. Weird.
Third part of my LP, and yet, I am still well within walking distance of the starting area. I can't help but feel if I read these back-to-back its going to be fifty percent me narrating nothing happening, and fifty percent me whining about nothing happening. Also, during this session, I realized that the HUD contains what is supposed to be the PC. The thing in the center is a helmet. Weird.
So, I have two keys, neither of which do anything on the two locks available to me here. Fair, whatever. I try dealing with the other merchant. He blows me off, and when I try to talk to him again, he attacks me. So I waste him. Hey, free grenades and the soldier doesn't care. Maybe this'll work on that one nasty soldier from last time.
This proves to be a pointless task. He takes three grenades and half a charge of ammo to kill, and drops nothing. What's curious is that after a few hits a noise like "No one over", which is making this start to sound like a creepypasta rather than a real actual game. That leaves me with only the restricted area left. Ugh.
Inside the restricted area are two soldiers who eat up a boatload of damage once again, chiming in with the same sound of "No one over". I can perform a sort of autofire by holding down my attack button, which doesn't necessarily make this any easier, but they don't seem to be fighting back all of a sudden. Deeper inside is an access card, which is very good news.
Another area, another merchant. This bad boy once again refuses to deal with me. Only this time, he attacks me afterward. I think. I say I think, because it sounds like I'm bumping into something and it doesn't stop after I kill him. Nor could I move. I swear as I finished turning around I saw something. This is starting to get spooky. Very, very unnerving. Turns out that the merchant didn't jump me, nor anything else. I got stuck on the door. Yeah, after exiting the dialog you can get stuck on that door. Nice.
The other merchant proves more willing to make a deal. Oxygen for an anti-shock screen. Oh, and his door also proves to me difficult to get out of. Hmm, I can see this was very well playtested. Must not be very valuable to me as a player if these two merchants were never touched by the developers. Morpheus's little protip for you there. If a section of a game is this broken, chances are you don't need to interact with it to advance. Now, I can't wait until I find out I needed that in two minutes.
And here I caught a shot of an alien in the corner that also looks creepypasta-ish
Without a clue as to how to advance, I enter the nature area. The animals seem to leave me alone, probably because I'm not made of meat. They do fight each other, leaving steaks. I'm sure these will play a useful role in the not too distant future. A soldier follows me in, but he goes down easy enough. I'm starting to run low on ammo, not a good sign. There's also a gas-lance in here, wonder what that does.
After some amount of wandering through the enclosure and alongside a mountain range, I once again reach civilization. This time I spot a flamethrower in front of a different kind of enemy. Using the flamethrower against him proves wise, as he doesn't take a lot of hits to die. Further research is required. I trade an access card to a merchant for a refill. If I need it later, I can always do the ol' "liquid discount", if you know what I mean.
But my good fortune soon ends. Up the road is a soldier who takes more than a few shots from the flamethrower. That's not a dig against it, it eats up ammo, and it deals it out just as fairly. No, what I have here is Mr. Rocket Launcher guy.
You know, I wrote that title up there sarcastically, but I think I actually moved more today than I did the last two sessions. Sure, now I may have to restart so every ten feet I don't get shot by someone, but I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve before I abandon this run. And even if I do, I might be able to cut across some areas to here that much faster.

This Session: 1 hour
Total Time:4 hours

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Midwinter: Nuclear Winter

I've known about Midwinter for most of my life. It was advertised in an order form for some other Microprose game my parents kept, but I didn't find it on my first pass through the abandonware websites so long ago. Second pass, it didn't work for me, don't remember exactly, but it was some weird issue. Here we are, third time. Now, Midwinter isn't completely a FPS, at least, I think it isn't. But Midwinter 2 supposedly is and I'd like to get this out of the way before playing the sequel. Midwinter is a game about a group of people surviving a nuclear holocaust. Which was actually a semi-common game genre at the tail end of the Soviet era. There's also weird strategy/RPG/shooter hybrid Twilight 2000, which had garbage shooting mechanics, so consider that a quick little review of that. But there's also a few others I don't remember the names of.
The menu starts up like some kind of action game, rather than a grand strategy game from the '90s. Fortunately, this game takes a cue from other Microprose games by offering practice modes for each action mode. Which consists of a skiing game, a hang-gliding game, and a snowbuggy game. Not really sure that's what the last one is, but the manual calls it that, so I will too.
Each of these oddly, functions mostly the same, only your controls and attack are changed. Move around, take down other moving objects. If the game is really this simple, I should be in for a fun time. Its skiing/hang-gliding/snowmobiling in an early 3D environment and you shoot things. They're all as you expect them to be. Accuracy in the snowbuggy is bad, hang-gliding is even worse and skiing requires you to stop and press a button to use it. What I learned from my use of the practice mode is that I really want a game where I can ski everywhere.
The strategic menu is a bit weird. Obviously there's our hero, Captain Stark of the FVPF. Its not entirely clear straight away how I'll get other characters. There's a map, which shows other people, but I actually have to move all the way over there in order to interact with them. There are some stats I assume will be useful later and beyond that there's nothing here yet beyond hitting one of Stark's movement buttons, which are at this point sniping and skiing, the same thing.
A helpful screen telling me how screwed over I am at this point in time. Which is to say a lot. The heatmines are places they mine heat, I guess.
When I'm actually, seriously skiing in-game it becomes a bit of a problem. While the practice mode did indeed have a lot more in terms of enemy vehicles attacking me, they didn't actually shoot at me, they just drove around menacingly. Now that there's the element of actually getting hit the game is quite difficult to play. Got to shoot down a plane with a semi-automatic and simulated breathing. While being a sitting duck. Fortunately, I have to have a lot of damage done in order to get killed. Like, a lot. Getting shot once or even running out of heat isn't enough to kill the player.
Moving around on skis is a very stupid move on my part. It takes about half an hour of real time, two hours of in-game, to get to a town just slightly east of the starting area. I guess that's what happens when your speed up hills is 7 mph at best. At this town I get a hot meal, because those two hours were a really long time, man, and a snowbuggy. Which I quickly crash and Stark is rescued. I think its time to start over.
Oh, what fortune! Now I have to wander through an area with actual decent transport even further away! At least a recruitable character isn't that far away. It takes some careful maneuvering to dodge some, but not all of the fire directed at my character, but I reach it. I've done nothing in terms of damage, but I've reached it.
Another person to move around with...Well, he'll be moving solo, as will Captain Stark. Which means for every two in-game hours, I'll have to spend twice as long moving my characters around. Yeah, I think I need to take a break here. You know, maybe it wasn't for the best to alternate Galactic Empire with this...