Jul. 10th, 2015 10:52 am
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Today is an "off day" and for fun I found a really nice Minesweeper clone, that's scalable (makes a difference on a hi rez monitor), skinable and has over twenty types of mosaic/layouts. Sounds really dumb but sometimes I need to have a "time waster" puzzle/game to play while I'm thinking or waiting for something. It's called Fastmines.


WhooHoo! Now to go out and see a silly film to unwind.
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Felt a bit creative, so I made two tilesets for Pipewalker:

Pipewalker Roads1 Tileset


Pipewalker Railway tileset



May. 11th, 2011 10:57 pm
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After discovering a Supercar Flight Model for Microsoft Flight Simulator I found there's also a version for Orbiter. What's Orbiter? It's a Space Flight Simulator with heaps of add-ins, manuals and tutorials. The last time I saw something like this I was using an IBM XT!

Oh, and it's FREE.

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Minesweeper is one thing, Shisen-Sho another. This is another Mahjong solitaire type game, where you can remove pairs of tiles from the board under certain conditions, but everything is stacked 1 high. Only two matching tiles can be removed at a time. Two tiles can be removed only if they can be connected with a maximum of three lines. Lines can be only horizontal or vertical, but not diagonal. Lines may cross only the empty border. The game is over if future moves are not possible and tiles are left on the board, or the player successfully removes all the tiles.

I played this a lot last year when I was nervous.Apart from being a "time waster" and hence good for procrastination) I also found it a good indicator when I was having vision problems (and I have had some over the last few years, including strange rainbow migraines and glare induced weirdness) it was also a good indicator on analysis and planning on my part. When I was centred I could play the game fine. When I was upset, or sick, there was no point.

The version I prefer to play is by Daniel Valot. In fact I liked it so much I made two tile sets for the game (the one above based on Windows Wingdings, and a SubGenius version), which were later included in the distribution. You can vary the rules and the size of the board, and the window is scalable, so you can shrink it to a corner of the screen. I like to play with some additional rules, namely that a tile can only be removed if one of the pair removed has either the top or bottom edge clear of other tiles (and either top or bottom for the whole game). And my preferred size board is 24 x 12 - any larger than that and it is too easy to solve, and smaller and a solution becomes either trivial or problematic.

Anyway, like Minesweeper, this solitaire game seems to have a life lesson for me. Success in the game is about planning. Often whole sets and areas of tiles are blocked because tiles next to them don't seem to be clearable. But often as well, that only seems to be the case for the current turn. If a player concentrates on the moves they can make - rather than the ones they can't - often either another way of removing those tiles becomes apparent, or it becomes redundant anyway when the tiles can be removed because others have been removed already. Either that, or the situation becomes unsolvable, and if you want, you can try the starting configuration again.

And here I am seeing yet another metaphor for life. Often with my own situations, if concentrate or focus on problems that are not immediate, they often seem to be unsolvable, because I cannot work out how I get there from here. But often if I'm focussed on the now, instead of what was or what will be, it doesn't matter. The imagined problem either goes away (it wasn't a real problem after all) or becomes redundant because I've solved a more immediate problem anyway. Other times if I have just a general idea of where I'm going, but not an over detailed map of what it is, I find that I've been focussed on that while I've been dealing with day-day stuff anway, and I'm closer to the goal than I thought.

So, a second metaphor for life, maybe another dumb one, but just something that struck me as I played the game.

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As a last gasp of indulgence, I bought a marked down copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator X (with expansion pack).


Haven't played this since, well Version 1! Now that was really basic, as I played it on a TRS-80 clone (it was subLogic back then). Golly - those were the days (early 80s, I had my System-80 in '79)! Always wanted to get back to this some day, and decided it was now. I tried an open source flight simulator but um, well I always wanted the MS one. There were also a couple of Combat versions in the discount bin, but I've never been keen on dogfight - I just want to fly my plane. Don't know if it will run smoothly on either of my PCs, and I may wait until I add a TB drive to one of them before installing it.

Now one day I also hope to find a decent yacht racing simulator (loved the idea ever since playing the board game Regatta,  , a Motor Bike Racing simulator (I already have some GTR versions for car racing) and a skating simulator (I skated poorly in Real life, but always wanted to stunt skate on roller blades or boards).

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I've been indulging myself in buying video games that I've wanted to for a while. One of these is TEST DRIVE UNLIMITED.

I think the thing that got to me about this game is that it's 8 GB installation is a recreation of driving the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu - all of it! The game must be a few years old by now as a sequel, Test Drive Unlimited 2 is being heavily promoted on the official web site. 
You catch a plane to the island, buy a home and a car, and go out and race, sometimes for $$$. But you can't just driveany old way anywhere. The police with go after you if you cause too many accidents and don't escape in time (I chalked up $9000 of fines in the first 4 hours of play) and driving over cliffs and into water isn't recommended. There's a lot involved in this and the controls though simple took me a while to master (and I still drive like I just got in a car for the first time). 

But, I love the simulation! It really felt like driving on a real road. I puttered around in the back roads for a while and lost exactly where my home was (should have bookmarked it) before I started a new game. Love driving on those freeways. Apparently you can go online and interact with thousands of players but I'm nowhere near that yet in skill, and there is still much for me to explore (and I also need a gamespy account).

Golly - I wonder if therte are mods for other areas? I'd love to hoon about in the Hunter Valley!  smiley

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Well, after spending maybe 10 hours today at it, I can say with certainty that I'm hopeless at most trackmania circuits.  I think I will decide NOT to play it tomorrow, even though it is thoroughly enjoyable. I got a bit addicted to video games in the 80s and this feels like that (minus spending 20c a pop on a game).


Jun. 6th, 2010 07:16 pm
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I bought a copy of Trackmania United Forever today when i went food shopping, for $10. It's been out for a few years, and apparently it can be downloaded for free (500 MB) from the website, but it was still a well spent $10.

I used to play a lot of racing games in the arcades back in the 80s (especially Spy Hunter). I played a "party game" with Michelle and Kevin for 90 minutes. I'm registered online as LauraEss, and even though I thouroughly enjoy this game, I'm not very good at it. Michelle is the best driver out of all of us.

Go speed racer!!!


Human Age

May. 16th, 2009 10:01 am
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Came across this via an Ubuntu community. Human Age is "...a simulation game / free virtual management game / rpg where you adopt a human being and help him or her through various ages of mankind, from prehistory to the 21st century, from learning how to use a club to your driver's license."

It may or may not be any good, but it does look interesting!


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[Error: unknown template qotd]For me "old school" video games are the ones I played in the video arcades in a literally misspent youth. That being the case, it would have to be JUMP BUG.

Never quite got to the final level, but with MAME I can one day...

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This is what it was like...

...and still I loved it!

Anyone know of version of this that'll run on PC?

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So, I wonder if the makers of this actually watched the film?

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I like to download different apps to try them out, and these are some I really liked.

Music Players

OK, I used to use WinAmp but I found that it used up a lot of resources on my PC. I've been trying out the following.

  • SongBird is open-source, but mysterious cuts out on me. It's stable at last but could do with improvements. It's sophisticated (you browse websites internally using the Gecko engine) but seems like version of iTunes (which I briefly tried but un-installed quickly) Thing is, if you wait long enough they'll happen, just like Firefox and Thunderbird.
  • SysTrayPlay is a simple Tray Player for windows. Uses really low resources and I use it when I only want to play media on my hard disk.
  • Nexus Radio is another windows Internet radio player. I found the interface confusing.
  • Screamer is the windows player I'm trying right now. It has a simple interface and breaks radio stations (which are oddly found under "Presets" into Genre, Language, Network and Region. I like the fact that Second Life is a region, and I also like the fact that I can record what I'm listening to by simply pressing a button.

Games & Puzzles

  • Liquid Crystals is a Tangram type puzzle where you have a set of 7 pieces you have to arrange to make preset shapes. There's 37 shapes to make. Looks easy but maybe not.
  • Parmen is a 3D simulation of 3D Chess from the original Star Trek. It's hosted at HEMP TREK and you tell the owners have smoked a bit.
  • Dogfight 2. Not a download but an online Flash game. Be a WWI Ace now! Actually it reminds me of Sopwith 2 which I used to play on my XT.
  • Doom. Yep, same thing again, but somebody ported Doom into a Flash format. I die pretty quick with this one. What I really like at the site is Dolphin Olympics (very pretty) and GemMine (an anti-Tetris?).


  • Text Formatting Toolbar is an add-on for Firefox. It adds an extra row of formatting buttons which you can use to format text when entering forms and LJ posts/comments.
laura_seabrook: (cheerful)

Will attempting to get back into the swing of doing my Tales of the Galli strip (which I like to have some authenticity in, even if it's only a little), I've been reading and investigating different sorts of connections.

You might remember I was reading lots of ancient Roman detective stories.

I'm still doing that, but have discovered a couple more authors from which to read. The first is Rosemary Rowe, who writes about the freedman Libertus, a mosaic maker in Britannia who mostly investigates for his Roman patron. Only read the  the first book so far but I found the character a real contrast from the others I've read.




Paul Doherty is an author I've come back to after failing to read one of his books last year. I find the style of writing to be a tad patronising, with characters telling each other things that maybe they wouldn't, but do so that the reader will understand. If this were done in an SF story it'd be dead boring exposition. The main character in  this series is Claudia, a spy for the Empress Helena who has the ability "not to be noticed". I'm reading this currently as it's set in the same locale and period as my story. Hmmm - phosphorus matches in 313 CE?


CivCity Rome is a PC game I've picked up where the player has to build a functioning Roman city or town. There are different "missions" one gave go on with different goals and objectives. I quite like the idea of building Rome or Ostia from scratch. I also had the idea that maybe it'd be a cheap way of creating backgrounds for the strip.


That is, until I came across Google Earth Rome. This morning I used Google Earth (minus the ancient Rome bits) to help me a map for the strip. It's a mixture of accuracy and fantasy, but at least I got some details right.


And finally, just because I could, I bought a dual package of Rome and Rome: Barbarian Invasions on the Total War series of games. The expansion is about the right period for my strip and might just be fun to play too.



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I just found a link to some software that creates maps, called AUTOREALM.

Apparently the main use is in creating maps for role playing, and it looks like it also generates hex and square map overlays (cool). However, with at least one web comic that has the occasional map, I can see other uses too.

What a neat idea!

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I just discovered that En Garde! - a role- playing game set in 17th century Paris and on which I used to run postal games with about 40 players in the late 70s - is still around!

It's been revived by a new company and even has its own web site. Cool stuff. I just sent the people running this an e-mail to see if they'd like to see copies of the "expanded rules" I wrote.

laura_seabrook: (cheerful)

The whole first season of Hellsing finally came in at the library, and I've started watching it today. Very nice - everything I was expecting although a little cheesy too. The British accents are very odd, and one scene of Picadilly Circus has neon sign for "Loster's" beer!

I love it.

Anyway, Kevin was commenting about Neko and how it was a big thing in Japan. The most I'm familiar with is the cat's ears and tails I see on avatars in Second Life. I did a Google search and came up with all sorts of stuff.

The thing that first caught my eye was Neko for Windows - a program that adds a cute cat (or others) to your desktop which runs around chasing (or avoiding) your mouse cursor. Then there's It's Neko where you can do this on a web page. I was surprised however that Neko is also a programming language, though exactly what advantages it has over other languages remains to be seen. 

I was also surprised to discover it was a (Japanese?) gay slang referring to the femme partner in a lesbian couple. Mostly though it seems to be a Maneki Neko - one of those cat sculptures I often see in various restaurants (sometimes  one arm moves), which seems to have origins in Shinto. I always wondered what those were.

Seems the most popular meaning is an abbreviation of Nekomusume or "Cat Girl". That explains that avatars in Second Life, as this is undoubtedly what they're based on.

Mind you, I also found (or re-found, since I'd come across it via Pixia) the J-List. All sorts of stuff on this (as per below)!!!

laura_seabrook: (cheerful)

Instead of looking at web comics like I was going to, I spent a fair bit of time last night going through the Source Forge listings. And I found some great stuff!

I found a windows version of a solitaire game called Shisen-Sho, where you remove pairs Mahjong tiles until you clear the board. Sounds exactly like any of the hundred versions of solitaire Mahjong, doesn't it, but there's just one difference - all the tiles are flat in a rectangle, and you can only remove pairs that that can have an unblocked route of no more than three lines to each other (see pic at right). The only thing missing from the download was the rules - but I found these elsewhere!

This game is extremely absorbing for me, just like Links was - I love elegant puzzle games. Apparently it's a port of a version of the game that ran under KDE (a Linux GUI) and can use the tile sets for KMahjongg. I went out and found the download page and converted them (as simple as changing the extension from .tileset to .bmp). There are heaps of other versions out there too (and Ishido looks just as interesting). Cool!

The other big find at Source Forge was the number of train and railway games and simulations. I've always been interested in trains and railways since I was a child. My father was a guard on freight and passenger trains for over 30 years, and even took me with him on a couple of runs up to the Avon Valley marshalling yards.

In Simultrains you "build the transport networks, with platforms, quays, level crossings, signals and much more. Transport passengers between nearby cities with a commuter train or use a high speed train to earn big money by connecting cities further apart". I haven't tried it yet but it looks a lot like A-Train and Sim City (though there's also FreeTrain).


 Rails is a java implementation of the 18xx series of board games. What's 18xx? I have an original copy (with Northern expansion) of 1829 by Hartland Trefoil. This was an elegant board game based on the first railways in Britain in the 19th century. Each player bought shares in one or more companies and built track (by placing tiles), bought engines and ran trains for profit or loss. It was deceptively simple, requiring a mixture of strategy and shrewd management. Like Diplomacy, the game seems to have created an entire following and variants.

Crayon Rails MapAnd then there's the Crayon Rails game (not open-source, I found it while looking for Cyber Rails, which doesn't seem to have anything to download yet) which is clearly inspired by Empire Builder. Years ago when I was in Fandom, they used to have Rail Baron tournaments at Swancon. I used to own a set of that but I really found it difficult to play the game because the board would freak out my vision and (Rail Baron Maplike Monopoly) I'd always end a game with a migraine headache! An alternative to RB was Empire Builder. I own two sets - America (the original) and Britain. The thing about these games was that you built rail networks by drawing in crayon on a laminated map. Much more interesting than Monopoly styled RB.

Actually, there seems to be a whole site devoted to these old board games, called Rail Game Fans. I must investigate this more thoroughly, as I should at Rail Serve as well.

But, without a doubt, the big "gob smacker" of a discovery in my browsing would have to be Rail World and Yard Duty. Both are railway simulations that use satellite photos of real railway complexes to simulate railway management. There's no "winning" as such, but by golly, the most realism I've seen yet! I must see about adding the Kewdale Freight Terminal and other locations sometime.


Yes, I know this all sounds obsessive, but trains (and train games) have been a passion for a long while.



Aug. 14th, 2008 06:44 pm
laura_seabrook: (cheerful)

Yes, a bit of time wasting today.

But Dino Run is a neat little flash game where you (as a running dinsaur) try and get a top score while outrunning extinction. It's better than it sounds.

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Discovered this DownloadSquad today, that has blogs about things you can download. I found it when looking for a reference to MS Word for DOS which I used professionally between 1989-1995.

The amazing thing is, that it's been available free for download since 1999. Not of course, that if you had anything running anything like Linux, or Windows XP, that you'd actually use this and not Open Office or (heavens forbid) MS Office or equivalent.

Maybe it's nostalgia for me. Earlier I was looking for a simple DOS game that ran in coloured text mode and was a rip-off of something called Boulder Dash. The one I was looking for had a bulldozer clearing out a grid of diamonds, dirt, rocks and dynamite (you can guess what happens when the boulders fall on the dynamite). I got this from the freeware/shareware archives at W.A.I.T used to play it on my XT. Hours of mindless fun including one episode where (and I swear I'm not making this up, or trying to be funny) I saw a vision of a Flaming Jesus above the PC while I played it.

Strange days.


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