WazHack : Initial Review

I had dreamed of a game like this once, while hallucinating and battling a gelatinous blob as I randomly teleported around a level, desperately searching for food, or some way to take off cursed a ring of levitation so I could finally descend further into the dungeon.

Games come in various levels of difficulty. Nowadays, this constantly shifting difficulty level is a feature of many top developers (witness Diablo 3 2.0). Back in the old days it was different. They didn’t have billions of processor cycles and trillions of bits upon which to store their results and speculations. Processing power was costly, storage was scarce and slow, and limits like those create difficulties that a sliding scale can never match.

Nethack is a game that is nearly as old as my sentience, the former having come into existence three years after the latter. [ http://www.nethack.org/ ] It’s one of those games I turn to when nothing else was particularly interesting, or I needed a bit of humbling. The first few trips down the dungeon end badly for you. There’s no way around that. After ten or twenty tries things start to make sense, and you start to develop strategies on how to stay alive. How to decide what potions to drink and what scrolls to read…remembering quite vividly the characters you lost to recklessly imbibing everything you came across.

Sure, that amulet you just found *could* be an amulet of regeneration, or even one of resurrection…but it could also be a cursed amulet of strangulation, both impossible to breath through or take off.

Such were the conundrums of Nethack, which is why I have always described it as “Diamond Hard”. There’s no easy level. There’s no “beginner”. No “I’ve never played an RPG before”, or “I’ve played a couple RPGs” mode. Or even “Nightmare” or “Bring it On” option. No, back in the day it was simpler.

There was only life and death. There’s only one mode…Nethack. You have one character. You play it until it dies. No “real time” or any other nonsense, the game doesn’t move until you do, but the game does move *every time* you do. If you can run faster, you can run away. If you can’t, you die. You get to sit there, and think about it. Think about *every thing you do*, knowing there is *probably* a way to survive, but most likely you will die.

And eventually you do.*

Then you decide if you can face the emotional toll again to start over. All those decisions, and even then you couldn’t save him/her from the perils of the dungeons. If only you had, or you had that, or had gone this way, or read that, or who knows what. If only….

When I *can’t* face that loss again…that’s when I set Nethack aside for a while. Sometimes it is just too hard to play. Sometimes those simple decisions that served you well in the past just got your character killed.

Such is life, such is Nethack.

So now you are saying…wait…RPN…I thought this was supposed to be about “WazHack”, or something…why are you talking about a nearly 30 year old text-based game?

That’s because “WazHack” is a modern retelling of an ancient (by gaming standards) story. Because WazHack gets it right. Because it has better graphics (relative terms), and now I know what a “rothe” is supposed to be. It’s not like I haven’t tried clones before…I have whole “Nethack” directory on my gaming page on my linux-based palm computer (calling it a “phone” is such a misnomer at this point)…but this one NAILS IT.

If you have ever tried or enjoyed Nethack, WazHack is for you. If you like HARD games, like “Diamond” hard, WazHack is for you. If you wonder why any game has anything *other than* a Hardcore mode, WazHack is for you.

It’s not for everyone, but if you like this kind of thing, WazHack is the one you want to spend your time exploring.

* or you Win…which I have yet to do with Nethack.

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The World This Week by Wah : September 14, 2008

Here is part 1 (and 1.1)  and 2 of last weeks roundup. Below you will find the links for each story mentioned.

Part 1.1

Part 1.2

Part 2

Read more for story links and details…

Part 1:

Executive Experience in Alaska

Info-Graphic Convention Coverage

Military Industrial Complex Shuts Down Olbermann and Matthews on MSNBC (owned by GE)

Bloons Tower Defense 3

Pot Kills Staph

A bit more on Pakistan

Another Upside of Global Warming

Russia, Georgia, Southpark

Tigh Visits Walter Reed

Game Review : PC : Spore 

Part 1.1:

Water Bears May Be Fruit of All Life

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the world yet?

Part 2:

A Southpark Metaphor For McCain’s Speech

Palin to Right of Republicans on Climate Change

Sarah Palin is to Harriet Miers…

John McCain’s Funny Joke

A Second Theory as to Why John McCain Tapped Sarah Palin

Oh Yeah, and Obama Gave Some Speech

The John McCain “I’m a Victim” Express

A Simple Guide to Biased Reporting (re: Lipstick bullshit and Bonney Kapp)

On Joe Biden : 20 Years Ago

Anderson Cooper : 360 Degrees Of Suck

Lipstick on an Economy

McCain Makes New Pledge to American People

Wall Street Journal Joins News Censorship Game

What Talking About Issue Looks Like (Joe Biden)

“You can actually see Russia from Alaska” – Sarah Palin on her “international experience”

NOTES: A couple quick notes…I have another 20 minute or so of suff. Because of the time limits on YouTube (and Google doesn’t seem to be liking me) I think I’m going to shoot for a 20 minute limit next week. This was more of a proof-of-concept. Let me know what you think. If you absolutely have to see the rest, let me know and I’ll throw it up.   I should also have a much quicker turnaround next week, as my editing skillz just about doubled this last week.

Game Review : PC : Spore

Yes, Spore is finally here.  This is a game that I’ve been waiting for for over two years.  A game who’s scope and scale and expandability were, allegedly, above and beyond anything that has come before.

Did it get there?  I’m not sure yet, but this review is a synopsis of what I’ve found out so far.

Let me be clear from the get-go.  If you are a PC gamer, you will enjoy this game a lot. Get it. Now.  For the rest of you, let me tell you a quick story about gaming, Spore, and why I love ’em both.

Previously to the full game coming out, they released the “Spore Creature Creator” (SCC).  This is a simple, yet fairly powerful, 3d-creature editor/animator/movie maker.

Here’s a couple of my early attempts.  And yes, there is an “upload to Youtube” button in the program.  As a quick sidenote, this game is VERY well integrated with the international dumptrucks known as “Internet”. More on that in a couple paragraphs.  After the movies and the moment.

This was one of my early creations. I was trying to make something scary and terrifying.

This is my first creation to take through the full game.

My “gaming moment” occurred during the second or third stage of the game, after my creation has evolved into an air-breathing, earth-bound being.   I was wandering around the countryside looking for food (i.e. other wonderful creations to consume).  As I was about to launch an attack with my pack, I heard a vicious roar.  Panning the camera quickly around, I saw a 30-foot tall incarnation of my “early creation” stomping across the country-side.  My own nightmare was picking up my pack-mates and consuming them whole.

That, my friends, is a gaming moment.  Here was a creature I had created, imported into the game during the install, integrated and kicking my own ass.

Outstanding.

Read more for the rest, and some other great creations.

Continue reading

Penny Arcade Episode One :: Game Review :: XBOX 360

This is a short (5-minute) review I put together of Penny Arcade’s “One the Rain-Slick Precipice of Doom : Episode One” which is a short RPG for the XBOX 360 available through their download service. There’s probably a couple other ways to get at it, but that’s the one I used.

Peep the video and let me know what you think.

Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone (Demonstration)

I just finished updating my iPhone and computer (and solving a little problem) and got some of the new apps loaded.

Overall I have to say that I am VERY impressed with Apples efforts and the gaming potential of the iPhone.  I knew it had a pretty screen and some decent horsepower hidden in there, but I have to say I am, again, very impressed with the potential.  Note that word: potential.

The first round of software, at least from a gaming perspective, is neat but still in the early stages of development.  The price is pretty close for some stuff, but I think they might need to keep everything pretty low to move units.  Below is a video of me playing Super Monkey Ball.  It cost $10.00.  This is part of the whole iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 rollout.

There have been some serious issues with the rollout, but today the software is working fine and I have to say that the results speak for themselves.

I should have a couple more video reviews coming up.   Especially one for Tetris.  This looks like it might be a definitive version.  It works wonderfully with the touch-screen.  The iPhone may very well turn out to be as innovative as the Wii for gaming.

I’m still getting the software installed on the new laptop, so a bit of paitence as I recreate the video studio for mobile production.  Then more should be on the way.