I Played That! #14: Fallout 1 and 2, Fallout Tactics (PC)

In light of this week’s news, let’s look at where it all began. (It actually began elsewhere, but that’s another story.)

The original Fallout was something of a godsend to me. By 1997 the style of RPG I enjoyed was passé. Doom and Warcraft had changed the landscape of PC games so that nearly everything was either a first-person shooter or a real-time strategy game, two genres I had no interest in. While I enjoyed Diablo, it was an action game, not really an RPG. I couldn’t seem to find the kinds of games I liked anymore.

Then Fallout appeared, and it was amazing. Not only was it exactly the sort of thing I liked, it was even in a setting that, at the time, was somewhat fresh and new. It was a post-apocalyptic setting, but even that had a new spin, as its world had a retro-futuristic angle to it. The world that bombs had been dropped onto was a 1950s-envisioned world of the future, and it was amazing. And it was for real roleplaying (it had started its life based around GURPS, but then had veered onto its own path). What’s more, Fallout can be completed without a final “boss battle”, which gave me (false) hope that maybe this type of ending would make a comeback.

Fallout was also innovative in other ways. Your intelligence stat could affect what your dialogue options were. It had traits and perks that allowed you to customize your character beyond the usual. The writing was superb and the world was well thought out and presented.

I absolutely adored Fallout. It was everything I wanted in a videogame. When Fallout 2 appeared the next year, I was thrilled. It changed little about the original game, being mostly more of the same, but that was fine with me, since I had no complaints about the original.

These two games spurred a renaissance in RPGs that favored the style of the American games I had cut my teeth on rather than the growing influence of the Japanese console model. It seemed like the drought was coming to an end, and it did, for a while. This development team would go on to do the Baldur’s Gate series, as well as a few other games I’ll be talking about.

Long time readers of my site may remember “Ground Zero”, a pencil-and-paper RPG I was supposedly creating that was based on the Fallout universe, despite someone already having done that. Such was my devotion to this world, though not sufficient enough to actually, like, complete the project.

My devotion also extended to the fact that when, in 2001, the third Fallout game wasn’t Fallout 3 but instead Fallout Tactics, a pure combat game, I rolled with it. It wasn’t generally my thing, but I played it and enjoyed it, assuming the third game was right around the corner. Despite not really being an RPG and not really giving me what I wanted, it was still a fun, well-polished game firmly set in that same world. Fallout 3 wouldn’t show up until seven years later, and even more than that for me.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged ,

My Tweek on Twitter

What I did this week on Twitter. Haven’t decided if this feature is keeper yet.


* My wife has studied the history of the English language and can verify.


* It was unseasonably cold

* This tweet just BLEW THE HELL UP for some reason

* It practically has “ugh” in the middle

* (RT) RT of the week

* State of the nation


* more math jokes pls

* (RT) he’s not wrong

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Return to Whatever the World of Neuroshima Hex is Called

I first raved about the boardgame Neuroshima Hex back in 2009. It’s a tactical game of tile placement and warfare set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, designed by Michal Oracz and published by Portal Games. Since then, my attention gravitated more towards 51st State and The New Era, card games set in the same universe.

Michael Oracz also designed Theseus, which I like a lot. Portal games released a new army for These us recently, and as a result it got some recent play. But it also reminded me of Neuroshima Hex, and the fact that I hadn’t played it in ages. (I also got a little boost in interest from other sources.)

Suddenly I wanted to not only play NH again, I wanted to go all in on it. Since discovering it, multiple extra armies were released. I had dreams of inviting folks over for a Neuroshima Hex battle royale tournament featuring all the armies. In addition to the armies, a new edition of the game had come out with little change except the artwork. I went back and forth on whether or not to get it when I eventually realized that I was just trying to find a reason to do so, so I did it. And now I have the new version.

It’s not the first time I’ve re-bought a game. It’s not even the first time I’ve re-bought a Portal game. So I don’t know what the big decision was.

I like the new design a lot. The artwork is a little more dynamic, and the icons that tell you what things do “pop” a little more. It comes with cool things for tracking the hit points on your base, but in use they’re not great, and we just used the track on the board.

Last night Matt, Mike K, and I cracked into the new version. This is the first time I’d played since December of 2010 (not counting plays on the iPad app, of which there weren’t many). I was the Outpost, Mike was Moloch, and Matt was the Hegemony.

That’s my (green) base and Commando being menaced by Mike’s (red) Clown and Matt’s (yellow) Hacksaw Pirate (I don’t know what that guy is really called.)

I had forgotten how much fun this game is. We slugged back and forth, making each other angry and trying to get each person to attack the other guy instead of ourselves. “Don’t kill that guy of mine, Mike! He’s doing damage to Matt! Killing him would just help Matt out!”

The first game ended in a draw between Matt and Mike. I think I wasn’t too far behind. We had a blast, so we immediately played again.

Same armies. That bastard on the left with the 2 and 1 on it did a crapload of damage to me before Matt got rid of it. And the annoying blocker in front of him is keeping my Commando on the right from blowing it to hell. I was knocked down 10 points before anyone else had lost even two.

But this move from Mike:

That’s him dropping an air strike on ALL OF MY GUYS. I was at ten points, probably less by then, and did I need this? I DID NOT. I’m so livid the image isn’t even in focus, I’m shaking with rage.

The good news is, I at least stayed in the game to the bitter end despite these skylarkings. I predictably lost, along with Matt. Mike had been rewarded for his violent and frankly anti-social behavior with victory, and I fear it will only encourage such actions in the future.

It had been far too long, and I’m super glad to have Neuroshima Hex back on my table again.

Posted in Boardgames | Tagged

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris

For many comics nerds, Gone and Forgotten was essential back in early oughts (and its current incarnation still is.) A lot of people have done the “look at these wacky old comics” thing (myself included) and almost all of them (myself included) ripped off their technique from there. Jon Morris, the man behind Gone and Forgotten, now has a book out called The League of Regrettable Superheroes and I can’t think of a better topic for him to cover, or a better person to cover it.

LORS is a look at the super-powered characters who just never quite made it. There’s a lot of material from the 40s, of course, when the superhero boom was at its peak and everyone was trying to cash in, but unlike most of these discussions Morris also continues looking at characters through the present day.

This is the first touch that sets LORS apart from the myriad of other folks plying similar trades. Morris isn’t doing a “ha ha look at how crazy comics were!” and then giving current nonsense a pass. He’s interested in these misfires themselves and how these things just sometimes don’t go right.

The second, and more important distinction, is that while the book is full of hilarious commentary an some of the heroes are just “what on Earth was anyone thinking?” hapless, Morris isn’t just pointing a finger and getting yuks. He is often as baffled as anyone as to why a character failed (or, as is often the case, worked for a year or so before failing). Anyone can point out a goofy character that didn’t take off, but it doesn’t get interesting until you compare it to similarly goofy characters who did. There are many ways a superhero can just not “click” and not all of them are obvious.

Morris hits some familiar ground to fans of weird comics, and some essential ground, but he also brings in a lot of heroes I wasn’t familiar with, and goes into more detail on ones I had only heard spotty references to.

The League of Regrettable Superheroes is a supremely funny book, but it’s more than just cheap gags at the expense of old creators. It really does look at a very strange world, the world of superhero comics, and wonder how a guy using slapstick props to fight crime fails, but a dude with a metal skeleton and claws that pop out of his hands gets fantastically popular. (This, incidentally, is also why I enjoy Andrew Weiss’ “Nobody’s Favorites” feature, which also owes a lot to G&F and similarly goes for more than just mocking laughter.) LORS recognizes that all superheroes are kind of dumb and goofy, so why are these ones seemingly moreso?

I am enjoying the hell out of the book and highly recommend it. It should be pointed out that Morris’ commentary, while still funny and biting, is more family-friendly than G&F. My only wish is that there was a little more reprinted comment for the characters, but what’s there is perfectly fine. Get it today!

(As a disclaimer, Morris is a Twitter pal of mine and did drawrings for me, but my copy was paid for from my own allowance.)

Posted in Books | Tagged

Post-Apocalyptic Massachusetts? But I Already Live in Springfield!

That’s today’s big news. Fallout 4 is on its way. No release date yet, but it’s coming soon.

The rumors were that FO4 would take place in Boston, and the trailer confirms this. At last we in Western Mass will get to live our dream of seeing Boston reduced to smoking rubble. (I kid. Some.) Beyond that, I know nothing.

Well, I do know this. People have been trying to get me to get a PS4 for some time now (the XBox One seems like a lost cause). I’m interested, but have balked.

Until about twenty minutes ago.

Fallout, Borderlands, and Diablo. That’s all a growing boy needs.

(I realize that my stance is a far cry from when Fallout 3 was announced.)

Anyway, I am 100% excited, even surrounded by naysayers:

michaeld [11:34 AM] Fallout 4. I want to want to like it…but it looks like more of the same.

davel [11:36 AM] I’m good with more of the same

davel [11:36 AM] change is bad

davel [11:36 AM] and war

davel [11:36 AM] war never changes

Posted in Videogames | Tagged ,

Sing Along With the Orphans Black

This weekend we started on season two of Orphan Black, which we’ve been enjoying a lot. It’s got a plot that hums along, not pussyfooting too much about the central mystery of the show but also keeping up the suspense. Tatiana Maslany continues to knock it out the park, giving each clone thoroughly convincing different accents, looks, and mannerisms. The production team also does a great job of integrating the different performances into a seamless whole, selling the multiple roles even more. And of course, everything’s better with a little Matt Frewer.

As with a lot of TV, we tend to watch with subtitles on, and one new feature on the season two DVDs is that they also caption the theme song (composed and performed by “Two Fingers”, a/k/a Amon Tobin). Now we can sing along with it! Here are the lyrics:

Fire this up and sing like nobody’s listening.

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I Played That! #13: Taipan (TRS-80)

If you’re waiting for the entry on Oregon Trail, you can stop. There won’t be one. I didn’t play Oregon Trail on my school computers, and in fact I’ve never played it. When I was in school the game to play on the computers was Taipan. It may be the first computer game I ever played, barring a number guessing game or such.

Taipan was a trading game, and you’ve probably played variants on it. You’re a 19th century Chinese trader travelling from port to port buying and selling goods to make a profit. Along the way you can get loans from Elder Brother Wu, fight pirates, get strongarmed by Li Yuen, and such. In addition to buying and selling goods, you can also spend money to upgrade your ship to carry more cargo or more cannons. The goal is to become a millionaire.

I was in the Gifted and Talented program, and we don’t need to talk about that, and this was on the GT computer. I know I played it there. I also remember it being on a computer in the back of a classroom but I don’t remember which one that was. Eventually there were other games I played on such TRS-80s, and we’ll talk about them later.

I haven’t played Taipan itself in decades, despite there being multiple ports of it (including one for the iPad). You can even play it online if you wish.

Give it a try and soon you to will say “Good joss! They let us be!” when something fortuitous happens.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged

My Tweek on Twitter

What I did this week on Twitter. Still working on formatting, but there’s a bug with the current version of WP which is preventing a better Tweet interface for the moment. You may need to click on some links to get the jokes, such as they are.


* “He’s right! We CAN be like they are!” *jogs into traffic*

* Transmissions were received:

* This is somehow a troubling and controversial stance (click here for the entire thread):

* I saw this on Tumblr and is just fantastic:

* For a change, the gush-fest is something I’m into as well!

* Several characters, for that matter.

* Still not the worst thing about me.

* A revelation:

* Being stupid on Twitter (part 2)

* An addendum to I Had That!

* Seriously, getting tired of this line

* More whining about whining about Fury Road:

* pls share on facebook

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