Tag Archives: gaming

Touch Me

Okay, before you freak out over the title of this post, I’m talking about computers with touch surfaces. Got your attention though didn’t I?

I just read one of the coolest articles about computer and technology that I’ve read in a while. It was all about revolutionizing table-top gaming. That’s right, D&D with computers! This is all made possible by none other than Microsoft: the tech company that we all love to hate. A year or two ago, Microsoft announced a computer that looks a whole lot like a coffee table, and it was called Surface. We all thought it would be cool because they showed off how you could potentially split up a check at a restaurant, compare cell phone features, and various other things by doing nothing but sitting the objects on the table and letting Surface figure out what they are. Apply that to Dungeons and Dragons and you may very well have a sweet dynamic campaign map.

If you’ve never played D&D before then this may not be that interesting to you, but if you are a table top gamer, then this is going to be of great interest. Imagine that you sit down to play a game with your miniatures and your books, but you don’t have to draw out the maps by hand or guess whether somebody is in line of sight by looking at a bunch of squares. You can just put your pieces on Surface, let it show you the piece of the map that is visible from your characters point of view, and even choose an action or attack straight from the table! Now you can even roll dice simply by touch and throwing a virtual D20 (20-sided die for you non-nerds) across the table. I would definitely want my physical dice, but the option is totally there for people who may not have any.

This system has made so much possible for the world of table-top gaming. Imagine just having to click a button if you want to bring up a Monopoly board, or play a quick game of clue. You don’t have to go dig through your closet and attempt to find all the pieces; they will just be there when you need them. Everything is LITERALLY right at your fingertips.

There is no telling how much Surface is really going to cost for us casual consumers, but it may be very well worth it to have a fun, interactive coffee table for doing any number of things. This D&D scenario is most of the reason that I decided an iPad might not be a bad device to have. I just like the idea of having all of the D&D books right at my fingertips if I need it without having to lug around 10 pounds of books, if not more. Believe me, I understand the value of a printed book. I think it is SO very necessary that we have a physical record of everything. You never know when a massive EMP is going to come and blow out every hard drive on the planet. I don’t see it coming soon, but it very well may. Look at all the data we lost when the Library at Alexandria burned. Hundreds of years of human knowledge lost in a day. We need to avoid that. Copies, copies, and more copies need to be made of everything, and I don’t mean simply digital.

I’m excited about what touch computing can bring to the way we interact with technology. Do I think it is perfect for every application? Not at all. But I think that it will open some doors to some pretty awesome things that we wouldn’t be able to do with traditional interface systems. This is awesome stuff to think about, and I’m so glad to live in the time that we do. This next decade is going to be so cool.

Broken Addiction

I am happy to say that for the last 3 months I have been completely World of Warcraft free! That’s right! I haven’t logged on a single time for anything, and I can’t be more happy about it. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Why is that such a big deal? Video games are dumb,” but I don’t think you understand this game. World of Warcraft has over 11 million people playing and is one of the most successful, long-running Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games of all time. There are so many people that are addicted to this game, it’s ridiculous. People in China have died in coffee shops from playing too much…well that and not drinking water.

I played on and off for about for 4 years or so, but finally got into it pretty hardcore last year. I was playing almost every night, and making time to play so that I could join my buds in slaying the evil beasts of Azeroth. This isn’t all bad, but when it costs 15 bucks a month and you know you could be doing other things, it can be an issue. I’m all for playing video games and having a blast. I mean, look at my last post about Dragon Age. But, since quitting WoW, I was able to get my Linux+ certification and I’m well on my way to Security+ as well. I’m all for earning fun virtual stuff, but earning real life stuff is so much more satisfying.

I finally deleted the game completely off my computer about a month ago in hopes that it would never return. I had a blast playing it, but now I don’t miss it at all. Even when I think about the upcoming expansion, it really doesn’t get me too excited for the game. I’m definitely going to pick up something new in the future but for now I’m just enjoying some extra time to blog and enjoy some of my other hobbies… at least until Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out.

Morality Games

My big addiction for the past few days has been a wonderful little Xbox 360 game called “Dragon Age: Origins.” There is a good chance that if you are a gamer in any way shape or form that you’ve either played it or at least know someone who has. This game amazes me. I finally beat it the other day after about 40 hours of gameplay. To sum it up, it’s a game where you play a strapping young hero who gets pulled into an elite army of “Grey Wardens.” These guys are responsible for taking down an army of “Darkspawn.” These evil beasts descend from mages who tried to break into heaven and “The Maker” was all like, “heck no! Get out o’ my house!” So he cursed them and sent them back to earth distorted and monstrous, just like they were inside. Every so often there is a “Blight” where these Darkspawn come back and attempt to kill EVERYONE. In true RPG tradition, you are the only one who can save the world.

The real interesting thing about this game is the morality engine they use to gauge the choices you make as you interact with the team mates you find, and the world around you. Every one of your team mates has a different idea of what kind of hero you should be. Some think you should stand for all that is right, other’s want you to go for money, and some just want you to shrug off everyone and be as ruthless as possible. I played through my first time being as good as I could be. I helped out everyone who needed it and did it all with honor. I never asked for a thing in return. The fun thing about this is that it didn’t turn out as awesome as one would think. Believe it or not, sometimes making the right choice can really cause some poor consequences. By the end of the game, I’d lost two people I care about, and I’m pretty sure an entire nation of dwarves hates my guts. Keep in mind this all seemed well and fine while I was making these choices throughout the game.

What makes this game different is that there is no “black and white” morality. You make the best decisions you know how to, but you still have to deal with some great or sometimes really gnarly consequences. After beating the game trying to play the upright enforcer of law and order, I decided that I wanted to give it a go at being as utterly ruthless as I could possibly be. One of the first opportunities I had to be evil, and I mean REALLY evil, was when my bride to be, cousin, and her friend were all kidnapped by human diplomats who wanted to do HORRIBLE things to them. This is a very dark game by the way. So I wander into the castle to save them, because, hey, even evil heroes have standards. I was given the opportunity to walk away from the whole situation for 40 gold (very hard to come by at early levels), but I couldn’t save the women. The intense part of this is that my cousin was on the floor crying for help. How can you walk away from that?! What the heck kind of person do you have to be to leave a family member crying on the floor of some horny diplomat’s palace!? I realized then and there, that I could NOT be evil in this game. This game puts you in too many extreme situations to lean completely to the dark side. I found myself caring for these characters even though I know good and well that they aren’t real.

Bioware, the game’s developer, has done an amazing job at making you feel the weight of each and every decision you make. Sometimes no choice seems right, or you just don’t know which choice is the best. There are very few clear cut scenarios in this game where you can say this is right, or that is wrong. I LOVE IT! I’m going to attempt to be an evil dude, but thus far I’m failing pretty bad. I may have to settle for snarky A-hole with a tender, caring soul. Kind of like Dr. House.